HC Deb 23 July 1952 vol 504 cc520-1
30. Mr. Grey

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is aware that the decision to erect the new transmitter ordered by the British Broadcasting Corporation at Alexandra Palace, to act as a standby, has caused dissatisfaction to the people of the north-east; and whether, in view of this, he will endeavour to have this decision reconsidered.

Mr. Gammans

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to him on 9th April. The difficulty of establishing a television service from Pontop Pike does not lie in the provision of a low-power transmitter. Other capital investment would be involved, such as a suitable building, a high mast and other equipment.

Mr. Grey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the decision to erect this new transmitter at Alexandra Palace as a standby makes absolute nonsense of the arguments used that re-armament would prevent work on the one at Pontop Pike? Would the hon. Gentleman say what he meant in a letter which he sent me on 19th May, which states: The B.B.C. tells me that there is no truth in the report of new transmitters being on order to replace the equipment in use at Alexandra Palace station. The Corporation's current lease of Alexandra Palace does not expire until 1956, and new transmitters would not be needed before that date at the earliest. How does the hon. Gentleman square that statement with what the B.B.C. are now doing at Alexandra Palace?

Mr. Gammans

It is quite easy to square that. The answer I gave to the hon. Gentleman refers to the high-power transmitter at Alexandra Palace, whereas the Question he has put on the Order Paper refers to the low-power transmitter.

Mr. Profumo

Could my hon. Friend say how much more equipment is going to be ordered by the B.B.C. merely to he held in reserve? Is he aware that there are already four low-power transmitters which are only used as reserves and that if they were used in the rest of the country the coverage could be extended more speedily? Can he say whether the B.B.C. ever intend to extend their coverage by the use of these transmitters, or whether they propose to use them only as reserves?

Mr. Gammans

I am sorry that the House has not followed my original answer. The trouble is not in the transmitter alone. Other buildings, roads and masts provide the chief difficulties.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is not the Assistant Postmaster-General aware that the Government, apparently, are going to reduce the rate of re-armament and, that being so, could he not reconsider the position of this new transmitter?

Mr. Gammans

If what the right hon. Gentleman says is true, the additional equipment required will be needed for export and not for the home market.