HL Deb 23 June 1953 vol 182 cc1149-50

2.37 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of the deep feelings aroused in people throughout Great Britain as the result of the showing of the Coronation Ceremony by television in America; and whether the B.B.C. authorities were aware of the fact that the Ceremony as shown would be used for purposes of advertisements, some of which were in very bad taste.]


My Lords, I have now had an opportunity of having a fuller account of what occurred in the United States with regard to the broadcasting of the Coronation. There are just over 2,400 broadcasting stations in the United States, and by the vast majority of them the Coronation was dealt with in a spirit of kindliness and respect for the Royal Family, and showed deep friendliness and sympathy for our feelings in this country in connection with that Ceremony. There were, undoubtedly, a small number of lapses, of which, as I said last week, the Americans showed a disapproval at least as great as ours. It was perhaps regrettable that, before we were able to make a full survey, those lapses were given disproportionate prominence.

I am satisfied that the B.B.C. took all the steps that they could to ensure the best possible handling by the main networks, which showed a great desire to meet their suggestions. As no copyright exists of sound or television broadcasting, arrangements could not take a contractual form; but, short of that, everything possible was done. I hope that noble Lords will not ask me to say or do more. The Coronation has been a source of great emotional union and understanding between our two peoples which we may be in danger of marring if we rake up and examine every small mistake or lapse of taste that has been made, instead of concentrating on the broad general picture, which is one of which both countries can be very proud.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Earl for his answer and join with him in his references, so far as the American people are concerned? No one who has seen the American people, particularly in America, cart doubt their good will towards the people of this country. That is one of the things that made these incidents so surprising. The noble Earl has given me more or less what I wanted, an official estimate of the range of these incidents. I thank him for his answer and will let the matter stop at that.


My (Lords, may I add this? I do not know whether on a previous occasion the noble Earl has taken the opportunity of expressing his approval of the work chat the B.B.C. did over here, because I believe the whole House would consider that the work they did was of very great value. The success of the Ceremony over here was largely due to the brilliant way in which they handled what was a most important and significant occasion in the life of this country. I am glad to hear from the noble Earl, and I readily agree, that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the same was true of the United States.