HC Deb 23 November 1939 vol 353 cc1388-9
41. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary what function the news department of the Press and Censorship Bureau performs, other than the distribution of prepared information handed to it by other Government Departments; and whether, in those circumstances, it is necessary to employ a staff of 20 persons at a cost of approximately £10,000 a year?

Sir J. Anderson

The organisation and staffing of the Press and Censorship Bureau, of which the News Division is part, have recently been investigated on my behalf, and I am now considering the full report which I have received. In the meantime I may say that, apart from the distribution of information supplied by other Government Departments, the News Division acts as a link between the Press and Government Departments, and as a clearing house for newspaper inquiries, the volume of which is very great. It must be remembered that the staff of this division is so organised as to cover 24 hours a day for seven days a week.

Mr. Mander

Does the Department in fact do anything more in practice than pass on information from one place to another without exercising any critical faculty?

Sir J. Anderson

It certainly does more than that.

Mr. Vernon Bartlett

May I ask whether this is the only Department in the Ministry which is staffed by journalists and whether, if they are not considered to be doing useful work, they can be transferred to another Department where their technical knowledge can be used?

Sir J. Anderson

I have already said that the full report is having my consideration.