HC Deb 26 January 1944 vol 396 cc668-9
13. Sir Leonard Lyle

asked the Minister of Information what is the present staff employed in the postal censorship and to what extent it would be reduced if its functions were limited to dealing with information of use to the enemy, sabotage, espionage, the conduct of economic warfare and currency restrictions; and whether he will consider effecting such reduction at an early date.

Mr. Bracken

The number of staff employed by the Postal and Telegraph Censorship Department at home and overseas is at present 11,768. A continuous effort is being made to reduce the staff. Last year nearly 1,000 persons were released. But the limitation of the Department's activities to those listed by my hon. Friend would make no significant contribution towards a further reduction.

Sir L. Lyle

Is it not a fact that correspondence coming from abroad is very often opened, although it may have nothing to do with the Defence of the Realm, copied and sent on to the Government Department concerned, and is not that an infringement of the rights of the public?

Mr. Bracken

If what my hon. Friend said were accurate, I should say it might be regarded superficially as an interference with the rights of the public, but I must tell my hon. Friend that it is necessary to make test examinations of all types of letters. Let me say a further thing to him. Censors are, of course, always unnatural, but they play a vital part in our war effort, and I can give him this consolation, that it is one of the first of our peace aims to get rid of them.