HL Deb 10 December 1941 vol 121 cc253-5

My Lords, I beg to put the question standing in my name.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government if indication can be given of the directions to the Postal Censor with regard to correspondence with Eire, and if these include the prevention of transmission of cuttings from the Press of the Dominions.]


My Lords, in reply to the noble Lord, I would say that the position with regard to the question which he raises is as follows: No one without a permit can send by post to Eire cuttings from any newspaper, book or other document. This ban extends to all newspapers, including those of this country and of the Dominions. Correspondence which is not in accordance with this rule is returned to the sender.


My Lords, arising out of that answer I would like to draw attention to the fact that it appears to include the transmission of cuttings from the free Press of the Dominions. I realize that difficult considerations arise from the presence of the German Legation in Dublin. I feel compelled to ask my noble friend if he can consider the revision of the instructions given to the Censors with a view to their exercising discretion as to the type of printed literature which falls under this ban. I have heard of cases where the ban includes the transmission of copies of the Official Report of the proceedings of this House to members of your Lordships' House. In those circumstances I suggest that some discretion might be used by the Censors, and 1 hope that my noble friend may be able to indicate that he will give consideration to this suggestion.


My Lords, in view of what the noble Lord has said perhaps I may be allowed to explain a little more fully the reasons for the present arrangement. The need arises for a very simple and natural reason—the inability of the Censors under present conditions to spare the time which would be necessary to read through all newspapers in an outgoing mail to make sure that they do not contain some undesirable matter. The present system which has been established was designed to allow reputable and approved publishers holding a permit from the Censorship to export printed matter and—I would emphasize this—all persons who have a bona-fide reason for sending newspapers abroad must do so through permit holders. I suggest that that is the possible reason for the refusal to pass certain copies of the Official Report to which the noble Lord referred. Probably they were not sent through approved permit holders. I think this system is absolutely necessary. The Censors are tremendously overworked now and if they had to read through every page of every newspaper their task would be quite impossible. It was for that reason that this system was established. I hope that in the circumstances the noble Lord will not press the matter any further. With regard to the special case of copies of the Official Report, if the noble Lord would like me to make further inquiries I should be delighted to do so, and if he does so desire he will no doubt send me particulars of the case he has in mind.


I thank the noble Lord for his reply, but I feel, in spite of what he has said, that if conditions had been different I should have been inclined to raise the matter again. However, in present circumstances, I will see if I can, give him the information he requires.