Mr. De la Bère:
On Tuesday, 13th October, I asked the Prime Minister whether he would find time for the consideration of the Motion standing in my name regarding Government announcements. This was answered by the Lord Privy Seal. It is, I believe, a customary rule that such Motions should be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I asked some Supplementary Questions, but their sense was rendered ineffective by the fact that the Motion was not printed. As the Motion related to matters affecting Army pay, the War Office, the Beveridge Report and the position of the Board of Trade, I want to ask whether you, Sir, would give permission for it to be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT in accordance with the customary rule, seeing that the privileges of Private Members have been so largely curtailed since the outbreak of hostilities and seeing that they have difficulties in getting a hearing?
The hon. Member is not quite accurate about these Motions being invariably printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT. They are not always printed. The Motion to which he is referring did not appear because of its inordinate length. It occupies 16 lines on the Order Paper, and I thought in these circumstances that if it were printed in the bound Volume, it would be sufficient.
Mr. De la Bère:
In view of the fact that its nonappearance in the OFFICIAL REPORT destroyed the effectiveness of my Supplementary Questions, may I respectfully ask your indulgence to allow it to be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT, since it deals with important matters relating to the conduct of the war?
[That this House notes with grave concern the practice frequently permitted and exercised by the Government of handling advance information and priority Reports to certain sections of the Press, whether the House is sitting or not; recalls certain incidents on 9th and 10th September in connection with Army pay and the incident regarding the Beveridge Committee on Fuel; believes that the development of this practice is due to the increasing use of Press relations officers by every section and department of the Government; notes the method adopted whereby one Press officer is set up for each section and department of the Government, and is speedily increased to a large staff, resulting in overlapping, needless expenditure and waste of man-power; is of opinion that the number of these Press relations officers should be drastically reduced; considers that the present methods result in annoyance to Members of Parliament and the public, misunderstanding and loss of efficiency; and is jealous of its prestige and authority being undermined by the manipulation of the public mind by undemocratic and undesirable methods not in the best interests of the national war effort.]