HC Deb 05 August 1943 vol 391 cc2441-2
31. Mr. Frankel

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, as a result of the sentence of seven years' imprisonment on a national organiser of the Communist Party for espionage, he proposes to undertake an investigation into the activities of that party in order to satisfy himself that its organisation is not being used for any purpose contrary to the national interest?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The authorities responsible for national security are always on the alert for any activities, whether on the part of individuals or of organisations, which might endanger the national interest. It is the case that at the time of his arrest at Communist Party headquarters in London, Mr. D. F. Springhall was National Organiser of the Communist Party; he had been a member of the Central Committee since 1932 and of the Political Bureau since 1939. He was therefore prominently associated with the leadership of the Party. But in any case, having regard to the nature and record of the Communist Party, my hon. Friend may be assured that their activities are not overlooked. I do not think any special investigation is called for, but the vigilance of all concerned will of course be stimulated by this case and whenever cause for action should arise I should not hesitate to take whatever course appeared most effective and appropriate in the circumstances.

Mr. Frankel

Does the Home Secretary accept Mr. Pollitt's statement that the Communist Party had no knowledge of the activities which were alleged against Mr. Springhall?

Mr. Morrison

Of course, I was not surprised by that statement. Whether it is true or not, the party would hardly be likely to admit any complicity; but I think the facts speak for themselves, and all people must make their own deductions from them.

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the investigations that have been made, will the right hon. Gentleman state frankly to this House how the character of myself or Harry Pollitt compares with his own mouldy character and with that of the disreputable stooge that he put up to ask this Question, to satisfy his malice for his defeat at the Labour Party Conference?

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask my right hon. Friend, quite seriously, is he suggesting that the Communist Party are officially responsible for acts of espionage? Has he evidence to substantiate the contention, and, if so, will he produce it?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think there is any need for me to add to the answer I have given. I say again that the facts speak for themselves—

Mr. Gallacher

What facts?

Mr. Morrison

—and everybody can draw his own conclusions.

Mr. Gallacher

On a point of Order. In view of the fact that this case was tried in camera, is it in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the facts speak for themselves, when it is notorious that if it had been tried in public the prosecution could never have got away with the evidence? It is a dirty bit of business.