§ 2.58 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART rose to call attention to the composition, methods and purposes of the new totalitarian diplomacy; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, after I first set down this Motion f was, frankly, in two minds whether or not to go on with it; but my mind has been made up for me by two events, both of which are part of the Soviet diplomatic offensive to sever the last ties between Eastern Europe and the Western world. The first was the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty. 227 After that trial we sent a Note to the Hungarian Government in connection with their (breach of their obligations under the Human Rights clauses of their Treaty with us. Not only did we receive an extremely impertinent reply but in handing out this "stuff" to the Press the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Boldiszar, described the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs as "this Labour lackey of Western Imperialism." I really do not see why we should stand any more of that insolence. I will just give Mr. Boldiszar a "clout" in passing and then proceed to other matters. His name is not Boldiszar; it is Blau—"Little Boy Blue," in fact. His family were so snobbish that they thought the original name was not good enough for them, and so they took the name of one of the oldest aristocratic families in Hungary, Bethlen. But he was ragged out of that and took the name of Boldiszar. When one is such a snob one does not with advantage talk about "lackeys"—especially when one has been accommodating and submissive as long as the Germans were about.
The second event which influenced me was the trial of the Bulgarian pastors, which has resulted in the passing of such savage sentences. Again we sent several Notes, of similar tenor and, so far as I can understand, we received no reply at all to some of them. That I call insufferable insolence again. This is a matter about which I will say a few further words, because it is a replica of stale proceedings whereby harmless people are hounded into huge sentences and accused of espionage on our behalf—in this case also for eminent Churchmen in the West. What constitutes espionage in Totalitaria? All totalitarians hide banalities as squirrels conceal nuts. The most ordinary agricultural platitude is a State secret. And so, if anyone behind the Iron Curtain should hum
Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
How does your garden grow?
that is espionage; and if Mary answers, she is a traitress. And if you should hum "Little Boy Blue," that is lèse majesté. I am so sick of all this nonsense that I am going to carry the war into the enemy's country to-day. There is going to be some hard hitting in return
for all that my old Service has endured abroad.
§ Facts are sacred; comment may be profane (they are not Mr. Scott's words, they are mine), and I hope that before I sit down I shall have convinced not only your Lordships' House but the world at large that we, in common with all other democracies, are not the culprits but the victims of the abuses laid at our doors. And, above all, I hope to achieve my main object, which-I will be perfectly frank about it—is this. So long as we believe that the functions of diplomacy can be conducted by an underworld, and so long as we believe that we can have good relations with people who are determined to reject them, so long shall we fight the "cold war" with both hands tied behind our backs. I say that this "cold war" has been forced upon us, and that it should be fought under proper conditions of equality. Therefore three things are essential: first, that the British people should understand the degree of diplomatic infiltration to which we have already been subjected; secondly, that the Government also, I venture to think, should grasp at once the nature and structure of this diplomacy and the way in which it is still being altered—that is a matter of fundamental importance; thirdly, that our own diplomacy should be conditioned to cope with the diplomacy that comes from behind the Iron Curtain. So far we have hardly begun to do so.
§ The Soviet Government, with a multitude of initials, have set up a military diplomatic anteroom, as a branch of the General Staff in the Red Army, which instructs young people in the gentle arts of obtaining information, whereas we, apparently, have not got beyond issuing a handbook to younger diplomatists, instructing them how to behave at funerals other than their own. We continue to send behind the Iron Curtain amicable and honourable men in the old tradition and for the old purpose of maintaining good relations. What is their reward? They are flouted, deceived, insulted, spied upon. They cannot move a mile without the Secret Police piling after them. To associate with them means death or a long sentence of imprisonment. If they go to a reception they are often left in an anteroom while the new aristocracy is filling itself with 229 food. I think it is right to say that the old diplomacy at least had civilised manners. There is no reciprocity at all.
§ Totalitaria, contrariwise, send to us, for the novel purpose of maintaining bad relations, men who are uncouth, hostile agents. Why, my Lords, the very language of comity is becoming a dead one! And I venture to say that the elevation of Mr. Vyshinsky will mean a further degradation in that sphere. Even the Manchester Guardian, in its great moderation, said on Monday that diplomatic etiquette has sadly declined. Well, I'll say it has! The late United States Minister in Budapest was much nearer the mark when he said that totalitarian diplomacy had reached an all-time "low" in diplomatic Billingsgate. And so it has. What is really comic is that they do not confine it to other people; they apply it to themselves as well. For instance, last month Hungary accused Yugoslavia of using its diplomatic service for espionage purposes. Then Yugoslavia accused Hungary of the same thing, and Albania chipped in and accused Yugoslavia. The really comic thing about it is that it is all perfectly true. What they do to each other they do to us.
§ I am no praiser of past times; I hold no biased brief for the old diplomacy. I know that a good many people, including some of the supporters of the noble Lord on my left, say that the old diplomacy did not set the Thames on fire. Do the noble Lords on my left aspire to that aquatic incendiarism? I am sure they do not. I should be the last person in the, world to deny the lifelong work of my friends and colleagues. They have reached a high standard. But the representatives of the totalitarian countries aspire to setting a great deal more than the Thames on fire. They want to burn up our liberties and our humanities. If I may say so, the point that I want the Government and your Lordships' House to grasp is that totalitarian diplomacy has nothing whatever to do with international relations. Its sole purpose is the destruction of democracy. In the old diplomacy—and here I think the noble Earl, Lord Perth, will bear me out—we devoted our efforts, so far as was humanly possible, to the maintenance of peace. That was the overriding purpose of all democratic democracy, whereas in 230 these new hands diplomacy has become nothing else than an engine of the "cold war."
§ I am now going into some detail. I do so because I am indignant at the continual and senseless way in which our own people are being constantly and baselessly attacked. I think the best way of endeavouring to stop that is to tell the truth. Anyhow, it is high time that the truth was told. I shall begin my survey with Rumania, because the Government recently, and rightly, expelled two members of the Rumanian Service here. I congratulate them warmly on that action. There may subsequently be reasons to regard that as the thin end of the wedge, but we will leave that far to-day. Your Lordships will recollect that when last year Marshal Tito manifested a spark of independence, he was promptly "excommunicated" by the "high priest" of the Kremlin, and thereafter the Cominform transferred its headquarters from Belgrade to Bucharest. Since then the Cominform has canalised its westward communications mainly through three agencies—the Rumanian Consulate in Milan, and the Legations in Berne and Paris. Your Lordships will also remember that during the recent coal strike the Rumanian Legation in Paris was used for the transmission of funds and orders for subversion. In a minor way, the same sort of thing prevails here—I say "in a minor way" for reasons which I shall explain later. In any case, it will be apparent to your Lordships that now that Anna Pauker is virtually the ruler of Rumania, and also one of the most important people in the Cominform, the importance of Rumanian couriers and Missions for Cominform purposes has greatly increased.
