asked the Minister of Information whether he has caused investigation to be made into the leakage which enabled the German-controlled Vichy radio to broadcast the news of the recent Cabinet changes in this country and the story of the sinking of the Japanese raider in the Indian Ocean before the news was generally known in this country; and whether he will preclude this leakage of news in future?
Yes, Sir. As these occasional incidents puzzle many people not familiar with the machinery for circulating news, I must burden the House with a rather detailed explanation. Where considerations of security do not arise, overseas correspondents are frequently allowed to cable news abroad in advance of the agreed release time, provided their cables are prefaced with a request that publication should not be made before that time. This is a great convenience to their newspapers, and it enables them to publish and comment on the news at approximately the same time as the newspapers at home. As such messages may be transmitted by wireless, there is always the possibility that the enemy will intercept them, and this is what happened to the story of the sinking of the Japanese raider. Undoubtedly, the enemy are thus occasionally enabled to give their radio news an unaccustomed veracity by using a British story before it is published, but I see no reason why this should compel us to abandon a practice which is of considerable advantage to British publicity among the United Nations.
The circumstances governing the news of the Cabinet changes were different. The announcement issued from 10, Downing Street made it clear that this news should not appear on club tapes, be broadcast, or be sent abroad before the time of publication. Unfortunately, one or two correspondents unintentionally disregarded this direction.