HC Deb 11 October 1939 vol 352 cc376-484

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— [Captain Dugdale.]

4.51 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Greenwood

I wish to return to a question which I raised in this House on 13th September, concerning what has in many quarters been called the Mystery of Information. At that time I expressed certain doubts about the powers of the Ministry and enunciated certain principles with which, I think, the House as a whole agreed, with regard to the dissemination of news and information. I believe that the dissemination of news and information and the repeated statement of our case here and abroad are the fourth arm of Defence, as important, in the long run, as the Fighting Services themselves. This I say for two reasons, the first of which is that it is through all the resources which are, or should be, at the command of the Ministry of Information, that we can fortify the morale and the spirit of our people and give them new inspiration. Secondly, it is profoundly important, especially in neutral countries, that our case should be slated and re-stated clearly and effectively.

There are three chief means by which the spirit of our people can be transformed and transmitted to other peoples, the Press, the radio and the film. I do not pretend to assess the relative value of those three powerful media. The Press has a terrific influence. The spoken word over the wireless has perhaps, in a way, an even greater influence, while the picture and the voice have perhaps an influence equally great. The mobilisation of those three means at our disposal to strengthen our own people and to inform people abroad demands an organisation with international ramifications and with a powerful national organisation, including regional and local organisations. It demands, in my view, also a Minister in the House of Commons armed with powers sufficiently great to enable him to extract from the most reluctant Department of State information which he thinks it is necessary to publish, in the national interest.

I ask the Government whether they really think they have faced this problem squarely and with any degree of success? If I ask myself this question, my answer is "No" and that is why we have chosen on this occasion to raise a discussion on these problems. The Government have shown a woeful lack of imagination and of drive in this matter. I have three broad criticisms to make of their general publicity work. The first is that the right relationship has not existed between the Ministry of Information and the other Departments of State, more especially the Service Departments. It seems to me that the authority of the Ministry of Information has not been increased under the changes which have recently taken place, but has definitely been diminished. That Department has been—I do not like to use the word"over-run"—shall I say too heavily manned with civil servants? I am the last to complain about the value of civil servants. In times past I have had great services at their hands, but a Ministry of Information is not an ordinary Department of State. It is a Department of action, and there ought to be people in it who are accustomed to taking decisions. There ought to be people there whose whole background and specialised knowledge is in the field that is to be used by the Ministry of Information. I should have preferred to see far more men who have actual experience of the newspaper world, the film world, and the broadcasting world in that Department than is actually the case to-day.

Thirdly, my criticism is with regard to the panic action which has been taken during the past 10 days or so, resulting from the public agitation and public indignation. I admit that something had to be done about this strange Department, which I understand in certain quarters is described as "Minnie." I cannot believe that that description was an affectionate one. Minnie is now apparently under the weather.

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir Samuel Hoare)

It seems a rather affectionate description.

Mr. Greenwood

I thought it was rather contemptuous. Changes have taken place, in my view very hurriedly. Changes were necessary, but they have taken place, perhaps, without sufficient thought. It is understood that there has been a great purge. We have had given to us by the Parliamentary Secretary that mystic number 999, as the number employed in the Ministry of Information. Yesterday, in answer to a question, the Parliamentary Secretary published in the OFFICIAL REPORT a long list of the officers who are said to be left. That list is misleading and incomplete and one would like to know—I will return to this point in a moment—whether the staff of the Department really has diminished or whether, in that great and noble building which it occupies, the pressure on its space and its floor room is greater than it was before that great purge took place.

We are entitled to ask, what is the position in this Department now? What is this Ministry of Information, this mystery of information? Apparently now, as I understand it—and I shall be glad to be corrected by the right hon. Gentleman if I am wrong—it is a factory for the production and distribution of leaflets, posters and pamphlets. For the rest, it is a mere landlady letting furnished rooms to other State Departments and it is a district messenger boy for the Service Departments. Censorship and news distribution are now under the control of Sir Walter Monckton. In these early days of the war, that does seem to be two conflicting functions. To put in charge of news distribution the man who is responsible for killing it does not seem to be a wise method of organisation, because the more news you suppress the less news you have to distribute. That may be Sir Walter Monckton's solution of his own problem, but one is entitled to ask to whom is the new controller of censorship and news distribution responsible? Is he responsible to the Minister? Who is going to answer for his deeds, good and bad, in the House of Commons? Or is no one going to answer for him because he is merely a super office boy?

Then there is the third aspect of this problem. There are the Service Departments, which are the tenants now of a large amount of space in the Ministry of Information, which are to have accommodation there and which are now apparently completely independent of the Ministry of Information. There is no master in that Department now. What is issued from the Service Departments on the conduct of the war is merely issued by the Ministry of Information if the Service Departments themselves so approve. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the Service Departments have been reluctant to disgorge news. I think the Ministry of Information—and I have never blamed it for everything that has happened—has done some good in making them disgorge news, although they have done so most unwillingly.

I fear that when the fighting Service Departments have got back all their old power and there is no Minister who can say, "In the public interest, this news must be published," then, unless the public pressure is kept up—which I hope it will be—we shall have far less news, and not more. Previously there were in the Ministry of Information—this vague and elaborate organisation which changes from day to day—a number of regional and local organisations, which appear, so far as I can understand, to have gone to pieces completely. We must ask ourselves whether this new arrangement really makes for efficiency. In my view, it will make for greater mess and greater muddle. This new scheme does not make for co-ordination, for unification of effort, for a proper relation between Press, films and wireless.

I will give three illustrations as to what has happened in the last few days. The House will remember that last Friday Herr Hitler made one of his many speeches. That day, quite naturally, the Press were fully occupied with that speech, and with the repercussions of that speech on public opinion, and so on. On that day two Service Departments chose to hold Press conferences, at the same hour, in different places. I think that is a magnificent example of the co-ordination we are likely to get from the Ministry of Information. For the second illustration I quote the leading article of last night's "Evening Standard," which I read with a considerable amount of shame: On Sunday night a report is passed by the Ministry that the King had visited the Fleet to decorate heroes of 'a certain northern sea triumph.' But were we to be told the heroes' names or shown their pictures? Not likely. At 3.40 yesterday afternoon the Admiralty denies the whole story. Ten minutes later the Ministry cancels the Admiralty's denial. Ten minutes later again follows another message releasing the denial or cancelling the release; it is difficult to say which [Laughter.] These things seem amusing when read in retrospect, but they reflect little credit on those responsible for the distribution of news.

I come to the third illustration. I have myself been anxious for weeks that we should have war correspondents abroad. At last they have gone. The daily newspapers received a letter from one of the Service Departments last Saturday— Saturday, the Sabbath of the newspapers, the day when daily newspaper offices are closed for all practical purposes—asking for a reply by 7 o'clock that evening. The trouble was some wretched, mean, little squabble between the War Office and the Air Ministry, and by 7 o'clock on Saturday night newspaper editors and proprietors were called upon to decide this great question: whether their war correspondents, whose names the Government had had for some time, should be called Air Correspondents or Military Correspondents. It is worse than futility; it is stupidity. You cannot box up a newspaperman that kind of way. Is he to keep his feet on the ground and never look into the air? Is he to be permanently attached to one fighting Service, whatever may be happening in other fighting Services? This shows a complete lack of co-ordination and imagination on the part of the Government.

There are a number of questions I would like to put to the right hon. Gentleman—and there will be more to follow —on the organisation of the new Department. Is it or is it not a fact that, under the new arrangements, personnel and costs in total will be increased? Is it the case that, while the pay-roll of the Ministry of Information may be reduced, the payroll of other Services may be increased? Do the Government seriously think that, as the Prime Minister said last week, the new arrangement, whereby the Departmental announcements are made simultaneously by the Ministry of Information also, really makes for efficiency? All that it means is that the Ministry of Information has been sacrificed to the three fighting Services. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the new scheme really means more information for the public, here and abroad, or whether it means less?

I look now at the defects which still remain. It is now nearly a month since I raised this question in the House. I complained then that there was not enough news distribution. I complained about the restrictions that were placed upon the publication of news, and I pleaded for far more news, far more information, particularly from the point of view of the neutral Press. It is undeniable that first-class newspaper correspondents have left London in complete disgust because they cannot get information—if they do they get it too late to use it. And when it comes to some of the friendly Scandinavian countries, whose newspapers are not owned by millionaires, they cannot afford to keep their correspondents here, and those correspondents have had to go as well. These people are kicking their heels here, sick at heart, friendly souls all of them, only too desirous to put over the British case. They ask for bread and are given a stone. That situation is intolerable and is doing us infinite damage in friendly countries at a time when we need all the kind of support that we can gather behind us.

I come to the British Broadcasting Corporation. I am bound to say that I think the Government has been profoundly dishonest. Somewhere hidden in the depths of the Emergency Powers Act, which we gave to this Government with very little criticism, apparently were powers to get rid of the governors, or most of the governors of the B.B.C. I have every sympathy with, and a great liking for, administrators, but the Board of the B.B.C. is a body of people whose duty it was to reflect outside opinion. They have no other real function to perform except to see that the broadcasting service of this country is carried on in accordance with the wishes of the people. We find to our astonishment that some of these people have been, in effect, whatever the form was, dismissed, and for three weeks this guilty secret was locked in the heart of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Why did they not tell us at the time, because I am bound to say that had we been told at the time we should not have allowed it to pass unchallenged. But it is very difficult three weeks after a fait accompli to raise a question again. It is on that ground, therefore, that I regard this action of the Government as dishonest, and I still think that there is much to be said for the Board. If the Government do not like the old Board of Governors let them get a new one, but I think it would be in the interests of the nation to have some effective body which could bring to bear on the inside the pressure of public opinion from outside.

In these rather dull and dreary days there is something to be said for increasing brightness. I have myself had little time to do as much listening in as many people, but I hear everywhere complaints about the "weeping Willy" programmes that we have been given. We have to remember that in the conditions of war, with the limitations there are in public entertainment outside the homes, the B.B.C. becomes the main avenue of public entertainment for millions of our people. In these days of train restrictions, lighting restrictions, restrictions here, there and everywhere, and the determination on the part of the Government to make the life of everybody as miserable as possible, it would be well if we could have some brighter entertainment from the B.B.C. I understand that in France, which is nearer the seat of war than we are, there are 17 alternative broadcasts daily from the French broadcasting station, and I should have thought that we might have done something in that direction, and something to employ the services of those people who have been dismissed because of this restriction of programmes.

We ought to have a wider scope for talks over the wireless. The one cheering message that we have had over the wireless—and I say this though a political opponent—was that of the First Lord a week last Sunday night. It is that kind of statement that puts heart into our people. Why do we not have more of them? Why do we not do something oftener in that direction? On the Government side, I repeat, the one statement that we have had of cheer has been the one which was made a week last Sunday, and that kind of thing ought to be happening oftener, because it is vital that the leaders of public opinion in this country should keep in constant touch with the people of this country, and the spoken voice is always better than the written word. I would ask that we should have broadcasts from the front and to the front. Why should not we hear the voice of the Commander-in-Chief over the wireless? Why should we not hear from the Tommy or the lance-corporal, or the sergeant the story of the life he is leading out there? Why should not we have over the wireless other countries labour's voice oftener—miners talking to miners abroad, textile workers talking to textile workers abroad, and labour women talking to labour women abroad, bringing to bear the real power of the labour movement in this country on this issue on public opinion abroad, and particularly on neutrals. One could, of course, develop this theme, but I am anxious that the B.B.C. should be less brief, more bright and more brotherly.

Now I turn to the question of films. The film plays a very great part in normal times in the life of the masses of the people, and it is going to play a very important part in the life of the people in the immediate future. I am not going to raise this afternoon—because that is a vast and complicated issue that may have to be raised sooner or later—the question of the quota. But one might ask, what effective steps have the Ministry of Information taken to produce any films at all in the last five weeks, whether it is the intention of the British Government, quite apart from questions of quota, and so on —and I know some of the difficulties of that problem—during these times of war to have more and brighter British films produced for the entertainment of the people, and also whether they realise the importance of multiplying news films. We ought to have been having daily news films from France, news films from the high seas, and news films from people in the air. We have had very little of it indeed. I am satisfied that it is going to be vitally important. Those who read the neutral foreign Press know that all the pictures are those of German origin. The reasons for this is because we have not sent them any pictures. I am told that an increasing number of neutral countries have films of Nazi origin. The reason for this is because we have not prepared any, and we have not sent any.

I will now turn to the organisation in this country. There was to be a regional local organisation, in which there was general agreement, and here we have some mysterious proceedings. I am sorry I cannot tell the House the end of the story, because it is not written, but I will tell the story so far as I know it. On 3rd October the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry told the House that 54 committees had been established and that 100 more were in process of formation. That was not quite the answer that should have been given in those circumstances because late on Friday, 29th September, notices to terminate their appointments were sent to the regional officers all over the country. Some of them did not receive their letters until after they had heard the news on the wireless. That was one of the things which the wireless did not censor and which was allowed to come out of the Ministry of Information. On 2nd October some sort of stand-still, mark-time order was sent to the regional officers, so far as the local committees were concerned, and these officers are still standing by, wondering whether their services will be required.

We are entitled to ask if there is to be any kind of regional or local organisation or not. Why did they set it up if they did not mean to use it? Is it because, after four weeks of scratching their heads, they could not find anything for this organisation to do, or is it that during those moments of panic they felt it would be better to cut their losses and, in fact, demobilise all the machinery? I still think that the reasons which led the Government to create machinery of that kind are as good now as they were when that organisation was agreed upon. This complicated service is our first arm of defence, and it is as important as anything else. It has not been treated with the same seriousness as other aspects of our national activity. We are, indeed, hiding our light under a bushel.

We have an unchallengeable case which has not been put as vigorously, as effectively or as frequently as it certainly should have been both here and abroad. We have not used the Press, the air and the films to the extent that we should. We should mobilise all these resources on the same scale that we have to mobilise our industrial resources in aid of the military, naval and air forces of the country. I repeat what I said a month ago. Does not this Government trust the people of this country? The people should be confided in. You cannot do without them, and you should tell them everything, whether it is ill or good, and you should tell them as soon as possible and as fully as possible. We must do the same in other lands so as to rally the spiritual forces of freedom which are still a predominant factor in the world to-day; and, instead of this flat-footed method which we have adopted hitherto, Britain ought to become, as she can become if she speaks with the voice of the people of the country, an inspiration to the world. That inspiration we have not had, but I hope he shall have it soon.

5.27 p.m.

Sir S. Hoare

I agree with what has been said by the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition as to the great importance of the subject under discussion. I agres with him, also, when he says that we must trust the people, that we must tell our story boldly and widely, and that we must publish as much news as we can, and as quickly as we can. I shall try, in the course of my remarks, to remove certain misunderstandings and to reassure the House as to the attitude of the Government. No one in this House, particularly at a time like this, likes going into back history, but I feel it is necessary to say a word or two about the origin of the Ministry of Information before we come to consider the right hon. Gentleman's criticisms and the best course to be taken in the present circumstances.

The Ministry of Information was planned, like all of the other war Departments, before last September. I am not disclosing any secrets now, but the Committee of Imperial Defence set up a number of sub-committees for the purpose of planning the war-time Ministries such as Food, Supply, Information, and so on. Upon these committees were representatives of the various Departments concerned with the particular subjects. The committee dealing with the Ministry of Information was one of them, and there were representatives of all the Departments who would be likely in war time to be concerned with the problem of information. They had many discussions on the subject, and they eventually came to the unanimous conclusion that it was best to begin with the plans of the Ministry of Information as it was in the year 1918, at the end of the last war. That plan was based upon the centralising of all the various activities concerned with information, but when the war ended in 1918 the centralisation had not been completed, and there was still left outside the Ministry of Information the Press Bureau—that was the bureau dealing with Press censorship in the last war—and certain other organisations dealing with publicity in the Dominions and in this country.

When we came to consider the report of this Committee we took the view that it was better to go a stage further than the point which we reached in 1918, and to combine with the Ministry of Information both the censorship and the various other activities which in 1918 remained outside. It was at this point, if I may make a personal observation, that I came into the picture. I was asked by the Prime Minister to take this agreed scheme and to supervise the appointment of the nucleus staff which was to be the basic staff of the new Department. Before we came to any final decision on the subject I had a number of discussions with people outside as to these plans. I give the House one instance—the discussions which I had with representatives of the Press. I had already had talks with representatives of the Press some months before on various questions connected with air-raid precautions and the production of newspapers in the difficult conditions of air raids.

I took those discussions a stage further and I discussed with the committee which the Press of London and the Provinces had created for the purpose, what the plans of the new Department should be. I discussed with them such questions as the censorship regulations, questions connected with appointments in the Censorship Division, and where it would be most convenient for the Press that the Ministry of Information should be housed. I think they will bear me out when I say that throughout these discussions there was substantially no difference of opinion between the representatives of the Government and of the Press. When, therefore, the war started we had these plans which had been agreed upon between the parties concerned, which had been discussed time after time with representatives of the Press and certain other organisations of publicity—I will come to the question of the British Broadcasting Corporation later in my speech—and, as far as we could judge, there was general agreement as to the lines upon which the Department should be formed and upon which it should operate. In view of this general body of agreement among those whose opinions carry the greatest weight on the subject, how has it come about that a plan so carefully devised, so fully based upon the experience of the Ministry of Information in 1918, and so fully discussed with the representatives of the Press and other organs of publicity has given, in the view of the public, unsatisfactory results?

Let me give to the House one or two reasons why these results in the early days of the war have not justified the hopes which were formed. First of all, there is the fact—and it is a fact which faces us not only in regard to the Ministry of Information, but in many of our other public and private activities in the country—that the war during the first month has proved to be very different from the war which many of us imagined. In planning a Department of this kind we had to contemplate the possibility of immediate and devastating air raids of a magnitude unknown in the experience of Europe. We had to contemplate that certain regions in the country might be left with little or no contact with the capital. It was essential to make very elaborate arrangements for those contingencies. It was necessary to be as fully prepared, as far as the Ministry of Information was concerned, as we were in air-raid precautions. Things have not happened as we imagined they would happen, and the result is that the same kind of criticism has been made against the organisation of the Ministry of Information as has been made against certain sections of our airraid precautions.

Just because there have not been these raids, just because one part of the country has not been separated from the capital, people say that all this organisation is unnecessarily comprehensive. "Why, for instance, do you set up these regional organisations in the country; these people have been kicking their heels doing little or nothing during the last month? Why did you set up in the Ministry of Information a number of sections based on the assumption that they were all going to be working full time at once in a great national emergency? None of these things has happened." That is one of the reasons, I suggest, why the Ministry of Information has met with so much criticism. It was founded on the basis of a particular emergency, and so far that emergency has not arisen.

I come to the second reason for this very widespread and outspoken criticism of the new Department. There is the fact, whatever the right hon. Gentleman opposite may say, that there has been very little information to give to the Press in these four or five weeks because, as far as we are concerned, apart from certain conspicuous exceptions, there have been no dramatic events taking place. There was the story told by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War this afternoon, a very fine story, of the transport of the Expeditionary Force without a single hitch and without a single casualty. I say with all seriousness to the right hon. Gentleman opposite that it was impossible while these transports were going across the Channel with the danger of submarine and air attacks, much as we should have wished to do so, to give the Press and the general public the information which the Secretary of State for War has been able to give to the House to-day. That, I claim, is the second reason why the scheme, which was devised with such care, has not worked in the way we had expected it would work —the absence of information, and the great and natural reluctance of the Service Departments to give away information which in their view might have endangered the transport of the Expeditionary Force.

Be that as it may, the public has, I am afraid, lost confidence in the Ministry as originally organised. It is a new Ministry. There was the very unfortunate episode, which was debated in the House a month ago, which shook it severely—although it was in no way responsible for that episode —before it had really got its bearings. And as it is essential that the Department should have the confidence of the country, and as it so important in our national effort, the Government have decided to change its organisation, and instead of continuing upon the line of centralisation, to try now the principle of decentralisation. The censorship will no longer be a responsibility of the Ministry, but will become a responsibility of the Departments that are actually concerned with the issue of news. The Service Departments and the other Departments that have news to issue will be responsible for the issue of their news with their own publicity officers; they will be responsible to the House for the way in which the news is issued, and they will be equally responsible for questions arising out of the censorship of news that affects their Departments. After the experiences of the last month, I am inclined to think that the effect of this change will be to give the public more and not less news, and I base my opinion on the view that it is very much in the interests of these Departments to give their story to the world and that they are more likely to give it quickly and freely if it goes direct from them rather than through the channel of some other Department. My answer, then, to one of the first questions which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) asked me is that I believe this new plan will give not less but greater publicity.

Mr. Beverley Baxter

Will there be no contact between the Minister and these Departments? For example, suppose that the present Secretary of State for War, with his natural disinclination to give out any publicity, decided to give out none at all, would the Minister then be qualified to interview the Secretary of State for War and urge him to give more?

Sir S. Hoare

I would say that question is a very hypothetical question. I cannot imagine that my right hon. Friend would adopt the attitude which the hon. Member suggests. However, if he did, his responsibility would not be to the Minister of Information, but to the House. Having dealt with the two sections that will leave the Ministry, namely, the censorship and the news, I come to what will be the remaining duties of the Department.

Mr. Mander

Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the position of Sir Walter Monckton? To whom will he be responsible?

