HC Deb 29 July 1941 vol 373 cc1250-1
45. Mr. David Adams

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a recent speech made by the British High Commissioner in Australia derogatory to the political system of our Russian Ally; and whether, as such statements by persons in authority may injure our joint war effort, he has taken steps to ensure that no further speeches of this kind are made?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Attlee)

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has seen Press reports of a statement alleged to have been made by the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Australia. He has ascertained from him that the facts of the case are as follow. In reply to questions about Communism put to the High Commissioner at a Press conference, he denied the prevalence of Communism in this country and stated that Communism was generally unpopular here. He did not, in his reply, use the expression "the Russian system," as has been wrongly reported. Subsequently, in reply to further Press inquiries, he stated that his attitude towards Russia was identical with that recently expressed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who is sure that this is the fact. It is obvious from the above that the High Commissioner has been completely misreported or misrepresented, and he has the full confidence and approval of the Government.

Mr. Adams

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that Mr. Hughes, the Australian Naval Minister, condemned his speech and that several thousand trade unionists in Australia demanded the recall of our High Commissioner?

Mr. Attlee

I have given my hon. Friend the facts.

Mr. Maxton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is not the only Member of this House in foreign parts who has made objectionable statements? There ought to be some method of controlling our representatives abroad.