HC Deb 14 February 1938 vol 331 cc1523-5
49 and 50. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Postmaster-General (1) what steps the British Broadcasting Corporation are taking to construct a Birmingham relay station;

(2) whether the Government will consider making the necessary financial provision for 12 relay stations in connection with television to the major cities throughout this country?

The Postmaster-General (Major Tryon)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 7th February to my hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Mr. Rostron Duckworth).

Mr. De la Bère

Can my right hon. and gallant Friend give us no further information now on this all-important subject?

Major Tryon

The information was given on 7th February.

54. Sir Reginald Clarry

asked the Postmaster-General by what date he expects to be in a position to state whether the experiment in the working of a system of wireless relay in Southampton is a success or failure?

Major Tryon

The arrangements are being pressed forward with all practicable speed, but I cannot at this stage forecast a date by which it will be possible to judge what measure of success has attended the experiment.

55. Mr. Marcus Samuel

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is considering a national wireless relay station on the same basis of cost as Southampton; and what is the estimated cost involved?

Major Tryon

The Southampton experiment, which will include local distribution of broadcast programmes both over special wires and over the telephone wires, does not in any way commit the Government to accepting the recommendation of the Ullswater Committee with reference to relay services. Its object is to obtain more information before coming to a decision.

56. Mr. Craven-Ellis

asked the Postmaster-General what contribution per annum will be made to the Southampton Corporation for rates, wayleaves, and other charges in respect of the wiring and other installations necessary for the proposed wireless relay system?

Major Tryon

Rates and wayleave charges are not payable on wires placed by the Post Office in public highways; and no reason has been put forward, in connection with the proposed relay experiment, which would appear to warrant a change of practice in this matter.

57. Mr. Craven-Ellis

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will accept full responsibility for the contents of the foreign radio programmes supplied to subscribers through the medium of the proposed Post Office wireless relay service at Southampton; and what steps will he take to exclude foreign propaganda from such programmes?

Major Tryon

In accordance with the recommendations of the Ullswater Committee on Broadcasting, 1935, it is the intention that the British Broadcasting Corporation shall be responsible for the choice of programmes to be relayed to the subscribers to the Post Office wire-broadcasting service at Southampton. I have no doubt that the British Broadcasting Corporation will take what steps are necessary to exclude from the service any foreign programmes containing propaganda.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

How soon does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman expect the wireless service at Southampton to be ready and available to the public?

Major Tryon

I cannot give an exact date. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Supplementary Estimate has not yet been taken.

58. Mr. H. G. Williams

asked the Postmaster-General what estimates he has prepared as to the number of initial subscribers to the proposed wireless relay system in Southampton; and what annual increase is anticipated?

Major Tryon

Without canvassing on the spot, it is not possible to prepare firm estimates of the initial number of subscribers to the proposed service. One of the results of the experiment should be to furnish definite information on the extent of the public demand for the system.

Mr. Williams

Do I understand that there is a proposal to spend £210,000 on a scheme without the faintest idea of how many people want it?

Major Tryon

It is not a question of this scheme alone, but of settling a difficult problem which the House debated in the summer. It is well worth while to find what is the best method before considering whether to embark on any general plan.

Mr. Mabane

What is the proposed weekly charge to subscribers?

Major Tryon

One shilling and sixpence.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

How did Southampton come to be selected for this experiment?

Major Tryon

Because the Southampton Corporation invited us to make the experiment in Southampton, and I am much obliged to them.

Mr. George Griffiths

Is it not because the Chancellor of the Exchequer expects that seat at the next election?