HC Deb 14 June 1945 vol 411 cc1780-1
Mr. Driberg (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that eight members of the party of eminent British scientists who were to leave today on a visit to Russia as guests of the Soviet Academy of Sciences have been notified that permission to leave this country has been refused them on security grounds; if he will state what security considerations are involved; and if, in the interests of good relations between Britain and the Soviet Union, he will cause this decision to be revoked forthwith?

The Prime Minister

The Soviet Government were good enough to issue invitations to some 40 distinguished men of science in the United Kingdom to attend the celebration in Moscow and Leningrad of the 220th Jubilee of the Soviet Academy of Scientists. The Royal Society and some 15 other scientific institutions of Great Britain were also invited to send representatives. The Soviet Ambassador in London informed the Foreign Secretary on 22nd May of the issue of these invitations, and my right hon. Friend replied welcoming the courteous action of the Soviet Government and expressing the hope that as many as possible of those invited would be able to go. As the Soviet Ambassador was informed yesterday, His Majesty's Government are happy to know that it has been possible for 21 of the scientists invited from this country to undertake the visit. It is true that in the case of eight other scientists who had accepted, His Majesty's Government did not feel able to authorise the grant of facilities for the journey. His Majesty's Government on consideration found that it was impossible to spare from the United Kingdom at this stage of the war against Japan which is still going on so many eminent scientists whose services they may wish to employ on research and other work connected with war operations. I am confident that the Soviet Union will understand the preoccupations in this respect of His Majesty's Government in view of the fact that this country is engaged still in a deadly war against a formidable enemy.

Mr. Driberg

Is the Prime Minister aware that the scientists who have been refused permission to leave include such world-famous men as Professor Milne, Professor Norrish, Sir Charles Darwin and Mr. Bernal, and that these scientists have been told by the Ministry of Information, who had arranged the visit, that it was only the last-minute interference of the military security authorities which prevented their departure?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. It is not on any question of security, but on a question of getting work done here which we have got to get done for the purpose of the Japanese war.