HL Deb 24 January 1940 vol 115 cc442-4WA

asked His Majesty's Government whether they can state the total amount of money contributed by the State in all forms to the British Council, giving the detailed amounts in each year since the payments began; and whether any conditions are imposed governing the spending of the money?


The grant in aid of the British Council voted annually by Parliament (Civil Estimates, Class II Vote 2 Sub-head N) constitutes the entire contribution of His Majesty's Government to the expenditure of the Council. The amounts voted and issued since the Council was formed have been:

Financial Year. Voted. £ Issued. £
1935 6,000 5,302
1936 15,000 15,000
1937 60,000 60,000
1938 130,500 130,500
1939 386,500

The amount to be issued in the current financial year is still under consideration.

The purpose of the grant is the promotion of a wider knowledge of Great Britain and the English language abroad and the development of closer cultural relations with other countries. The amount which Parliament is to be asked to vote each year is settled after scrutiny of estimates submitted by the Council. These estimates are largely based on recommendations made by His Majesty's Representatives abroad, and the main heads of expenditure are determined in close consultation with the Foreign Office, which attaches very great value to the work of the Council. The Foreign Office is further represented on the Executive Committee of the Council and is thus able to watch closely the nature of the work and the spending of the money.

Conditions of the grant are that expenditure is not incurred by the Council on objects for which Parliament has made other provision, or which would be more appropriately charged to other funds, and that the scale of the Council's activities shall not be increased without the concurrence of the Treasury. The estimates of the Council are submitted annually to the Treasury for approval, and the Treasury are also consulted in any case where it is desired to incur expenditure on a new service not falling within the scope of any of the approved sub-heads of expenditure or on an item involving a question of financial principle. The Council's accounts are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Treasury are furnished with a copy of the audited accounts, together with a copy of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

House adjourned at thirteen minutes before five o'clock.