HC Deb 17 February 1939 vol 343 cc2065-7W
Mr. H. Morrison

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will publish the respective numbers of British Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts by Ministers of the Crown, Members of Parliament supporting the Government, and Members of Parliament in opposition to the Government during the past 12 months?

Sir W. Womersley

The following information is furnished by the British Broadcasting Corporation:

From 31st January, 1938, to 31st January, 1939, according to the Corporation's records, the number of broadcasts by Ministers of the Crown (in both Houses) was 42; those by other hon. Members supporting the Government 48; and those by hon. Members in opposition to the Government 33. (These figures comprise broadcasts in the National or main Regional programme. They do not include broadcasts given in a single Regional programme only, the number of which is not available without further research.)

Political addresses on party lines were confined to a balanced series of four broadcasts on the occasion of the Budget, as in previous years. Broadcasts by Ministers of the Crown varied from the straightforward statement of Government policy—such as the statement by Mr. Hore-Belisha on Service in the Regular Territorial Divisions, and that by Mr. Ernest Brown on the Extension of Unemployment Insurance Benefits—to the non-political talk, such as that by Sir Thomas Inskip on "Sunday: A National Heritage," and that by Mr. Hudson on the Empire Exhibition at Glasgow. Mr. Herbert Morrison, by virtue of his office, broadcast on the L.C.C.'s Education Plan. A number of speeches by Ministers and others on important national occasions have also been broadcast; these "outside broadcasts" have included, for example, the Prime Minister's speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet, Mr. Winston Churchill's at the Royal Academy Banquet, Mr. Anthony Eden's at the Royal Society of St. George Banquet and Mr. Lloyd George's at the Manchester Centenary Banquet.

A number of the broadcasts by hon. Members were semi-political: e.g., Sir Richard Meller, Sir Arnold Wilson and Mr. Rhys Davies spoke on the question of the private or public control of insurance; Mr. Dingle Foot and Sir Stanley Read on the Freedom of the Press; Mr. Amery (and Lord Snell) on the Need for National Service. Others were entirely non-political, e.g., talks by Lady Astor on Drink and the Community, by Mr. J. J. Lawson on the Miner at Home, and by Miss Ellen Wilkinson on the subject of "Adventure" in a debate of the Under Twenty Club.

The majority of the broadcasts by hon. Members on public affairs were informative and factual. For example, the series of talks "Week in Westminster," which is given by three hon. Members of different main Parties, accounts for over 30 broadcasts during the year. Hon. Members took part also in the regular World Affairs talks, in which purely objective and factual explanations of world problems are given by experts, irrespective of Party; the speakers in this series are for the most part not politicians. Another example of the factual broadcast is provided by a series of 12 talks on "The Past Week" by a Government supporter, Mr. Harold Nicolson.