§ 38. Mr. Noel-Baker
asked the Minister of Information whether any other Department is consulted with regard to the censorship of talks broadcast in the overseas programmes of the British Broadcasting Corporation; and whether it is the 1697 policy of His Majesty's Government that nothing shall be said which has not the approval of the Departmental officials?
The B.B.C. regularly consults Government Departments, with regard to such matters and, where issues affecting the national interest are involved, it accepts the guidance of the appropriate Department upon them.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last August an official prevented an independent speaker from saying that the Greek cruiser "Hellenes" had been sunk by an Italian submarine and that last week an independent speaker was prevented from saying that if there had been an oil embargo in 1931 it would have checked the Japanese invasion of China; and does he not think that such interference with independent speakers is out of date and calculated to reduce the persuasive influence of speeches which are broadcast to many of those who are our sympathisers?
I think that distinguished Members of Parliament, although independent at the time they are broadcasting on international affairs, must expect in war-time to have their scripts censored by the appropriate authority. I am not prepared to go into the various detailed points of the two cases which the hon. Member has raised, but I have no doubt that the appropriate authority would have a case for having deleted those passages on those two occasions.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
While fully recognising, of course, that there must be consultations, may I put it that there ought to be considerable elasticity? In view of the importance of the principle involved, may I give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment at an early date?