HC Deb 07 February 1945 vol 407 cc2053-4
13. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if British and American war correspondents in Athens are now permitted to interview spokesmen of E.A.M. and E.L.A.S.

Mr. Law

It was decided that up to and during the period of negotiations correspondents should not be permitted to interview the delegates to the Conference. This decision was taken because it was felt that a series of statements to the Press by the delegates might well impede the course of negotiations or even prejudice their outcome. I hope that after the Conference it will be possible to make arrangements for a general Press conference at which full facilities will be given to Press correspondents to interview individual delegates.

Mr. Driberg

Meanwhile, is it not the case that other British civilians, such as the T.U.C. delegates, have been allowed to interview E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. spokesmen? Since the Press correspondents are allowed to interview one side, the Plastiras side, would it not be advisable to allow them to give a complete picture?

Mr. Law

I do not think the cases of the T.U.C. delegates and the Press correspondents are comparable. As to the general question, I think the House will appreciate that it would be extremely difficult to get a settlement of this very difficult problem if there was a sort of competition, both sides appealing to their respective publics back at home. I am sure that no good purpose would be served by allowing these interviews now. After the conference is over, I hope that it may be possible to grant such interviews.

Mr. A. Bevan

Since when has a fair presentation of the case of both sides come to be regarded as competition? Why should my right hon. Friend assume that it would prejudice the negotiations if publicity were given to the E.A.M. side, while it is facilitated and exclusively given to the Plastiras side?

Mr. Law

I did not say anything about fair presentation. What I was trying to convey to the House was that it did not really seem to be a very good idea, from the point of view of getting agreement, if delegates came hot from the disputes in the conference room, and gave heated interviews to the Press.

Hon. Members

Only one side.

Mr. McGovern

After all the propaganda that has been done by the Government against E.L.A.S., why should there be this special treatment for the other side? Is it not the case that the real reason for not allowing interviews is that they might conflict with what the Prime Minister said?

Mr. Law

No, Sir, there is nothing whatever in the suggestion made by the hon. Member.

Mr. McGovern

It is Churchill dictatorship, and nothing else.