§ Major-General Sir Alfred Knox (Wycombe)
I want to raise, very briefly, another matter which I think is urgent in the public interest.
§ Mr. Sloan (South Ayrshire)
On a point of Order. Am I not entitled to continue the discussion that was raised previously?
§ Mr. Speaker
Personally, I thought it was on rather delicate ground, and did not know how far any further debate could be in Order, or, in fact, how far it could he carried on. It seemed to me better to switch over to something else. Besides, we had three-quarters of an hour on it.
§ Sir A. Knox
I wish to draw attention to a cartoon in to-day's "Evening Standard." I do not know whether every hon. Member has already seen this cartoon, but I submit that it is a cartoon which is really detrimental to the war effort. It represents the heads of three Allied Governments in a most undignified position acting as gangsters ready to sabotage the war effort. I contend that, when this paper arrives in Lisbon, it will find its way to Germany, and this picture will be reproduced in every journal of our enemies in support of their propaganda. I would like to point out that the "Evening Standard" is the property of a very prominent member of His Majesty's Government. It is nothing less than astonishing that a cartoon of this type should be allowed to appear in the Press in London to-day. I would like to draw the attention of the House to it, and to suggest that steps should be taken, in the interests of the war effort, to prevent a recurrence of any such cartoon.
§ Mr. Driberg
When the hon. and gallant Member suggests that publication should not be allowed, may I point out that there is no censorship of the Press except on security grounds? Does the hon. and gallant Member suggest an Ell-embracing censorship?
§ Sir A. Knox
I suggest that, on security grounds, it is absolutely wrong. It is feeding enemy propaganda.
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid (St. Marylehone)
I have just this moment got hold of this cartoon and some hon. Members are wondering what it depicts. It is by Low, and shows three Kings, King George of Greece, King Peter of Jugoslavia, and King Victor Emmanuel, peering round a doorway with pop-guns in their hands, and with the caption, "De-Partisans." It seems to me that the main complaint of the hon. and gallant Member who has just raised this matter is that this is not conducive to helping the war effort. In other words, we should not poke fun at the heads of Governments with which we are negotiating. In this Low cartoon—[An HON. MEMBER: "Very low"]— that was an unconscious pun—these three kings are taking pot-shots at the partisans.
§ Mr. Stokes
Will the hon. and gallant Member point out to the House that a cork is attached to a piece of string?
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid
I did not realise that it was as ineffective as all that. Really, things are getting past a joke if we are going to raise such complaints in this House, because Low, as we all know, is always taking pot-shots at the high and mighty. He does not hesitate to have pot-shots at Roosevelt and Stalin and even at our own Prime Minister—[An HON. MEMBER: "Lord Beaverbrook"]—or even at his boss. The only exception one can possibly take to this cartoon is that it is rather obscure, and I do not believe that many people would understand it, while it is certainly not as funny as Low generally is. The main idea, I suppose, is that the three kings stand for the old order of things and against progressive Partisans. There are millions in this country who think exactly the same thing, but, just because one or two Members of Parliament take a different point of view, they automatically feel that no 1287 newspaper has the right to publish a cartoon which happens to lacerate their own particular tender susceptibilities. I believe this to be a case of "much ado about nothing."
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Wood Green)
I am sure that the House will not expect me to express any opinion upon cartoons, the policy that they represent or how they are produced. Perhaps I have no knowledge of what goes on inside newspaper offices but can only look at it in wonderment from outside. What I wish to say, Mr. Speaker, is addressed to you personally and perhaps, as a matter of courtesy, I should have let you know beforehand. On the second day of the Empire Debate I was called to Order by various Members of the House, through yourself, who with your accustomed courtesy and kindness rather indicated that I was on the wrong lines. I referred to an hon. Member on the opposite side as the "hon. and gallant" Member and then said that I used the word "gallant" only in its Parliamentary sense. I was endeavouring to explain, when the Noble Lord opposite and many others who were very angry with me, and the leader of the Communist Party, asked you, Sir, to protect the hon. and gallant Member. I then wanted to explain that the previous day the hon. and gallant Member had made a very serious aspersion against me in connection with Canada, that I was rather using the custom of this House—which differs slightly from the Biblical injunction—if you are struck upon the cheek to strike back on both cheeks. Having cogitated over your gentle and courteous rebuke at that time, I want to ask your advice about this matter.
