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Ministry Of Information

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 24 March 1943

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War Correspondents' Despatches, North Africa


asked the Minister of Information whether despatches from British war correspondents in North Africa have to pass through Tangier; and whether the post office there is now under international or Spanish control?

According to my information, the present arrangements for the despatches of British war correspondents in North Africa do not require them to pass through Tangier. In answer to the second part of the Question, the British Post Office at Tangier remains under British control.

Broadcast Talks To Europe


asked the Minister of Information whether, in view of the fact that Colonel Britton has not broadcast for 10 months his series of talks to France on revolt against Nazi oppression, it is intended to commence similar talks in the near future as a prelude to the coming United Nations offensive against Hitler-held Europe as outlined in the Casablanca communiqué?

Talks on resistance are a standing feature of our broadcasts to Europe, and they are related to military needs. Colonel Britton's talks were not addressed specifically to France.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any co-operation between these talks to which he has referred and talks made to Metropolitan France from Algiers?

Beveridge Report


asked the Minister of Information whether he will make arrangements for speakers on the subject of the provisions of the Beveridge Report to be available to address meetings when so requested?

My hon. Friend's suggestion comes at a time when I am engaged in trying to reduce the activities of the Ministry of Information in providing speakers. The number of meetings addressed by Ministry speakers annually has reached the astonishing figure of 40,000. These meetings are not sought by the Ministry. They are thrust upon us. And we find it very hard to provide suitable speakers. Though I do not suggest that oratory should be rationed, I believe we must show a certain austerity in dealing with suggestions which may add to the labours of our overworked speakers' department.

Is there not a great demand throughout the country for factual information about the Beveridge Report, and would it not be desirable to supply some speakers for this purpose even if the Ministry had to cut out others?

We study demands very carefully, and all I can say is that so far we have not had any great demands addressed to the Ministry, though they may have been made to outside bodies.

Could not those who want factual information obtain it from the Report itself?

That seems a reasonable suggestion, but the passion of the British public for oratory is growing to most monstrous proportions.


asked the Minister of Information whether he will endeavour to make available in this country copies of the plans on social security recently sent to Congress by President Roosevelt in order that they may be compared with the proposals in the Beveridge Report?

I will bring the request to the attention of the United States Office of War Information, whose office in this country is concerned with the distribution of American official publications.

Talks To Farmers (Broadcasting Times)


asked the Minister of Information whether, as the daylight hours are drawing out, he will consult with the British Broadcasting Corporation with a view to arranging that agricultural announcements and talks in the series "Farming To-day" should be broadcast after the 9 o'clock news instead of after the 6 o'clock news and at 6.45 p.m., as at present, owing to the fact that at these latter times farmers are still occupied out-of-doors?

The B.B.C. assure me that they try to place talks to farmers at a time when farmers can hear them. I cannot hold out any hope, however, that the B.B.C. will be able to set aside a time for these announcements and talks after the 9 o'clock news, when the listening audience is at its peak and covers all sections of the community.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that after 9 o'clock in the evening there are generally war commentaries or similar talks, and is not the production of food by the agricultural industry more important for the war effort of this nation than war commentaries?

Of course, the production of food is most important, but there are all sorts of important activities to which the B.B.C. have to have regard. I must point out that the B.B.C. are already overloaded with news and features, and much as I should like to accept his suggestion I am afraid that it is impossible.