HC Deb 22 April 1941 vol 371 cc24-6
51. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, since he gave instructions to lift the political ban on artistes and musicians performing for the British Broadcasting Corporation, Sir Hugh Roberton, conductor of the Orpheus Choir, who had previously come under the ban, has offered several concerts by his choir to the Scottish Regional director, and has been informed by him that he has not been authorised to lift the ban; and whether he will take steps to ensure that the instructions given by him are fully carried out?

The Prime Minister

I am informed that the B.B.C. Scottish director was notified by the Concert Secretary of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir of a performance to be given by Sir Hugh Roberton on a date for which the B.B.C. 's programme arrangements had already been made. The Scottish director replied that the whole matter was being reconsidered in the light of the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 20th March. The Corporation assures me that its policy in the planning of programmes and the issue of invitations to broadcast will be in accordance with that reply. This does not imply that any special favour will be shown to musical performers simply because they are engaged in propaganda unhelpful to the interests of the country.

Mr. Strauss

Is the Prime Minister aware that Sir Hugh Roberton says that when he approached the Scottish Regional director for the possibility of a concert, he was told that they could not consider it because they had had no instructions from London at all to lift the ban after the Prime Minister's statement?

The Prime Minister

I gather that, by very prompt and rapid action, they put in a demand within a few hours of my making the statement and consequently the official notification had not percolated through the usual channels.

Mr. Neil Maclean

As the Prime Minister had given a reply to the Supplementary Question of mine on that date and considerable confusion seemed to exist with regard to the wording of that, I want to know quite definitely whether, irrespective of any views held by Sir Hugh Roberton, the ban on the choir and his conducting of it is entirely removed?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, free from any bias on one side or the other.

Mr. Maclean

Then why does the Scottish director desire to reconsider the application, according to the answer of the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister

Immediately after I had given my reply a demand was put in by the manager of this choir, or by whoever conducts their business, for an opportunity to broadcast. The pro- gramme was already complete at that time, and the full directions had not reached the Scottish branch of the B.B.C. from here. Now they have, and they are going to be carried out strictly; neither will these people be given any advantage because of the views expressed nor will there be a ban because of the expression of those views.