§ I come now to some personal details. In the Rumanian Legation here, the effective leading personage is a man called Cornea. He is Russian-trained: he is in close touch with the Cominform authorities. The Rumanian Legation, in fact, has been reduced to the status of a subsection of the Soviet Information Service—as, of course, have all the satellite Missions. We have not protested about that we are a long-suffering and patient people. All that I am about to say is directed to proving that if anybody is entitled to complain, it is we and not they. The Counsellor of Legation is a man called Macovescu who, during the 231 late war, wrote in the Rumanian paper Timpul some violently anti-British articles, and praised the Germany army. I mention that because we do not do that sort of thing. Who is the aggrieved party?
§ Another personage in the Legation who complements the work of Mr. Cornea is a man called Berman, and under their guidance a large number of Rumanians—I think about 75 of them—have taken out what I might call "Pauker" passports. They are grouped and controlled in the Anglo-Rumanian Society whose principal members are Messrs. Gallacher, Piratin, Pritt, Hewlett Johnson, Haldane, Solley, and so on. On the Rumanian-born side, one of the principal people is a man called Negrea, an ex-sailor and, as I believe, is at the present moment naturalised and holds some position in the Electrical Workers' Union. His assistant is a man called Zaidman who belongs to both the British and the Rumanian Communist Parties. I mention that briefly because, from what I have told your Lordships about it, you can easily gather the purposes and usages of that Society. Nothing of that kind—not one-hundredth of it—would be tolerated in any satellite country. No British body which indulged in a fraction of those activities would be allowed to remain. Its members would be gaoled and very likely slaughtered. Where, again, does the cause for complaint lie? Who is the aggrieved party? We are. My own view is that a Society of that sort should not be allowed to function, but I will return to that theme later.
§ It so happens that from the point of view of the Cominform, the principal personage hitherto has been not in the Rumanian Legation but in the Bulgarian Legation. Again, I am going to deal with this in some detail because it shows the sort of thing that we patiently put up with, and it also demonstrates the complete loss of independence on the part of the satellite countries. This gentleman, who is not for the moment in the country, is by name Petashev. Your Lordships would not know him by that name because he calls himself Boev. As there is a spate of aliases to come, I would just like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Perth, whether he can confirm my failing memory, because I have a strong 232 impression that the old diplomacy preferred people who called themselves by their real names—I do not make much of that point, because this is an era of aliases. For example, Stalin is not Stalin, Molotov is not Molotov, Tito is not Tito and Hitler was not Hitler.
§ If we go a little further into the matter, Mr. Rakosi was extremely offensive to His Majesty's Government last Saturday; so I will give him a little "clout" in passing, too. Mr. Rakosi is not Mr. Rakosi; his name is really Rosenkrantz. And his principal assistant, Mr. Rajk, is not Rajk at all; his name is Reich. He is a German and he had a Nazi brother. His other assistant and colleague, Mr. Vas, is not Mr. Vas at all; his name is Weinberger. One does not need to dwell on that sort of thing, and I think perhaps I have said enough to explain a little of the liking of the old diplomacy for some reliability in nomenclature—and when I use long words the House may be sure I am trying to be polite.
§ I return for a moment to Mr. Boev. He lived in Bulgaria until 1922, and I think I can give an account of him which will speak for itself, so that I need make no comment. After 1922 he went to Soviet Russia; and in 1928 he became a Soviet citizen. In 1929 he was sent to Istanbul, nominally as a commercial agent but really as the chief representative of the Comintern. Thereafter, he fulfilled similar functions in Vienna, and from 1933 to 1936 he was in Shanghai similarly employed. Then he returned to Moscow, where he was employed in the Soviet Ministry of the Interior—your Lordships know what that means, of course; that is the N.K.V.D. He remained there until 1945, when he was sent on a mission to Bulgaria, being subsequently appointed police inspector at the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior, which is also the secret police. So this very interesting gentleman has been a member of both the Soviet and the Bulgarian secret police. I am rather inclined to think—again I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, would bear me out—that under the old diplomacy it would have been a most unusual occurrence for the representative of one country to be the police agent of another. But again we have made no complaint. As I say, we are an extremely patient and long-suffering people. But I ask again: Where 233 does the balance of complaint lie? Is it not time that this campaign of calumny against our own representatives abroad ceased?
§ I come next to the Czechoslovak Embassy. Some very odd and quite notorious things have been happening there, and I make no apology for mentioning them. A little while ago (and this is perhaps an illustration of the new diplomacy) it was discovered that an ingenious gentleman at the Ministry in Prague, and an equally ingenious gentleman at the Embassy here, had hit upon the happy idea of providing diplomatic bags with false bottoms, which were used for the smuggling of large quantities of artificial jewellery. Of course, the promoters took a considerable "rake-off" and I think that both ultimately ended up in gaol. But that is a minor matter. The bulk of the proceeds went to finance Communist propaganda in this country, and particularly a system of intelligence in our factories. The man at the Prague end who controlled the Ministry was the Communist chief of police. He was here during the war, and he was a man called Dr. Toman. But of course his name is not Toman, he is Goldberger. The man at this end was a gentleman called Dr. Zeman, and of course his name was not Dr. Zeman either; it was Ackermann.
§ Those are all something of a novelty, I think Lord Perth will agree, compared with what we conceive to be the proper composition of diplomatic Missions. Dr. Toman and/or Goldberger, and Dr. Zeman and/or Ackermann were both N.K.V.D. men. Dr. Zeman's chief occupation in this country was that of spying upon other refugees. Your Lordships may be surprised when I tell you that Some of the most distinguished exiles here have told me personally that they make a point of never going out alone after dark if they can possibly help it. They are afraid, and they say quite frankly that they are afraid, because of the number of such agents. My Lords, this used to be a free country, where men could walk unafraid, and I hope that it may be found possible to do something to abate, I was going to say a nuisance, but it is more than that—it is a curse.
