THE House met on Thursday, November 4, to discuss the motion’That in the opinion of this House the Press has done more harm than good during the War.’
The Proposer (The SECRETARY) said that the Press had criticised and attacked many of theleading statesmen of Britain, and had given a great deal of information to our enemies, and neutral countries believed a great deal of what the Press said, as the British Press was quite different from that of other nations; and it created a very bad impression in neutral countries when our Press criticised our politicians. The French newspapers had been reduced to one page of official news. Could we not do this in England ?
The Opposer (The VICE-PRESIDENT) said that the Secretary’s main point was the effect upon neutrals. He denied that the Press had any effect upon them. They got their news from reliable sources. All newspapers were censored. It was no fault of the Press what news was published. The Secretary had scoffed at the articles by the various Naval and Military correspondents, but these, after all, were only the views of one person, who knew a good lot, who did not pretend to be a prophet, but was merely expressing his opinions. The papers, he said, had done a lot of good as regards conscription.
The Seconder (Mr. MEYER) harped mostly upon the newspaper placards. These, he said, were made in order to make the paper sell, and, to the passer-by, usually gave an entirely wrong impression.
Mr. KIRKMAN, who spoke instead of the Treasurer, who was ill, said that, judging by the number of rumours and extracts of articles from the Figaro, Matin, and other French papers which are printed in our daily papers, it was absurd to suppose that the French papers had been cut down to one page of purely official news, as the Secretary had said.
The PRESIDENT said that the Press was there primarily to be accurate, and the Vice-President himself had said that it was not accurate.
Mr. HARROD asked what we should do without a Press ? The numbers of rumours that would get about would he enormous.
The SECRETARY said that Mr. Harrod was off the point.
From here the meeting resolved into violent arguments on the subject of Lord Northcliffe.
The motion was then put to the vote, and lost by 7 votes to 13.