HC Deb 16 November 1959 vol 613 cc767-9
3. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information he makes available through the Central Office of Information to the new Commonwealth countries and other self-governing Colonial countries on Parliamentary procedure in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Hill

A considerable quantity of material dealing with the nature, working and procedure of the United Kingdom Parliament is supplied to these territories by the Central Office of Information, on behalf of the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office, for use in the Press, photographic, reference, publications, films and television services, as in posters. Weekly editions of the OFFICIAL REPORTS of the House of Lords and the House of Commons are also sent.

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of some of the material recently issued on this subject.

Mr. Shinwell

While I am grateful for that reply, which will probably satisfy the wishes of hon. Members, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is supporting the courses undertaken by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which are intended to acquaint these new democracies with the working of our Parliamentary democracy?

Dr. Hill

There are frequent and substantial references to the work of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, but I will, if I may, look into this matter more fully and let the right hon. Gentleman have a detailed reply.

Following is the list:


(a) Overseas Press Services

  1. (1) An article has been sent each fortnight describing different aspects of Parliamentary democracy in operation.
  2. (2) A weekly article (in the London Press Service) has been sent explaining parliamentary procedure in terms of current happenings in the House of Commons and House of Lords.
  3. (3) A special series of articles was sent at the time of the General Election describing the electoral system and procedures.
  4. (4) A number of ad hoc articles and radio scripts have been sent dealing with particular aspects of U.K. Parliament and how it works, e.g. Question Time in Parliament.

(b) Photographic Press Services

Pictures on Parliamentary procedure in the United Kingdom are issued from time to time in the photographic press services in the form of plastic printing blocks and photographic prints.

The photographic libraries maintained overseas by the official information services have a stock of photographic prints on the subject. In addition, pictures are supplied to meet ad hoc requests.

Display Material

Two picture-sets (each consisting of twelve 15" × 12" photographic panels), "The British Parliament" and "General Election in Britain".

A colour photo-poster (size 40" × 30"), "The Palace of Wesminster", is now in preparation.

A wallsheet "Mother of Parliaments" has been distributed.

(c) Publications Parliamentary Government". This Realm "—the second chapter of which deals with Parliament. News and Views "—which contains a section on Parliament. British Constitutional Monarchy" by Sir Ernest Barker. Queen and People "by Dermot Morrah. (d) Reference Material The British Parliament" (RFP 4157), February, 1959, Government and Administration of the United Kingdom" (RFP 3963), December, 1958. Parliamentary Elections in Britain" (R 3979), July, 1959. The Organisation of Political Parties in Britain" (R 4243), July, 1959. Fact Sheets on Britain" (R 2541): No. 3" The Government of Britain", January, 1959. No. 22, "Political Parties in Britain", January, 1959. No. 42, "The United Kingdom Houses of Parliament", July, 1958. Major debates are also summaries in the fortnightly Commonwealth Survey. (e) Films The official newsreel "British News" has included a record of the ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament in 1958 and material about the General Election. (f) Official Publications Parliamentary Affairs"—a quarterly journal Vacher's Parliamentary Companion". Official Reports of the House of Lords and the House of Commons (weekly edition). (g) Group Tours In all programmes for group tours organised by the Central Office of Information for official visitors sponsored by the CRO and CO, opportunities are given for a study of Parliament and its procedure. New material is constantly being added to the services listed above.