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Volume 409: debated on Wednesday 11 April 1945

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Press Correspondents' Visits


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if members of His Majesty's Embassy in Moscow and Press correspondents are now able to visit that part of Poland which has been liberated by the Russian Army.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the number of British and American reporters now in Poland.

Since His Majesty's Government do not recognise the Polish Provisional Government at Warsaw, no member of His Majesty's Embassy at Moscow has yet entered liberated Poland. A number of Press correspondents have been able to visit Poland since the New Year, but no British correspondents are now there.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the good faith of the Yalta Agreement, to which His Majesty's Government are committed, is very largely dependent upon whether or not facilities of this sort are going to be permitted?

My hon. and gallant Friend asked whether a representative of His Majesty's Embassy in Moscow has gone and I explained to him that, as we do not recognise the Provisional Government, that cannot be. As regards Press representatives, we should very much welcome the very widest circulation of Press representatives.

New Provisional Government


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made in the negotiations in Moscow with the object, of forming a new Government of Poland.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any progress has been made at Moscow in constituting a new Polish Government.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the final composition of the Polish Provisional Government has yet been completed.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs' whether he has received any further reports of arrests or deportations of Poles from the territories both east and west of the provisional demarcation line fixed at Yalta since the conference held at that place; how many persons are involved; and whether they have since been returned to their homes.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements have now been come to in relation to the holding of free elections in Poland.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is in a position to make a statement on the progress of the negotiations for the formation of a Polish Provisional Government


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make any statement respecting progress towards the establishment of a provisional government for Poland that will correspond to conditions acceptable to Great Britain, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. and whose representatives will be recognised at the forthcoming San Francisco Conference.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet obtained from the Soviet Government any explanation of their policy of arrests and deportations of prominent Polish citizens, Red Cross workers, democratic party leaders and other patriotic loyal Allies of Great Britain 'and the U.S.A.

As at present advised my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister proposes to make a statement next week, probably on Thursday, on the work of the Commission of Three in Moscow and on certain other aspects of Russo-Polish relations. I would therefore ask my hon. Friends and the House to be good enough to await that statement. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister may also take this opportunity on Thursday of next week to say something about the war situation in general.

Does it follow from what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that the statement of the Prime Minister will be debatable?

My right hon. Friend will make his statement, and if there is a general desire for a Debate, certainly a Debate will follow. We had that in mind.

Are we to have the Debate, which I think was promised, 'on San Francisco, before or after this potential Debate on the Prime Minister's statement?

That is a matter of Business, which I will deal with later; it does not arise out of these Questions.

Personal Messages (Facilities)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any facilities yet exist for persons in this country to make inquiries about friends or relatives in Poland, or to send personal messages to them.

I understand that the British Red Cross accept inquiries about persons in Poland, although they cannot undertake that such inquiries will reach their destination or that replies will be received. Inquirers are informed accordingly. There are as yet no facilities for transmitting personal messages.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, for some time past, the radio in Lublin has been publishing lists of survivors with relatives outside Poland; and would he make those lists available to interested persons in this country?

If there is any means by which I can do that, and it is desired, I will certainly consider it.

Polish Representatives (Russia)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information regarding the whereabouts of the Polish representatives who left for the Soviet Union to discuss the formation of the new provisional government Poland of.

While I have no confirmation of the reports that these Polish representatives have gone to the Soviet Union to discuss the formation of the new Provisional Government, I have instructed His Majesty's Ambassador at Moscow to make inquiries concerning their whereabouts. When I learn the result of these inquiries, I will report further to the House.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when that telegram was despatched and how long it is likely to take?

Madame Arciszewska (Release)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the release from arrest by the Soviet authorities of Madame Arciszewska, the wife of the Polish Prime Minister, has yet been confirmed by His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow.

As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend in reply to his Question on 7th March, His Majesty's Ambassador received an assurance that the Soviet Government were taking steps to set Madame Arciszewska free. I understand that the Polish Government shortly afterwards received confirmation of her release.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the wives of any other Prime Ministers are in danger in Russia?

Could my right hon. Friend say whether the people belonging to the Polish Red Crass, who were arrested simultaneously with Madame Arciszewska, have been released?

I am afraid I could not. I cannot recall whether I made representations for them at the time; I do not think that I did.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the wife of the Polish Prime Minister is still obliged to report every day to the police, and can he protest against this continued indignity?

I have had information about that and I would like to consider it. I made representations to secure the freedom of this lady, and I would like to consider whether I ought to make any further representations.

