HL Deb 23 November 1949 vol 165 cc926-42

2.56 p.m.

LORD VANSITTART rose to call attention to the action of the Soviet Government in claiming diplomatic privilege for a news agency; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am no lawyer, and I note your ready acceptance of that glimpse of the obvious. But forty-five years ago I did pass an elementary examination in International Law. I shall certainly not tell the House what little use it has been to me. I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who probably had a similar experience, will preserve a similar reticence. On this terrain, I am in fact in a state of manifest inferiority, to use the stock French duelling jargon when anybody gets a prick in the forearm. I shall therefore confine myself to my own ground of diplomatic practice and, if I may say so with respect, of common sense.

I have read the legal proceedings in this matter of Kraina v. Tass News Agency, but I am neither competent nor concerned to appreciate whether Tass is or is not a legal entity, and what is the effect of the precedent of the good ship "This in the year that." In the words of the psalmist, such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me. I cannot attain to it. Instead, I shall tell you a story. It is an exciting story, a mixture of nobility and dirt. Professor Kraina had a magnificent war record. By the way, this will interest your Lordships on the Left, for he is a fellow Socialist of yours, and you may well be proud of him. I shall expect to find your Lordships exceedingly sympathetic today. But I do not ask you to take my word for his record. One of the most brutal of all Germans, K. H. Frank, described Kraina as "the bravest man in Czechoslovakia." The Nazi Government put a high price on his head.

During the war, many brave Czechs chose to fight on our side. Professor Kraina elected to fight it out from within. So he set up a transmitter and sent much valuable information, of which we had the benefit, to the Czech Government in this country. He told us of German intentions to invade Scandinavia, the Low Countries and France. He also told us of German intentions as regards ourselves, and he informed us when those intentions were cancelled. He gave us notice of German projects in regard to Iceland which enabled us to forestall them. He gave valuable information of German plans in the Balkans, but, above all, he gave ample forewarning of the German intention to invade Russia.

But the savage hermits of the Kremlin were already far gone in that superiority complex which has recently led them to claim that they won the Trojan War, on the grounds that progressive Achilles was clad in iron from Russia, whereas the Fascist beasts of Troy had only bronze. One of the greatest dangers of Communism is the fundamental idiocy of so many of its followers. So it came about that the hermits rejected Kraina's warnings as they rejected ours.

Now Kraina was not only anti-Nazi; he was anti-totalitarian. He therefore told President Benes a great deal about Communist "goings-on" in Czechoslovakia as well, and for that reason the Communists went about to destroy him. They were mainly responsible for his capture by the Gestapo on January 31, 1943. These dates have some significance. Kraina took poison but the Gestapo pumped him out. I may add that his brother was executed by the Gestapo in 1942, that his son died here in the Air Force in 1941 and that his wife was thrust into the abominable camp of Ravensbrück. I think I have said enough by way of preface to show that this country is greatly in debt to Professor Kraina. Before I leave the House this evening, I hope I shall have done my best to see that that debt is paid.

Now we come to that part of the story which is relevant to this case. In November, 1942, the Czech Government in London dropped three parachutists over Czechoslovakia. Their instructions were to link up with Kraina. They also carried letters from President Benes and General Ingr, the Minister of Defence. But the Czechoslovak Communists intercepted those parachutists; they took away the letters; they deprived the men of their arms and impounded their transmitters—in fact, there was some exceedingly "dirty work at the crossroads." Moreover, these Czech Communists were known to the Gestapo, and your Lordships will therefore not be surprised to hear that these letters found their way into the hands of the Gestapo. In consequence, the parachutists were captured on January 16, 1943. Two of them were slaughtered; the third was kept alive and, by means upon which I need not enlarge, he was compelled under the supervision of the Gestapo to transmit false news to this country. But Kraina, who was arrested a fortnight later, found out what was "in the wind" or "on the air," and he warned the London Government.

We now come to 1945. My Lords, one of the greatest breeding grounds of hatred is a guilty conscience. Whenever we hear somebody abusing somebody else in unmeasured terms, we shall all too often be safe in asking "What harm have you done him?"; not vice versa. The Communists had by now made up their minds to liquidate Kraina, together with all those who had taken part in the Resistance Movement. The Communists do not like on the premises anybody who is capable of resisting anything, and so they followed the usual Communist technique of accusing their adversary of the very things that they themselves had done—namely, of collaboration with the Gestapo and the betrayal of comrades. A Commission was set up, the President of which was one Adamec, a colleague of Mr. Nosek, the ferocious individual who is Minister of the Interior and, therefore, in control of the Secret Police. And, by the way, Mr. Adamec is himself now Deputy-Minister of the Interior, and has also that connection with the Secret Police. The evidence in Kraina's favour was so overwhelming that he was triumphantly acquitted on all the thirty-six charges put forward—indeed, more: his conduct was rightly found to have been above reproach and he was awarded the two chief Czech military decorations.

