HC Deb 25 January 1937 vol 319 cc564-6
34. Mr. Lyons

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that political emphasis is given in speeches and news broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation; and whether he is prepared to take action to secure that the dissemination of all information by the British Broadcasting Corporation is impartial?

Major Tryon

Since March, 1928, the British Broadcasting Corporation have been empowered to broadcast speeches and statements on topics of political controversy on the understanding that such broadcast material shall be distributed with scrupulous fairness. The manner in which the Corporation have carried out this important and difficult task was investigated by the Ullswater Committee and reported on in favourable terms. With regard to any suggestion of political bias, the Ullswater Committee stated: It has been the avowed policy of the British Broadcasting Corporation to hold the scales even between the various political parties and in this, though there have been occasional criticisms from quarters widely separated, it has on the whole been successful. The Government accepted the Ullswater Committee's findings on this subject.

Mr. Lyons

In view of the widespread and numerous complaints which have arisen in recent weeks, will the Minister consider the setting up of a committee to consider that particular point only, so as to arrange for complete impartiality?

Mr. Mabane

Would not the impartiality shown by the British Broadcasting Corporation be a worthy example for the Press of the country to follow?

Mr. A. V. Alexander

Is the Postmaster-General aware of the resentment expressed in many quarters at the final statements that were recently made in the broadcasts by Professor Haldane and the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling), and that in the latter case there was undoubtedly political bias; and is he having an inquiry made?

Major Tryon

There have unquestionably been complaints from both sides in this matter, which is an extremely difficult thing for the British Broadcasting Corporation to manage, but the Government's decision was that the Corporation should refrain from broadcasting its own opinion by way of editorial comment on current affairs. As stated in the White Paper, this rule is extended by the Government to the publications of the Corporation as well as to the broadcast programmes. The responsibility for seeing that this rule is applied rests with the Governors. I may add that I am not prepared to recommend an inquiry, seeing that we had an inquiry lasting for some months, that the committee reported and that the Government and the House have come to a decision on it.

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft

Is it not open to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to make representations to the British Broadcasting Corporation that those responsible for talks on foreign affairs should be persons of British origin and speak with a British accent?

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

May copies of these broadcasts be made available in the Library?

36. Mr. Owen Evans

asked the Postmaster-General whether the British Broadcasting Corporation have now completed their plans to establish a separate wave-length for Wales; how soon will Wales have a separate programme from other parts of the country; and whether such programme will be entirely under the control of the Welsh regional director?

Major Tryon

The Corporation have completed their plans. Wales will have a separate wave-length and separate programme as from next July. The usual wide powers of regional control over the programme will be in the hands of the regional director.