§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield, East)
I beg to move,That this House regrets that Her Majesty's Government has failed to formulate and provide adequate finance for a long-term and co-ordinated plan for the Overseas Information Services.I move this Motion in no party spirit because in previous debates in this House on overseas information services there has been unanimity on the need for such services to be adequate to project the British point of view overseas. As "The Times" has stated, the projection of Britain overseas is a national affair to which both parties are committed.
I regret that it has been necessary for the Opposition to put forward this Motion. We have considered it necessary to do so owing to the dilatory manner in which the Government have handled the question of overseas information services since the cuts were made at the beginning of 1952. From then the position has been frozen and, despite the recommendations of the Drogheda Committee, which was appointed to make an impartial inquiry into the 2048 level of the services, no action has yet been taken.
It therefore appears to us that the Government have failed to appreciate the importance of mainaining an adequate level of these services, the contribution which they can make and the greater contribution they would make, if increased, to the creation of better understanding of British policies and institutions and the democratic way of life. They have failed to appreciate the valuable contributions which these services make in binding the Commonwealth and Colonies closer to this country, the help they give to the maintenance of British prestige and leadership, and, finally, the valuable weapon they are in the conduct of the cold war.
It appears to us that expenditure on such peaceful weapons as overseas propaganda, overseas broadcasting, and overseas information services can be more constructive in ultimately relieving tension and bringing about closer understanding between peoples than the expenditure on weapons of destruction which has been necessitated by the international situation and involves us in a very heavy defence programme. If the situation is 2049 looked at in that way I think it will be agreed that the meagre expenditure on these services is out of all proportion to the very heavy expenditure on defence. Whereas, today, we spend £1,600 million a year on destructive weapons and other aspects of defence, only £10 million is being spent on the creation of better understanding.
The delay we have experienced on the part of the Government in reaching any decision as to what should be the level of the overseas information services has a deplorable history. At the end of 1951 and the beginning of 1952 severe cuts took place in the services amounting to £500,000 per annum. The Foreign Office Information Service, the Commonwealth Relations and Colonial services were all cut and the British Council was compelled to close down many centres abroad, while the B.B.C. in particular suffered a severe diminution in its services, especially Europe and Latin America.
These cuts came on top of previous cuts which had been necessary to run the services down following the high level they had reached during the war, but, coming on top of those cuts, they did irreparable harm to the overseas services of this country. The Drogheda Committee now recommends that most of these cuts should be restored.
In this House on 2nd April, 1952, I initiated a debate on the Civil Estimates. Following that debate there was appointed an inter-Departmental Committee with the British Council and the B.B.C. represented on it which recommended, so one understands, that the level of the services should be increased, but agreement with the Treasury was not possible. Following that, this independent Committee was appointed on 30th July, 1952, with Lord Drogheda as its Chairman. That Committee did a most valuable, comprehensive job which I am sure is appreciated on both sides of the House. They sat for 12 months and reported to the Foreign Office in July, 1953. Although a year has passed since it reported to the Foreign Office, no decision has been reached by the Government as to what action they are to take on the recommendations in the Report.
It was not until nine months after the Report was presented that a summary was published as a White Paper, in April. 1954. All the House has had in 2050 regard to the views of the Government on the recommendations has been an interim statement by the Joint Under-Secretary on 1st March this year. He then said that still further examination was necessary before any decision could be reached. But he announced at that time that increases would take place in the information services of the Foreign Office, Colonial Office and Commonwealth Relations Office amounting to £330,000.
The British Council, which has suffered so much in the successive cuts, had some services cut even further as a result of that decision. Even though that statement was made at the time, the Estimates which have been published for the current year—as shown by the White Paper, Command 9192—showed that the increase amounts to only £250,000. That means that the total amount being spent today on overseas information services is £10,230,000, an increase of only £250,000 over the previous year.
Surely that small increase is not adequate to meet the rise in costs which must have taken place. Surely this country can afford to spend more than £10¼ million on these services today. We are frequently told by the Chancellor that the country is now far better off than when the present Government took over. If we are better off, why cannot the cuts which were made be restored; why cannot the recommendations of the Drogheda Committee be carried out? Have the Government not got some of their priorities wrong?
Ironically enough, on the very day after the Joint Under-Secretary made his statement in the House, further delaying the implementation of the Report, the Assistant Postmaster-General came to the House and announced that certain payments were to be made over to the Independent Television Authority to enable commercial television to start. The Government were able to find £750,000 a year, plus a loan of £2 million, to enable commercial television to start a second programme on commercial lines which was not wanted so far as we are aware, but were not able to find additional money for overseas information services.
It seems that somewhere the priorities of the Government have gone wrong. 2051 Queer standards are applied when the country can afford to put on an alternative television programme, but cannot afford to provide adequate information services overseas.
Where does the national interest come in? Where does the interest of security come when it is considered more important to hand over public money to private interests to enable them to start a second television programme than to provide money for adequate overseas information services? I say that they are not adequate at the present time; that the national interest demands that they be increased because, or partly because, of the great increase which has taken place in the broadcast services of the U.S.S.R. and her satellites.
Yesterday, in reply to a Question, the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave figures of the increase which has taken place. In 1947, the B.B.C. was broadcasting 622 programme hours weekly and the U.S.S.R. and her satellites 424. Then the B.B.C. was doing half as much again in broadcasting overseas as was the U.S.S.R. At present, the B.B.C. broadcasts have fallen to 567 programme hours weekly, whereas the figure for the U.S.S.R. and her satellites has risen to 1,307.
This increase has brought the U.S.S.R. figure up to nearly 2½ times as much as the B.B.C., compared with seven years ago, when the B.B.C. broadcasts were one-half more than the Soviet Union. With that tremendous increase in broadcasting by the Communist States, surely it is necessary that there should be adequate counter-propaganda.
In the light of these figures, and earlier figures, the Drogheda Committee recommended an increase in broadcasts by the B.B.C. and in the activities of the British Council and an increase in activity as regarding the other information services. In brief, the findings of the Committee were that the value of the information services was accepted and that there was a need for them to be increased, but although there was this need, there had been a steady diminution.
The Committee pointed out that great harm had been done by the successive cuts; that the services were inadequate and should be increased; that the best value could be obtained from the services 2052 only if they were conducted on a basis of long-term planning, that is to say, if there was a constant programme with an assured maintenance of a good level of activities and if the provision of sufficient finance to maintain this was guaranteed.
The Report also recommended that there should be greater co-ordination between the different services, and that a senior Minister should be responsible for them. Recommendations made by the Committee included a greater expenditure and a number of small additions to existing services of the Foreign Office and other prescribing Departments; a substantial increase in the work of the British Council and an increase in the services of the B.B.C., amounting, in all, to a total of about £1,845,000 per annum, which would be achieved within three to five years. This increase would bring the total amount expended on these services to only £12 million, or £12½ million, if rising costs are taken into account.
It is not difficult for the Government to decide whether or not we can afford this additional £2 million. The figure of £2 million represents a very small increase indeed compared with the country's total Budget. In fact, if the increase were granted by the Government, and £12 million were spent on information today, it would represent only one-third of 1 per cent. of the total Budget expenditure.
Surely we can afford to spend that amount on information services designed to achieve better understanding of the British way of life, our policies and our institutions. We spend £1,600 million a year to deter aggression by creating a fear of the power of this country in combination with our allies. To preserve the peace, we are justified in spending £12 million. Is it not better to appeal to the higher qualities of men rather than to their fears?
One recommendation of the Drogheda Report attracted a major share of comment and criticism in the Press, in this House and outside. It was the suggestion that the European services, the services to Western Europe, should be eliminated, except to Western Germany. I have a suspicion that when the Committee found that it was making recommendations for increased expenditure amounting to some £2 million, it was thought necessary to 2053 appease the Treasury and that some compensating economies should be found. It is coincidental that the countries not visited by members of the Committee are those which suffer. So far as I understand, though members of the Committee made wide tours of investigation overseas, there was no on the spot investigation of our information services in Europe.
In the summary of the Report the reasons why the services to Western Europe should be eliminated are not given in full. Nor are the reasons against their elimination given at all. The summary states that the "pros and cons" were included in the Report, but they are only meagrely disclosed. The two reasons given for the elimination of these services are that the B.B.C. is no longer the political force that it was during the war and that the money might be better spent oncatering for the need of the influential few rather than for that of a mass audience.These reasons are based upon a misconception. Of course, the political influence of the B.B.C. cannot be similar to what it was during the war. Then there were unique circumstances. The B.B.C. was the one free voice heard in Europe for a number of years. But Britain is still regarded as a leading Power. Britain is still turned to for leadership. It is estimated that in Western Europe there are about 5 million regular listeners to the B.B.C. and probably 1 million to 2 million listen every night to the B.B.C. in the Western European countries outside Western Germany.
I do not think that anyone will dispute that the B.B.C. presents the voice and the views of the free world, and is still regarded as speaking with the most authoritative and objective voice in Europe. London calling Europe disseminates the most honest news, and is turned to by millions who want the truth presented without bias; and who wish to learn what Britain is thinking, what she advises and what she is doing. British prestige, leadership and influence in Europe would suffer irreparable harm were this voice to be dimmed or to go unheard.
Outside North America Western Europe has, per population, probably more radio sets than any other part of the 2054 world. Here is an area where the masses may be reached through the medium of broadcasting, for broadcasting is a mass medium. With France and Italy one quarter Communist and politically unstable; with the U.S.S.R. flooding the Scandinavia ether with attacks on Western policies and on N.A.T.O., and appealing to them to follow a policy of neutralism, it is essential that this counter-propaganda should continue. It is necessary for us to continue to encourage our allies and to convince them that for the preservation of the free world they must remain our allies and that they have made the correct choice.
Hitler, Goebbels and the Communists all appealed to the mass and not to the influential few—as the Report suggests that the B.B.C. should do in Western Europe—and they appealed successfully. I regret that yesterday the Joint Under-Secretary was unable to give any assurance when I asked him to give it that these services would not be eliminated. I ask the Minister to be sure to give us that assurance today. The services must not be brought to an end. The cost of maintaining them is small. If they were eliminated, there would be a saving of a mere £135,000. That would be the saving if the services were taken away from an audience of regular listeners—not daily, but over a period—of 5 million people.
If there are 5 million regular listeners and the cost is only £135,000, that means that each listener is being obtained at a cost of only 6d. per head per annum. Is there any other way in which such excellent propaganda, such valuable information, can be conveyed at so cheap a cost as 6d. per head per annum? To save that amount and to take away from 5 million people the voice of the B.B.C. to which they want to listen, is, as "The Times" says today, a completely wrongheaded idea. We often think that the Government are wrong-headed, but surely they will not be wrong-headed to this extent. Surely they do not want to destroy the good will that has been created, to harm the prestige of this country, and to lose this audience and perhaps the frequencies which are used by the B.B.C. for the European services.
I remind the Minister that it is not easy to regain an audience built up over a long period. Once lost it is lost for ever, as happened in Latin America—an 2055 instance with which my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) intends to deal. When frequencies are given up they are snapped up immediately by other would-be broadcasters, especially the U.S.S.R. and, on occasion, the "Voice of America." I therefore ask the Joint Under-Secretary to give an assurance that these services will be continued.
Several of my hon. Friends hope to deal with the position of the British Council. I do not propose to say much about it except that it has suffered probably more than any of the information services. In that respect, the proposed cut is the most wasteful of all. A lot of spadework is necessary and a lot of capital investment is required to build up the valuable services which the British Council provides. If those services are suddenly cut off the money which has been put into creating them and obtaining the audience—the consumers, as it were; the teachers, the institutions, and so on—is lost overnight.
Fortunately, the would-be debunkers of the British Council, the Beaverbrook Press, have themselves been thoroughly debunked during recent weeks by the excellent 'booklet published by its Staff Association. I was glad to see that in tile Drogheda Report well deserved commendation is given to the work of the British Council. All the same, contrary to the recommendation of the Drogheda Committee, the British Council work is to be further cut. The work in Ceylon is to cease although the Committee recommended an increase in the work in Asia. Similarly, in Australia and New Zealand there is to be withdrawal.
