HC Deb 30 November 1948 vol 458 cc1931-3

When interference with wireless telegraphy is being caused by any domestic appliance or appliances, no notice under Section eleven of this Act shall be served on the owner or on the person responsible for the apparatus unless it is shown how that person can comply with the terms of the notice at a cost to himself not exceeding two shillings and six pence in respect of each domestic appliance to which the notice applies—[Sir R. Acland.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Sir R. Acland

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

When we get the Opposition, with all the resources they have for drafting, submitting Clauses which cannot be accepted because they are not adequately drafted, I hope an ordinary Member will be excused if a Clause submitted by him probably needs redrafting, even if the principle is accepted. The principle behind this Clause is that ordinary members of the public shall not be compelled to spend too much money on silencing their vacuum cleaners and electric irons. I am a little alarmed to know that, at the moment, in order to make a vacuum cleaner or iron harmless to a neighbour's wireless, costs as much as 9s. 6d.

On an earlier Clause I suggested—it may have been out of Order at that time, but I want to repeat the suggestion now—that if the Government wish to go into the business in a big way and really mean to clear up this crackling and popping which we hear on wireless sets, it would not be at all unreasonable to suppose that we are going to need at least 100,000 of these suppressors. I am sure that if the Government placed an order with the trade for such a number the price could be about 2s. 6d. Then it seems to me that the Government servants, the servants of the community, whose job it is to inspect the appliances causing the disturbances, could quite easily carry these suppressors around with them and fit them so that there would be no additional charge to the citizens for the fitting. Half-a-crown seems to me a much more reasonable sum and, by dynamic administration, the Post Office could see that everything necessary was done.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Wilfred Paling)

We cannot accept this new Clause, which would be too rigid and would probably prevent us from dealing with cases involving the safety of life. Half a crown sounds very attractive, but on Second Reading and in the last Committee Debate I said that in many cases these things were cheap but that we hoped they would be cheaper. To put on a restriction of this sort would damage the Bill far too much, and would restrict us far too much. With regard to the question of getting the suppressors in sufficient quantities. I would utter the warning which I uttered before, namely, that we do not want people to run and buy them by the thousand or the million. This has gone on fairly comfortably up to the present, and we do not think there is any need to rush. It will go on largely as it has done before, with our people attend- ing to the complaints, tracking down the interference, and applying the remedy in a good many cases. We think that is the best way of conducting the business. For those reasons, I hope my hon. Friend will not press the new Clause.

Mr. Grimston

With the intent of this Clause we are in sympathy, but it may well be that the drafting is not what is required. It seems to us hard that persons who own an electric iron or a Hoover which they have bought legitimately, should suddenly find that they have to spend another 10s. or more in order to continue to use it. Could the Postmaster-General look at the matter to see whether the Post Office in certain cases could fit these things at their expense, or by some means transfer the cost to the person for whose benefit they are being fitted, namely, the user of the reception set? I have learned that some of the worst interferers are the overhead high-power transmission cables. Many people living near them cannot hear a thing. It costs 30s. to fit a suppressor to every insulator, and that gives an in dication of the problem. This matter obviously needs looking at, so I hope the Postmaster-General will consider the two points I have made.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," pvt, and negatived.