HC Deb 17 February 1944 vol 397 cc350-1
Mr. Beverley Baxter

(by private notice) asked the Secretary of State for War for what reason are newspaper correspondents' despatches in Italy to be held up by sending them to Naples for censorship, and would the Minister explain what is meant by censoring for policy.

The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Grigg)

I have at present no information beyond the reports that I have seen in this morning's papers, but I am making inquiries.

Mr. Baxter

Will my right hon. Friend, in sending his inquiries to the military authorities, express to them the very strong feeling of the House that for military authorities to go beyond security, and dictate to correspondents their interpretation of events, is something which neither the House nor the nation will tolerate?

Sir J. Griģģ

I do not think that military commanders on the spot are unaware of the modern form of the old tag, "Ruat coelum fiat publicitas."

Mr. Bellenger

Has the right hon. Gentleman read that General Alexander stated that some of these restrictions placed upon Press correspondents are due to a request from London? Did that request originate in his Department, or did it come from a higher authority?

Sir J. Griģģ

That is one of the pieces of information in the morning newspapers which I did not see.

Mr. Stephen

On a point of Order. Is the Secretary of State in Order in giving an answer in a foreign language?

Mr. Shinwell

Are we to understand that, having made his inquiries into the substance of the Question of the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter), the right hon. Gentleman will report to the House very soon?

Sir J. Griģģ

It is always open to the hon. Member to repeat his Question when I have the information. I will let him know when I have it.

Commander Locker-Lampson

For the benefit of old Etonians, can the tag be translated?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Can the right hon. Gentleman give a reply to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger)?

Sir J. Griģģ

I am unwilling to go beyond what I have said. I have no information beyond what has appeared in the newspapers but I am making inquiries.