HC Deb 29 June 1944 vol 401 cc788-90
39. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in order to counter the propaganda from Germany, he will consider authorising the issue of weekly figures of casualties in Southern England caused by flying bombs; and if he can also give the total casualties since this indiscriminate form of bombing was started, to date.

Mr. H. Morrison

I appreciate my hon. and gallant Friend's point, but I have also to take into account the question whether the publication of figures will give useful information to the enemy. I can only say at present that I will give very careful consideration to the question of publishing figures of casualties.

Sir T. Moore

While appreciating my right hon. Friend's caution, may I ask whether the Government have any other plans to counter this lying propaganda?

Mr. Morrison

I can only say that I have made two statements and I do not think I have anything further to say at the moment. I do not necessarily rule out my hon. Friend's point. I only say that it wants thinking about from all points of view.

Sir Hugh O'Neill

In view of the fact that casualties from air raids have been published regularly each month, would it not give a wrong impression and lead people to believe that the damage was far worse than it is, if suddenly the publication of casualties were stopped?

Mr. Morrison

That is certainly a relevant consideration which will be fully taken in mind.

Mr. G. Strauss

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that if the figures are not published there is a tendency to exaggerate the damage and casualties caused by any incident, and that it is desirable to correct that by an official statement?

Mr. Morrison

I will keep that in mind, but I do not want to give particular incidents and localities. I got into trouble with Clydeside about that once, and I have been careful ever since.

Commander Locker-Lampson

When an alert is sounded are workmen paid if they stop work?

Mr. Speaker

That is another question.

40. Captain Longhurst

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now in a position to relax the censorship on the localities mainly affected by flying bombs.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information (Mr. Thurtle)

I have been asked to reply. The answer is "No, Sir," My right hon. Friend is satisfied that there is at present good reason on security grounds for maintaining the existing rule.

Captain Longhurst

Is the Minister not aware that public morale is very much, I will not say undermined, but lowered, not so much by the bombs themselves, as by the secrecy which prevails about them, and that the public are not by any means satisfied because of this secrecy and absence of fair comment as to whether the character of the arrangements is adequate for the time which the Germans promise us may be coming shortly?

Mr. Thurtle

I would like to assure my hon. Friend that before the decision was reached every factor was given full and careful consideration. I would add that the position is not final and irrevocable. It may be that it will be reconsidered frequently, and the decision may be changed.

Sir H. Williams

What is the point of the policy of prohibiting the publication of the localities when every local newspaper at the week-end will have photographs of incidents which everybody knows are local? Is it not a complete farce?

Mr. Thurtle

I do not wish to enter into an argument on the matter, but there are very valid reasons for the present policy.

Sir Alfred Beit

Would not public morale be further stimulated if the percentage of bombs destroyed were given?