Hon. Harold Nicolson: Yes, Sir. The script of Dr. Benes' talk was sent to the B.B.C. before delivery. It is not, however, the general practice of the Ministry of Information to alter talks delivered by Heads of States except in so far as is required by the needs of military security.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: There are several alternative versions of the Hess saga. Dr. Benes himself was careful to say that he was giving only his own interpretation. The: Government neither approved nor disapproved.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: I am sure my right hon. Friend will make that clear.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: My right hon. Friend is well aware of the value of such expert talks, provided that they are of a general and informative character and contain no expressions of opinion, either personal or official, about operations which are in progress or in prospect. There is no intention of discontinuing these commentaries.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: The B.B.C. has already been requested to make abundantly clear to the people of France, by way of comment on the news and otherwise, the views held by His Majesty's Government, as well as by the Free French, on the deplorable policy of the Vichy Government.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: Immediate inquiries into the suggestion made by the hon. Member are being instituted, and my right hon. Friend hopes shortly to be in the position to furnish a reply.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: I should be very much surprised if any such instructions had been given with my right hon. Friend's approval.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: The suggestion is one which has already received very full consideration, but there are various practical difficulties in the way of carrying it out; nevertheless my right hon. Friend will have the matter re-examined.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: Certainly, Sir.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: A talk on "Hansard" has now been arranged, and other steps are under active consideration.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: The hon. and gallant Member is under some misapprehension. Sir Nevile Henderson has never spoken on behalf of the Ministry of Information, nor am I aware that any Ministry speaker has ever referred to Nazi officials in the manner described. Accordingly, my right hon. Friend does not consider that there is any need to issue a warning such as the hon. and gallant Member suggests.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: I am quite prepared to believe that Sir Nevile Henderson made a speech, but he did not make it under our auspices.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: He is not there now.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: The hon. Member may be assured that there is no lack of vigour in our propaganda to France. Our view of the policy adopted by the Vichy Government is made abundantly clear to the French people, who are continually urged to manifest their extreme disapproval of the course to which they are being committed.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: I would recommend my hon. Friend to listen regularly in the course of a week to our broadcasts in French.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: The statement broadcast by the B.B.C. was based on information supplied by the Ministry of Information to the B.B.C. and the Press which has since been found to be erroneous. The true facts are those stated in the Reply given on 22nd May by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air to the hon. and gallant Member for Renfrew (Major Lloyd).
Hon. Harold Nicolson: It was verified and then found to be incorrect.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: My right hon. Friend much regrets that more careful verification was not made.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: There is no question of any imputation on the Duke of Hamilton's personal conduct. He has acted with the utmost circumspection and carefulness. For any statement for which my Ministry is responsible which may have led to any doubts about his integrity we must apologise, and we do so now.
Hon. Harold Nicolson: I am sure my right hon. Friend will be very much obliged to those who have expressed concern at his absence from the House and hope for his rapid recovery, a hope which I entirely share. The two hon. Members who have spoken have covered a wide field. The hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone (Captain Cunningham-Reid) referred to the recent departure of an officer who had had long B.B.C....