HC Deb 07 March 1947 vol 434 cc909-11

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £66,881, He granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1947, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for India and His Majesty's Secretary of State for Burma, and for sundry India and Burma services, including certain grants in aid.

3.45 p.m.

Brigadier Low

If the Under-Secretary of State will turn to Subhead B, "Travelling and incidental expenses," he will see that in the explanation on page 15 the last item is: Office, travelling and operational expenditure of the United Kingdom Publicity Organisations in India (£8,100) and Burma (£750) and United Kingdom publicity in the Persian Gulf (£600). Will he give the Committee some account of the functioning of those organisations, and perhaps explain what it is we do in the Persian Gulf that has to do with the India Office? I would like to stress, particularly at this stage after the Debate of the last two days, how important it is that our publicity in India and Burma should be of the very best type, and should put before the ordinary people of India the benefits which we in this country have given and can give to them as a people. Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain how those organisations work on what looks like a very cheap basis?

The Under-Secretary of State for India (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

The publicity organisation in India, which is under the general direction of the United Kingdom High Commissioner in India, has been established for the purpose of the presentation, through all publicity media, of British policy in all its aspects and of the British way of life. The organisation only began to function on 1st August last year, when it took over responsibility for United Kingdom publicity in India from the Information and Broadcasting Department of the Government of India. At the moment it is in the process of preparing itself for the very important and large-scale task which lies before it, and the Supplementary Estimate which is now before the Committee will, I am afraid, be followed by further Estimates because of the increased activity which the hon. and gallant Gentleman considers so important in the future of India.

As regards the organisation in Burma, a United Kingdom publicity officer was appointed to Rangoon in the autumn of 1946, and his duties are the same as those of the United Kingdom publicity officers in India. This officer has only just begun to function, and, here again, further activities will be carried on in future. As regards publicity in the Persian Gulf, there is a small publicity organisation which operates from Basra under the political Resident in the Persian Gulf. It deals with United Kingdom publicity, and also with publicity on behalf of the Government of India, and the total cost is shared by His Majesty's Government and the Government of India.

Question put, and agreed to.

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