HC Deb 28 January 1959 vol 598 cc1045-6
10. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many times in the last year he has asked for scripts of broadcasts on the Forces Network to be submitted to him; how many scripts were rejected; and how many were amended.

Mr. Ward

The British Forces Network in Germany is run by the Army, but scripts or recordings about R.A.F. affairs are cleared with the R.A.F. Command headquarters. None from outside sources has been rejected in the last year. In the normal course of editing for transmission some have naturally been amended to shorten or lengthen the broadcast, to improve the wording, or even to remove obscene expressions.

Mr. Chetwynd

Does the Minister still take power to himself to censor scripts which might be controversial, as happened recently? In view of the fact that Lady Tedder was enabled to broadcast yesterday without her script being vetted by the Minister, will he drop this procedure now, as it is completely useless?

Mr. Ward

I made it perfectly clear that there were rather special reasons for my action then. As the hon. Member knows, Lady Tedder did broadcast last night.

Mr. Strachey

Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to modify the statement he made the other day, that he or the Army authorities would allow no broadcasts on this network which were critical of or contrary to the policy of the Government or the Army Council or the Air Council? Surely, after seeing the scripts, critical broadcasts should be allowed so that these opinions may be heard?

Mr. Ward

As I have said, this Forces Network is run by the Army, and there is a Question down to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War later this afternoon about the principles of censorship on this network.