HC Deb 14 March 1951 vol 485 cc1537-8
50. Mr. Henry Hopkinson

asked the Prime Minister why advance information was given by his office to the "Daily Herald" in regard to the retirement of the right hon. Member for Woolwich. East, from the post of Foreign Secretary.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member is mistaken. No such information was given by my office.

Mr. Hopkinson

While, of course, I fully accept the Prime Minister's assurances with regard to his own office, may I ask him whether he is aware that in the first or country editions of the London morning newspapers for Friday, 9th March, the "Daily Herald"—and the "Daily Herald" alone—carried an authoritative statement on this important event? Will he order an investigation into this apparent leakage, having regard in particular to the importance of avoiding any suggestion of discrimination in favour of a party-controlled newspaper?

The Prime Minister

There was no authoritative statement. There was no authority whatever in that statement. I can assure the hon. Member that if he looks at the papers, as I do, he will realise that I am always getting completely authoritative statements about things which have not happened. Guesses are made and every now and again a guess comes off right. I have been looking into these things. It is impossible to trace them. I get statements about Cabinet meetings and decisions which have never happened—all reported in the most authoritative way.

Mr. Hamilton

Would my right hon. Friend indicate what advance information was given to the "Daily Worker" about the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. John Rodgers)?

Mr. Molson

Does the Prime Minister not realise that there is a distinction between statements which turn out to be inaccurate and statements which turn out to be completely accurate? Will he institute an inquiry as to how this information, which was not apparently officially issued, reached that newspaper?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the difference between accurate and inaccurate information, but there are so many speculations made that every now and again an intelligent journalist is bound to ring the bell.

Mr. Driberg

Was not this just a case of what is always called intelligent anticipation, on the part of the "Daily Herald"?