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Parliamentary Debates (Broadcasts)

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1943

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asked the Minister of Information whether his attention has been called to the broadcasting on the 9 p.m. news on Thursday last of the Parliamentary Debate which took place on that day; and whether, in view of the unrepresentative nature of that report, he will take such steps as may be necesary to ensure that a fairer account of Debates in this House is broadcast to the people?

I have read the report to which the hon. Gentleman refers. It strikes me as being fair, concise and clear.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on the important pensions Debate last week "The Times" reported 12 speakers and the "Manchester Guardian" 14 speakers, while the B.B.C. reported only three? Is he aware that there is a growing tendency on the part of the B.B.C. to report long, boring and repetitive Ministerial speeches and to treat the House of Commons with indifference?

What the hon. Gentleman has said shows that he is not well acquainted with the different problems of the B.B.C. and the newspapers. The B.B.C. have, as a rule, three or four minutes to give to Parliament, while "The Times" often gives six or seven columns.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the report of that Debate by the B.B.C. that night the speakers who were reported were all Tory speakers and not one belonged to us?

The hon. Gentleman must look upon that as a coincidence, and he must also remember that we cannot suit all tastes in this House unless we get someone like the Admirable Crichton to enter the B.B.C.

In view of the important part that broadcasting plays—I am not asking the Minister to direct the B.B.C.—will he make representations to them that they should fairly represent us?

Will my right hon. Friend realise that he has just as much power to direct the B.B.C. as any other Minister has to direct any other company and that the charter of the B.B.C. is overridden by the Emergency Powers Act?


asked the Minister of Information how many protests he has received in respect of the news bulletins of 25th March in connection with the reports on the Debates on the Catering Bill that afternoon; and whether in future such reports will be of a more balanced character?

I only received two protests. The remainder of His Majesty's 47,000,000 subjects in the United Kingdom do not apparently regard this news bulletin as having been unbalanced.

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that no fewer than 10 people 'phoned up immediately that night to the officer on duty?

I have not an officer on duty who takes 'phone messages in regard to the B.B.C. If Members of Parliament are attempting to bully the B.B.C. into reporting their speeches, they are doing a great disservice.