The story moves forward to September 11, 1947, the date on which there came to light the so-called Krcman affair. To Doctor Zenkl, the Deputy-Premier, to the late Jan Masaryk, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and to Doctor Drtina, Minister of Justice, were sent by post wooden boxes bearing the inscription "perfume." But these three men smelt not perfume but a rat, and consequently they did not open those boxes—which was well for them, because all three contained high-explosive bombs charged with tritol, and so the plot failed. Immediately the Secret Police jumped in to hush it up, because they knew very well that the criminals were the Communists. But they had again reckoned without Professor Kraina. He was Member of Parliament for Olomouc and he traced those three boxes to a carpenter at Krcman, a nearby village; and in a very short space of time he had a list of culprits and of witnesses. They were mainly small fry, but the main trail led strongly in the direction of one Cepicka, the Secretary of the Communist Party in Olomouc.

At this stage, Doctor Drtina, the Minister of Justice, stepped in and took the matter out of the hands of the Secret Police. He proceeded with the utmost vigour and made several arrests. The Communists were then panic-stricken, because it seemed that "the gaff would be blown" and that in consequence they would lose a great many votes at the Election which was due to take place in the next year. Cepicka had already been made Minister of internal Trade, but that was not thought sufficient cover. The only safeguard for them was to liquidate Doctor Drtina and to put Cepicka in his place as Minister of Justice. That was duly done, and Cepicka proceeded to liquidate the witnesses and to liberate the criminals. That, of course, was only a stage in Cepicka's career. I understand that he is now in charge of religious matters—and that really is equivalent to a soap-box atheist from the Marble Arch replacing the Archbishop of Canterbury.

To complete the picture, I should add, after this brilliant list of appointments and activities, that Mr. Cepicka is the son-in-law of President Gottwald. Perhaps some of your Lordships may recall an episode between two British politicians of a long bygone age, both of whom were reproached on occasion for too frequently making appointments from their own circle. One said to the other, "Ceteris paribus, I do not see why one should not"; and the other replied, "Ceteris paribus be damned." Well, that is about the picture.

A little while ago a voluble supporter of noble Lords on my left, Professor G. D. H. Cole, described my own Department as an "Aegean stable." I sometimes differ from the Foreign Office but I do not like foolish abuse, and therefore, in passing, I observe merely that the Professor's utterance shows that it is sometimes dangerous to take headers into the shallows of one's own learning. But if any noble Lord waits a real example of an Augean stable, he has only to look at the outfit in Prague. Of course, the Augean stable in Czechoslovakia never forgave the men whom they had failed to murder. The Vice-Premier, Doctor Zenkl, escaped from the country by the skin of his teeth; Masaryk and Drtina were less fortunate. Your Lordships will recollect that on March 10, Jan Masaryk was found on the stones below his high window with almost every bone in his body broken, and just about the same time Doctor Drtina was also found on the stones below his window with almost every bone in his body broken. Masaryk was dead, Drtina was not; and your Lordships may prefer not to speculate on his subsequent fate. Kraina also escaped by a miracle.

I want your Lordships to pause for a minute. I think I have already told you that in the case of the Nazis he had fought out the war bravely from within. He then discovered something that he had never believed, or, indeed, dreamed of—namely, that there was an even worse tyranny, and that this time he could not see it through from within; and he went out. So the Communists again resorted to their usual technique. They decided to try him in his absence, and they could think of nothing better than to charge him with all the crimes of which he had been exonerated in 1945. This was duly done in September, 1948, and he was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment. But there is, in this country, a nest of guttersnipe called Tass, which could not even wait for the travesty of the people's court, and as early as May 7 they charged Mr. Kraina in print with these foul and refuted crimes. Mr. Kraina did the right thing. He brought a libel action. He took it to court and lost. He took it to a higher court and lost again, but that higher court graciously gave him leave to appeal to the House of Lords. That gracious permission was, unintentionally, a mockery. How does anyone expect an unhappy exile living on the smell of an oil rag, not knowing where the next pound is to come from, to find hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pounds for trial, after trial, after trial? It is impossible.

