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British Council

Volume 486: debated on Monday 16 April 1951

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in what ways it is proposed that the services hitherto rendered to the British cause in foreign countries by the British Council will be rendered in the future, now that the British Council is no longer able to render them owing to the cuts imposed upon it.

The British Council will be obliged to modify its activities in many countries as a result of the cuts made in its expenditure. However, the Council's services are not being completely withdrawn from any country, and those services which are considered most important will be fulfilled by the reduced Council's staffs remaining in the various countries. Activities which are considered less important and which the Council has had to abandon for reasons of economy will not be carried out by any other official body.

In view of the fact that it is quite clear that many things that have been done in the past will not be done at all in the future, and in view of such statements, as, for instance, that of the Vice-Chancellor of Australia's National University, that, pound for pound, the expenditure of the Council in China had brought far greater dividends to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth than any other expenditure by Britain in China in the last 50 years, is it not very desirable that some counter positive policy should take the place of the British Council's activities if they have to be so restricted?

All I can say to that is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, explained that the implementation of budgetary cuts always hurts someone, and that the Foreign Secretary thought it right, albeit reluctantly, to agree to these cuts.