HC Deb 08 October 1941 vol 374 cc967-8
20. Mr. Mort

asked the Minister of Information whether he has considered the photograph published in a national daily, a copy of which has been sent to him, of four Italian prisoners of war, arm-in-arm with three English girls, headed with the caption, "Girls English—Men Italian war prisoners"; and whether he will take steps to prevent further publications which have an evil effect upon our men serving abroad and give the enemy an opportunity of using it for propaganda?

Mr. Bracken

The Ministry of Information have not, of course, assisted the distribution of this photograph in any way. But I am afraid that to accept the hon. Member's suggestion would be to abandon the present basis of censorship which allows freedom of publication except on grounds of security.

Mr. Mort

Are we to understand that the Minister had no control over the publication of these photographs, and that they were published without his knowledge?

Mr. Bracken

Certainly, they were published without my knowledge. The newspapers do not bring to me every day all the photographs taken in this country.

Mr. Hannah

Ought not the Government to take steps to stop this sort of thing?

Mr. Bracken

No, Sir, the Government ought not to take steps to stop it. The freedom of the Press is as important as the freedom of Parliament, and I think it would be a great mistake for the Government to take steps to interfere with it.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Have any steps been taken with regard to the distribution of this photograph in Italy?

Mr. Bracken

No, Sir.

Mr. Mander

Is the Minister aware that it was published in the United States, where it led to a good deal of misunderstanding?

Mr. Bracken

I dare say, but the publication of this photograph is a matter of taste, and I am not the corrector of taste in this country.