HC Deb 13 March 1951 vol 485 cc1295-6
58. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that "Talking Points," February, 1951,en-titled"Danger Ahead—A Warning About Fuel, "issued by the Information Division of the Treasury, is not a politically impartial statement; and what steps are taken to prevent party propaganda being issued at the national expense by this Government Department.

Mr. Gaitskell

This document provides a factual account of the fuel shortage, the remedial measures taken, and the further economies required from industry and the public. It seems to me completely free from bias. Like all the material issued by the Division, it was prepared and scrutinised with great care to ensure impartiality. I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library so that hon. Members may judge for themselves.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

How does the Chancellor reconcile his statement that this document is free from bias with the fact that it treats the failure to accumulate stocks last autumn without mentioning at all Government directives on exports earlier in the year, and that it deals with the coal shortage by emphasising the increased demand since before the war without mentioning in a single place the failure by 25 million tons to produce as much as before the war? Is that impartial?

Mr. Gaitskell

I certainly think that the document is an impartial one and I would assure the House that it is very necessary that all these documents should be impartial. We are entirely in agreement about that. I am also anxious to secure that there shall be no unfounded allegations that these documents are partial.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Would the right hon. Gentleman mind examining the passage headed "Fewer Miners," where it is stated correctly that there were 20,000 fewer miners at the end of the year than at the beginning. It goes on to say: It had been expected that this would happen, whereas the National Coal Board stated that the expectation was that many fewer than that number would, in fact, have been lost to the industry.

Mr. Gaitskell

That seems to me to suggest that the document is completely impartial.

Mr. Donner

Is it impartial to publish selected facts?

Mr. Gaitskell

All documents contain selected facts.