HC Deb 11 June 1940 vol 361 cc1140-2
68. Sir Richard Acland

asked the Minister of Information why there was inserted in the 21st May issue of the Ministry's publication. Empire Press Notes, a strong anti-Russian article; and whether he will take steps to dismiss from the service of the Ministry the individual or individuals who were responsible?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information (Mr. Harold Nicolson)

My right hon. Friend cannot accept the hon. Baronet's description of the article in question, which is mainly concerned with the oppression of the Poles under German rule, but deals also in certain paragraphs with conditions in Soviet-occupied territory. It is, of course, contrary to the policy of His Majesty's Government to initiate publicity hostile to neutral states, and my right hon. Friend would prefer that the paragraphs in question had been worded otherwise. My right hon. Friend has given instructions which should prevent any similar happening in future. The answer to the last part of the Question is in the negative.

Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

Is there any reason why the attitude of any Minister should be pro-Russian at the present time?

69. Sir R. Acland

asked the Minister of Information upon what principles there was cut from the 23rd May issue of the bulletin issued to many Empire newspapers by General News Services, London, a long extract from a recent speech by Mr. Jack Tanner; and whether he will take steps to dismiss from the service of the censorship department the individual or individuals responsible for making this cut?

Mr. Nicolson

Certain passages from a speech by Mr. Jack Tanner were inserted in the General News Service issue of the 30th May. They appeared to have been inserted in their context by the editor of the service for the sole purpose of casting disrepute upon the war effort of this country, and were cut accordingly. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

Sir R. Acland

Surely there must be some principles on which you can cut out of a verbatim report facts which can not be of any military value to the enemy? What are these principles, other than of military value, on which things can be cut?

Mr. Nicolson

The censorship of matter transmitted by mail abroad is exercised by virtue of warrants granted by the Crown which authorise the censorship of postal material. The principles on which censorship is exercised in such matters are settled by administrative decision, which, in the case of Press matter, is taken by my right hon. Friend.

Sir R. Acland

Are these principles published and available to us in any way? [Interruption.] I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on some future occasion.