We should like to hear something about the circumstances in which a decision was taken that the British Council should withdraw from these three countries. Our information is that when the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations visited those countries he gave instructions, without consultation with the British Council, that its work was to cease. There was no consultation with the Executive Committee of the Council. Instructions were given in an arbitrary manner that this work was to cease. To say the least, this was extremely discourteous behaviour on the part of the Secretary of State.
2056 I should like the Minister to tell us what is to happen to the work which was being done by the British Council in these countries. Is the recommendation of the Committee about Australia and New Zealand to be carried out? Are there to be cultural attachés to the High Commissioners' offices? We should like to know whether work is to continue and, if so, how it is to be carried on. Also, we should like to know why it cannot be carried on under the auspices of the British Council, as it was in the past.
There is a lot of work which the Council is doing in this country which could be increased to great advantage. One of the most valuable activities of the Council is in the care it takes of overseas students. For lack of adequate funds the work of the centres and hostels is severely handicapped. A large number of students who would use the Hanover Street centre are unable to do so because, in view of its financial position, it can cater only for a restricted number.
Above all, the British Council requires that there shall be long-term planning. It takes time for its plans to reach fruition. Money is wasted when it is forced to close down its activities. One of the great difficulties which faces the Council, if it does not have an assurance that its activities will not be interfered with and that sudden cuts will not be imposed, is in the recruitment of staff. It is very difficult to recruit staff if one does not know whether the work is to go on, or even whether the Council is to continue in existence.
The Drogheda Committee recommended that there should be a five-year programme both for the Council and for the B.B.C. Just as is the case with university grants and with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, so it should be with the British Council. It should be certain that it will receive adequate finance to enable it to carry out a long-term development programme.
The final recommendation of the Committee is on the co-ordination of the information services. Under the Socialist Government a senior Minister was responsible for all these services. In the first instance, it was the Lord President of the Council, my right hon. Friend the 2057 Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), and, later, it was the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). At the same time, there was a committee of Parliamentary Secretaries acting under the chairmanship of the, as it were, co-ordinator to discuss the long-term programmes and general matters concerning the overseas information services. I understand that no such committee functions today and that there is no co-ordinating Minister responsible to the House.
As I understand, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is responsible for the Central Office of Information, which is the servicing Department, and that the respective Ministers of the prescribed Departments are responsible for their own activities, but there is no Minister who brings together the various activities of those Departments and ensures that there is a long-term programme and that it is properly framed and assured of continuity. Perhaps the Joint Under-Secretary can tell us tonight what the arrangements are, if any, for the co-ordination of the information services, for without some such arrangement as we have had under previous Governments I do not see how the recommendations of the Report about long-term planning and development can be effective.
I urge the Government tonight to tell us what their attitude is towards the Drogheda Committee Report. I suggest that it is necessary for the Government to take six steps to increase the overseas services and to make them adequate, effective and efficient. First, the Government must accept in principle the recommendations of the Report with the exception of the elimination of the European services. Secondly, they must give an assurance that the Western European broadcasting services will be continued and maintained. Thirdly, the Government must give an assurance that the work of the British Council in Asia, the Commonwealth, the Colonies and this country will be extended as recommended or will be carried on by other means, either as recommended in the Report or otherwise.
Fourthly, the Government must accept the principle of long-term planning as essential to the efficient and effective co- 2058 ordination of our information services and must authorise a five-year plan to enable this to be carried out. Fifthly, the Government must assure adequate finance to maintain the agreed level of activities; that is to say, an assurance must be given to the British Council and to the B.B.C. in particular that once the long-term programmes are agreed upon there will be no sudden cuts in the activities of those bodies and no sudden imposition of restriction upon their finance. Sixthly, a senior Minister should be made responsible for the co-ordination of information services.
These are the minimum essential requirements to ensure that the voice of Britain is clearly and consistently heard as far and as wide as the interests of democracy require. They are necessary to enable this country to maintain its position of influence not only in the Commonwealth, but also in the councils of the world and to continue to play the rôle in world affairs to which its power and prestige entitle it. Only thus can we materially and effectively contribute through our information services to the preservation of the freedoms of the democratic world and to the struggle to maintain peace.
I trust that the Government will tonight give the assurances that we demand. Otherwise, when the debate comes to a close I shall have to ask my hon. Friends to divide the House.
§ Sir Robert Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
On a point of order. As one who is not seeking to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, might I respectfully point out that the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies), who has just spoken very interestingly, has taken three-quarters of an hour to address the House? If everybody else is to speak at comparable length there will be time for only three speeches in the House before the Minister winds up the debate. Can anything be done to stop the torrential flow from the Front Benches?
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)
I beg to second the Motion.
I hope that the intervention by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) will not come out of my allotted 2059 time, and that I shall be able to make my short speech without having such a burden imposed upon me.
The Motion has been ably and comprehensively moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies), and I shall try to follow his example by approaching the problem, as far as I possibly can, in a non-party spirit. Before I settle down into that groove, as it were, I am tempted to quote some words from the "Economist" of 8th May. Doubtless the Joint Under-Secretary has read them. Indeed, I do not doubt that they are burnt into his memory for they are rather bitter.
Talking about the Drogheda Report the "Economist" said:Paralysis of the will and confusion in the mind seem to seize Ministers when they are asked to make decisions about the British information services abroad. They have taken nine months to publish as a White Paper a summary of the report that the Drogheda Committee took 10 months to produce.Those are harsh words from a publication which is normally friendly to the Government. I mention the words because they indicate that even if we do not approach the matter in a vindictive spirit, other sources of public expression do.
With two of my hon. Friends and three hon. Gentlemen opposite I sat under the able and distinguished chairmanship of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) on the Select Committee on Estimates considering overseas broadcasting. A Report was published about two years ago—Report No. 287—which, if the Government had read it and had understood its explicit and implicit findings, would have resulted in our information services being much better than they are today, particularly the external service of the B.B.C., and would indeed have lightened the load of the Drogheda Committee, for in many ways the Select Committee's Report and the Drogheda Committee's Report agree.
The Report of the Select Committee was an exhaustive analysis of the whole of the organisation of this important service. One of its findings—here the Drogheda Report is in complete agreement—is that the external service of the B.B.C. needs to be financed on the basis of a quinquennial grant, similar to that 2060 in the case of the University Grants Committee.
The hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers) on 2nd April, 1952, made a strong plea for the external service to be financed over a long term. Clearly, that is a good thing to do. It does not mean that the emphasis on certain programmes cannot be changed as circumstances demand, but it means that the people who are responsible for the external service can do what the Drogheda Report said they ought to do and that is to do the work that has to be done continuously and on an adequate scale.
The Government did nothing at all about that. They listened to the Treasury opposition to putting on a proper financial basis the whole of the external service. That has had an absolutely cataclysmic effect particularly on the morale of the staff of the B.B.C.'s external service who do not know, to use a phrase from the "Economist," when the axe hanging over them in the faltering hand of the Government is going to fall upon them.
One of the explicit recommendations of the Select Committee Report and of the Drogheda Report is that something ought to be done about the transcription service which was cut to ribbons by the Government. That distinguished soldier and administrator, Major-General Sir Ian Jacob, who was Director-General of External Broadcasting at the time when we were investigating the service, made it clear that one of the most important jobs that we can do in overseas propaganda concerns the use of the transcription service; that is, by recording programmes and supplying them to overseas broadcasting stations.
Almost all those programmes go to countries which are accustomed to sponsored radio. One would, therefore, assume that a network taking a transcription service from this country would expect to be paid for playing the records, but, in fact, we discovered that the reverse was true. Many of them paid the B.B.C. for the right to use these records, with the result that the British atmosphere, which we want to create and to be appreciated, was being put out over the air from stations which normally do not provide that kind of service.
The Government have cut this external service of the B.B.C. by a quarter. It 2061 was producing 600 transcription services a year, but now the figure is cut to 450, practically all at the expense of Latin America: reports, music and all the rest, by which we were explaining the British way of life. In the view of Major-General Sir Ian Jacob, the transcription services offered one of the most effective methods of presenting our case. The Government have now cut those services.
In 1952–53, the last year for which I nave figures, the B.B.C. asked for £5½ million for its external services, which was £750,000 more than it had had in the previous year, for reasons which it could not control. For instance, £200,000 was in respect of increased salaries, and the Government must accept some responsibility when an organisation has to increase its salaries owing to the increase in the cost of living. Then, £150,000 was wanted for new developments in the Far East, the Middle East and India, and to organise the full use of the high-powered transmitter in Singapore. Another £95,000 was wanted for Latin America.
In addition, hon. Members should not forget that there are certain services which the Government want the B.B.C. to undertake and develop, but which it is not proper for me to discuss at this moment. At any rate, altogether the B.B.C. had a perfect right to ask for this increase of £750,000, but the Government said, "No; you can go back to £4¾ million, and your services will have to be cut." What suffered? Latin America, for all intents and purposes, is an almost complete blank as far as our services are concerned.
There was one thing of which the Government did take notice and that was jamming. We were all interested and pleased when the Government made it clear that the cost of overcoming jamming was not to come out of the money for the programmes, but a quite sinister note was struck, during the period when the Committee was investigating this matter, by a Treasury official who talked as if it was perfectly proper that the increased cost of overcoming jamming, because the Russians had speeded up jamming, should be found out of economies in overheads.
I hope the Joint Under-Secretary will make it clear that the Government do not accept that argument. We have already had examples of the way in which the 2062 Government proposes and the Civil Service disposes, and I hope that, on this occasion, the Government will not listen to this argument from the Treasury, but will make it quite clear that the cost of overcoming jamming is a defence cost and should not be taken out of the money provided for programmes.
I come back to Latin America, because this is an illustration of the serious effect on our services of the Government's parsimonious attitude. In 1947, we were broadcasting to Latin America, in Portugese, 3¾ hours per day; in 1951, it was cut to 3½ hours, and that half-hour was cut by the Labour Government. Today, it is 1¼ hours. In Spanish, in 1947, we broadcast to Latin America 6½ hours a day, in 1951, 5¾ hours, whereas today the programme time is approximately 1½ hours. That is all we broadcast to Latin America today.
What has happened since we made these cuts in this matter? The air abhors a vacuum. The United States and Russia stepped in and occupied the vacant air. Immediately we came off the air, these two countries went in, and here again I must quote Sir Ian Jacob, who, in paragraph 1191 of the Drogheda Report, says this:America and Britain are much more rivals on the air in South America than they are in Europe.He went further than this, and this is a reminder of what happens when we go off the air, particularly in South America, because he went on to say, speaking of tit, Russians:They have been expanding their South American broadcasts, as, in fact, they have all their others. Even though they might not fill the exact time or something of that kind, the sort of thing we find is this. Take the direct listener. If he turns on where he normally is accustomed to getting the B.B.C. and he finds the B.B.C. has gone, well, then, what is likely to happen is he turns on a little bit and he finds Moscow, and then he says Hello! What is this?' and he listens and then perhops he goes on listening; you never know.This is good advice from a man who, demonstrably, knows his business, but the Government did not listen to this advice at all.
What they did was to decide to cut the Latin American service and to send a noble Lord from another place as a member of the Government on a goodwill tour of Latin America to speak to a few hundred people at the luncheons and dinners 2063 which had been organised for him, while hundreds of thousands of people who had been listening to the voice of Britain on the air were cut off from that pleasure. With all respect, I submit that the noble Lord is no substitute for a well-organised information service.
Then, the Government sent their own mission, headed by Brigadier Crosland, to Latin America to argue the case for British trade and for the British way of life, but what has happened in the meantime is this. Germany is capturing Latin American markets, and the British United Press last week issued a précis of a United Nations Report on Latin America which says this:In the first nine months of last year, Western Germany took Britain's place as the leading European exporter to that area. Japan also increased her exports to Latin America. During the same nine months, Latin American purchases from England fell by 15 per cent.For a saving of about £100,000, we have denied ourselves the opportunity of using the radio as a protection for our trade—and it is a two-way trade with Latin America.
