HC Deb 01 July 1957 vol 572 cc665-7
1 and 3. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) if he will now make a statement of the Government's conclusions in regard to the overseas information services;

(2) if he will now make a statement on the conclusions he has reached on the future of the overseas information services; and if he will publish a White Paper containing the Government's proposals.

2 and 4. Mr. Swingler

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what conclusions he has reached as a result of his survey of Britain's information services about the use being made of British films to show the British way of life; and to what extent he is arranging to make greater use of films for this purpose;

(2) if he will initiate discussions with leaders of the film industry concerning the production of films illustrating British life for the use of Britain's information services abroad.

5. Mr. Edelman

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the White Paper on the reorganisation of the information services will be published.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Dr. Charles Hill)

The conclusions of the Government, following the review of overseas information services, will be published very shortly as a White Paper. In the review, full weight has been given to the value of British films in illustrating the British way of life, and to the views expressed to me on this subject by representatives of the documentary film industry.

Mr. Davies

Can the Chancellor say what he means by "very shortly"? Is he aware that it is a month since he had this jamboree at Chequers, and that it is a month since he promised publication of the Government's conclusions within a very short time? What is holding it up now?

Dr. Hill

By "very shortly" I mean, I hope, next week.

Mr. Swingler

On the subject of films, can the Chancellor say whether he is intending to do anything about this? Does he recall the fact that there used to be a very good film unit under the Government's own control, and that it was his party which bust it up? Is it not very regrettable that the Crown Film Unit no longer exists, and is he going to do anything about it?

Dr. Hill

The hon. Member must await the White Paper to which I have referred. I can assure him that I have heard the views of the producers, and of the union representing the film industry, and these have been taken fully into account in considering the Government's decision.

Mr. Edelman

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm in the meantime that the Government will resist the bullying of certain sections of the Press urging him to cut the information services, and will he instead strengthen the work of bodies like the British Council, which is doing such admirable work?

Dr. Hill

I must ask the hon. Gentleman to await the White Paper, in which the answer to his Question will be found.