Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/89

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THE PERIL OF THE PRESS BUREAU

particularly in denying the publication in London of news permitted to be published in the provinces and on the Continent. He pressed, too, for the issue of an official statement two or three times a week. This, of course, has since been granted, and it is a very decided improvement. Mr. Joynson-Hicks, from the Conservative benches, very truly emphasised the fact that the people of this country want the truth, even if it meant bad news, and added that they also wanted to hear about the heroism of our troops and the valorous deeds of any individual regiments.

Sir Stanley Buckmaster, in reply, denied somewhat vehemently that he had ever withheld, for five minutes, any information he had about the war, and asserted that nothing had ever been issued from his office that was not literally and absolutely true.

Now, as I have said, Sir Stanley Buckmaster's hide-bound department does not originate news, and cannot be held responsible for either the fullness or the accuracy of the official statements. When Sir Stanley Buckmaster tells us that he has never delayed news I accept his word without demur. But when he says nothing has been issued from his department which is not "literally and absolutely true," then I ask him what he means by "literally and absolutely true"? If he means that the news which his department has issued has contained no actual misstatements on a point of fact, I believe his claim to be fully justified. If he means, on the other hand, that the Press Bureau, or those behind it, have told the nation the whole truth, he makes an assertion which the nation with its gritted teeth to-day will decline, and with very good reason, to accept. To quote Mr. Bonar Law's words again: "from the beginning of the war as much informa-