I hope that the Government will agree with the Drogheda Committee's recommendation that the Latin American service should be reinstituted; but let us make no mistake about it. We cannot reinstitute and run it at the same cost as we did it before. It will cost more than that. Other countries have gone ahead of us, devising programmes which are popular in the Latin American countries, and the Government will learn the cost of trying to get back on the air when once they have come out.
The Drogheda Report also suggests that, if the Latin American service starts again, the Foreign Office should act as agents for the B.B.C. I beg the Joint Under-Secretary to have nothing to do with that quite fantastic suggestion. If anybody should represent the B.B.C. it is the Board of Trade, not the Foreign Office. Whoever represents the B.B.C. in Latin America should be trained in broadcasting, and the training given to people in the Foreign Office is quite different from that given to people at the B.B.C.
One of the things that came out of the Select Committee's Report was that the Board of Trade is now represented as a prescribing member of the committee that 2064 looks after external broadcasts. I wish that the Board of Trade was represented by a stronger Minister and that he would do something towards ending the Foreign Office domination of these broadcasts. The representatives of the Foreign Office and of the Service Departments who sit on this Committee are, of course, primarily interested in defence, and they think of the schemes of broadcasting as instruments of defence. I want them also to be considered in the interest of trade. It is vital that we should consider them in that form, because that is the form in which the United States and Western Germany are considering their approach to Latin America.
What would the businessmen on the benches opposite think of a businessman who said, "I am going to give up my sales force in Lancashire, because I do not think that I can sell any more goods there. I shall cut my advertising. I shall not advertise in the newspapers and the periodicals, and I shall take my posters off the hoardings. I shall also sack my travellers." They would say, "In a few months' time that man will recognise his insanity and will go back to advertising." But hon. Members opposite who are in business will know that, when he does, he will have to take more space in the newspapers and periodicals, will have to have larger posters on the hoardings and will have to employ more travellers, because, in the meantime, his competitors will have got ahead of him.
That is precisely the situation in which we find ourselves in Latin America. Our competitors have got ahead of us because we use tactics for which a branch manager of a chain store would be fired for using. But, even at this late hour, the Government have the opportunity of putting someone in charge of our overseas information services who understands the business and who recognises that this nation bas to advertise its wares, its policy, its forces and its moral strength, and to do it with dignity and decency, and without the sort of cheese-paring which is now making a mockery of the whole service.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)
It is extremely unfortunate that the party opposite should have couched its Motion in the terms in which it appears on the Order Paper, because the projection of 2065 the British viewpoint before the world is, as the Drogheda Committee quite rightly reported, of immense importance on diplomatic, strategic and economic grounds. I think that the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) is doing a great disservice to a cause which he protests he holds dear, namely, the projection of the voice of Britain, by bringing it into the cockpit of party politics.
This a subject which could have been left out of party politics, and I think that the phrasing of the Motion is particularly unfortunate. Furthermore, it ill becomes hon. Gentlemen opposite to couch a Motion in such terms, because the present Administration have done far better than did the Labour Party when in office. Then each year we had successive cuts made under no agreed plan and for no reason beyond the necessity to make economies in order to compensate for such wild-cat extravagances as the groundnut scheme and the like. Those extravagances had to be compensated for, and there were annual cuts in the allowances made for broadcasts and other information services.
After all, some credit might have been given to the present Administration for the fact that they set up the Drogheda Committee. No attempt was made by the Labour Party when in power to set up an independent committee to investigate how the service should be run and financed. I think we all regret the introduction of this party political spirit by the hon. Gentleman opposite.
Incidentally, I would say to the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) that I was extremely grateful for his defence of the advertising fraternity, and for his recognition of the excellent work which they do abroad. It was different from the attitude which he developed during many of the debates we had on television. I am glad that at last he is a convert to the cause of advertising.
I think that all of us feel gratitude for the way in which the Drogheda Committee so painstakingly went about the preparation of its Report. It is a great pity that we have not been able to see the full Report. While I appreciate that there are possibly very good reasons why parts of it should not be published, it is a pity that we have had only a very truncated form of the Report. As the 2066 hon. Member for Enfield, East said, it is sometimes very difficult to appreciate the reasons behind some of the decisions when we do not know the arguments pro and con.
I find myself in complete and absolute agreement with the major findings of the Report, although I must admit that I am disappointed at the low level of the suggested increase in expenditure on overseas information services. I am also critical of some of the specific recommendations contained in the Report, on one or two of which I should like to comment later. Although our former economic supremacy has passed to the United States, we are still the leaders of the Commonwealth, and, as such, we retain a moral leadership throughout the world. A great many people all over the globe look to us and believe that we in this island enshrine the ideals of the free world.
I must confess that I do not think that we are noticeably winning the cold war. Indeed, I feel that the appeal of Communism is extremely strong, and that the countries menaced by the Communists are looking to us for a lead. Just because the free world lacks a common ideology it has not the same dynamic appeal as Communism. This is, I think, the more reason why we should devote the maximum amount of money for the projection of the voice of Britain and of the free democracies. The voice of America, good as it is, is not always, alas, the voice of the free world, and I believe it imperative that the voice of Britain should be heard independently, forcibly, clearly and consistently.
I understand that the United States spend some £65 million a year on information work overseas. We, with a third of their population, should at that rate spend some £22 million a year. As the hon. Gentleman opposite pointed out, we do not. We spend a mere £10½ million, with the possibility of spending £12½ million if the recommendations of the Drogheda Committee Report are accepted. No figures are available for the amount of money expended by the U.S.S.R., but such information as we have would indicate that it is far in excess of the amount expended by the United States.
The Drogheda Committee have recommended a mere £1,185,000 a year increase 2067 in expenditure. Even in the truncated version of the Report, it is obvious to anyone who knows anything about information work overseas that our resources are spread terribly thinly throughout the world, and that in practically no country are we doing an adequate job. We are holding on tenuously due to the efforts of one or two officials doing magnificent work, but we are not spending money lavishly on propaganda anywhere in the world.
Instead of recommending such a small increase, I should have hoped that the Drogheda Committee would have recommended something more consistent with the ratio of our population to that of the United States. After all, as has been pointed out, we spend £1,600 million a year on defence, and £12½ million on our overseas information service represents less than 1 per cent. of that total.
How much more effective it would be to use our information services to try to change the views of potential aggressors before coming to the final arbitrament of war. I do not think that any money spent on propaganda is misspent. I should very much like to urge my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to consider granting the modest increase suggested by Lord Drogheda and his Committee, and even to consider spending more. Since 1947, as I understand it, the work of the Overseas Information Service in all its branches has been approximately halved. That is a very serious position indeed, and when we consider that in this country alone commercial advertisers are spending on various media the sum of £200 million a year, then to appeal to the Government for £12½ million, or even £20 million, is a mere bagatelle.
It is not just because there is a Tory Administration that I make this speech. I should have made the same speech if the Labour Party had been in power. So let us face it, that the reason why we have to make these appeals is that the Government, of whatever party they may be, do not appreciate the immense importance of propaganda in our diplomatic, strategic and commercial life. We tend as a race to dislike self-advertisement. We think, quite wrongly, that if a Minister makes a statement of policy papers all over the world and the broadcasting systems of the world will report 2068 it faithfully, and that the people will read it and remember it, and that, therefore, the publicity has been done. Those of us who have spent many years in commercial as well as Government propaganda work know that is quite untrue. One has to keep on, day in, day out, with the basic message, repeating it not in one medium only but in all the media—the radio, the Press—
§ Mr. Rodgers
I thought this was a serious debate, but apparently the hon. Member does not feel it to be so. It has to be done for many reasons, in support of our foreign policy, to preserve and strengthen our ties with the Empire and Commonwealth, to increase our trade, as the hon. Member for Deptford rightly said, and to protect our investments overseas.
The Treasury—and here I agree again with the hon. Member for Deptford—always views propaganda activities with suspicion, and so I would urge my hon. Friend and all the Ministers not to be mean, not to be parsimonious, not to be shortsighted in their approach to the problem of overseas information. I am not saying that economies cannot be made. I am not saying that everything done by the C.O.I., the British Council and the B.B.C. is right and proper, or that there could not be some essential economies made in their work, but I would urge that more money should be spent on propaganda and information work even than Lord Drogheda's Committee suggested.
I agree in the main with the Committee's findings that Government activity should, in the main, be supplementary to private effort and existing channels should be made use of and that there should be inquiry as to whether or not over a period of time we reap political or economic advantage from the work done, but I hope that my hon. Friend will not overlook the point stressed by the Drogheda Committee that it would be better not to undertake information work at all than to skimp it. A message badly delivered is worse than no message at all.
I know there is today an inter-Departmental Committee under a Foreign Office chairman, but there is very little evidence of co-ordinated policy in the various 2069 regions and between the various agencies. I agree with the Drogheda Committee that we should not recreate in time of peace the Ministry of Information, but some greater co-ordination is required. Since several Ministers are involved, each with his own Departmental responsibility, I believe that that co-ordination can come only at Cabinet level, and, therefore, I hope that the Government are seriously considering the establishment of a Cabinet Committee to deal with overseas information. I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, East that it should be presided over by a senior Minister, preferably one with no Departmental responsibilities, such as the Lord Privy Seal or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In saying this, I intend no discourtesy to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, a man for whom I have abundant admiration and abundant respect.
§ Mr. Rodgers
Helping to hold, as he does, the purse strings, he is not the right person to co-ordinate this work.
I should like to hear whether the Government intend to set up the independent advisory committee that has been recommended, and if the Government will consider allowing each Department to arrive at a figure of cost for its own work within the total fund available rather than have to work, as has been the case up to date, to a ceiling imposed on it. The funds should be granted as university grants are, on a five-year basis, at least. This sort of work cannot be planned on a short term basis. One needs at least five years to carry through a plan, and I hope the Government will have the courage to fix a figure for at least five years ahead as a minimum, not as a maximum.
There should also be a reserve fund in addition to the funds allocated, so that advantage can be taken of any event that happens in the world of which advantage can be taken. To do so may require some extra work and extra money. Advantage cannot be taken of a sudden event if one has to go through the tortuous process of extracting a little more money from the Treasury, because by the time it has been obtained, the opportunity has long since 2070 passed and one is unable to take advantage of the situation for which the money was required. Any commercial propaganda unit usually has available funds for unforeseen emergencies.
I agree with the Drogheda Committee that it is unsound in principle that agencies should finance capital expenditure out of current revenue, and I hope the Government intend to see that that does not occur in the future. Would my hon. Friend also let me know what is the position about the Board of Trade Committee on Overseas Information? Has it been set up? What are its terms of reference? Who constitute it? Will it be co-ordinated with the Drogheda's Committee's recommendations?
I think I have said enough to make people realise that I believe that the Government have been penny wise and pound foolish in this matter. Therefore, it will not surprise hon. Members to know that I read with alarm the suggestion that the French, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish services should be stopped merely to save £135,000. The risks one takes to do so make one boggle. All those countries are menaced by Communist pressure.
May not this suggestion be misinterpreted? May it not seem that we are seeking closer relations with Germany because we think the French are getting weaker and the Germans are getting stronger? It could be so misinterpreted. If we discontinue our services to Portugal may not General Franco think that we are adopting an aggressive attitude towards Spain while being particularly friendly with Portugal? And so on. The misunderstanding that could follow a complete cessation of these services is quite frightening to contemplate.
There is plenty of evidence that those services have attracted substantial audiences, and it is important that we should not lose audiences that have been attracted. If need be, let us reduce the services a little, but let us hold the staff together, let us retain the people who have become experts in broadcasting to those various countries, because it is impossible to build up propaganda services over night, as we who were responsible for propaganda at the Ministry of Information in its early days discovered. It 2071 took us about one and a half to two years to build up our propaganda services in the Ministry of Information. The mistakes we made in that first year and a half are frightening to remember. Let us make all the economies we can and need to, but let my hon. Friend give us an assurance that the Government will not accept the Drogheda Committee's recommendation to cut out those broadcasts altogether to Western Europe.
