HC Deb 20 January 1943 vol 386 cc203-4
43. Captain P. Macdonald

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the present approximate annual expenditure in publicising the Colonial Empire at home and overseas; and whether he has any plans for the early development and expansion of this work?

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Colonel Oliver Stanley)

Expenditure on information services in respect of the Colonial Empire is spread amongst various agencies, including the Colonial Office, Ministry of Information and the B.B.C. The amount could not be computed without an undue expenditure of labour, and no figure which could be given would reflect an accurate measure of the work being done. I fully recognise the urgent necessity for informing the public in this country and elsewhere about Colonial policy. I have given a good deal of personal thought to the matter, and have also had the advantage of consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Information. I have further plans under consideration which I hope to put into operation as soon as possible.

Mr. A. Bevan

Before any public money is spent on a subject of this sort, should not an appropriate Committee of the House of Commons have an opportunity of considering it, because money spent in this way can easily be used for propaganda for a political party as well as for the Empire?

Colonel Stanley

The hon. Gentleman need not be so suspicious. Most of the money is expended by the Ministry of Information, whose Vote comes up in the ordinary course before the House. Similarly, any money spent by the Colonial Office will be subject to the hon. Gentleman's scrutiny at the appropriate time.

Mr. Bevan

After you have spent it.

Mr. Mathers

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman try to expedite this matter because of the increased interest in it in the public mind?

Colonel Stanley

Yes, Sir, I fully realise the increased interest, and that that calls for increased publicity.