HC Deb 06 June 1946 vol 423 cc2140-1
20. Lieut.-Colonel Sharp

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the evidence found in documents captured from the enemy that a foreign government was subsidising the British Union of Fascists.

Mr. Ede

Yes, Sir. Letters from Count Grandi, the Italian Ambassador in London, to Mussolini, have been found among the latter's papers. The relevant portion of one such letter dated 30th January, 1934, is as follows: Mosley has asked me to express his gratitude to you for sending him the considerable sum which I arranged to hand over to him today. … He also spoke with gratitude of the simple generosity with which you accepted as a future commitment his requests for material aid… The relevant portion of a further letter dated 1st March, 1935, is as follows: At the moment you are spending a great deal of money in England. At any rate until a few days ago, you were giving Mosley about 3,500,000 lire a year in monthly instalments of about 300,000 lire. All this money, believe me, Duce, even on the best supposition simply goes down the drain. At the present time we should concentrate our efforts in a different direction. With a tenth of what you give Mosley, that is, with a monthly allowance to the Embassy of 35,000 lire, I feel that I could produce a result ten times better."

Lieut.-Colonel Sharp

Using the 1935 rates of exchange, can my right hon. Friend say what that payment represents in terms of British money?

Mr. Ede

On 1st March, 1935, the rate of exchange was 569/16 to 57 lire to the pound. At this rate 3,500,000 lire is equal to £60,403.

Mr. H. Hynd

May I ask what action the Home Secretary proposes to take in view of this very startling exposure?

Mr. Ede

Unfortunately, it was not illegal for Sir Oswald Mosley to receive this sum of money. I can only hope that this will be an instructive foreword to the book he proposes to publish.

Mr. Warbey

Would my right hon. Friend say, humorous as this subject appears to be to some hon. Members, that there is evidence here of traitorous activities?

Mr. Wilson Harris

Does the right hon. Gentleman know of any other sums of money being paid by other foreign Governments to any other parties in this country?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir. If I come across anything like that․and I am not compelled to disclose the source of my information in certain cases․I will certainly acquaint the House.

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the statement the Home Secretary has made, will not he follow it up by publishing the names in the book found in Captain Ramsay's flat?

Mr. Ede

I do not think there is very much connection between these two. I have no evidence that Captain Ramsay received money from outside this country.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why official cognisance was not taken of this transaction at the time?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir. I was not responsible at the time.