Sir S. Hoare

So far as there are questions of policy, that is to say, either the issuing or censoring of news, he will be responsible to the various Departments. So far as it is a question of accounting and carrying him on a particular Vote, there is at the present time a discussion going on as to which of the Departments should carry him on their Vote. [Interruption.] I imagine it will be only a formality, because in questions that matter it will be the issuing Departments which will be responsible.

Mr. de Rothschild

The Ministry of Information will not be answerable for him?

Sir S. Hoare

No, Sir. The censorship and the News Division will be completely separated from the Ministry of Information, with this one reservation, that for the convenience of the Press, and quite apart from any question of responsibility, the Press Bureau will continue as a meeting place for the Press in the building of the Ministry of Information. That is a matter of convenience to the large number of pressmen in London, a number reaching something like 1,200.

Sir Percy Harris

It will be a kind of club.

Sir S. Hoare

It is what they have asked for themselves. They have accommodation there, they have there the telephones and all the apparatus for their activities. In this Press Bureau there will be issued duplicates of all communications issued by various Departments.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves this matter, will he clear up one other administrative point? Admiral Usborne, the chief censor, will be responsible to Sir Walter Monckton. To whom will Mr. Tom Clarke, and his technical staff concerned with the roneo-graphed releases of the news, be responsible—to the Minister, Sir Walter Monckton, or to whom?

Sir S. Hoare

I had better leave questions of that sort to my hon. Friend, who knows the details of the office. I do not know them, and I could not answer that question without notice. Speaking generally, the responsibility for news and censorship will now be separated from the Ministry of Information.

Mr. Lyons

My right hon. Friend said just now that the censorship will cease to be a matter for the Ministry and will be a matter for each Service Department. Can he inform us when that separation will take place, or whether it has taken place already?

Sir S. Hoare

It has taken place already. As to the duties of the Ministry, its duties in future will be publicity in neutral countries, in the Dominions and in this country. I say particularly publicity rather than propaganda. The last thing in the world we wish to do is to embark upon any plan, such as the plans in totalitarian States, of propaganda either in this country, or in the Dominions, or in the United States of America. There is no question of that kind of propaganda. It will be publicity, and by that I mean straight news. That will be the main and very important duty of the Ministry, and let no hon. Member underrate the great importance of this all-essential duty of publicity in the world. If the House wishes to have efficient machinery for dealing with publicity of this kind, it must accept the fact that it will mean a big department and a considerable body of expert staff. I do not believe that work of this kind should be skimped, just as I do not believe that, wherever there is any waste, it should not be eliminated. But let not hon. Members imagine that you can have publicity of the three kinds rightly mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield—publicity through the Press, through the wireless and through the films—without big and extensive machinery.

The right hon. Gentleman has put the question: What are these changes going to mean in the matter of staff? What about the 999? My answer is that, undoubtedly, they will mean reductions. The staffs were, I think without exception, appointed on a temporary basis. They were gathered together on the understanding that the original staffs were estimates rather than final decisions. At the moment my Noble Friend the Minister of Information is having an inquiry made to see, first, whether the cadre staffs are the right kind of cadres, and, secondly, whether the personnel in those cadres is the right kind of personnel. Having said that, let me pay a tribute to the members of the staff who worked at the planning of the Ministry in their own time, many of them without pay, for weeks and months in advance of the date of the war. They are, in my view, very able people whose services we should not be wise to dispense with, but, as I have said, an inquiry is proceeding at present to see whether the details of the organisation are on the right lines, and whether the right people are in the right places.

Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman

My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) received a reply yesterday to a question about personnel. As far as I can make out from it, having totted up the figures rather quickly, there are 192 people in this list and the total of the salaries is £130,000, plus many salaries not yet fixed. Can we get any sort of idea of what this is going to cost, as regards those who are running the Ministry and those who are employed in it?

Sir S. Hoare

Certainly, as soon as the investigation is completed. At present, it is not completed. All these staff questions were dealt with in the way in which the staffs of all war-time Ministries were dealt with, that is to say the heads of the various sections made estimates of what they required on a temporary basis, the Treasury investigated those estimates and the Treasury passed them, as estimates upon a temporary basis. The investigation now being carried out will show how far further reductions can be made. I can tell the House now that, making a comparison of like with like, that is a comparison between what is left in the Ministry of Information now and what was the staff of the Ministry of Information in 1918 —and the former Ministry was undertaking considerably less work then than the new Ministry will be undertaking when it is in the full volume of its work—the numbers will be substantially less. I give that undertaking to the House this afternoon. The numbers will prove to be considerably less than the numbers at that time.

Mr. Lunn

Is it possible for us to arrange in this House or for the right hon. Gentleman to arrange, that we can hear Grade Fields at 8 o'clock to cheer us up in this black-out?

Sir S. Hoare

I am coming to Gracie Fields. If the hon. Member will allow me, I will deal in a moment or two with the B.B.C.

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

Who is conducting this investigation as to the functions of these highly-paid persons?

Sir S. Hoare

The Minister, of course, is responsible for his own Department, and he will be assisted by high officials of the Treasury.

Mr. Creech Jones

Can the Minister tell us what was the principle of selection? How was this mixed assortment of people selected?

Sir S. Hoare

The hon. Member has raised a very difficult question. He will see at once that it is not an easy matter to select a staff in peace-time. That was one of our troubles. We were selecting a nucleus staff in peace-time. I gave an undertaking to the House that the Ministry would not come into operation until war-time, and under conditions of that kind, it is not as easy to get, in all respects, the staff you want as it is when war has actually begun and you have an immensely greater choice than you would have in peace-time. I can tell him that the staff was selected with considerable care. It was approved by the Treasury and in many cases there was a good deal of discussion with people outside the Government service. I know that criticisms are made now, I do not know whether justified or not, that this or that individual is too much on the Left or too much on the Right, or is in some way un-suited to this work. All I can say is that we did attempt to prevent any of these partisan considerations coming into account at all, while the selection of this nucleus staff was being made.

I pass from these rather controversial questions to another question which, I hope, I shall show is not so controversial, namely, the question of the B.B.C. I was deeply grieved to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield accuse the Government of having been profoundly dishonest in this matter. He could not have made that statement if he had been in possession of the facts. The right hon. Gentleman is usually so fair in his speeches that I do not think he would make a statement of that kind about any Government, let alone a very honest Government like ours, if he did not think he was fully justified in making such a charge. But let us examine this great mystery which he has created about the withdrawal of a number of the directors from the governing body of the B.B.C. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that it was a deed done at night, in secret, under the cover of D.O.R.A. because the Government were evidently deeply ashamed of the action which they were taking. Nothing of the kind. It was not done under D.O.R.A. at all. It was the result of certain discussions which took place, as far as I can remember at the suggestion of the Board of the B.B.C. itself, as to the future of the Board in war-time. There was a question at that time of whether the Government, in war-time, would take over the B.B.C. altogether. I was strongly opposed to any such action. I took the view that the B.B.C. ought to be treated just as the Press is treated and that the relations between the Government and the B.B.C. should substantially be the same kind of relations as between the Government and the Press.

In these discussions it emerged that one of the difficulties of war-time with the B.B.C. would be delays which would undoubtedly arise, perhaps because it could not take a decision owing to the board not meeting at first or owing to its being difficult to gather the board together. It was a very natural feeling on their part, exactly the same feeling as, I think, has animated every local body in the country. I am told that the London County Council, for instance, have substantially delegated their authority to a small executive committee, and in the same way, of their own volition, the board agreed that their powers during war-time should be delegated to the chairman and vice-chairman. There was nothing more in it than that. It was simply a matter of efficiency, to avoid delay, and if the right hon. Gentleman wants any further information on the subject no doubt the chairman and the board of the B.B.C. will give it to him. [Interruption.] All I can say is that this was the suggestion of the board themselves. There was no difference of opinion about it and it was on their own volition that this arrangement was made.

The right hon. Gentleman implied that the absence of these five members of the board had had a bad effect upon the programmes. [Interruption.] Perhaps I misunderstood him, but that is the impression that his speech made upon me. Let me disabuse the House of any idea that the change in the management has had anything to do with the change in the programmes. I am here speaking rather beyond my book, for the Government certainly is not responsible for the B.B.C. programmes at all, but it is fair to the House that I should give this information about the programmes. The dull programmes—if, indeed, they are dull programmes—are not in any way due to the changes of the board, but solely to the demands of national security. There is only a single programme. That is due to the danger of giving navigational aid to enemy aircraft. I can assure the House that that is the sole reason why at present there is only a single programme. I gather from hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench that they think that within this limit of a single programme we might have better quality and larger variety than we have at present. I am glad to be able to inform the House that substantial changes are being made in the near future in this respect.

May I give one or two instances? Gramophone programmes are now reduced below the average time allotted to gramophone programmes in peace-time. Next, I am delighted to tell the House that there will be brighter programmes to which we can look forward. A running commentary will be given next Saturday on the football match between Blackpool and Manchester. Better still, next week there will be a running commentary on the Cambridgeshire. An hon. Member asked me about Grade Fields. She is on to-night. It is obvious that this Debate must end at an early hour to give an opportunity of listening to her. Jack Buchanan, Binnie Hale, Evelyn Laye, Denise Robbins and other well-known variety artists are going to broadcast in the immediate future. Bandwaggon, perhaps the most popular programme of all, is now being broadcast regularly. I give the House these instances to show that the B.B.C. is most anxious to make the programmes brighter and more variegated than they have been in recent weeks.

The right hon. Gentleman also raised the question of having more talks. I agree with everything that he said. I think we want more of these talks to maintain moral in the country, and I can tell him that arrangements are being discussed to take up the point that he raised and, no doubt, if he will allow us to consult him on the subject we might have further consultations to see whether we cannot have more inspiring talks than we have had recently. I agree also with what he said about films. News-reels and longer films have been prepared in recent weeks and I think he will see in the course of the next few days that new films of the kind that he was discussing will be shown, not only in this country but over the whole world. In particular, I understand, a film is being made of our activities in France, and no doubt there will be films such as he suggested about the other Services. I hope I have said enough to explain how the Ministry of Information came into being, why it was organised on these lines, and why we are now making the changes that I have described, and I hope I have also made it very clear that we are as anxious as anyone that we should have as much news as possible, that we should have it quickly and that we should have it brightly and that we wish to remove as best we can any obstacle which may at present stand in the path.

6 10 p.m.

Mr. de Rothschild

I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the careful account which he has given of the Ministry of Information. Personally, I am bound to say that I am not quite happy about the statement that he has made, though most of us were heartened by the last few remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, by which some of us were reminded of the old times when a gentleman in evening clothes appeared at the Palladium and announced the turns that were going to take place. The right hon. Gentleman announced them, I thought, with the same gusto and enthusiasm as we used to hear on the halls. I only hope that when they are produced by the B.B.C., they will be equally amusing and efficacious. With regard to the reconstruction of the Ministry of Information, I propose to deal with that after I have dealt with the question of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

I do not think the Minister realised and appreciated the importance of the B.B.C. in war time, because indeed wireless should be and is one of the most powerful weapons of political warfare. The power of the Nazis at the present time is largely due to the magnificent use which they have been able to make of the wireless. They handled it extraordinarily well and with great skill before the war, and they are continuing to do so now. I am not sure that our own measures in this field have been able to counter theirs. Let us take the home service first. The task of the home service of the B.B.C. during war should be to cheer up the people, to improve their morale, and to give them information. Never have the people been more keen and more eager to hear news than they are to-day Never have they been in greater need of daily entertainment since other entertainments have been taken away from them by means of the blackout. Therefore, it is obvious that the service that is produced for them should be particularly entertaining and that there should not be only jazz music and knockabout turns. What steps are being taken to ensure such entertainment? The right hon. Gentleman said the Government had nothing to do with the B.B.C. and that the programmes were out of their reach, although he informed us that the B.B.C. is making alterations.

I urge the Government to take a greater interest in the B.B.C. and to help the people who are listening nightly to entertainments and to news. There may have been military reasons, which the right hon. Gentleman adumbrated, for cutting down the number of stations, but even so, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a fact that we are still operating to-day on two wavelengths. Therefore, why not have at least two programmes? If we cannot operate on other wave-lengths or other stations, I suggest that it would be useful for the Government to make use of those stations, largely in private hands and abroad, which have been used mainly for advertisements and to use them for the further dissemination, not only of news, but also of amusement. Although we have only one programme, let me remind the House that we fill it with repetitions, and when the news is announced very often we hear the announcer, in his metallic and clear voice, saying, "This bulletin is mainly a repetition of the 6 o'clock bulletin." Then at 10.30, when people are settling down, or just before they want to go to bed, we have a series of Government announcements which are interesting only to a very small section of the population—Government announcements upon agriculture, which certainly do not interest the towns, and Government announcements on the handling of coal trucks and railway wagons, which, after all, may not interest more than 300 to 500 people in the whole country and which could be dealt with in a very few minutes by asking those people to apply to a certain office. Surely, that is altogether unnecessary.

The right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate pointed out that there were 17 stations in France which were still functioning, and those who listen to the wireless will tell you that at present we can pick up in England from eight to 10 German stations daily. If our own broadcasts are not attractive, if the news is dry, if the entertainment is mediocre, and if the music is of a low standard, which is what people complain of, the listener just turns the button and he gets a foreign broadcast. He may very well tune in to a German programme for its entertainment value, but he also gets a full measure of German propaganda, skilfully delivered and in excellent English. Do not let us undervalue the possible effects of this. If only one side is listened to, public opinion, even in this country, may not be immune from such influence. Only the other day M. Blum, who was Prime Minister of France, wrote an article in the "Daily Telegraph" in which he pointed out that German propaganda was creating a feeling of dissatisfaction and unrest in certain circles in France and pointing out that the German Government, through this means, were trying to separate the Allies from each other. Let us learn from this. The worst of it is that our own news bulletins are below the standard of both Germany and France. They are less full, and they are produced higgledy-piggledy. There is a lack of arrangement. An important announcement made by a Cabinet Minister is sandwiched in between an obscure happening in some provincial town and some minute incident in the private life of a well-known actress. The only items which are well organised and set out with a sense of arrangement are the sports news. The German and French bulletins tabulate their news, the items are seen in relation one to the other, and a clear picture of world events is built up.

I do not want to deal at length with the respective merits of the entertainment items, but everybody, I believe, agrees that there is a superiority in the foreign musical programmes which are being produced. There are a few other suggestions which might be made for home programmes. The Secretary of State for War told us about the many thousands of men who have gone to France and how many more men and women it was proposed to send. I wonder whether the B.B.C. could organise lectures on languages for troops. It would be of some interest and would make up for the absence of evening classes. Many of these young people who go overseas would have been able in their leisure hours in this country to listen to a dictaphone of some part of the language of the country to which they were going. Do not let us forget that at present the facilities for education are being curtailed. Why not have lectures by the B.B.C.: — ersatz evening classes? So much for the home front.

What of overseas broadcasts? Here we are neglecting a first-rate opportunity. The British Empire is in a unique position to obtain world coverage by the establishment of high-power short-wave transmitters in the overseas Dominions and in India, and by setting up high-power stations at two or three focal points to relay B.B.C. programmes and news and to translate that news into the languages of the surrounding regions. This is a matter which has been totally neglected. I should like to call the attention of the people who are handling the B.B.C. to the standard of reception of British broadcasts in foreign countries. I am told by one who was recently in South America that the reception there is bad. South America is a field which British enterprise and propaganda should not neglect, but throughout that range of republics, which are friendly to us, the people are turning to German programmes because the reception is better and the programmes are more attractive. I also heard that the reception of our programmes in Germany was not as good as it could be, whereas the reception of the German broadcasts here is exceptionally good. The information which I was given is not recent and I do not know what the position is now. It was given to me by a refugee a year or two ago before the German wireless sets were sterilised to English wavelengths.

There is no doubt that our own broadcasts to Germany have improved, but they should be of longer duration. The German broadcasts to England last about 40 minutes. The programmes which we produce for Germany should also be made more attractive. I suggest they should contain other items besides news supplied by the Ministry of Information. The individual taste of Germans should be borne in mind, and it should not be beyond the capacity of the B.B.C. to produce for Germany some of those satirical cabarets which some of the refugees have been producing in London. Many Germans would be tempted to listen to them, for they are the artists to whom they listened in Germany and Austria, and they might prove very attractive. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that we should be listening to more broadcasts from important people. I suggest that we should also have important people in our German broadcasts. Why not give talks from prominent Germans at present living out of Germany, such as Thomas Mann? A broadcast by Thomas Mann would be listened to by many Germans and would have a great effect. Let us in our broadcasts to Germany constantly remind them "das anderes Deutschland sprecht"—the other Germany speaks. Attention has also been drawn in many letters from the listening public to the fact that our foreign programmes are lacking in the personal touch. Only a few days ago in the "Daily Telegraph" we were told by Mr. Charles Stuart: No attention is paid to the great possibilities for conveying the warmth and colour of human personality and emotion in delivering the news broadcasts to foreign countries. Our news is given in a colourless manner. We must speak the truth, but there is no reason why we should not comment on it. The Russians were the first to demonstrate the value of wireless as early as 1918. It is now a first-class instrument used by all combatants. This instrument can save the lives of thousands, but we are only using it two or three times nightly for 15 minutes only. Let us use it on a larger scale and with more psychological insight. I trust that the news will be given, whether it is good or bad. The importance of wireless cannot be sufficiently stressed. We have heard it described to-night as the fourth arm of defence. I have always heard that that was the expression applied to agriculture. However, I believe that wireless propaganda is the fourth arm of offence as well as of defence. I hope that it will be used to the full, not forgetting that when the time comes—and I hope it will come soon —it will be used as a balm to heal.

I now turn to the other part of the Debate dealing with the Ministry of Information. I read in the "Times" the other day that that great institution in Bloomsbury was known as the "The Great White Rabbit" in Whitehall and in ministerial circles. "Minnie" is apparently not the only nickname that is given to it. Let us take, first, the question of personnel. The Parliamentary Secretary stated on Monday, in reply to a question, that 60 members of the staff had been transferred to other Departments. I understand that some of the Departments have still staffs at the Ministry. Is this a duplication, and, if so, what is the cost? The other question which was ventilated on Monday was that of the composition of the staff of the Ministry at headquarters. We have been told tonight that the number of that staff was 192, but we were not told that out of the 192 as many as 60 were civil servants who occupied the most important posts, judging by their salaries. I know that many of those who are working in a voluntary capacity at the Ministry are men of great distinction, but they do not appear to have any great executive power. This is a war-time organisation and it requires men with special experience and knowledge.

Early in his speech the right hon. Gentleman said that this organisation had been recruited in peace-time, whereas in the last war the new Ministries were set up without any previous preparation, and that the organisers grabbed from all over the place the most distinguished and most capable men in different walks of life. In those days these Government offices were manned by men of the highest ability, men who had made their mark in many specialised fields, and there were very few civil servants. The situation to-day is different. The preparations were made in peace-time—the Ministry of Information was created before the war—and of course it was difficult then to obtain the services of business people, who were otherwise occupied. Civil servants were much more easily caught up, and to-day we hear that these Government offices are clogged with civil servants—not only the Ministry of Information but the Ministry of Supply, and the Ministry of Economic Warfare, and no doubt the Ministry of Shipping, when it is set up, will also be one mass of red tape.

Red tape is particularly in evidence at the Ministry of Information. There is diffused responsibility. No one is prepared to shoulder responsibility, and the result is that people are constantly referred to other Departments and, inside the Ministry, from one section of it to another. I believe the only people who are happy there are the minute writers. I am sorry for Lord Macmillan. He made a modest statement in another place a week or so ago. He is a man of great talents, of great ability, and he has rendered the State many services, and I was indeed sorry for him when this fat, furry, fluffy white rabbit was thrust into his arms— with the red tape tied round it. I am not sure that I am not still more sorry for him now that the rabbit is being dissected.

The purpose of this Ministry should be to get things done speedily and at the right time. It should be the antithesis of the Civil Service, which has control but has no initiative. The function of the Ministry of Information is to carry out publicity here and abroad, and it cannot do this successfully without trained personnel, and I was glad to hear that at last the Government are realising it. But why did not the Government, when it was setting up this Ministry, make use of men with special experience and knowledge? Why did they not turn to men like Sir John Reith to organise it? Why did they not turn to a man like the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), who has had a vast experience of the Press and a vast experience of administration? They would have inspired confidence, and if confidence, which is lacking at the present time, were restored, there would be less of the hostile criticism of the Ministry which appears in the Press every day.

For that the Ministry is alone to blame. From the very start the Ministry has mismanaged its relationship with the Press. There has been no effective collaboration during the organisation period either with the Press or with the other bodies which would have been helpful, such as the film industry, and almost all sections of the Press are to-day thoroughly disgusted with the Ministry. The dailies, the weeklies, the local papers are all printing articles criticising it and anecdotes and jokes about it, and at last it has percolated to the Government that you cannot run this publicity without the goodwill of the Press. Whether this goodwill can now be won by a reorganisation of the Ministry I do not know. Especially I do not understand what is the part that is going to be played by the censorship. What is Sir Walter Monckton going to do? Is he going to work with the Press through the Ministry of Information or is he going to do it direct? As far as I can make out the great purpose of the Ministry now will be to deal with the home front, and therefore the duty before it is to keep up the moral of the people.

