Sir John Reith: The officer to whom I think my hon. and gallant Friend refers was selected before the war for a post, recently advanced in grade, which she has filled since the war began. It requires special experience and qualifications, and this officer was considered the most suitable person for promotion to it. I have no hesitation in giving the assurance asked for in the last part of the Question.
Sir John Reith: Verbatim reports of proceedings in Empire and Foreign Parliaments are in most cases available, but it is not considered practicable or necessary for the Ministry to study them regularly. Summaries of proceedings of Dominion and Colonial legislatures, prepared by the Empire Parliamentary Association and issued in their Journal, are regularly read. Attention is drawn to important debates in...
Sir John Reith: A great many Members besides the hon. Member would be glad to know.
Sir John Reith: I cannot find any difference in the rates of pay of stenographers employed in similar grades in my Department and in the War Office. If my hon. Friend has any specific case in mind, and will communicate with me, I shall be glad to look into it.
Sir John Reith: Yes, Sir. The regional information officers work in close association with the Regional Defence Commissioners, and in co-operation with the local Press, voluntary societies and such committees as may be desirable. One of their duties was and is to help to promote locally an understanding of the national war effort and to reflect the state of public opinion in their region. I have recently...
Sir John Reith: I have not heard of that, but I will inquire, if my hon. Friend will give some further information on the point.
Sir John Reith: The same number as there are regional defence areas, 11.
Sir John Reith: Miss Brittain is not employed in or by the Ministry of Information. The other part of the Question therefore does not arise.
Sir John Reith: No, Sir, none whatever.
Sir John Reith: I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir. Steps to that end are being taken, and I am glad to have this opportunity of denying the allegation to which the hon. and learned Member refers in the latter part of the Question, which has no foundation in fact.
Sir John Reith: I am anxious to extend and develop the Ministry's commercial contacts in every possible way, and I gratefully acknowledge the readiness of business houses to co-operate. Something has already been done on the lines of my hon. Friend's suggestion.
Sir John Reith: In September, but in a small way.
Sir John Reith: I have been asked to reply. There is an extensive Reuter news service to North China, but the supply of news to Chinese papers is the virtual monopoly of news agencies controlled by the authorities. News broadcasts in Chinese are given daily from Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Sir John Reith: Yes, Sir, I know of these broadcasts, and the station is being watched. Arguments of enemy propaganda are constantly being countered by the B.B.C. and otherwise.
Sir John Reith: I thought I had taken up the matter. I said that the specific arguments of enemy propaganda are constantly being countered by the B.B.C. and otherwise, but, if the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not satisfied with what has been done so far, I would like to assure him that we will try to do better.
Sir John Reith: It is almost certainly known to come from Germany—we think, about 100 miles from Berlin.
Sir John Reith: No, Sir, I have not myself observed the use of the word "official" when in fact no official statement is referred to, and I cannot think there are many cases of the sort. If the hon. Member cares to provide an instance I will look into it.
Sir John Reith: Various changes in organisation have been made, but the scope of the Ministry is still under consideration and I regret I am unable to give a definite answer yet. Meantime there has been a continual expansion of the Ministry's activities abroad and at home, to meet which additions to the staff have been made as the work demands. Staff at headquarters and in regional offices number 674.
Sir John Reith: No, Sir. I am sorry I cannot, but certainly it will be as soon as possible.
Sir John Reith: I would suggest that Question might be answered when I make the other statement to which the Question of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) referred.