HC Deb 09 October 1939 vol 352 cc12-3
21. Mr. Ridley

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the considerable difficulties being experienced by the London correspondents of newspapers published in neutral countries, because of the unsatisfactory mail, cable and telephone services; and whether he will take immediate steps to effect an improvement?

22. Mr. Viant

asked the Postmaster-General what representations have been made to his Department by Press representatives as to the difficulties in sending telephonic communications to neutral countries; and is anything being done to meet them?

The Postmaster-General (Major Tryon)

Some delay in the transmission of mails to countries abroad is inevitable owing to restrictions in overseas transport services; but mails are being despatched at every suitable available opportunity. Correspondence for countries abroad is subject to censorship; but I understand that my right hon. and Noble Friend the Minister of Information has recently issued an announcement advising Press correspondents sending matter by post for publication abroad how they can avoid delay from this cause. The change-over from peace-time to wartime conditions in the cable services involved the imposition of censorship and was accompanied by a heavy increase in the volume of traffic. In these circumstances some delay in the transmission of Press messages was unavoidable; but every effort has been made to eliminate such delay; and a more rapid service is now being given. As regards the telephone services, it was necessary on the imposition of censorship to suspend overseas telephone services. It has now been possible to make special arrangements whereby the telephone services to certain countries may be used under suitable safeguards for the transmission of Press messages; and I understand that this facility is much appreciated by the Press.

Mr. Ridley

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind that what are regarded as the present unsatisfactory arrangements are having a very serious effect indeed upon the dissemination of news of Britain and Britain's efforts in neutral countries, into which Nazi propaganda is literally being poured by every means available? Therefore, will he consider an improvement in this service as being a matter of urgent importance?

Major Tryon

We are doing all we can to improve the service, and I quite realise the importance of the point made by the hon. Member.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the Minister consider a great extension of the air mail services, if necessary by the use of neutral aircraft?

Major Tryon

I will certainly consider that.