HC Deb 05 April 1955 vol 539 cc996-7
45. Captain Kerby

asked the Prime Minister whether, as was the case in 1926 when the publication and circulation of newspapers were prevented by a strike, he will now give orders for the immediate publication of an official newspaper.

47. Mr. M. Lindsay

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the continued newspaper stoppage, the Government will arrange for the publication of a national newsheet similar to that which was published during the General Strike.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

I have been asked to reply.

Hon. Members

Why? Where is he?

Mr. CrookShank

Her Majesty's Government has no such intention at the present time.

Mr. Lindsay

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is no great difference in principle between using troops to provide food and using Government resources to provide news? Would not a minor, but not negligible, advantage of this proposal be that it would provide work for a great many unfortunate people?

Mr. Shinwell

if by any chance the Government should change their mind, is there any likelihood that the editor may be, as was the case in 1926, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill)?

Mr. Edelman

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, despite the nostalgia of the hon. and gallant Gentleman for totalitarian methods, any attempt to introduce a regimented newspaper would meet with general public distaste?

Mr. Nicholson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that democracy cannot function indefinitely unless there are adequate sources of news and views in order to instruct public opinion? Will he give an assurance that, at any rate, the Government will not reject this aspect in the present emergency?

Mr. Crookshank

I think that a good number of those questions cancel out each other. Of course, there is no actual news famine. The B.B.C. is functioning, and provincial, regional and local newspapers are functioning.

Mr. J. T. Price

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that so far as this serious dispute is concerned, nobody on this side of the House has made one single irresponsible statement—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—I am speaking of what has taken place on the Floor of this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—that is what we are all concerned with this afternoon. Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that the bitterness engendered by the experiences of 1926, when the" British Gazette" was published, is still fresh in the memories of thousands of people, and that we want no repetition of that by prodding from the back benches opposite.