§ Lords Amendment: In page 5, line 35, leave out paragraph (a).
§ Mr. Gammans
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the House if, with this Amendment, we discuss the following related Amendment in page 6, line 3, to leave out from "that" to end of line 4 and to insert:proper proportions of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes are of British origin and of British performance;
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
On a point of order. As I understand it, Amendments to a Lords Amendment must be moved before we deal with the Lords Amendment. Can the position be safeguarded in view of the fact that the hon. Gentleman has suggested that we should take, with this Amendment to leave out paragraph (a), the following Amendment to page 6, to which there are a number of 270 Amendments to be moved by my hon. Friends? It is all right if it is only a matter of discussion, but it must not preclude our moving our Amendments later.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
It is quite safe because the hon. Member has moved to agree with the Lords in the first Amendment to page 5, line 35. I shall safeguard the position
§ Mr. Gammans
I was only suggesting that we should discuss with this Amendment the second Amendment, and I had only moved, "That this House doth agree with the Lords" in the first Amendment. The effect of this Amendment would be to provide that the tone and style of the programmes should no longer be predominantly British, as we originally suggested, but it would require that proper proportions of live and recorded matter should be British both in origin and in performance. It is clear from the Amendments—
§ Mr. Mitchison
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am sorry, but I am confused as to what is happening. The hon. Gentleman is referring to the Amendment to page 5, line 35, but he is proceeding to refer to, and to discuss, the next Amendment in page 6, line 3, to which there are some Amendments down from this House. I do not know whether they have been or will be selected but, if they are, may I inquire how can preserve our right to move those Amendments and how the hon. Gentleman can discuss that Lords Amendment with the one he has moved?
§ Mr. Gammans
The last thing I want to do is so to conduct this debate as to preclude such Amendments as the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to discuss. If it would be desirable for me formally to move this Amendment, I shall be happy to do so.
§ Sir L. Plummer
On a point of order. The Assistant Postmaster-General, a moment or two ago, was referring to what purported to be a Lords Amendment to page 6, line 3. He used the words "live and recorded." I cannot find on the Amendment paper any reference to the word "live." Is the hon. Gentleman referring to another Amendment?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not know where he found the words. I gathered 271 that what the Assistant Postmaster-General wished to do was to agree with the Lords in their Amendment to page 5, line 35, and, with it, to discuss the one at page 6.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Further to that point of order. I do not imagine that anyone is likely to wish to preserve paragraph (a), though possibly they might say a word or two in threnody. In those circumstances, would it not be simpler to deal first with the Amendment to page 5?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It would be simpler from my point of view if the Assistant Postmaster-General deals first with the one to page 5, and then we can go on to the one at page 6 to which there are three Amendments down.
§ Mr. Gammans
That would be satisfactory from my point of view, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I need hardly say more about this Amendment although I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) suggested that I had read out incorrectly the Amendment in page 6. The exact words should be:proper proportions of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes are of British origin and of British performance;
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
On a point of order. I submit for your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that it is necessary according to the rules of order to deal with this Amendment before we proceed to the discussion of the next Lords Amendment and our Amendments to it. The Assistant Postmaster-General is not doing that.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is quite usual to discuss a number of Amendments together, but they can only be accepted or rejected when they are reached. It might be simpler, if the House agrees, to deal with the one in page 5 and then we can take the one in page 6 afterwards.
§ Mr. Shackleton
Perhaps we may now be told by the Assistant Postmaster-General why this House should agree with the Lords? He has confused us, and we do not blame him, because it is a little difficult as there are these other Amendments coming on. But we should like to 272 know why this paragraph, to which the Government attached such importance, should now be removed from the Bill. I hope that I am discussing the right Amendment. I understand that we are now discussing the Amendment to leave out the words:that the tone and style of the programmes are predominantly British.We realise, of course, that it was a ludicrous and barbarous sort of proposition which only a Philistine Government would put into the Bill. This is the consequence of their foolish action in introducing this Bill at all.
