HC Deb 05 July 1950 vol 477 cc458-9
22. Mr. Nally

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now make a full statement as to the present circulation and distributive arrangements under which the periodical, "British Ally," is published in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Mr. Ernest Davies

The latest circulation figure for "British Ally" received from the distributors is an average weekly sale of 14,802 for the month of February. No figures for subsequent months have yet been received. "British Ally" is distributed by the Russian State Distributing Organisation, whose responsibility it is to see that copies of the paper are available on newspaper kiosks and by direct subscription throughout the Soviet Union.

Mr. Nally

In view of the quite appalling decline in circulation of "British Ally" and the obvious fact that every difficulty is being placed by the Russian authorities in the way of the circulation of that paper, would my hon. Friend consider the possibility of putting before the Russian authorities a complete list of the publications which, very properly, His Majesty's Government see no objection to being published in this country and which have no other purpose except to serve the point of view of the Soviet?

Mr. Davies

His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow has been asked to investigate the causes of the decline in the circulation of "British Ally" and we are now awaiting his report. I would say that we are very loth to cease publication as long as it is possible to send behind the Iron Curtain any information regarding conditions in this country.

Earl Winterton

In view of the fact that every Russian, who is not an official, who reads this paper does so at the risk of his life, can the hon. Gentleman explain what precise purpose it serves and in what way it enhances Anglo-Soviet relations?

Mr. Davies

I would not accept the assumption of the noble Lord, because "British Ally" is on public sale on kiosks in Moscow and other Russian cities, and I very much doubt whether the persons who purchase it do so at the risk of their lives.