§ The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. John Stanley)
Mr. Ian Curteis visited the Ministry of Defence on 5 March and discussed the commission that he had from the BBC to write a play on the Falklands war. On 3 April he visited the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, Fleet at Northwood, where he was shown around the headquarters and the operations room used during the war.
§ Mr. Holt
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree, or will he confirm, that the BBC made no efforts to ascertain the accuracy or lack of it of Mr. Curteis's play, and that in banning it the BBC has shown itself to be hypocritical, in that it allows various things to go out which are true or untrue, and has said that if Mr. Curteis had been accurate and gone to the Ministry of Defence and checked the facts it would not have banned the play? The BBC would would have allowed the play to go out if he had altered and falsified the facts. In those circumstances, will my right hon. Friend say whether he will still make available to the BBC all the facts appertaining to Mr. Curteis's play, so that it can go out on schedule?
§ Mr. Stanley
There were two very limited contacts between Mr. Ian Curteis and my Department. I am not privy to the totality of what passed between Mr. Curteis and the BBC, and for that reason I am not able to comment further on that.
§ Mr. Lilley
Can my right hon. Friend say whether any of the authors or producers of the innumberable other plays and programmes which have been produced denigrating the British performance in the Falklands took the trouble to visit the Ministry of Defence and check their facts? Will he also comment on the fact that they were not banned?
§ Mr. Stanley
I note what my hon. Friend has said. I think that there were other occasions on which people writing about the Falklands war consulted my Department. I also note that other producers of television material, and that sort of thing, have found a way of getting access to the television media. My hon. Friend will be aware that although the BBC has apparently banned this play, Anglia Television has expressed interest in it and many of us will be happy to see that play being made public on Anglia Television.