HC Deb 04 February 1952 vol 495 cc638-9
47. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what decisions have been reached regarding the future of the European Services of the British Broadcasting Corporation, with special reference to broadcasts to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other countries behind the Iron Curtain; and whether he is aware that broadcasts have become increasingly effective during the last two years.

Mr. Eden

As my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury stated in reply to a Question on 29th January, it is intended to maintain the grant-in-aid for the overseas services of the B.B.C. at the figure approved for the current financial year. This means that the Corporation will be obliged either to drop or curtail certain overseas services in order to meet rising costs, but it is not intended to reduce in any way broadcasts to the U.S.S.R. and the countries in the Soviet orbit.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be far better if, rather than curtailing the services of the B.B.C., they were increased at the present time to enable certain statements made by the Prime Minister in the United States to be explained away?

Mr. Herbert Morrison

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that when the late Government made some reductions in expenditure on these services there was terrible opposition from the Conservative Party at that time? Is he now going to do the very thing his party opposed when in Opposition?

Mr. Eden

I am very much afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has not understood my answer. I said exactly the reverse. I said that we were not going to make any reduction.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Does not the increasing cost of these things mean that they will inevitably be reduced if the present expenditure ceiling is maintained?

Mr. Eden

I said that we were maintaining the present level of expenditure and that there would be some reduction in some connections to avoid reductions in others. The total sum would be the same.

Mr. Morrison

The services will be reduced.