HC Deb 07 March 1951 vol 485 cc419-22
21. Mr. Lambert

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has taken any further action to improve broadcast reception in north Devonshire.

22. Sir Harold Roper

asked the Postmaster-General whether he has any statement to make about the prospect of improved reception of British Broadcasting Corporation's programmes in north Devonshire and Cornwall.

Mr. Ness Edwards

The B.B.C. is examining proposals for improving reception in this and other areas, and I am awaiting their conclusions.

Mr. Lambert

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that he instructed the B.B.C. to sacrifice the quality of sound reception generally to provide television in the north of England, will he either improve the quality of sound reception or reduce the cost of wireless licences?

Mr. Ness Edwards

This is not a matter under my control. The B.B.C. are proceeding under their Charter to do with their capital as they are entitled to do. They inform me that they are seeking to improve the service in the area which the hon. Gentleman represents, and I am giving that information to the House.

Sir H. Roper

Is the Minister aware that a constituent of mine who recently moved into Cornwall from Devon described the reception of wireless in Cornwall as "positively shocking." As we all have to pay full licence fees, does he not agree that the improvement in the efficiency of reception should have first priority in the allocation of capital expenditure?

Mr. Ness Edwards

The B.B.C. is the authority in this matter. I have made representations to the B.B.C. and have therefore, discharged my duty to the House.

Mr. Hay man

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that reception throughout Cornwall is not altogether "perfectly shocking," although it is capable of improvement, and will he do what he can in this matter?

Sir R. Ross

Are the B.B.C. trying to improve reception in Northern Ireland, and if not, why not?

Mr. Speaker

I have yet to learn that Northern Ireland is part of Devonshire.

Sir. R. Ross

I was putting a supplementary question in relation to the answer which the Postmaster-General gave, Sir.

Mr. Speaker

These Questions refer only to Devonshire and Cornwall and not to Northern Ireland.

Brigadier Peto

On a point of order. I wish to correct the statement made by the Minister.

Mr. Speaker

We cannot have every Devonshire Member speaking on Devonshire Questions; although sometimes we have every Scotsman upon Scottish Questions. I have to draw the line somewhere. We will go on to the next Question.

Brigadier Peto

Further to that point of order. I wish to say, Sir, that the Postmaster-General referred to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Torrington (Mr. Lambert) as the hon. Member for North Devon, which he is not.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order for me to deal with.

Brigadier Rayner

On a point of order. May I say that in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. Speaker

That does not matter to me in the least.

29. Mr. Heathcoat Amory

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the poor reception of British Broadcasting Corporation programmes, particularly the West Regional Service, in the South-Western counties; and whether he will take steps to have the transmission in this area improved.

Mr. Ness Edwards

The B.B.C. are examining proposals for improving reception in certain parts of the South-Western counties, and I am awaiting their conclusions.

Mr. Amory

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there is a lot of dissatisfaction about this, and that the transmission that comes through best is, unfortunately, in a language which, whatever its great merits, is completely unintelligible to me and to my constituents, and is, therefore, of only limited interest?

Mr. Ness Edwards

I am not attempting to force a knowledge of Welsh on to the Western counties. I admit that reception is not what it ought to be, and the hon. Gentleman will no doubt have seen, in the Beveridge Report, several proposals for improving the position. The B.B.C. are actively considering what they can do to improve things in the West Country.

Mr. Studholme

Will the right hon. Gentleman make representations to the B.B.C, and bear in mind that if it is a question of choosing between improved radio reception and television the majority of people would prefer improved radio reception?

Mr. Henry Hopkinson

Will the Postmaster-General give us an assurance that his inquiries will also cover West Somerset, which is equally affected; and. owing to the fact that many of our constituents do not speak Welsh, will he consider the possibility of reducing the cost of the licence of those of us who sometimes get no programme at all?

Mr. Ness Edwards

These are not my inquiries. Reception is the responsibility of the B.B.C.

Sir H. Williams

Then why is the right hon. Gentleman answering?

Mr. Ness Edwards

I am answering because it is laid down in the Charter that I shall answer for the B.B.C, and I am conveying to the House what they are doing.

Brigadier Peto

Is it not a fact that the Postmaster-General himself, together with other technicians, visited North Devon last summer to find out what was wrong with broadcasting; and can he tell the House how much that cost and whether there has been any result?

Mr. Ness Edwards

As the first part of the supplementary question is wrong the rest obviously does not arise.