HC Deb 18 October 1950 vol 478 cc2042-3
47. Air Commodore Harvey

asked the Minister of Defence if the Service Press and propaganda departments will in future give fuller and more graphic accounts of the work of the British Army and the Royal Air Force in Malaya.

Mr. Shinwell

Every opportunity is being taken by the Service Departments to inform the public in this country and abroad of the sustained and arduous tasks being carried out by our troops in Malaya. We are co-operating with the Press correspondents in Malaya and provide them with all the necessary facilities to obtain full information on the progress of operations. If the hon. and gallant Member has any suggestions to make on improving these arrangements I should be glad to have them considered.

Air Commodore Harvey

Does the Minister not realise that I put down this Question because many pictures and newsreels are to be seen showing the Americans fighting gallantly in Korea and very little of the British Forces who are fighting a long and gallant battle in Malaya?

Mr. Shinwell

I am giving this very careful attention and only quite recently decided to take further steps. We quite appreciate the need for the utmost publicity in these matters.

Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing

Would the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to publishing the names of the regiments concerned and the squadrons? Is it not a fact that there has been undue secrecy in these matters? The names of the regiments are well known in this country and by the bandits. Why the continued secrecy on this score?

Mr. Shinwell

I should like to give that matter rather more careful consideration and take advice on it, but my mind is open to any practical suggestions.

Mr. Eden

Seeing he is showing himself most sympathetic and open-minded about this, would the right hon. Gentleman consider, if films are to be produced showing our effort in Malaya, whether they could not be disseminated outside this country, for instance, in the United States, where there is not a full understanding of all that we are doing?

Mr. Shinwell

Part of the investigation I recently began relates to the need for publicity in the United States. I may add that I always keep an open mind.