HC Deb 04 June 1942 vol 380 cc793-5
19. Mr. William Brown

asked the Home Secretary whether he will now repeal the ban on the "Daily Worker" and withdraw the warnings issued to other papers?

18. Mr. Foster

asked the Home Secretary whether he will reconsider the lifting of the ban on the "Daily Worker" in view of the widespread feeling in the country that the ban should be lifted?

21. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the widespread desire manifested by resolutions from many parts of the country, he is now in a position to make a statement in regard to lifting the ban on the "Daily Worker"?

22. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the demand from all sections of the working-class and the people of the country in general, he will now lift the ban on the "Daily Worker"?

23. Mr. J. J. Davidson

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the decisions of strong industrial and political conferences recently, he intends to review the whole position of the freedom of the Press, including the repression of the "Daily Worker"?

Mr. H. Morrison

To the Question whether in consequence of the opinions expressed in various quarters the Government are now prepared to cancel the Order prohibiting the "Daily Worker," the answer is in the negative. To the Question about the warning given to the "Daily Mirror," the suggestion of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Brown) would mean announcing that it is open to any newspaper systematically to publish matter calculated to foment opposition to the war effort, and that course could not properly be taken by a Government which exists to wage war to a victorious conclusion.

Mr. Brown

Is the Home Secretary a ware of the very bad effect which this continued suppression is having in the industrial factories and the workshops, and if he will not remove the ban, will he advise me how I can proceed against him for causing public alarm and despondency?

Mr. Morrison

In answer to the first part of the question, I am not aware of that fact. In answer to the second part, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to advise the hon. Member how to proceed against me.

Mr. Gallacher

If the Government are not prepared to give any consideration to the very widespread public feeling that has been expressed in this country and to reconsider this question, is the Minister prepared to make a statement that this ban is absolutely permanent and that no matter what opinions are expressed from any quarters or any sources he is not prepared to give any consideration to them?

Mr. Morrison

In answer to the first part of the question, the Government always take into account public opinion, but this is a matter on which the Government must decide in the light of a wide variety of considerations. As to the hon. Member's last point, as to whether the ban is permanent, I have never made such an assertion, and I do not now.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my right hon. Friend going to flout the decision of the Labour Party Conference last week?

Mr. Morrison

I think that my hon. Friend is uttering a curious constitutional doctrine. I have always understood that a Minister of the Crown is responsible to Parliament. While as a politician it is my duty to take account of everybody's point of view, including that of my own party, I can only express my own hope that my hon. Friend will himself never be backward in taking account of the opinion of his colleagues.

Mr. Shinwell

Does my right hon. Friend accept no responsibility at all to the Labour Party?

74. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Minister of Information whether his attention has been called to the attack on the "Daily Worker," made by a British Broadcasting Corporation spokesman, on Tuesday, 26th May; and will he instruct the British Broadcasting Corporation to provide a representative of the "Dairy Worker" with an opportunity to reply?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information (Mr. Thurtle)

I have read the broadcast in question I think that the speaker was attempting no more than to reply to a question sent in by a listener asking, "Why do we continue to enforce the ban on the 'Daily Worker'?" He explained in his answer that he could only give the Government's reasons for their action. I do not think that this calls for a counter-broadcast by a representative of the "Daily Worker."

Mr. Gallacher

Are we to understand from the Parliamentary Secretary that the B.B.C. is to be used as a coward's castle where unprincipled attacks may be made on other people without there being an opportunity of reply? Further, is he aware that the Government's argument for the suppression of the "Daily Worker" is absolutely putrid?

Mr. Thurtle

I have already said that the speaker gave only the Government's reasons for the banning and the continuance of the ban. The reason given for the ban was because for a long time the "Daily Worker" tried to stir up opposition to the war and take the heart out of our own war effort. The reason for the continuance of the ban was this: If these people could ridicule our war effort and jeer at our principles when we were in terrible danger, how do you suppose they would change their character just because circumstances have changed?

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that there is a very effective reply to all this insinuation, which is more lies than anything else? Would he not agree that a representative of the "Daily Worker" has a right to say something on the matter? It is scandalous.

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