HC Deb 20 April 1953 vol 514 cc634-6
30. Lieut-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in which British newspapers articles appeared in respect of which, after complaints by the Belgian Government, apologies were tendered by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Nutting

The hon. and gallant Member is misinformed. No such apologies were made by Her Majesty's Government.

Lieut-Colonel Lipton

Will the Undersecretary be a little less evasive? Is he not aware that in the House on 1st April he said, in reply to a Question, that the British Ambassador in Brussels had been instructed to deplore the publication of articles in the British Press, and that Her Majesty's Government dissociated themselves entirely from them? Will he please now say what those articles were and in which papers they appeared?

Mr. Nutting

The hon. and gallant Gentleman, who has obviously shown a great interest in this problem, will have no great difficulty in finding out in which newspapers those articles appeared. So far as Her Majesty's Government's communication with the Belgian Government is concerned, we deplored the publication of these articles, which we considered insulting to the head of a friendly State. That is not an apology, but an expression of Her Majesty's Government's opinion.

Mr. Shin well

If the hon. Gentleman now admits that the United Kingdom Government did make a communication to the Belgian Government, deploring the appearance of these articles, surely he must know in which newspapers these articles appeared. Obviously, there was no point in deploring the event otherwise. Will he now, therefore, be good enough to say in which newspapers the articles appeared?

Mr. Nutting

The right hon. Gentleman could find that out very easily by reading the reactions of certain newspapers to the answer which I gave to his hon. and gallant Friend last time.

Mr. Shinwell

Is there a peculiar reason why the hon. Gentleman refuses to disclose the names of the newspapers? Surely he has no vested interest in the matter. Come on; answer the question.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Why are Her Majesty's Government apparently so much more ready to grovel abroad than to have the courage to come to the House and say what it is they have been grovelling about?

Mr. Callaghan

Is it not quite legitimate to ask the Under-Secretary, who says that the Government have deplored certain views that were expressed in certain newspapers, which newspapers they are? Does he not consider that this is information which should properly be given to the House? Why does he deny it to us? Will he not answer and tell us which newspapers the articles were in, or tell us why he is not prepared to give us the answer?

Mr. Nutting

I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by giving the names of the newspapers. I do not think that on an occasion like this it is common practice to do so. The hon. Gentleman can very easily find out for himself.

Mr. Callaghan

If I can easily find out for myself, and if the House of Commons is supposed to deduce from that that any article published in any newspaper has been deplored by the Government, it seems to me to be throwing a pretty wide aspersion on the British Press. Does the Under-Secretary not think that it is his duty to the British Press to particularise and tell us which newspaper it is whose views are deplored by Her Majesty's Government? This is a perfectly proper question, and one he should answer. May I press the Under-Secretary to answer the question?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

There seems to be a distinction drawn between an apology and deploring something else. Perhaps it might be an occasion for another Question.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.