HC Deb 16 February 1944 vol 397 cc171-2
36. Major Petherick

asked the Minister of Information why the Polish newspaper "Wiadomosci Polskie" has been suppressed.

38. Mr. Ivor Thomas

asked the Minister of Information the reasons which led him to suppress the Polish weekly, "Wiadomosci Polskie"; whether he has indicated to the newspaper the passages on which his decision is based; whether the newspaper has ever printed matter to which the censor has taken objection; and whether the ban is subject to review.

Mr. Bracken

I must remind my hon. Friends of the promise I gave the House on 23rd June, 1943, that any journals published by foreigners in Britain which attempted to create discord among the United Nations would be deprived of official facilities for publication. This Polish journal gave up a great deal of space to violent attacks on the Soviet Government. It also abused the Polish Government. In spite of more than one warning to desist from abusing the hospitality of Great Britain, this journal continued its efforts to stir up discord between our Allies. And extracts from its columns were widely used by German propagandists. I am not willing to reconsider the decision to end the harmful activities of this paper.

Major Petherick

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to have copies of this newspaper put in the Library, together with translations of the offending passages, on which he took action?

Mr. Bracken

I shall be very glad to do so.

Sir A. Southby

Without wishing to appear to be taking any side in the Polish dispute, can my right hon. Friend say how free Polish opinion can be expressed, if one side of the story is suppressed by reason of a paper not being allowed to be published?

Mr. Bracken

The Poles have a considerable number of papers in this country and I do not believe that British sailors should have to cart paper across the ocean in order to provide opportunities for foreigners in this country to help German propagandists and to sow discord.

Mr. McGovern

Have any representations been made from Russia to get this paper suppressed, and is it a crime now to criticise the rulers of Russia?

Mr. Bracken

We have had no suggestion from the Soviet Government about any communitations we have had with the Polish Press. It is not a crime to criticise any Government—Russian or otherwise—but I must say that we are approaching some of the most terrible days of this war, and surely, wisdom lies in people attempting to create unity among our Allies rather than in attempting to sow discord.