HC Deb 25 February 1957 vol 565 cc831-2
3. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, in impressing upon the information officers of Government Departments the need for ensuring that Government channels of information are not used for disseminating party propaganda, he will apply the principle used in the past in the case of radio to distinguish between a Ministerial statement and a party political broadcast.

10. Mr. Chapman

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, in view of the extra importance of Government information services signified by his new duties, he will take special steps and apply special tests to see that party propaganda is not confused with and issued with Government information.

Dr. Hill

I agree that Government channels of information should not be used to disseminate party political propaganda, and that the principles used to distinguish between Ministerial broadcasts and party political broadcasts are generally applicable. Information officers are fully alive to these points.

Mr. Chapman

Can we take a specific example? If the right hon. Gentleman were putting out information on the home front about the Rent Bill, would he feel justified in giving not only the facts of the Bill but the Government's justification for it? If so, would not that be getting very much too close to party propaganda?

Dr. Hill

I think it might be useful if I use the words to which the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) refers in his Question. They are taken from Appendix H of the Broadcasting Report, 1949, and refer to the proper field as being …purely factual or explanatory of legislation or administrative policies approved by Parliament; or in the nature of appeals to the nation to co-operate in national policies… They are words used m relation to broadcasting, but are, I agree, generally applicable.

Mr. Greenwood

I appreciate very much what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but can he, perhaps, go a little further and say that in news or broadcasts going overseas he will be especially careful to see that a clear distinction is drawn between purely party propaganda and Government information, which should also cover the Opposition's point of view?

Dr. Hill

The Answer which I have given I regard as of general application.