Russia and the United States of America are spending vast sums on this activity of overseas information. They do it because they believe in it. They do it because they believe that strategically, diplomatically and commercially they are reaping benefits from it. Yet I venture to suggest that on grounds of security and trade, no country more than ours needs to maintain an efficient and continuous information service linking up our Empire and Commonwealth, sustaining our friends and explaining our position to our enemies.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)
As I listened to the opening remarks of the hon. Member for Seven-oaks (Mr. J. Rodgers), which were much inferior to his concluding remarks, I could not help recalling the circumstances in which the Drogheda Committee was first set up. It was set up at a time when there was a propaganda campaign in the Press, supported by many advertising interests, directed against Governmental publicity. It was set up at a time when the Government were seeking by empty and paltry gestures, such as that of reducing the number of Ministerial cars, to try to show that they were going to fulfil their election pledge of slashing expenditure.
It was undoubtedly the hope, when the Drogheda Committee was set up, that the outcome of the Committee's findings would be a recommendation for a further reduction in the expenditure on the information services. But that did not happen. Although since the Korean war—at quite the wrong time—there has been a progressive reduction in information expenditure, the Drogheda Committee has proposed that there should be a substantial increase today in expenditure for the information services. Most hon. Members will agree that at the 2072 moment that is the right course to take, but, while accepting the three principles set out in the first part of the Drogheda Committee Report, I would dissent—and this will be the burden of my remarks this evening—to a considerable extent when the Committee suggests that the pattern of the information services should be changed in such a way as to cut down our services to the West where we already have friends.
I must declare a personal interest. Like the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. MottRadclyffe), I have been a vice-chairman of the British Council for a number of years. In addition, I have broadcast frequently on the European services during the last 14 years. Nonetheless, I trust that anything which I say tonight will be considered to spring from a desire to be objective rather than partisan, and if I dwell on those two aspects of the Report it is primarily because my personal experience is chiefly concerned with the British Council and with the overseas broadcasting services.
I think everyone will be glad that the Drogheda Committee has triumphantly vindicated the work which the British Council has been doing so successfully for so many years. Despite the scurrilous vendetta which is carried on against it in certain sections of the Press, and despite the fact that at one extreme we have Moscow, which described the British Council as a British organisation for espionage, and at the other extreme we have a certain section of the Press which charges the Council with folk dancing, it is a fact that between those two extremes it is recognised that the British Council has been doing a valuable job in interpreting the British way of life to the Continent, to Asia and to all those other countries where its voice is heard.
In passing, may I be allowed to pay a word of tribute to the former director-general and chairman of the British Council, Sir Ronald Adam, for the magnificent work which he did in the years after the war in reviving and strengthening the British Council and in making it the valuable instrument of public opinion and public communication which it has become since that time.
It is agreed by all those who have seen the splendid men and women of the British Council carrying on their work in the field, whether abroad or at home, 2073 that they are doing a valuable and constructive job, and that view is endorsed by the Report of the Drogheda Committee; but it is precisely because there is that general agreement that I feel bound tonight to draw attention to the extremely discourteous way in which the Government have acted on certain of the recommendations of the Drogheda Committee in connection with the British Council.
It will be recalled that the Drogheda Committee recommended that there should be a substantial increase in the staff of the British Council in Ceylon and in certain other countries in Asia. Despite that recommendation, and entirely without reference to the executive committee of the British Council, the Minister for Commonwealth Relations quite arbitrarily announced that there would be a withdrawal of the work of the Council in Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon. That was an act of the greatest discourtesy, and I feel obliged tonight to make my protest about it.
To add insult to injury, it was stated at the time that, because the British Council is a subsidised body which depends for its income on the various Governmental Departments for funds, and upon grants from the Treasury, it had no right to demand that its voice Should be heard in this matter. The British Council may be a kept body but it has its pride; and that is why I feel obliged tonight to say that the manner in which this matter was handled by the Government was certainly not one in which a body like the British Council, which has deserved so well of the country, should be treated.
May I turn to the way in which the servants of the British Council live in a constant state of insecurity owing to the manner in which the grants to the Council are made. The Drogheda Committee Report insists that what is required for work such as that done by the British Council is a sense of security of tenure, a feeling of continuity and the belief that if some project is entered on in any given year, those concerned in it will be able to look forward to continuing their work in conection with it in the future.
Instead of that, during the time in which I have had any connection with the British Council I have seen how valuable projects have been undertaken and then have suddenly been interrupted in 2074 the middle of their development by some wholly arbitrary decision by the Treasury. The men of the Treasury are not politicians; they are not statesmen; they are mathematicians and, to some extent, financial jugglers. When they make a cut they are concerned with it merely as a bookkeeping entry. It has no relevance to the purpose of organs of information such as the British Council, the C.O.I. or, indeed, the B.B.C.
The point I want to make is that this arbitrary method of action by the Treasury is not only detrimental to the work of information but, in a sense, is apt to turn out to be more costly than if it were possible, as is proposed in the Report, to have some kind of quinquennial grant which would allow planning to be made in advance. I would give as an illustration the fact that very often—I have certainly seen it happen in the case of the British Council's activities—owing to a Treasury cut it has been necessary for an unexpired lease suddenly to be terminated, for people who have been engaged locally to have their contracts broken, for the officials of the Council to require certain compensation; and the total result, when all the compensation was added up—the compensation which had to be given as a result of the Treasury's intervention—was that it was much more costly than if the work had been allowed to continue uninterrupted.
May I turn to certain contradictions which exist in the Drogheda Report? I notice that on the one hand the Report recommends that there should be an increase in the number of information officers in France, while at the same time it recommends that the work of the British Council should be reduced and that broadcasts to France should be abolished. That seems to me to be a contradiction which is completely untenable.
I recall the exceptional work which these officers were doing in the provinces of France shortly after the war, and I know that their work was decisively brought to an end with scarcely any notice being given at all. I regret that, and I welcome the fact that it has been proposed that there should be an increase in the number of information officers who have contact with local editors, school teachers, and various anglophile bodies 2075 and who, in fact, did a splendid piece of work before their function was abolished.
I want to urge tonight that, instead of doing away with the British Council in order to strengthen the information officers, on the contrary, the British Council should be maintained in the form in which it has done such valuable work during the last few years. I am personally not at all attracted by the proposals in the Drogheda Report, which unfortunately seem to have found favour with the Government, of translating the officers of the British Council into cultural attachés.
I believe that the cultural attaché as a diplomatic agent has a certain job to perform. He is useful at embassy parties, but he is generally regarded as being a rather specialised character, and I cannot help feeling that he would in no sense serve as an adequate substitute for the corporate form of the British Council, certainly as constituted in France, with all its wide contacts and independence of outlook, with the solidarity always attributed to it, and with the stability which the British Council has had over the last nine years in France.
§ Mr. Peter Smithers (Winchester)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want to give the false impression that cultural attachés are people who only go to parties. Can he think of any better agent than the French cultural attaché in this country?
§ Mr. Edelman
I was limiting my description of the work of the cultural attaché. He is a very valuable person, but he is in no sense a substitute for a well-organised office, such as the office of the British Council in France and elsewhere. Connected with that is the substantial point proposed by the Drogheda Committee that broadcasts to France should cease. There are, indeed, proposals to stop broadcasts to a whole series of countries.
I want, for the few moments that remain to me, to confine myself to this question of the cutting down of broadcasts to France. It is a great illusion to imagine that every Frenchman loves Britain. That, indeed, is not the case. There are many Frenchmen who today 2076 turn towards Moscow rather than towards London for their inspiration. There are also many Frenchmen who live in the past and who regard Britain and France as traditional enemies.
I mention that because I believe it is absolutely necessary that we should maintain our radio communications with France. It is possible even today to go to France and see large numbers of well-educated Frenchmen who believe that we are perpetually celebrating the Coronation, and there are those who believe that we live in a perpetual atmosphere of spleen and fog. I believe that, particularly when we have pressure from the East, it is more than ever necessary to maintain our French radio service on the B.B.C.
I want to emphasise, in conclusion, that the Drogheda Report recognises that there should be continuity and security for those who are engaged in the information services, and I want to propose two things. I believe that the information services should be assimilated into a collective body and known as the Information Service. I am not proposing that the individual bodies as they exist should be amalgamated. On the contrary, I believe that they should preserve their entities, but there should be a comprehensive information service, rather like the Foreign Service, in which information officers can be mobile and move about from one activity to another, according to the strategic needs determined by the Government of the day.
I believe that the official committee as it exists now is wholly inadequate for determining the strategy of our information services. I believe that the official committee should yield to a new committee directly under a Minister of Cabinet rank, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks; I thought that that was a most valuable suggestion. I believe that, if that were done, we could hope that there would be a harmony within the various organs of information which today does not exist, and that that harmony could be assimilated to the economic and political strategy of the country as a whole.
The Government have had several years to make up their minds about the shape of their information policy. The fact that they have not done so is the basis of our charge against them today. I hope that 2077 the Joint Under-Secretary, on behalf of the Government, will be able to assure us that many of our anxieties, if not unfounded, will be allayed. I hope most emphatically that he will accept the proposals which we have made that the section of the Report which proposes the elimination of our services to Western Europe should certainly not be put into effect.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
It might be for the convenience of the House if I were to intervene at this stage to comment on and to reply to the speeches that have been made. Then, if time permits, at the end of the debate perhaps I can reply briefly to the hon. Member who winds up for the party opposite.
The Government cannot, of course, accept the Motion moved by the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies), nor do I think he would expect us to do so. None the less, I welcome the opportunity which this debate has given to the Government to receive and to consider, as we shall do, the views and comments of the House of Commons upon the Drogheda Report, and which it has given to me to provide hon. Members with facts and figures to show what we are doing and what we have done since we took office to maintain and improve our information services.
In a leading article this morning, "The Times" said that the charge levelled in the Opposition Motion against the Governmentcould have been made against the Labour Government when they were in office.I propose to show that not only could and does this charge lie against the former Labour Government, but that there is no real case for making it against Her Majesty's present Administration. First, I ask myself, what sort of coordinated and long-term policy, to use the words of the Opposition Motion, did the party opposite produce for the information services during the six years that they held office after the war? The short answer is, "None whatsoever."
In support of that contention, I quote the words of the Drogheda Report when it said: 2078Since the war the overseas information services have lived in the worst of all possible worlds"—six years of Labour Government.Reluctantly accepted as being necessary in the post-war era they have, nevertheless, been steadily whittled down. So far as we can judge this has not been done in accordance with any plan which took into account the needs of the country for propaganda abroad, but by a series of annual cuts in which the total amount available for all overseas information work was reduced by a more or less arbitrary figure.That is the charge which the Drogheda Committee have made against the party opposite.
I should not wish to quote that charge without quoting the figures to substantiate it. During the last four years of the Labour Government the overseas information budget was steadily diminished by arbitrary cuts without any plan which took into account the need for propaganda abroad. In 1948–49, the amount was £11.74 million; in 1949–50, £11 million; in 1950–51, £10.82 million; and in 1951–52—their last year in office—£10.28 million. I need hardly add that during this whole period costs steadily rose both in this country and overseas, so that the effective reduction in activity in terms of work was far greater than the figures actually show.
§ Mr. Edward Shackleton (Preston, South)
Would the hon. Gentleman continue the rather interesting figures into the period of the present Government?
§ Mr. Nutting
Yes, of course, I was proposing to do that and the comparison will be very interesting to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I remember the debate on this topic in April, 1952, when the Opposition said that, while it was perfectly right and justifiable for them to cut large whacks off the budget of the information services during their term of office, it was unforgivable, unjustifiable, nonsense and false economy for us to make one further cut, which we did immediately after we took office in 1951. The hon. Member for Enfield, East repeated this theme in his speech this evening.
With the best and most bipartisan will in the world, I cannot believe, particularly in view of what the Drogheda Committee has said, that the Labour Government, when their term of office ended, had got 2079 the information services down precisely to the right figure and that any cut beyond that would be a national disaster.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
But does not the hon. Gentleman recall that in the last year of office of the Labour Government, when we proposed to cut the service to a certain extent, there were protests in the House and we realised that we had cut them to the bone and, in fact, we increased the total amount to be spent as a result?
