HL Deb 30 June 1942 vol 123 cc547-8

My Lords, I beg to ask the first question standing in my name.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, whether their attention has been drawn to reports which have appeared in the Press relating to the serious inadequacy of the arrangements to impress upon the people of the U.S.S.R. the intensity of the British war effort; if they can state when a Press office attached to the Embassy will be created and able to function; and whether such publications as Bomber Command and similar literature, will be made available for distribution in the Soviet Union.]


My Lords, the answer is "Yes." These reports have not always been accurate in fact and have generally failed to make allowance for the practical difficulties which have hampered our efforts to make the extent and intensify of the British war effort better known to the people of Soviet Russia. The ship carrying the newly-appointed Press Attaché and his staff was torpedoed and, though they were happily saved, the large consignment of books and other printed publicity which they took with them was all lost. Bomber Command, Battle for Britain and similar publications have been dispatched to our Embassy in Kuibyshev on repeated occasions during the last eight months. Our Press Attachè is now endeavouring to secure their publication in Russian.

The publicity mission arrived in the U.S.S.R. five weeks ago and after a month in Moscow they have now set up their headquarters in Kuibyshev. They have reached agreement with the Soviet authorities on various new measures. These include the publication of an illustrated weekly called The British Ally in Russian and the establishment of a British Library in Moscow. A steadily increasing number of British films is being regularly dispatched and radio programmes for the Soviet Union are being produced on records. My noble friend will appreciate that these activities and the replacement of the lost consignment of books and publicity material are hindered by the long and difficult journey between this country and the Soviet Union. Arrangements for the supply of Press matter about the British war effort have been successful and its dispatch by wireless has been steadily increasing until it has now reached an average of nearly 20,000 words a day.