In this connection I should like to say a few words about the regional organisations which can play a very important part in this matter. The regional organisations were under discussion some time before the war. They were organised in order to strengthen the unity which war would bring about among the different political parties and to increase the national feeling which was animating the whole country. But there were too many officials, as usual. Owing to the Ministry's incompetence the plans never properly matured. The regional machinery was too cumbrous and has to be reorganised or abolished. The conditions under which constituency committees are being set up are most unsatisfactory. Up to now only 50 of these committees have been established. If we want party co-operation to continue—and surely everybody considers that this is a matter of great importance—regional and constituency committees must be established on a proper basis. No doubt it is true that regional offices have too large staffs, but this is the fault of the Ministry for attaching too many highly-paid civil servants. These civil servants reject all proposals for running regional committees on a semi-voluntary basis, and they have imposed on the committees a large list of duties which they take no trouble to see are carried out. They have provided no money for paper, pencils, postage stamps or for travelling facilities for the members who have joined voluntarily.

Unless these regional committees are reestablished on a proper basis, unless constituency committees are given fuller instructions and told to report once a month at least to the regional committees, and are given some grant for stationery, any scheme of party collaboration will collapse. The only propaganda in the constituencies to-day is defeatist. I hope the Government will really take this to heart. At present the offices are left in a state of uncertainty to carry on from week to week. They are put in cold storage, and yet they are a useful offshoot of the Ministry which should on no account be lopped off.

The censorship, although it is leaving the Ministry, is a subject of great importance. It is essential that the news as brought to the public should be properly co-ordinated. I should like to know whether the censorship is to deal direct with the newspapers or whether it will work through the channel of the Ministry of Information, because the way news has been handled has been lamentable. Things cannot go on as they have been, with announcements and contradictions alternating every 10 minutes, so that nobody can know what the truth is. It is impossible to have conditions such as exist at present with regard to the news sent to the Dominions. We heard yesterday from the Secretary of State for Air of the magnificent and glorious part the Dominions are playing in the defence of the Empire and in the war, and yet it is lamentable to think that, for instance, when it was announced by the Prime Minister in this country that there were British troops in France that news was withheld by the censorship and by the Ministry of Information from the people in the Dominions.

That is a question of policy. Surely a question of policy should affect the Minister of Information, or does the Censor's Department deal with this matter alone? Not only was that information withheld from the Dominions. In regard to the air raid on Kiel, it was announced that some of the airmen came from the Dominions, but no mention was made of any name. We were not even told from what Dominion they came. Hon. Members can imagine the keen interest in those countries to know whether these brave men came from their own Dominion. There was not one word about it. That, again, is a matter of policy which, I hope, will not be left entirely in the hands of individual censors. I hope that the Minister of Information will take opportunity for conferring on this matter with other responsible Departments in order that a proper policy can be adopted.

I hope that the clutch of Admirals in the censor's department at the Ministry will no longer be able to sit on their eggs at leisure till they are addled, or are hatched too late to be of any use. One of these Admirals suppressed a report by General Gamelin. Whether that be true or not, the news percolated throughout the country. One can understand the disrespect in which the Minister of Information was held when this story became known, and was believed. What qualifications have these Admirals for the posts to which they have been appointed? When Press representatives met one of the Admirals and a journalist asked what qualifications this particular gentleman had for his job, the answer he got was: "Do you not know that he is the last survivor of the 'Inflexible'."I do not know who may be the last survivor of the "Inflexible," but I do not think that that is a sufficient qualification for him to be able to censor or disseminate news for which the Empire, the nation and the world are waiting.

I hope the Government will realise the importance of this great office that they have set up, and that the Minister at the head of the Department will appreciate the importance of the weapon that is wielded by the Ministry. The importance of this arm has always been realised by Hitler. He used it as an instrument to stir up discord in other States and to influence defeatist elements in democracies. It is the business of the Ministry of Information to counter such appeal and to strengthen conviction I hope that the Ministry of Information will make known to Germany and the world the stern determination that we have in defeating Hitlerism.

6.44 p.m.

Major Astor

The trend of the Debate may give the impression that the Ministry of Information is to blame for everything. That would be unfair. I can say a few words in their defence. The Minister and his officers and the Parliamentary Secretary have been working in circumstances of great difficulty and subject to much criticism, although they have been struggling under conditions for most of which they were in no way responsible. From the outset of their task their sphere of work was ill-defined or perhaps entirely undefined. The Ministry had two important functions to perform, first, to issue official news of the war and its conduct, together with official Government statements; and, secondly, to censor information which might be of value to the enemy. I submit that their purpose should be to co-operate with the Press and to do their part with a minimum of delay, disturbance and interference with the existing machinery and conduct of the Press.

The Ministry started out to achieve far more than anything I have suggested. One wonders if they were given any limits to their activities. If the intention had been to suppress existing newspapers and to set up a new organisation to take over their activities, then a staff of 999 would not perhaps have been too large. They would have needed many reporters, subeditors, correspondents and special writers. They collected quite a number and wasted a good deal of their energy and skill in work for which there was really no need. The main criticism and the recurring criticism against the Ministry is that they gave out too little news, but I think that that charge against the Ministry has been overstressed. It is said that they have suppressed news. Admittedly, there were some cases of delay which should have been avoidable, but in most cases the difficulty was that they were not receiving the news and could not extract it from the Departments concerned.

In the circumstances, in the absence of war news, they thought it their duty to manufacture a substitute, and with the help of an admirable staff they proceeded to offer to the Press historical essays and other stuff which newspapers are well able to write for themselves. Very little of this stuff, I believe, was used by many newspapers. Perhaps it is fair to blame the Ministry for what they produced, but it is not fair to criticise them for what they did not produce, because they could not get it. Now, the responsibility has been more fairly placed in the right quarters. The Departments are to issue their statements direct to the Press, and I certainly hope that they will find it possible to give out more news than they have done so far. These statements are to be issued simultaneously by the Ministry of Information.

Another important thing, direct contacts with Government Departments, has been restored to the Press. These contacts are most valuable in interpreting and explaining pronouncements and statements. Much of the administrative machinery, telephone service, etc., at the Ministry was excellent and it has been retained largely at the request of the Press. A great deal has been done also in quickening up procedure, and complaints and requests of journalists at home, in the Dominions and from the foreign Press have, I believe, in most cases been satisfied. Some matters no doubt remain to be adjusted. We know that incidents still take place which no one can account for or understand. Some of them have been described to-day. There is the question of censorship. That will always be difficult, but there is reason to believe that the Department will now discharge its role with, we hope, increasing efficiency, whatever course the war may follow.

Speaking as a member of the Advisory Council, I should like to pay a tribute to Lord Macmillan and his officers for the way in which they have struggled to meet complaints, for the readiness with which they have acted upon suggestions, and for what they have achieved in establishing order where there was confusion and misdirected effort. It is possible that Lord Macmillan now finds himself in a field, one of the very few, of which he has had little personal experience. As far as I know he has not been concerned with the collection and dissemination of news. He may have felt handicapped in dealing with these technical problems. In any case, I am sure he will be the first to acknowledge the help that he has had from Lord Camrose, who gave the best of his experience, practical knowledge and energy.

We appreciated the speech from the Lord Privy Seal. As Home Secretary, he gave the closest study to the designing of this Ministry, but any Ministry set up in time of peace might well require adjustment to fit it to the necessities of war. This Ministry has been adjusted and adapted, in personnel, organisation and functions, without any protest from its architect. I assume that these changes have his approval; I understand that he is in agreement with the rather radical changes that have been made. He cannot fail to encourage those who have borne the brunt of the criticism and who have been instructed to set in order machinery which was not of their creation.

6.52 p.m.

Mr. MacLaren

The Ministry of Information has got itself into a sort of Warsaw disposition. It is being surrounded and shelled from all quarters, but much of the destruction which has come upon it has been of its own inviting. Lord Macmillan, one of the greatest luminaries at the Bar, was the last man to be appointed to this position, because it was not within his function. Why he was appointed it is hard to understand, and, as has been said, it is quite unfair that a man of his standing should have to be submitting to the odium which has been attached to his office. A Ministry of Information should be essential. One can understand how necessary it should be in war circumstances. What happened? Apparently, appointments were made to the Ministry before the war was declared at all.

It is part of my business, usually, when I am here, to go round the museums in order to take note of what is going on. I noticed that they were all suddenly closed, and so were the art galleries. One began to wonder what had happened to the staffs of the museums and art galleries. Now, one of the characteristics of a good information or publicity department should surely be the aptitude of the men appointed for the work. They should have alertness, a quick power of selection, and a good grasp of how to disseminate good stories with fetching power and containing a good propaganda element. All right. When we make inquiries as to what has happened to the custodians of the Stone Age specimens and the works of art going back to the Middle Ages, we are told: "They are at the Ministry of Information." I have already enumerated what I consider to be the characteristics of an efficient Ministry of Information; when I heard that the museums had been emptied and that the Ministry of Information was full, I drew my own conclusions as to what was going to happen at the Ministry.

I knew one gentleman who knocked about the Victoria and Albert Museum. I could never fix what his particular job was. He looked very portly and contented, but I could never find out exactly where he fitted in on the Victoria and Albert Museum. When I found the museum closed the other day I asked where he was. The answer was, "At the Ministry of Information." In the OFFICIAL REPORT, in the list which was handed out yesterday in answer to a question, I saw my man. Here he is. I will not give his name, but I see that he is down as a civil servant, and that he is receiving £1,161 a year, I would not mind if he had three or four times that amount if he had talent for the job he was called upon to perform. I am not one of those who wish to pull men down to a level; I believe that this country and every other country should use the material that is to hand and use it to the full. That is a different proposition from running around in the British Museum in order to see what is hanging around there. It is not a very likely place to find men fitted for publicity, and to say to them: "We will pull you in. You are full of life, fire and enthusiasm. You are the men." I could not help thinking when I looked at this list that it was as though Lord Beaverbrook sacked his staff and then went round to the British Museum and carried back to Fleet Street all the mummies on which he could lay his hands. That was what it looked like.

There are other gentlemen I would like to find out about. What is to happen to them now? Owing to the fierce and concentrated criticism upon the Ministry of Information, there has been a sort of wholesale decimation.

Mr. Lyons

They will go to the Ministry of Shipping.

Mr. MacLaren

Wherever they go they will be kept in a sort of condition of suspended animation and if ever a good hole turns up they will drop into it. I would like the Ministry of Information to tell the House frankly the answer to this question: Who is looking after foreign propaganda? What are his qualifications for doing so, and what is the cost of his staff? Some of those who are operating, or at least were until recently operating, in the Ministry of Information, really made one wonder where one was, at times. One day I was listening to the wireless. A lady came into the room in the course of the wireless news. I can assure you that, beyond having brains enough to cross the street, she has not much brains. After one item of news she said: "That's right. I just passed that in the censor's office before I came here." That was a startling thing to hear.

We may as well be quite straight about this matter. Nepotism was rife in the Ministry of Information. I am not blaming anybody for that, but once that sort of thing gets going not even a Minister can stop it. It was there and it was well known. I was making inquiries in one of the Departments, and I asked one who was in charge there what was happening in that particular Department. This is the story, told straight, of what happened in the experience of that person. His staff was set up and he was put over it, duly installed, thinking that the staff that he had was the entire staff. The next day the head of another Department brought in a little gentleman—I am told, just over four feet high—who looked very timid, and half apologetic for being on the earth at all. My informant said, "What am I to do with this man?" The person who brought him in said, "You must find him a place on your staff." "What can he do?" said the other. The answer was, "He knows a lot about music; he has been an organist all his life." The little man was asked to sit down and make a submission as to what he would do in the propaganda way. He sat down for half the day and finally produced a half sheet of notepaper. This is what he had written: "When you are having propaganda go all out for it. At each meeting have 'Hope and Glory'! When the principal speaker goes on, have the National Anthem; after he sits down, the 'Hallelujah Chorus,' and 'Auld Lang Syne' at the finish." That was one day's work. The rest of that week that poor gentleman was sitting at his desk doing crossword puzzles. He had nothing else to do. At the end of the week the chief of the Department complained that this was not fair to the taxpayer, and asked that he should be sent somewhere else where he might be of more use. Later he was seen with an apron on and beads of sweat on his forehead, shifting desks from one room to another. He is on the list here as, "Professor of Music, Trinity College," with £350 a year, but he is shifting desks at the moment—probably studying rhythm as well as music.

I gathered from the Minister's speech that what is probably going to happen now is that this is not going to be as much a Ministry of Information as a Ministry of Publicity. If ever a Department of that kind was needed in Britain it is needed now. But it is not one of the characteristics of the English people to be good publicity men. If this Department is to take up publicity it must have a new idea with regard to posters—the designs of posters and the appeal to the public imagination. But what have we to look at now? We have acres of red print on hoardings—"It is your courage we want …"and nonsense of that kind, and the money of the public is being poured down a drain. I remember, on one of the few occasions when I was defeated at an election, I met my opponent and we agreed that, whoever wins or loses at an election, the printers are always in. Here the printers are in, and the ramp is on. Just think of that in a country like this; we have the finest cartoonists in the world, who ought to be used by the Ministry—I am not speaking about myself. There is David Low. The cartoon he did the other day was worth a ton of this printed stuff that we see. We have all this talent within our grasp, but not among the gentlemen whose names I see on this list with handsome salaries.

Publicity requires a handsome imagination; it requires an appreciation of the psychology of the people to whom you are making the appeal; and you must amalgamate with the appeal a sense of art, which I am sorry to say is almost dead in this country. I am not saying that in a snobbish way. These atrophied mummies, these gentlemen on this list, have no sense of these aesthetic qualities or of the sort of values which must be understood if real publicity is to be undertaken in this present emergency. I remember in the last war going to see posters that were to be issued by the War Office in Whitehall. I shall never forget it as long as I live. The first thing we saw was a soldier's cap, badly drawn, with the words, "Does this fit you?" This was an appeal; this was firing the nation. We shall get the same thing again with the staffing on this list. I suggested to the War Office, "Take away this childish nonsense. If you want pictures that will go over with a swing go and get the cartoons for the past nine months which have appeared in 'Simplicissimus' drawn by the great Gil Branson. To reprint these would be more devastating to the Kaiser than all propaganda schemes contemplated by the Government." My advice was not taken with the results I have mentioned. I know that the men who are on this list have got the same mentality as the mentality that was behind those posters of that day. I never saw such a list of people pretending to be efficient propagandists.

There is another matter which I am compelled, as a Member of this House, to raise. There came to London from Germany some time ago some people pro- moting an art school, and I now see that this art school is placing its men in key positions in Government offices. More than that, they are trying to control the artists and printing firms, so that those who do not come in with them shall not be able to get any Government work. I will say no more about that now, but I am compelled to mention it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] No, I am putting the Minister on the alert; they are already at work in his Department.

With regard to the B.B.C., there comes in this element of appeal to all the facets of human nature, whether it is through humour, tragedy or mental uplift. I want to say, in all fairness, that I thought my right hon. Friend was quite wrong in saying what he did. Incidentally, no one who has any sort of appreciation of the difficulties involved in the engineering problems set up for the B.B.C. when war broke out would question that it was impossible, with the contingencies arising, for the B.B.C, as a Government Department, to have recourse always to a sort of board or committee for consultation. I think the board was quite correct in reducing itself to two, so that there could be a less cumbersome consultative body, and so that the B.B.C. could more speedily get on with that work of disintegration, which was most essential, because, as the Minister said, of the dangers to which broadcasting can give rise when air raids take place during the war. I think that, to say the least, it would be very ungallant if we were over-critical of the B.B.C. in the interim between disintegrating their forces and trying to get their machinery into a proper working order necessay for emergencies arising during the war.

Having said that—and I am only saying what I feel—I appeal now to the B.B.C. to make the very best of their opportunities because of the difficulties arising from the one programme. I heard to-day many shouting out, "They have eight in France, half a dozen in Germany," but, speaking quite frankly, and looking at the technical problem behind this, I do not know how long they will be able to continue like that when our aeroplanes get going on the Continent. Some people might say, "Why should not we encourage Germany to have half a dozen or 12; it is very good." Ask the Air Force what they would say about it. They would say, "Good, encourage them to do it." I do not know why they should not do it, but for national safety it is as well that we should stick, at the moment anyhow, to one programme. Therefore, we are now forced to ask the B.B.C. to make the very best use of the opportunity of the one programme which may be at their disposal.

May I, with the best will in the world —and I do not wish to be captious or over-critical—appeal to those who are responsible for the programmes of the B.B.C. to take those cockney Americans who give us this brainless crooning, on to the high roof at Langham Place and to push them off. I think there is nothing more diabolical than these "Pennies from Heaven" rags I heard the other day, "If the earth would swallow me I know that you would follow me," and I said, "Good Heavens, and this is the country in which Shakespeare died." One does not want to be highbrow or snobbish—far from it. The other day I heard some broadcasting by little children supposed to be in a farm-yard. You could hear children of well-to-do families, and suddenly there came a little boy from Durham, and his broad dialect was absolutely marvellous to listen to. That is the kind of thing we want. We do not want Commercial Road Yankees of London coming to the B.B.C. and saying, "Hello, the boys are coming in"—and then you can visualise the boys. No, give us any day the natural genius of Gracie Fields or of that big-hearted, broad-humoured Will Fyffe. These are our people expressing our own genius. It is not something that is trotted all over the Continent and all over America, and then comes back here to be worked off on us as something which is dreadful and foreign to our nature. There is enough in our Shakespeare and Robert Burns, and in all our poets and in our wits and in our humorists.

With regard to other parts of music, I admit that many and many a night, not now, but in the past, I have had to screw off the Commercial Road Yankees, and I have thanked God that there was a Germany that let Mozart blossom into the air. The B.B.C. are not to blame on many occasions for the things they put on. When I have discussed this question with members of the B.B.C. staff they have told me this, and I even re- member Sir John Reith saying, "We have to put over some awful stuff on the B.B.C, but as a corporation we have to watch our licence. So many people in the country want this kind of thing that we have to hand it out." The B.B.C. should take its courage in its hands and try to raise public taste; try by a spiral motion to raise it. Cannot we get this fact at the back of our minds in our appeal to the broadcasting people? There is no more powerful weapon than the unseen echo that encircles the earth and passes from one point into the hearts of millions of our people elsewhere. It is a more powerful weapon for the destruction or the raising of man than anything man has yet discovered.

Here we are facing this war, uprooting our children from their various homes and evacuating them here, there and everywhere, and we can see, if we will only read the writing on the wall, that there must be a great change in the economic and political structure of every country when this war is over. There is always a danger, when these impacts come upon men and society is suddenly changed in its make-up, that the vulgar taste will rise to the top, so that the B.B.C. has a great and a high function to perform here. It should begin now to make the best of all that truth and beauty which is embodied in the works of man and try and perfect the minds of those who will undoubtedly become the masters of this and other countries, by injecting into their minds a conception of things beautiful, removing that which has been vulgar and too often the result of the bad environment under which they live. Here is a great function for the B.B.C, to see to it that the minds of the new masters who will undoubtedly take the reins in the States of Europe after this cataclysm is passed are attuned to better things and that they shall not rise to become masters of a State where their minds become vulgar, bestial and degraded.

7.19 p.m.

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) has enlivened this Debate, and with his peroration he has ennobled it. But I deplore, and I think he too will regret it when he reads his speech, the sweeping condemnation -that he passed on all the civil servants and officials in the Ministry of Information on the ground of his personal acquaintance with one or two cases which he deemed to be unfortunate. He brought us face to face with a confusion of thought, which we in this House must clear away. We must determine whether we want the Ministry of Information to be an organiser of publicity or a producer of it. If we are to have all our best cartoonists and journalists, and so on, inside the Ministry, we cannot also simultaneously meet the complaint that we do not leave the Press alone enough.

But perhaps the House would allow me to preface my general remarks with a personal explanation. At the beginning of this war I was, and still am, a member of one of the Reserves, waiting for orders from the War Office. I wanted to be working for the country in some way as quickly as possible, and my services were temporarily accepted in a section of the Ministry of Information. About a week later, as the House will recollect, the Prime Minister announced that it was constitutionally undesirable for hon. Members to participate in the work of Government Departments. Of course, I instantly withdrew. I am sure that in my short tenure I did not do anything constitutionally undesirable—I was there in far too obscure a capacity for that— though I seem to have landed myself with the stigma of being the first Member of this House to get the sack during this war!

Needless to say, I would not speak in this Debate if I had any secrets of the Ministry to disclose; nor am I animated by any detached desire to defend or attack. If any members of the staff of the Ministry who know me should be interested to-morrow in reading what I say, I hope they will realise, as I am certain the House will realise, that my sole desire is to help forge the Ministry of Information into a powerful weapon with which to defeat the enemy. It is easy to be wise after the event, and from the point of view of the Ministry of Information it has been the wrong war, as my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal explained. We must not be hasty in blaming the planners of the Ministry without remembering that they were planning for a much more serious contingency than that which we have yet had to face. But if it were to fall on me to plan a new Ministry of Information 20 years hence for the next war, there are two changes which I can clearly see that I would make. I would be certain that everybody selected for a high and responsible position in such a Ministry had first-rate personal experience of modern publicity methods, and, secondly, I would instruct them to start with limited aims—restricted, definite aims— and then expand their scope and extend their staff as new problems and new tasks emerged and took clear shape.

