HL Deb 19 November 1959 vol 219 cc752-4

2.14 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why British Information Services have not sufficiently publicised throughout America the fact that Britain repayed a 250,000,000 dollar loan plus interest to the Export-Import Bank in Washington five-and-a-half years before it was due.]


My Lords, I do not agree that the British Information Services insufficiently publicised the repayment of this loan in the United States. Instructions that maximum publicity should be given to this occasion have been fully and successfully carried out. Press releases and background notes about repayment were sent by British Information Services to 400 newspapers and 150 columnists all over the United States. Very satisfactory coverage was obtained. All the four major New York daily newspapers and the influential Washington Post carried favourable editorial comment. The Wall Street Journal and New York Journal of Commerce carried full reports. The Associated Press news agency gave excellent coverage in its continent-wide service. Outside New York, a number of important newspapers carried friendly editorial comment or full reports, or both, as did many of the weekly magazines. British Information Services made a special effort to distribute material about the repayment among business men and economic and financial specialists in New York and elsewhere.

British Information Services also secured good coverage on radio and television. A specially prepared television news film was sent to 251 United States television stations on October 30. To date, British Information Services have learnt that 71 telecasts were made in prime news time. Since then our representatives have taken every opportunity to give still further publicity to the repayment. The foregoing is only a summary. If the noble Lord requires any further details, I shall be happy to give them to him.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his reply. Friends of mine in America tell me that though it received certain limited coverage in New York, in the provincial papers there appears to have been no references to it at all. If you ask the man in the street, he has not heard of it. I understand that we spend about £500,000 on these Services in America. I think we ought to have bought some half-page advertisements in provincial papers, for instance, and bought time on television, because this was a golden opportunity to bring home to America what this country has done. I feel that we ought to have done more to broadcast it throughout the country.


My Lords, one may always say that if only we had a little more, it would have been that much better but I think that the information I have given shows clearly that the British Information Services did a splendid job in this connection. As regards the question of whether we should have bought advertisements, personally I feel that for the British Government to buy advertisement for what they have done not only is not dignified but is not the best way of achieving the results desired.