HC Deb 13 May 1953 vol 515 cc1232-3
26. Mr. J. Rodgers

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what action his Department has taken on the "Code of the Air," drawn up by a Committee of the Institute of Incorporated Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, which was recently submitted to his Department.

Mr. Gammans

My noble Friend has read this code with very great interest and is grateful to the advertising interests for having submitted it. It will be of great assistance to him in setting out the responsibilities of the controlling body.

Mr. Rodgers

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this code sets a very high standard, a higher standard than that which is maintained by most newspapers and certainly by the B.B.C., and does he not think that if it is adhered to it should set at rest the doubts which have been expressed by hon. Members opposite and, in particular, by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison)?

Mr. Gammans

I should not like to make comparisons with newspapers or the B.B.C., but it is certainly a very strict code which the advertising interests have set out and I imagine that it would remove all reasonable misgivings which hon. Members opposite may have that commercial television is likely to lead to a debasement of standards.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

In considering the weight to be attached to these recommendations, will the hon. Member cause investigations to be made into whether either or both of these organisations, or the individual members of them, are subject to foreign control, because that will definitely be a factor which ought to be considered in deciding upon the future of commercial television?

Mr. Gammans

I think the hon. and gallant Member has misunderstood my answer. The question concerns the standard to be set by my noble Friend for the controlling body to exercise when they are controlling commercial television.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Will the Minister say why, if sponsored television is such a good thing in itself, a code of this sort is at all necessary?

Mr. Gammans

Because a pledge was given by the Government that if commercial television were established there would be some controlling body, and because we wish to carry out the pledge. If the right hon. Gentleman will study the code, then if he is fair-minded he will agree that it removes all his misgivings that commercial television must lead to a debasement of standards.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Do we understand that this code submitted by the associations has the approval of the Assistant Postmaster-General?

Mr. Gammans

It is not a question of my approval or non-approval. The code is submitted to my noble Friend and he proposes to make use of it when he is setting out the duties and responsibilities of the controlling body.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Minister aware that there is no system of enforcement even suggested in the proposals made by the advertising associations? Is he further aware that the code is less strict than that of the United States and is likely to prove just as much eyewash here as it has proved there?

Mr. Gammans

Before the hon. Gentleman makes such very sweeping statements about sanctions and control I suggest that he should await the full proposals about the powers as well as the responsibilities of the controlling body, which, in due course, we propose to lay before the House.