HC Deb 02 March 1955 vol 537 cc2037-9
10 and 11. Mr. Gordon Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) by how much the programme costs of the European Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation are to be increased in the coming year;

(2) by how much the time on the air of the European Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation is to be increased during the coming year.

Lord John Hope

Expenditure on the European services of the B.B.C. in the coming year will be maintained at approximately the same level as in 1954–55. However, in order to offset rising costs, it has been necessary to cut the daily time on the air of the European services by about three hours altogether as compared with the present average of 37 hours.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Can the hon. Gentleman say how he reconciles this answer with the statement made by his hon. Friend last week, that the Government were carrying out the recommendations of the Drogheda Report to extend these services, when he now reveals that there is to be a reduction in them?

Lord John Hope

The answer is that over the whole field there is some extension—extension in parts and retraction in parts.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is greater economy to use this type of weapon in Europe than to spend money on armaments, and that if this is effective it will save far more money proportionately?

Mr. Gordon Walker

Could the hon. Gentleman give us an example of an extension, because so far he has only given us examples of retraction?

Lord John Hope

The question relates only to the European services, and in that connection, whereas the Drogheda Report recommended that no fewer than seven of the European services should be abolished, we are keeping those on.

24. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the new services, and the extension of present services, that it is proposed to operate during the next financial year; and which services are to be suspended, or curtailed, in connection with the overseas information services in conformity with the Drogheda Report.

Lord John Hope

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the written answer which my hon. Friend gave the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) on 13th December, in which the programme of expansion which Her Majesty's Government proposed to carry out in the coming year was outlined. None of the existing services is to be suspended, but, as I have stated today in reply to the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), there will be economies in the B.B.C. European Services, which will be cut by about three hours a day. There will also be some small reductions in the activities of the information services in Germany.

Mr. Usborne

On a point of order. I have today and this last week risen on a great many occasions and have never succeeded in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether the lighting is such that you do not easily see people who sit on these benches.

Mr. Speaker

I can assure the hon. Member that he need have no anxiety on that score. I observed the hon. Member rise with a number of other hon. Members, but we must get on and give a chance to other hon. Members who have Questions on the Order Paper.

Mr. Ernest Davies

The proposals of the Drogheda Report were for an ultimate increase in revenue costs of £2 million per annum and in reply last week the Parliamentary Secretary said that during the financial year only £100,000 more was to be spent on overseas services. How does he reconcile those figures with the acceptance in principle of the Drogheda Report? Are not the Government somewhat misleading the House in indicating that they are carrying out the Drogheda Report when, in fact, they are not?

Lord John Hope

I do not think so, unless we are to be blamed for carrying on some of the services which the Drogheda Report recommended should be closed.

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