§ Yet another very interesting and notorious episode was the affair of Mr. Hampl. Mr Hampl was caught red-handed (I think the adjective is peculiarly 234 applicable) in espionage, and the Government very properly asked him to leave. They were very kindly and gentle, as usual, and most reasonable. But then a curious thing happened. A number of the supporters of noble Lords on my left made matters very uncomfortable for their responsible Minister in another place, because they wanted Mr. Hampl to stay; they said they were sure there had been some mistake. They were quite right; there was a mistake, but it was theirs. For instance, they said that Mr. Hampl had done marvellous work for Anglo-Czechoslovak relations. It so happens that Mr. Hampl was not really a Czech at all. He is a German Jew, who came into Czechoslovakia for the first time in 1934. Ho spoke practically no Czech then, and he speaks it badly now—just as his predecessor in the Czechoslovak Friendship Society, a man called Loebl, spoke it badly. These are somewhat dangerous waters to enter, but I mention the episode again just to show how long-suffering we are. In what other country in the world could a body of respectable members of an elected Chamber have approached and reproached their own ministerial colleague with a slogan which virtually amounted to saying, "Let the guy have one more spy"? We are really extraordinarily kindly people. Who then should do the protesting?
§ I return to "Little Boy Blue" for one moment, because there again we have some cause for dwelling on the disparity between the facilities enjoyed by our people in Hungary and those enjoyed by their people here. The chargé d'affaires is a man called Eros. I need hardly say that that is not his name; his real name is Stark. And I hasten to explain that that has absolutely nothing to do with the condition in which Eros is usually depicted. The name means "strong" in German and Eros means "strong" in Hungarian. Mr. Eros enjoys every facility here. He is an extremely active man. It is right for him to take full advantage of those facilities, but he enjoys facilities which are many times—I would say probably one hundred times—greater than those likely to be allowed to our new Minister in Hungary. I personally propose to keep an eye on that because I consider there should be a rule or something approaching it (although I think there never will be), and Mr. 235 Boldiszar would do well to remember that some of us think these facilities are already excessive.
§ One of his secretaries, a man called Pulay, is an ardent ex-Nazi and therefore an Anglophobe. We do not send people of that sort abroad, and I think we have some legitimate sense of grievance if we have to accept them here. Then, again, there is the Press attaché, Mr. Ignotus, who does not at all live up to his name because he is not at all "unknown" but is an extremely active and a very competent propagandist. He enjoys any amount of facilities. Naturally, his name is not Ignotus at all; it is Feigelsberg. I think that our own people should have at least, say, 10 per cent. of the liberties enjoyed by these satellite Missions here. If they do not get it, and if we have any more of this abuse of them, we should be prepared to strike back. If we have any more of this gross impertinence and breach of treaty obligations, I would suggest that the Hungarian Club in London should be closed down. It is nothing but a hotbed of Communism, anyway. There is no advantage to us in maintaining it. I would suggest, similarly, that a sharp eye should be kept on the Hungarian Association, whose headquarters are at 22, Manchester Square. We have there hostages to fortune which we can use if similarly insulted. I think we would be wrong in treating the outbursts of men like Mr. Blau as beneath our notice. It is not good for us to pass these things by.
I have now given your Lordships a short sketch of the kind of material of which the new diplomacy is composed. You will see for yourselves that it is altering in character very much. Believe me, I am not in the least pernickety. I know that it takes all sorts to make an underworld, and in the old diplomacy there were just one or two—possibly, again, the noble Earl will bear me out—who corresponded to the famous description of Mr. Hilaire Belloc in The Modern Traveller:
A man of iron, cold and hard,
He very rarely touched a card,
But when he did he cheated.
I knew one or two like that—I knew one or two who cheated me. But that is all a thing of the past, and now I would like to say this: the old diplomacy, on the
whole, was composed of extremely respectable people. Some might even have called us hum-drum. But it had not this curious admixture of narks, stool-pigeons, double agents and even terrorists. That was completely lacking, as I think the noble Earl will agree.
§ I have followed the recipe of the Secretary of State, so I am sure I shall have the approval of the Front Bench, because I have "put all my cards face upward on the table," and your Lordships will have observed that there is perhaps an unduly high proportion of knaves in the pack. I will not develop that further for the present, but I will say quite candidly what is in my mind. I want the plot to be thinned, not thickened, and so long as peace is endangered I do not want us to be in a position where our own security services might be swamped by the multiplicity of conspirators. That is just as much part of the national safety as anything else. I do not ask for rupture, but I ask for diminution. I want the Augean stables to be swilled out a little, and I beg noble Lords on my left to be in no fear of reprisals. You will always get the better of that for the reasons which I have explained: they have much more to lose than we have.
§ I beg you also not to be afraid of being just and logical. I do not, of course, desire in any way to embarrass the noble Lord who has to answer me to-day, so I am certainly not begging the Government to send back their Ambassador to Madrid, though I, personally, think it was a foolish move ever to remove him. I do say, however, that it would be indefensible hypocrisy to have no Ambassador there while mechanically, in the face of every sort of provocation, maintaining full diplomatic representation behind the Iron Curtain. Here I am speaking for my own cloth—or rather for what was my own cloth. In Spain our representatives are free to go where they like. They can talk to whom they wish; they are not under any sort of handicap in that way, whereas behind the Iron Curtain our representatives are so isolated that their very friendship endangers their friends. And there is really more than that to it. Without in any way wishing to do so, they also endanger their local staffs—their translators, their typists and the clerks they employ.
§ Let me give your Lordships an example. There was a man called Genov 237 who had for long been a faithful employee of ours (and who was also a good Bulgarian) at the Legation in Sofia. Quite suddenly, the secret police came down upon him, swept him away and gave him twelve years solitary confinement for no cause whatever. If we employ people of that kind we owe it to there to be tough enough to protect them. What I should like to see done in a case like that, and what I would have done, would be to send for Mr. Boev and say: This is not an ultimatum, for that is not at all our way of doing things now, but unless you can see your way to let Mr. Genov free in a week or, say, a fortnight, I am afraid it will become progressively necessary for you to do all your own ciphering, typing and manual work, as we shall not be able to allow you to retain these ample facilities which you now deny to us. I hope you will understand that we should hate to inconvenience you, especially as we all know perfectly well the great amount of work which you have on your hands in other directions."
