14 MARCH 1958, Page 6

SIR WILLIAM HALEY had some salutary warnings to give in

his Haldane Memorial Lecture on The Formation of Public Opinion,' particularly about the growing tendency to prevent the newspapers from expressing their opinions not by the old methods of threats or bribery but by a variety of subtle indirect pressures, cunningly exercised. There are even people, Sir William said, who would like to prevent The Times, as a great national institution, from expressing strong views when there is a national cleavage of opinion. This view—that. The Times ought to accept a semi- official status—arose out of its mistakes in the Thirties when Geoffrey Dawson, regarding him- self as the grey eminence of the National Govern- ment, made it into a party newspaper. From this setback The Times has slowly recovered; over Suez it courageously resisted Government pres- sure (it would be interesting to know what form the pressure took). But The Times's sense of news values is still unaccountable. As I mentioned the other day, it ignored completely the London H-bomb meetings, striking though they were : yet on Wednesday it gave over half a column to a re- port of Sir William Haley's interesting, but relatively insignificant, speech.