Trading with the Enemy Department (Letter).

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 28th July 1942.

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Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the letter dated 20th July, addressed by the Trading with the Enemy Department to a correspondent, who was forwarding to a British subject in Toulouse a letter addressed by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to the honourable Member for Croydon South, containing information as to the method whereby the British subject in question could file a claim in respect of losses arising out of the war; and why it should be necessary that the correspondent in question should be asked to furnish the Department with full particulars in explanation of the matter?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

Yes, Sir; my attention has been drawn to this letter. It is contrary to the practice of the Censorship to allow private individuals to forward copies of official or semi-official letters to enemy controlled territory without special authorisation. I regret that the letter in question contained a demand for an explanation instead of advice as to the proper procedure. I have given instructions which should prevent this happening again.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

As the Parliamentary Secretary wrote me a letter for the purpose of passing it on to a distressed British subject in France, surely that should be sufficient guidance to all concerned?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

No, Sir, the hon. Member is wrong. It is unusual, and I hope it will not become a practice, to send to enemy controlled territory copies of communications from Ministers to Members of this House.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

As the inquiry was to guide this distressed British subject, who has had his business stolen by the Germans and his house blown up by British bombs, as to how he could file a claim, what was the use of sending information which would remain buried in my breast and be of no use to the distressed person?

Photo of Mr Hugh Dalton Mr Hugh Dalton , Bishop Auckland

I think the hon. Member might perhaps have paraphrased the sense of the communication.

Mr. De la Bère:

Is it not all really red tape, when all is said and done?