Oral Answers to Questions — Information (Dissemination).

– in the House of Commons on 25th March 1941.

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Mr. David Adams:

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that air-raid precautions emergency committees throughout the country follow different practices with regard to the admission of the Press and the giving of information to the Press; and whether he will take steps to ensure that arrangements are made for the maximum dissemination of information essential for public safety?

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

I am aware that there is some diversity of practice in this matter, but much of this is due to the varying degrees of secrecy necessitated on particular occasions by considerations of national defence. My right hon. Friend is anxious to secure dissemination of information to the public to the maximum extent compatible with security, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that the difficulty of reconciling these two interests is often greater than may appear on the surface.

Mr. Adams:

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some emergency committees permit the admission of the Press while others refuse, that some give no information whatever and that others give a certain amount? In the general interest should there not be some common practice?

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

As I have indicated, the practice varies greatly. In some cases there is no objection and in others there is much objection.

Photo of Mr Robert Morrison Mr Robert Morrison , Tottenham North

Will the hon. Gentleman look into the practice of issuing statements, to be posted outside town halls, giving the amount of casualties in the Metropolitan police area? Is he aware that many citizens think these notices give the casualties from their particular district and not for the Metropolitan Police area, with the result that there is a considerable amount of alarm?

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Will the hon. Gentleman see that when information is given if: is more compatible with the truth than that which was given about the Clyde-side "Blitz" and the casualties incurred there? There is no reason why false information should be given to the public.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

False information was not given to the public.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why false information was given about the casualties on Clydeside? This is being talked about by many people there.

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

No false information was given to the public.