Hutton (Mennell) Bill

Bill Hutton

William Hutton was better known as Bill Mennell or William Mennell and he was the Daily Worker’s economic affairs correspondent for over twenty years. Bill Hutton was born in Tadcaster in Yorkshire around 1909 and lived at 6 Wesley Terrace, Tadcaster. His father worked at the local John Smith Brewery. During the Second World War, Hutton had initially been a conscious objector and was able to work in the education service of the forces. He moved to London living in Balham, Morden and later Acton in West Middlesex where they lived in St Dunstan’s  Avenue with his wife, Joyce, also a Communist Party member, a teacher originally from Durham. 

While living in London he worked as an accountant at Dr Bernardo’s, but later worked the prestigious Vanderbilt Stock Brokers. It would seem that while it was known as a Communist, his economic expertise was sufficiently valuable to make his employment worthwhile, as long as he was not public about his Party membership. This did not prevent him from being Secretary of the Communist Party Economics Sub-Committee for ten years as well as writing numerous articles for the Daily Worker.

In April 1950, Hutton uncovered a plan by the Bank of England to sell its stake to the US in a strategically important Tanzanian Copper mines, leading to spectre of large numbers of the Daily Worker being sold in Throgmorton Street in the City of London. He would also seem to have been advising some Eastern European governments on economics. His daughter was even instructed never to speak about who visited the house or what they discussed. 

It is likely that this is also the same Bill Hutton who also having served in the Second World War, in February 1952, applied for sanction to be accepted as a conscientious objector, when called up to serve in Malaya. His reasons were set out in the relevant form, a copy of which can be seen here.

Tom Driberg, MP, had asked the Secretary of State for War back in July as to what  policy with regard to the posting to Korea, Malaya or Western Germany, of Communists who had registered as conscientious objectors on political grounds but who had been refused exemption from National Service. The answer was that there was “no specific policy … each case is considered on its merits.” The minister refused to give an undertaking that no Communists would be posted to wars they disagreed with since “it might result in a recruiting drive for the Communist Party!”

During the 1960s, Bill Hutton served on the Party’s Economic Committee and he was the author of "The British economy" printed by Lawrence & Wishart. He also the author of "Conscientious objection in Scotland in the First World War", published under the name William H Marwick in Penicuik, Midlothian, by the Communist Party’s Scottish Secretariat in  1972.

Active in the West Middlesex Communist Party in his later years, he was a close friend of Joe Ball, also a Party activist in the same district.

Bill and Joyce Hutton moved on retirement to Hill Cottage, Corpusty, Norwich and, there, became a close friend of
Norfolk Communist Wilf Page. Bill suffered a stroke just seven months before his death in January 1975. His funeral took place at Norwich crematorium, where there was standing room only, including representatives of Eastern European governments.


Sources include: House of Commons Debate 22 July 1952 vol 504 cc252-3253]








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