HL Deb 25 April 1968 vol 291 cc737-8

3.7 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first 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 three anti-German programmes put on by the B.B.C. on February 10, February 25 and March 11 this year; and whether, in view of the tone of these broadcasts, they will issue a directive to the B.B.C. forbidding them to promote racial hatred against a fellow member of NATO.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are not aware that the B.B.C. has either sought to promote racial hatred or broadcast any programme intended to foster antagonism against the nationals of any foreign country, though it may not be unnatural that writers and commentators should continue to find interest and inspiration in the war and its aftermath.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Baroness for that Answer, may I ask whether she is aware that a great many of the public in this country, and many people abroad, regard the B.B.C. as the voice of the nation, and that it behoves the Corporation, so far as possible to keep off any matter which might be construed as having a racial or even political bias?


My Lords, I would agree with the noble Viscount that the B.B.C. is regarded as the voice of the nation. As the noble Lord will be aware, Her Majesty's Government have no control over programme content; but I think equally the noble Lord will agree that almost anything could be wrongly construed. I think perhaps the Boston Tea Party might be construed in a wrong way if one were not to regard it as history.


My Lords, as it seems to be understood that the B.B.C. can attack the British Government, does my noble friend think that there is any good reason why it should not also attack the German Government?


My Lords, will the noble Lady resist any invitation for the Government to exercise control over the B.B.C., which should be free?


My Lords, I should like to repeat the assurance which has been given on many occasions in another place that of course the B.B.C. must remain free to exercise control over programme content.

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