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Ministry Of Information

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1943

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General Giraud's Memorandum


asked the Minister of Information whether he will endeavour to obtain permission to publish, as a White Paper, the whole or a summary of the memorandum that General Giraud wrote to Marshal Pétain?

I have seen a reference to such a memorandum in the Press, but, apart from this, I have no knowledge of it.

Broadcasts To Switzerland


asked the Minister of Information whether, in view of the announcement that the state-controlled Swiss radio has introduced into its broadcasting service an English language news bulletin, he will consider what steps may be taken to reintroduce into the British Broadcasting Corporation programmes a broadcast for Switzerland in their four languages?

The B.B.C. could not adopt my hon. Friend's suggestion for special broadcasts to Switzerland without overloading their crowded Overseas programmes. B.B.C. news bulletins are already available to the people of Switzerland in their three important national tongues.

Is it a fact that the broadcasts were stopped, owing to German influence, about a year ago?

Procession And Demonstration, Manchester


asked the Minister of Information why no mention was made in the British Broadcasting Corporation news on 20th March of the great procession and demonstration held in Manchester; and why, in view of its importance, this event was not recorded for the information of the country?

I am often told by persons who have no knowledge of the heavy burden borne by the B.B.C. that it is overstaffed. If they were to report every demonstration and procession held in the British Isles their news staff would have to be doubled, and even then, by some form of magic, they would have to run a 48-hour programme every 24 hours.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the fact that this was one of the first processions and demonstrations in the North, he will consider, through the B.B.C., placing Manchester on the map when there are matters of this importance?

On this particular date did not the greater procession start in Tunisia?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a feeling that the provinces are neglected by the B.B.C. and that nearly everything is centred on London?

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that what Manchester thinks to-day, London thinks to-morrow.

Is it not a fact that Plymouth is neglected and that nobody hears anything about it unless I raise the matter here?

Bbc Staff (South Africans)


asked the Minister of Information how many British people born in South Africa have been, or are to be withdrawn from employment with the British Broadcasting Corporation?

The administrative officers of the B.B.C. are so greatly overworked that I cannot ask them to spend a great deal of time and labour in going through the records of all the staff in order to discover how many British people born in South Africa have been, or are to be, withdrawn from their employment. But if my hon. and gallant Friend will tell me what particular point he has in mind, I will try to answer him.

Broadcast Propaganda Subjects


asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware that the British Broadcasting Corporation puts forward a large amount of propaganda for which it refuses any statements in disagreement, notably on vivisection, pasteurisation, evangelical religion, diphtheria immunisation, laudation of Pasteur, Jenner, Lister and others whose work has been largely discredited; and will he instruct the Corporation, with a view to securing a proper presentation by qualified persons, of the opposing cases on all such subjects?

No, Sir. As the B.B.C. has quite enough undeserved troubles, I cannot ask the Governors to bring down upon them the avalanche suggested by my hon. Friend.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am striving to make the B.B.C. a little more democratic and a little less fond of dictatorial methods?

I have been engaged on that labour for a year and a half, and I think some progress is being made.

Parliamentary Debates (Broadcasts)


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.

Post-War Policy (Political Views)


asked the Minister of Information whether opportunities will be given by the British Broadcasting Corporation for representatives of all the political parties to broadcast their views on post-war policy?

If I were to accept the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, the B.B.C. would have to jettison some of its news bulletins and many important programmes relating to our war effort. I am quite sure that the public do not desire that these programmes should be scrapped for the purpose of airing political differences about post-war policy.

While I recognise the importance of the war situation, as we get nearer to post-war elections should not opportunities be given to the representatives of all parties to state their views?

I am sure the House will join in congratulating the hon. Member on his growing recognition that there is a war on. The answer is "No, Sir."