HC Deb 30 July 1964 vol 699 cc1781-2
23. Mr. K. Lewis

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation what provisions have been made this year for increased activities by the Overseas Information Services.

34. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation how far the proposals for developing the Overseas Information Services recently outlined have now been implemented.

Mr. R. Carr

Our overseas information expenditure on recurrent activities, excluding non-recurrent capital expenditure, is £25 million in this financial year; the comparable figure for the year 1963–64 was £23.4 million. Further developments are being undertaken this year particularly in the work of the British Council, with special reference to English language teaching; in the production of television and other films; in the programme for bringing visitors to this country; and in the British Information Services. With permission, I am arranging for a table analysing the increased expenditure to be included in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Lewis

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the expansion of these services is very helpful to us in making friends for Britain, but could he consider more co-operation with organisations such as the British Travel and Holidays Association which has branches throughout the world and could co-operate with his Department effectively in this field?

Mr. Carr

Certainly increasing the number of visitors coming here is one of our main objectives. It is going ahead pretty quickly. I have no doubt that there are new things that we can learn about it.

Mr. Mayhew

While the expansion is welcome, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that there is some danger of the services becoming a bit stereotyped and official? Is he also aware that overseas publicity and visits to and from this country are sometimes less effective when they are formal and official than when carried out by private organisations and individuals who sometimes deserve his support?

Mr. Carr

I also have been reading a certain newspaper in the last few days. I have inquired into this matter and I find that visits by undergraduate groups and so forth are nearly always included in these tours whenever this can be managed. I will look into the problem.

Mr. Longden

While I am grateful for the increase in this expenditure, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he agrees that this is an immensely valuable arm of the defence service? Can he persuade the Government to go still further in the near future?

Mr. Carr

My colleagues and I managed to obtain a considerable increase in expenditure last year. I do not think that on this occasion I had better look forward.

Following is the table:

Activity (£'000) Increase in expenditure
British Council 901
of which:
English language teaching 254
English language teaching TV films 24
Expansion in new areas 282
Personal contacts 150
Printed word 92
Television films 176
Other films 112
Sponsored visitors 171
B.I.S. Offices 160
B.B.C. broadcasting 62