The country has extracted a good deal of innocent amusement from the 999 officials, but the question, rather, to which we ought to turn our attention is the production of the Ministry. We do not cavil at the pay of millions of soldiers if they win victories, and this war is going to be won by civilian as well as by military brains. Dr. Goebbels—I do not think Lord Macmillan would like me to call him his opposite number—operates with many times 999 officials and agents. He controls an extremely active and extensive machine. We find it easy to scoff at Dr. Goebbels' lies, but we are too little aware of the underground channels and the subtle technique by which Dr. Goebbels is constantly getting his lies believed throughout the world, and by which he skilfully manages to have false suggestions successfully transmitted and unconsciously absorbed. Whether we like it or not, and however strictly we define its duties as publicity, not propaganda, the Ministry of Information is operating against a man who is as clever as 10 bagfuls of monkeys. I have not the least doubt that Dr. Goebbels is at this moment using his agents to fan the criticisms against the Ministry of Information in the hope—I know it will be a vain hope—that he can so discredit it in the eyes of this House that we shall cut it down to nothing, that we shall debilitate it into a state in which it will be powerless, and then he will have won one of his first victories of the war. That will not happen. It is the duty of this House above all to see that it does not happen. I would not grudge the Ministry five times 999 officials, provided that it discovers how to function as it ought to function. Am I presuming too much in saying that the Ministry of Information has as great power as any of the Service Departments to shorten this war? If it shortens the war by one day, it will have saved the country any amount of money that can conceivably have been spent upon it.

We have been criticising this evening, but this great House of Commons is surely not entirely guiltless. Some of the bitterest critics of the Ministry are to be found among those who were the strongest opponents of any suggestion that such a Ministry should be brought into operation in time of peace. The very fact that there was suspicious feeling against the creation of such an organ of the Government in time of peace had the inevitable result that men selected for responsible work in the Ministry could not be properly trained in peace time for their jobs. That is a direct cause of some of the amateurishness of which the House and the public have been conscious. If the original plan of the Ministry had been less ambitious, the country and this House might very likely have criticised the gaps. The Government might have been exposed to the suspicious reproach that it had neglected this or that, and now, because it has provided for a much more terrible contingency than that which we have actually experienced, it is criticised for drawing these plans on too comprehensive a scale. The big scale of the Ministry has probably had the effect of delaying decisions within the Ministry on questions of principle, and I should guess that that may be one of the major reasons why the actual production of the Ministry has up to now been relatively small. Production, we all know, is bound to suffer when you are trying to bring into action suddenly an enormous new machine of any kind— when you are trying to bring a great factory into full operation at short notice— and, if I may put it this way, there are some men in the Ministry, admirable in their own peacetime spheres, who appear to have the quality rather of draftsmen than of production managers.

I want to be constructive, and I think that there are two divisions in this Ministry of supreme importance, divisions which the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) perhaps failed accurately to distinguish—the division which is called Foreign Publicity, and the division which is called Publicity in Enemy Countries. To my mind, no deficiency in either of these divisions could be compensated for by achievements in other directions, nor could any money be deemed to be wasted in equipping them with the finest quality of brain which this country can provide. They are divisions of which I saw nothing during my few days at the Ministry, but my impression since I have been, as it were, a private citizen again is that genius has not yet become apparent in either of these divisions—and it must be found. It must be found if the Ministry is to fulfil the requirements of the country. We may find ourselves playing into Dr. Goebbels' hands if we revel in an orgy of criticism of the Ministry. It is not the British way to punish generals who lose battles, but rather to find leaders who win them. That is the task ahead, and the duty of this House does not end when it has exposed waste or exposed inefficiency.

It extends to the further duty of guiding the Ministry of Information to help us to defeat the enemy. The Ministry lacked at the outset of its career a personality strong and determined enough to impress itself on all its activities, determined as to the great aims which such a Ministry could accomplish, clear-brained to see the methods by which they could be reached, ruthless to control and direct the staff always towards those ends. That strikes me as the sine qua non of a Ministry of Information that is to achieve success. It so happened that the Minister, the Director-General and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary were all appointed after war broke out. It is no blame to them that they had to be learning the plans of the Ministry just at the time when the Ministry itself could have profited most by strong direction. I end as I began. The duty of this House, as I see it, is to build the Ministry of Information into a strong ally of Parliament in our joint effort to destroy the Hitler evil at the earliest moment; the Ministry's part is to discover with the greatest possible speed the means of writing British aims and British actions in blazing letters right across the world.

7.36 p.m.

Mr. Parker

I cannot understand why the Lord Privy Seal has so much objection to the word "propaganda" in connection with the activities of this Ministry. It seems to me, now that the censorship has been removed from it, that propaganda is its sole job, whether it is propaganda at home or in the colonies, in the Dominions or in neutral and enemy countries. I am afraid that if the Government responsible for the Ministry dislikes "propaganda," then I am afraid that the Ministry of In- formation has not very much of a future. It seems to me that this dislike of the word is symtomatic of the weakness of the Government's policy in this particular field. If we are going to have good propaganda let us see to it that it is real propaganda, not be squeamish about it and pretend that we are doing something else. As far as I have been able to discover what seems to be wrong with the Ministry is that the personnel at the top is not the best personnel for carrying on the job. There is too much dead wood as far as the personnel is concerned and there is also, despite the reorganisation which has taken place, bad organisation in the Ministry. With regard to the personnel I should like to make one comment which, I think, someone on this side should make. We have been told that the personnel has been recruited from people of all points of view in the country, and I know that there are a large number of people in the Ministry with varying points of view. But there is also an undue proportion of persons in the Ministry who come from the Central Office of the Conservative party, and I think that is rather unfortunate. I understand that there are at least 12 members of the Conservative party central organisation at present employed by the Ministry of Information.

With regard to the senior personnel in the Ministry, I want to take one or two sections and make a few comments on the work they are doing. There is one section which, I think, needs a certain amount of criticism—the Intelligence Section of the Ministry. It has the task of collecting information for the use of the other sections, primarily to supply the material on which propaganda can be carried on at home. It is run by two civil servants from the Board of Education. They were, as far as I can gather, excellent in their work in the Board of Education, but as far as I can discover, they have not the type of mind that is capable of running this Department at the present time. Surely it is essential, if we are to find out what people in this country are thinking, that we should use modern methods. If we are to have good propaganda at home, we must first find out what appeals to people and what they are thinking. There must be a certain amount of market research. The people running this particular section must have a certain knowledge of the social sciences, and knowledge of the sort used in the mass observation inquiries in the social surveys and so on, for the purpose of finding out what people are thinking, and why. I think it is necessary to have people of that sort rather than civil servants controlling a section of the Ministry on which the whole work of home propaganda really depends.

There is then the question of our publicity in neutral countries, one of the most important pieces of work which the Ministry has to do. All along the line one hears complaints from different neutral countries about the inadequacy of the statement of our case in those countries. At the present time, that section of the Ministry is being run by a gentleman who has done very fine work for the country in the past as head of the Ordnance at Woolwich, but as far as I can discover, he has no knowledge of publicity and very little knowledge of the different neutral countries, Scandinavia, Switzerland, South America and so on, where we have to do propaganda. He is assisted by another military gentleman whose knowledge on all these subjects is also far from wide. Why should these two military gentlemen be put in charge of publicity in neutral countries? Surely, these posts should be filled by people with a knowledge of the subject and also a knowledge of the countries where they have to carry out propaganda.

As to the supply section of the Ministry, at the present time it does two jobs—it is responsible for the physical production of pamphlets, leaflets and so on, and also it contains journalists who write pamphlets and articles for the Ministry. Those are two quite different jobs. At the top it is staffed by 15 men who are nominally called Pressmen, but whose whole experience has been on the business side of newspapers and not on the journalistic side. Surely, something ought to be done to reorganise that section, both with regard to its work and its personnel. There is then the films organisation of the Ministry. There again, I have been informed that a very large number of the members of the staff of that section were taken over from the films section of the Conservative party Central Office. I think there ought to be more people in that section representing other views, besides those of the Government—

Sir S. Hoare

I cannot allow repeated statements of that sort to go unchallenged. We have been very careful to hold the balance fairly between the parties. As a matter of fact, if the hon. Member will look at the names, he will find that there is a large number of representatives from the party of which he is a member; indeed, I think that if the numbers were compared, the number of supporters of his side might be greater than the number of supporters of the other side.

Mr. Parker

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his assurance. With regard to the films department, I think it is very important that the views of people on this side of the House should be expressed in the films to be shown both in this country and in foreign countries, thus giving the British point of view as a whole, and not merely the point of view of the Government.

I should like now to say a few words about the actual organisation of the Ministry. In spite of the preparations that were made before the war, I do not think that the scope of its work and the way in which it was going to work were properly thought out. When the Ministry first took up its job at the outbreak of war, there was a very peculiar organisation. At the top there was the Minister; under him the Director-General, who came from the India Office; under him the Deputy Director-General from the Treasury; and then the Assistant Director-General. Those four people formed a sort of pyramid on top of the principals of the different departments inside the Ministry, and later Lord Perth and Lord Camrose were added, also somewhere on top, but their exact relationship to the principals below was not made very clear.

One of the complaints made about the working of the Ministry was that all really important decisions as to policy and the work to be done had to go through all four gentlemen at the top before the O.K. was finally given. This meant that very few things got through all four, and, therefore, the output was considerably reduced. In addition to the fact that there were these four gentlemen on top and different principals underneath, there was, as one of these sections underneath, a co-ordination committee, which was supposed to tell the other sections of the Ministry how they were to be co-ordinated, but as that co-ordination section was one of the sections at the bottom it was not in the position to tell the different principals exactly what they ought to do, and it had no power to insist on co-ordination being carried out properly. That organisation was very absurd. There were two or three attempts at rationalisation, and now I think there is a form of organisation in which you have a big four at the top, in which you have Lord Macmillan and Lord Camrose, the Director-General and also the Parliamentary Secretary, whose job it is to supervise the work of the whole and act as an executive committee to the Minister. I hope the fact that there has been this reorganisation will mean that decisions will be taken more quickly.

But I suggest that further reforms are necessary. In the first place, if propaganda is as important in winning the war as Members in all parts of the House have said it is, surely the Minister of Propaganda should be not only in the House, but in the War Cabinet, because he ought to know what is the Government's policy on important matters, and he ought to be able to tell other Ministers what things could usefully be done for the advantage of the propaganda of this country. If the Minister were in that strong position, I think he would be able to influence the Service Departments in giving information which would be useful in the propaganda fight which this country is making.

Another suggestion I wish to make with regard to reorganisation is that the form of organisation would be better if it were rather nearer to the organisation of a newspaper office than it is at present. I think the central co-ordination committee which has been set up is a good thing in itself, but underneath it, and working very closely with it, you should have different heads of different sections who would work rather as a foreign editor, home editor, films editor and so on, instead of having the more formal organisation on Civil Service lines which exists at present. This would lead to there being a much closer link between the different sections of the Ministry and the executive committee at the top. Then, I think the supplies department should be split up, and that that department itself should be concerned only with the physical production and distribution of literature, and that the actual writing of the articles, books, and so on, should be done by a separate department. I think the intelligence department might be absorbed by the central executive department. Those are all points of detail, but I think there should be a much sloser linking and unification of the organisation. If there were knowledgeable people in all the higher posts, the Ministry would have a greater chance of doing its work of propaganda more successfully than in the past.

I come now to another point. If we are to have a Ministry of Propaganda, what is the case we are going to put over in enemy countries and neutral countries? In the Debate this afternoon, it has been assumed that we all know our case fully, but I do not think the people of this country are altogether clear as to what our case is at the present time. If my postbag is any guide, there are many people who, now that Poland has disappeared, wonder what we are fighting for. Had the Ministry been working better, those people might not have been thinking that. It is important that this country should make a much fuller statement as to its war aims at an early date than has been done in the past. We are told that we are fighting against Hitlerism, but we must have a positive thing for which to fight as well as a negative thing. I do not suggest that it is desirable or necessary to go into details of the kind of peace terms we want, but I do think it necessary to have a much fuller statement than we have yet had of the kind of world that we want to see in existence after the war, and the steps that we propose to take to achieve our ends. Even though circumstances may be difficult at present, it is essential to have a statement of war aims, partly to appeal to our own people but, most important of all, to explain to the people of neutral countries what our cause is and to explain to the people of Germany what their position will be at the end of the war.

As regards British propaganda in Germany, I understand that advice is taken by the Ministry from a number of Germans in this country. Other Germans who are not in the fortunate position of giving advice have criticised those who do and there seems to be some point in the criticism that many of those who are giving advice, are people who have been long resident in this country and some of whom are naturalised. It seems to be felt by many Germans that these people have few connections with the Germans in this country as a whole, and have not that knowledge of the conditions now existing in Germany which they might have. Again, it is felt that the leaflets put out by the Ministry might be written by Englishmen and translated instead of being the work of Germans. That may or may not be true, but it is a criticism made by Germans who have read the leaflets dropped by our Air Force in Germany.

I wish to ask whether the Ministry has, up to now, a plan of propaganda work in Germany? I do not ask for any details about such a plan, if it exists, but it is desirable that a plan of campaign should be worked out by publicity people, taking account of the different phases through which the war is likely to pass and the state of opinion likely to prevail at particular periods of the war. As regards the propaganda to be put over by the B.B.C. and in other ways, I think in the early stages of the war when the people of Germany are filled with nationalist feeling, it is essential to give them as much news as possible—to give them the whole truth as far as possible, even making admissions, at the earliest moment, of losses which this country has sustained. If they get the feeling that our leaflets and our broadcasts tell the truth, they will take the trouble to read the one and listen to the other, in order to get information which may not be supplied by their own broadcasts and their own propaganda. Once they have confidence in the truthfulness of our propaganda, they will be prepared to consider points of policy which may be put over, as well as the actual facts, It is also essential to hammer home the fact that we have no quarrel with the German people but that we wish to restore them their freedom, just as we wish to restore the freedom of the Czechs and the Poles and other people in Central Europe. A third essential is that we should counteract German propaganda. The lies which are put over in Germany about this country require to be nailed as promptly as possible, and we should be on the alert all the time to answer them straight away.

It would also be worth while, early in our propaganda campaign, to take up Hitler's promises and to point out, shortly and simply, how far they have been fulfilled. There is no better propaganda than making people realise that promises of an extravagant kind have not been carried out. Our object is to win the war and establish a stable peace, and therefore, in our propaganda in Germany, we ought to contrast the freedom which exists in this and other countries with conditions in Germany, and stress our belief in democracy and in social justice and in the fight against tyranny. It would be unfortunate if we limited our propaganda to one side only of our case. There should be a full statement of the case against Hitlerism. Otherwise, there may be a danger of Russian propaganda getting in before ours in Germany and undermining it.

What has been done in the way of propaganda up to now? First, as regards the wireless, the British broadcasting to Germany on the whole is far from good at the present time. I understand that before the war we had 33 broadcasting channels or wavebands. Now we have only seven. Why is that the case? The French, the Germans and the Italians are at present using all their broadcasting channels. We were told in answer to a question the other day that we were devoting 19 hours a day to foreign broadcasts in ten different languages. At present I understand we broadcast in German for only one hour a day, and that that does not seem good enough. Take the position of any person in Germany who wants to listen to a British broadcast. First, he must have a set on which he can listen in to the broadcast. Then he must know the particular time at which the British broadcast is made. He will probably be seen going into his house frequently at that time to turn on the wireless and that is very dangerous because, sooner or later, it will be known why and he will be arrested. Why cannot we have British broadcasts in German of some kind or another for at least 24 hours a day? It seems perfectly practicable. Then a person in Germany could listen in at any time without danger of being found out. Even, if it meant a great deal of repetition I do not think that would matter.

Our broadcasts compare unfavourably with the French broadcast. The French planned and thought out their scheme of broadcasting in German much better than we did before the war. Of 27 French stations nine are broadcasting in German and the total non-overlapping time of French broadcasting in German is 9 hours 20 minutes every day. A station is about to be opened which will broadcast to Austria alone during 2½hours each day. We should be able to put over as good broadcasts in German as the French. Reference has already been made to the speakers in the German broadcasts from this country. It was said that it would be a good idea if people like Thomas Mann spoke in these broadcasts. It would also be a good idea to have talks by German and Austrian trade unionists who in the past have served different workers' organisations like the metal unions and the coal unions in those countries. A great many people in those countries who have known those men in the past would listen in to hear their views and find out what their message was.

As regards the leaflets, I think more simplicity could be introduced. People in Germany are afraid to pick up the leaflets which are dropped from our aeroplanes. You could have a leaflet with just a slogan on one side and on the other a few telling sentences which people could read without picking up. Another point which has been mentioned is that Low's cartoons might be used as propaganda. Could not some of these be printed on leaflets and dropped from the air? There is nothing more effective than a good picture even if people only see it lying on the ground, and this might have a big influence politically. There was a very interesting propaganda campaign by Commander Stephen King-Hall before the war began. I understand that a large number of his letters got into Germany and were read by people of the middle classes there. It is very difficult to get letters into Germany now particularly through neutral countries. Surely some propaganda on those lines could be organised once you got over the difficulty of getting the stuff into Germany.

This question of propaganda in Germany is one of the most vital things with which we have to deal. Obviously, one cannot go into it in great detail, but I am sure the House would like to know that points such as I have mentioned are being borne in mind. If we are going to win the war, the Ministry of Propaganda must be run with much greater efficiency and imagination than has been the case in the past.

8.1 p.m.

Brigadier-General Spears

It seems to me that the Lord Privy Seal explained the whole of the difficulty when he told us that the Ministry of Information was created by a sub-committee of the C.I.D. You can imagine how it came into existence many years ago, evolved possibly by the very same people who also devised the manner in which Classes A and B of the Navy were to be called up. The Ministry of Information is suffering from its origin. But what I do not understand is that we have not realised, simply by watching other people, how it could be improved. I sometimes wonder whether there is anyone in the Ministry who ever listens in to the wireless of Germany, and especially of France. The French wireless is infinitely better than ours, and it seems to me that it is entirely due to the fact that they appointed at the head of the Ministry of Information one who is both a diplomat and an author, M. Girodoux. The result has been absolutely excellent. French programmes and French propaganda are, as all who can listen know, infinitely superior to our own. I completely failed to understand one of the reasons given for the failure of the Ministry of Information. My right hon. Friend said it was in part at least due to the fact that it had to be spread out owing to the fear of air raids. After all, Paris is far more liable to be attacked even than London, but that does not seem to have had any adverse effect on the organisation of our Allies. I most earnestly beg my hon. and gallant Friend to get people to listen in to the French wireless, as I have done. The other night I listened to two similar programmes. The one over here was a visit to children in evacuated areas, So was the French one, but the difference between the two was incomparably in favour of the French. Theirs was gay, imaginative and touching; ours was not. Again the French have a woman speaking to the women of France. Hers are remarkable orations. It is one of the most moving things that I have ever heard, this call to the women, with its appeal to their courage and their faith. It cannot fail to awaken one's deepest emotions.

I think the Ministry should strive to make our public understand our Allies and their point of view far more than they do. We want far more than just communiqués by the Prime Ministers. Our two nations are embarked on a similar great adventure and they ought to get to know each other. It seems to me that if our people realised the efforts the French are putting forward to-day when between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 men are mobilised in France it would pay because our people would be the readier to respond to the claims that the French will undoubtedly make on us soon. Our public should realise what is the life of a nation where every man between the ages of 20 and 50 is mobilized. It would make our people understand the necessity of sending as large a number of troops as possible to France soon. Our people do not realize the strain it is to French men and women to realise that to all intents and purposes they are bearing alone the burdens of the war on land, that here the greater number are not serving yet. Here one man in 48 is serving, in France one in eight. I gathered from the French wireless about a fortnight ago that there was a great shortage of blankets in the French Army, and the families of reservists were asked to send their soldiers blankets that the Government would pay for. If we had put forward on our wireless a request that each family should contribute a blanket towards the French Army, the response would have been instantaneous and very much appreciated over there. There is another very small point in this connection. I believe it was done in the last war. Why do we not play a few bars of the "Marseillaise" after "God Save the King" in all theatres and cinemas? That again would be very much appreciated.

The role of the Ministry might also be to explain to our people why we have to put up with some of the difficulties that we have to put up with. I wish they would explain why we are to have only one kind of tea. I like China tea and I should like to know why I cannot have it. I used to think that able men earned a good livelihood by blending tea. Have all these people been knocked out of their jobs, and is there to be only one kind of tea? Why? Would the Ministry explain? Is there only to be one kind of tobacco soon—Virginian blended with Egyptian and Rhodesian? Is there going to be only one kind of wine? Is champagne going to be mixed with hock, port and burgundy, with a little creme de menthe thrown in? To make a standard or "pool" wine and satisfy the official frenzy for standardisation? I do not understand it, but there are many other things amongst the regulations we suffer under which people do not understand and which the Ministry of Information would be well employed explaining.

I should like to say a word about the censorship. The fact that Admirals have been put in charge of it has been referred to. No one has more respect than I have for the Senior Service, but why two Admirals? I find it a little difficult to understand, and the results do not seem to have justified the choice. This question of censorship is of extreme importance. I will give an example. Yesterday I was told of a firm of machine tool importers whose representative was in a neutral country. I had better not say which. He had sent a telegram to say it was absolutely essential that he should be called up on the telephone before he sailed for the States, but it was absolutely impossible to obtain permission to telephone to that individual about the importation of these vitally important machines, and so delay, perhaps a most serious one, in the delivery of these machine tools has been caused. Another firm whom I consulted on the subject also yesterday afternoon said they had spoken on the telephone three times to Paris in the course of the day. I was amazed and asked how they had done it; they told me that they sent a telegram to Paris asking their correspondent there to ring them up. The French are sensible in this respect. They know that business must be carried on and cannot be carried on unless you can communicate with people in other countries, and so they give reputable firms permission to telephone. But can you imagine anything more foolish than an arrangement whereby you cannot telephone from here but can speak if called up from abroad?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information (Sir Edward Grigg)

My hon. and gallant Friend is no doubt aware that the control of commercial communications has nothing to do with the Ministry of Information, as I tried to explain to him yesterday. That control has never been anything to do with the Ministry of Information and has nothing to do with it now.

