Broadcasts (Ministerial Consultation).

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Information. – in the House of Commons on 28th January 1942.

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Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

asked the Minister of Information whether it is the custom of the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Minister of Information to consult other Ministers on the advisability of giving broadcasts on subjects that do not involve questions of public security but only the expression of opinion; and, if so, whether he will discontinue this practice as being unfair to the Ministers concerned and contrary to the public interest?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

Yes, Sir. The B.B.C. and the Ministry of Information occasionally consult other Ministries on such subjects but do not necessarily accept their advice. Fairness will always be our objective; and, if ever we make mistakes in this respect, we count upon the healthy stimulus of criticism from this House and the Press to narrow the margin of our error.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Does not my right hon. Friend think, in cases where public security is not involved, that it is very embarrassing for Ministers to be asked whether matters affecting their own Departments should be broadcast or not? Is it not possible for the Ministry of Information to make up its own mind?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

I think that my answer covers the point.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

Does the Minister mean that, as many think, it is undesirable that Ministers should be consulted upon controversial matters of policy affecting their own Departments, unless, of course, public security is involved?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

As a matter of fact the B.B.C. do seek consultation on certain matters, because, strange as it might seem, they like to get their facts right.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

Is it right that the B.B.C. should consult a Minister, as they recently consulted the Home Secretary, on a matter of policy which did not affect public security, and upon which there was a great deal of public controversy?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

I tell the hon. Member, quite frankly, that if I had seen that particular Question, I should not have transferred it to the Home Office.

Viscountess Astor:

Would it not be possible for me to make a speech on the B.B.C., re the Ministry of Health?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

I hope that that suggestion will be forthcoming.