20 DECEMBER 1946, Page 5

A SPECTATOR'S NOTEBOOK T HE irresponsible and grossly offensive slurs of

the Russian paper, Red Fleet, on the British convoys that took aid to Russia in 1942 stirred the House of Commons to deep resentment, irre- spective of party, on Tuesday. In response to a question by Mr. J. P. L. Thomas, who held similar office under the Coalition Govern- ment, Mr. Dugdale, the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, read an unvarnished statement of the astonishing achievements of the Northern Convoys and the indispensable aid they carried in the face of unparalleled risk to an ally whose official organ sees fit today to charge them with incompetence. He gave particulars of the cargoes, over 90 per cent. of which got through, of the dangers en- countered and of the ships lost. Someone asked what the actual loss of life had been ; Mr. Churchill added to the cost the sacrifice of hands and feet through frostbite ; Members demanded that the fullest possible publicity be given to the statement, some stressing (it must be feared to little purpose) the importance of securing pub- licity in Russia. The matter is not likely to be pursued, but it is clear enough that if anything could effect the alienation of the British people from the Russian it would be persistence by Russian papers in slanders such as this. The Merchant Navy as well as the Royal Navy is involved, and no Englishman will tolerate aspersions on