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Ministry Of Information (Continuance)

Volume 409: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1945

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53.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet reached any decision as to the date beyond which the existence of the Ministry of Information will not be deemed necessary; and whether it is still the intention of the Government, as stated by the present Minister of Information, to abolish it completely.

I have no statement to make on this subject at the present time.

Does my right hon. Friend disagree in any way with the very clear-cut statement of the Minister of Information.

Considering the Parliamentary aptitude and knowledge of my hon. Friend, I am surprised that he should stray into such a wide degree of irrelevance.

In view of the new activities of the Minister of Information, would it not be desirable that his salary should be borne, instead of upon the Treasury, upon the central office of the Conservative Party?

The Minister of Information was speaking in his capacity as a Member of His Majesty's Government, in which, at present, great freedom appears to be allowed, and not as the admittedly impartial functionary who has for so long discharged the control of the Ministry of Information with considerable acceptance.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, on the constitutional issue involved, that if an hon. Member sought to put a Question at the Table bearing on speeches delivered by Members of the War Cabinet relating to party matters such Questions would not be permissible? How can these gentlemen be speaking as Members of the Government?

I do not understand. I imagine that speeches of Ministers can be raised in the House although delivered out of doors, but perhaps not by the procedure of Questions. That is subject to special regulations found convenient by all sides. But if people have reason to think that the Minister of Labour, for instance, has been speaking for the Labour Party rather than for the office that he holds, there are always opportunities in Parliamentary Debate at least of making some reference to the subject.

May we take it that it is accepted that peace has broken out on the political front?

There always has been peace and loyalty within. As we are by general consent moving into a dispute between parties, it is obvious that divergencies of outward expression will occur, but no statement has been made, or could be tolerated in the interest of representative Government and Ministerial association, which reflects upon the actual policy pursued by the Government. It has never been asked that Socialists should riot talk Socialism or Conservatives Conservatism, or even Liberals Liberalism.

Will my right hon. Friend consider substituting for the Ministry of Information a Ministry of Broadcastng after the war?

Can Radio Luxemburg again be placed at the disposal of the Government?