§ 5.6 p.m.
§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government, whether they will arrange that in future the debates in the House of Lords on matters of public interest shall have fair representation in the bulletins of the B.B.C.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA AND BURMA (THE EARL OF LISTOWEL)
My Lords, I have been asked to reply for the Government to the noble Viscount's question. The responsibility for the broadcast reports of the proceedings of Parliament rests with the B.B.C. and not with His Majesty's Government, but I understand that my right honourable friend the Minister of Information not long ago called the attention of the Governors to the desire expressed by some Members of Parliament that there should be fuller Parliamentary reports.
My Lords, arising out of that answer, does that mean fuller reports of the House of Lords as well as of the House of Commons? The House of Lords is never mentioned in these Parliamentary reports at all. Last week there were two very important debates in your Lordships' House, one on the question of the dissemination of Empire information and the other on the regulation of advertisements, both subjects of great importance to people in this country, and there was absolutely no reference to them at all. I should like to ask the noble Earl, therefore, whether that general statement with regard to Parliamentary reports does cover the House of Lords as well as the House of Commons.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I think that the noble Viscount can take it that the expression "Parliamentary reports" covers proceedings in both Houses of Parliament.
My Lords, arising out of this question, is the Leader of the Home aware that for some weeks the B.B.C. news broadcasts have contained no mention of the House of Lords at all, or even of his own admirable speeches?
My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot answer for the B.B.C., which is an independent-minded body. We may not agree with their assessment of the importance of your Lordships' House, but we cannot do anything about it.
While there are still two Chambers in this Parliament, why should one be ignored? Is my noble friend aware that the Government have a great deal of influence with the B.B.C., as we saw from the Greek debates in another place?
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I should like to ask the Leader of the House whether it has been pointed out to the Governors of the B.B.C. that there must be an interaction between Parliamentary proceedings and public opinion, and that public opinion cannot be informed in the absence of information, and that therefore the B.B.C., as an organ of publicity, in not reporting these debates is depriving the public of the possibility of forming its opinion upon matters of the first importance?
I have not the slightest doubt that the Governors of the B.B.C. will take notice of what has been said in your Lordships' House.
Is my noble friend aware that the very important shipping debate initiated by my noble friend behind me (Lord Winster), when for the first time for two years we had a statement on Government shipping policy, was not referred to at all in the B.B.C. report of Parliament, though that was the only way in which sailors at sea could know about a matter affecting their own profession?
May I ask my noble friend, in view of the expressions of opinion that we have heard to-day in this House, whether he will bring such influence as he can to bear upon the Minister of Information or the B.B.C., or upon both, in order to remedy a situation which is creating a good deal of feeling among many noble Lords in this House?
I will certainly be very glad to report what has been said to-day to the Minister of Information, but, as I say, it is realty a matter for the B.B.C., and I have no influence with the board of the B.B.C. whatever.