§ Mr. Nutting
The figures do not bear out the hon. Gentleman's contentions, nor does the Drogheda Report, because the figures for the last two years are these: in 1950–51, £10.82 million; in 1951–52, £10.28 million. According to my arithmetic, that is a reduction of £500,000 in the last year of the Labour Government.
§ Mr. Davies
Does the hon. Gentleman not remember that we made a smaller cut than was originally proposed because we realised we had gone to the absolute limit and that it was necessary to restore certain cuts?
§ Mr. Nutting
I do not know what went on in the Administration of which the hon. Gentleman was a member, and I congratulate him if he was able to save the information services from still further cuts. What I am telling him is that he was cutting the information services throughout his term of office while he was doing my job at the Foreign Office, and in the last year of the Labour Government he cut off half a million pounds. He cannot run away from that however much he does not like it.
§ Mr. Nutting
Let me carry the story a little further. It is true that when we took office in 1951 we cut the information services by a further £500,000.
§ Mr. Nutting
By £500,000. The hon. Gentleman must get his arithmetic right. Let me add, incidentally, for the information of the hon. Member who is a great 2080 supporter of the B.B.C. that none of this cut was applied to the B.B.C., whose budget remained at the figure the Labour Government had fixed.
§ Mr. Nutting
The service had to be cut because there was a rise in costs. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] There were rises in costs throughout the period of the Labour Government, and does anybody deny that costs were not increasing throughout the period of office of the Labour Government? Of course they were. I am making no complaint about this; I am simply stating the facts.
There was an effective reduction in the services of the B.B.C. when we came into office because costs were continuing to rise, but the actual figure of the B.B.C. grant remained very nearly the same as when the Labour Government had left office. However, I invite the House not to forget that we took office at the very end of October and that, as the Opposition knows very well, is the time of year when the Estimates are being prepared. We did not choose the date of the 1951 Election, nor could we be held responsible for the appalling financial crisis which this Government had to tackle immediately they got into office—and I strongly suspect that the existence of that financial crisis had a great deal to do with the determination of the date of the Election.
That crisis was not of our making, but the measures we had to take to meet and surmount it had to be taken as a matter of the utmost urgency. Some painful economies had to be made and the information services had to make their contribution. What did those cuts we had to make amount to? To judge from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, there were desperate and drastic cuts all round. This is what they amounted to: a reduction, but not an abolition, of the B.B.C. Latin American service, a further reduction upon what the Labour Party had done when in office, some reduction in the B.B.C. European services, closing the information service in Portugal, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and cutting out film distribution in Latin America and Europe. Finally, there was a cut of £241,000 or 9 per cent. in the British Council total grants, of which the Foreign Office grant-in-aid was £180,000.
2081 As against that, what have we done to extend during that same period. We opened the Khartoum information office in 1953 and reopened the Persian information office. [Laughter.] The hon. Gentleman laughs, does he not consider it important to have an information office in Persia? We have also opened an information office in Bahrein, and strengthened the offices in Beirut, Singapore, Indo-China, Burma, Japan and Siam.
§ Mr. Nutting
If the hon. Gentleman takes that point of view I invite him to take a trip to Bahrein—
§ Mr. Nutting
—and to consult the British Political Resident on the subject. He will get a little information and education.
Unlike our predecessors, we did not content ourselves with making arbitrary cuts in the information services, leaving them to get on as best they could, with no settled policy or plan, no hope of continuity, living from hand to mouth, from cut to cut, and from year to year. We decided, not the Labour Opposition, not the Labour Government, in the words of the Motion now before the House and so eloquently moved by the hon. Gentleman, that a long-term and co-ordinated plan was necessary for the overseas information services if they were to give of their best and to do the right job in the right place.
It was for this reason that I said in our debate in July, 1952, that it was high time that an inquiry was held into the political aspects and necessities of information work overseas, so that we could at least know what needed to be done and where, and whether it was being done adequately or not. Following upon my statement, and within six months of the Government taking office, we set up an official committee to investigate these questions. The committee presented its report in July, 1952, and, in the light of that report, it was decided to follow up this preliminary inquiry by the appointment of an independent committee, from people outside the Government service, to investigate the matter further and to give Ministers their views.
2082 Meanwhile, pending the result of this independent inquiry, it was agreed that the present level of activity of the information services should be maintained; in other words that they should be insulated against rising costs, as indeed they were, without having to cut down activities and work, as they had to do constantly throughout all the previous years, including—I admit it frankly—the first year of our Administration because of the cuts we were forced to make, so that they could carry on their work without the need to cut down where rising costs made it impossible to keep within the settled budget.
Thus, for the first time since the war, the overseas information services were given a breathing space by being protected against rising costs and exempted from annual cuts while a comprehensive study of their needs was being undertaken by an impartial committee. Since the costs continued to rise during the time the committee was sitting the information budget was increased from about £9¾ million for 1952–53 to just under £10 million for 1953–54.
The Drogheda Committee concluded its deliberations in July of last year and presented its Report. At this stage, I should like to join with other hon. Members in paying a very warm tribute and in offering the very real gratitude of the Government to Lord Drogheda and his Committee for the very excellent job and exhaustive study they made of this vast, complicated problem. Members of the Drogheda Committee and their chairman gave an enormous amount of their very busy lives to travelling far and wide to collect first-hand impressions of the work, needs, interests, and difficulties of the service in the Commonwealth and the Colonial Empire and in a number of foreign countries.
It is very unfair of the hon. Member for Enfield, East to say that the Drogheda Committee did not visit European countries. The Committee visited Germany and Yugoslavia and Lord Drogheda visited Rome on his way to the Far East.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
How was the Foreign Office able to recommend a State visit by the King and Queen of Sweden recently when they found it possible to sanction a cut in the information service to Scandinavia?
§ Mr. Nutting
I think that that is the most irrelevant intervention that I have heard for a long time.
The Drogheda Committee produced a valuable Report and did a very essential job. The far-reaching nature of its recommendations is in itself a measure of the need for such an exhaustive inquiry which, after six years, the party opposite failed to carry out.
I come now to the gravamen of the charge that we have delayed unduly our consideration of the Drogheda Report. It is true that we had the Report 11 months ago and have not yet been able to formulate our policy on its long-term implementation, but what is not true is that we have done nothing about it. On 1st March I announced to the House that in our present financial situation Her Majesty's Government did not feel able to accept commitments on the scale suggested without further examination.
Meanwhile, the Government had reached a decision with regard to the level of activity for 1954–55 and had decided to make available an additional £330,000 to be devoted principally to strengthening information services in South-East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe and to some reinforcement of information services to the Commonwealth and the establishment of three regional information offices in the Colonial Empire.
The House may care to have further particulars of these proposed expansions. In the Middle East we shall be opening an information office in the Persian Gulf and strengthening the information office in Beirut. In South-East Asia we shall be strengthening the information offices in Singapore, Indo-China, Burma, Japan and Siam. In Latin America we shall strengthen information offices in Sao Paulo, Lima, Caracas and Bogota. We shall be opening an information office in Sweden. The total cost of this programme will be approximately £70,000.
2084 The Colonial Office is opening three information offices in the West Indies, the Gold Coast and Nigeria at an additional cost of approximately £35,000. On the Commonwealth Relations front there will be some expansion of information work in Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon at an approximate additional cost of £10,000. The total of these expansions is about £115,000. The rest of the £330,000 to which I referred in March will be devoted to increased costs arising from the British Council and the B.B.C.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I was not clear whether the hon. Gentleman was saying that the increase in Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon was a net increase, or merely an increase in the information services, the British Council services in those countries having been scrapped.
§ Mr. Nutting
I am glad the right hon. Member raised that point so that I can make it quite clear. The saving by the withdrawal of the British Council from Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon will release about £15,000 to £16,000. Part of that is being devoted to increasing and strengthening the information offices of the Commonwealth Relations Office in those three Commonwealth countries.
§ Mr. Follick
The hon. Gentleman has just said that we have an information office in Bahrein and will open another in the Persian Gulf. That will mean we shall have two in the Persian Gulf.
§ Mr. Nutting
No, the hon. Member is confused. Perhaps I am partly responsible for confusing him, and, if so, I apologise.
We are to open an information office—I cannot tell the hon. Member whether it has actually opened yet or not, but the proposition is that part of the £70,000 extra to be spent by the Foreign Office information service will be on the opening of an information office at Bahrein. In addition, savings accruing from the withdrawal of certain of the British Council services in Europe will be devoted to improving certain basic services of the Council where its activities warrant the highest priority.
In terms of the results which these expansions will achieve I believe they will compensate for many of the reductions we were forced to make when we 2085 came into office. They are, perforce, modest since a large proportion of the total increase, I regret to say, will be taken up in meeting the increased costs of the B.B.C. and the British Council. At the very least, however, this expansion programme shows that under this Government the information services have not been subjected to a continuous, yearly, downhill, depressing progression of cuts without consideration of the political requirements which these services serve. Hon. Members opposite should realise how much better our record is than theirs in that we have taken the trouble first to find out the facts and, having found out the facts, to make immediate provision to meet the most urgent first requirements. Meanwhile, as regards the long term, Her Majesty's Government have not yet reached a final conclusion.
I do not think that this is unreasonable, nor should it be a matter for criticism. It is all very well to say that an expansion programme of £2 million a year with about £½ million for capital expenditure is a drop in the ocean and can be undertaken without careful thought. If we took that view of every proposal the taxpayer would have to meet an astronomical Budget. The Drogheda Committee specifically excluded any question of finance and what the country can afford from their considerations and terms of reference. That was not for that Committee to decide and determine. The whole purpose of its inquiry was to look at the other side of the medal to see what was needed to be done. The duty of the Government is wider than that. The duty of the Government and, I humbly suggest, the duty of the House of Commons is to balance the necessities and desirabilities against what the nation and the taxpayer can afford to pay.
The hon. Member for Enfield, East said that the Chancellor had told us how much better off the country is. The reason is that there is so much more adequate and closer control of the country's expenditure. Any long-term plan for the overseas information services must accord with the long-term financial prospects of the nation. Otherwise, one cannot hope to be able to carry it into operation. I submit in answer to the hon. Member that the worst possible service we could render to ourselves and the aims of our propaganda services 2086 abroad would be to say now that we accept the recommendation of the Drogheda Committee. I was asked to accept them in principle. What is the use of accepting them in principle if we cannot carry them out and if we find, in two or three years, that we cannot afford to put them into operation? That would be the worst possible service to ourselves and the information services.
Surely the hon. Gentleman, who held my office in the Foreign Office and dealt with this subject, has learned the lesson which certainly a very short time at the Foreign Office has convinced me of—the lesson of the post-war years—that continuity, particularly in the financial field, is essential for a good and efficient information service. Therefore, the Drogheda recommendations must be considered not only upon their own merits, but also against the background of the constant need to make and maintain economies in Government expenditure.
I now turn to one or two of the detailed points raised by hon. Members. First, the hon. Member for Enfield, East raised the question of the B.B.C. broadcasts as compared with those of the Soviet Union and her satellites. It is quite true that broadcasts of the Soviet Union and her satellites have increased, as the hon. Member himself quoted from the answer given to him by my hon. Friend yesterday. I would say, in answer to him, that the really big cut in the programme hours of the B.B.C. took place between 1950 and 1951, when he was responsible, and not me. I was very pleased to find out that we have reinstated the programme hours, and that I am now three programme hours ahead of the hon. Gentleman, compared with the last year of his Administration.
Further, since 1953, the general level of activity of the B.B.C. external services has been maintained by Her Majesty's Government, including provision for rising costs and provision for anti-jamming. I can assure the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), who is not in his place, that that provision will, of course, have to continue.
The total volume of external broadcasting by the free world—I hope this is 2087 some comfort to the hon. Gentleman—still greatly exceeds that of the Soviet Union and her satellites.
