HC Deb 11 March 1941 vol 369 cc1148-50
40. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give time for the discussion of the Motion on the Order Paper standing in the names of the hon. Member for North Lambeth and a number of other hon. Members, relating to Political Discrimination?

[That this House strongly disapproves of making political opinion the cause of discrimination in employment in the service of the State, or of any local authority, or of any body deriving its authority from the State, except in employments where the national security and the successful prosecution of the war are directly involved.]

Mr. Attlee

I fear I can hold out no hope of time being found for discussion of the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member.

Mr. Strauss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the recent action of the B.B.C in banning artists and dismissing technicians, because of political opinions, is causing considerable concern, and will the Government take action, or give some special time for discussion?

Mr. Attlee

The attitude of the Government on this matter, that there should be no discrimination, is very well known. The matter can be raised on the Adjournment if the hon. Member has any specific case which he wishes to bring forward.

Mr. Bevan

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a Motion on the Order Paper in the names of more than 40 Members, which is evidence of desire for a Debate on the matter, and that we are entitled to ask for facilities? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise also that it is impossible to separate the B.B.C. from the Government and that great harm been done to the reputation of this country? Ought we not to sit upon another day, if there is not enough Government time for such a Debate?

Mr. James Griffiths

Will the Government look into this matter, as there is a widespread feeling that great damage is being done to our cause, here and elsewhere?

Mr. Attlee

The Government will certainly look into the matter. Hon. Members will no doubt realise the difficulty in the way of giving time to it, but there is no reason why a Debate should not take place upon the Adjournment, or later, upon a Supply Day.

Mr. Strauss

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the subject is actually out of order upon the Adjournment? When I tried to raise the matter a little time ago I was told that the subject of the B.B.C. was out of order, and that is the reason why the Motion was put upon the Order Paper.

Mr. Attlee

I see nothing about the B.B.C. in the Motion, which deals with the general question.

Mr. Mathers

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of a more recent incident, not referred to in the Question, but germane to it, where the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked for a broadcast to be made by a well-known author in this country, and facilities were refused by the B.B.C; and, as the broadcast had been widely advertised in Canada, this caused very great disappointment in the Dominion and was put down to B.B.C. intolerance?

Mr. McGovern

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a growing feeling in this country, because of the discrimination that is taking place, that we are well on the road to totalitarian government? Are the Labour Ministers prepared to do anything to protect the liberties of minorities in this matter?

Mr. Henry Strauss

When my right hon. Friend looks into the matter, will he bear in mind that, out of the first 500 signatories to the manifesto of the People's Convention, 100 had broadcast for the B.B.C? Is it not obvious that the Communists are seeking their dupes among those who have the publicity of the B.B.C?