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In the First World War, several different agencies had been responsible for propaganda, except for a brief period when there had been a Department of Information ( 1917 ) and a Ministry of Information ( 1918 ).
Secret planning for a Ministry of Information ( M.O.I. ) had started in October 1935 under the auspices of the Committee of Imperial Defence ( C.I.D. ). Draft proposals were accepted on July 27th, 1936, and Sir Stephen Tallents ( 1884 - 1958 ) was appointed as Director General Designate. He drew together a small group of planners from existing government departments, public bodies and specialist outside organisations.
The M.O.I.'s planners sought to combine experience gained during the First World War with new communications technology. Their work reflected an increasing concern that a future war would exert huge strain on the civilian population and a belief that government propaganda would be needed to maintain morale. The shadow Ministry of Information came into being briefly between September 26th and October 3rd, 1938, after the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland ( German occupation of Czechoslovakia ) heightened international tensions. The seventy one officials who were assembled in temporary accommodation had responsibility for censoring press reports surrounding the Munich Agreement.
The Ministry of Information ( M.O.I. ) was formed on September 4th, 1939, the day after Britain's declaration of war, and Lord Macmillan ( 1873 - 1952 ) was sworn in as its first Minister on September 5th, 1939. The M.O.I.'s Headquarters were housed within the University of London's Senate House and would remain there for the rest of the war. The M.O.I. was initially organised in four groups. A " Press Relations " group was responsible for both the issue of news and censorship. A " Publicity Users " group ( split into " Foreign " and " Home " Sections ) was responsible for propaganda policy. A " Publicity Producers " group ( split according to media ) was responsible for design and production. These were overseen by a " Co - ordination and Intelligence " group responsible for administration. This structure had only been finalised in May - June 1940 and senior officials were often unsure about their responsibilities.
The press reacted negatively to the M.O.I. Initial confusion between the M.O.I. and service departments led to accusations that the M.O.I. was delaying access to the news, and a newspaper campaign against censorship was started. Nazi advances in Western Europe encouraged the M.O.I. to increasingly focus on domestic propaganda after May 1940. It was subject to further criticism in July 1940 when it was accused of using " Gestapo " tactics to spy on the British public.
On July 17th, 1941, Brendan Bracken ( 1901 - 1958 ) was promoted to the post of Minister of Information. Supported by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the press, he was keen to promote a more limited role in the field of domestic propaganda. He insisted that the M.O.I. should stop " lecturing " the public and publicly questioned its ability to " stimulate British Morale ".
The M.O.I. was dissolved in March 1946, with its residual functions passing to the Central Office of Information ( C.O.I. ), a central organisation providing common and specialist information services.
( source : Wikipedia )