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North Africa (Information To United Kingdom)

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 10 March 1943

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asked the Minister of Information whether he will consider appointing suitable British officials in North Africa to be responsible for disseminating information to the people of this country in regard to the political and military events in that area?

No, Sir. The political and military events of the war have always been reported to the public by correspondents in the service of the newspapers themselves. I am sure that the House needs no recital from me of the deplorable consequences which would result from placing this work in the hands of Government officials.

While I agree with my right hon. Friend's statement, does he not realise that there is a considerable amount of ignorance in this country as to the events in North Africa and that ignorance promotes suspicion, whereas knowledge promotes confidence?

My hon. and gallant Friend's worthy platitudes are, of course, most acceptable to us, but I cannot cure ignorance.

When information is being disseminated, will that include information about the number of political prisoners in North Africa and the treatment meted out to them?

My hon. Friend has had the fullest possible information on those matters.

Apart from war correspondents dealing with purely military matters, why were the British Press not allowed to send correspondents to cover the general course of events in North Africa?

I cannot understand what the hon. Gentleman is talking about. The British Press do not normally maintain correspondents in North Africa. I daresay that every newspaper should have a correspondent in every part of the world where anything is likely to happen, but the British Government did nothing to prevent the British Press from sending correspondents to North Africa.

Is the Minister aware that among Government officers there is great concern about the appalling consequences of entrusting affairs to some of His Majesty's Ministers?

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that no paper has been refused permission to send a correspondent to North Africa?

No complaint has come to me, and the Lord knows the Minister of Information is in receipt of every sort of complaint.