Beveridge Report (Broadcast Summary)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Information – in the House of Commons on 9th December 1942.

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Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Lewisham West

asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware that the British Broadcasting Corporation news bulletin on the day of publication of the Beveridge Report, purporting to give a summary of it, drew misleading comparisons between the cost of the proposals and the cost of the war, which are not contained in the Report itself; and whether he will draw the attention of the Governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation to the importance of not attempting, when important Parliamentary Papers are being summarised, to sway public opinion by interpolating into the summary the British Broadcasting Corporation's own observations?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

Yes, Sir. This question shows the wisdom of the truism that comparisons are always odious. I have read the summary of the Beveridge Report made by the news editor of the B.B.C. Apart from the blemish noticed by my hon. Friend, I believe it to be a fair and skilful summary of a vast and complex document. The Governors of the B.B.C. do not attempt to sway public opinion.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Lewisham West

Has my right hon. Friend been able to ascertain how this particular mistake, which was a rather serious one, occurred and can he give any assurance that the B.B.C. will take steps to prevent any incorrect summarisation of Parliamentary papers in future?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

Yes, Sir. I must explain to my hon. Friend that a news editor working against the clock occasionally makes mistakes. I can give no guarantee whatever that these mistakes will not be repeated. Newspaper reporters and editors occasionally make mistakes, and so do the B.B.C. I really think the hon. Gentleman should make allowances for people, working in very difficult conditions, who do their best to give the public an honest report of proceedings in this House.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

Is my right hon. Friend sure that no attempt was made to sway public opinion outside this country in radio reports and accounts of this document?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

I should say that no attempt was made to sway public opinion outside this country. I do not quite know what is meant by "swaying public opinion," but I should say that a good account of the Beveridge Report was given in all parts of the world, because apparently, it interested everyone everywhere.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

Are we to understand that the B.B.C. did not receive a previous copy of this Report?

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

Yes, Sir; the B.B.C., like everybody else, received a previous copy.

Photo of Mr Brendan Bracken Mr Brendan Bracken , Paddington North

No hon. Member had to make speeches an hour after the Report was received. The B.B.C. certainly received a copy of the Report, but it is extremely hard to give a correct summary of this Beveridge Report. No one except Sir William Beveridge himself, I think, could have summarised it in such a short time.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Lewisham West

I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.