BW 2/381 – (Transfer to COI) Books, Periodicals, and Publications
[SC – 21/06/11]


- 'British Council Brochures: Respective spheres of responsibility of the British Council and the COI Publications Division.'
“The COI will have an editorial responsibility which will arise only after the British Council have (1) issued the original directives to the author in which the concept of the publication and its content, general treatment and the scope of the publication is laid down, (2) maintain contact with the author until the final form of the brochure is settled in detail.”
[Photo]

- 'The British Council. Executive Committee. 86th Meeting to be held on Tuesday, 8th February, 1949 at 10 am.' Subsection 'Relations of the British Council with the Central Office of Information'
“1. (a). On February 21st, 1946, the Cabinet decided that the Council should do its production and procurement through the COI (instituted on 1.4.46) and HM Stationary Office. Discussions with COI on arrangements for implementing this began at once, and in some matters have continued ever since.
(b).It was not until 5th March 1947 that the Council saw a copy of the Treasury Handbook on Government Information Services, issued May 1946. Had this been available earlier, the negotiations in certain cases might have taken a different course, since the Treasury Handbook clearly allows for elastic interpretation of the Cabinet decision where difficulties of observing it are not compensated by any advantages or economies, and states the conditions under which Government Departments can “contract out” of COI and the method of arbitration if the Department and COI fail to agree.

3. [Earlier version] It was only at a late stage of the negotiations that the Council was informed of the loading charges the COI had been instructed to apply to all services performed for the Council. This, of course, was a very serious burden on the Council's budget, and in the case of certain services meant that the effective goods we got for a given sum of money were reduced by as much as 50%.
4. The negotiations in regard to certain Departments and functions have led to settlements which, though not uniformly satisfactory, are not now a matter of dispute. The following is a brief résumé of these:-
(a). Feature Articles: Agreed that the Council should order its articles through the COI instead of commissioning them direct.
(b). Photographs: This department was transferred completely to COI.
(c). Films: As in the case of Feature Articles, the main point in the agreement was that the Council should commission its films through the COI.* COI also undertakes commercial distribution, but handed back to the Council non-theatrical distribution on its own initiative, since the Council can handle this much more easily and cheaply.”
*[An earlier draft of this read, “As in the case of Feature Articles, the main point in the agreement was that the Council should commission its films through the COI. This decision coincided with a very drastic cut in the Council's budget for this heading. The very considerable savings of staff effected were as much due to the one cause as to the other. COI also undertakes commercial distribution, but handed back to the Council non-theatrical distribution, at its own request, since the Council can handle this much more easily and cheaply. As regards film production, the COI overheads have been a very serious handicap.”
[etc] [photos]

- Documents on proposed book series by the COI & BC, and associated editorial terms between the two companies.

- 'Record of an Informal Meeting to Fulfil the Decisions of the Cabinet Information Services Committee on British Council Brochures, held at 17, Carlton House Terrace on Monday, 10th January, 1949, at 3pm'
“3. Science, Medical and Agricultural Bulletins It was stated that these Bullentins are at present printed by a private firm, a specialist firm. It was AGREED, however, that this work should now be handed over to the Stationary Office who have their own typographical unit and that the British Council should take immediate action, and deal direct with HMSO.”

