With your permission, Mr. Speaker and that of the House, I should like to give the reply to Question No. 77.
The House will remember that on 2nd April, when announcing the Government's decision to hold this inquiry, I said that the Departments concerned, together with the B.B.C. and the British Council, were being invited to consider the whole range of our overseas information services from the political and strategic aspects. Later in the debate my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury added that this discussion would, in the first instance, take place at the official level with a view to further stages being considered by Ministers.
The officials in question have now presented Ministers with a full statement of the problem. It is, however, no easy matter to decide exactly the relative emphasis that should be placed upon each of the varied and world-wide activities which are grouped under the name of overseas information services. The political and strategic value of these services is undoubted. But at the same time the Government attach very great importance to finding a means of determining the right scale and emphasis for their activities.
Her Majesty's Government have, therefore, decided to appoint a small expert advisory committee who will have full access to all the facts, and who will be invited to furnish Ministers as soon as possible with their considered views. Meanwhile the present level of activity of the overseas information services will be maintained.