§ I am the last person in the world to wish to stand on my dignity—very likely I have not enough to bear my weight—but I think there are times when we should stand on ours. I say this apropos of Bulgaria. I still feel—and I hope that the House will feel also—extremely resentful at the sentences which were passed there yesterday. Incidentally, if I may say so, I think that the poor people who were on trial have been, without meaning to be, a good deal too clever for the Bulgarian Government, or the Bulgarian Government have been a good deal more stupid than they realise; because when people are reduced to such a state that they give thanks with tears in their eyes for having a sentence of penal servitude for life imposed upon them, the whole world can form a very shrewd opinion of what they have been through.
§ The episode I had in mind occurred on December 19, when Dimitrov made a speech which lasted twelve hours. It takes a Communist to be quite such a crashing bore. He spent a good deal of that twelve hours in unmitigated abuse of this country, with Mr. Pollitt sitting on the platform and thoroughly enjoying what he could not understand. I do not think the old diplomacy would have stood for that. If a chief of a State had been quite so offensive as Dimitrov was to us 238 —your Lordships may, remember among other things he said that we are a second-class Power, that we were saved from Germany only by Russia, and that kind of thing—we should have called upon him for an apology, and if it had not been forthcoming we should have asked our representative to come home, at least for a consultation. Well, we missed that opportunity, but, in tardy retribution and also in recognition of the savagery of yesterday's proceedings, I suggest that we might at least consider closing the Anglo-Bulgarian Club. Its President, I believe, is Commander Young, who told us it was a scandal when we protested against the execution of Petkov. From that you can easily gauge the character of this organisation.
§ Then, to take another example of the kind of thing that should be done, there is the case of Mr. Gillan, who was Professor of English at Prague and Olomouc Universities. All of a sudden he and his wife and child were thrown out of Czechoslovakia, neck and crop. His only crime was that he had been popularising English literature and therefore English in Czechoslovakia, and the Communists were determined to get rid of him. We protested over and over again and got nothing but rudeness in return. I take this opportunity of begging the Government to reduce their protests to a rock-bottom minimum, because they get only insolence in reply. What we need is not words but action, action which cannot be misunderstood. I cannot see what would have been the matter then with sending a couple of Czechs to join Mr. Hampl. That, I think, would have been the right action.
§ There is absolutely no reason at all to be nervous in this matter. The French are in a much more difficult position than we are, but they have been expelling Communist agents for a very long while past. They expelled a brace of Rumanians long before we did, and the French Minister of the Interior, a Socialist colleague of the noble Lords on my left and a man of very great character and courage, has been doing much more than that. First he closed down the Hungarian Association of Democrats, which was nothing but a branch of the Cominform—and that is about all I am asking the Government to do with the London Hungarian Club, if we receive any further provocation.239
§ He also closed down the body known as the C.A.D.I., the initials for the Committee of Action and Defence of Immigrants. That is also another branch of the Cominform, a continuation of the prewar body knows under the initials of M.O.P.R., which will be familiar to a good many of your Lordships. All these bodies worked in conjunction with the secret police and the Soviet Embassy, as they all do everywhere. I do not think anybody supposes that what happened in Canada stood by itself. If one wants any further illustrations, why, in Switzerland the so-called commercial secretary of the Rumanian Legation has been arrested and is under investigation by the federal police. In Turkey they have expelled the Bulgarian military attaché. There are plenty of precedents. It is not at all a difficult nettle to grasp, if grasped firmly. All these things, as I have said from the start, are part of the cold war.
§ As part of that cold war I wish to make another and very concrete suggestion: that our broadcasts must be a great deal tougher. Our language broadcasts to Eastern and South Eastern Europe are really of little use. I have met a good number of Czech refugees in this country who have told me that almost the only broadcasts their compatriots risk getting into trouble to listen to are those of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart on Friday evenings. The rest they think hardly worth while, although naturally there are exceptions. That is pretty well the case everywhere. I am asking the Government, and asking them very definitely, to admit the more distinguished of our refugees here to a far freer access to the microphone. At present they have very little. And when they are there, I hope that a minimum of cramp will be put on their style. Naturally, there must be some supervision, but I hope the B.B.C. will see that it is not exaggerated. That is an essential factor. At present we are fighting a "cold war" in the spirit of the battle of Fontenoy 200 years ago, the period of war in lace and "Gentlemen of the Guard shoot first." I need hardly say that the gentlemen of this guard always respond to such an invitation and shoot first—and never stop. We hardly ever counter-attack. We never anticipate.240
§ All that needs altering. We have another means of making our weight and displeasure felt and that is in the realm of trade. According to the vibrant prose of the Board of Trade Journal about the only thing Bulgaria has to offer us is tomato puree. Surely in this Lenten season we can forgo this mess! I hasten to assure the Government that I am always ready to deny myself anything I do not like, and in that sacrificial spirit I have the overwhelming majority of my fellow countrymen with me. Perhaps the noble Lord who is to answer is prepared to make a little bargain over that. Let me put it this way. In the case of any further sauce from Sophia, would he engage to crack down on the puree? All the satellite countries—Czechoslovakia. Rumania and Hungary—want to sell us a lot of things we really do not need. I hope noble Lords on my left have not neglected their classics, more particularly one in the lighter vein called Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, one of the few really sweeping statements which may be true. The lady perpends that orchids are very nice, but a diamond bracelet lasts for ever. If for "orchids" we read "consumer goods" and for "diamond bracelet" we read "machinery and capital goods," we shall be able to come to some idea of where the balance of advantage in this commerce lies. I even extend that somewhat coarse analogy to the coarse grains of Soviet Russia. Here, at least, is a field in which we could and should look after ourselves in the event of any further provocation. I hope to obtain from the noble Lord to-day an assurance that that field will be explored and acted in in case of necessity.
§ There is one other thing I should like to say. So long as this abuse and these abuses continue, some care should be exercised in our social intercourse with Totalitaria. I remember it was at the end of last year that the Soviet radio was being more than usually abusive of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and, in a minor degree, the Lord President. In the middle of that, the Soviet Embassy threw a "beano" in Millionaire's Row which was attended by three Cabinet Ministers. I do not suppose they really thought of what they were doing, but when malevolent foreigners intended to misinterpret, as they always do, they naturally found 241 some cause for the supposition, quite unfounded I know, that the Ministers in question did not much mind what was said about their colleagues. This led, therefore, to misconceptions and rumours about divisions in the Cabinet, and so on. Practices like that should be very strictly limited.
