HC Deb 29 March 1945 vol 409 cc1518-9
29. Sir William Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the copy sent to him of a leaflet, signed Alexander Ratcliffe, advertising a publication called "The Vanguard," which is being circulated to Members of Parliament and others, in which Hitler is held up as the saviour of Europe if he succeeds in sweeping hack Bolshevism, which is blessed by the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the American President"; and that action he is taking to prevent the, [...]irculation of leaflets designed to ha[...]per our war effort.

Mr. H. Morrison

Yes, Sir, I have considered the leaflet which my hon. Friend has sent me. It is very similar to the propaganda which this man has been disseminating since the beginning of the war, and objectionable though it is, I have found no evidence that he has succeeded in persuading the British public to accept his extraordinary views. Intervention on my part would appear to be unnecessary.

Sir W. Davison

Will my right hon. Friend say why this Mr. Ratcliffe and his pernicious paper should not be dealt with under Regulation 18B, under which far less notorious and more humble persons have been dealt with; and what is the reason for this differentiation?

Mr. Morrison

Regulation 18B was never meant to be used to put inside everybody we disagree with, and it is most important that that should be remembered. If I were convinced that this man was a danger to security, and the prosecution of the war, in he would go, but I am convinced that he is not, and that he is not worth the distinction that 18B would confer upon him.

Miss Rathbone

While agreeing with my right hon. Friend that this man and his activities are beneath contempt and should be ignored, is the Minister aware that the same man issued a regular stream of publications advocating a sort of racial hatred and anti-Semitism of the most violent form, and that he is doing real harm among ignorant people, and cannot that side of his activities be repressed?

Mr. Morrison

It is objectionable, but, again, the only question for me is this—Is it endangering security and the prosecution of the war to such an extent that I should take extreme action? I do not think it is and I beg of the House to treat with respect the instinct at the Home Office that we should not use these exceptional powers, unless it is really justified in the public interest.

Mr. Sorensen

Is there the slightest likelihood of this publication altering the further progress of the war now?

Sir W. Davison

In view of the shortage of paper, surely paper ought not to be supplied to such a publication as this?

Mr. Morrison

That is not for me, but for the Minister of Supply.

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