HC Deb 16 November 1959 vol 613 cc770-3
6. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how far the proposals contained in the White Paper on Overseas Information, Command Paper No. 685, have now been implemented.

Dr. Hill

As the reply is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Mayhew

Meantime, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is rather difficult to get a clear and comprehensive picture of the work of the Information Services, the particular problems that they are facing in the different regions and, indeed, of the contribution of the right hon. Gentleman himself? I am wondering whether, in spite of his modest and retiring nature, he will inform us a little more—perhaps in the form of an annual report—about the work of his Department.

Dr. Hill

When the hon. Gentleman sees the reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will find a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on the White Paper giving very full information. I realise the importance of bringing out to this House what is being done. Questions like the one which the hon. Gentleman has put down afford that opportunity, and I have taken advantage of it in a long and detailed report.

Following is the reply: The measures forecast in the White Paper Cmnd. 685 of March, 1959, have been carried out as follows:—

British Council: Educational Work (paragraphs 9 to 11)

Since 1st April, 1959, the Council has recruited 140 teachers of English for overseas posts. Expenditure on exchanges of university teachers with foreign countries has increased from £6,164 in 1958–59 to about £9,014 in 1959–60. The corresponding figures for Commonwealth exchanges are £12,113 and £16,113.

In total, the number of scholarships awarded by the Council has risen from 284 in 1958–59 to 355 in 1959–60. Of these, 98 and 141 respectively were related to the teaching of English overseas. For example, 12 new scholarships have been awarded to students from Colonial territories in the teaching of English as a second language. In addition, 14 studentships at the University of London Institute of Education have been awarded to United Kingdom graduates intending to teach English overseas. Fifteen new posts concerned with the teaching of English have been established overseas.

The Council centre at Addis Ababa has been reopened and new centres established at Mogadishu (Somalia) Hargeisa (Somaliland Protectorate) and Benghazi (Libya). Of the 140 new teachers of English recruited since 1st April, six have gone to Somalia. A council representative has been appointed to Saigon (Viet Nam) and the new representative in Rabat (Morocco) is due to take up his duties in January, 1960. Planning for new Centres at Port Harcourt and Kaduna (Nigeria) is well advanced. In all these countries, teaching of English facilities are or will be available. For Cambodia, Laos, and Tunisia teachers of English have been, or are being, recruited.

A start has been made with educational exchanges with Czechoslovakia and Hungary. For example, six professors from Czechoslovakia arrived in London on 13th November for a three weeks' visit to British Universities.

The Government's grants to the British Council, which totalled £4,615,100 in 1958–59, are estimated at £5,824,000 for 1959–60.

Books (paragraphs 12 to 13)

Expenditure on British Council libraries was £234,000 in 1958–59. In 1959–60 it will be about £480,000. Expenditure on books and periodicals for presentation has risen from £39,000 in 1958–59 to £72,000 in 1959–60.

In consultation with the Governments concerned, 20 new British Council libraries have been, or will shortly be, set up. Long-lending library services for students are now operating, or will shortly operate, at nine Council centres and through Universities. I have given further details of these expansions in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) today.

The measures to promote exports of books and periodicals, which I outlined to the House on 22nd June, 1959, are making good progress. The Government have put proposals to the Governments of Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Poland and Yugoslavia with the aim of agreeing upon schemes broadly on the lines of the former British Book Export Schemes. Negotiations are still at an early stage. The Advisory Committee on the Selection of Low-Priced Books for Overseas has been set up and will start work next month. The necessary administrative preparations have been made, with the help of a Publishing Trade Consultative Panel, so that negotiations on contracts can begin as soon as titles have been selected. There has been consultation with the trade organisations in the periodical field on measures to assist circulation of newspapers and periodicals in some of the more difficult markets overseas.

Broadcasting (paragraphs 14 to 20)

Excellent progress has been made with the construction of the new relay transmitter at Berbera. The Arabic Service of the B.B.C. is now transmitting for 12 hours daily, as against 4½ in 1957, more news coverage is being given to events of local significance, and efforts have been made to increase the local and general appeal of the Service.

Arrangements have been made to provide the local Press and broadcasting services in East Africa and Aden with more material on the background to the news. A supply of such material, specially suited to the information needs of the area, is being sent in a new daily wireless transmission of the London Press Service received in Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda. The London Press Service is now received in East Africa by radio teletype.

The Conference of the Governments of the East African territories, Aden and the Somaliland Protectorate, referred to in paragraph 18 of Cmnd. 685, was held last March in Nairobi. The Conference provided a valuable exchange of information and ideas between the Governments concerned.

The re-appraisal of the Overseas Services of the B.B.C. in English is nearing completion. The re-appraisal has given full weight to the special importance of increasing the appeal of these Services to the rapidly growing number of listeners overseas for whom English is a second language.

Studies have been made into the possibility of introducing television in Aden, and the results are being considered. In several other territories, preliminary work is proceeding.

Official Services (paragraphs 21 and 22)

New posts are being opened in Durban, Auckland, Seoul and Kuwait. Two new posts are planned in West Africa. Communications have been improved and posts strengthened in India and Pakistan. A United Kingdom Information Office has been opened in Kampala and office premises in Nairobi are being equipped.

The provision through the Central Office of Information of television material for showing overseas has been further increased; expenditure on this was £121,000 in 1958–59 and is expected to be £138,000 in 1959–60.

All the expansions in Central Office of Information services listed in paragraph 22 have been made or are now in production. For example,

  1. (a) Improvements in the Press and photograph service have taken place, notably by increased regionalisation and the improvement of transmission and coverage of "local boy" stories.
  2. (b) A radio tape service for local broadcasting in Arabic, Somali and Swahili has been built up and is proving successful.
  3. (c) Three experimental television films for the British Council on the teaching of English have been completed.
  4. (d) The first number of the new trade bulletin for South East Asia, "Good Business", is now printing.
  5. (e) The supply of trade and technical periodicals overseas is being increased.
  6. (f) The programme of overseas visitors has been expanded, especially on the Commonwealth side.

Knowledge of the Commonwealth (paragraphs 23 and 24)

My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office, announced in the House on 12th November that a Commonwealth Exhibition, which is to be the focal point of Commonwealth Weeks to be held in a number of major cities, will be opened by H.R.H. The Princess Margaret in Liverpool on 19th November.

Cost (paragraph 25)

It is now estimated that the cost of the Overseas Information Services in 1959–60 will be about £16½ million a year. The cost of the measures to promote exports of British publications is estimated to be about a further £500,000 a year.