Clause 1. — (Extension of powers under 9 & 10 Geo. 6 c. 10.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th August 1947.

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Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Combined Scottish Universities 12:00 am, 11th August 1947

We still have not had the assurance we asked from the right hon. Gentleman that plant and paper would be available, as well as the merely negative assurance. I think it would be quite within the Parliamentary discretion of the right hon. Gentleman to move a little way along the lines suggested. We all remember the suppression of "Forward" by the late Earl Lloyd George, but that was in the middle of war, and it was a position analogous to the occasion when the "Daily Mirror," which was of doubtful allegiance, was threatened with suppression if it went on in the way in which it was going. But in the other case, Mr. Lloyd George went a little farther and said to Tom. Johnson, "I am the last man to suppress a Socialist newspaper—and why are you laughing?" Tom Johnson replied, "Well, you suppressed 'Forward' yesterday, and I don't suppose you have suppressed another newspaper since." Whereupon Mr. Lloyd George burst into tears, and said: "What can one do with a man like that?"

I do not really think that "Forward" is under the control of Mr. Undershaft or Mr. Lazarus and, in any case, I think it exercises a useful function, because it is from "Forward" that we in Scotland get the ammunition with which to destroy the Socialist argument in the West of Scotland. I would be very much opposed to anything which tended to injure the circulation of "Forward," but I do suggest that the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman does not cover by any means the whole of the problem, and either now or on some other occasion, the mover of the Amendment should seek to find if it can be buttressed by some positive assurance that the influence of the right hon. Gentleman would not be used. I say this because when the weekly newspapers were suppressed during the fuel crisis, no executive suppression was brought into play, but before the editors of those papers knew what was happening, they found that their papers were not coming out. The streak of liberalism in the right hon. Gentleman is not such that the same powerful engines would not be brought into play, as were used at the time of the fuel crisis. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will regard this as an example of the watchfulness of the House of Commons. Believe me, the sign of grace which has been shown by the right hon. Gentleman is welcomed on this side, but we wish to make sure that on any future occasion we shall find sentiments such as those to which he had just given voice, and we shall try to see that no backsliding takes place.