HC Deb 21 February 1946 vol 419 cc273-5W
Mr. Garry Allighan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the disclosure in the U.S.A. of the findings of the recent Telecommunications Conference at Bermuda, attended by a British delegation, he will make a statement regarding the extent of the concessions made by Great Britain at this conference and their effect upon the future of British radio interests.

Mr. Dalton:

The following is a copy of the communique issued by the British Information Service in Washington on the results of the conference:


An Agency of the British Government

Washington, D.C. 7 th December, 1945.


Hamilton, Bermuda.

November-December, 1945.

By the agreements reached at the Conference, just concluded at Hamilton Bermuda, between delegates of the United States and the British Commonwealth, a great step forward has been taken to bring order out of the chaotic telecommunications system; and ensure a balanced combination of cable and wireless services for the world. Each side has shown a most encouraging understanding of the problems of the other, and to this the outstanding success of the Conference is largely due.

The interest of the United States is primarily in the radio field, with a lesser interest in cable communication; while in the British Commonwealth the emphasis is on cables. But the United States delegation accepted the British view that the reckless and unrestricted use of new radio circuits would unbalance the world system and deprive the United States themselves of the certain services and the security of the Commonwealth cable systems.

Among the other mutual benefits that have come from the Conference are:

  1. 1.The reduction to a maximum rate of 30cents per word of all telecommunication rates between the United States and the nations of the British Commonwealth. This affects particularly the more distant nations—e.g., a reduction from 50 cents for the Union of South Africa and from 46 cents for India. This agreement is without prejudice to the current ceiling rate of 25 cents within the Commonwealth.
  2. 2.The United States offer of a Press rate.of 6½ cents per word for Press telegrams between the United States and Commonwealth points means a considerable reduction in some instances of the cost of Press messages and will promote wider dissemination of Commonwealth news within the United States and vice versa.
    • This arrangement, again, is without prejudice to the inter-Commonwealth Press rate of a penny (2 cents) a word. The United States, while not being able to accept this rate for -itself, has agreed that the Commonwealth may extend it to any country in the world granting reciprocity.
  3. 3.The United States delegation was pleased with the ready Commonwealth agreement to confirm the direct radio circuits, first established during the war, between the United States and New Zealand, Australia and India; and also with the Commonwealth nations' willingness to investigate the desirability for permitting the establishment of further direct circuits to various Commonwealth areas. The United States delegation appreciate the Commonwealth position with regard to the regulation of such circuits, and have agreed that 275 except in emergency they shall be used only for messages between terminal countries and not for transit traffic.
  4. 4.The gold franc as the measure of telecommunications charges has been abandoned as impracticable. Charges henceforth will be on a dollar basis with the pound sterling at4.03 dollars. New low ceiling rates are available to any country which will reciprocate and adopt the dollar-sterling measure.
  5. 5.A protocol has been signed by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom with respect to the so called "exclusive arrangements" which have pertained as to telecommunications for certain countries.In this protocol it is specifically stated that both the United Kingdom and the United States will discourage exclusive arrangements in the future. A section of this protocol runs:.

" Should the United Kingdom Government desire to open direct radio telegraphic circuits with any countries with which the United States companies may have exclusive arrangements, the United States Government will use their good offices with the United States companies and the governments concerned to meet these requests."

Both countries have had such exclusive arrangements in the past and the expressed desire for discouragement of such arrangements in the future is one more encouraging example of the mutual intention to sacrifice exclusively national benefits in the interest of wider international advantage.

In his closing speech Sir Raymond Birchall, Head of the United Kingdom delegation, said: We have successfully accommodated in our discussions here two differing philosophies—that of the United States, which has nailed its flag to the mast of free enterprise, and that of the British Commonwealth,' nailed to the mast of public ownership, of telecommunications It augurs well."