Brigadier-General Spears

The Lord Privy Seal found it difficult to say who was actually responsible for the censorship. I gathered that the Ministry of Information is still partly responsible, to-day at least. It is in any case a matter that has got to be dealt with by somebody. You can understand that the Service Departments want to get the maximum of secrecy. I do not blame them for that, but there must be some countervailing authority which is able to safeguard the interests of the commercial community, and that is where we feel once more the lack of central control at the head. These are questions that ought to be dealt with by the War Cabinet, but at the moment we have not got a War Cabinet that is composed of a certain number of Ministers, high above all Departments, capable of dealing with these questions.

There is only one other thing that I should like to say, and that is with reference to appointments. The hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) said so much about that subject that I need not dwell on it, but what can be said concerning appointments in connection with this Department can be said also of most other Government Departments. I know that if I were suddenly pitchforked into a Department and told to appoint a staff, I should probably look among the people whom I knew first of all in my search for colleagues, but that has been very much overdone, and what I feel has been lacking is a central organisation which would be able to give advice on the question of appointments. When you appoint a general to a command he does not have the selection of the staff, though he may have a veto on names of which he does not approve. In connection with this Department I know of a lady who offered her services somewhere back in June, before the Ministry was actually created. This lady was a well-known writer and journalist and an American by birth, but married to an Englishman, and she thought she might be of some use to this country when war broke out. The offer was further renewed twice, but nothing happened, and so she offered her services to the French and within 48 hours was accepted by them. She is a really qualified person, and yet she was not accepted, and then we see those amazing lists of appointments to this Ministry. The House of Commons ought to institute an inquiry into the whole question of these appointments. I think that is essential. The people look to this House to uphold their rights and the integrity of the Government of this country. I believe that they will think we have failed in our duty if we do not insist on such an inquiry taking place and in such a committee being set up.

8.17 p.m.

Mr. Hamilton Kerr

As a loyal Lancashire Member, I must not stand between this House and the chance of listening to the charms of Gracie Fields, who should be broadcasting at this moment, and I will limit my remarks to one or two minutes. I believe that one main idea has emerged from this Debate, and that is that propaganda is as much an instrument of war as are battleships and bombing planes. We have control of the sea, we believe we shall gain control in the air, and it is equally necessary that we should gain control in the microphone and in the newspaper headlines of neutral and foreign papers. That is a task that is so essential to our war aims and to our final victory that I believe it really demands our very best brains and our most vital personalities. We know much too little about the personalities of our present war leaders. Personalities grip the public mind much more easily than mere statements of fact. After all, it was Lord Baldwin's pipe and the Prime Minister's umbrella which transformed them from aloof and little-known personalities to human beings of flesh and blood, and in the last war it was the known personalities of men like Jellicoe, Beatty, Haig and Foch which kept alive our faith in the dark days. I believe the personalities of our present war leaders offer equal opportunities for a "build-up" by journalists. Take the case of Viscount Gort, the V.C. who has become a General, and General Ironside, a man whose name is worth an Army Corps alone.

Secondly, with regard to our foreign propaganda, it is essential that we should try to get inside the mind of the average German working man and woman. The average German working man has exactly the same object in life as the average working man of any other country. He wants a good week's wages and reasonable security. The German working woman wants a well-stocked larder and money with which to feed and educate her children. We should tell the German working man that he can have good wages and a full week's work, and tell the German working woman that she can have butchers' meat in her larder and money with which to feed and educate her children on one reasonable condition, namely, that Germany changes from domination to co-operation as the basis of her foreign policy. That tells the average man and woman something tangible which they can understand and get hold of. In the pamphlets which we distribute over Germany we should try and speak to them from their own writings. I suggest, as the subject of a pamphlet, a quotation from page 748 of the 1933 edition of "Mein Kampf." It runs as follows: Present day Russia is no ally in the struggle for liberty of the German nation. Looked at from a purely military point of view a war with Germany and Russia against the West of Europe, but more likely against the whole world, would be an overwhelming catastrophe. The struggle would be fought not in Russia but on German soil, without Germany receiving any real support from Russia. The very fact of a treaty with Russia would be the signal for a war. It would be the end of Germany. I can well imagine the consternation of the citizen of Hamburg or Dortmund, who believed the word of his leader, when he saw how he had been betrayed. It is by getting inside the mind of the average German and appealing to him from his own point of view that we shall win the war more quickly in the homes than in the German trenches, because he will realise that England and France are not his enemies, but that the real enemy, the man who prevents him from enjoying the security of an ordered life which any human being has a right to expect, is his leader, Adolf Hitler.

8.22 p.m.

Mr. Pritt

I would say only this one thing to the hon. Member who has just spoken, that the suggestion that we should bombard the German people with quotations from "Mein Kampf" is so abyssmally stupid that he should stand a good chance of a job with the Ministry of Information. It must be remembered that 900,000 copies of "Mein Kampf" are distributed yearly in Germany—[HON. MEMBERS: "The passage has been re- moved"]. I read it yesterday, but even if it has been removed there will be millions of copies still in the country in which it still appears. The Lord Privy Seal advanced the defence that many of the Ministry of Information faults must be attributed to the fact that it was expected to function in an atmosphere of air raids and devastation. It has not functioned in an atmosphere of air raids and devastation. It has failed to function in an atmosphere of perfect calm, and is it really suggested that, if you added to the appalling list of stupidities which the Ministry has demonstrated a few air raids as well, it would have functioned much better. I really think the right hon. Gentleman could do better than that.

I do not want to criticise the general basis of the proposed redistribution of censorship responsibility to the various Departments, but it strikes me as a little cause for anxiety that the War Office, say, is now to have the control of what goes out and what does not. I remember the story of the little tussle between the War Office and the Ministry of Information about the publication of the marvellous bit of information to the effect that the British Empire have been practically continuously at war for the last 145 years. The story as it was, I think, reliably told, and certainly widely told, was that the Ministry of Information had somewhere among its museum pieces the intelligence to see that it was a disastrous piece of propaganda. The War Office, however, insisted on it being put across. As a result, the German authorities, who were about to put out the same piece of propaganda against us, were saved the trouble of collecting the figures because we ourselves had distributed them.

If the War Office is to be responsible for the censorship of its own news which it gives out, it will no doubt be competent to say what news of direct military importance should not go out because it might give something away, but that they should be entrusted with wider powers over censorship seems to be absolutely disastrous. The ordinary military mind may be good at soldiering, although there was precious little evidence of it in the last war, and there has not been time to discover what will happen in this one, but that it will be good at censoring information is too much to hope for.

Another point is the direct propaganda work to be done by the Ministry; it is thought to be more polite to call it publicity. I do not care what it is called, but it is the influencing of public opinion in this country and other countries to try and make them believe that in spite of our Government, our cause is right. The trouble about that at present is that it has been entrusted to high-grade civil servants. I have always stoutly maintained that the civil servant in this country is probably the best in the world. He is very good, but at ordinary propaganda work the highly trained civil servant would be as good as he would be at doctoring if he had no medical training, because this is a highly skilled job. It is done by an immense trade. Incidentally, it has paid me a good deal of money for conducting its litigation, and I will say for it that it has been pretty intelligent in its litigation. The business of putting something across the general public is a highly skilled thing. On the whole, the better elements of the ordinary publicity trade in this country do it very well, and there are a lot of them. I have no shares in any of the publicity firms and am not seeking to make money by making these suggestions.

Surely the Ministry of Information ought not to attempt to improvise a department to do that sort of thing, and ought not, even to any large extent— although it might come later—endeavour to recruit gentlemen from these firms into its own department. It ought to be employing these firms to do its publicity for it. I imagine that the exhibition department of the Board of Trade is probably good at it, and I know that some of the other Ministries have employed publicity firms at public expense, which is the proper thing to do, and I cannot imagine why the Government have not done it in the case of the Ministry of Information. Hon. Members have pointed out that we have not yet got a single cartoon or pictorial poster or film, and nothing but those immense red posters explaining to me that my courage, my resolution, and my cheerfulness will win victory. It does not give me any cheerfulness to think I am going to do that for this Government. There is another poster proclaiming "Freedom is in peril and we must fight for it with all our might." I am going to ask the Ministry to supply me with a few copies with which to decorate a hall in which, if they do not stop me, I hope to hold a small conference on liberty in war time. But for the present that is about all they have told us, and it has cost them about £20,000 or so to do it, and there is lying half-idle in London the second-best mass of publicity merchants in the world while the Ministry staff, as the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren) pointed out, has been recruited from the museums, including the political museums, which is part of the trouble.

A very large part of the ordinary work of publicity is to ascertain the effect which it is having upon public opinion. The ordinary publicity trade, which is engaged mainly in trying to persuade people to buy particular commodities, can estimate it—not very well, but they can estimate it pretty well by movements of sales and other things like keyed advertisements. In a larger matter like this those methods are probably wholly inapplicable, and the Ministry of Information must do its best to ascertain what is really happening to public opinion. I understand that a little while ago they made arrangements with two bodies—whose names I had better, perhaps, not give, but who are well known to most Members—who specialise in discovering the general movements of public opinion, in order to get information as to what was going on in the public mind. From some points of view that was sinister enough, but from the point of view of the Ministry it was probably the most intelligent point of view. I understand that in one of the little panics they have had at the public indignation over their expenditure they very largely scrapped that machinery which they were proposing to use.

So, apparently, they are going to do publicity through the hands and minds of people who do not understand publicity and then fail to ascertain the results of it on the public mind, because they have scrapped, or half-scrapped, the machinery. They not only ought to know what the general public are thinking from the point of view of whether their expenditure is bringing in practical results, but they ought to follow the whole public moral in this country. There is a movement going on in this country now clamouring for at any rate a very serious consideration of the idea of armistice and peace negotiations. The general public has not the remotest idea, I have not myself the remotest idea, whether it is a large or small movement. The Government controls the newspapers indirectly, and takes very good care that we cannot tell from the newspapers what is really going on. It is important that the ordinary citizen should know what is going on in the public mind, and absolutely vital that the Government should know. The Ministry of Information has apparently scrapped the machinery that might give them some idea, and I do not suppose they have the remotest idea.

One is apt to think of this Ministry of Information, in spite of the great affection one feels for the individual who has had the misfortune to be placed at the head of it, as, at first sight, an extraordinary, unprecedented and isolated instance of appalling incompetence, but the danger—or the hope, whichever it may be—exists that it is really only a symptom of the appalling incompetence of this Government, and that it would be better if this Government had gone to some other place which we need not specify. The Lord Privy Seal told us a little about the advantage of cutting down the governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and the hon. Member for Burslem, who did not seem to find very much good in anything which the Government have done, thought it was a good idea. I see something rather sinister in it. It is typical of the sort of dictatorship mania of the Government at the present time. I do not want to discuss personalities, but it is noticeable that they have dismissed every governor on the board except the two who had the least experience. It was obvious that by appointing a small sub-committee and referring to the full board from time to time they could well have kept on with their full board of governors, and it is a point on which I think a great many people feel a good deal of anxiety. It is obvious that on this and a great many other points something drastic has to be done.

8.36 p.m.

Sir Stanley Reed

During the four hours which this Debate has gone on, I think only one hon. Member has spoken who has any knowledge of journalism, and not one has spoken who has any knowledge of propaganda. As I happen to have had over 50 years' experience as a journalist, and have been a director of propaganda in a country of 340,000,000 people and 12 distinct languages, there is one point which I should like to put to the Parliamentary Secretary. In what I say I wish to draw a very clear line between the censorship and the Ministry of Information. Much mud has been thrown at the censorship, chiefly by people who have no knowledge of it and no connection with it. Having a certain knowledge of it, and a very active connection with it, I want to say now and definitely that, amid all the great difficulties of censorship in war time, that department has steadily improved and is now running with efficiency and consideration, and even with growing improvement. The Lord Privy Seal said that all the difficulties and the criticism which have arisen were due to the fact that the war had not taken the course which was expected. That may be true of A.R.P., but it is not true of the Ministry of Information. The troubles of the Ministry have been due to radical defects in organisation and to still more radical defects in personnel.

I do not want to go into names, but it is an unfortunate fact that Lord Perth, for instance, entrusted with the organisation of this office, has failed his Minister, and now an efficient civil servant has to be brought in to try to tidy up the chaos which he bequeathed to those who have taken over those responsibilities. I have the highest respect for the Minister in this most difficult office. We have all the highest respect for the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), who has taken over the difficult duties of Parliamentary Secretary, and I think that on all sides of the House there will be every desire to give them every support and encouragement and to resist unjust criticisms.

But I must make one reservation. I want to speak now with the greatest moderation I can, and it is with great difficulty that I can speak with moderation. One of the most tragic papers ever laid before this House was the answer which the Parliamentary Secretary was bound to give to the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) as to the personnel of the Ministry of Information. I am not speaking of the civil servants. You cannot run a great department without the assistance of trained civil servants as administrators. The civil servant is not there for publicity but for administration. But the others are an amazing, an inconceivable, collection of people who have gone into that Ministry at fantastic salaries. There are organisations and societies which have allowed their personnel to go into the Ministry of Information because it was inconvenient to keep them in their old offices. We see others who are drawing substantial pensions from the State who have gone into the Ministry to get "cushy" jobs, and we have seen the more limited circle of intriguers who are always found when Ministries are created obtaining posts in the administration.

With all respect to the Parliamentary Secretary, and with every desire to help him, knowing him, and knowing the purpose he brings to this work, that sort of thing must stop. The only way it can be stopped is now, by giving formal notice to terminate all these engagements except those of the civil servants who are essential to the administration, and then proceed to recruit a small, compact body of competent men who can carry on this work right through, with such support as Parliament can give. The Lord Privy Seal suggested that this Ministry is to attain something like the proportions of the Ministry of 1918. I, and those who agree with me, anxious as we are to help, will oppose tooth and nail any body if it exceeds a very modest body of men, who are picked men. Then, and then only, shall we get done what this House and the country desire to be done.

8.41 p.m.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

I feel rather nervous in addressing the House after the hon. Member who has just spoken has said that, so far, only one Member has spoken who knows anything about journalism and publicity. I have to plead guilty to knowing nothing about the technicalities of either of these industries, but I know something about the people towards whom the publicity and propaganda are directed. If you asked any publicity expert he would say that when he is composing his publicity in order to publicise some article of wear or use, he has at the back of his mind always how he will approach the women of the country. I believe that in wartime not only in this country but in Germany and the countries who are allies, it should be in the forefront of the minds of publicists how to approach the women. I am absolutely amazed when I read in the OFFICIAL REPORT the list of the headquarters staff of the Ministry of Information and find that out of 91 members there are only 22 women. I am not approaching this simply as a feminist, but whoever recruited this Ministry is sadly lacking in judgment. The House at this moment is almost empty because a woman, a most brilliant artist, is on the radio. [HON. MEMBERS: "She has just finished."] Why is that woman the most brilliant and most highly paid? Because she is a publicist who knows the right approach to the people.

Mr. Tomlinson

Because she comes from Lancashire.

Dr. Summerskill

She is on the radio to-night, not because the B.B.C. was anxious to put her on, but because pressure was brought to bear on the B.B.C. by the Press. This very brilliant woman knows the right approach, and I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the Lord Privy Seal that if those who recruited for the Ministry had any common sense they would have had more women on it. When I read the leaflets which were distributed over Germany and which should have appealed to the German women, I realise that the person who drew up the leaflets was some rather desiccated male who knew nothing about the female mind at all. I could have done them much better myself.

Let us examine the list of the Ministry staff. Out of the first 17 highly-placed men there is the Minister, the Chief Adviser, the Parliamentary Secretary, the Director-General and 10 directors who, I presume, are in an advisory capacity; but there is not one woman. If the name of Gracie Fields had been among these directors, we might have had quite a different sort of leaflet distributed over Germany. What are the other posts? They are given in alphabetical order. The only way I can discover what influence women have on the policy of the Ministry of Information is by looking at the salaries paid to them, and I find that of the 22 women, 12 have salaries between £200 and £300, which means that their posts are purely secretarial. Never are they asked to advise on publicity. Of the others, three get about £400 a year, and there are seven women who have over £400 but under £1,000 a year. I am not criticising the amount of money these women get, but I can only discover the amount of influence they have by examining their salaries.

I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to convey what I have said to the Lord Privy Seal. I have always believed that the Lord Privy Seal is a feminist because of his illustrious ancestress, Elizabeth Fry. I would remind the hon. Gentleman, who perhaps does not think along the lines that I do, and who, perhaps, feels that there is only one place for a woman, and that is at home, that the journalist in France who is most widely read is a woman, Madame Tabouis. The most widely read journalist in the United States is a woman, Dorothy Thompson, who used to be known as the wife of Sinclair Lewis, but now Sinclair Lewis is known as the husband of Dorothy Thompson. The hon. and gallant Member for Carlisle (Brigadier-General Spears) who, I believe, is married to a brilliant woman, mentioned that a brilliant author, a woman, had applied to the Ministry of Information for an engagement and had been turned down, that she had gone to France—one cannot say that the French accept women in public affairs as quickly as other countries—and she was snapped up in France.

I suggest that there is some prejudice in a matter of this kind. Prejudice should not be allowed to stand in the way of public policy. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to reconsider this matter, in order that we may have more women at the Ministry of Information. There is not a woman journalist or a woman publicist in the Ministry. We ought to have more women there, in order that there can be more originality in approach. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to bear in mind that most women throughout their lives spend their time trying to understand the mind of the mere male.

8.47 p.m.

Mr. Lyons

Two or three weeks ago I put a question to the Ministry of Information and learned for the first time the extraordinary sources from which some persons employed in the Ministry have been drawn. I learned that the Food Defence Department, the British Museum, the National Savings Committee, the National Fitness Council, the Unemployment Assistance Board, the University Grants Committee, and the Land Registry were among the institutions that had supplied civil servants for the Department. I then asked my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary whether he would give me an opportunity of making a personal visit to this extraordinary Department in Bloomsbury where the staff is housed, so that I could see for myself some of the workings. I want to say at once that my request was readily complied with, that when I visited the institution every assistance was given to me through the instrumentality of the Parliamentary Secretary, and I should like to say to him now, notwithstanding what I shall say in criticism later, how much I appreciate the kindness, the readiness and consideration which he showed to me on that visit.

There has been a good deal of criticism about this organisation generally. I should think it impossible to find any institution of so recent a growth that has aroused, and rightly aroused, the consternation of the people, and that has shown, as perhaps nothing else has, so much inefficiency, wastefulness, extravagance and a lot of jiggery-pokery which must have been there to make the conditions such as we are now discussing. I do not hesitate to say that it is a general disgrace that the position should have arisen that we are discussing now, in these times of gravity and upon a matter of such vital importance to the moral and the security of our people.

Two questions arise on the general proposition which I am putting to the House to-night. I share almost wholly in the criticisms which have been made by one hon. Member after another, in the disagreement and horror at the way in which this organisation has grown up, at its doings and misdoings and its manifest ineptitude. I want to ask one or two questions in particular, and I hope that the Minister will be good enough when he replies to give me some information. I have also some constructive suggestions to make. Firstly, why is it necessary in an organisation of this kind to have, as chief adviser on foreign publicity, Lord Perth, the gentleman responsible for putting this thing into being at the very start and whose salary is not yet decided? Why is not the salary decided? What salary is Lord Perth getting for the work he is going to do as chief adviser on foreign publicity? We are told that one or two directors are giving their services without pay. There is one gentleman, the editor of the "Round Table," whose salary is not fixed. Why is it not fixed? Why was it not fixed by Monday when these fresh facts were given? Why is the salary not fixed for this gentleman while it is fixed for other people in the same grade? I would like the Minister to answer these questions.

Mr. Tomlinson

Perhaps some of those people are to be paid on results.

Mr. Lyons

For their sakes I hope not, yet. If they are, they will have very little to draw. I would like to know about the gentleman described as a major, retired, of the Royal Marines, and drawing £600 to £800 a year. Does he draw that salary in addition to his pension? I would like to know how he got that job and what his qualifications are, if he has any, for the position to which he has been appointed? How is he there? I shall not go through the whole of the rigmarole which was in the OFFICIAL REPORT yesterday, but I must ask: What is the need for having a Parliamentary Agent working side by side with the Director of Education for the Transvaal? What is the need for the other people who are most ill-fitted for the highly specialised work which has to be done? I join most sincerely in the plea that was made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carlisle (Brigadier-General Spears) that somebody should be put into office who is able to sift one thing from another, and to make the appointment by selection, examination and merit, taking into account ability and experience for the position. Let us not have this holus-bolus pushing in of all sorts of people at the public expense to make this monument of extravagance and impossibility which was discussed so fully in the leading article of the "Evening Standard" yesterday, to which reference was made to-day by the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate.

