HC Deb 21 October 1953 vol 518 cc1974-6
57. Sir T. Moore

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is now in a position to state the policy of the Government in regard to the provision of competitive television facilities for the public, apart from those contemplated by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

55. Captain Orr

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is now in a position to publish the White Paper on the future of television.

Mr. Gammans

The answer to both Questions is "not yet"; but a White Paper will be presented to Parliament within the next few weeks.

Sir T. Moore

Will my hon. Friend assure us that neither he nor his noble Friend will be stampeded by honourable but misguided views that may tie us permanently to a monopoly?

Mr. Wade

Will the Assistant Postmaster-General ask the Leader of the House to give an assurance to the House that when the proposals in this White Paper are debated in the House there will be, so far as he and his party can ensure it, a free vote?

Mr. Gammans

That is not a matter which concerns me.

Dr. King

Can the Assistant Postmaster-General assure us that no competitive television is going to be allowed to stand in the way of those B.B.C. stations that we are still waiting for in various parts of the country?

Mr. Gammans

The Government have recently authorised a very considerable extension of the B.B.C.'s programme. As to the other point, I think the hon. Member had better wait for the White Paper.

Mr. H. Morrison

As the Assistant Postmaster-General says that how the House votes is no concern of his, would the Leader of the House be good enough to inform the House whether, when this White Paper comes up, the Whips will be taken off in view of the fact that the matter is eminently non party political?

Mr. Gammans rose


Mr. Morrison

I addressed the question to the Leader of the House.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

It would certainly be premature to make a statement about a debate in the next Session of Parliament.

Mr. Edelman

Reverting to the supplementary question by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to assure the House that he will not be stampeded in this matter by special interests?

Mr. Crookshank

The hon. Gentleman had better wait until he sees what is in the White Paper. He might find himself agreeing with it.