HC Deb 04 February 1942 vol 377 cc1168-9
24. Mr. Wilfrid Roberts

asked the Minister of Information why the assistance to enable "Picture Post" to circulate in the Middle East on equal terms with other papers has been withdrawn?

22. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Minister of Information why the export subsidy for the despatch to the Middle East of "Picture Post" was withdrawn?

Mr. Bracken

The Ministry of Information, on the advice of its representatives in various parts of the world, subsidises the export of newspapers and periodicals which are deemed to be useful for the purpose of informing the peoples of the countries concerned as to the significance of the British war effort. My advisers in the Middle East have reported that "Picture Post" is no longer useful to them. My advisers in Switzerland and Sweden tell me that "Picture Post" is a satisfactory vehicle for British publicity. I have acted on the advice of the Ministry of Information's representatives in the Middle East, and I shall continue to act on the advice given by the Ministry's representatives in Switzerland and Sweden. I must point out that there is nothing to prevent the ordinary commercial export of the magazine to any country if it should be so desired.

Mr. Garro Jones

Is it a fact that a subsidy is given to that elegant journal called "Vogue," and for whose benefit is that journal subsidised?

Mr. Bracken

I can assure my hon. Friend that "Vogue" is not sent to the Middle East, but some mission abroad said that "Vogue" would be a satisfactory medium for British publicity. When I got to hear of it, I ordered that it should be cancelled at once, because I do not think that is the sort of virile publication which would have an influence on the war effort of the country at the present time.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

May I ask what form this subsidy to "Picture Post" takes and what amount is involved? I should like to say that the right hon. Gentleman's reply will give considerable dissatisfaction in the East.

Mr. Bracken

All I can say is that the origin of this subsidy goes back to the beginning of the war. Our representatives abroad, in their enthusiasm, thought we ought to have a large number of British papers on sale everywhere, but we progressively cut down the subsidies until at the present time not more than four or five papers, I think, are subsidised in the Middle East or other parts of the world. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton (Mr. Craven-Ellis), I do not know what the cost is, but it is a fairly heavy charge to export these papers to the Middle East, and they arrive three months after they are published.

Mr. Mander

Has the suspension of the subsidies anything to do with criticism of the Government?

Mr. Bracken

I can assure the hon. Member—

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Sorensen.