I asked the Parliamentary Secretary, in a question about a fortnight ago, to account for a certain circumstance. An item of news was released to the papers, which made it front page news that afternoon. Within half an hour, that item of news was cancelled. Ten minutes or so later, that item of news was re- released. It was an item about Her Majesty the Queen returning from Scotland to London. In reply to my question the Minister said that it was a mistake and that steps were being taken to see that it did not occur again. Within two days there was another incident and my hon. Friend explained it and regret was expressed for the extraordinary happening. It was not extraordinary when you see the people who were responsible for it. The hon. Gentleman apologised for it. He said, "I am taking steps to see that it does not occur again." About a week later there was a message released saying that German aeroplanes had come near Scotland, but had been driven off— a message authorised by the Ministry of Information, put on the tape, and put in the Press as an authorised message. It was a message of great consequence. Within a few minutes it was withdrawn, because it was found to be quite inaccurate. How can a thing like that happen?

Three days ago there was a message released from the Admiralty, withdrawn a few minutes later, and then released again. I have a question about that down for answer to-morrow. It was taken away from my right hon. Friend and put down to the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is now responsible. These things happen because you have this tremendous mess, with 999 people to begin with, all there without really knowing what they are there for, and some of them in a position which looks very much like the exercise of influence which ought not to be exercised. I want my hon. Friend to answer this question. I do not for a moment suggest any bad faith on the part of my hon. Friend or anybody else, but does this list show the whole picture? Are there not some gentlemen employed there in highly-paid positions whose names do not appear? I notice that Mr. Tom Clarke, who is a director, is not on the list.

Sir E. Grigg

My hon. and learned Friend has apparently not yet realised that the news department has been taken away from the Ministry.

Mr. Lyons

I am much obliged. The other name that I was going to refer to was that of Mr. Brebner. I knew that the News Department had been taken away, but I did not realise that that explained why the omissions from the list are more than the names of the two gentlemen associated with journalism.

May I just say a word about the regional committees. Fourteen or 15 regional offices were opened, and I believe the chief regional officers were paid salaries of about £1,000 a year each. From the names of one or two whom I know—and I do not know more than one or two—it was clear that they had no connection with any kind of work that would give them experience for these positions. I should like to know who chose these chief officers in the Provinces. They were never real whole-time posts. They existed until Lord Camrose came into the Ministry, but they exist no longer. Each had a staff, and each had a salary of about £1,000 a year. Why was it necessary to wait for Lord Camrose to come in to put an end to that waste of money? Is it correct that before those gentlemen were dismissed by Lord Camrose some of them tendered their resignations on the ground that there was nothing for them to do, and that it was a gross waste of public money to keep them on? [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) just tells me that some gentleman in the Midlands did say that. All credit to him for doing so. I hope that he will tell the world why he did so, and expose this gross waste of public money. In 13 or 14 offices, which ought never to have been opened, the directors and hordes of officials were turned out when Lord Camrose got his hand on the job, and I hope that we shall be assured that this position will never occur again.

There is a constructive suggestion that I want to make. Why have not some of the well-known, recognised, independent publicists in this country, some of whom did vital work in the last war on similar matters, been chosen, either voluntarily— many of them would give voluntary services—or on paid terms, to do the kind of work in which they have specialised during the whole of their working lives, rather than the friends of somebody or the retired and pensioned gentlemen of the Royal Marines or of this, that or the other body? Are these men, whose work is of the very kind that the Ministry of Information wants, going to be brought in to advise?

I should like to say a word on one or two of the things which have been already raised and upon which I want to make some comment. We have heard to-night some criticism of the posters, of the red, flaming, large posters. But I have noticed in shops, and even in banks, small posters, "Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resources will help to win the war." What is the good of wasting money by having small bills of the size of calendars exhibited in banks. An hon. Friend told me last week that that sort of poster was put in an infant school room somewhere in the country. We have available in this country space on the hoardings which is organised and managed by a reputable association—the British Poster Advertising Association—which has done yeoman work for the Government and Government Departments in many avenues. Why does not somebody link up with them and say, "There is the space, you have the machine and the organisation. Will you undertake to see that it is mobilised forthwith by those public-spirited men, who have the hoardings so that they can put on these hoardings first-class messages." And let those messages be really worthy. They could be extracts from speeches by the Prime Minister, the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Acting Leader of the Opposition. Some of these stirring messages from the Front Benches on both sides of the House in this crisis ought to be put upon the hoardings, and the men who have the hoardings should be brought into co-operation to see how far they can help to exhibit properly-worded messages in places where messages can and should be seen.

What has been the position? A suggestion was made that a representative of the British Poster Advertising Association should serve unpaid on the advisory council of this body in order to make suggestions. What was the reply to the men who control and can offer all the space that is needed throughout the country on which to exhibit these messages? The answer was, "The advisory council is already big enough, and we are afraid that we cannot add to it." No support is given to, and no advantage is taken of, the offer of an expert to contribute something towards the national endeavour without any cost for his services. One can go through this rigmarole that I hold in my hand and find dozens of people who are obviously and manifestly ill-equipped and untrained for this work. The services and offers of those who are able to do something for the publicity for which the Ministry is crying out are not taken advantage of.

Does the Minister really want space on the hoardings? He told us the other day that £20,000 had been spent on messages to the end of October. I should have thought he would have had something much better than that message about courage and cheerfulness bringing victory, and I would like to know who advised him to use that particular form of wording. Does he really want publicity? Does he want to see proper messages to enlighten, to cheer, to make more resolute the people in the country? If he does, he should not spend £20,000 in this way. He should get in touch with the people who can give him that space and that publicity throughout the land. If he says to-night, as I hope he will, "I will gladly have such publicity," I do not think it will be many hours before machinery is put at his disposal so that he can have the advantage of what undoubtedly is the best outdoor and, indeed, to-day the only outdoor, advertising and publicity medium.

When this advisory council is reconstituted, I hope the membership of that council will include people who know something about the matter which is to be administrated by this Department. There is so much to be said, there is so much criticism to be made, about this very vital matter. My hon. Friend behind me said that it was a fourth arm, and indeed it is very important. I do not know if we can assess what the saving will be on this newly constituted Ministry, but I hope that in the future somebody will supervise these extraordinary points and see, not merely how far money can be spent, but that when it is spent it is expended properly and buys full measure towards helping this great endeavour.

9.7 p.m.

Mr. Ridley

I do not propose to continue the broadside attack, which the hon. Member opposite has evidently enjoyed, but I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to bear with me while I discuss a matter which, although of considerable importance, has hardly been referred to this evening. That is the dissemination and distribution of news and information about the British purpose and the British effort in the neutral countries of Europe and the other Continents of the world. I could not possibly hope to compete with the journalistic experience of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Reed), although I could show him a trade union card which indicates my honorary membership of that great profession. So far as the dissemination and distribution of news about the British effort in the neutral countries of Europe is concerned, there has been, in the last two weeks in particular, a very considerable improvement. This is a matter, I know, as to which responsibility is distributed. It is distributed as to the dissemination of news from the Departments and from the Ministry and as to the mechanical transmission of it to neutral countries.

As we are discussing not only the Ministry of Information but the general purposes of publicity and propaganda, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not regard it as an extra burden if I talk about the neutral countries. In the last few weeks there has been a considerable improvement. When the war began the machine almost broke down. There is no physical telephonic contact between London and the Scandinavian countries except through Berlin, and, obviously, the moment war was declared that physical telephonic contact broke down. The disability thus imposed on the working journalists was repaired to some extent in the last fortnight by radio telephonic communication, but that is not an equal exchange. The effect of the breaking down of normal telephone services was to throw what would have been telephone communications on to the cables, with consequent cable congestion. There was also this further congestion. There was a considerable delay in the normal postal services, and business people who rather abhor delay hastened to throw business communications, which would have been sent by post on to the cable, also creating further congestion of a serious kind.

There is, it seems to me, and to people who have experience in this matter, only one way out of this difficulty. In the neutral countries our news continues to be belated. What were telephone communications are now going to be radio telephone communications where it is available but the mail service is still in a very unsatisfactory and heavily congested condition. That means that what is called the column or page story is not getting to the country to which it is designed to go and in a world of swiftly moving events it is out of date before it reaches Copenhagen or Oslo, or Stockholm. In the "Times" of 20th September from their Amsterdam correspondent I read: The Dutch are very anxious that the air service between London and Holland should be resumed. Instead of official news from belligerent sources the Dutch newspapers want reports from their own correspondents, which are meagre from Great Britain and from France and plentiful from Germany, which offers unlimited telephone services. The German propaganda is active. I suggest that it is a matter for serious consideration whether we should not put into operation an entirely uneconomic air service in order to make certain that in the field of news we compete on terms of equality with German sources, especially in the case of foreign articles. In a world of swiftly moving events speed is the essense of good journalism. Neutral correspondents in London appreciate warmly the improvement to which I have referred, but there seems to be too ready a disposition to leave the European field of propaganda to our competitors and our enemies, instead of striving to use what would normally be regarded as unusual methods in order to get over our story. The House may comfort itself with this, that what are normally called neutral countries are really neutral in a nominal sense. There is hardly a neutral country in the world which desires to see Germany win, or which does not want this country and France to succeed, and they are literally hungering for news about our own purposes and our own efforts. In the matter of European neutral countries, I beg the Parliamentary Secretary to give special attention to the point I have mentioned. I will quote a further extract from a neutral capital. It comes from one of the principal Stockholm newspapers, and reads: It is strongly felt by neutral correspondents in London that the British watch on the news service is still influenced by bureaucratic pressure. They want not more propaganda, but more freedom of movement and better working conditions. England would surely not suffer from more liberal arrangements. Formerly it was characteristic of the British system to be based on confidence, to let the truth break through on conditions of relative liberty for those who have the task of offering guidance to the public. Neutral opinion wants more room for these traditional things I want to emphasise the fact that in all the neutral countries of Europe—I admit with physical, territorial and geographical advantages—German propaganda is active at every moment of the day through every channel that can be employed. We must make a special effort to catch up the tremendous effort that is being made by Germany in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Brussels, and in the other European neutral countries. I want now to say a word or two about the situation with regard to the United States of America. I understand that at the present time there is a serious delay in the telephone service, and that the telephone service for journalists between London and New York cannot compete with the telephone service between Berlin and New York. An improvement is really necessary.

Sir E. Grigg

I should be grateful if the hon. Member would give me particulars of that, because a great deal has been done to improve the telephone service.

Mr. Ridley

I assure the Parliamentary Secretary that I have not made my remarks for the purpose of making criticisms—

Sir E. Grigg

I am quite sure of that.

Mr. Ridley

—but solely for the purpose of drawing attention to the defects. What I am saying arises largely from a conversation which I had yesterday with a responsible American journalist, who told me of a cable received recently from a first-class daily paper in New York, which read as follows: General impression prevails British Air, Naval and Military effort inadequate. Comment. Paper still filled with German news. My informant told me that she had enough information at her disposal, if she could use it—she was sure she could use it without disclosing anything that would be of advantage to the enemy—to make it quite clear to any American newspaper reader that that impression of the British effort was entirely improper, inaccurate and inadequate, but that a measure of journalistic freedom did not exist under the censorship which made it possible for her to tell that kind of story. A further defect is that there is now no air mail service between this country and the United States. I understand that the "Clipper service finished a week or 10 days ago, but there is still a "Clipper" service between the United States and Lisbon that could carry journalists' stories. I beg the Parliamentary Secretary—perhaps it is not necessary for me to do so—to recognise how tremendously important it if at the present time that the American daily papers should be filled with the British story. They are hungering for British news, and many of them are striving for conclusive reasons for hoping that one day they will share in the Allied effort. An air mail service between this country and Lisbon, of an entirely un-remunerative and uneconomic character, if linked up with the "Clipper" service from Lisbon to New York, so as to make it possible to get column and page stories from London to New York two or three days, and perhaps a week, quicker than at present, would be of incalculable advantage.

Then there is the time lag in the arrival of British morning newspapers in the Continental capitals. The delay is very serious, amounting sometimes to as much as 10 days. There was a story in the newspapers the other day of a man getting a copy of the "Times" four days old and seizing it as though it were a prize which somebody would attempt to wrest from him if he did not hold it tightly. This is a very serious matter when we consider that the German morning newspapers are pouring into the neutral countries and arriving there before breakfast-time, while responsible organs of the British Press are between two and three days late. This means, in a world, as I have said, of swiftly moving events, that they are carrying news which is stale and out of date. Nor can I understand the confiscation of British newspapers carried by people who are going abroad. Correspondence published in the "Times" and elsewhere shows that passengers have been deprived of their London morning newspapers at the port of embarkation, but have been able to buy the same newspapers on the boat and have been able to buy them in profusion once they set foot on the other side. There must be something wrong in this respect. It is not merely a matter of journalism, but of the distribution of news and information, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give attention to it.

A week ago I met a distinguished American journalist who had just landed from New York. I asked him the usual question, "What do you think about things?" He said, "You people have a story, but you are not telling it to the world." That story must be told—the story of our effort and our purpose. Whoever is responsible, whether the Ministry of Information or other Departments, new methods must be employed and this House must not complain about spending money. It must not even make jokes about the 999 officials, if it is a question of getting over to the neutrals the news from this country for which they are hungering. The great neutral countries can bring us aid and succour in times of difficulty and distress, if we convince them that we have a purpose in what we are doing which entitles us to expect from them something more than philosophic sympathy—even material aid. We can win that sympathy and that aid if our story is told in the proper fashion.

9.24 p.m.

Mr. A. Edwards

During the few years that I have been in this House I have heard some serious attacks on various Departments, but never anything as devastating as the attack which has been made on the Ministry of Information in this House to-day. If the Minister who is to reply runs true to form, he will defend the people who are responsible for all this mess. The hon. Gentleman has been associated with the Department for only a very short time, and is not himself responsible. He has gained the respect of the House for the manner in which he has dealt with this question. He has given the impression of dealing with it efficiently and has told the House more than once that he is determined to have matters adjusted. I hope that to-night, instead of following the usual practice of not saying a single word against the Civil Service, but of regarding it as 100 per cent. of his job to whitewash them, the hon. Gentleman, who is a House of Commons man, will put up a fight for this House. It is time to break down some of this silly nonsense about the old tradition that the Civil Service must be protected. I can tell the House of a Department which I have been to recently, where I have been up against civil servants with big reputations. I have as much respect for them in their way as any one in the House, but if I were to organise a department for the purpose of defeating the British forces in this war I could not do better than employ the men who are running this Department. It is a standing disgrace and the House will have to take notice of it sooner or later. The safety of the country is at stake and what we have heard here to-day is sufficient to lose the war unless something is done about it. I hope the Minister will rise to the occasion. I am sure that he is putting his country first instead of his Department.

After listening to the Debate I can think of only one man that ever lived competent to comment adequately on what we have heard, and that is Lewis Carroll. If hon. Members will read Alice in Wonderland and put it along side the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow, Alice in Wonderful will seem by comparison quite sane and normal. It is not conceivable that any body of people could have deliberately planned such a disorganisation as we have in this place. What has been achieved by this stupidity is in its way a miracle. I was in one of the Departments of this great Ministry and there was a man in charge of it, a man of some character and reputation, a man whom I respect. I went into his office and all that I saw was a table, a telephone and a bed. I said, "At any rate, you are organised for sleep if for nothing else." This man said he had been thrown into the place and he had not the slightest idea what was expected of him. To illustrate how these things are done, I was in another Department dealing with matters in which I have some specialised knowledge. I wanted to help the man in charge of it at the very outset, knowing that he had a difficult job. He said, "Thank you for coming to help me. I have just been told that I am in charge of the Department but I do not know anything about it." Imagine a man being told casually to take charge of a Department whether he knows anything about it or not.

The Minister has a chance of doing a big job for the House and the country. It is all right to say these civil servants have done great service. Of course they have in their way. I sat alongside a Minister for whom I have a great respect. I thought he was a very competent Minister. Then I sat alongside a civil servant, and it turned out that the Minister was a mere echo of the other man and dare not say a thing to contradict him. When the civil servant spoke the Minister was silent. But he was so amiable that you could not even get cross with him. These fellows are very charming, but this gentleman had no more right to be in charge of the job that he was doing than I have to be the Prime Minister of this country. It is a standing disgrace that Ministers do not have the courage to, say to these civil servants, "We are sorry, but we are bringing into this department someone who can do the job." Do not let your junior civil servants do something for which they have had no training whatever. It will be cheaper in the long run to use journalists.

The Minister spoke with some pride about the organisation of the Ministry of Information in 1918. I wonder whether the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us whether the big men of that time have been consulted. Have we asked for the benefit of their knowledge? I ask, because in regard to another Department which is all-important I have spoken with most of the key men who did the big jobs in the last war, and not one of those men, although they have offered their services, have been asked for advice of any description. They are offended and almost insulted. If you have done a successful job in one war, and you go to the Government in their hour of need and offer to help them without being paid a penny for it, and you are ignored, it is not very pleasant. Not one of those men, who really could help this country, has so far as I know, been consulted at all. Instead, they have been insulted and turned down in what I consider to be a very degrading way. I know a few journalists who have had something to do with the Ministry of Information, and I know that they hang around looking for news. I was there the other day for a little while, and I came away feeling that there was just darkness on the face of the deep. Everybody was depressed and felt that there was nothing being done to help either them or the country, so far as information was concerned.

Then I want to raise the question of this rather degrading fight between the Air Ministry and the War Office about these journalists who have been sent abroad. The hon. Gentleman might say that his Department is not concerned, but I contend that it has everything to do with it, as the Department which is responsible for information going out. I think it should be sure, if these other Departments are taking back the right to give out their own news, that it is done intelligently and not in that fighting, scrappy, mean, competitive spirit. I think the hon. Gentleman's Department has a great deal to do with this question, if not directly for giving out the news, to see that it fits in with the general requirements of this House and the country, and I support the suggestion that there should be set up a Committee of this House to inquire into the matter of appointments.

9.33 p.m.

Mr. Poole

After five hours of broadside attacks on the administration of the Ministry of Information, there is very little that I can add, and I have no desire to criticise merely for the sake of criticism. I should not have ventured to inflict myself on the House to-night if it were not for the fact that I am sick and tired of being asked, everywhere that I go in the country, whether I stay in a hotel or travel in my division, "When are we going to be told some news? When are we going to have something in the news bulletin, on the radio, or even in the Press?" It is in order that we might have an answer to those questions to-night that this subject has been raised, and I hope this Debate will accomplish that end and that reorganisation will result from the general criticism that has been levelled at the Ministry—a volume of criticism, I should say, which has never been surpassed in the case of any newly-formed Ministry in the whole history of the government of this country. I hope that, as a result, we shall have a greater measure of confidence on the part of the people of this country and a better dissemination of war news.

The hon. and learned Member for Leicester (Mr. Lyons) asked, in relation to the list of names which has been published, "How did they all get there?" That is a question that we have all asked, and, having regard to the enormous number of competent men willing to serve this country, not for profit or gain, men who were much more competent to fill some of the positions which have been allotted to people who seem to be there only because they are some particular brand of crank, it seems strange that it was not possible to give to some of these people an opportunity of rendering service in this Ministry. I could not understand why the Ministry stopped short at the 999 figure. I thought I found an explanation to-night when an hon. Member said that he had been ejected from the Ministry. The figure was apparently 1,000, and it is now 999 because he has been ejected. It reminded me—I suppose because of my Noncomformist upbringing —of a Sankey hymn which, slightly adapted, ran, There were nine hundred and ninety-nine that safely lay, In the shelter of the fold; But one was out on the hills away, Far from the gates of gold. The Lord Privy Seal's speech was a remarkable effort. He said, "How comes it that a Ministry, which has been drawn up in consultation with all the people who ought to be competent to advise, has gone wrong?" He went on to tell us the reason and said that the Ministry was perfectly right, that there was nothing wrong with it, but that the war was wrong and that the war had not gone right for the Ministry. It is an amazing defence. The Ministry ought to have sent a request to Herr Hitler to conduct the war in conformity with the organisation of the new Department. The proof of the successful working of any organisation is the ability to adapt itself to rapidly changing circumstances, and if the Ministry in the early days of the war had adapted itself to the new technique and the new phase which the war has taken, it would not have been open to so much criticism.

The Lord Privy Seal also said that the Ministry had failed because it had had no news to give. We have been told, in reply to questions, that the service departments have not served up the information for the Ministry of Information to disseminate. There has been an enormous amount of news which, if the Ministry had been properly organised, could have been served up and given to the British public. I have two friends in London who are fluent in languages. They have during the weeks of war built up a useful and lucrative connection by listening to the Russian, German and Italian broadcasts and taking from them the news which is disseminated and selling it to the newspapers. If the Ministry of Information had been alive to the possibilities and had done the same thing, they could have given to the public what the Russian radio said last night with regard to the Estonian Pact. It would have been an excellent piece of propaganda if they could have told the British public, what these two friends told me last night, that the first news which the Russian people had of Herr Hitler's speech in which he offered peace proposals was on the radio on Monday, and then it was given without any details of the proposals he formulated. If the ordinary man and woman in the street —both these persons are young—the woman almost in her 'teens and the young man in the early twenties—have had the incentive to do this thing, surely the Ministry, with its staff of 999 people with high salaries, could have done the same, could have served up very nice bulletins telling the British people what other countries were thinking and what stories they were telling their people.

