HC Deb 04 October 1944 vol 403 cc943-5
71. Sir Doug;las Hacking;

asked the Minister of Information if he is aware that, by permitting a broadcast on the advantages of the Co-operative movement at 1.15 p.m. on 18th September, the B.B.C. has been guilty of a violation of paragraph 3 of the licence between the Postmaster-General and the B.B.C.; and what steps he is taking to prevent similar violations or, alternatively, to allow other trading associations to broadcast.

73. Major Mills

asked the Minister of Information whether an opportunity will be given to any associations of private traders to broadcast a reply to the reserved talk broadcast in the B.B.C. programme at 1.15 p.m. on Monday, 18th September, 1944, on behalf of the co-operative societies, in view of the fact that that broadcast, made in apparent violation of the licence granted to the B.B.C. amounted to free advertisement of the Co-operative Movement and a misuse of the B.B.C. monopoly.

Mr. Bracken

The Ministry of Information was not consulted before this broadcast celebrating the centenary of the Co-operative Movement was arranged, nor does it possess any power to require the B.B.C. to give private traders the opportunity of broadcasting a reply. I am advised that this broadcast was not a violation of Clause 3 of the B.B.C.'s Licence and Agreement with the Postmaster-General.

Sir D. Hacking;

Is the Minister aware that paragraph 3 of the licence says that the B.B.C. shall not broadcast any commercial advertisement? In order that some hon. Members may satisfy themselves whether this was a commercial advertisement, will he have a copy of the broadcast placed in the Library?

Mr. Bracken

There are plenty of precedents for broadcasts like this. For instance, a broadcast on the 250th anniversary of the Bank of England was actually given by the Governor, and I did not hear any of the people who believe in the nationalisation of the banks asking for an opportunity to reply to the Governor. There was a broadcast on the centenary of the Great Western Railway, but people who believe in the nationalisation of the railways or the road transport interests did not ask for an opportunity to reply on the B.B.C. I must ask my right hon. Friend to realise that a sense of perspective is desirable in dealing with the B.B.C.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Co-operative Movement has found it necessary to protest to the B.B.C. against the inadequate amount of publicity which was given to this historic event, which is of great interest to more than 9,000,000 families?

Mr. Bracken

Having been Minister of Information for three years I am not surprised by anything under the sun.

Sir W. Davison

Is not a broadcast about the Bank of England a very different thing from one about a trading concern like the Co-operative Movement?

Mr. Bracken

I should be very surprised indeed if the Bank of England did not regard itself as interested in trading and concerned with commerce, and in its day it has been a very considerable private trader.