§ Mr. Nutting
It includes all the major N.A.T.O. countries and Yugoslavia. For the information of the hon. Member, I would say that the major N.A.T.O. countries include the United States of America.
It will, therefore, be some comfort to the hon. Member for Enfield, East, that I can tell him that the total broadcasting time of the major N.A.T.O. countries plus Yugoslavia is substantially more than 2,000 programme hours weekly. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have heard that."] A little repetition comes very well from time to time. That figure is nearly twice that of the programme hours of Russia and her satellites.
The hon. Gentleman further criticised the proposal in the Drogheda Report that the B.B.C. should be withdrawn from Western Europe, and he asked me to give a categorical assurance that we would not carry out that proposal. I have said that the whole problem of our information services, and in particular the Drogheda Report—this goes for the economies as well as the expansions—are now being examined in the light of our other commitments and resources. I cannot, therefore, give any assurance to the House on points of detail, whether it be on economies or expansion, until this review is completed as a whole.
The hon. Member for Deptford was very critical of our treatment of the Latin American services. First, it is not quite true to say that we cut those services. There was an enforced cut during our term of office, but our cut was imposed by rising costs and not by any reduced appropriation for the B.B.C. through their grant-in-aid.
I wish to say a few words about the British Council, which the hon. Members for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) and Enfield, East mentioned. I entirely agree with them that if we want to get good people and good results continuity is nowhere more essential than in the sphere of the British Council.
This criticism that we have not provided for continuity comes ill from the 2088 party opposite because the cuts imposed were, in 1948, £338,000; in 1949, £117,000; in 1950, £179,000; and, in 1951, £382,000; whereas, in 1952, we cut them by £241,000. We have now saved £56,000 on British Council services in Europe and all that money is being redeployed. Not a penny has been returned to the Treasury, the whole lot is being redeployed. Therefore, it does not come well from the Opposition to criticise us for our treatment of the British Council.
What is more, most of the principal cuts made by the former Labour Government from 1948 to 1949 and from 1950 to 1951 were made in precisely those areas or categories which the Drogheda Committee declared to be of the greatest importance—the Middle East and the supply services—and that is where we have redeployed the savings which we have made by reducing the British Council services in Europe.
I would add only this about the British Council. I would join with hon. Members in paying tribute particularly to the work it has done in the educational and training field. The Drogheda Committee—and I will go to this extent in commenting on its recommendations—said that the accent should be put on the under-delevoped territories. That is precisely what we have been doing with the British Council. All the three overseas Departments using the services of the British Council have been doing that for some considerable time. We agree that that is where the British Council could make its best effort.
I join with hon. Members in repudiating emphatically the very unfair and scurrilous Press campaign directed by a certain section of the newspapers against the British Council. I very much hope that the booklet which the British Council has turned out in its own defence will receive almost the same circulation as the newspapers to which they replied. I fear that it will not receive quite the same circulation, but I wish that I could think that it would.
Finally, a word on the question of coordination—[HON. MEMBERS: "W hat about Ceylon?"] I am sorry, the hon. Member raised the question of the withdrawals of the British Council from Ceylon, Australia and New Zealand. The responsibility for deciding how the 2089 British Council resources can best be used in the Commonwealth must rest with the Commonwealth Secretary, and on his return from his Commonwealth tour the Secretary of State informed the Chairman of the Executive of the British Council of the reasons for his decision to withdraw the Council from Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon.
He discussed with the Chairman the consequential arrangements involved. It is true that there was no consultation in advance, but a decision had to be taken, and after all, the Commonwealth Secretary is the responsible Minister. It is for him to make these decisions. He is responsible to Parliament for these decisions, and it is for him to make them and not the Chairman of the British Council.
§ Mr. Nutting
May I conclude my comments on this as I wish the House to realise what moved the Secretary of State to make this decision? It was felt by him that it would be more economical to devote the resources available to strenghthen the local information services in Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon rather than to continue separate British Council organisations in these countries.
I was asked what provision will be made for the future. The answer is that in Australia and New Zealand much has already been done and will still further be done by unofficial organisations such as the Empire Society, the Australian Theatre Trust and so on. The Commonwealth Relations Office and the local information services will always be available to help and to assist them. In Ceylon, discussions are proceeding with the Council with a view to maintaining their essential services in Ceylon, such as lecturers, scholarships, bursaries, and so on.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Although on points of procedure we recognise the responsibility of the Minister for Commonwealth Relations in regard to the British Council, is not the Minister aware that the British Council is an independent body with its own Charter and that policy decisions are in the hands of independent voluntary workers on the Executive Committee? What reason could there have been for the Minister to take this vastly important decision about the British 2090 Council without consultation with the Executive Committee?
§ Mr. Nutting
I think the Minister was perfectly entitled to take this decision. He was engaged on a very long tour of the Commonwealth. He went into the question very thoroughly on the spot. The people on the spot must be held to know more about the relative needs for certain information services as between one branch or one agency of the service and another than somebody who is sitting in London.
It was as a result of exhaustive inquiries and discussions on the spot that my noble Friend Lord Swinton, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations took this decision.
§ Mr. Mayhewrose—
§ Mr. Nutting
I really must get on. Hon. Members on both sides want to take part in the debate and I want to allow them as much time as possible.
I was asked about co-ordination. I disagree flatly with all the suggestions which have been made by the opposite benches about co-ordination. I hope that the consideration by the Government of the Drogheda Committee's Report will be the last occasion on which the information services will be considered as a whole. Each Departmental information service is the arm of its own Minister. He is responsible for it and he must fight for it, as it fights for him.
I do not agree that it would be a good thing to have an information service, as rocemmended by the hon. Member for Coventry, North, for this very reason. The information service must exist for the use of the Departmental Minister in each overseas Department. We believe that that is a very much better way to allow it to function than to amalgamate it and to seek to co-ordinate it, as was done under the Labour Government, when I do not believe that it was done very effectively.
I assure the House that the Government pay the fullest regard to the need for adequate and effective information services to support our foreign, Commonwealth and Colonial policies We believe that these are essential today both as a weapon in the cold war and also as a means of maintaining this country's commercial position overseas. We accept that the services are an essential weapon and we 2091 accept, too, that to beeffective information work must be done well, must be done adequately and in the right place and it must be done on the basis of continuity.
From what I have said about our record in the matter I think I have shown the House that we have taken practical measures to maintain, to improve and to expand the information services in certain essential directions. Judged against the record of the party opposite, we have nothing to be ashamed of. It does not lie in their mouths to criticise us because we are taking time, and rightly taking our time, to do the right thing, when, for six years, they failed to do the right thing themselves. For these reasons, I ask the House to reject the Motion.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
I do not feel that the Minister's defence of the Government's action in relation to the withdrawal of the British Council in Ceylon was at all adequate or satisfactory. There are two points involved. One is the substantial question whether the British Council should be withdrawn from Ceylon. The second is the procedural question whether the Minister had any right to take this decision without consultation with the British Council itself.
On the first point of whether the Government are justified in withdrawing the British Council from Ceylon, the Minister stated that the people on the spot must judge; but, of course, the Drogheda Committee has reported on the British Council in Ceylon. That Committee's recommendation was, so far from withdrawing the British Council, that there should be a substantial increase of its activities and staff there. It is all very well for the Minister to say that the people on the spot should judge, but it was Lord Drogheda himself who went to Ceylon and who made a most careful examination and came to the conclusion that the work of the British Council was first-class and important and that it should be continued and expanded.
Lord Swinton goes out for a few days to Ceylon, and when he comes back he not only takes the decision, which is wrong in principle to withdraw the Council, but takes it, it appears, as a result of a whim, on the spur of the moment, without even consulting the executive 2092 committee of the British Council. The protests about the action have been very widespread. The withdrawal from Ceylon raises wider implications, and I feel justified in saying a little more about it.
It raises the whole question of the status and independence of the British Council itself. The Drogheda Committee rightly places emphasis on the value for the purposes of its work of having the British Council independent of the Government, independent of politics and independent of governmental propaganda. Certainly in the case of Asia, where the Drogheda Committee recommends that the British Council's work should be expanded, I believe it is generally agreed on both sides of the House that the independence of the British Council should be preserved if it is to have its maximum effect.
With regard to the attitude of the Government—not only that of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations; this applies to the Treasury as well, but I will exonerate the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office—some Government Departments are tending to look upon the British Council far too much as a group of civil servants who take orders from Ministers and as a Government Department instead of an independent body with its own charter. As I said in my intervention to the Minister, the British Council is a group of purely independent, voluntary and, in many cases, distinguished citizens of this country. Two hon. Members opposite sit with me on its executive committee. We are not civil servants, and we do not want to be treated as civil servants. It is for the good of the British Council that it should be treated as an independent body, as Parliament intended that it should. The action of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations infringes upon that intention, and it is only one instance of several which could be quoted. I hope that in future the Government will mend their ways in this respect.
The second broad implication of the decision with regard to Ceylon is that it really will not do for the Government to insist one year that the British Council should go into a key country because vital British interests demand it, and a few years later demand its recall. Having been asked to go into a key country, the British Council spends money, time and 2093 energy in establishing itself and its personnel there, as the Commonwealth Relations Office asks it to do. Then, a year or two later, the Government come along and demand its withdrawal, in this case without any reasons being given to the tender plant raised by the British Council. The Commonwealth Relations Office itself demanded that the British Council should go into Ceylon in 1950. Now, without even telling the British Council and without consulting the Ceylon Government, it decides that the British Council should be withdrawn. The net results so far as information affairs are concerned of the visit of Lord Swinton to Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon have been misunderstanding, ill will and waste of public money. I very strongly hope that that will be looked into.
One has to discriminate a little between various Government Departments on the information front. My experience suggests that some are a good deal better at this than others. I believe that in the Foreign Office, to some extent, the value of this work is appreciated, but I am thoroughly disappointed by the attitude of the Commonwealth Relations Office over the whole field of information policy. I note without surprise that the Drogheda Committee goes as far as it can towards censuring the Commonwealth Relations Office. On page 25 of its Report it says:We attach the greatest importance to there being an efficient United Kingdom Information Service in the Commonwealth in order to help to strengthen all those links which now maintain the free association of the diverse nations of the Commonwealth. We are not satisfied that this problem has received enough attention; and we recommend that a new and vigorous impulse should be given to building up the Information Service of the Commonwealth Relations Office to proper strength ….A little later on the Report says:We believe that this Department requires some strengthening in staff and all the support that can be given to it at a high level in the Commonwealth Relations Office in order to link it closely with the higher direction of policy.The Drogheda Committee goes as far as it could towards censuring the Commonwealth Relations Office, and I want to ask the Minister this. My information is that further censure of Lord Swinton is contained in the Drogheda Committee's Report, and I want to ask him if that is so, and, if it is, why it is not published in the White Paper. 2094 Plainly, it would be most misleading to give the House only part of the Report of the Drogheda Committee in this respect. If the Commonwealth Relations Office is further censured, it will certainly tie up with my personal experience of information policy in that Department.
There is another instance that I should like to quote of the failure of the Government in a new field, though a very important one, of information activity, and that is the export of recorded television programmes, to which the Drogheda Report refers. In my view, it under-estimates the importance of this subject. Perhaps I ought to declare a small financial interest here, though, as I shall show a little later, I am one of those television performers whose programmes are not shown abroad, owing, I think, partly to the action of the Government.
I have made a study of the overseas information question and of the possibility of building up a great export market for British television programme recordings, which I think is a very serious possibility and a good proposition. Not only is the impact of these programmes considerable—and we all know that the impact of television is supposed to be greater than the impact of the printed word or even of sound radio—but the impact of a half-hour television programme in the Canadian or United States television systems, or even in Australia—a good B.B.C. television programme—is out of all proportion greater than that of halfan-hour of broadcasting or of an attractively produced propaganda leaflet. I hope the Government will take this seriously, because it is also profitable. Great profits can be made by the sale of recorded television programmes in the dollar markets in Latin America, the United States and in Canada today. We could not only put out the British way of life, but also make dollars while doing it, instead of spending money, as is the case with other programmes.
