HC Deb 21 July 1960 vol 627 cc699-702
9. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the grant to the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund for the Colonial Schools Transcription Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation has been withdrawn.

16. Mrs. White

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what facilities are to be provided to replace the Colonial Schools Transcription Service, hitherto financed through the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund.

19. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what amounts have been paid out of Colonial Development and Welfare Funds to the British Broadcasting Corporation in respect of the Colonial Schools Transcription Service; and if he will reconsider his decision not to renew this grant.

28. Miss Vickers

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what representations have been received by his Department for the continuation of the British Broadcasting Corporation Colonial Schools Transcription Unit; and whether he will give an undertaking that these shall be carried on in the future.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The scheme was designed at its inception in 1952 to last for a limited period with the aim of encouraging broadcasting services in Colonial territories to build up their own school broadcasts. The grant was renewed in October, 1955, on the explicit understanding, which was communicated to Colonial Governments in 1956, that Colonial Development and Welfare assistance would not be continued after the autumn of 1958. The scheme was extended for one further year until 31st March, 1960, and in February. 1960, a grant was made to secure full rights, where they did not already exist, in the best of the programmes and to transfer them to long-playing records. Total expenditure from C.D. and W. funds on the scheme between 1952 and 1960 amounts to £95,850. I am satisfied that the scheme has made an effective contribution, and a number of broadcasting stations in Colonial Territories now have some form of educational broadcasting.

No Colonial Government has made representations to me about the longstanding decision to terminate C.D. and W. assistance, but I have so far received two expressions of regret that the unit's work is not continuing.

Mr. Mayhew

Why, since the Minister pays tribute to the good work of this unit, is he now proposing in effect to close it down? Is he aware that this decision means that no new recordings will be made for those programmes? This means in fact that these links that we have with these colonial teachers and school children through this transcription service will effectively be broken. What could be more economical and effective than carrying on this transcription service for the school services in the Colonies?

Mr. Macleod

As my Answer makes clear, there is nothing new in this decision which in fact was taken in 1956, and in view of the interest and questions on it I have been very closely into it myself. This was always intended as a pump-priming operation, and I believe that the use of C.D. and W. funds for that purpose was right. What I have said is that C.D. and W. funds will not be available. It does not necessarily follow that it will not be possible, in one way or another, for some form of service to be continued. For example, we are in touch with the B.B.C. on that matter.

Miss Vickers

I recognise that many of these Colonies now have their own systems, some of which are quite good. In view of the fact that this scheme has been extended on more than one occasion, may I ask my right hon. Friend if he will not think about this again? It is essential that these Colonies should have further information from this country, and, with great respect to those long,-playing records, I do not think that they are necessarily up to date, and that is what we want—up-to-date factual information. I should have thought that education was the outstanding need in these territories at the present time. Anything that we can do to help will be beneficial

Mr. Macleod

I will certainly look at the point. I should be less than Frank with the House if I held out any hope that help can be continued from C.D. and W. funds. For the reasons that I have given, I do not believe that that is a proper use of C.D. and W. funds.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

The Minister says that he has not received representations from Colonial Governments to continue this service. Has his attention been drawn to a letter in The Times from the Director of the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation in which he points out that, at the request of the Government of Tanganyika, and therefore, I take it, with the approval of the right hon. Gentleman, the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation has been asked to double its schools output? How, asks the director, are we to do it without a B.B.C. colonial schools unit, or something like it? As the decision to make this a pump-priming operation was taken before the Government initiated its new Commonwealth education programme, does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that this is essential to the carrying out of that programme?

Mr. Macleod

I feel that these matters are very important. This service is recorded here and then sent to, and used in, those countries. About 600 programmes—and the very best of them—have been recorded and will be available, and all the fees have been paid. I think that they will be of very great help indeed, and many Colonial Territories have acknowledged that in their letters to me on that matter.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Dugdale.

Mr. Mayhew

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply— —

Mr. Speaker

Order. I called the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) before the hon. Member rose on his point of order.

Mr. Dugdale

Looking at the matter again, will the Colonial Secretary have regard to the fact that, owing to the reduced number of territories for which he is responsible, there should be a great deal more C.D. and W. money to go round? Will he have regard to this fact in considering whether it can be used for this service?

Mr. Macleod

It works both ways, because, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well from his experience, calls on C.D. and W. funds increase all the time, but I will take note of the anxiety on both sides of the House on this matter.