HC Deb 27 November 1950 vol 481 cc784-5
55. Lord Dunglass

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he has taken to counteract the dissemination of anti-United Nations propaganda in this country as exemplified by the publication "American Armed Intervention in Korea," issued by the Soviet Embassy.

Mr. Ernest Davies

It is the policy of His Majesty's Government to permit the free expression of views. As regards Soviet publicity of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member, we think that the British public is sufficiently well informed and discerning to recognise the distorted nature of such propaganda.

Lord Dunglass

Is it not an exceptional abuse of diplomatic privilege to use a Press department in this way? As this pamphlet can fairly be described as seditious, would not the hon. Gentleman see whether he has any power to order its withdrawal?

Mr. Davies

This matter has been looked into. My right hon. Friend has no legal power to interfere with such publications. Of course, we consider that there is a limit to which diplomatic privilege can be extended, and we consider that it should be observed in such cases.

Earl Winterton

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether, in his opinion, this monstrous publication has in any way endangered the safety of British troops in Korea? Is he aware that, if it has, both the country and this House will be very angry indeed if the Government do not take some action? It is intolerable that British troops should be endangered in this way.

Mr. Davies

I am not in a position to say what effect this propaganda has had. It is not possible for us to assess the effects that it has had.

Mr. Sorensen

So that we may know what we are talking about, and whether this pamphlet is seditious or not, will my hon. Friend have a copy of it placed in the Library?

Mr. Davies

This pamphlet is called "American Armed Intervention in Korea." and was published by the "Soviet News," which is an organisation of the Soviet Embassy here. It reprints a great number of speeches made in the Security Council of the United Nations by the Russian representatives, and other statements are included in it.

Mr. Sorensen

May we have a copy placed in the Library?

Mr. Martin Lindsay

Would not His Majesty's Government be entirely within their rights in insisting upon the Soviet Press Department, or the Press department of any other Embassy, being closed in these circumstances? May I have a reply?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In addition to taking steps, will the hon. Gentleman look once more into the banning of this publication in the United Kingdom, and consult the Colonial Secretary in order to prevent absolutely its dissemination in the Colonial Empire?

Mr. Davies

I would like to repeat that under our present law it is not possible to ban this publication in this country.

Lord Dunglass

As this matter is of considerable importance I shall take the earliest opportunity to raise it on the Adjournment.

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