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Central Office Of Information

Volume 465: debated on Monday 23 May 1949

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34.

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will give an assurance that the appointment of the Central Office of Information as an advertising agency of the various Government Departments will not be allowed to dominate the actions of the public relations departments of the Ministries throughout Whitehall; and that there will be a genuine endeavour to make greater use of commercial firms to advise and assist in connection with all matters of advertising and propaganda.

As I told the hon. Member on 12th February, 1948, the Central Office of Information is the central Government agency for the commissioning, management and presentation of display and Press advertising and poster advertising, but the Government Departments on whose behalf it acts are responsible for the content and policy of the advertisements. As regards the second part of the Question, the Central Office employs commercial advertising agencies for all its Press and poster advertising, and thus already makes full use of their advice and assistance.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that ever since that date the Central Office of Information have never ceased to offend by wasting and squandering public money, and is it not high time that the use of this service for Government propaganda should cease in an endeavour to get rid of this tied house? Let us be quite frank about it.

It would be a welcome change if a supplementary question from the hon. Member was related to his original Question on the Order Paper.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that not only have many hon. Gentlemen opposite been a failure but that the Central Office of Information is the greatest failure his party have ever had?

35.

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make a statement of the Government's policy as regards the Central Office of Information and their activities connected with Press propaganda, television and broadcasting.

I have nothing to add to the Prime Minister's reply to the similar question by the hon. Member on 27th January, 1948. The hon. Member will find a full description of the activities of the Central Office of Information in its Annual Report for 1947–48 (Cmd. 7567), from which he will see that these do not include television or broadcasting—or Press propaganda, unless by that he means the conduct of Press advertising for Government Departments.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that answer, too, was a long time ago, and that since then there has been no improvement? Let us stop all this nonsense and waste of money.