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Council Of Foreign Ministers (Press Conferences)

Volume 437: debated on Monday 5 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many informal Press conferences were held by the chief Press officer of the United Kingdom delegation during the period of the recently-ended Moscow conference of the four Foreign Ministers; to how many of these was Mr. F. Lesser, the "Daily Worker" correspondent, not invited; which other British newspaper correspondents were not invited; and on what basis invitations were sent out to the conferences.

Apart from the formal Press conferences held after each meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, which Mr. Lesser attended, no informal Press conferences were held during the Moscow Conference. But the special correspondents who accompanied the United Kingdom Delegation met the Press officer every clay informally for consultation and off the record discussion. Neither Mr. Lesser nor the resident correspondents of "The Times", "News Chronicle" or "Daily Express" were invited. No invitations were sent out to correspondents to attend these meetings, 'which were arranged informally between the Press officer and the correspondents concerned.

In view of the fact that Mr. Lesser was there in both capacities, being a representative in Moscow and also 'associated with the United Nations delegation, why was he, therefore, not invited, whereas in the case of other papers they had proper representation?

I should be extremely surprised to learn that Mr. Lesser was associated with the United Nations delegation.

I repeat, that I would be extremely surprised to learn that. There was, so far as I know, no United Nations delegation, but I suppose the hon. Gentleman is referring to the United Kingdom delegation.

I am sorry. There were, of course, other correspondents who could have been there in that dual capacity. These conferences, to which the Question refers, were primarily intended for the correspondents who had accompanied the United Kingdom delegation.

Is there any reason why this distinction should be drawn between these correspondents and the resident correspondents? Does it not put the resident correspondents at a disadvantage?

I should think not. I should have thought that a good resident correspondent, which I am sure Mr. Lesser is, would normally have a method of informing himself.

Will the Minister say for the information of the House whether that is the only common denominator alleged between these four newspapers to which he has referred?

I should think they have connections, similarities, and quite marked dissimilarities.