HC Deb 08 June 1981 vol 6 cc18-20
33. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Paymaster General what new initiatives he proposes on the co-ordination of departmental information services.

Mr. Pym

I shall propose new initiatives as and when I deem that appropriate.

Mr. Taylor

As, clearly, the Minister is looking for suggestions, may I suggest that, as local government spending is one of the major economic problems facing the Government, he should ask some of the 1,200 information officers to spend a little time telling local authorities and the British people about the uniquely successful privatisation scheme in Southend, whereby, through privatisation, the ratepayers are saved a vast sum of money without reduction of services?

Mr. Pym

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will do that—perhaps he is already discussing it with the information officers in his Department—together with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales. It is their responsibility to promote the information that is relevant to their Departments. I am sure that my right hon. Friends will take note of what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

Is the Leader of the House aware of the trouncing that Government policy received in the recent local government elections throughout the country? Is it not time that he considered new initiatives regarding Government information?

Mr. Pym

I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman's party did quite as well in that local election campaign as it had hoped.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

In view of the lurid misrepresentation in various parts of the world of Government policy in Northern Ireland, will my right hon. Friend see what can be done to improve the co-ordination between the Northern Ireland Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the presentation of our case at home and abroad?

Mr. Pym

Yes, Sir. I have already spent a great deal of time and trouble on this matter. All our missions and embassies abroad are well briefed. We take as much trouble as we can with the foreign press because we are concerned that the truth and the real facts, with no misrepresentations, should emerge. It is a difficult problem. We know what television crews and some journalists can be in such circumstances. We do our best. Many leader columns in the United States, in European and other countries have expressed the truth about Northern Ireland in a satisfactory way. My hon. Friend raises an important matter. We are doing everything that we can to try to ensure that a proper presentation of the reality and the facts reaches all countries.