HC Deb 29 January 1963 vol 670 cc729-31
3. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation what proposals he has for the further development of the Overseas Information Services; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Vosper

Together with my noble and right hon. Friends, during last year I reviewed how far our overseas information work meets the changing needs of the day. We have decided that our efforts should now be extended in three main ways. First, we propose an increase in the British Council's English language teaching and training work, including greater use of modern methods. The Council's representation in new and developing Commonwealth and foreign countries will also be strengthened, together with some expansion in Eastern Europe.

Second, we shall improve and extend the British Information Services in some Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa. Third, we shall increase our supplies of television material to the ever-growing number of stations overseas. Estimates will be presented for the House's approval in due course. Broadly, however, these and other changes will involve extra expenditure of about £1 million a year.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Will my right hon. Friend say whether these are new services and not merely extensions of old ones? Will he ensure that these information services get to the national newspapers in this country, too many of which take a far too defeatist view of our future?

Mr. Vosper

While I might share my hon. Friend's view as expressed in the latter part of his supplementary question, that is beyond my responsibility. Regarding the first part of it, these are new services. Extra funds will be available to meet what is called "risen costs" of the existing services.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the various book schemes came into that survey? Is he aware that many hon. Members consider that the Government should spend more money on that service?

Mr. Vosper

Yes, and as a result of this review I am about to open negotiations with the publisher with particular regard to African needs.