I can quite understand that you may not care to reply to-day, but, like many other Members on these occasions, I am a little puzzled as to the style in which we address each other. It appears that in regard to the hon. and learned Member, the word "learned" applies to anybody connected with the law no matter in what obscure capacity it may be. There was a time when we understood that it was confined to K.Cs. but now I find it applied even to solicitors in this House—[HON. MEMBERS:"No."]—perhaps wrongly—and it is because of that class of error that I want some advice about the position of current Members of the House. A 1288 speech was made two or three weeks ago by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Whitechapel (Mr. W. Edwards) who had served as a stoker during this war. My hon. Friend who sits next to me here referred to him as the "hon. and gallant" Member. It is possible that the gentlemen who report us so faithfully in the OFFICIAL REPORT did not hear the word "gallant," but it was left out of the OFFICIAL REPORT, and perhaps for their guidance we might have your Ruling. It is possible, Mr. Speaker, as you will agree, to be gallant though not necessarily holding a commission. I think we shall all agree on that. There is the case, for example, of the hon. Member the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Petty Officer Herbert). He was a captain in the last war, and not only did he deserve the Parliamentary use of that phrase, but he was a very gallant officer, but in this war he is only a petty officer. Can we possibly refer to him as the "hon. and formerly gallant Member"?
I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if you can advise us in this matter. There are many Members, since we must speak bluntly, who had to choose when the war came between continuing their service in the Army or Navy and giving their whole time to this House, and nobody is in a position to criticise that decision. The M.P. who goes out to fight deserves all praise, but also the man who conscientiously realises that his constituency must be looked after in war time equally is above criticism. But we use the word "gallant" in respect of a man who has gone out and faced the terrors of the battlefield and, equally, in respect of the man who gave up his uniform when the war came. I wonder if the term could be left to those who serve actually in a theatre of war. Would that not help the embarrassment of some of us, because the traditions of this House are very dear to Members? It would be monotonous if only one adjective were used—the "honourable." The little changes make a break in the day's proceedings. I would be the last to interfere with the very honoured traditions of this House, but if, Sir, you could give some guidance or tell us later, I and many others would be glad of your clarification of this issue.
§ Mr. Speaker
I cannot pretend that I can give the hon. Member a considered reply on this question of "learned" and 1289 "gallant." I have always understood that "learned" is rather reserved for those who are K.C's, and I thought the hon. Member was in error when he suggested that solicitors were entitled to it. I think not; that is my impression. As far as the title "gallant" is concerned, when I intervened on a former occasion I thought that he was casting some reflections on the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) and therefore I intervened. My impression is that one gives the title "gallant" to one who one knows has served in the Forces or taken part in active service, such as the hon. and gallant Member for Whitechapel (Mr. W. Edwards) or the hon. and gallant Member the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Petty Officer Herbert): there are other Members who have been in the Services, have come back here and have put their names on the Order Paper as "Mr." So-and-So instead of "Captain" or "Major" So-and-So, and I think that that probably means that they have severed their connection with the Services and do not expect to be called "gallant." Those who still retain their military titles, I think, appreciate the compliment which the House gives them by calling them "gallant."
§ Mr. Baxter
I thank you, Sir, very much for that explanation; I think it very helpful. Your Ruling that, broadly speaking, it should be those taking part in active warfare is a great help to the House. May we hope that those Members who held rank in the Regular Army before the war and have decided that their duties are here, will drop that rank and refer to themselves as "Mr." like the rest of us who are taking a part in the war effort, and, therefore, do away with this anomaly.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is a matter for the individual Member to settle for himself with his own conscience.
§ Mr. Raikes (Essex, South-East)
I hardly know, after this discussion, whether to refer to the hon. Gentleman opposite as the hon. Member for St. Marylebone or the hon. and gallant Member and so I refer to him as both, because there are certain observations that he passed upon the "Evening Standard" caricature upon which I feel that I should offer one or two remarks. I thought that the hon. and gallant Member treated that caricature rather lightly on the ground 1290 that Low always has a shot at people in high places and must not be taken too seriously. I think the House is rather inclined to forget that this is a caricature aimed at two Kings who have sacrificed their thrones in this war for the sake of the Allied cause, and while persons in high places can well look after themselves I think it is a little different in the case of these men who are in exile and who have risked their all for the cause of the United Nations. My hon. Friend, or shall I say my bon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) pointed out that such a caricature was likely to be detrimental to the war effort in so far as it held up to ridicule the accredited leaders of certain Allied Governments. The other hon and gallant Member said that, after all, these Kings represented the old order in Europe as against the new, which many millions of people are longing to see in operation.
