§ 2.5 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether in their relations with the National Press it is possible in any way to control or influence the publication of material inimical to the defence of the Free World.]
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (LORD MILLS)
My Lords, save in the most exceptional circumstances the Government has no wish to limit the freedom of the Press. Of course, freedom of any kind carries with it the possibility of aberrations from time to time, but by and large I think the Press can be expected to handle matters with a full sense of responsibility.
§ LORID BIRDWOOD
My Lords, while I would certainly accept that, by and large, the Press do treat these matters with responsibility, I. wonder whether the noble Lord would agree that there are occasions when particularly anti-American and anti-German material appears in the Press. Is it possible to envisage such things as occasional meetings between either the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary and editors of newspapers, with a view to influencing the Press?
§ LORD MILLS
My Lords, I think that most Ministers, like the Opposition, have opportunities from time to time of discussing matters with the Press; but I should not like to comment on the noble Lord's statement as to the directions in which sometimes the Press may go. I have said in my reply that aberrations do occur from time to time, but on the whole I think we are very well served by the Press.