§ After that there was an improvement. A similar party was thrown at the Rumanian Legation, but the only personages billed as having attended it were Mr. Solley, Mr. Piratin and Mr. Platts-Mills—I beg your Lordships' pardon; of course, Mr. Zilliacus was there too. I very nearly did not mention him, because I see that the Labour Party have decided to dispense with his disservices, although according to to-day's Press, he seems to have certain adhesive qualities. Anyhow, he was there. But unfortunately something rather had did happen in the middle of the Mindszenty case—a party at the Hungarian Legation. Again, three Ministers attended, although their own senior colleagues were at that time loudly condemning this whole travesty of justice, as indeed they were entitled to do. I assure your Lordships that that gives rise to the same sort of misinterpretation that I mentioned in connection with the Soviet affair. I am sure nothing of the sort was in the minds of the Ministers, whose presence was trumpeted abroad by the Hungarian radio as a triumph. I am convinced that what was really in their minds was this: they thought—and thought wrongly—that totalitarian diplomacy still has something to do with the maintenance of good relations, to which they would be contributing by their presence; whereas, I repeat, the whole purpose of Totalitaria is the destruction of democracy, and nothing else.
§ Therefore, I earnestly beg His Majesty's Government to recognise the transformation that has taken place in the very nature of diplomacy. It is a phenomenon of the most fundamental importance. If we are to safeguard our interests against its insidious erosions, its constant minings and sappings in conjunction with our own home-grown disloyalists, then we must be ever vigilant to translate our awareness not into vain words but into sharp deeds. I beg to move for Papers.242
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I am sure all your Lordships will agree that the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has rendered a signal service to the House in bringing forward this Motion to-day and in justifying his charges and his recommendations with such a wealth of authentic detail—I would have said entertaining detail were the subject not far too serious to be taken in a jocular spirit. I am sure—I hope the Government will agree with this—that we are faced with a new situation, or, at any rate, a development of an old situation on an entirely unprecedented scale. We must do a good deal of clear and unprejudiced thinking, and we ought not to be tied in any way by precedent in what we decide to do.
I do not think there will be any dispute about the facts. Nobody doubts that the swollen staffs of the Russian and satellite Missions would engage, if they are not already engaging—and I know, or at least I think I know, that some of them are engaging—in espionage and subversive activity. And when I say "espionage," I mean real espionage, and not the nonsensical, so-called espionage to which the noble Lord has referred. With some experience of security, I am much more anxious about what is being done underground than about the rude and vulgar abuse which is the commonplace output of their speakers and their radio. The situation is not an entirely new one. We have not previously faced it an this scale, but we have had to face it before. Your Lordships will remember that years ago the Russians had a trading organisation here—called, I think, "Arcos"—which was caught out in subversive activity and was very properly dealt with. If I remember rightly—the noble Earl, Lord Perth, could easily confirm this—the Japanese used to maintain an enormous staff at the League of Nations, quite disproportionate to their active support of that worthy body, and really for purposes which they euphemistically called "intelligence."
Now I want to ask this question: Do the staffs of these Russian and satellite Missions enjoy diplomatic immunity? If, by putting a mass of agents into a building or a series of buildings—and they are the only people who seem to be able to afford large houses to-day—they can put the shield of diplomatic immunity over all those people, then we are faced with a really intolerable situation and one which 243 we must curtail. I would like to know how many of these people there are who enjoy this diplomatic immunity. If the noble Lord who is to reply cannot give us that information to-day, I am sure he will give us a Written Answer at a later stage in which he will set out for us the total numbers enjoying diplomatic immunity in the Soviet Embassy and Missions, and in the various satellite Legations, Embassies or Missions, which, of course, act in accordance with their master's voice. I would ask the noble Lord not only to give us those numbers (we are becoming rather used in these days, whether in expenditure or in diplomacy, to somewhat large figures) but to let us know also how those numbers compare with the numbers in a major Embassy, say the French Embassy. I think he can probably give us a rough figure to-day, and it will make a very interesting comparison.
Hitherto, diplomatic immunity has been based on three principles. In the first place, it has been confined to genuine diplomats, with a staff sufficient for them to discharge their proper functions; the second principle has been—and it has hitherto always been accepted—that diplomatic immunity will not be abused; and the third principle has been that there shall be mutual reciprocity. Not one of those principles is accepted in fact—I doubt whether even in theory—by Russia or her satellites to-day. Because trade is entirely in the hands of the State under a Communist régime there is no reason in the world why trade organisations should enjoy diplomatic immunity; and certainly they should not if there is no reciprocity. When we send our traders and industrialists to Russia, or to one of these satellite States, they have no immunity. Indeed, your Lordships will remember what happened before the war, when one of the greatest English firms—namely, Metropolitan - Vickers—were engaged for the great benefit of the Russian people in erecting a fine electrical plant in Russia. Because it suited a particular piece of Russian propaganda during some purge, several of the engineers employed by that firm were seized, tried, and kept in prison for a considerable time, on the fantastic charge that they were sabotaging the building they were themselves putting up. That 244 was the greatest nonsense, and I am glad to say that firm action was taken at the time. Although no doubt the men were convicted by an amenable judge, they did not suffer either incarceration or further inconvenience. Very soon after the building was completed, I believe, it was successfully but unintentionally sabotaged by the Russian engineers who were trying to run it. I rather hope that similar things may happen to-day.
I do not know whether the Coal Board have an office in Moscow, but if they have, and if Lord Pakenham's nationalised aviation companies open an office in Russia or in the satellite countries, I am pretty certain that they will not receive diplomatic immunity for their representatives. These trade missions are not embassies in any proper sense of the word, and they ought not to enjoy any form of diplomatic immunity which is not completely reciprocated to traders in this country, whether nationalised or not. I care not at all whether those trade missions are situate inside an embassy building or outside it. We ought to make it perfectly plain that missions ought not to be entitled to any more consideration than is accorded in decent countries to ordinary traders the world over.
As for these other organisations, societies and clubs which the noble Lord has mentioned, I do not think the Government need be too anxious about what is done about them. If I may venture to give a precedent, I would remind your Lordships of the course of events when the Italians established so-called cultural organisations in Malta, such as the Dante Aligheri Society, the Ballila and the Avanguardisti. Although when I was Secretary of State for the Colonies in the early 'thirties, we were then a long way from the imminence of war, I received the full approval and support of all Parties here for closing down those organisations which were engaged in subversive activities in Malta. If it was right to do that, and if it was universally applauded way back in 1931 or 1932, I am sure that the Government need not be too considerate of these cultural organisations which we have in our cities.
