HC Deb 11 April 1940 vol 359 cc700-1
48. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps he is taking to ensure that advantage is not being taken or confusion of thought created in certain cases where members of the Government Agricultural Publicity and Intelligence Committee are also editors of so-called independent news sheets?

The Minister of Agriculture (Colonel Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith)

There is no ground for the suggestion that advantage of the kind indicated is or could be taken. Nor do I see how confusion of thought could arise in the minds of anyone who understands the purpose and functions of the Publicity Committee, which advises me as to the best way in which to communicate information and advice in regard to the food production campaign to the agricultural community.

Mr. De la Bère

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend appreciate the importance of separating the true from the false and the real from the unreal? Perhaps my right hon. Friend will be good enough to confer with me afterwards.

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I shall be glad to do so.

Mr. Garro Jones

What is the secretary of the Farmers' Union to do when his duty as a member of this committee requires him to extol the Government's policy and his duty to the farmers requires him to criticise it?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

His duty does not require him to extol it at all. He can take his own line on any given subject.

53. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will state, in connection with the Publicity Committee of his Department, the exact relationship between this committee and the news sheet which is issued twice weekly by the National Farmers' Union?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

My advisory committee on publicity has no responsibility for, or connection with, the news sheet issued by the National Farmers' Union. I understand that this news sheet has been issued for nearly 20 years.

Mr. De la Bère

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that the matter cannot be so lightly dismissed? Perhaps he will kindly confer with me afterwards?