The Lord Privy Seal spoke of the great difficulty of getting staff in the pre-war period. I do not think he has overcome the difficulty very well in the staff he did get. I understood that there was at the Ministry of Labour a central register of people with special professional and technical qualifications and that there were some 30,000 names on that register. Could not the Ministry of Information have found among those 30,000 some who were more suited to do this work? Did the Ministry consult the central register, or did they go out asking their friends whether they knew anybody who would like a nice job? When the Lord Privy Seal, as Home Secretary, spoke of the setting up of this Ministry on 28th July, he said: What we are trying to do is to extend British culture abroad and to explain British policy abroad in peace-time. There were comments which I could have made on that, but I will not do so. He went on: Secondly, we are attempting to organise in peace-time a shadow Ministry of Information that will have no operation or activity in peace-time but, if war came, would be the centre of information both for home and overseas."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th July, 1939; col. 1833, Vol 350.] We have had the centre, perhaps, but apparently we have lost all the information, and I am asking that in the days that lie ahead we shall have the centre and the information. The news with which we have been served over the radio has been days late. We have had a striking criticism by the hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Ridley) of the extreme tardiness with which news has got to neutral countries. It is not only in neutral countries that it has been late. I think the Kiel Raid was four days old before the British radio told our people about it, and the way in which news has been presented to the British public has been, in the main, not by a statement from the particular Department but frequently by a re-quotation of what the foreign Press has said that the British department has done. That is not the way to serve news to the people. I say to the Ministry of Information, and particularly to the censorship section, "You need never be afraid of telling the British people, because you fear the enemy may get to know, something which the enemy already knows." They have been afraid to tell the British people something which the Germans already know, or else they have been told four or five days after people have been able to pick it up by radio in every other country in the world.

One word on the regional organisation. I want to ask whether the regional organisation is still going forward or what is to happen to it? I was summoned to a committee which was to be established under the regional organisation, and I was intrigued to know, first, who were to be the personnel. I learned that there were to be drawn into those committees anyone and everyone who was in a position to disseminate news in the countryside. We were to have the postman, the policeman, the butcher, the curate, the parson's wife and, of course, the publican, because he is very capable of disseminating news. All those people were to be incorporated, together with representatives of the political organisations, upon a committee. In an area such as I have the honour to represent it would be impossible for people to come from the outlying parts to any central committee, people representing trade unions and many sections of society, unless some provision were made to meet their travelling expenses. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether, if they are able to afford such salaries as were published in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings of the House a few days ago, the Ministry will consider covering the reasonable travelling expenses of the people called to these committees, if it is considered desirable that they should continue to function.

I asked what exactly was to be the function of these committees, and I was told that it would be to disseminate news. I said that surely we had the radio and the newspapers to do that business, and the reply was—it was a responsible officer of the Ministry who made the statement—that there would be certain news which we dare not publish, which we dare not broadcast, because the enemy would get to know it For instance, it was said, there might be a serious raid upon a particular part of the country, and rumours might spread, and it would be the function of the committee to pass on the information and disseminate it, in order that the people should not have false stories told to them. Can hon. Members think of anything more ridiculous? Imagine the story of an air raid on London, with 50 casualties. The story would pass from mouth to mouth.

Sir E. Grigg

I should be grateful to the hon. Member if he would tell me from what source he obtained that statement. I do not recognise it as coming from the Ministry.

Mr. Poole

If the Parliamentary Secretary will make inquiries about a meeting held at Burton-on-Trent three weeks ago and attended by the political representatives of the Lichfield Parliamentary Division, he will find that what I have said is perfectly correct.

Sir E. Grigg

I am grateful to the hon. Member. I take it that it was a statement made at a meeting of a regional organisation?

Mr. Poole

Yes. That, so far as I can gather, is to be the only function of the regional organisation, except one other, which was equally ludicrous. I asked whether these committees are going to function. Can anyone appreciate the progress and the development of a story in this way coming, say, from the chairman of a regional organisation to one of his members, who passes on the story to the butcher, the baker or someone else? We were told that there should be a large number of women on the committees. We all know that women can circulate information. I am not casting any reflections upon the opposite sex. Even a mere man, as the hon. Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) called us, cannot repeat a story without adding to it or subtracting from it. When you give the village postman, say, the responsibility of being able to say: "I am a member of the Ministry of Information, and I have a story, which is official, that I can tell. I had it from the chairman of our committee, who has had it from the Ministry of Information in London. There was an air raid on London, and 50 people were killed. That is the story I was told." Hon. Members can imagine that postman adding, "Believe me, there is more in it than that." That is the way we are going to disseminate true information to the British public to give them confidence that they are having the whole truth.

I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether the regional organisations are going to function, and whether the areas are to continue in existence. When the regional officer told me what I have stated, I said to him— I will give it in Parliamentary language —"My goodness, you frighten me, if you are to have that sort of organisation. "I asked for what other purpose this regional committee could function, and I was told—I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not put this up as a charge against the responsible officer who said it to me, unofficially," There is something else it can do. It can be a ginger to the Government, and keep them up to scratch. "I said to him:" I belong to a Parliamentary Opposition which has been trying for some years to keep this Government up to scratch, and if we can't do it I don't think any committee of the policeman, the postman and the parson of the village can do it. "That is the conception I formed of this organisation, not from any idle inquiry but in a committee which was called by the organisation. Those are the functions and the way in which news was to be disseminated. We are entitled to know whether we are to have an area organisation. If so, let it be on a proper basis and let the job be done properly. The present one is a Fred Karno organisation, and is not the sort of thing which will help to win the war. It will probably provide a lot of alarmist stories through- out the country and do more harm than has already been done by the present lack of information.

A final word, about the B.B.C. Many things have been said against the B.B.C, and not much remains to be said. My complaint is that there has been a complete lack of substance in their news, the presentation of which has been ghastly. It left me cold. Also, its musical programmes have been entirely inadequate. I was thinking of submitting a question, but I was not sure that the Clerks at the Table would pass it, asking how many boxes of gramophone needles had been used at the B.B.C. since the war started and how many records had been worn out. I may be unfortunate in regard to the time at which I switch on my radio, but I either get a programme of gramophone records or Sandy Macpherson at the B.B.C. organ. I have nothing against Sandy Macpherson. He has played a noble part, but by now he must be feeling exhausted.

As to the news, the hon. Baronet told us something of the kind of wireless bulletin that we have been getting. You know the usual switching on to the very vital news that you feel is coming from the Western Front, but too often the news bulletin contains nothing new from that which you heard at four o'clock. After a recital of the previous news bulletin, which did not contain anything new over the news bulletin previous to that, you hear the announcer say: "We have now some 10 minutes to spare so we will have a few gramophone records." After I had had the devastating experience of hearing the news three times over recently, the first record that came on was, "What noisy noise annoys an oyster most." I would ask the Minister whether that is the kind of elevating stuff that will fill the British public with courage and confidence to win the war. In the reorganisation of the Department I hope we shall get as much news as can be given to the public, presented in the best possible form, and that we shall have some reasonable light entertainment. I cannot support the proposal of the hon. Member who asked for more talks. Talks upon the radio usually leave me cold. We want some really light music and variety, something which will bring joy to us all and enable us to forget some of the darker sides of life and the overcasting and overclouding which have been thrown upon us.

What has happened to the relay service of broadcasting over telephone wires and when may we expect to have it? We were promised that in time of war there would be broadcasting over the telephone wires. As soon as we can get that system into operation, people who have telephones may be able to receive alternative programmes, and I hope that the work is being pressed on. I have endeavoured to be as considerate as I can in my criticisms because I know the burden which has been cast upon the Parliamentary Secretary. I believe that he will acquit himself well in defence of the Ministry. If he cannot defend it, I trust that he also will devastate it and, from the ruins thereof, will build up a real Ministry of Information which will give us not only a Ministry but also information.

9.55 p.m.

Mr. H. Strauss

I wish to detain the House for only a few minutes, because most of the things I wished to say have been said far better than I could have said them by the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren). His speech seemed to introduce for the first time some atmosphere of reality into the Debate. The speech of the Lord Privy Seal dealt with two quite separate questions. In so far as he spoke of the reorganisation of the censorship department, I have no comment to make, except that I believe that the new arrangement which he adumbrated is very much better than the old arrangement which it supersedes; and I think the House hopes that it will succeed, and succeed completely. The matter on which I wish to speak is the other branch of the Ministry, which the Lord Privy Seal described as the Ministry of Information and not of propaganda. Why did he shrink, with an almost virginal modesty, from the suggestion of propaganda? What is wrong with propaganda? If the Ministry is not indulging in propaganda, what on earth is it doing? Has the right hon. Gentleman listened to our broadcasts in the German language to Germany? Are they not intended to be propaganda? Has he not read the leaflets that have been dropped in Germany? Are they not intended to be propaganda? And, finally, has he not seen the advertisements saying—I cannot remember the exact words of indifferent prose—something like this: Your courage, your cheerfulness, your determination, will give us victory. I ask the hon. Gentleman who will reply to the Debate to say whether that is information or propaganda. The question, of course, is not whether we shall indulge in propaganda. The question is a perfectly simple one; are we going to indulge in bad propaganda addressed to the wrong people, or in good propaganda addressed to the right people? So far, the former seems to have been our objective. I suggest that the latter had better be substituted. I have listened in the last few days, when the House has been rising earlier, to propaganda given out from Moscow, the French stations, the German stations, the Italian stations, and our own, and I say—and I believe that everybody who has listened will agree—that one country is in a class by itself for the excellence of its propaganda; that is France. I hope that the Ministry will listen to the French propaganda, and try to do likewise. It is, as I think was pointed out by the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker), available at a great number of hours. At almost any hour you can turn on a French station, and find very effective propaganda being directed to the enemy. The B.B.C. propaganda in foreign languages is very much better, I think, than the ordinary B.B.C. home service. I have listened to a certain amount of our foreign propaganda, and I must say that it strikes me as being extremely good; I think a great deal of the criticism is against the home service.

The main object for which I rose was to say that there is one part of the activity of the Ministry of Information which is pure propaganda, which is bad propaganda, which is addressed to the wrong people, which is causing widespread discontent, and which should cease forthwith. I refer to the posters that are addressed to the British public. I ask the hon. Member who is to reply to the Debate to deal with the poster which I quoted just now, probably inaccurately —it is so bad that it does not impress itself on one's mind. I think it is: Your courage, your cheerfulness, your determination, will give us victory. The prose is so meaningless that they have to underline some words to make it mean anything. I ask, to whom are these advertisements being addressed—to those who support the Government in the war or to those who do not? If it is being addressed to those who support the Government in the country, is it not a demonstrable and sheer waste of public money? I believe that in answer to a Parliamentary Question it has been revealed that we pay for this propaganda of posters a sum of between £40,000 and £50,000. Is it really desirable that at a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to introduce a Budget creating an Income Tax of 7s. 6d. in the £ the Government should demonstrate to the British public who support the war that, in their view, they have money to burn? I think they had better seriously consider withdrawing that kind of poster altogether. If, on the other hand, it is addressed not to those who support the Government, but to the few pacifists who oppose it, do they believe that that poster will produce a single convert to the cause of the nation? If they do, they must, I think, be extremely badly advised. To judge from the experience that I have had in the part of the country which I represent, and from the letters which I have received, there is overwhelming support for the Government in pursuing the national cause with determination, energy and efficiency. The only letter of indignation which I have received from Norfolk has been a letter of indignation caused by the posters to which I am now referring. I beg the Government not to shrink from admitting that the Ministry of Information is a Ministry of Propaganda. There is nothing whatever improper in propaganda, and the sooner it is realised that we are indulging in propaganda, the sooner it will be recognised that it will be better if that propaganda is good than that it should continue to be bad.

The only other matter which I wish to mention is that of the B.B.C, and there I thought that the speech of the hon. Member for Burslem to which I have already alluded was entirely fair. I believe that every one of us is willing to make allowances for the enormous difficulties caused to the B.B.C. by their limitation to a single programme and by the alteration of the place from which they broadcast and so forth; but we desire that that single broadcast should be good.

I should like to make a plea for two improvements in the B.B.C. programme. The first is—and it has something to do with propaganda, too—that there shall be some provision at reasonable hours of first-rate music. The German stations, while they are indulging in propaganda designed as such, are often crude and extremely bad, but the most effective propaganda in Germany is that they have their Philharmonic orchestra, conducted by Furtwängler, giving, for example, a Beethoven symphony. That is advertising to the neutral world that, in the midst of this barbarism to which they, and they alone, have reduced Europe, they can still preserve some of the greatness of civilisation, and unless we provide an alternative to some of those things described by the hon. Member for Burslem, our cause will suffer. British propaganda, if it is to be effective, should not only consist of speeches and news but in showing that we have a culture and a practice of the arts which are worthy to stand with those of any other part of the world.

The other point I would mention is this. It may sound trivial, but it is a point which the B.B.C. can remedy, and can remedy to-morrow. The news which they give out over the wireless might at least be read by a person who is able to read. There is nothing more ridiculous than the news being read by a man who has to correct himself every three seconds. The other night I listened to an announcer who said, "America," "Americans," and that sort of thing. He had not taken the trouble to read his script beforehand. Some of us, I expect, used to read the Lesson occasionally on Sunday in Chapel at school, and I wonder what would have been thought if we had not taken the trouble to read it through beforehand so as to give a clear and good reading. Why should a half-asleep employé of the B.B.C. make 20 blunders in reading the nine o'clock news?

Mr. Ridley

That is a sheer exaggeration.

Mr. Strauss

Some of them are accurate, I agree. On many days they are almost faultless. If that is the meaning of the hon. Member's interruption I thank him for it, but every now and then one hears one of the people whom I am describing. I heard such an announcer twice in a single day, and that sort of thing is in- excusable. They are doing an important war job and they should do it well.

I beg the Government, in view of the fact that they are putting up these advertisements in the streets, not to shrink from the fact that the Ministry of Information is a Ministry of Propaganda, but to be determined that it shall be good and effective propaganda. I beg them to withdraw these incompetent, wasteful and annoying advertisements, which are depressing our people, and which are an insult to their intelligence. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will realise that the criticisms which I feel bound to make and the support which I feel bound to give to the speech which the hon. Member for Burslem delivered earlier in the day are designed to render this Ministry more effective in promoting our cause and securing victory for our arms.

10.7 p.m.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I do not know whether the Parliamentary Secretary and the Lord Privy Seal have had a very pleasant day, but I am sure it will be agreed that we have had a very instructive and useful Debate. Dealing first of all with the B.B.C, in our view the Lord Privy Seal did not adequately explain why the Board of Governors has been dissolved. I have considered as carefully as I can what he said, and it remains my view that it was a wrong and unfortunate decision, which I hope the Government will soon put right. I hope that he and the Parliamentary Secretary will pay particular attention to the many suggestions that have been made by hon. Members in all quarters of the House with regard to the work of the B.B.C. in relation to broadcasting in general and particularly with regard to broadcasting to enemy countries. I am sure the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) was right when he said that we should have a 24-hour service of broadcasting to Germany. It would pay us to buy a station for that purpose.

I wish to devote the greater part of what I have to say to the Ministry of Information. The Minister said in another place recently that this is a war of ideals. So it is; we are going to destroy Hitlerism. One might almost call it a war of ideology, which we were so anxious to avoid. I prefer to call it a war of principle. Since the Nazis came into power they have shown that their foreign policy, domestic policy and their whole system is one of destroying morality and law, and we are trying to recreate in words the standards of morality and law without which a civilised existence is not possible. It follows that the task of stating our views and keeping the moral issue clear before our own people and the world is of supreme importance in winning the war.

This war will be won in the last resort, as most wars are won, by will power, that is to say, by organised, articulate, conscious and well-founded opinion. If that is true, then the Ministry of Information ought to be regarded as of very high importance. I believe that the Minister ought to be in the War Cabinet. His task is one in which his House is bound to take a deep and day-to-day interest. For these same reasons I regret very much that in the five weeks and three days of its existence the Ministry have, in my view—I say it with all sympathy for their trials—hardly begun their rightful task. They have hardly anything to show in the statement of our case to our own people here and to other countries and to enemy countries.

As has been said, the Ministry has attracted more denunciation during its short existence than any other Government institution of modern times. A good deal of that criticism, in my opinion, is unfair and has been directed to the wrong address. A good deal of the criticism in the House to-day has been directed to the wrong address. In particular I do not agree with my hon. Friend who suggested that it was really the officials who are to blame and not the Minister. If the plans of the Ministry are wrong, and I think they are in some regards, then I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal will agree that he who approved the plans is the man responsible for the mistakes. If there are too many officials, if the wrong men are appointed, it is the Minister who agreed to their appointment who should bear the responsibility, because he could have prevented it.

Mr. A. Edwards

If my hon. Friend is referring to me, then I would point out that I was referring entirely to the Parliamentary Secretary, who cannot in any way be held responsible.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, but I do not want it to be thought that this House can go back on its practice of not attacking civil servants and depart from the absolutely essential principle of ministerial responsibility, to which I, as an old civil servant, attach great importance. I want to be rather constructive than critical. I begin by saying that I think the mystical number of 999 has done a great deal of mischief. Of course there are economies and reorganisations to be made, there are cuts in personnel to be made. The Lord Privy Seal will be the first to agree that not everything he thought out is completely right, but the main trouble is not that the Ministry is too big, but that it is not doing its job; it is not that there is wasteful extravagance, but that we are not getting a return for the money that is being spent.

In that regard I was not greatly comforted by the speech of the Lord Privy Seal this afternoon. A good deal of it was devoted to news and censorship. He spoke of the new system which was being introduced as decentralisation, which would put everything right. It is true that it is this business of news and censorship which has bedevilled the whole of the Ministry. I believe that the Ministry since they came into office have done nothing but think about news and censorship, and in consequence they have never had time to think about the other parts of the task with which they are entrusted. I am afraid that the new decision which has been made is not really going to help. I rather think it is a step in the wrong direction. The Lord Privy Seal said that decentralisation is contrary to the lessons of the last war, as I understood him to expound it. I think it is contrary to the lessons of the last five weeks, and contrary to common sense.

I want to show why I think that is true. It was always certain that censorship was going to cause a great deal of trouble. In 1915, an American journalist, when the war was a year old, wrote an article in which he said that the British censorship at that moment was chaotic, political, discriminatory, destructive, unchivalrous, in effect anti-British, in effect pro-German, ludicrous, incompetent, incredible, and impertinent; and he produced concrete examples to justify every adjective he used. Most of the foreign journalists in London believe that they could use all those adjectives and produce examples to prove them now. When the war was two weeks old, the foreign journalists found themselves with hardly any news, with very bad communications, with interminable delays over the news they got, with contradictions in the censorship, with the whole of those difficulties complicated by the stop-go-stop technique in which the Ministry specialised so well. Therefore, it was not surprising that, when the war was two weeks old, out of 20 Scandinavian correspondents, 12 had left London, and of the remaining eight, seven had got orders to go. And it was the worse because of the contrast with Berlin, where there was no censorship, and where every means of communication was open; where they could not only telephone as they liked, but the German Government paid for the telephone when they used it.

That was a very serious situation, but most of the difficulty was not due to the Ministry of Information. It was due to other people. Take, for example, the most famous of all the censorship histories, the arrival of the British troops in France. Our whole Press was disorganised, the police raided newspaper offices and railway trains in order to stop our people knowing what newspapers in every neutral country had printed four days before. That was not due to the Ministry of Information. It was due to the Army Council and the personal initiative of the Secretary of State for War. The same is true with regard to communications. The Scandinavian journalists had no telephone, they had no post, the cable was overworked. Some of them tried to send their articles by letter-post. They found that the articles did not arrive. One of them, after elaborate inquiries, found that the post to Sweden was not going at all, because the Swedish ships to Gothenburg had been stopped, and the Post Office, in its wisdom, instead of sending the mails by ships to Bergen, had kept them for three weeks on the quay at Newcastle. That trouble was not due to the Ministry of Information, but to the Post Office.

The same is true of the news releases. Take the best story of the war—the bombing raid on the Kiel Canal on the second day of the war. That was a marvellous story. Told properly, it would have thrilled the world. It would have meant that we should have begun the war with a startling British success. It would have had a moral effect of supreme importance, because it would have convinced people on the one essential point that we were resolute to win the war and we were going to win it. But what happened? The Air Ministry held the story back; when they let it out, they garbled it; they would not allow the pilots to go "on the air"; and they made obstructions and difficulties of every kind, and for no reason whatever that was worth while. That was not the fault of the Ministry of Information. It was the fault of the Air Ministry.

In all these cases of censorship, communications and release of news great improvements have been made. Why? Because the Ministry of Information have made great efforts to bring them about. Because the Minister of Information has battled with the Service Departments and with the Post Office and with those who have caused the trouble. I wish the action which has been taken in this regard had been swifter, more vigorous and more decisive. I wish it had been imbued with a more vivid sense of the national interest, of which the Minister is the representative and the guardian. All these censorship, news release and communication questions could have been and ought to have been cleared up in a fortnight's time, if the Minister had been stronger and more insistent, if he had been in the War Cabinet, if his position had been better. But it remains true that the improvement was due to the Minister and what he did. That is why I greatly regret, now, the decision to transfer all responsibility for these matters from the Minister back to the Service Departments. I am sure that decision is unnecessary and wrong and I ask the Government to reconsider it.

