HC Deb 17 February 1965 vol 706 cc1159-61
1. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Paymaster-General if he will improve the co-ordination of the home information services in disseminating Ministers' statements made upon their return to this country from abroad.

The Paymaster-General (Mr. George Wigg)

No, Sir.

Mr. Campbell

How did it happen that, within a period of about two days last month, there appeared quite different versions of a Minister's statement made on his return from a sensitive area in South-East Asia?

Mr. Wigg

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question to the Minister concerned.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

In view of the Paymaster-General's responsibilities and the fact that we have had only one foreign affairs debate and one lot of Foreign Office Questions in the House in this Parliament, will the right hon. Gentleman see whether he can make available better facilities for better Parliamentary representation at airports and on television where the Government's foreign policy is largely discussed?

Mr. Wigg

The hon. Gentleman's question does not approach any area of my responsibility.

2. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Paymaster-General what action he is taking to co-ordinate the work of home information services in providing material on the future of the British aircraft industry

3. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Paymaster-General what proposals he has for the co-ordination of information about Her Majesty's Government's policies and responsibilities to make sure they are understood by those responsible for the Press, radio and television.

Mr. Wigg

The information divisions of the Departments concerned maintain constant liaison on such matters and no special action is, therefore, required.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are most important matters about which the public should know and about which, clearly, right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite do not know? Will he take steps, if not to co-ordinate information services within the Government, at least to co-ordinate them between Sir Roy Dobson and the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude)?

Mr. Wigg

Statements by Sir Roy Dobson do not fall within my area of responsibility. I remind my hon. Friend that, as acknowledged by hon. Members opposite, I have done my best on matters of defence over the years to try to put that sort of thing right, without, I regret to say, any great success.

Mrs. Short

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to last Thursday's "Gallery" programme on B.B.C. television when loaded questions were asked of certain trade unionists before an interview with the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, and has his attention been drawn to the Saturday evening programme on I.T.V.,"The Sullavan Brothers", in which there was a story about a planning inquiry which implied that there was corruption in high places and that members of a local council could go and "soften up"—this was the term used—the Minister before he gave his decision after a planning inquiry? Does not my right hon. Friend think that it is time he took action with the B.B.C. and I.T.A. television services to make sure that they understand what this Government are doing and that they understand the rights and responsibilities of elected members of local councils.

Mr. Wigg

I have great sympathy with my hon. Friend, but I am glad to say that responsibility for the B.B.C. and I.T.A. is not a matter for me.

Mr. Kershaw

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the question just put by the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) involves the absurd supposition that Ministers know what they are about?

Mrs. Short

These Ministers do but ex-Ministers opposite did not.

Mr. Kershaw

Will the right hon. Gentleman do what he can to persuade his colleagues to make their fuddled statements here in the House of Commons rather than at Press conferences and cosy dinner parties which he arranges?

Mr. Wigg

As usual, the hon. Gentleman is personally insulting. [HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] His suggestions are personally insulting and they are woefully ignorant. The only compliment I can pay him is that, if he did know the facts, he would not understand them.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must cease this exchange of compliments. I call Mr. Wolrige-Gordon; Question No. 4.

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