HC Deb 20 December 1937 vol 330 cc1585-8
12. Mr. R. Acland

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the intensified Italian broadcast propaganda in Arabic; and whether the British diplomatic representatives abroad are asked to report on its nature and effect?

Mr. Eden

The answer to both parts of the question is. Yes, Sir.

Mr. Acland

Would it not be worth while to let the Italians know that unless this broadcasting stops His Majesty's Government will have to consider broadcasting in Italian?

Mr. Eden

Perhaps the hon. Member will await the answer to another question on that point.

Sir William Davison

How long will it be before a proper broadcasting station is erected in Cyprus, or some other site on the Mediterranean, which will give proper British news and correct false statements?

21. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make a statement on the full reports received by His Majesty's Government in connection with Italian propaganda in Palestine?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. In view of certain reports which had been received of Italian propaganda in the Near and Middle East, I recently informed the Italian Ambassador that His Majesty's Government were well aware of this propaganda and added that unless it could be brought to an end, it would be impossible to create the atmosphere necessary to the prosecution of successful conversations designed to improve our mutual relations.

Mr. Henderson

Has any reply been received to that representation?

Mr. Eden

I said that it was a recent conversation.

Mr. Acland

If it is possible that the Italians do not desire conversations to go on, would the right hon. Gentleman make representations, as I suggested in an earlier question, that we should start broadcasting in Italian?

Mr. Eden

I think that, as far as the broadcast of news in the Near East is concerned, the House is aware that there is at the present time a broadcast of news in Arabic from Palestine.

Mr. Acland

Would not Italian be useful, too?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is not this propaganda absolutely without any precedent of any kind, and is it not an intolerable outrage?

Mr. Henderson

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Italian propaganda has ceased since the representation was made?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

In view of the fact that nearly every Government in the world is disseminating news or propaganda in foreign languages, why does the Foreign Office—presumably it is the Foreign Office—restrain the British Broadcasting Corporation from disseminating straight British news in German and Italian as well as in Arabic?

Mr. Eden

The right hon. Gentleman must not assume that the Foreign Office is restraining anybody from doing anything of that kind. At the moment, as I have said, news is being distributed in a number of foreign languages.

Mr. Morrison

Only in Arabic and Spanish.

Mr. Eden

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will put down a question to the Postmaster-General, whose Department is concerned?

Mr. De la Bère

May I ask what the B.B.C. did on 7th May?

13. Mr. Lawson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that in certain countries where British interests are concerned, Germany and Italy have appointed active representatives for purposes of propaganda; that large sums of money are spent for this purpose on the films, broadcasting, and the Press; that much of this propaganda is not merely in pursuance of the interests of these nations, but is strongly anti-British; and whether he will arrange for steps to be taken directly by the Government to deal with these activities?

Mr. Eden

I can assure the hon. Member that His Majesty's Government are fully aware of the active propaganda work being done by certain other countries in furtherance of their own point of view and interests abroad. As the House will also be aware, certain steps have recently been taken with a view to distributing objective news in particular areas. The employment of other methods of making known the British point of view is, moreover, the constant concern of His Majesty's Government, but I am not able to make any statement on the subject.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the decision recently arrived at upon this matter did not really affect other methods of propaganda besides broadcasting; and in view of recent rather startling information will he say whether the Government intend to review the whole position?

Mr. Eden

I fully appreciate the point which the hon. Gentleman has just made, but my answer covered other things beside broadcasting, and I am not in a position to make any further statement at present.

Mr. Short

Is the right hon. Gentleman in touch with the Home Office upon this matter, and particularly in respect of the admission of aliens into this country?

Mr. Eden

That has nothing to do with the question on the Paper, which is concerned with propaganda in foreign countries.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Is not this particular practice of these two countries following the bade example previously set by Soviet Russia?

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