HC Deb 18 October 1950 vol 478 cc2019-20
3. Wing Commander Bullus

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations have been made by His Majesty's Government to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics regarding the Russian authority's restriction on the distribution of the British Embassy's weekly newspaper "British Ally" which has now been forced to close down.

Mr. Bevin

After frequent representations to the director of the Soviet State distributing organisation had produced no effect. His Majesty's Ambassador raised this question formally with the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister on 12th April, 1950. He pointed to contradictions which cast doubt on the genuineness of the State distributing agency's efforts to promote circulation, stated that direct representations had brought no result, and requested the assistance of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Wing Commander Bullus

What steps, if any, has the Secretary of State taken to find an alternative vehicle for the dissemination of British news and views?

Mr. Bevin

The Embassy are doing everything they possibly can. It is very difficult to establish an instrument there.

Mr. Deedes

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the "Soviet Monitor," published in London, in one week of this month alone produced 20 bulletins of something like 200 pages, and that the issue of yesterday, of which I have a copy here in my hand, had 20 pages of a speech by M. Vyshinsky? Will he draw the attention of the Soviet authorities in London to the implications of reciprocity?

Mr. Bevin

I do not think it will make any impression.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Is it possible, in view of the shortage of newsprint, to reduce the amount of newsprint that is issued to the Soviet authorities, in view of the fact that they have stopped our paper in Moscow?

Mr. Bevin

I am always reluctant to use any of these administrative methods, which may establish a precedent for interference. We have been asked lots of times to use our power, over the control of paper, to stop this or that publication from being published. I am always doubtful of the wisdom of the State's using that kind of instrument. It is better to act straightforwardly by legislation, or in some other way.