HC Deb 27 October 1943 vol 393 cc166-7
17. Mr. Burke

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that on 6th October in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, a lecture was given to the R.A.F. and W.A.A.F. by Rosita Forbes, in the course of which disparaging remarks concerning the war effort of our Russian Allies were made, calculated to prejudice the minds of listeners against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and will he call the attention of those lecturing to the Services to the need for promoting harmony and goodwill among the Allied Nations?

Sir A. Sinclair

I should profoundly deplore it if anyone abused an invitation to lecture to the Royal Air Force by promoting disharmony between this country and our Allies. I am aware that the lecture referred to by the hon. Member has been the subject of criticism, and I have called for a report. As a general rule, lecturers are given guidance of the kind suggested and I will see that in future it is given in every case.

Mr. Burke

Can the Minister say what is the point of making such a statement as that there is nothing clever in the Russians having to lose so many thousands of square miles to the Germans when there is so much of an encouraging character that might be reasonably expected to be stressed? Is there not something sinister in this subtle selection of facts?

Sir A. Sinclair

I have just said that I have not seen a report of the lecture and that I have called for a report upon it. I have condemned in terms which I hope will commend themselves to my hon. Friend statements which are calculated to cause disharmony.

Mr. John Dugdale

If the report is unsatisfactory will this lady's licence to lecture be withdrawn?

Sir A. Sinclair

I must wait and see the report. This lady is not on our list of lecturers.

Mr. Maclean

Is it not the case that complaints have been made against this lady before because of her adverse criticisms of Russia when delivering lectures to the troops?

Mr. George Griffiths

Will the Minister see that she does not do it any more?