HC Deb 14 June 1944 vol 400 cc1964-5
27. Captain Longhurst

asked the Minister of Information whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that of 90,000,000 adult citizens in the U.S.A., approximately 60,000,000 are unaware that Britain is providing the U.S.A. with military supplies under reverse Lend-Lease; and whether, in view of its post-war importance, he will take steps to ensure that at least this cardinal fact is brought to the attention of the American people.

The Minister of Information (Mr. Brendan Bracken)

I understand that the arithmetic used by my hon. Friend is based on the results of one of the so-called public opinion polls which flourish in the United States. According to this poll out of approximately 90,000,000 adults in the United States, 27,000,000 do not know that the Japanese have captured the Philippines, 57,000,000 do not know that Canada is a member of the United Nations, and less than half of the people of the United States know that their country was not a member of the League of Nations. An even more incredible statement is made by the author of this poll. He maintains that over 70,000,000 Americans do not know what is meant by a subsidy—some farmers think a subsidy is a sort of cover crop. It is not surprising, therefore, that these poll-takers did not succeed in finding any knowledge of reverse Lend-Lease in the United States. In fact, the British White Paper on Mutual Aid had the best and widest publicity ever received in America by an official document of this kind. Moreover, President Roosevelt made British reverse Lend-Lease the subject of his Twelfth Report in Congress, and Mr. Stettinius and many other leading Americans have paid notable tributes to it.

Captain Longhurst

May I take it that my right hon. Friend is therefore satisfied that the American people as a whole are aware of our reverse aid and that there is nothing in the statement of the Director of Public Opinion Research, Princeton University, that the vast majority of them are unaware that it even exists?

Mr. Bracken

I must confess that I am never satisfied at anything the Ministry of Information do, but I must also tell my hon. and gallant Friend that it is absolutely impossible to rub these facts into every mind in the United States. It is very difficult indeed for some people in this country to understand the magnitude of our war effort.

Mr. Sorensen

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in his estimation, the British people are better informed in these matters than the Americans?

Mr. Vernon Bartlett

Even if the right hon. Gentleman is not entirely satisfied with the work done by his Department—rightly so in many cases—is he not fully satisfied with the work done by his people in the United States?

Sir H. Williams

Could my right hon. Friend tell me the amount of reverse Lend-Lease?

Mr. Bracken

That question should be put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. McGovern

Is it not the case that a considerable number of people in this country think that President Wilson is also President of Great Britain?