I would echo what the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has said: Do not be afraid of retaliation. The bogy which is always raised—it really is a bogy and 245 nothing more—is the threat that, if we retaliate, if we behave with ordinary common sense, as I would say, these people will not trade with us. As it is, I am not sure that we make such good trade agreements. I do not want to introduce an undue note of controversy, where so many of us are agreed, but I have heard that, in a recent grain contract which we negotiated with the Russians, we did not include any quality clause as to what was to be supplied, or any arbitration clause as to what should happen if the contract was not properly carried out. That failure may have been more due to the ineptitude of our bulk-buying than to the cleverness of the Russians. The Government will not make any worse contracts if they behave sensibly. It was never worth while being blackmailed in trade negotiations. Once you submit to blackmail you go on the down-grade—it is extraordinarily hard to resist it. Even if you have started to submit to blackmail, the way back, as every policeman, every solicitor or every man of common sense will advise you, is to turn your steps as quickly as you can.
It is not that we do not want to trade with Russia—we do. But make no mistake about it: Russia needs our trade much more than we need hers. The Russians need the products of our industry, and they need even more the raw materials of the Empire, the rubber and the tin which (rather foolishly, as I think, and without any consideration of the sort of thing we have been discussing today, we have been allowing the Russians to stock-pile. Their action will be dictated by their interests, and by nothing else. Do not be taken in because they first of all suddenly stop buying something, or fail to pay—that is a perfectly ordinary trick: which is always tried in these long-fraud arrangements. But in the long run (and this is a question which will be decided in the long run), there is not the faintest doubt that they have a great deal more to lose over trade than we have. When you come to countries like Hungary, the argument applies still more strongly. We shall not stop Russian fifth column activity, but that is no reason why we should make that activity easier for them all round. We shall be more respected and more successful if we make 246 it clear that we mean to safeguard our own interests.
I want to add only one thing more. I hope that in this we shall move wisely but firmly. This is not a case for withdrawing an ambassador. Frankly, I have always thought that a very foolish move. I think it generally has a rather boomerang effect, and I do not think a country gains by it in the least. But the withdrawal of an ambassador is entirely different from saying that we are not going to tolerate subversive activities by trade missions. I hope that we shall act sensibly, wisely and firmly, and I hope that we shall act in close contact and co-operation with the United States. They are subject to the same sort of attention all over the world as this country is. They are larger, and they get more of it, although we certainly get our fair share. The Americans are faced with the same underground problems, and I am sure they are considering what action they should take. I think it is wise that we should consult together and, above all things, I am sure that both of us should act firmly in our own interests, and should give a lead to all other countries who are suffering in the same way and who are looking to see how we act.
§ 3.58 p.m.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate, but as the noble Lord who moved the Motion and the noble Viscount both appealed to my memory, I feel hound to say a few sentences. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, asked whether I could confirm whether the members of the old diplomacy worked for peace. That, clearly and most certainly, I can do. The second point Lord Vansittart made was whether members of the old diplomacy used false names. Again I can say definitely they certainly did not. The last point was that there were members who, different from the main body of their colleagues, sometimes stacked the cards or cheated. Well, of course, that is true; but the remarkable thing was that they were always found out, and their utility was completely lost. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, asked me about the Japanese at Geneva. There were a considerable number of Japanese, and the noble Viscount will remember that in the early days the Japanese were very loyal and useful members of the League of 247 Nations. It was later, I think after I left, that spying began—if indeed there was spying.
On the issue of the Motion itself I would remind noble Lords that diplomatic privileges and amenities are not based on any absolute principle of international law. They are based solely on the principle of reciprocity. I have read a certain amount of international law, and I think that this thesis cannot be denied. If that be so His Majesty's Government would be perfectly entitled to say that members of diplomatic missions, of consulates and of trade missions in this country should certainly not have any large numerical superiority over our diplomatic missions, trade missions and consulates in countries behind the Iron Curtain. That would be mere reciprocity and not contrary to international law. The same thing applies to restrictions on travel. I think it is intolerable that there should be these restrictions in countries like Russia on the travel of members of our diplomatic missions. I think we ought to say to these countries "If you place these restrictions on our diplomats we will place them on yours." That again would be simply reciprocity. Therefore, I hope the Government will consider very earnestly the various proposals made by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. I do not think they are inconsistent with international law; and as, unhappily, our present policy with regard to countries behind the Iron Curtain cannot be said to be completely successful, I think a modification of it in the direction I suggest cannot possibly do any harm and may do much good.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, for initiating this discussion on matters of importance and concern to us all. He has, as is usual with him, given us a speech which has greatly impressed and I think also delighted the House, and which will be read with interest far beyond its walls—though no doubt it will have a disagreeable taste for certain portions of the world. I want to say at once that I find myself in agreement with much that has been said by the noble Lords who have spoken. A number of suggestions have been made which I will very readily have considered. One or two specific points have been raised, to some 248 of which I know I am not expected to reply, but I shall be very glad to obtain the required information and supply it. One or two other points I shall deal with presently, but before doing so I shall deal quite briefly and in general terms with some of the broader issues covered by the terms of the Motion.
The root of the trouble is that Soviet Russia has a different conception of diplomacy from ours, and she has been very largely able to impose that conception on the Eastern European countries. As the noble Lords, who preceded me have said, we in this country and in the West generally regard diplomacy as the art of settling international problems peacefully, as a means of reaching agreement and of promoting co-operation. Soviet Russia, on the other hand, uses diplomacy as a means to further the Communist influence in all countries and as a weapon in the "cold war" which they are waging for that purpose against the West. We have surely had ample experience since the end of the war to convince us that one of their chief aims is to prevent non-Communist nations from getting together or organising their interests in common. As we all know, the Soviet bloc has been organised as a group of police States on a common political, economic and defence basis. The Soviet Union is the leader and the satellites have to be the faithful followers. When any one of them dares to display any sign of independence—as—in the case of Yugoslavia—the rest gang up to deal with such recalcitrance and by political or trade pressures to compel a return to the strait and narrow path. Ceaseless propaganda is poured out to make the world believe that the Communist bloc is a great peace camp representing the growing and gathering forces of democracy of progress.
