HC Deb 24 July 1958 vol 592 cc666-7
31. Mrs. White

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what current steps are being taken to promote the use of British films, books, and periodicals in Commonwealth countries.

Mr. Alport

Both the United Kingdom Information Services and the British Council in Commonwealth countries assist in promoting the use of British films, books and periodicals by maintaining well-stocked libraries from which British films, of the documentary type, and books may be borrowed either free of charge or at a small rental. A good supply of British general and technical periodicals is available in British Council and Information Office reading rooms and these are also distributed free or are available for sale. In addition, presentations of technical books are made from time to time under the Technical Co-operation Scheme of the Colombo Plan.

Mrs. White

Has the hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to letters in The Times recently and references in other publications to the very meagre supply of books and other cultural material in many countries in the Commonwealth? The Rhodesias were mentioned, and there are countries like Pakistan, for instance, where currency difficulties add to the problems of booksellers and film producers. Has anything been done, particularly where currency difficulties are concerned, to overcome them?

Mr. Alport

My attention has been drawn to the letter which referred to a complaint by the Librarian of the Bulawayo Public Library. We are doing our best to see whether we can provide some additional supplies of books to that library. We are at the moment in discussion with the Pakistan Government about the possibility of extending book exports there.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Pakistan and India recently I found American and Soviet books much easier to purchase than English books? Indeed, in India I read one of Galsworthy's novels in a Soviet edition and was unable to get it in an English edition.

Mr. Alport

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is most important that there should be a continuing supply of United Kingdom books to the various Commonwealth countries. As I say, we are in negotiation with the Pakistan Government on this matter at present.

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