Oral Answers to Questions — Broadcast Talks (Control)

– in the House of Commons on 25th November 1942.

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Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

asked the Minister of Information whether he will revise the arrangements under which the British Broadcasting Corporation presently works so as to secure either an arrangement under which the Minister of Information is responsible to the House of Commons for the talks produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation or, alternatively, full control by the British Broadcasting Corporation of their programmes, free from the Ministry of Information or the exercise of political pressure by Members of the House of Commons?

Photo of Mr Ernest Thurtle Mr Ernest Thurtle , Shoreditch

In the view of my right hon. Friend there could be no development more distasteful to the House or more boring to the public than that the Ministry of Information should become responsible for all the talks given in the B.B.C. services.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the result of the present system of dual control means, in effect, that there is no control by this House at all? Is he satisfied with that situation?

Photo of Mr Ernest Thurtle Mr Ernest Thurtle , Shoreditch

The hon. Member will appreciate that the present arrangement is one which has been necessitated by war conditions. At the present time the B.B.C. accept the direction of the Ministry of Information in regard to all broadcasting matters which affect the national war effort, and I believe it is the general desire of the House that, apart from that one qualification, the B.B.C. should be free to conduct their own business.

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of Information, in private correspondence, expressly repudiates that responsibility and that it was precisely because of that that I put this Question down to try and find out who is responsible?

Photo of Mr Ernest Thurtle Mr Ernest Thurtle , Shoreditch

I am not familiar with the private correspondence of my right hon. Friend, but the position is as I have just given it in my reply.