HC Deb 08 March 1966 vol 725 cc1883-5
22. Mr. Mawby

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he is aware that broadcasts made to Rhodesia in the British Broadcasting Corporation's Overseas Service by the Zambia Broad casting Corporation contain incitements to murder and sabotage in Rhodesia; whether he will take steps to stop such broadcasts; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bottomley

The hon. Member's Question seems to be based on a misreading of a pamphlet recently circulated by the illegal régime in Rhodesia. This mischievously suggests B.B.C. involvement in or condonation of certain broadcasts in the past from Zambia. I can give a categoric assurance that no B.B.C. programmes, whether broadcast direct or relayed from Zambia, contain or have contained incitements to murder and sabotage. Broadcasts from Zambia are entirely under the control of the Government of that country.

Mr. Mawby

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his assurance that none of these broadcasts takes place over B.B.C. transmitters. May I ask him why, with all the rumours which have gone on over the past few weeks, he has not found it possible to make a public statement to allay fears before now?

Mr. Bottomley

A statement confirming what I have said was made. Perhaps on the further evidence I have given today, the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to withdraw or apologise.

Mr. Shinwell

On a point of order. Is it not customary for an hon. Member making serious allegations of this character to produce evidence? How is it possible to get a Question of this kind past the Table?

Mr. Speaker

The Question was in order. If it had not been, the Table would have refused it.

Mr. J. Amery

While accepting the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that the B.B.C. has had nothing to do with this, may I ask him whether he would agree that if we are to give massive aid to Zambia we should insist that they do not incite to murder over their radio while we are supporting them?

Mr. Bottomley

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will produce evidence to support what he has just said.

23. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he is aware that the British Broadcasting Corporation's Overseas Service is employing psychological warfare in Central Africa; and if he will stop this being done.

Mr. Bottomley

The B.B.C. broadcasts to Rhodesia conform with its consistent policy of accuracy and objectivity. It is broadcasting facts to Rhodesia which the illegal régime would much rather the general public there did not know. I welcome and endorse its efforts to bring the truth to the knowledge of Rhodesians, whose local papers, etc., are, as the hon. Member knows, subject to censorship.

Mr. Wall

Is it not a fact that, although very unwilling, the B.B.C. has become part of the Government's propaganda machine in the assistance which it has given in the past to Zambia Radio and some of the tendentious programmes now going out over Francistown Radio?

Mr. Bottomley

That is a most improper statement for the hon. Gentleman to make, and I hope that the B.B.C. itself will remonstrate with him.

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