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Military Commentators

Volume 393: debated on Tuesday 2 November 1943

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47.

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the military commentaries on Allied operations and possible future plans of attack by officers who have held high military appointments which are appearing in the Press; and, as it is not in the national interest that well-informed criticism and suggestions should be made available to the enemy, whether he will take steps to stop this practice?

The officers to whom my hon. Friend refers are no doubt those retired officers of the Services who are employed as military commentators by some newspapers. As retired officers they have no access to official plans and papers. Breaches of security will be dealt with in the normal way.

Is not an officer of such rank necessarily a man of responsibility, whose opinion on military matters is of value? Is it not likely to be of assistance to the enemy to have their opinions on our plans confirmed from a responsible source?

I do not think that in this case any opinions are formed for the enemy which he could not have formed for himself.

Will the right hon. Gentleman resist in every possible way the encroachment of the freedom of the Press advocated by the hon. Gentleman opposite?

Is it not the case that these articles, like other articles in the Press, are submitted voluntarily to the Ministry of Information, for voluntary censorship?

I think that that is so, and if there was any exception in any way, some action would be taken.