I think this the moment when I might say a little about the old order which inspired the King of Yugoslavia to take up the reins of government at a very vital moment in the history of this war, which inspired him not only to lose his throne but, through his accredited Government, to bring Yugoslavia, at that stage mainly Serbia, into the fighting line, thus giving a breathing space to Greece and to Russia which may have made a difference in the year 1941 which will only be measured by the centuries. For my part I am appalled when I see a young man of that character, who has taken those risks, held up as a sort of Aunt Sally by a somewhat low caricaturist who finds it necessary to make that sort of appeal in order to maintain his reputation for humour. There is the further question of the King of Greece, who, again, is held up as potting with a gun and a cork at partisans round the corner. I remember a time not so very long ago when hon. Members in this House thanked heaven that there was in Greece a King who was prepared to carry on a war against not only Italy but against Italy and Germany at once, when we were alone, and who, by the courage and the determination he and his people showed, aided what Yugoslavia had done.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
Could I rise to a point of Order, Mr. Speaker? The hon. Member is becoming very provocative and I have heard hon. Members ruled out in this House for discussing the 1291 ruler of a friendly nation. My point is, that if the hon. Member is permitted to enumerate the virtues of the Royalists who have been caricatured, then I submit that we are entitled to answer.
§ Captain Cunningham-Reid
I do not think the hon. Member appreciated the main point of the cartoon. Is he aware that this cartoon deals with the present, not the past attitude of the two Kings to whom he has just been referring?
§ Mr. Speaker
I ought to point out that it is very doubtful how far this discussion is in Order. The only point at issue is whether or not it is going to help, or otherwise, the war effort. The merits of the cartoon must fall under that definition.
§ Mr. Raikes
I appreciate your Ruling, Sir, and I do not wish to labour the point. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity of pointing out that there are many in this country who feel that that type of cartoon, issued with the object of bringing into disrepute men who have gallantly served the Allied cause at certain periods, quite irrespective of what form of Government there may be in those countries at a later stage, can cause nothing but pain and grief to many persons who hold those particular individuals still in respect in their own countries. If my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe, in raising this point, has enabled persons who will see this cartoon to realise that there is another feeling in this House, rather different from that of Mr. Low, I shall feel that it has not been raised in vain.
§ Mr. Driberg
But what is the hon. Member going to do about it? Is he suggesting total censorship of the whole Press, or is he suggesting that the Lord Privy Seal's newspaper should be suppressed under Regulation 2D?
§ Mr. Raikes
I am not suggesting that there should be a total censorship of the Press. I am suggesting that if this type of cartoon is criticised in this House the attention of the Ministry should be brought to the fact that many of us regard that type of cartoon as repugnant and rather dangerous and that there should be some restraint upon the type of person who does that cartoon.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby (Epsom)
I only desire to say that I am one of those who believe that both in war-time and peace-time there should be the greatest possible liberty to criticise, and most certainly liberty for the Press. It would be bad for this country if we ever suffered the censorship of the Press which has been the lot of other nations. However, I do not think there is any Member of this House who would not agree that in the present state of our foreign relationships it behoves everyone to be careful not only in what they say but in what they write. Without expressing any view one way or the other, as to whether one type of government is better than another type of government, I would point out that although the written and spoken word has a tremendous effect, nothing has such an effect as a cartoon, and particularly one drawn by so brilliant a master of his art as Low. From the point of view of the cartoonist, it is a magnificent cartoon. At the present moment foreign affairs, as regards Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, are, to put it vulgarly, pretty tricky, and I cannot believe that it will help the solution of the problems with which the Government are faced at present for that sort of cartoon to influence public opinion, as it may do, in a certain way. It is quite right that papers should influence public opinion, it is quite right that caricaturists should have liberty, but there are a time and a place for everything, and I cannot help thinking that at this particular juncture, when our relationships with the South-Eastern European States will have a profound effect not only upon the conduct of the war but upon the future of Europe when the war is over, it is inadvisable that that particular cartoon should have appeared.