Everybody admits that, physically, for the distribution of news and censorship, the plan of the Lord Privy Seal was right. There must be centralisation under one roof. I think that corresponds to an administrative reality of great importance. I am sure that these new arrangements are going to make things worse. We all know the attitude of war departments towards the release of news. The best example of all comes from the last war. A wounded man home from France told Harold Spender that the artillery were firing only four shells a day. Harold Spender was not allowed to print that, in case the Germans should find out. It was obviously of prime national importance that the people here should know that only four shells per day were being fired. If the Minister of Information is to wash his hands of these news releases, if he is not to fight to get things out, who is to do so? There will not be anybody and I am sure that in that regard we shall suffer.

Similarly with regard to communications there is still a great deal to be done. My hon. Friend the Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Ridley) spoke of the organisation of more air-mail services to neutral countries. Of course it would be worth while spending money on daily services to Scandinavia, Spain and other places and probably you could do it without any expenditure at all. At least you would be getting the British newspapers across and as my hon. Friend said, that is the best way of carrying our message to other lands. Thirdly, I think the conception of decentralisation is dangerous in this way. At present the war Departments and other Departments of State follow varying practice. They have all what they call Press sections, or public relations sections. The Foreign Office have moved their entire section to the Ministry of Information and, under Mr. Charles Peake, it works under that roof. The others only send junior officials. It is clear that the Foreign Office system is the right one. The journalists have to be there to get the news; they have to be there to get the censorship. Surely it is much better if they can get there as well expert comment from the responsible official of each Department. If Mr. Peake wants to send them to see the Minister or some special official of the Foreign Office, he can do so easily, but that is an exceptional thing. In the ordinary way, journalists who want to see Mr. Peake or his subordinates can do so there. Why should not Room 90 of the Admiralty be under the roof of the Ministry of Information too.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will carefully consider whether it is not right to go back on the decision which has been made and try to concentrate these public relations departments under the roof of the Ministry of Information, and whether he will not insist that he and his Minister should have the right to do battle with the Service Departments for news and the right to intervene, I hope with decisive effect, in securing better communications and better facilities to journalists in every way. I hope that action will be taken and that once for all in a very short time this whole miserable business of the censorship and news releases will be wiped out of the pre-occupations of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary and that they will settle down with adequate time for mature reflection to do the rest of their work.

What is happening now? The Minister made a very frank speech in the House of Lords. He said he had not been able to get on with the jobs that he wanted to do because of the bothers that he had had with the Press. As a result of that I think some panic decisions have been taken. An hon. Member gave examples of the futility of regional organisations as run at present. I agree that it has been entirely futile, but that does not mean, and I am sure he does not think it means, that the whole thing was necessarily wrong in conception. In the last war we had a very considerable measure of local organisation, and I believe the Lord Privy Seal was right when he thought the Ministry of Information ought to have a regional organisation, but I do not think that he was right in the argument that he used about it to-day. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt). He really argued that the machinery was devised for conditions of air bombardment, it has gone wrong because there has been no bombing, and since there is no bombing, it has had nothing to do and it should be wound up.

Sir S. Hoare

No, I never said that. I hope the regional organisation will continue to exist.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I am very glad, but it remains true that officials have received notice and, as I understand, an intimation was sent out to civil commissioners that the local committees were to be broken up. In any case, I am certain that the answer to the Lord Privy Seal is that which was made by my hon. Friend, that he has any amount to do, that it ought to be much easier to do it because there is no bombing, and that the Ministry have never asked the Regional Organisation to do anything, and that is why it has remained in the condition of futility in which it is to-day. That organisation was intended to get up meetings, to organise lectures, to provide cinema shows, to distribute pamphlets and leaflets and so on. It has done nothing, for the reason that no speakers have been sent to meetings, no films have been offered and there has been no literature to distribute. I am afraid that is in a considerable measure true of foreign publicity as well. There is a good deal that is wrong with the general administration and organisation of the Department, though it has been very greatly exaggerated in many quarters.

I will give one example. I was told by someone, who I thought was bound to know, a story how an eminent economist, who was also a good journalist, had been taken from his journalistic job and put into the production department. He had been there for four weeks and his only production was a weekly letter to air raid wardens, and it was a very bad letter at that. I inquired into the facts. He had been invited by the Ministry to write in his spare time a weekly survey of the war which it was believed would be used by provincial papers, weeklies, foreign papers perhaps, by Dominion and Colonial papers, and which they thought would serve a very useful purpose. It was a good idea. A few shillings were spent on typing and setting up examples, but the man himself never received a penny of pay. That is an example of the exaggeration which there has been, and I think it is only just to the Ministry to say so.

At the same time, I am sure that there are things wrong. I am sure that there has been a tendency to think that material should be produced inside the Ministry, whether pamphlets or films or what not, which could really be much better produced by experts outside. You really want "go-getters" to do some jobs. I think there has been real, administrative inefficiency. I could tell the Parliamentary Secretary stories of appointments and dismissals which would disgrace any organisation, whether a Government Department or other, and I am sure the facts are right. I am sure that some people are in the wrong jobs. I think there has not been enough appreciation of the fact that publicity is a very specialised thing and that you need a good many publicity experts to carry it through. I hope that all those considerations will be borne in mind when the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary conduct this inquiry of which the Lord Privy Seal spoke this afternoon. I hope they are going to prune a little, although I do not think there is a very big field. There are 190 responsible people, after all, and you must have messengers and typists, and there are masses of typing and roneo work to be done, so there is not a very big field for pruning, but I hope he will prune the personnel if it is required.

But much more important still is to see that the right men are in the right job, and I come back to what I said before. Give them something to do, start them on their proper jobs. My impression, after keeping in as close contact as I could with the Ministry for five weeks, is that the real cause of the unrest and of the difficulties is that there has not been that driving decision at the top without which any enterprise is bound to pay. I think they could have made far more of the documents about the outbreak of the war, absolutely damning for Hitler, and I wish they had been published as they were going on. It would be absolutely damning for Hitler if we had put it across to neutrals as we might have done. I think we have a lot of urgent tasks awaiting. All that used to be done by Charles Masterman and his organisation in the last war has hardly been touched.

Our own people do not really know what it is they are fighting for or what it is they are fighting against. How many trade unions know what happens to a trade union under the Nazi regime? Sir Walter Citrine could tell us, and I wish the Ministry would ask him to do so. They could do the same with the cooperatives, with the churches. We could bring home to our people what has happened to the Czechs under Nazi rule. We could make them and the world understand what Goering's knock-out blow has meant to Poland. Why do we not collect everybody who was in Poland—the diplomats, the journalists, the nurses, the visitors—get their information, put it together, make a picture of that absolute annihilation which follows a modern air attack against a smaller State, and make every other country in Europe understand that if we do not win, their independence is absolutely at Hitler's mercy because they will not be able to last a day. These are opportunities which could be and ought to be taken. I end as I began by saying that this war, if it is to be won, will be won by informed, instructed, articulate opinion, the opinion of the free peoples of the world, and I hope that the Ministers will resolve from now onwards to create and lead that opinion in this country and elsewhere.

10.35 p.m.

Sir E. Grigg

I should like to begin by thanking the hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) for a most valuable and constructive speech. I listened to every word of it, and I hope that often in the course of our discussions we may have speeches like it. It was full of ideas about the organisation and what the organisation can do. The rest of the Debate has certainly been critical. I listened to a speech from the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) in which he seemed to think that the Government held some power of control over opinion in this country, and that they could muzzle the Press. I should have thought that the example of the criticisms of the Ministry of Information was sufficient answer to that. Indeed, this Debate has been sufficient evidence of the very salutary fact that, whatever else war regulations may have done to the liberties of this country, they have certainly not affected the liberty of criticism in this House. I think I have heard re-echoed in the House to-day almost every criticism that I have heard elsewhere, except one, and that was a far-fetched one. There was an old lady who made a complaint to the Ministry which has not been referred to to-day. It was about the butter supply to General Goering. Headings appeared in a newspaper which she had read saying, "Butter for General Goering." Then in brackets were the words, "Issued by the Ministry of Information." She wrote an indignant communication to ask why we were issuing butter to Germany.

In addition to the speech which has just fallen from the hon. Member for Derby, we have had a number of speeches for which I would like to express my gratitude, such as, those made by the hon. and gallant Member for Dover (Major Astor), the hon. Member for West Lewisham (Mr. Brooke), the hon. Member for Claycross (Mr. Ridley), the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. A. Edwards), the hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Poole), and others. I found all those speeches very helpful. The main criticism of the Ministry, however, fell from the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate, and I would like to refer to his speech. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal dealt largely with the past. I should like to deal with the part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which referred to the present and to the tasks of the future which the Ministry has to undertake. Broadly speaking, his criticism was on three grounds. He dealt With news, with organisation, and with the work which that organisation has to do. I can, perhaps, best wind up the discussion by referring on broad lines to these three things.

I should like to make it clear at the very start that I am not going to speak to-night as a penitent in a white sheet for the Ministry or for the staff of the Ministry, which I represent. Much of the criticism to which I have listened has been salutary and sound; much of it, I think, is deserved. I entered the Ministry as an absolutely independent person a fortnight ago, and I have had better opportunities of judging both of its organisation and its personnel than anybody else in this House. I hope the House will do me the credit of trusting me to give a perfectly straightforward opinion on a matter of such importance as the organisation and personnel of the Ministry, and all I can say is that I am satisfied that this Ministry is necessary, and, in the main, rightly conceived. I am also satisfied that it contains a very large number of the right kind of men, and that it is quite possible to revise the personnel where it is unsuited to the task which it has to undertake. But I hope that criticisms of the personnel as such will not be repeated in this House, because, after all, those people, whether attacked upon this point or that, have simply taken up posts which were offered to them. They may not be in all cases well suited for those posts, but there is no reason why they should not think that themselves, and they are public-spirited and very widely experienced people. They cannot speak for themselves, and I hope that all criticism in future will be directed at the responsible Ministers, and not at those who are really their sub- ordinates and cannot speak for themselves.

Now I come to the main count in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I could not agree with him more than I do that it must be the task of the Government in this great struggle to give the country and the nation, so far as it can, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The trouble has been that in the country at the present time, in addition to other restrictions, there has been a feeling that the truth was being kept back. That really has been the trouble. Of course, hon. Members will recall that that was our experience in the first weeks of the last war, and I think in the main the reason was the same, that we have had to go through a period of suspense in which there was not much news. People were longing to hear something, and there really was nothing to tell, except movements of troops, which had to be concealed. It will be found that the same criticisms were made in this House in the early days of the last war. But, of course, at the present moment the situation is really graver still. Look what has happened in this country. The whole of a democracy accustomed to absolute freedom in its way of life has been put under war-time regulations which take away light, which take away liberty of movement, which take away recreation, and which, in many cases, take away people's jobs, and inflict upon them the great hardship of unemployment. In this time of trouble our people must cling to two things as the Ark of the Covenant: one is their right to know the truth about the war in which they are engaged, and the other is their right to comment with absolute freedom on that truth. Those are the Ark of the Covenant, and I want to assure the House that no effort has been spared by the Ministry, or will be spared, to see that the country has those two absolutely essential things.

The hon. Member for Derby thought we have been premature in transferring the responsibility for news from the Ministry of Information to the Service Departments. I was in favour of the transfer. I think that in all organisations responsibility should go where power resides, and the power to give out news must reside with the fighting Departments. They are the people who are in possession of and are dealing with the facts which the country wants to know. Therefore, if the power is there, it is best to arrange that the responsibility should go there.

I recognise fully the force of a great deal that the right hon. Gentleman said, but I suggest that we have to proceed experimentally. If this system does not work well, we must try another. On the whole, I hope that the new plan is going to work more satisfactorily than the other. In any case, I hope that we shall be absolved from much of the criticism that is still being heard. It is a hopeless position to have no power to get a thing done and yet to be almost universally criticised for not doing it. That was the position of the Ministry of Information. It was an unsound position, constitutionally. Even so distinguished and well-informed a person as the Leader of the Liberal Opposition gave an example of that in the House yesterday. Referring to the denials and counter-denials that happened over the decorations of certain members of the Air Force he said: May I ask him"— He was addressing my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air— in view of the denials, counter-denials and counter-counter-denials of the Ministry of Information."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th October, 1939; col. 185, Vol. 352.] They were not our denials. The right hon. Gentleman must have known that none of these were denials or counter-denials of the Ministry of Information.

Mr. Mander

Issued by it.

Sir E. Grigg

They had no, responsibility. They did not even control the issue of them. When hon. or right hon. Members allocate blame they should be careful as to where the responsibility lies. I hope that since the responsibility is to be where the power resides, the system will work more satisfactorily than in the past. It probably will do so, because we are about to have news. Hitherto, the Germans have had command of the news. They have been making the news. The news has been in the East of Europe. Clearly, that is about to change. The time may be coming very soon when the people of this country will realise that there is plenty of news. So much for the broad question of news.

I should like to say a few words about two other points to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, namely, organisation and the work of the Ministry. First, as regards organisation. I have listened to all that has been said upon that subject to-day, and I listened very carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman said. In the criticism of the Ministry certain conclusions have been running through many speeches and through many minds. If you say that the Ministry is all wrong, you may mean one of two things, either that the plan, the organisation, the machinery is wrong, or that the whole machinery is all right and that it is simply the wrong people who have been put in to work the machines. Both those things have been said, and I think they are often confused. Let me deal with the two points separately, because they are quite separate. First, in regard to machinery. I can see ways in which the machinery needs to be tightened up but, on the whole, I think the machinery is good and soundly planned.

There were only two alternatives before those who had to consider whether or not we should set up a Ministry of Information in time of war. One alternative was to leave the whole business of publicity, news and everything else to the separate Departments, to say not only in regard to news that the fighting Departments should issue theirs, but if, say, the Ministry of Agriculture wants the people to dig up land, it must do its own publicity, and that if the Ministry of Food wanted the people of this country to eat certain food it must do its own publicity. If hon. Members will only consider, they will realise how impossible publicity like that would be, left to a whole range of Departments, all carrying on in their own way, with their own staffs. When hon. Members realise how extravagant that system would be, they will also realise that those who planned the Ministry of Information, broadly in its present form, were right in doing so. I have no doubt that there must be a Ministry of Information or of publicity in time of war. It is a far better system than trying to keep a hand on the separate Departments. I am convinced that this Ministry is essential and that it has been rightly planned.

There has been the difficulty of a certain gap between ideas and action. The ideas have been there, but somehow we have lacked the kind of men or the assistance to get action on those ideas quickly and effectively. I think the main point of criticism which came from opposite benches was: "Why have you not had more people who knew about publicity and whose experience has been in publicity?" There has been real force in that criticism, and I assure hon. Members that we have been engaged in drastic revision of the machinery in order to get action quickly on ideas. I hope that we shall soon get the machinery working smoothly, tuned up and well run-in on that matter. As to regional committees, on which I was asked a question, the notice that was given to the committees was merely in order to enable reorganisation and economy to be effected without delay, but there is no intention of abolishing the regional organisation altogether. I do not think that we shall require very much paid work, but we shall want all the help we can get in the committees and in the organisation. I would say, broadly, since the time is short, that that is the idea of the regional organisation.

Mr. Poole

Seeing that information is being taken away from the Ministry, what will be the function of the area committees? You will not have any information for them to disseminate.

Sir E. Grigg

I should be very glad to discuss that point with the hon. Member, but I cannot do so now, because time is short.

Mr. Poole

You have till 11.30.

Sir E. Grigg

I will come back to that point. I have dealt with the machinery. Now let me come to the important question of personnel. There has been a tremendous amount of criticism about the personnel. I am willing to admit that I have found, upon a study of the personnel of the Ministry, a good many people in places which I thought other people might be better able to fill. But I hope that hon. Members will not think that the appointments were made from any motive which this House would not regard as sound. I believe that the people concerned were picked because they had had the kind of experience required. Where those appointments are wrong is very largely because the very nature of the qualities required for the posts—[Interruption.] They were picked by the nuclear staff of which I gave the names a fortnight ago.

Mr. A. Edwards

Was the register of the Ministry of Labour consulted?

Sir E. Grigg

My right hon. Friend tells me that it was. The members of the staff of the Ministry cannot defend themselves, and I hope that allegations of a very sweeping character against them will cease. Many of the allegations that have been made are so vague that they might refer to any of a large number of people, and I do not believe that hon. Members realise sometimes the pain and anxiety that are caused. This detracts considerably from the efficiency of the Ministry, which is a very important consideration. The hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) asked why the directors' salaries had not been fixed. The answer is that the directors have all handed in their resignations, pending reorganisation. Until the reorganisation is, completed, and we have decided what the directorate is to be, it is obviously no use talking about the salaries.

Mr. Lyons

Could not the amounts they have received up to date be published?

Sir E. Grigg

I am not sure that they have received anything up to date. A great many have done months of work without any remuneration.

Mr. Lyons

Are not those the directors who are marked "unpaid"?

Sir E. Grigg

I will certainly give the hon. and learned Member an answer if he will put down a question.

Mr. Lyons

I merely comment on the fact that in the document supplied two days ago a number of the directors are marked "unpaid," and others are marked "rate not fixed." There must have been a rate fixed when they were appointed.

Sir E. Grigg

The answer I have given, twice now, is "No." In many respects the personnel requires revision. My Noble Friend and I and those who are carrying out this work are not going to be guided in our considerations about personnel by any considerations whatever except that of getting the best men we can find for the work. I hope the House will trust us to do that.

With regard to expenditure, I think I should be deceiving the House if I suggested that it was going to be reduced. Certain reductions are going to be made, but there may be increases in other directions. In certain directions the Ministry is understaffed, but it is overstaffed in others. In 1918 on this work we were spending £100,000 a month—well over £1,000,000 a year. We are not spending anything like that now. I hope hon. Members will always bear in mind that we are competing against a German organisation which has 20,000 men and women on its staff, and which spends £20,000,000 yearly at par exchange. There will be no waste—that I can promise—but we should not suggest stinting expenditure on an essential war service.

Finally, I come to the work of the Ministry. There has been a good deal of criticism of such work as the Ministry has already done. That is concentrated, among other things, upon posters. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) was very critical of the posters. I must quote for him an opinion which only shows how difficult it is to arrive at any clear idea whether things are good or not. These are the facts which have been obtained—

It being Eleven of the Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment lapsed, without Question put.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Captain Waterhouse."]

11.1 p.m.

Sir E. Grigg

I must not keep the House longer than I can help, but I should like to say a word about this final matter before we adjourn. I was dealing with the subject of posters. These are the facts. From 3,500 letters received from factories regarding the posters which we sent out—they were analysed—it was found that out of 408 letters taken at random, 406 were favourable and only two were unfavourable, and that 80 per cent. of the whole 3,500 asked for a further supply of war posters of the same kind. That only shows that criticism which seems to be very strong in one part of the country simply does not exist in another.

Mr. A. Edwards

What does the hon. Gentleman mean by "favourable"; favourable to the distribution of them?

Sir E. Grigg

Yes, and asking for more.

Mr. Edwards

But not expressing a view as to quality.

Sir E. Grigg

Yes, Sir. May I read some of the comments? They are as follow: They are very helpful in creating the spirit we all desire to foster in these days. We think your Department is to be congratulated on the straightforward simplicity and altogether effectiveness of the posters. We thoroughly commend this idea, and may we suggest you keep the colours bright these days. We wish to congratulate you on this effort. We appreciate the pesters and agree with you with regard to the cheerfulness which is necessary. I have many more, but these show at any rate that one department of the work of the Ministry is well appreciated in the factories where the posters have been displayed. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said just now—that we are only at the beginning of our task, and that we have perhaps been a little slow in getting down to the essentials. I believe that 99 per cent. of the people of this country believe in their hearts that we are engaged in the greatest crusade in history; I believe that is how the vast majority of the people of this country regard this war. While material warfare is of enormous importance, it is very likely the imponderables which will prevail in the end, and it is the imponderables that this Ministry has to find. We have to keep the meaning of this crusade clear before the minds of our own people, and we have also to make its meaning, its sincerity and its strength clear to all other peoples throughout the world. This is—and I am sure all Members of the House will agree—our cause, the proudest of all human causes, and one in which all humanity shares. Therefore, in the words of Wordsworth's sonnet: We have great allies; Our friends are exaltations, agonies, And love, and man's unconquerable mind. It is in the realm of the mind that this Ministry is waging this war and its battlefield is the whole world. I can assure hon. Members that the full magnitude and importance of the Ministry's task is realised by those who have been charged with the honour and responsibility of carrying it out.

Mr. Mander

May I ask whether the members of the various Departments are to remain, as many of them are at present, in the Ministry of Information, or are they going back to their various Departments? There seems to be some uncertainty about it. Will the Minister also answer this question. He said there were 200 lecturers organised by the regional organisation and that the list was provisional and incomplete. Would he be good enough to consider publishing a list when it is complete, because there are many people who would like an opportunity of seeing what type of person is being employed?

Sir E. Grigg

With regard to the news department, I think certain individuals have gone back to their separate Departments, and so far as I know the others are at the university. Mr. Clark, the head of the news department, is responsible to Sir Walter Monckton. With regard to the question of lecturers, I should not like at this stage to publish a list, and I can explain why. The list is provisional and incomplete. There have been many people who volunteered, and it might appear that there are other people who are equally well or more qualified to give their services in this direction. Although I should be glad to put on record the names of those who volunteered to lecture for us, I do not think a list of qualified lecturers is desirable.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Seven Minutes after Eleven o'Clock.