HC Deb 18 February 1957 vol 565 cc2-5
2. Mr. Chapman

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what specialist staff has been added to his Department, or is contemplated, to assist in his duties of publicising the Government's home policy.

5 and 6. Sir L. Plummer

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many civil servants are engaged for a substantial part of their time in assisting him with the co-ordination of Government information services;

(2) how many members of his staff have experience of publicity or public relations work.

8 and 10. Mr. Benn

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) if he will give a list of the principal officers of his staff appointed for assisting him in his responsibilities for co-ordinating information services, together with details of their previous public relations experience;

(2) if he wit give details of the establishment of the public relations section attached to his Department.

15. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many professional journalists are at present employed in his Department.

18 Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many of his staff have experience of information work in Colonial Territories;

(2) how many members of his staff have had experience of broadcasting or journalistic work in Asia;

(3) how many members of his staff have experience of propaganda work in the Middle East.

24. Mr. George Craddock

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many staff of all grades are employed in his Department: and how many of them are solely engaged in the coordination of Government information services.

26 and 27. Mr. Ness Edwards

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what plans he has for increasing the establishment of his Department;

(2) how many civil servants with experience either of co-ordination or information have been transferred to his Department from other Ministries; and if he will give details of the present ranks and functions of such officials.

29. Mr. Lipton

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what staff is employed under his supervision and control for the purpose of co-ordinating Government information services.

36. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many of his staff have experience of propaganda in Yugoslavia.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Dr. Charles Hill)

The responsibility for providing news and information about Departmental policy and administration remains with the Departmental Ministers concerned. It is my function to assist them in discharging that responsibility. For this purpose I need only a small central staff of persons who have general experience of Press and public relations work but are not necessarily specialists in Departmental subjects. My principal assistants will be the Prime Minister's Adviser on Public Relations and his Deputy; time will show whether additions to this staff are required.

Mr. Chapman

Will the Chancellor—whose duties my hon. Friends and I thoroughly approve—give an assurance that there will be no attempt to have more than a very small nucleus of staff making contacts on the home front with newspapers, and so on, about the Government's home policy?

Dr. Hill

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that what is needed is a very small staff, but he will appreciate that the contacts with the Press will be the contacts of the individual Departments.

Mr. Benn

As the Leader of the House attributed the failure of the Conservatives at North Lewisham to a failure of public relations, may we take it that the right hon. Gentleman's staff will be progressively increased as the results of subsequent by-elections become apparent?

Dr. Hill

No, Sir. It is not unusual for information officers and those who coordinate information to bear the cross which the hon. Member has described. I shall bear it, I hope, with fortitude.

Mr. Jeger

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that up to now our propaganda abroad has been hopeless? Has he studied —if not, will he do so—an excellent document produced by the Daily Mirror entitled "Britain's Voice Abroad", which will guide him in his up-to-now very amateurish activities?

Dr. Hill

As the lion. Gentleman knows, I am hard at work scrutinising the overseas services. I have read the lively and stimulating publication to which he refers, as well as a number of other documents on the subject.

Mr. Hughes

As the Minister is regarded as an authority on Yugoslavia since his famous broadcast referring to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) as "the Tito of Tonypandy," can we take it that he himself will be putting over the British case to Yugoslavia?

Dr. Hill

I would not dare to compete with the hon. Gentleman in being an expert on so many foreign countries.

Mr. Jay

Is the right hon. Gentleman going to reply to the unfair attack on him by the Lord Privy Seal? Who is going to co-ordinate the speeches of the Lord Privy Seal with those of the Chancellor of the Duchy?

Dr. Hill

I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's sympathy, but I see nothing in the speech of the Lord Privy Seal which is a reflection on me.

Mr. Greenwood

Can the right hon. Gentleman say to what extent he accepts responsibility for the activities of Mr. Evans and how far Questions can be put down to him and how far to the Prime Minister?

Dr. Hill

I share the services of Mr. Harold Evans with the Prime Minister. Questions relating to the co-ordination of information can no doubt be put down to me, as they have so generously been put down today.

Mr. S. Silverman

In so far as the North Lewisham by-election has any bearing on the question of public relations, was not the real trouble not that the Government's policy was not fully known and understood but that it was?