Prime Minister's Moscow Visit

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Information – in the House of Commons on 9th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

asked the Minister of Information whether he has any statement to make about the leakage of information in respect of the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow and in respect of the publication in this country on 17th August of the fact that he had left Moscow by aeroplane that day; and why several differing versions of the Prime Minister's farewell message to Mr. Stalin were published in this country?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

No, Sir. I have no knowledge of any leakage. The message about the Prime Minister's departure from Moscow on 17th August was released from Russia by the Censors on the spot, and its publication in this country was merely a consequence of that release. The Prime Minister's farewell message to Premier Stalin was issued in Russia and in the Russian language. The differing English versions were due to the different translations made by the news agencies who carried the message.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

With regard to the release of the news of the Prime Minister's departure from Moscow, can my right hon. Friend say why two and a half hours after it was published on the tape it was cancelled?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

I have enough trouble in looking after the Ministry of Information in London, without attempting to look after the Ministry of Information in Moscow.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

But on the tape in this country, at about 5 o'clock on the day in question, it was announced that the Prime Minister had left Moscow in the Liberator plane in which he had arrived. Some two hours later the tape machine cancelled that announcement.

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

Well, it did not do so under the instructions of the Government. It was just an aberration of the people responsible.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Had not the Prime Minister himself rendered the whole position ridiculous by telling the Press of his intending departure?