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Eastern Europe (British Broadcasts)

Volume 462: debated on Monday 7 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will in future arrange for his Department to limit the material supplied to the British Broadcasting Corporation for the purpose of broadcasts to the countries of Eastern Europe to information dealing only with current affairs in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.

No, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to Clause (5) of the Licence and Agreement of 29th November, 1946, between His Majesty's Postmaster - General and the British Broadcasting Corporation. This clause provides that the British Broadcasting Corporation shall obtain and accept from Government Departments such information regarding conditions in and the policies of His Majesty's Government towards the countries to which broadcasts are addressed as will enable the Corporation to plan and prepare its programmes in the national interest.

As there are so many things that are happening in Britain of which the Government are proud but which need explaining in Europe, such as frozen wages, profits reaching an all-time high, nationalisation—

The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to go into a catalogue of that sort, but should ask a question.

May I limit the catalogue and finish the question by asking whether it is not most desirable that we should limit ourselves to an explanation of what is happening in our own country, which, no doubt, many people in Europe would like to hear?

No, Sir. Where the British Broadcasting Corporation is prevented from obtaining the facts about areas to which it broadcasts, it is not only provided for in the Charter but is also essential that the Government should give them such help as they can.

Would it not save a great many Questions and a great waste of time if the Minister could give a comprehensive answer to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) that he will never do anything of which either the British Communist Party or Moscow would disapprove?