But when the non-Communist nations come together for political, economic and defence co-operation, they are cynically misrepresented as the forces of Imperialism and reaction and charged with warmongering. The Soviet Government seek to present themselves as the greatest peace-loving force in the world. Their "peace offensives" are designed to create the impression, both within and outside the Iron Curtain, that it is the Soviet Union which is the tireless champion of peace, whose efforts are constantly being frustrated by the Anglo-American camp, 249 which is accused of pursuing a policy of aggression and imperialistic encirclement. To this end they make the fullest possible use of propaganda techniques and publicity agencies—the radio, the Press, Press agencies, and international platforms such as those provided by the United Nations Assembly and other bodies. There can be no doubt about the tension which exists in the world to-day, nor about the fear and uncertainty which has been created by Soviet policy and actions since the end of the war. It would be a welcome release if the tension could be relaxed and confidence in international peace and security put on a firm basis. The simple truth is that it will not be Soviet propaganda but only Soviet deeds for peace that will bring both relaxation and confidence.
Reference has been made in the debate to the recent trial in Hungary of Cardinal Mindszenty and the present trials of the pastors in Bulgaria, which ended yesterday. The whole Western world is united in its condemnation and abhorrence of these crude and cruel methods which are directed to intimidate the spiritual leaders into submission. The Russians and their satellites clearly hope first to destroy the Church as a centre of spiritual resistance, and secondly, to use a puppet Church as a means of controlling the minds and sympathies of the people. These are but the latest in a constant series of managed trials in all the orbit countries, designed to show that anybody who is not a Communist, or more especially who has a contact with the West, is guilty of espionage or of plotting against the State, and will be ruthlessly dealt with.
It is remarkable how widespread this alleged offence of plotting against the State seems to be in the so-called "popular democracies." The Socialists in Poland; the Peasants and the Socialists in Rumania; the Agrarians and the Socialists in Bulgaria, the Churches in Hungary and Bulgaria, the Army in Czechoslovakia—the list could be continued almost indefinitely. Every class and profession in the population seems to be up to the eyes in it. But nobody any longer believes the confessions extorted by a totalitarian police and produced in these trials. We do not even believe the now invariable item in the confessions of the unhappy victims to the effect that 250 they have been well treated by the police and that their confessions have not been extorted from them. Why should anyone believe them? According to the Communist conception, a trial is held in order to buttress the needs of Communist policy, and not because a law has been infringed or because punishment is needed. People are constantly punished, put in concentration camps or even killed in these countries without any trial at all, where punishment or repression is all that is required. The holding of a trial merely means that some item of propaganda is necessary, and all trials behind the Iron Curtain should be looked at in this light. Truth, mercy, and justice have been officially abolished in all those countries, and it is no wonder that popular democracy is so remarkably unpopular in consequence. It is a type of civilisation which is repugnant to every Western idea. The dividing line between a Soviet or Czech concentration camp and the horrors of Buchenwald and Auschwitz is a very thin one.
As has been indicated, special measures are taken to prevent contact between the peoples of the orbit countries and Western diplomats, and business men who are known to have contact with or to be employed by diplomatic Missions are prosecuted. All officials who are known to have had contact with the West during the war are removed from public life. Restrictions are imposed on the work of His Majesty's Missions in orbit countries. Individual members of diplomatic Missions are often referred to during public trials for espionage or other alleged offences. This makes it hard for any diplomat to have contacts with the people of the country to which he is accredited. Such diplomats are in some cases declared persona non grata and their recall demanded. This has occurred most recently in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Rumania. This, clearly, has the effect of frightening away other contacts. Again, as has been stated, facilities normally accorded to diplomats in other countries are refused in the Soviet Union and some satellite countries. For example, as I think was mentioned, the movements of diplomats are greatly restricted in the area immediately outside Moscow. Large parts of Russia, including the Baltic States where British subjects are resident, 251 and parts of the Ukraine and Byelo-Russia, allegedly independent republics, and Bulgaria are out of bounds.
Further, legislation has been passed in the orbit countries calculated to make it impossible for business firms to continue their activities. Similar methods are applied outside the Soviet orbit. Soviet and satellite diplomatic personnel in the West are, of course, selected from the ranks of reliable Communists to an increasing degree, and a careful check is, we know, kept on their activities. To an increasing degree, they are tending to isolate themselves, and we know from those who have left satellite service—and they are very numerous—that totalitarian diplomats now hesitate to report anything that does not accord with the Communist Party line. Thus, the information reaching their Governments is poisoned at source by their own stupid system. This development is deplorable and dangerous and throws an increasing responsibility on His Majesty's Missions in satellite countries to see that His Majesty's policies and intentions are correctly understood. Every effort is made, therefore, to inform our Missions fully of all aspects of British policy for that purpose.
I now come to some of the points which have been raised in the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has suggested that we are too weak, in view of the treatment that our diplomats suffer in Moscow and in the satellite countries, and that we ought to give their diplomatic Missions here a taste of their own medicine. He has suggested that we are not taking adequate measures to control the undesirable activities of Soviet and satellite diplomats here. Let me say frankly that, as a general principle, His Majesty's Government dislike adopting a policy of pure retaliation in what should be peace time. We believe in dealing with people and with questions on their intrinsic merits in a fair and objective way. Moreover, our whole system, based on the rule of law and the freedom of the individual within it, is unsuited for applying many of the types of restriction and even persecution of which some of our staffs have had to complain abroad.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, may I intervene to say that I was advocating, not as retaliation but as a thing 252 that is right in itself, that the trade delegations, or whatever they may call themselves, should never have diplomatic immunity at all.
§ LORD HENDERSON
Therefore, we could not follow the Russians in applying many of their methods here, and I do not think that members of this House would like it if we did. But I must most firmly deny any suggestion that we do not stand up for our Missions abroad, or that we do not keep an adequate watch on what goes on here. We do not make a great "to do" in public in these cases, and I think other more important and interesting subjects would often hold the headlines in preference even if we did. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, referred to the Hungarian Club and the Anglo-Hungarian Society. I should like to say that I have noted his suggestions in respect of these two bodies. However, noble Lords will recall that only last year certain Czechs, including the Secretary of the Anglo-Czech Friendship League, were asked to leave on account of their activities, and subsequently two members of the Czechoslovak Embassy. One of the first secretaries, who, I think, bears one of the names mentioned by the noble Lord in his speech, and the assistant military attaché, were withdrawn at the request of His Majesty's Government when they were also found to be implicated.
