HC Deb 21 January 1953 vol 510 cc181-3
13. Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether the Brighton area is now to have a British Broadcasting Corporation television booster station in operation by the end of February; and whether this service will be extended to other fringe areas before the Coronation.

19. Dr. King

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether, in view of the success of the experimental television booster station near Shoreham, he will now reconsider the possibility of installing a similar station to enable people in Hampshire to see televised programmes of the Coronation.

Mr. Gammans

Whilst I recognise that the two hon. Members would wish to have television in their constituencies in time for the Coronation, the general limitations which the Government have felt compelled to impose on economic grounds on further extensions was explained by me in my statement on 8th December.

An experimental booster has been sanctioned, however, to serve the Brighton area, where there are already over 4,400 licences. A booster of this type would be quite useless to provide television for the Aberdeen and Hampshire areas where at least one intermediate relay station would be necessary.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Will my hon. Friend agree that 83 per cent. of this country is now covered by television? And as regards television sets, is not it a fact that the raw material required in one set is worth only about £2 10s. and that the Treasury receives, on the average set, revenue in Purchase Tax of £55, which makes it a very good revenue earner in comparison with tobacco? Will my hon. Friend therefore agree that there is no obstacle left to providing a service in the other fringe areas of this country?

Mr. Gammans

I have on more than one occasion given the economic arguments which have led the Government to take this very unpopular decision. I have not the time to go over them again, nor I think would the House want me to do so. I realise that the hon. Members concerned are very disappointed, and if I represented their constituencies I should feel equal disappointment.

Dr. King

Is the Minister aware that when he gives the economic arguments he keeps shifting his ground? He said in the first place that he could not afford to provide the technical equipment. Then in December he said it was because he did not want more television sets to be consumed. Is he not aware that there are plenty of television sets in the shops, and that it would be a good thing if all the shops were empty so long as people were able to see the Coronation, and will he not look at this matter again?

Mr. Gammans

I am informed that in the past four months the manufacturers' sales of television sets have been 10,000 a month more than production.