HC Deb 25 May 1954 vol 528 cc203-4
38. Sir R. De la Bère

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will arrange for the specially-prepared statements made by Ministers of the Crown, in collaboration with their public relations officers, for the use of special sections of the Press, to be now discontinued; and if he will give an undertaking that, in future, any statements shall be available at the outset to all sections of the Press.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)

It is difficult for me to reply to the hon. Baronet without knowing what he has in mind. Perhaps he will send particulars to me if the matter concerns my Department, and if not, to the Minister or Ministers responsible.

Sir R. De la Bère

Is not the Chancellor aware that the practice of giving hand-outs to various sections of the Press has been practised in the past? Will he not keep a vigilant eye on the P.R.Os. and information officers so as to see that no section of the Press is unduly favoured as compared with any other section? It is a question of plain justice and ordinary common sense.

Mr. Butler

I can only answer for my own Department. So far as I am concerned, we have acted with plain justice. On occasions it is the fact that special correspondents on a particular subject do get a particular release, but I think that is what they expect and what the rest of the Press understands. If the hon. Baronet wishes to send me any particular instance, I will certainly have it investigated.

Sir R. De la Bère

Is my right hon Friend responsible only for his own Department? Is he not responsible for them all?