§ Mr. Smithers
Does the hon. Gentleman share my view that it is also very important to get the fullest measure of British participation in European television programmes, from the political point of view, because they might well otherwise be monopolised by Germany?
§ Mr. Mayhew
I could not agree more, and I hope that, in some of the football programmes, we shall have British teams playing occasionally. I do agree that exchange of programme on that basis is of great importance, but I am speaking of recorded television programmes, and I suppose the hon. Gentleman will agree that this is a great opportunity to which far too little attention has been paid in the Committee's Report.
I now want to ask what is the attitude of the Government to this matter. In May, 1952, the B.B.C. put up to the Government a scheme for the export of recorded television programmes at a time when the market for recorded television programmes was wide open to the first-comer. The B.B.C. put up a scheme by which, for a loan of £750,000 a year for three years, they would, in fact, go all out to capture the world market in television programmes. Unlike the Home Service of the B.B.C. the external services cannot borrow money, and they have to borrow from the Government as the only way out. I understand that this project was turned down flat and that no alternative was put forward by the Government. In the intervening period, it can be said without exaggeration that the world market for recorded television programmes has been captured by the United States, and I should therefore like to ask the Minister to state what is the attitude of the Government on this very important point.
As regards Canada, I happen to know that there is a tremendous demand for B.B.C. television programmes, in order to try to combat the cultural flood which comes up from the United States of America both on commercial radio and television services. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has been almost on its knees for B.B.C. material, but the Government has sabotaged the B.B.C.'s plan without suggesting anything as an alternative I should like the hon. Gentleman to consider that. My information is that Lord Swinton was chiefly responsible for turning down this proposition. My information is that the only reason he gives is that it is a job for private enterprise, and that when the commercial television people get going exports of television programmes can take place, but not until then. I should like the hon. 2096 Gentleman to explain what is the reason for that.
However, my main purpose is to urge on the hon. Gentleman not to be content with the statement he has just made to us about the future of the British Council. What he said in effect—and he said it as though conceding something to the British Council—was that the cuts he is making will be fully compensated for because the same amount of money will go to expanding the British Council in its priority area. That is nothing like what we demand. It is nothing like what the Drogheda Committee recommends. The Drogheda Committee recommends that £600,000 more should be spent as a matter of urgency in expanding the British Council's work, particularly in India, Pakistan and Ceylon riot that it should be cut down in Europe and that the equivalent amount saved should be spent in those countries, but that an increase of £600,000 should be given to the British Council in the near future.
I have recently been in India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon and seen the British Council's work there, and I am absolutely convinced that if we are to maintain the British Commonwealth connection in Asia, especially in India, the work of the British Council is vital. It is so in keeping alive the English language in India and in keeping alive the English language in Ceylon. It may make all the difference between India's being an English-speaking country in 20 years' time or not whether we take seriously the rôle of the British Council in Asia. It is a matter of the utmost importance for Commonwealth relations and the future balance of power in the world.
I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider again this miserable suggestion of making cuts in the services to Europe and putting the money saved into the services to Asia. We must vastly expand our work in Asia as a matter of national interest, and as a priority matter. I hope for a much more generous and ambitious approach to the whole question of overseas information by the Government.
§ Mr. Christopher Hollis (Devizes)
On a point of order. May I respectfully draw your attention to the fact, Mr. Speaker, 2097 that during the debate only one Member on the Conservative back benches has been called?
§ Mr. Speaker
I realise that, but the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs did make a long speech.
§ 9.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Shackleton (Preston, South)
I regret, as the whole House does, that the time does not allow another hon. Member opposite to speak in the wake of the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers) who, apart from his first sentences, made a number of constructive proposals. The blame lies on the Joint Under-Secretary of State, who spoke for 40 minutes, though 30 minutes of his speech were devoted to attacking the Opposition. My hon. Friends who moved and seconded the Motion did so in moderate language.
§ Mr. Shackleton
The hon. Gentleman is being absurd if he thinks that every Motion regretting the Government has not done something is a Motion of censure, and I think it would be more convenient if he would give serious attention to the subjects we discuss. He has asked that he should be given leave to reply to the debate further. It is my intention to fulfil my undertaking to give him the five minutes for which he asked, but if he does not do better than he did in his last speech it is doubtful whether any useful purpose will be served.
My hon. Friends on this side and the hon. Member for Sevenoaks opposite have made some constructive remarks. Mostly, they related to the Drogheda Report. I think it would be well to consider how the Government's information services could be organised.
I should be the first to agree that I was not entirely satisfied with the performance of the last Government, but we want to look at the problem which confronts us as a nation, as, indeed, the hon. Member for Sevenoaks tried to do. We have the advantage of the Drogheda Committee Report to guide us. The most important aspect of the Report is that it lays down in unequivocal language, which I hope 2098 will be convincing to everyone else, if not to the Beaverbrook Press, the importance of these overseas services, and I think the Government should give more serious consideration, both to the detailed proposals and to the wider and more general proposals. I want to refer to some of them and to make some criticisms of the Drogheda Committee Report.
The chief problem in examining the Report is that it is little more than a precis of the original report, and I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Member for Sevenoaks in saying that it is extremely unsatisfactory that a great deal of it reads rather like a list of pious aspirations and truisms which I am quite sure do not do justice to the members of the Committee.
If there were time I should like to quote some of the more inane remarks which appear in the White Paper, but perhaps the silliest is the apparent conflict in the minds of the Drogheda Committee, if this White Paper satisfactorily represents the Committee's views, about the responsibilities of the information services. There is one remarkable sentence in the summary which says that it is much better done by private enterprise. Whether the phrase "private enterprise" is used in the political sense or whether it means merely private individuals is not clear. Obviously the presentation of Britain is in the hands of individuals who go abroad, whether they be Government servants, business men or tourists, but from the organised point of view the main effort must be through the Government organised services, and it is in that connection that we must look at these proposals.
Several of my hon. Friends have pointed to the extraordinary omissions from the Drogheda Committee's Report, not least of which has been the complete failure—and the Minister himself has been guilty of exactly the same thing—to refer to the Ninth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates. I wondered whether the Drogheda Committee had read it, and I wonder whether the Minister has read it, because when he was defending the Government's record, he said, "We at least set up a committee of inquiry." There was already an adequate Report from the Select Committee on Estimates and it is a pity 2099 that he has not acted on some of its findings.
The House will, I am sure, agree that it would be a tragedy if we were substantially to cut down our European services. Not only is the European service fundamental in the conflict which, in the high words of the Joint Under-Secretary on a previous occasion, is taking place in the battle for men's souls or men's minds, but it is also a fact that most of our closest associations, affiliations and friendships lie with the European nations, and it would be deplorable if we were to follow the Drogheda Committee's suggestions and cut out entirely, or almost entirely, the B.B.C. services and, indeed, many of the British Council's services to these old friends and allies.
The Drogheda Committee Report contains a number of inconsistencies in these matters. On page 8 we read:The 'Cold War,' 'essentially a struggle for men's minds,' and the British rôle in the Western Alliance required effort to promote our case behind the Iron Curtain, to fortify weak nations and to prevent misunderstanding and promote relations of confidence between ourselves and our Allies.That, surely, must cover, if anybody, the Powers of N.A.T.O. and the Powers who are allied with us in Western Europe. Although the Government still refuse to make up their minds or to tell us, after all the months they have had to consider it, in view of the opinions expressed quite clearly from both sides of the House I cannot believe that they contemplate a wholesale destruction of the B.B.C. European services or the other cultural activities in Europe.
It is clear, despite the Under Secretary's defence of the Drogheda Committee and the charges that its members had not visited Europe, that they had made no very close investigation of the situation in these European countries, otherwise they could not possibly have come to these conclusions in the light of the evidence which is available, and which is available quite freely to hon. Members and the public at large if they want to have it.
One other point which I should like to make is that it is no use broadcasting to South America unless the South Americans have radio sets, and there are many more radio sets in Europe than in 2100 South America. In spite of what is going on in Guatemala, I would regard the European scene as more important to this country than the South American one, but that is not to suggest that we should cut down broadcasts to South America.
There are one or two details to which I should like the Minister to give attention in the actual presentation of the B.B.C. broadcasts. It is a fact that today the B.B.C. are spending only about £35 per week programme cost—and the Minister will know what I mean by that—on our broadcasts to Russia, whereas we are spending about £500 per week programme cost on our programmes to France. That seems to me to be disproportionate. I think that some balancing up in the programme costs is necessary, and it would be desirable that the B.B.C. should take into account the feelings and the needs of the present time.
The Minister and some hon. Members referred to the tremendous Russian expansion in the field of propaganda. I should like to examine the Joint Under-Secretary's statement in more detail, but I am under the impression that at present the Iron Curtain countries are putting out far more radio propaganda than the Western nations.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)
Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman in his argument. In the case of Denmark, one of the countries to which the Drogheda Committee propose we should cease broadcasting, Russian and Cominform countries broadcast material has increased fourfold in the last two years.
§ Mr. Shackleton
I am much obliged to the hon. Member, and I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will take note of that, because he gave the impression that we were doing fairly well and holding our own quite comfortably in this direction.
I should like to ask the Joint Under-Secretary what the Government's attitude is to the specific recommendation of the Select Committee, to which certain of my hon. Friends referred, with regard to the development of the export of television programmes in the form of "canned" or recorded programmes. It is really too bad that this country has lost the advantage that the proposals made some years ago could have given it throughout the world, if, in fact, the Government do adopt these proposals.
2101 It may be that the previous Government are also to some extent to blame, but that is not good enough. The present Government, in view of the Minister's passionate defence of their record, can now no longer hide behind the excuse that the Labour Government have not done it either. I would draw his attention to the particular passage in the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, on page 84, and he will see that there are proposals there which would also be self-financing, and that surely should appeal to the Government.
I should like to refer to certain other aspects of the Drogheda Report to which the Minister paid no attention at all. One of his more interesting remarks towards the end of his speech was that each information department should be responsible to the particular Departmental Minister, and he suggested that their job was to fight for them. Who fights for the Central Office of Information? I can hardly believe that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury fights very hard for them. This, if I may say so as strongly as I can, is clear proof that the Government have not really thought this problem out, because the Central Office of Information is a fundamental part of our overseas information services.
The Central Office of Information provides much of the material and it provides documentary films. It is part of what is called the ammunition dump for the people actually in the field. It is deplorable that the Minister never even referred to the important work that these people do. It may be that my choice of the words "ammunition dump" was not a happy one. Perhaps I should say that it is the source of important raw material for those operating the information services in the field.
Let me give the Under-Secretary an example of the consequence of the reduction in the Central Office of Information. Anybody accustomed to writing an article for transmission abroad for publication in overseas newspapers is today finding it much more difficult to get this work. Consequently, the overseas newspapers are not getting the continuity of presentation that existed previously. This is bound to have a detrimental effect on our information services.
Another aspect of the work of the information services, to which neither the 2102 Minister nor the Drogheda Committee referred, is the work of the Travel Association. Some hon. Members opposite are, I know, extremely interested in the work of that association. It is a body which, financed to the tune of about £750,000 of Government money, is doing a first-rate job and is, furthermore, bringing to this country a great deal of commercial profit as well as propaganda profit. I am sorry that in his rather loose survey the Minister made no reference to the Travel Association.
My hon. Friends have dealt at some length with the subject of the British Council. We would still like to know from the Under-Secretary when he replies whether the noble Lord the Minister for Commonwealth Relations consulted the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon before he arbitrarily closed the British Council offices there. It seems quite outrageous that a Minister, whatever his responsibilities, should take this type of arbitrary action without consulting either the British Council or the Governments concerned.
Since, I understand, as part of this vague pattern of information services, the noble Lord in question has some vague public relations responsibilities, and there has been some mention of them, I should like to know exactly what he is supposed to do in this field. I have tried to find out privately from certain Members of the Government. All that they could tell me was that they believed he had a public relations responsibility on the home front. I can only say that I hope he discharges it better than he does in the field of the Commonwealth.
