HC Deb 27 September 1944 vol 403 cc217-20
13. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reason was given by the Government of the U.S.S.R. for their refusal of permission for R.A.F. planes to land in Soviet territory after dropping munitions and supplies for the patriot forces in Warsaw.

Mr. Eden

There has never been any question of aircraft of the Royal Air Force undertaking such shuttle flights to bases in Soviet territory for these operations. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated yesterday, in reply to questions, the Soviet Government have now agreed to the use of Soviet bases, and on 18th September a strong force of United States aircraft carried out a supply operation to Warsaw, in collaboration with the Soviet High Command.

Sir A. Knox

Is it not a fact that on 30th July the Soviet Government, by repeated broadcasts from Moscow, urged the Underground Army to rise, to facilitate the passage of the Vistula by the Red Army, and that by 14th September, six weeks later, they had not given permission for Allied aircraft to land supplies in Warsaw and to land in Soviet territory, and that, therefore, they rendered the position of the Polish Forces in Warsaw tragic?

Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

May I urge my right hon. Friend to consider, in view of the very specific efforts which were made by the British authorities, and especially by the Royal Air Force, to make the statement which the Prime Minister made yesterday very widely public, because there is a very erroneous impression in this country about what has been done by our Forces?

Mr. Eden

I think there is very good cause for my hon. Friend's supplement- ary. In fact, the Royal Air Force did everything in their power to assist in that way, and I think I can also say that His Majesty's Government did everything in their power to bring about unity and understanding in this matter between our Allies.

Sir A. Knox

Is it not a fact that the Soviet Government refused to give permission until 14th September?

Mr. Eden

My hon. and gallant Friend is asking me why one of our Allies did not give assistance to another of our Allies. That is a question which might well be discussed in this House, but I would rather give consideration to my reply.

15. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that members of the Polish Underground Army, who, acting under orders from the Polish Government, have co-operated with the Soviet forces in the liberation of their country, have been arrested and deported by the Soviet authorities in Tarnopol, the province of Lublin, and other districts; and if he will make representations on the subject to the Government of the U.S.S.R. in the general interest of Allied relations.

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. My attention has been drawn to the reports to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers, and I have brought them to the notice of the Soviet Government. The latter have now informed me that they do not consider that these reports give a true picture of events in the areas in question. They state that almost all Polish army detachments found in Poland when the Soviet armies advanced are now fighting beside the Russians against the Germans.

Sir A. Knox

Is it not true that several individuals have been arrested and deported because they refused to take the oath of allegiance to the so-called Committee of Liberation?

Mr. Eden

As I have said, as soon as these reports were brought to my notice, J brought them to the notice of the Soviet Government, as I thought it my duty to do. The House will understand that there is no matter which causes mole concern to His Majesty's Government at this time than the relations between our Polish and our Russian Allies.

Earl Winterton

Is it not a fact that my right hon. Friend cannot be responsible for differences of opinion between our Allies, and that it is not for this House to say how they should be resolved?

Mr. McGovern

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that there is anything to be gained by covering up the fact that an Ally of ours is both deporting and shooting Nationalists and Socialists in Poland?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Gentleman talks about covering up matters, but I must tell the House that not only are these affairs of delicacy between Allies, but also that there is some difficulty in ascertaining the facts. Therefore, we should treat these matters with caution and with reserve at the present time.

Earl Winterton

Could my right hon. Friend not make it clear, in reply to my question, that His Majesty's Government can be responsible only for the conduct of His Majesty's Government, and cannot be responsible for the conduct of other nations?

Mr. Eden

My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct. That is why I explained that I was asked a question about affairs which concern two of our Allies, for which my responsibility is not direct.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

While it is true that these are matters of delicacy, are not matters concerning our responsibility to our Ally, Poland, also matters of principle?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, and our responsibility has been fully, and I might add gallantly, discharged.

Mr. Astor

Are there not liaison officers on the spot, from whom the Government get information?

Mr. Eden

We have been supplied with information from Warsaw; but perhaps my hon. Friend will put that question down.

46. Commander Bower

asked the Prime Minister, whether, having regard to the conflicting reports which have reached the public concerning the rising of General Bor's forces in Warsaw, he will make a full statement on the matter.

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

I would refer my hon. and gal- lant Friend to the statement which was made yesterday in reply to Questions on this subject.

Commander Bower

While fully appreciating the statement which was made yesterday, does my right hon. Friend realise that the public so far have heard a great deal of rumour, very few facts and an absolute spate of extremely tendentious Communist propaganda; and is it not necessary and desirable that a very full and frank statement should be made?

Mr. Attlee

I cannot agree with my hon. and gallant Friend's description of what information has been given to the public and I am quite certain that full opportunity will be taken to give any information that is possible on the very gallant defence of Warsaw.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not the case that, instead of a campaign of Communist propaganda, we have had a tendentious campaign of anti-Soviet propaganda?