We now come to the heart of the matter. How was it that Tass was able to get away with the murder of a good man's reputation? It is very simple. When Mr. Kraina brought his action the guttersnipe got into a flap and they flew for cover to the Soviet Embassy, who were embarrassed "more than somewhat," as Damon Runyon would have put it, so they, therefore, communicated with the Kremlin. The Kremlin said in effect: "That is quite all right. All you have to do is to give them a certificate and say that they are a Department of the Soviet State. The British will swallow anything." That is exactly what was done. The certificate was dished out; it was accepted. From that moment it has been open to any Communist in this country to libel anyone he likes, in any terms he likes, provided he can get hold of a false certificate. No wonder that on the morrow of that judgment the caps of the Communists were decorated with the seasonable flower of fellow traveller's joy.

Throughout my long life I have been taught and I have believed that diplomatic immunity was mainly intended for diplomatists. In my earlier days there was even considerable doubt as to whether that immunity extended to the Consular Corps except in far-off countries. There was never any question of its going further. Indeed, if in the early part of this century it had been suggested that diplomatic immunity should apply to a news agency, the idea would have been not only metaphorically but literally laughed out of court.

Let us look at Soviet practice in this matter. They are, if I may say so, not only ultra conservative but ultra reactionary. They take the narrowest possible view of this immunity as, indeed, they do of everything. Their maxim is: "The least possible diplomatic immunity for everyone, but what there is for diplomatists only." So, let us watch them on the job. Recently the Communists have arrested in Mukden not only the United States Consul-General but the whole of his staff, and have held them incommunicado, and only two days ago Mr. Dean Acheson was appealing to the whole civilised world against this breach, as he called it, of the basic conceptions of international life. The Communists did exactly the same thing to Mr. Samuel Meryn, clerk of the United States Embassy in Prague. We come to our own cases, and I take only a few instances from among the more recent ones—they have been very numerous. In the earlier part of this year there was the case of Captain Wildash, a member of the Tripartite Military Permit office, holding consular rank, in Prague. The Czech Secret Police burst into his office and arrested him with his staff. They bundled him into a car, took him to police headquarters, put him through third degree and even threatened to arrest his wife if he did not talk according to their taste. Mr. Harrison, who was employed in our Mission at Budapest, was treated with simple sadism. Again, this week-end, your Lordships all saw that Polish Communists had arrested a member of the consular staff at Stettin. A few months ago they arrested two more French consuls at Wroclaw. They are, furthermore, throwing out of the country, neck and crop, two members of the French Embassy in Warsaw. That is happening the whole time. I could give your Lordships innumerable instances in support. They are particularly keen to expel from the countries of the Communist empire anyone who knows anything about the particular country and especially anyone who speaks the language.

Again when British or American or French subjects are arrested in very questionable circumstances and Allied diplomatic representatives ask for access to them, it is very frequently refused in most discourteous terms. Our representatives are treated like stink in all countries of the Communist empire where they are accredited or discredited—the words are interchangeable; it makes no difference— they are boycotted, they are raided, they are thrown into police cars, they are belaboured and "grilled." The older I grow the more incomprehensible I find this British mania for according unreciprocated advantages to people and organisations who most certainly do not deserve them. I sometimes wish, with all respect, that the Minister of Health would make himself better acquainted with the habits of Tass, and then revise his definition of "vermin." The issue of that certificate by the Soviet Government was a piece of impudence. I think it should never have been accepted. We are creating precedents where none ever existed before, and we are creating extremely dangerous precedents. I have explained to this House with chapter and verse, incontrovertibly, that the staffs of the missions of the Communist empire in this country tend more and more to be manned by subversionists, saboteurs and spies. This is a moment when, if anything, we should be restricting diplomatic privilege rather than granting these preposterous and unprecedented extensions.

I brought up this matter on July 6 in this House, and I then ventured to point out to the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack that there was no precedent for any such claim. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor endorsed that and said, moreover, that the whole position was receiv- ing consideration. I should like to know how far we have got since July, because this is not a moment for marking time. We want deeds; and we want this abuse remedied. If we let this certificate stand, we shall be carried whither we know not. There is nothing now to prevent the Soviet Government from casting the mantle of immunity over any spy ring in this country. Indeed, there is nothing to prevent them going considerably farther. I do not say it would be done, but the possibility is now open. As I have explained to your Lordships, the one thing the Soviet Government does not like is to send bachelors to this country, for fear they would pick up with Western girls and find out that the West is not so bad after all. In pursuance of that policy there would be nothing illogical in setting up a brothel in this country and classing its inmates as organs of the Soviet Government, with just as good a right as Tass—personally I should consider them the more respectable.

