HC Deb 08 March 1948 vol 448 cc800-1
78. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether it was with his knowledge and consent that the course for speakers for the Central Office of Information organised by that office and held on 26th and 27th February, 1948, at 6, Carlton House Terrace, included Labour Party propaganda; and whether he will take steps to prevent further such abuses.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance (Mr. Steele)

Among the background material about the insurance schemes collected for these speakers there were three guides to the various Acts published by the Labour Party, and a booklet issued under the auspices of the "News Chronicle" newspaper. These were included on account of the factual and expository character of their contents. If there are any other publications of this nature sponsored by the hon. Member's party, I shall be happy to add them to the material supplied to these speakers.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that only Labour Party publications and one "News Chronicle" publication were added to the official documentation? Is he aware that any confidence of the public in the impartiality of the Central Office of Information must necessarily be prejudiced if they are used as a vehicle for conveying party propaganda?

Mr. Steele

We did not know of any other pamphlets. These were of a simple explanatory nature. The other side of the House has usually argued that these were accepted by all political parties. I do not think this pamphlet ought to be the subject of criticism.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that a pamphlet on the National Health Service Act, by the Minister of Health, can be regarded as non-controversial?

Mr. Steele

If the hon. Gentleman can tell us of any other pamphlet which has been published by his own party we should be prepared to consider it.

Mr. Beswick

Would my hon. Friend say why there was not included in the propaganda the speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson), in which he said that this insurance scheme had been prematurely introduced?

Mr. Erroll

What steps did the Parliamentary Secretary take to find out whether there were any Conservative pamphlets on this subject.

Mr. Keeling

Can the Minister say from what source speakers were recruited for this course, and whether they were warned what they were being let in for?

Mr. Steele

Recruitment is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council. In reply to the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll), I would like to know if there are any other pamphlets by the Conservative Party?

Mr. Nicholson

Is it impressed on the speakers who are trained in this course that they must preserve complete political impartiality?

Mr. Steele


Mr. De la Bère

Why not get rid of the Central Office of Information altogether?