HC Deb 16 May 1960 vol 623 cc886-7
Mr. Iremonger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of continuing public concern in this matter, what further inquiries he has made into the conduct of the British Broadcasting Corporation's service to Yugoslavia.

Mr. Wade

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further inquiries he has made into the conduct of the British Broadcasting Corporation's service to Yugoslavia, with special regard to the balanced views and news broadcast by such service to Yugoslavia.

Mr. R. Allan

I have made even further inquiries since answering the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) on 10th February. I remain convinced that the criticism which has been made of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Yugoslav Service is based in general on imputations of motive which are entirely unjustified. The great majority of the detailed accusations made against the Service have been publicly refuted by the B.B.C.

Mr. Thorpe

Does not the hon. Member agree that there have been some glaring omissions from the presentation of the British point of view to Yugoslavia and some wilful misrepresentations? Is he aware that it is very difficult for somebody holding anti-Tito views to obtain the freedom of the air? Will not he reconsider the matter, bearing in mind that there is real disquiet about this?

Mr. Allan

I do not accept the hon. Member's first two statements. In general, it seems to me that the best answer to Communism is not to abuse it but to show that our system is better, and that is what the B.B.C. tries to do.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Minister aware how enormously important it is that the B.B.C.'s broadcasts should be objective? Is he also aware of the excessive fuss which has been made over this incident?

Mr. Allan

I quite agree with the hon. Member.

Mr. Iremonger

Will my hon. Friend consider bringing a fresh mind to bear on this, because it is most important that the impression should not be created that a perverted use is being made of what is universally taken to be the British voice abroad? There are possibly sins of commission but even more glaringly sins of omission which cannot fail to discourage people who have no wish to refuse to live in co-existence with the Communist States but who feel that at least one need not crawl and pander to them quite to the extent which is found in the B.B.C.'s Yugoslav service.

Mr. Allan

There is no question of crawling or pandering. As for a fresh mind, it would be much more profitable if those who criticise brought fresh minds to bear instead of harping on events which took place fifteen years ago.