Only last month, two members of the Rumanian Legation were also requested to leave the United Kingdom. And, in case anyone should think that we apply such measures only to the satellites, I would recall that in 1946 the activities of the Soviet repatriation officer, Colonel Kleshkanov, became redundant and a nuisance to our authorities, and we had no hesitation in asking for his withdrawal. These are only a few illustrations to show that His Majesty's Government are not prepared to put up with undue provocation by these people, and I feel quite sure that the Soviet and satellite Missions in London are under no misapprehension at all as to our policy. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, asked me about the size of 253 some of the delegations and Missions here. I understand that the staffs of the satellite Missions here are smaller than that of the French Embassy; the Russian, I believe, is larger. I shall be glad to let the noble Viscount have further details if he desires them.
§ LORD HENDERSON
The noble Viscount also made reference to diplomatic immunity. Here I can say that we do not recognise any diplomatic immunity for the members of the Soviet trade delegation, except for the head of the delegation and his two deputies. We should certainly ask for the recall of any members of the delegation if we found them engaged in activities outside their sphere—and their sphere, let me add, has been laid down precisely, in regard to its scope and functions, by an agreement which was entered into in 1934. That agreement defined the precise scope and functions of the Soviet trade delegation, and the rights which it enjoys. I think, therefore, I can assure noble Lords that the situation in this respect is under control.
The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, urged that use should be made of distinguished emigrés (that is to say, victims of Communist oppression) in broadcasts to orbit countries. Effective use was made of broadcasting in this way to Germany during the war. It is a good idea, and one that I am glad to say has already been adopted by the B.B.C. Broadcasts to Czechoslovakia have been made not only by Dr. Ripka, but also by Dr. Krajina, a former Minister of Education, and by prominent Czech Deputies, as well as by journalists and editors. The noble Lord will see that we are in agreement as to the value of this broadcasting effort, and I can assure him that it will continue to be utilised and, I hope, expanded as he suggests. I would add that there is reason to believe that the regular talks given by notable political journalists and publicists such as Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart (to whom the noble Lord referred), Mr. Kingsley Martin and Mr. Wilson Harris, are widely listened to in the orbit countries. If the noble Lord has any particular names which he would like to suggest for con 254 sideration in this respect, I shall be very glad to pass them on.
My Lords, the last point to which I want to refer is Lord Vansittart's reference to the abuse of the Foreign Secretary. I agree with him in his strong objection to the language employed by the Hungarian Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs in the statement in which he referred to my right honourable friend. It is a feature of the Communists, that when they have imposed themselves upon their unwilling peoples they rapidly adopt the language of abuse towards the leaders of the free democracies. They seem to confuse rudeness with strength. Perhaps it is not to be wondered that when they can be so ruthless with their own people, they should be rude to others. But we can be sure that the Foreign Secretary is not to be influenced, intimidated or deflected in any way by such exhibitions of discourtesy and abuse.
In conclusion, I would suggest that we are not getting the worst of the diplomatic struggle. Have Soviet methods really paid? Surely not. They have brought the Soviet Union and many of the satellites into open and notorious disrepute, and that in less than four years since the war ended. Soviet diplomacy has exasperated the Western world into E.R.P. and now even the Atlantic Pact, either of which would have seemed incredible three years ago. The efforts of Soviet and satellite diplomacy seem to have resulted in awakening the Western world to a sense of its own mission, beliefs and affinities, and of pushing it into greater cohesion. More than any other factor, except Hitler's aggression, Soviet diplomacy is responsible for the final demise of American isolationism.
Our own diplomacy has not been slow to take advantage of this situation, and in the work which has been done in developing E.R.P., Western Union, the Atlantic Pact, and in other ways, we may reasonably claim to be offering a very good answer to the impending and imponderable menace from the East.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, I shall detain you for only a very few moments, because there is another Motion to follow mine and I am sure the House is getting impatient. I should 255 like to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, for his support. I am glad that he reminded me of the trading organisations here. That carries me to a further point—namely, that for the purpose of espionage in this country, special negotiating missions are often "planted" with a certain number of agents. A number of those agents also exist in the ordinary commercial firms in this country. I hope those additional points will not be overlooked. As to what the noble Viscount said, by way of illustration, about the Japanese, I am unable to answer for what happened at Geneva; that is a matter in regard to which the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is a far greater authority than I am. I can only say that during my time at the Foreign Office, whenever I felt depressed and wanted a joke, I used to pull out the diplomatic list and try to count the number of Japanese third secretaries in Grosvenor Square, which took me a very long time.
I am also grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for his support and I wish to put in a special plea in favour of what he said about the unfairness in regard to freedom of movement. If our people are not to be allowed to go where they like, we should undoubtedly notify these Governments that their people will not be able to go where they like. If ours are strictly confined to the Capital or its purlieus, I would tell these fellows that they must not go further than Hammersmith—let us say North Hammersmith, because I think that is Mr. Pritt's constituency. There, I believe, something must be done.
I have no criticism whatever to make of the review by the noble Lord who spoke for the Government; I think it was impeccable. But what I am interested in to-day, of course, is action, and only action. I feel that I have achieved something by obtaining the promise that the more distinguished refugees here will be more fully and freely (I want to emphasise the word "freely") employed. In regard to what the noble Lord says about the existing practice at the B.B.C., I agree that a little has been done, but not nearly enough. The facilities of which he spoke are almost entirely confined to Czechoslovakia, which he mentioned, and to Hungary. In regard to broadcasts to Rumania, Bulgaria and 256 so on, nothing comparable exists, so I want these facilities (a) strengthened and multiplied, in the case of Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and (b) created and fostered in the case of the other countries. I hope that the Government will keep their eyes upon that.
I am not sure, as I did not quite hear all that was said, whether I obtained any satisfaction at all in regard to the foreign clubs here. I do not want to revert to that but unless I can obtain some assurance that my suggestion will be considered, I shall have to return to the subject.
§ LORD HENDERSON
If the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt him for a moment, may I say that obviously he could not expect me to give him an answer on those points to-day? But I did say that his suggestions would be considered.
§ LORD VANSITTART
I am glad to hear that. Being at some distance from the noble Lord, and not perhaps hearing quite clearly, I understood him to say that he had no comment to make on that matter. So long as consideration will be given to it, I am perfectly content. But I do attach importance to the point. I say again that since nothing of the sort is tolerated in the satellite countries, we should at least insist on reciprocity in that respect in exactly the way which the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has suggested. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion, feeling that something has been achieved, and confident that the Government will look further into the suggestions which I have made, in addition to those which they have accepted.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.