HC Deb 19 May 1980 vol 985 cc28-30
40. Mr. Canavan

asked the Paymaster General whether he is satisfied with the media coverage given to Government policy especially in relation to developments in the Islamic world.

Mr. Maude

I am satisfied that the Government take all appropriate action to make known to the media their policies towards individual Islamic countries and the Islamic world as a whole. But decisions on news and media coverage are essentially a matter for the media themselves.

Mr. Renton

Bearing in mind the resurgence of Islam and the obvious importance of the Islamic world to us, what further steps can my right hon. Friend take to make Government policies clear? For example, is he thinking of taking lessons in Arabic?

Mr. Maude

I think that that would take longer than the life of this Government to bring to fruition. The Government always negotiate and discuss matters with other Governments, and so long as the matters are within their responsibility they are satisfied that their case is being put across. However, on matters such as the film "Death of a Princess", the content of the film is not the responsibility of the Government, or a matter in which Ministers can possibly intervene, although the Government expressed their regret that offence should have been caused to the Saudi Royal Family.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Since elements of the television media appear to rate the screening of sensational entertainment higher than the preservation of British trade and interests in the Islamic world, could not the Government invite the media to consider whether standards of responsible conduct could be drawn up?

Mr. Maude

That is, of course, a matter for the IBA and not directly for the Government.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is it not a matter of concern that there are so many allegations, including some today, of alleged links between terrorists and embassies—mainly Islamic embassies? Does my right hon. Friend think that it would be appropriate for the Ministers concerned to take all possible steps to expose the facts in this matter and the extent to which there is a serious problem of links between terrorists and Islamic embassies?

Mr. Maude

This matter is being considered both by my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary and by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

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