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Personal Explanations

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 29 November 1945

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I rise to make a personal explanation arising from a state- ment made by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) in the House last Thursday. The passage in question reads:

"The right hon. Gentleman "—
that is to say, myself—
"made a speech in which he said there were certain countries in Europe where democratic regimes had been set up and that His Majesty's Government were going to see that propaganda against those countries was suppressed. Whether it was going to be suppressed in their own country or in this country, did not seem to me to be at all clear."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1945; vol. 416, C. 651.]
I probably should not have troubled to mention the matter again but for the fact that it is the fourth occasion on which reference has been made to this alleged speech. I therefore take the opportunity of informing the House, and I hope through the House the public, that the reports which appeared in the newspapers from which the hon. Member for Cambridge University quite rightly made the citation in question, were completely misleading and had no reference whatever to the speech that was made.

I do so particularly because the speech was made at the U.N.R.R.A. Conference last August and was a speech in support of a resolution moved by myself on behalf of our Government, demanding that the U.N.R.R.A. organisation should not be used for the purposes of political pressure upon displaced persons. The statement in the newspaper, the "News of the World" of r9th August—the reference has been given to me by the hon. Member for Cambridge University—is in inverted commas, and reads as follows:
"'We are determined,' said Mr. Hynd, to stamp out prejudicial propaganda which may be directed against them.' This speech was made yesterday at the London U.N.R.R.A. Conference."
I said nothing at all of this kind. What I did say, in urging that U.N.R.R.A. should, in no circumstances, he used for political or propaganda pressure of any kind, but should be entirely apart from any political considerations, was:
"There is one principle upon which we are firm and solid. It is a principle which is recognised by everyone in this country. It is, that the U.N.R.R.A. organisation shall not be utilised for the purpose of enabling political interests to operate in distressed sections of Europe."
I make no complaint that the hon. Member for Cambridge University should have raised the matter. He was entirely entitled to follow the report which appeared in at least two newspapers, but not in all newspapers. I thank him for the opportunity, and I hope that I have now made clear what is the position of the Government in this matter, and that the statement that appeared in those newspapers does not, in fact, represent what was said.

Since the hon. Gentleman has had the courtesy, and I hope I may without immodesty say the justice, to acquit me of blame, I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, and the House will think it right of me to say two things, and only two. The first is that I am extremely grateful for the terms that the hon. Gentleman has employed, and secondly, I am very sorry that any speech of mine, however innocently, tended to give further currency and impetus to a false report. I am very glad that that risk should now have been avoided.

May I claim the indulgence of the House for a moment to make a personal explanation and an apology to the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Maclean)? I find that in a speech I made in the Foreign Affairs Debate I attributed to the hon. and gallant Member a speech which was made by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), which was quite inexcusable of me. I accept the statement by the hon. and gallant Member that the speech was not made by him. If I had taken the simple precaution of looking up my "Vacher" I should have found who the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster was, and I should not have made that mistake. I hope that the hon. and gallant Member will accept my apology.

The speech was made by the hon. Member for Cambridge University. I hope that the hon. and gallant Member for Lancaster will accept my apology.

:I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for clearing up this point. I was in Yugoslavia from 1943 until the final liberation of the country. I should have been sorry to think that the many firm friendships which I formed there during those eventful years had been marred by inaccurate accounts of anything said by me in this House. As the hon. Lady has pointed out, my speech contained no reference whatever, either direct or indirect, to Yugoslavia.

On a point of Order. The hon. Lady was quite correct in saying that the hon. Member for Cambridge University had made a statement.

That is not a point of Order. The hon. Lady's explanation was that she had attributed a speech to the wrong Member.