- Addition to the notes of the meeting held on 21.02.46, in the form of a background to the conflict twixt the COI, MOI & BC.
“In considering the history of the relations of the Council with the COI, it is important to remember three facts: first, the country's cultural [a]chievements proved even in the later stages of the war (and increasingly after the war ended) far more effective in creating an impression overseas than its prowess in politics or war. Secondly, although politics on the one hand and arts on the other are respectively in the Government and Council fields, it is impossible to find a clear-cut boundary of political/cultural nature in the broad mass of intermediate subjects between two bodies that are both engaged in displaying their country and its achievements. Thirdly, the MOI was not in fact abolished in 1945, but was transformed partly into the COI and partly into the Information Services; and this fact, though advantageous for purposes of continuity, precluded the possibility of a new approach to the difficulties besetting the Council/MOI relationship.
The troubles that have beset us in the last two years are therefore not new. In 1943, if not earlier, the MOI invaded the cultural field that in theory belonged to the Council, especially in the matter of Publications and Films. The MOI Films Division could always get away with this on the grounds that a particular film was intended for USA in which the Council was forbidden to work. The Publications Division technique was to select a subject in the large middle group between the extremes of politics and culture, with which the Council was also dealing, and then endeavour to secure a ruling, on grounds of economy, that the theoretical boundary between the MOI and the Council should be pushed further over to the cultural side. (This technique was also applied, in varying degrees, to newspaper articles, photographs, etc.)
So long as the MOI continued officially in existence, these tactics could be (and were) resisted with reasonable success, and even turned to a weapon of counter-attack; but the Council always operated, and still does, with one serious disadvantage. Since it is not a Government Department, policy-making meetings can be held at which the COI (as formerly the MOI) is represented, and the Council is not. Over a period of years, this handicap has automatically created a bias against the Council's point of view, and that without any malicious intention on anybody's part. This bias has more than once resulted in decisions which are detrimental to the Council's work.
So much must be said to lead up to the Cabinet decision of February 21st 1946, which coincided with the inception of the COI and formed the basis for subsequent negotiations. The decision reads as follows:
“that the British Council should no longer have authority to do its own production or procurement work, and that its scope should be restricted to educational and cultural work, and should not overlap with the Government's Information Services.”
Discussions with the Central Office on the implementation of this ruling started immediately and in certain cases have continued ever since...[see above at point (3) of the meeting held on 21.02.46 for continuation]”
[photos]

- Procedure breakdown for production of BC brochures. [photo]

- Many notes on the nature of the 'brochures', and how the relationship twixt the COI & BC will work.

- 15/07/48 – Summary of the arguments for the release of the British Council from it's publishing arrangements with the COI. [photo]

- 12/07/48 – BC Chairman, Mr Kennedy-Cooke, to Commonwealth Relations Office, Mr Gordon Walker, a letter informing him of the crippling of the BC publishing arm under the COI's restrictions. [photo]

- 04/15/48 – Report on procedure and workings, highlighting the ridiculous system and problems it causes. [photos]

- 30/04/48 – 'Note on the Comparison of Council Publications with Films, etc.'
“The COI Memorandum to the Select Committee endeavoured to state an analogy between the transfer of the Publications work of the British Council and that of Films, Press Articles and Visual Work (including photographs)...
5. Films It is on this activity that the COI appear principally to base their analogy with Publications, and therefore some detailed explanation is necessary.
(a) Publication is an integral part of the basis of the Council's work. Film-making, though a valuable adjunct, is not.
(b) There is a basic difference between the two inherent in the medium. Once the shooting script has been agreed, a film is entirely in the hands of the technical production unit until a rough-cut is produced. Alterations can then be suggested and made, but only in most cases, at considerable additional expense (and, of course, two different directors may easily make two quite different films out of the same script). The next stage is the finished product, which can only be accepted or rejected. This is quite different from the Publications process, in which day-to-day consultations are possible between all the parties concerned right right up tot he moment the book goes to the printers. The book deals solely in the written word, possibly accompanied by illustrations, which can be selected at leisure. The Film is a continuous moving picture based on a written idea, and a welding of the script and the photography with progressive alterations to both in the actual process of manufacture, (printing). But in the film, the process of “writing”, “editing” and manufacture all go on concurrently.
(c) Film-making is a very expensive process compared with other activities. The Council could never afford a production unit (camera-men etc.) of its own, and therefore exercised little control over the films it ordered from documentary companies. The Council's Production Manager and his staff were largely engaged in translating the Council's wishes into the language of the trade, and in keeping a professional eye on the costs. They were in a position to judge whether a particular method or procedure suggested by the Company was worth the cost involved, and to suggest alternatives where necessary. All this can equally well be handled by the COI.
(d) Films made under the present system are more expensive to the Council than in the past, because: (i) the Crown Film Unit's loading charges are higher than those of a documentary company. These may, of course, come down; (ii) the COI makes an additional loading charge (8% on films made by the Crown Film Unit, and 16% on those made by the Trade). But on the other side of the account, the Council has saved over £10,000 on staff salaries.
(e) The reduction of the Council's budget has drastically reduced the number of films we can sponsor in any case. Our average now looks like being about three yearly instead of our former average of 20 odd. On this basis there is no justification for the Council to maintain the necessarily expensive staff of former days.
(f) Whereas the Council's Film Department was concerned solely with the procurement and distribution of Films...”
[photos]

