M.P.'s Speech, Cairo

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th January 1945.

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Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich 12:00 am, 17th January 1945

asked the Secretary of State for Air on whose authority the report of a speech made by the hon. Member for Ipswich on 1st December to R.A.F. troops in Cairo was banned for publication in "Air Force News."

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

Publication of the hon. Member's speech in "Air Force News" was not banned. The editor excluded it owing to shortage of space.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have received communications from Egypt specifically stating that publication of the report was banned at a higher level, and that no senior officer who was present took exception to what I stated? Further, is he aware of the great unrest among people out there, and that although the local British newspapers carried a report of my speech it was specifically banned from "Air Force News"?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

The hon. Member is trying to pull me outside the limits of his Question. The fact is that the standard of contribution to "Air Force News" is very high [Laughter].

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

This is a serious matter. Is the Minister aware that opinion prevalent among the Armed Forces in the East is that they are only served up with political news of the Right and reports of speeches of the Left are not allowed to be published?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

If the hon. Gentleman challenges me, and says that this is a serious matter, I want to tell the House quite outspokenly what I think. It seems to me that a speech addressed to men who are under a liability to enter into battle at any time, in which the leaders of the Allied Nations were described as going into the Teheran Conference to tear up the Atlantic Charter and sow the seeds of a future war; in which this House was described as a lunatic asylum in which the hon. Member was apparently the only sane man, and from which he had escaped for a few days; in which the Prime Minister, after proper compliments to the part he played in the earlier years of the war, was described as an old man who loves war—such a speech, I say, lasting over one hour and arousing increasing resentment and widespread disappointment, as I am informed it did among his audience, is an abuse of the hospitality of the Royal Air Force.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , Oxford

Is it not a fact that permission to leave the country in this case was granted on the plea that the hon. Member had to attend to his business in Turkey, and that opportunity was taken to deliver an electioneering speech, which would not have been open to anyone who had not made that plea?

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

On a point of Order. The Secretary of State has quoted from a report of the speech which he has received and which he has not had the courtesy to show me. Parts of what he has said are entirely without foundation. Have I not a right to see the report in view of the statement the right hon. Gentleman has made?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

If my hon. Friend's speech was as the right hon. Gentleman has reported, why did he not ban it?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

There was no necessity to ban it. I think the editor showed a very nice judgment of his responsibility.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

On whose authority was the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) allowed to address R.A.F. members?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I do not know exactly on whose authority but I am ultimately responsible to the House for that. I think it is reasonable that, when Members of Parliament are moving about among the troops—it applies to the other Services too—they should be invited to address the troops. They do in many cases, and I think it likely that these facilities are enjoyed by the troops, and Members of Parliament generally show a high sense of responsibility.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

When I am on my feet, the hon. Member cannot put me down by saying it is a point of Order. I think we should go on with the Business. We are getting too much involved in personal matters. The question that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) asks must be a matter between him and the Secretary of State for Air. I have no doubt that, if he asks, the right hon. Gentleman will let him see the report.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

On a point of Order. The Secretary of State has stated that Members of this House should be allowed to address members of the Forces. I want to know if that applies to me.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

That is not a point of Order.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have a report from a senior officer, which I hold in my hand, which says: No complaint has reached me from anyone on this station nor, as far as I know, was exception taken here to any of your remarks"?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

My report is very different from that, and I am told that the hon. Member himself showed his consciousness of the resentment which some of his remarks aroused.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Now we must go on to the next Question.