§ Mr. Crawley
asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he is able to give the House any information about the future of the radio transmitting station built in Ceylon for the use of the Allied Armed Services and generally known as Radio SEAC.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
Yes. I am glad to be able to inform the House that, as a result of negotiations with His Majesty's Government in Ceylon during the past year, the radio transmitting station formerly known as "Radio SEAC"34W and now known as "Radio Ceylon" has been transferred, with effect from today, to the ownership of the Ceylon Government. The House will, I know, welcome this transfer which is in keeping with the fully independent status of Ceylon.
An experimental station for broadcasting to the Forces in Burma and India was set up in Ceylon in 1944 under the control of the War Office. The powerful transmitting station known as "Radio SEAC" which succeeded this experimental station was established in Ceylon on 1st May, 1946. Its operation has continued until now under the control of the War Office.
In taking over the station the Ceylon Government have agreed to make facilities available to the United Kingdom Government to use the transmitting station for 8½ hours a day until the new short-wave station at Singapore is ready. Arrangements have been made for the B.B.C. to broadcast from Radio Ceylon during the daily period reserved for our use. These broadcasts will not be directed to Ceylon but elsewhere in South-East Asia and the Far East. They will include broadcasts in Asian languages as well as broadcasts for the United Kingdom Forces in those areas. The B.B.C. will be responsible for the actual costs of its transmissions and these costs will be met from the Grant-in-Aid for the Overseas Services of the B.B.C. No charge will therefore fall on the Ceylon Government for these programmes. Copies of letters exchanged yesterday between the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Ceylon and the Hon. Mr. D. S. Senanayake, the Ceylon Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, effecting the transfer of the station, are being placed in the Library of the House so that hon. Members may see the details of the transfer.
The B.B.C. have entered into a temporary Agreement with my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General to conduct their broadcasts from Radio Ceylon. This Agreement had to be arrived at before negotiations with the Ceylon Government were concluded, and it was therefore limited to a period of 12 months and expires next October. It will be replaced by a formal Agreement covering the whole period of intended operation. The latter agreement will be submitted as soon as possible to the House for approval.