Lords debates BBC World Service
2 December 2022
On Thursday 1 December, members of the House of Lords debated the importance of the BBC World Service and the impact of cuts to its services.
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench), human rights campaigner, put forward the debate.
This was a general debate. During debates, members put their experience to good use to discuss current issues and draw the government's attention to concerns.
Members speaking in the debate included:
- Lord Hannay of Chiswick (Crossbench), former UK representative to the UN
- Baroness Helic (Conservative), former special adviser to the Foreign Secretary
- Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Labour), barrister and civil liberties campaigner
- Lord McNally (Liberal Democrat), former Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
UK soft power
Members praised the World Service as one of the UK’s most valuable institutions and its role in promoting global human rights.
Former diplomats highlighted the World Service’s importance for the UK’s international standing and soft power. They argued the UK’s pivotal role in promoting the rule of law and democratic values globally can not only be achieved through governmental and formal diplomacy, it requires renowned institutions such as the World Service.
Its crucial role at times of international crisis was also raised, including the role it plays reporting on the war in Ukraine.
Misinformation and disinformation
Members said, as a source of trustworthy information, the World Service is critical to many international audiences susceptible to misinformation. In light of the current spread of disinformation, members said the World Service is a trusted brand and the quality of its broadcasting is next to none. They highlighted the benefits to UK business, arguing business leaders are likelier to invest in the UK, use British goods and suppliers and visit the UK as a result.
Impact of cuts
Members raised concerns about the impact of cuts. They said cuts threaten all of these benefits, and could open the door to unsavoury media competitors.
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Conservative), Minster of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, responded on behalf of the government. He agreed with the extent of the World Service’s soft power. He said the government continues to support it and set out the funding from the FCDO for the BBC World Service.
Watch and read the debate
Explore background information
Find out more about the issues the debate covers in the House of Lords Library briefing.
Learn more about how the House of Lords checks and challenges the government.