HC Deb 20 May 1941 vol 371 cc1391-3
51. Major Vyvyan Adams

asked the Prime Minister whether it has yet been established whether the projected visit of the Deputy Fuehrer of the Reich to the Duke of Hamilton was planned with the connivance and support of the German Government?

The Prime Minister

I am not yet in a position to make a statement on this subject, and I am not at all sure when I shall be.

Major Adams

While I appreciate the necessity for discretion on the part of my right hon. Friend, may I ask him whether the Government have actively in mind the possibility that the whole stunt may be a common or garden plant, and further will my right hon. Friend discourage sections of the Press from any renewal of their nauseating rhapsodies on this bloodstained crook?

The Prime Minister

Certainly I do not feel that I ought to detract in any way from the vehemence of the hon. and gallant Member.

Sir W. Davison

Is it not better that the Germans should be left guessing in this matter, and that we should not satisfy their idle curiosity, or their not so idle curiosity?

Mr. Maxton

Does the Prime Minister know that during the week-end two Ministers made important statements on this subject, giving a full description why this man is here, why he came, and all the rest of it? Will the right hon. Gentleman restrain individual Ministers from making statements until a statement can be made that is authoritatively made on behalf of the Government?

The Prime Minister

I think that the statements which were made over the week-end commanded general approval. It is one thing that statements of that kind should be made, and another that I should, as it were, sum up on behalf of the Government the results of all the inquiries we are making and ail the information that comes to our hands.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Will the Prime Minister take notice that there has been very great dissatisfaction at the line taken in the Press when describing this man's very delicate appetite and the means taken to satisfy it, because people believe that many of those in concentration camps have just as delicate appetites and are not satisfied as this man has been?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, but as far as I am at present advised, he is being treated as a prisoner of war, and will receive appropriate treatment.

Mr. James Griffiths

Will the Prime Minister take an early opportunity of allaying public anxiety on one point in this affair, namely, the statement made in some newspapers that a citizen of this country received a private letter from Hess in Germany? Will the Prime Minister make a statement about that?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member is no doubt referring to the Duke of Hamilton. I have suggested that a Question should be put on the Order Paper for the Third Sitting Day, and it will be answered by the Secretary of State for Air, under whose authority the noble Duke is serving.

Major Adams

As to the Press, did my right hon. Friend notice that the "Times" described this creature as an idealist?

The Prime Minister

I do not think I can indulge in this retrospective examination of the Press. There has been great public interest in this man. We were not able to give any guidance, the Germans gave different guidance every day, and the Press naturally endeavoured to satisfy the public desire for information by recalling all kinds of details which came to their hands. It seems to me that the whole episode has been entertaining as well as important.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

We must get on with the other Questions.