HC Deb 06 February 1939 vol 343 cc635-6
62. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Postmaster-General the number of occasions on which Cabinet Ministers, including the Prime Minister, and other Members of the Government have had the use of broadcasting to make statements on Government policy since January, 1936; the number of times their public speeches have been reported at length by radio; and the number of times the same facilities have been afforded to Members of the Labour Opposition?

Sir W. Womersley

The questions raised by the hon. Member fall within the province of the British Broadcasting Corporation. I understand that the provision of statistics in the form desired would involve a large amount of labour, including the examination of several thousands of news bulletins. I am communicating with the Corporation on the subject and I will forward to the hon. Member the information obtained.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the hon. Member aware that there is a great disparity between the facilities afforded to Members of the Government and those afforded to Members of the Opposition, and will he advise the British Broadcasting Corporation that the same facilities which are available to Members of the Government should be made available for Members of the Opposition?

Sir W. Womersley

I am not aware of that. My information is that fair treatment is given to all parties when political questions are involved. There are other questions upon which Ministers have to broadcast which cannot in any way be described as political, and if the hon. Member takes them into account there may be a little disparity.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the hon. Member not aware that quite recently speeches of a purely political character were broadcast at length by Members of the Government, including the Prime Minister, and that this rarely happens when Members of the Opposition are making speeches in the country. Why should there he this differential treatment?

Sir W. Womersley

My information is that speeches of vast importance to the nation as a whole are given preference, and I cannot agree that the speeches of the Prime Minister were in any way political.

Captain McEwen

Does not the disparity lie in the number of voices with which the Opposition speaks?

Mr. Levy

Is it not true that these public announcements are not necessarily political but are interpreted as being political by the imagination of hon. Members of the Opposition?

Mr. De la Bère

In what category does the speech of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) come?