HC Deb 13 March 1940 vol 358 cc1185-6
59. Dr. Little

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that on the day of the grounding of the "Ulster Queen" on her voyage to Belfast from Liverpool, the Belfast evening newspaper had particulars ready for the Press early in the forenoon to assure the relatives of the passengers and crew that all were safe, but publication was disallowed by the censorship authorities until one o'clock the following morning, while in Dublin an account of the mishap to the vessel appeared in the evening papers and was also broadcast from Athlone on the day of the accident; and whether, in future, when such information is available which is not calculated to enlighten the enemy, he will permit its publication at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Shakespeare

Press messages regarding the grounding of the "Ulster Queen" which had been submitted for censorship were not allowed to be published, on grounds of security, until it was known that salvage efforts had been abandoned. All the messages were released shortly before midnight on the day they were received. The Admiralty was aware that publication took place in Eire, but to have released the news in England would have given confirmation of the report and drawn attention to it. It is the policy of the Admiralty to permit the publication of information at the earliest possible moment, provided it is not likely to assist the enemy.

Dr. Little

I wonder whether the Admiralty have any of the milk of human kindness. Think of all these people all that time, a day and a night, wanting news but getting none, while the information was in Belfast all the time. It is a scandal. There was nothing in the information that would have been of use to the enemy.