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Government Advertising

Volume 885: debated on Monday 27 January 1975

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asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will ensure that Government advertising avoids matter likely to prejudice friendly relations with other countries.

The content of Government advertising is the responsibility of the Minister concerned.

Will my hon. Friend have a word with the Secretary of State for Defence about the kind of advertisement that appeared in the Daily Express on 14th January—incidentally, costing f6,750—aimed at recruiting Army officers, having a cold war character and clearly aimed at war preparations with Russia? Was it not very unfortunate that that advertisement should have appeared on the very day that the Prime Minister announced his intention of visiting Russia to improve trading and other peaceful relations with that country?

I shall certainly accept my hon. Friend's invitation to bring his comments on the advertisement to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. However, I cannot accept that the advertisement itself was in any way part of what has been interpreted as a cold war campaign. That was certainly not the intention of the advertisement itself. I am informed that this advertisement was designed to provoke thought in the minds of potential recruits, and my hon. Friend will be encouraged to learn that it has had precisely that effect. He will, perhaps, be encouraged to learn that the quality of recruits forthcoming now is considered to be infinitely better than previously.