§ 9. Mr. Braine
asked the Secretary of State for War why British Sunday newspapers, supplied exclusively for members of the Forces in Malta, which arrive regularly in the island at 0420 hours every Sunday morning, are not collected for distribution until the following day.
§ Mr. H. Fraser
To distribute the newspapers as soon as they arrive would entail the compulsory use of troops or the payment of overtime to civilians. The overtime would cost about as much as it does to fly the newspapers from England to Malta- This situation may be capable of improvement and I shall look further into it, but the present position is that by holding the papers back for a day we need not charge the troops more than the United Kingdom prices, nor need we increase the cost to public funds.
§ Mr. Braine
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for agreeing to look into this matter. But is it not ludicrous that when the Newspaper Proprietors' Association makes special arrangements to get Sunday newspapers to the island in the early hours of Sunday, and when the cost of transport is borne by the military authorities, the troops do not actually get the papers until Monday? Could my hon. Friend give an assurance that more cooperation will be shown with the N.P.A. by the War Office on behalf of the troops than has been the case up till now?
§ Mr. Fraser
As I have said, I will look at this again, but all the newspapers are sold, which shows that the soldiers prefer to pay the home price for a newspaper on Monday rather than 7d. for a 4d. newspaper on Sunday if they got it through an ordinary newsagent.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Could the hon. Gentleman assure the House that none of these Sunday newspapers are in officers' messes on Sundays?
§ Mr. Fraser
They can be in anyone's mess, or in anyone's hands, if the people concerned are prepared to pay 7d. for a 4d. newspaper.