HC Deb 22 March 1928 vol 215 cc556-8

asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to hand over to private enterprise the wireless and external cable systems of the General Post Office?


asked the Prime Minister whether it is his intention to transfer any Government cable or wireless services to a private company; and, if so, whether he will give particulars?

47. Mr. AMMON

asked the Prime Minister whether the Eastern Exchange Cable Company and Marconi Company since their fusion have any understanding with the Post Office for the future control and working of the beam system of telegraphy?


asked the Prime Minister whether the cable companies at the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference applied to the Government for assistance; what was the nature of the assistance asked for and the ground on which the appeal for assistance was based; and whether the cable companies made it a condition of continuing any of the operations of the cable services that some form of assistance should be provided

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

His Majesty's Government and the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference had no previous knowledge of the details of and have no responsibility for any financial arrangements for the merger of the Eastern Telegraph and Marconi Companies. As regards the general question, I can make no statement in advance of reports from the Imperial Conference, which only on Monday received a proposal from the two companies; but, since hon. Members have specifically inquired as to the attitude of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain, I think it right to say that the Government, while it is prepared to join in discussing measures for a working arrangement, is not committed even in principle, and reserves freedom of action in regard to any proposals for transfer of the operation and control of the Imperial wireless services at present administered by His Majesty's Government.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, if there is any suggestion of discussing the working arrangements, an opportunity will be given to this House to consider them?


I think I have a question down upon that matter.


Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the licence granted to the Marconi Company is sufficiently definite to prevent any transference to a Power other than the British Empire and has he seen the statement made on the 16th of this month that it was on the eve of transference to America when this merger actually took place?


No, Sir, I should require notice of that question.

49. Mr. AMMON

asked the Prime Minister when the Report of the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference may be expected; whether the evidence submitted to the conference will be published; and whether, before any action is taken, the Report will be brought before Parliament?


With regard to the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by me on the 13th March in reply to a question by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs). With regard to the second and third parts, until such time as the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference have submitted their recommendations for consideration by the Governments concerned I am unable to make any statement.