HC Deb 19 September 1940 vol 365 cc192-3
45. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider, or appoint a committee to consider, the advisability of broadcasting the proceedings of the House of Commons; and, while the question is receiving consideration, will he make arrangements for important statements made in the House of Commons to be broadcast?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Attlee)

The question of broadcasting proceedings of the House of Commons has never commended itself to the House, and I do not consider that any useful purpose would be served by appointing a committee such as is suggested by my hon. Friend. The question, however, of electrically recording the Prime Minister's war statements on particular occasions with a view to subsequent broadcasting has been considered. Such an innovation, however, would require the general assent of the House, which so far has not been obtained.

Mr. Smith

This is a big step in the right direction. Will my right hon. Friend consider consulting the House as soon as possible on this question?

Captain Plugge

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the present British broadcastaing system is totally inadequate to perform this purpose? Is he further aware that it shows the lowest index figure of individual programmes per thousand inhabitants for medium and long-wave stations compared with any other country in Europe, even including Portugal, Greece and Yugoslavia? Will he adopt the recommendation of the Ullswater Committee for the appointment of a Minister of Broadcasting in this House?

Mr. Wedgwood

Will the right hon. Gentleman take an early opportunity of consulting the House in regard to broadcasts of the Prime Minister's occasional statements in this House? Is he aware that it would have an immense effect in America and all over the world if such statements could be broadcast straight from here instead of repetitions of his speeches being made under different circumstances?

Captain Piugge

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the recommendations of the Ullswater Committee, on which he himself sat, for the appointment of a Minister of Broadcasting in this House?

Mr. Attlee

That is another question. In answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood), he will realise that there are difficulties with regard to the length of the speech and the available broadcasting time, and there are very different opinions in this House as to the effect on proceedings in this House. It would not be the kind of discussion we have to-day among Members if it was to be a public statement to the whole world. These are matters which require very careful consideration.

Mr. Wedgwood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the broadcast could take place without the rest of the House or even the Prime Minister being aware of it; if the microphone was placed at the Box on the Table?