Political Parties


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which political parties in Poland are defined by His Majesty's Government as democratic and non-democratic, respectively; whether these parties are similarly so defined by our Soviet Ally; and whether His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow is satisfied that all democratic parties in Poland have at the present time freedom to express and to work for their political opinions.

His Majesty's Government, the United States Government and the Soviet Government are at present concerned with the first step proposed at the Crimea Conference, the setting up in Poland of a broadly representative new Provisional Government of National Unity such as would command recognition by the Great Powers. When this has been done and His Majesty's Government are represented in Poland, they will be in a better position to form a final opinion as to what parties should be entitled to take part in elections, which clearly could not take place for some considerable time after the formation of the new Government. The scanty information at present available to His Majesty's Government about conditions in Poland indicates, as one would expect, that, as a result of the long German occupation and the recent operations in Poland, Party political warfare is not yet working in a normal manner. It may also clearly be that before elections were held new parties might emerge.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the British Government sought, on 27th January, the names of Polish politicians in Poland who might enable the Committee of Ambassadors to form a Provisional Government? Were they then in a position to secure the lives and liberties of those politicians, and are they now in that position?

What we are at present trying to do is to secure agreement about Polish democratic leaders. The question of parties comes afterwards. Certainly, it would be part of any arrangement, so far as we are concerned, that if any Polish leaders were invited they should have full security and full right to go where they wished.

Is it the intention that all the members of the National Polish Provisional Government shall be Polish citizens?

The right hon. Gentleman says that he is awaiting a new Provisional Polish Government. There is nothing about that in the Yalta Agreement.

If the hon. Gentleman will read it he will find there the word "new," because I was anxious that it should be there.

British Prisoners Of War (Repatriation)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can report any progress in the scheme for the repatriation of prisoners of war who have been a long time in captivity.

I regret that I cannot report any substantial progress in this matter. His Majesty's Government had hoped that a first exchange of this kind could have been carried out at the end of March, the date mentioned in their proposal. It is clear from the reply which has now been received from the German Government that no early agreement is possible and we have been informed that in any case the German High Command would require eight weeks' notice in order to make the necessary arrangements.

While recognising the great difficulty in which my right hon. Friend finds himself in this matter, is there any suggestion he can make in order to speed up this matter, in view of the terrible anxiety of relatives at the long period these men have been in captivity?

My hon. and gallant Friend will know that the military events themselves are having two effects. First, they generally make communications extremely difficult on the German side, and, second, they are, happily, liberating a number of prisoners. The figures so far, I think, are about 3,000 freed by the Red Army from the East and about 7,000 from the West.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any progress is being made in the negotiations with Japan in relation to the liberation of prisoners?

I shall be obliged if the hon. Member will put down that question, as I would like to give a detailed answer.

Russia (German Labour)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the arrangement made at Teheran or Yalta with regard to the supply of free male German labour to the U.S.S.R. after the termination of the war in Europe.

It was agreed at the Crimea Conference that a Commission should be established in Moscow to consider the question of the extent and methods for compensating damage caused by Germany to the Allied countries. I am not in a position to anticipate the Commission's recommendations.

Can the Foreign Secretary say whether the rumours prevalent in the Middle East, and in responsible quarters, that it has already been agreed that Russia is to have 2,000,000 German male slaves for 20 years, are entirely without foundation?

The Russian Government did not ask for 2,000,000 or any other figure of male slaves for any time at all. All that was asked and settled at Yalta was that reparations in the terms I have put should be discussed at Moscow, and there is no commitment about labour whatever.

If they should, at some future date, require the services of German labour for the purposes of reconstruction, would there be anything wrong in that?

I have certainly not ruled it out in my answer. All I have dealt with is the extent of our commitments.

On a point of Order. As we may not ask any further supplementary questions on an important point, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

War Crimes (German Victims)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that the United Nations War Crimes Commission has recommended that Nazi leaders should be held responsible for crimes committed by them against German nationals; whether he has any statement to make on this recommendation; and whether His Majesty's Government propose to treat Nazi leaders, who ordered the killing of German Jews, democrats and Socialists, as war criminals.

I am not aware that the United Nations War Crimes Commission has made such a recommendation. As for the remainder of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 31st January by my right hon. Friend the- Minister of State to my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss).

Can my right hon. Friend confirm the report which has been circulated this morning that Hitler has been assassinated and that his office is directly responsible?

As usual, the 1922 Committee knows the information before the Foreign Office.

Arising out of the original reply, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to have Germans indicted, or tried or condemned for crimes committed against German subjects?

My right hon. Friend's answer dealt with that at some length, and I would advise the hon. and learned Gentleman to look at it.