HC Deb 23 February 1955 vol 537 cc1257-8
17. Mr. Gordon Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement of Gov- ernment policy concerning the recommendation of the Drogheda Committee that all overseas information work should be based on a long-term plan not subject to short-term financial fluctuations.

Mr. Turton

My right hon. Friend informed the House on 8th November last year that Her Majesty's Government have accepted the broad principles set out in the Drogheda Report. As he then made clear, however, Her Majesty's Government must have liberty to maintain flexibility in a situation where there are constant new developments.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Can the hon. Member say in what way accepting the broad principle of the Report differs from refusing to carry out its practical propositions and proposals? Is he aware that the very thing that the Drogheda Committee feared is coming about, namely, great uncertainty and a lowering of morale in the staffs concerned?

Mr. Turton

The difference must surely be shown by what we have done in the last two years. In the present financial year we have made provision for an expansion of the services, and in the coming financial year we shall make a similar provision. That is the broad principle of the Drogheda Report—that there shall be continuing expansion for these services in the most vital areas.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Will the hon. Gentleman state what expansion is taking place and whether it is not a fact that to a very large extent the increased expenditure—which is not of a large order—only makes up for the increase in the cost of those services, and in actual fact, where changes have been made in the services, those services have been cut down and the long-term programme is not being embarked upon at all?

Mr. Turton

As the hon. Gentleman suggests, it is perfectly true that one of the greatest difficulties is that the cost of living is rising in these foreign countries. That means that we cannot expand so fast. But in the last year over £100,000 was devoted to the expansion of services and in the coming financial year, in the Estimates which are now being presented, another £100,000 is being included for expansion.

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