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Drogheda Committee (Report)

Volume 644: debated on Monday 10 July 1961

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asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how far he has implemented the recommendations of the Drogheda Committee that all overseas information work should be based on a long-term plan not subject to short-term financial fluctuation.

Our policy on Overseas Information was set out in July, 1957, White Paper, Cmnd. 225, which took full account of the Drogheda Committee's earlier Report. In that White Paper we set out a plan of expansion expected—as the Paper showed—to take some years. Later on, we reappraised our effort, and the March, 1959, White Paper again looked forward for a considerable period. We have continued the rapid expansion of these services since then, and compared with 1957's £13 million, have provided £20·2 million this year.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great harm done in the past by sudden cuts in the budget of the British Council, the British Broadcasting Corporation Overseas Services, and the Information Services? Can he give us an assurance that it is the Government's policy to increase the effectiveness and scale of these services?

I think that the record of the last few years is the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, whether it be the B.B.C., for which expenditure has increased from £5·9 million to £7 million, or the British Council, for which expenditure has increased from £3·4 million to £6·4 million.