HC Deb 25 November 1941 vol 376 cc578-9
11. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements are made for journalists and photographers to accompany Army units on active operations against the enemy; and whether any similar procedure is adopted to that employed by the German army whereby journalists and photographers are incorporated in the ranks of the army for the purpose of recording operations, either to be utilised in instruction of troops in tactics or by way of making documentary films for release to the general public?

Captain Margesson

Public relations units are incorporated in every field force for the sole purpose of assisting in every way possible accredited Press and publicity personnel to cover active operations. The German system of enlisting soldier reporters has not been adopted in this country, as it is thought that the present system by which newspapers appoint their own war correspondents is more likely to meet the needs of a free Press. Official cameramen and photographers are, however, incorporated in the Army and hold military rank, and their number is now being considerably increased. They are reinforced in their work by the accredited cameramen of the newsreel companies. Photographic material taken in a theatre of war is used both for instructional purposes and for the making of documentary films. All uncensored material is released to the Press and newsreel companies through the Ministry of Information.

Mr. Bellenger

Although it may be preferable for the Press to make their own arrangements, is the Minister aware that facilities are not often given by the Army for the Press to take the material they desire, which, presumably, they would submit through the usual channels to the Censor? Does he not think that there is room for considerable improvement in the present system?

Captain Margesson

All these things are, of course, capable of improvement, but I was not aware of any real outcry that the Press were not receiving adequate facilities.