§ 39. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
asked the Minister of Health whether he authorised the Registrar General's circular banning reporters from taking notes of marriage announcements at register offices.
§ 40. Mr. Prescott
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the Registrar General has issued an instruction to superintendent registrars to ban Press reporters from taking notes of marriage announcements at register offices; whether such instruction was issued with his approval; and whether he will annul this instruction as being contrary to the principle of the freedom of the Press and contrary to public interest.
§ 87. Brigadier Medlicott
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the banning of reporters from taking notes of marriage announcements at register offices is causing dissatisfaction; and if he will cause the ban to be removed.
§ Mr. Bevan
The Registrar General has advised superintendent registrars that if any representative of the Press wishes to copy particulars of a notice of marriage, this should be permitted as being generally in line with the purpose for which the notices are exhibited, namely, to enable persons knowing of a lawful impediment to a marriage to declare it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
While I am sure that that answer will be welcomed, may I ask whether the ban still applies to copies of marriage notices made for commercial purposes? If so, who will investigate and decide by what motives those who copy marriage notices are animated?
§ Mr. Bevan
I will make inquiries into the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's question, but there has been some misunderstanding owing to the language used by the registrar in the notice sent out. The word "intended" was omitted. The purpose of the notice is intended to enable people to raise objection in certain cases. The dropping of the word "intended" made it appear that the purpose was to prevent the Press from looking at the notices.
§ Sir H. Williams
Is it not time that someone was appointed to ensure that words and phrases are not omitted from public documents?
§ Mr. Stanley Prescott
While welcoming the new directive, may I ask whether it is not a fact that the recent directive is a complete reversal of previous policy followed by the Minister? Will he say whether the change of heart resulted from Questions in this House or from representations made by him to the Registrar General?