The truth of the matter is that the men and women in the British Council are doing a first-rate job of work, and the one part of the Minister's speech to which I pay full credit was his reference to the deplorable attacks that have been made on the British Council. If he gets an honourable mention by "Back Bencher"—[An HON. MEMBER: "Cross Bencher.' "] I am sorry, "Cross Bencher"—I am quite sure he will be prepared to take it.
I should also like the Under-Secretary, in considering the future of the European Services, to bear specially in mind the needs of Austria. It would be a tragedy again if, following the recommendations of the Drogheda Report, the British 2103 Council offices in Austria were wound up. There is a country which is under tremendous pressure and where it is extremely important that the type of cultural relationship which the British Council representatives have built up so extremely well should be maintained, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will contrive to see that the work is kept going.
The hon. Gentleman said very little about the work of the Foreign Office, which is his own Department, and I think it is worth referring to that part of the Drogheda Report which called the information service in New York a model of what an information service should be. But I think it is unfortunate that the Foreign Office have, in fact, got a false idea in judging what the pattern of information services in this country should be, because they have something of a vested interest by virtue of their own responsibilities in this field. I think a case has been made for some senior Minister with a general responsibility for co-ordinating this service apart from the Foreign Secretary.
What we wanted to know from the Minister was the attitude of the Government to the Drogheda Report. I think the House knows all too well and too painfully that it is one of indifference and refusal to face the real responsibility of putting the British case across to the world. Of course, we realise that the party opposite is bedevilled by some of their propaganda speeches made when in Opposition, but I think the Minister might have made a speech which bore a little less relationship to the type of speeches made in Opposition.
There is every reason why somebody should face up to the job of organising our information services, and I should like to draw attention to the actual wording of the Report, where it says:One seeks in vain for any individual or Department in a position to lay down an overall policy for our propaganda overseas or able to decide in what manner the resources available for propaganda can be deployed to the best advantage.The hon. Gentleman in reply, has said, in effect, "Leave it to the various Departmental Ministers."
I believe that a case for a co-ordinating Minister—after all, this Government was 2104 very fond of co-ordinating Ministers in an earlier period of their career—has been made out. If there is one case where a co-ordinating Minister is necessary it is in this particular field, and I am sure hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House who are aware of this problem are inclined to agree with me. I therefore ask the Minister very seriously to consider the point of view put forward, which is not put forward in order to embarrass the Government.
I believe that the Government have, in fact, failed in their responsibilities, and if the Under-Secretary had shown some willingness in his earlier speech to face up to these responsibilities we might have hoped for something better in the future.
We are spending several hundreds of millions of pounds on defence, and, if necessary, we shall use several hundreds of millions of pounds in a hot war. Surely we can plan a rather higher proportion for putting across our views and our way of life to the rest of the world. One of the things which I think as a country we can lay claim to with the greatest degree of certainty is tolerance in our way of life. Our political way of life, when the 1922 Committee are not out of hand, is something of very special value to the rest of the world. Hon. Members on both sides of the House who have been abroad will recollect how often people in other countries have stated that one of the things that they admire most about Great Britain was the toleration which existed in our political life and in other fields as well.
I therefore hope that the Under-Secretary will think again and I ask him to speak to his right hon. Friend and look at the propositions that have been put forward. What we are seeking is an exchange of ideas in the world. We do not want to thrust ideas down the throats of other people, but we want the British view to have a fair chance of presentation. We want news to be presented impartially and we believe that, by and large, the type of work being done, if it were properly co-ordinated, would make a real contribution to furthering British aims and British policy in the world. It will not do so unless there is a greater willingness on the part of the Government to face their responsibilities.
I have always thought that at this time there were two really important things 2105 we could do apart from building up our defences. One is to a policy of world mutual aid and the other is through a policy of information and the exchange of ideas on cultural relations. If this is to be done the Government must look at the position seriously.
If the Minister says that this time he cannot afford money, I would only point out that the figures suggested in the Drogheda Report amount to considerably less than it is proposed should be given to the new commercial television system. And, frankly, I think that all hon. Members would agree that this should come before the introduction of commercial television. So, if the hon. Gentleman is short of money, he can take it from there, though I admit he may be prejudiced because the Minister of State is such a passionate advocate of sponsorship.
What is needed today on the part of the Government is a spark of imagination, a belief that we have something to put across to the world, not only for our sakes but for the sake of the rest of the world. Certainly, there was no spark of genius in the speech of the Joint Under-Secretary of State. There was no appreciation that today there is need for a policy and for a belief in the mission he has; a belief of a kind that any self-respecting advertising man would have for his activities. I should like to see a little more of the missionary about the Minister's responsibility for the information services, and a little less of the determination to defend the record of his Government at all costs.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Nutting
If I may, by leave of the House, I will reply briefly to the speeches made since I sat down. The hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) seemed disappointed in my spech and seemed to feel that I did not give sufficient information to the House. Also he kept on asking me to think again—if I may have his attention for a minute. The hon. Gentleman cannot have heard the speech I made, because I informed the House that the Government were considering the long-term implications of the Drogheda Report but had not yet formulated a policy. The gravamen of the accusation of the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) was that we had been thinking too long. The hon. 2106 Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) criticised the policy of the Government in withdrawing the British Council from Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon a stage further, but I have nothing further to say to what I informed him in answer to his intervention.
In answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston, South may I say that there was no consultation between the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Commonwealth Governments concerned, but the Governments were informed of this decision. [An HON. MEMBER: "After it was taken?"] After it was taken. Nor was there any consultation with the Governments of other countries where British Council services would either have to be withdrawn or cut down.
§ Mr. Mayhewrose—
§ Mr. Nutting
I am seeking to reply to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, and I am now coming to another point. He asked whether there was an element of censure of Lord Swinton in the Drogheda Report. I can assure him that there was no censure whatsoever, and I frankly do not know where he gets that idea.
I assure the House that the only parts of the Drogheda Report which were not published are those parts which are confidential or which might give offence to foreign countries where they made public, as, for instance, comparisons of one country with another as being more important. That gives the answer to the hon. Member for Preston and my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers) who complained about the truncated nature of the Report. It is a very full summary of the full Drogheda Report.
I should like to say a few words about television films, in which the hon. Member for Woolwich, East is interested. The B.B.C. is offering films, and will continue to do so, to the Canadian Broadcasting Company and broadcasting companies in the United States. The scale upon which this is being done at the moment is relatively small, but since December, 1952, 55 tele-recordings and 17 films have been provided for Canada. I have not the comparable figures for the United States, but I am informed that they are being supplied to a large number of television stations there.
2107 The hon. Member for Woolwich, East asked whether Lord Swinton was responsible for sabotaging the big scheme. There was no question of that. The position with regard to the B.B.C. proposal for a £250,000 investment in television films for export abroad is that we are considering the Drogheda Report and what we can do to implement the recommendations where the financial prospects of the country will permit us to do so. Until we have considered the principle and the aims laid down in that Report and whether we can fulfil them, clearly such schemes as this will have to take second place. Once the decision has been taken on the Drogheda Report we shall be in a position to consider individual schemes.
The hon. Member for Preston made certain comments about withdrawing the B.B.C. from Europe. We shall take into account what he and other hon. Members said in this debate. He suggested that I was complacent about the broadcasts of the B.B.C. in comparison with those of
§ the Soviet Union and the satellite countries. I really was not being complacent about that subject. I admit frankly that Soviet and satellite broadcasts have gone up and ours have gone down, and I admit that that is not a favourable position in which to be, but I was simply trying to cheer up hon. Members opposite by reminding them that broadcasting from the free world, the major countries and Yugoslavia, was still double that from the Soviet and satellite countries put together.
§ Reference has been made in the debate to the co-ordination field. There has been an awful lot of talk about co-ordinating and planning and so on, but there was precious little action of an effective kind from the party opposite when they were in Government. We have taken action to improve matters in our term of office. We have shown imagination, and for that reason I hope that the House will reject the Motion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 264; Noes, 280.2111
|Division No. 188.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Cove, W. C.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Adams, Richard||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Albu, A. H.||Crosland, C. A. R.||Grimond, J.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Crossman, R. H. S.||Hale, Leslie|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Coins Valley)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Daines, P.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hannan, W.|
|Baird, J.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hargreaves, A.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Bartley, P.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hastings, S.|
|Beattle, J.||Deer, G.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Delargy, H. J.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Bence, C. R.||Dodds, N. N.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Donnelly, D. L.||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Benson, G.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Beswick, F.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Holman, P.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Edelman, M.||Holmes, Horace|
|Blackburn, F.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Holt, A. F.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Blyton, W. R.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hoy, J. H.|
|Boardman, H.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A G.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Hudson, James (Ealing N.)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Flenburgh, W.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Follick, M.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Foot, M. M.||Irving, W. J, (Wood Green)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Forman, J. C.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Janner, B.|
|Burke, W. A.||Freeman John (Watford)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Gibson, C. W.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Champion, A. J.||Glanville, James||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Gooch, E. G.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Clunie, J.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Coldrick, W.||Greenwood, Anthony||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Collick, P. H.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Grey, C. F.||Keenan, W.|
|Kenyan, C.||Paget, R. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Kinley, J.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Lawsen, G. M.||Pannell, Charles||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pargiter, G. A.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Parker, J.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Parkin, B. T.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Paton, J.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Peart, T. F.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Logan, D. G.||Popplewell, E.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Porter, G.||Timmons, J.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Tomney, F.|
|McGovern, J.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|McInnes, J.||Proctor, W. T.||Usborne, H. C.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Pryde, D. J.||Viant, S P.|
|McLeavy, F.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Rankin, John||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Weitzman, D.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Rhodes, H.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Manuel, A. G.||Richards, R.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||West, D. G.|
|Mason, Roy||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Mayhew, C. P||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Messer, Sir F.||Ross, William||Wigg, George|
|Mikardo, Ian||Royle, C.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Monslow, W.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Willey, F. T.|
|Moody, A. S.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Short, E. W.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Morley, R.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Mort, D. L.||Skeffington, A. M.||Willis, E. G.|
|Moyle, A.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mulley, F. W.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|O'Brien, T.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Sorensen, R. W.||Yates, V. F.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Soskice, Rt. Hon, Sir Frank||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Orbach, M.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Oswald, T.||Steele, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Padley, W. E.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Mr. Pearson and|
|Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bullard, D. C.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Burden, F. F. A.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Erroll, F. J.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Finlay, Graeme|
|Arbuthnot, John||Campbell, Sir David||Fisher, Nigel|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Carr, Robert||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Cary, Sir Robert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M,||(Shannon, H.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Fort, R.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Foster, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cole, Norman||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Colegate, W. A.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Londale)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr, Albert||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gammans, L. D.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon, H. F. C.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crouch, R. F.||Glover, D.|
|Birch, Nigel||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Godber, J. B.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Black, C. W.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Davidson, Viscountess||Gower, H. R.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Deedes, W. F.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Digby, S. Wingfield||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Braine, B. R.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Harden, J. R. E.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Harris, Frederic (Croylon, N.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Drayson, G. B.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Drewe, Sir C.||Harvey, Air Cmdr. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Hay, John||Maclean, Fitzroy||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Heath, Edward||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Scott, R. Donald|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Shepherd, William|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J||Marples, A. E.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Hope, Lord John||Maude, Angus||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Maudling, R.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Mellor, Sir John||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Molson, A. H. E.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St, Ives)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Storey, S.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Neave, Airey||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Nicholls, Harmar||Summers, G. S.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Jennings, Sir Roland||Nutting, Anthony||Teeling, W.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Odey, G. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Kaberry, D.||Page, R. G.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Tilney, John|
|Kerr, H. W.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lambton, Viscount||Peyton, J. W. W.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Turton, R. H.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Pitman, I. J.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Powell, J. Enoch||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Profumo, J. D.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Lloyd. Rt. Hon. G (King's Norton)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Ramsden, J. E.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Redmayne, M.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Low, A. R. W.||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wellwood, W.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Ronton, D. L. M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Robson-Brown, W.||Wills, G.|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Roper, Sir Harold||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Russell, R. S.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Vosper and Mr. Oakshott.|