HC Deb 16 February 1944 vol 397 cc169-70
33. Mr. Tree

asked the Minister of Information whether a recent article in the Church of England newspaper calling for a fourth term for President Roosevelt and criticising the Governor of New York State was submitted to censorship.

The Minister of Information (Mr. Brendan Bracken)

No, Sir. An article of this kind is not subject to censorship. The newspaper that printed it is one of five Church of England newspapers and it has never claimed to be the official voice of the Church.

Mr. Tree

While reserving full rights to the Press to make what comments they will on political matters here and abroad, is the Minister aware that a certain amount of misapprehension has been caused in the United States by this particular article; and may I ask him if he is doing everything, through his information services there, to make clear in the United States that this particular newspaper is not the official organ of the Church of England?

Mr. Bracken

This is not exactly a function of the Government. The hon. Member's point was very well put by American newspapers, which have observed that ecclesiastical newspapers ought not to dabble in politics.

Mr. Pickthorn

Is it not peculiarly unfortunate, in view of this Question and answer, that, by a misprint on the Order Paper, this word "newspaper" appears with a small "n," which does give the impression that this is a Church of England newspaper in the sense of being managed by the Church of England?

Mr. Bracken

I am in the fortunate position that I do not have to set up the Order Paper, but let me point out to my hon. Friend, who apparently did not hear my answer, that I have said that this newspaper has no official connection with the Church of England.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that the people of this country have no intention of abandoning their right to express opinions about anything? Will he also make it clear that, on the other hand, we have no objection to the United States Press criticising; that whether we have any objection or not, they would take any opportunity of criticising the people of this country; that if they want to make suggestions, either about the Prime Minister or any other right hon. Gentleman opposite, they will do so, and that we have no objection to it?