That is not the end of the abuse. Tass is not the only organ of the Soviet Government in this country. From its inception, the Daily Worker has been subsidised. When I was head of the Foreign Office, I had a good deal of information on that subject. But we do not need any Secret Service to tell us. There are forty thousand paid-up members of the Communist Party in this country, and anybody who thinks that a paper can be run on forty thousand sixpences ought to have his head examined. Moreover, it so happens that the Daily Worker has dealt in exactly the same sort of muck as Tass. In December, 1943, the Daily Worker brought against a Yugoslav Minister called Sain exactly the same charges as it has brought against Professor Kraina. It accused him of having collaborated with the Gestapo and betrayed Communists, and, for good measure, threw in a few little extra accusations of having embezzled State funds and of having been arrested. That was in 1943, and in the fullness of time this case came before the King's Bench on November 3 of this year, three weeks ago. We certainly take some time to cleanse ourselves from the aspersions of the scum of the earth. Four thousand pounds damages were awarded against the Daily Worker, and the Daily Worker, being just about as yellow as it is Red, did not attempt to defend itself. It simply ran away.

Mr. Justice Cassels, in awarding damages, used these words: "No greater libel could be imagined." Every word of that applies to Tass. Then the counsel for Mr. Sain, Mr. Roche, used some ambiguous words. He said he had asked for exemplary damages, but doubted whether they would be recovered in money. If he meant that, supposing Mr. Sain is bilked—and that has happened before—there would be distraint on the property or premises of the Daily Worker, that is quite all right. On the other hand, if these words were to be taken at their face value they might conceivably mean that the Daily Worker would get off without any scathe or harm at all. That would be another terrible situation, because again it would be putting Communists above the law. It would be saying to them in so many words, "You can do what you like. You are not like other mortals. You can slander people without having to pay for it." I hope that Mr. Roche will take note of what I have said and assure me that those are not his intentions. After all, why should not the Daily Worker pay to the uttermost farthing? If the Soviet Government can afford the luxury of running it, they can also afford the minor luxury of indemnifying its victims. I do not know Mr. Sain. I have never met him. I do not know where he lives. But if he does not get his damages, I hope he will communicate with me and I would then be prepared to come down to your Lordships' House and propose that the Daily Worker should be closed, as we closed it during the war for its services to Hitler. We really cannot afford to set up a new privileged class.

I return to Tass. For generations and centuries we have earned the right to live clean and free and in the light which Gainsborough called "God's eldest daughter." Never once, with the gates of our hospitality wide open, did we contemplate that within them there would squat the agents of a hostile Power, flinging mud at those who come in, and flinging it with impunity. We never contemplated that, and we should not tolerate it. It is time that we showed some courage in these matters. Therefore, I urge most strongly upon His Majesty's Government that, without further loss of time, they should initiate legislation which will annul this cynical certificate and make sure that no such brazen trick will ever be perpetrated on us again. But, even so, there will be no redress for Professor Kraina in that, so far as I can see, because that legislation must necessarily take some time and it may not be retroactive. Meanwhile, he has left in penury a country for which he did so much and which has done so little for him. Is that to be the end? Surely not. Surely, such a compound of injustice and ingratitude would be alien to all that is best in us. Therefore, again, I urge most strongly on His Majesty's Government to give him the only, form of redress open, and the least we can do in decency, and that is that Tass and its organ Soviet Monitor should be given until the end of the year to print an apology and withdrawal, and if they do not do so, we should then close down the Soviet Monitor and ask the representatives of Tass to leave this country. That is the least we can do for Professor Kraina.

Last Sunday in church I was given to read for a lesson the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians. It contains a tremendous passage which has echoed down the ages: Be not deceived God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. God is not mocked, but this country is, and so is justice and so is decency and so is common sense. I abjure the Government to stand up for justice and decency and common sense, to ensure that whatsoever the Soviet Government soweth, that also shall they reap, and to see to it that this man gets what is due to him. I beg to move for Papers.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, this is a matter which naturally gives rise to considerable emotion, and for that very reason it is necessary that in dealing with it we should keep cool heads. The form of the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart has put down on the Order Paper—he wandered rather wide at times from it, I thought—is as follows: To call attention to the action of the Soviet Government in claiming diplomatic privilege for a news agency; and to move for papers. If we are going to keep perfectly cool heads, I feel that the first thing to realise is that this was not a case in which they claimed a diplomatic privilege or immunity at all; in this case they claimed State privilege. The certificate which they obtained was that the Tass Agency were a Department of the Soviet State. Our Foreign Office declined any certificate saying that they were entitled to any diplomatic immunity. The certificate they obtained was a certificate from the Soviet Embassy here saving that they were a Department of State.

