HC Deb 31 January 1949 vol 460 cc1374-6
49. Mrs. Leah Manning

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will reinstate the United Nations in the list of subjects covered by the C.O.I.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I presume my hon. Friend refers to the list of subjects covered by the C.O.I. lecture service. For the reasons I gave in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) on 10th March last, I do not think that Government expenditure on lectures on the United Nations would be justified.

Mrs. Manning

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this excision from the list of lectures has caused very great anxiety to the United Nations' Association in this country who feel that this of all subjects is one about which the Government should sponsor lectures?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend will appreciate that there are many new subjects cropping up, and if we are to add all the new subjects to all the old subjects we shall have an increasing bill as we go along. There must be a limit to expenditure on these services.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Is not this really a question of dominating importance; and does not the fact that this country is one of the principal members of the United Nations lay on it some responsibility for making known the work of the United Nations?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, I do not agree. All subjects are of dominating importance according to the circumstances of the time, but we must have some discrimination, otherwise we shall merely go on adding and adding, and the limits to public expenditure, which are reasonable, will be exceeded.

Mr. David Renton

Is it not a fact that the Central Office of Information is already trying to do too much, and is not doing any of it properly? Would it not be better to comb out its activities, and confine them to really essential matters?

Mr. Morrison

I do not agree with the first part of the question. I fully agree with the latter part, and that is what I am doing.

Mrs. Florence Paton

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that the stopping of this lecture is not evidence of the fact that the British Government have lost faith in the United Nations?

Mr. Morrison

No, not at all. One must not be abstract and slogan-minded. It is not essential that lectures on the United Nations should go on for ever at the public expense merely in order to show that we believe in the United Nations. One must have a sense of relativity about these matters.

Mrs. Manning

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he looks through the list of subjects included in this lecture list, he will find a great many which can be excluded for better reasons than this one. which is of the greatest importance to the people of this country?

Mr. Morrison

That is exactly what all the other people are claiming for their subjects.

Mr. De la Bère

Why not cut out the whole lot?