HC Deb 29 July 1953 vol 518 cc1266-70
10 and 11. Brigadier Rayner

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General (1) what procedure is adopted in deciding whether a licence for business radio within Band III can be granted;

(2) what considerations are taken into account in dealing with applications for licences for business radio within Band III.

Mr. Gammans

In order to conserve the limited number of frequencies available, a licence is not normally granted for radio where the telephone or telegraph services would do equally well. The frequencies assigned to a particular applicant are determined by the type of his business, the communication range required and the nature of the terrain, and the number of stations already operating on each of the available frequencies. The conditions under which business radio licences are issued are given in pamphlet BRs 1, 2 and 3, copies of which I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend and placing in the Library.

Brigadier Rayner

Is it not a fact that the whole of this Band is being allocated in rather a reckless and piece-meal fashion, and would my hon. Friend answer two questions? First, can existing users be removed if necessary; and, second, do we not require an independent licensing authority rather like the Federal Communications Commission in America?

Mr. Gammans

It is only a part of this Band which has been allotted for that purpose. The people who occupy it can be removed if necessary by the cancellation of their licence, which is only for a limited period. The last point which my hon. and gallant Friend raised is a much bigger matter, but I would point out to him that F.C.C. in America deals only with civil allocations of frequencies and is not concerned with the fighting Services.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is it not a fact that there is an Inter-Departmental Committee which does have something to do with the allocation of frequencies in this Band, and the reference he has made to business licences does not necessarily apply to other users of frequencies in this Band?

Mr. Gammans

There is an Inter-Departmental Committee, but my hon. and gallant Friend raised the question whether this matter should be taken outside the range of a Governmental Department altogether.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Is not the B.B.C. represented on this Inter-Departmental Committee and was not the B.B.C. consulted before allocations were made in this Band to persons other than the BBC.

Mr. Gammans

Yes, Sir.

14. Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General who was represented on the committee which allocated frequencies between 174 and 185 megacycles to mobile services; and why these allocations were made in contravention of the 1947 Atlantic City international agreement where the United Kingdom reserved the right to share this portion of Band III between broadcasting and fixed services.

Mr. Gammans

The committee had representatives from the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry; the Home Office, Post Office, Foreign Office, Dominions Office and Colonial Office; the Ministries of Information, Supply and War Transport; and the Wireless Telegraphy Board. A domestic allocation of this sort, which does not interfere with foreign stations, is not a contravention of the Atlantic City Agreement.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

If international agreements mean anything—I have here a text which states specifically that the frequencies are reserved for fixed services—why does my hon. Friend's Department—or why did his predecessor—allocate them to mobile services? Does it not make nonsense of international agreements? Does not the muddle over the allocation of frequencies in this band suggest a need for an independent body which could hear representations from all who are interested, particularly those concerned with exports?

Mr. Gammans

I am informed that the use which we ourselves make of the band does not in any way contravene the international agreements on the subject. I hoped I had dealt with the second point which my hon. Friend raised, in an answer which I gave just now.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is not the reservation to the protocol on page 103 of the report of the Stockholm Conference an adequate cover for what has been done?

Mr. Gammans

I believe I have answered the points which have been raised about the matter.

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is to be a debate on this subject on Friday.

25. Sir L. Plummer

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether the British Broadcasting Corporation have yet been informed that frequencies in Band III allotted to East Anglia, South-East Kent, West Wales, North Scotland and South Cornwall for first television coverage by the Stockholm Conference can now be used by them.

Mr. Gammans

No, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson) on 22nd July.

Sir L. Plummer

Does not the hon. Gentleman believe that now is the time for him to make clear to would-be viewers in these areas that he will protect their interests before those of would-be advertisers to the areas?

Mr. Gammans

Technically, the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question has no relation to the Question on the Order Paper. However, it is not in the least certain that the B.B.C. will require any band other than Band I in order to cover those areas.

Mr. Shackleton

Will the Assistant Postmaster-General read the Report of the Television Advisory Committee, where he will find the answer to what he has stated?

Mr. Bullard

Is my hon. Friend aware that in this matter the great historic kingdom of East Anglia is associated with bits of Kent, bits of Wales, bits of Scotland and bits of Cornwall, and will he bear in mind that the claims of East Anglia are different from and in a far higher category than those of the other places?

Mr. Gammans

I should not like to be responsible for starting a civil war. My hon. Friend will recollect that last week I informed him that when a further programme is sanctioned East Anglia will have priority.

Mr. Rankin

If East Anglia is associated with a bit of Scotland, does not that compensate for all the other defects?

36. Mr. Hobson

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General on what dates licences were given to present users of frequencies in Band III.

Mr. Gammans

Over 250 licences are involved, all of which were issued between 1945 and the present.

40. Mr. Hobson

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will make available immediately in the Library a list of the names with type of service operated and the frequency of all licences on Band III.

Mr. Gammans

No, Sir; to publish only the names of licensees, without giving extensive details of the areas within which they are permitted to operate, would simply be confusing. I will, however, publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the services which occupy this Band.

Mr. Hobson

Will the Minister reconsider this point? When we come to discuss the Television Advisory Committee's Report, it will be impossible to do so intelligently unless we have the full information before the House.

Mr. Gammans

That would mean giving a whole list of taxi companies, docks, and so on. From the point of view of discussing the Television Advisory Committee's Report, that detailed information would not really be required.

Following is the list; Radio services at present in Band III are as follows;

174–175 megacycles per second;

181–184 megacycles per second;

Private business radio services amounting to some 180 licences, covering the use of about 180 fixed stations and 1,500 mobile stations. They are used mostly for such purposes as ambulances, taxicabs, public utilities, and commercial concerns which have motor fleets.

175–181 megacycles per second;

Radio circuits forming part of the Post Office trunk telephone network in remote areas. No licences are issued.

184–200 megacycles per second;

Four frequencies are used by the British Broadcasting Corporation for outside broadcast work, and are covered by their general licence.

200–216 megacycles per second;

Aeronautical radionavigational aids'. These are Government services and no licences are issued.

174–216 megacycles per second;

75 experimental licences on short term basis.

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