If that is right—and I am not casting doubt on its being right—according to our law, which has been established for a considerable time, they are entitled to immunity. I shall discuss with your Lordships presently whether or not the time has come, in these days of State trading, when the State does all sorts of things which it did not do in the old days, when we ought to contemplate some alteration in the law. But for the moment all I am saying is that I believe that to be the law. I do not assert it positively, but it was the decision of the Master, the Judge in Chambers and of a unanimous Court of Appeal. I say, frankly, that if it had been considered that the House of Lords were likely to reverse the decision, ways and means might have been found for bringing the action to the House of Lords. Therefore, I want your Lordships to realise, first of all, that we are here dealing with a question of State immunity; and, secondly, that the courts have declared what the law is, and, so far as I know, have declared that law correctly.

I readily agree that it is strange that any news agency in this country should not be accountable in the courts for its activities; indeed, it is strange that a news agency should be running in any country as part of any Government Department. I fully agree with the noble Lord that there have been ample illustrations of the fact that the material with which this agency deals can be described as "scurrilous." So far as I know the facts—and I have gone into them with some care—I further agree with the noble Lord without reservation in what he said as to the character, the antecedents and the courage of Doctor Kraina. It is deplorable that a person distinguished by his war-time record of resistance to the Nazis should be grossly libelled without being able to obtain any redress—at least, that seems to be so, because, through no fault of Doctor Kraina, the question of libel or no libel has never been and cannot be decided. However, I feel that this issue raises wider issues than the reputation of an individual, vitally important though that may In my view, it is intolerable that a news agency which sets up to be a Department of a foreign State should lose no opportunity of publishing material calculated to discredit His Majesty's Government, or individual opponents of Communism, such as Doctor Kraina, and of fomenting internal strife in this country.

Before discussing remedial action, I should like your Lordships to devote your attention for a moment from principle to practice. What exactly is it that Tass Agency do here? In the first place, they cable British news to the Soviet Union, and they publish three times a day, and without charge, a Roneoed bulletin called the Soviet Monitor, which contains extracts and summaries of Soviet broadcasts. This anthology of Soviet broadcasts, in spite of the fact that it is free of charge, has a very limited circulation. Any offensive item in it would achieve a larger circulation if it were published by a newspaper or magazine. But if it were published in such a periodical, it would be possible to bring an action against the newspaper concerned—though here I would remind the noble Lord that it is one thing to bring an action, another to secure an award of damages, and a very different thing still to get the actual damages. I myself have brought many such actions on behalf of prominent members of my Party, and not one of them has ever succeeded in getting any damages, in spite of the fact that an award was recovered. There is such a thing as a debenture holder, lurking in the background and, if necessary, prepared to come in and foreclose, to prevent any damages being awarded or any satisfaction being obtained. I can well understand what Mr. Roche meant when he said what he did, because, if it turns out that his client does not succeed in getting anything, his client will be following a long trail of distinguished people who have previously suffered a like fate.

In fact, the items put out in the Soviet Monitor rarely get much further than the pages of the Daily worker, and generally appear there in a somewhat less virulent form. British newspapers really cannot be expected to go on printing samples of the same old melodramatic nonsense about Western warmongers and Communist doves; about the "hysterical speeches" of the Prime Minister, and what are called "Right Wing Labourites," who are accused of being either "lackeys or errand boys of the bankers in the City." If I may give an illustration, sometimes the absurdity reaches such a pitch that it attracts attention. It is not long since a writer in the Soviet Literary Gazette—observe the words "Literary Gazette"—told his readers this: On Sundays Londoners, armed with guns and traps, set out for the suburbs to hunt wild rabbits, starlings, squirrels, hedgehogs and polecats. These are not amateur naturalists, but workers who hope somehow to supplement their starvation rations. If these persons, who seem to have some superfluous energy, do go hunting polecats in the suburbs, I will, so long as they do not raid the Zoo, give a special Lord Chancellor's prize of £5 for every polecat captured.

