§ 50. Mr. JOHN HARRIS
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the proceedings in the Australian Parliament, during which the Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, is stated to have said that he has instructed the High Commissioner in London to publicly dissociate the Government of Australia from the firm issuing the advertisement for the sale of freehold lands near Canberra; and whether he will give immediate instructions that no 2000 further copies of the form containing this advertisement shall be issued from any Government office or with any Government stationery in the United Kingdom?
According to the reports in the Press, the Australian Government wish to make it clear that the firm in question, though housed in Australia House, has no connection with that Government. I do not think that this fact of itself would justify the British Government in refusing to let advertising space to the firm, and I would refer the hon. Member to my answer of the 13th May.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the Prime Minister of Australia has sent these instructions to the High Commissioner here because the local people in Australia knew the value of this particular advertisement?
No, I can assure my hon. Friend that, having gone into all the facts, there is another side to this story. The real difficulty is that we could not break a contract without paying compensation. Further, that the Government have undertaken to review all these advertisements, so that there may be no possibility of consequences of the kind.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Does the other side of the matter to which the hon. Gentleman referred include that he still holds that this is an investment of exceptional security and merit which should be advertised by the Government?
§ Mr. STURROCK
Is not this an additional proof of the inadvisability of the Government allowing official advertisements to appear in any shape or form?
I have indicated that we are not in any way associated with the recommendations or the reverse of this advertisement. As regards the second question, Governments in the past have pursued a policy of getting some revenue from advertisements; but the whole matter is under review.