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Commonwealth Survey

Oral Answers to Questions — Government Information Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1959.

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Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 27th July 1959

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how far those who compile Commonwealth Survey for the Central Office of Information are required to keep a fair balance between Government and Opposition in reporting House of Commons debates.

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

The Commonwealth Survey, produced by the Central Office of Information on behalf of the three Overseas Departments for distribution abroad, is concerned primarily with the documentation of Her Majesty's Government's policies. In the case of major debates in the House of Commons, HANSARD references are given and the views of the Opposition reported.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Does the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster really think that it is an adequate expression of view for the Hola debate to be summarised in 55 lines, 47 of which are given to the Government and eight to the Opposition? In those eight lines two interpolations of Government views are expressed in brackets.

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

My recollection of the report is that there is a long section of background which includes much that was said on behalf of the Opposition and that accompanying this document when it goes overseas is a copy of HANSARD itself.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

Does not my right hon. Friend think that it would be kinder to hon. Members opposite to omit the eight lines?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that most of the very fair background piece which precedes the debate is devoted to analysing the White Paper which was published and the magistrate's inquest and has nothing to do with what was said during the debate by the Opposition? Will the right hon. Gentleman give me a straight answer? Does he think that a fair balance is represented between eight and 47 lines?

Photo of Dr Charles Hill Dr Charles Hill , Luton

The report of the magistrate's inquest played a substantial part ill the Opposition's observations on that occasion. I think that the report is fair, bearing in mind that it is accompanied by, and makes direct reference to, the current issue of HANSARD.