To my mind, when the Tass Agency produce rubbish of that kind—I do not say they produced that particular example, but they have produced similar ones—in so far as it gets a wide circulation, they completely defeat their own object. Everybody must realise what utter nonsense it is, and in that way I think they do us considerable service. I am sure your Lordships will agree that there are very few persons in Great Britain who are not already impervious to reason who are likely to be affected by this Soviet propaganda, even where it is much more insidious and less obviously untrue than the example I have quoted. We must remember that it has been going on for the last thirty-two years, and on the whole I think it has had comparatively little effect. I do not wish to give the impression, however, that the activities of Tass and their kind need not be taken seriously. I simply want to make it clear that it is possible to overrate their extent and their effectiveness. None the less, it should not be thought that the agency will be left to carry on scurrilous activities without any check.

To my mind, the real force behind the Motion raises a wider issue—namely, whether the law of this country affords to organs of foreign States a wider immunity than is desirable or strictly required by the principles of International Law observed in the countries of the world. That question is one of considerable importance and difficulty. I believe it to be the fact that our law differs in this respect from the French law, and it is wider than the project of law formulated in the United States. Its importance increases owing to the general increase of State activities of the present day and their extension into the realm of commerce and trade. We have therefore decided to set up an inter-departmental Committee to consider and report on this question, which raises issues of very considerable difficulty and in which, of course, International Law and our relationship with foreign countries is concerned. We must remember that anything we do here must be reciprocal—it must affect us as it affects others. In the meantime, until the report of this Committee has been received and has been considered, it is not possible for me to make any further statement on the matter, because your Lordships realise that what is here involved is an alteration in our existing law which has been established for many years. Accordingly, I can give the noble Lord who moved the Motion this amount of satisfaction: that we intend to set up this Committee at once and to ask them as soon as may be for a Report on a matter which, as your Lordships will realise, is an exceedingly complicated and difficult one. It may be that after consideration of that Report we shall decide that we are driven to have new legislation to alter this principle of State immunity.

3.43 p.m.


My Lords, in thanking the noble and learned Viscount for his statement, I should like to say, with regard to his opening remarks, that my head is perfectly cool—but I do not like injustice. As to the point about diplomatic immunity, again I disclaim any legal authority whatever, but I think we may perhaps be splitting hairs, because I have always understood that we diplomatists enjoyed diplomatic immunity precisely because we were a Department of His Majesty's Government abroad. I myself have enjoyed diplomatic immunity for many years. In fact, I have enjoyed it a lot, but I never thought there was anything personal about it. I thought it was departmental.

Part of the burden of the speech of the noble and learned Viscount seemed to me to point in the direction that. Professor Kraina ought not to mind what was said about him by the Soviet Monitor. Of course, there is much in that argument. I have had a whole lot of dirt spilt about me, and I have not minded about it. Professor Kraina does, and he is entirely entitled to mind. That is why I think we are bound to take action on his behalf. There was a further passage in the Lord Chancellor's speech which disquieted me not a little (although I fully expected it), and that concerned the difficulty of getting damages from any of the lower order of newspapers. I myself have frequently been libelled in the Daily Worker—I have had a whole lot of sewage, and I have always been told by my legal advisers (I am paraphrasing what they say): "Do not pay any attention to them." And indeed, I am not disposed to. My advisers say: "Please do not, because you would not get a penny out of the blighters, anyway." That is what it amounts to. I think that is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs; it puts a premium on libel and creates a privileged class. I cannot see what is the matter with closing down the Daily Worker if it will not pay or expelling Tass if they will not apologise.

I come to the second of my recommendations. I am extremely grateful for what the noble and learned Viscount has said. It does open up new perspectives, and satisfactory ones. Obviously, on purely legal ground I can push the matter no further until the inter-departmental Committee has reported. I sincerely hope that its Report will ibe a good one. If it is not, it will always be open to me to return to the oharge; but I expect good results. I should be grateful—on this I feel strongly—if the ndble Viscount will also bring to the earnest attention of His Majesty's Government my second recommendation—namely, that we should make an example of these cases where we can, and that these people, in view of the awful travesty which I have described to your Lordships this afternoon, should be made to feel that there are things which are too dirty to be condoned. I hope the whole House feels that. If that is so, I think my recommendation, the alternative of an apology or closure, should be brought to the serious consideration of His Majesty's Government. If the noble and learned Viscount will do so, I will withdraw my Motion—I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.