- 'The Aims and Work of the British Council (In Foreign Countries) [photo]

- Members of the brochure committees (including Science committee), COI loading charges on the BC for brochures, & brochures in production. [photos]

- Working terms twixt COI & BC – early draft? [photo]

- List of 'British Council posts suppressed on Transfer of Functions to COI'
Film Department. (Transfer Complete)
Senior Posts: 13
Junior Posts: 6”
[photo]

- The transfer of the film department is already complete by 18/10/46.

- 02/10/46 – Kennedy-Cooke to Robert Fraser, COI - “...you agreed at the meeting with our Chairman that high-grade periodicals addressed to particular groups of specialists, such as the “British Medical Bulletin” were to remain exclusively the business of the Council. “

- 03/05/46 - “There are important areas (e.g. the United States, the Dominions, India and Russia) where the Council is not represented.”

- Suggestion that there is a BC periodical entitled 'Science Film Progress'.

- 07/05/46 – 'Transfer of the Production Work of the British Council – Note by the Central Office of Information'
Film Department
This department's functions correspond with those of the Central Office's Films Division, the only significant operational difference being that it does not contain a film-making unit to correspond with the Crown. It consists of 26 senior and 15 junior staff.”

- 24/04/46 – Kennedy-Cooke to Colonel Sullivan – 'Position vis-a-vis COI'
Films Messrs Tritton, Palmer and Izod have been offered and have accepted posts in COI. COI wishes them to take these up on 1st May, and to this I have agreed, although it cuts short the month's notice normally due to the Council. You have already had Mr Tritton's papers, and I attach the resignations on these terms of Messrs Palmer and Izod.
Mr Primrose has already resigned. Miss Benedetta has resigned, and her papers have been forwarded. Messrs Ferguson, Todd and Revell have also been offered posts by COI. I understand that the first two will accept, and in that case Mr Ferguson may also leave us on May 1st. Mr Todd will in any case not leave us till June 1st, since Mr Tritton and I have agreed that the transfer of functions must be gradual, and that there must be senior staff at both ends to handle the transfer period. I am informed that Mr Revell is resigning from the Council at a month's notice, but not accepting the offer of COI, since he has received a better offer from outside.
Miss Middleton and Miss Shklovsky, together with Messrs Lovell, Smith, Baker, Kitchin and Hornsbury, and three secretaries will remain permanently on the Council's staff to handle out film interests under me, and work the cinema. I am hoping that Miss Middleton will be promoted to Cf from the date the new arrangement comes into force.
The rest of the staff will undoubtedly without difficulty find niches in the COI, but actual offers are unlikely to be made to them until Mr Tritton has actually moved.”
[photo]

- 06/03/46 – Kennedy-Cooke to Secretary-General – 'Reorganisation vis-a-vis the COI'
Films We are already reasonably clear about this one. The COI will take over production and distribution, but the Council will retain the right to order films on subjects which interest it, and to be consulted on the films at appropriate stages of their production. The Council will also have the right, of course, to buy prints of films not specifically produced for it, and to order and pay for foreign commentaries; and non-theatrical distribution will be carried out in accordance with the Council's wishes. Theatrical distribution, which includes the important matter of receipts from the showing of films, is a matter for further discussion. So, also, is the future status of the Council's cinema.”

- 01/03/46 – Initial thoughts on the 'threat' posed to nine BC departments by creation of the COI. [photos].