They attached a great importance to this paragraph and we should like to know why they should now drop it. It may be perhaps that a more civilised atmosphere predominates in their party in another place and that that has had some influence on the Government. But we should like from the hon. Gentleman an explanation of this civilising influence.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I cannot let paragraph (a) depart without a bitter word or two. It always was statutory nonsense of the most exalted character. It never meant anything, it was incapable of having any sensible meaning, and I fail to understand why the Government ever put it into the Bill, or what they thought they meant by it.
The paragraph contains the words:that the tone and style of the programmes are predominantly British.That, of course, has nothing to do witha proper proportion …of British origin"—and the rest of it, which comes somewhere else in the Clause. This was one of the great safeguards inserted into the Bill, and I still do not know how the Government proposed to apply it to the ordinary substance of a programme.
I suppose that in his other capacity the Home Secretary has definitely given up the attempt to naturalise Richard Wagner and perhaps Bach and Schumann and other composers whose works are frequently played in programmes. We have never yet understood whether the tone and style would be predominantly British when a British pianist was playing the works of a foreign composer, or when 273 a foreign pianist was playing the works of a British composer.
We never understood what would happen if we had a horse race in England run entirely by French horses, or whether a French winner would suffice to change the character of the programme into something predominantly French. We do not understand at all what kind of thing anybody had in mind in proposing this piece of meaningless nonsense in the middle of the Bill, stressing an essential and valuable safeguard for the national character. It is the kind of thing that nobody who sat down to consider what he was thinking about could conceivably have thought of and written down—let alone put into an Act of Parliament.
I cannot let pass this sublime effort of statutory muddle, statutory nonsense, statutory confusion and statutory everything else that it ought not to be, without saying that I never welcomed it, I never loved it, I never understood it and I should like—were it a Parliamentary expression—to say that on its departure I give it a kick in the pants.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Maldon)
Ought not the Assistant Postmaster-General again to explain what was meant by the Government? Can he answer one simple question and say whether Mr. Auden, an Englishman living in America, or Mr. Eliot, an American living in England, is a more predominantly British poet in tone and style? Can the hon. Gentleman answer one question about this fantastic paragraph?
§ 5.15 p.m.
Lords Amendment: In page 6, line 3, to leave out from "that" to end of line 4, and insert:
proper proportions of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes are of British origin and of British performance.
§ Read a Second time.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
This Lords Amendment must be divided. There is an Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) to the second half of the Amendment, which proposes to insert words. The House must, therefore, first leave out from "that" to the end of line 4.
274 Lords Amendment divided.
So much of the Lords Amendment as proposes to leave out from "that" to end of line 4, agreed to.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the words proposed to be inserted by the Lords, to leave out "proper proportions," and to insert, "at least four-fifths" instead thereof.
I am moving this Amendment on behalf of my right hon. Friend the member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) and other of my hon. Friends whose names are attached to it. I should make it clear at the beginning that there is a vested interest behind this Amendment. I do not think anybody should express any moral indignation about that, because there is nothing but vested interests behind this Bill—the interests of advertisers and others who wish to use this instrument to make as much money as they can. Therefore, I am sure that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have expressed the point of view of those interests, will have no objection to my expressing the point of view of other interests as well.
The film producers and workers of this country have been through many years of varying vicissitudes and they are concerned that if the Bill goes through in its present form, containing the words "proper proportions," they will be subjected to fierce and unfair competition particularly on the part of American television film manufacturers who have so vast a market at home that they are in a position to dump on these shores programmes which, very largely, have completed their purpose in the United States; have met their manufacturing costs; have achieved their profit, and may be sold here at such comparatively cheap rates as to make it quite impossible for the film producing companies and film workers in this country to produce the sort of British films we require at economic rates.
I do not think it would be wrong of me—I do not wish to discuss live performances at this stage, though there are certain words in this Amendment from another place which I do not like—to express a point of view. I do not agree with the sort of xenophobia which is creeping into this business. I do not like references to "programmes of British 275 origin" and "British performances." I think that we are going too far. Art is international and that is something which we should recognise—although I do not use the word "art" as applied to commercial television. I wish to make it quite clear that they are two entirely separate things.
I hope that when the Authority and the programme companies come to work, they will not see to it that foreign artists are excluded from a proportion of the programme. Indeed, I hope that whatever Government be in power they exercise towards foreign artists and producers that hospitality which is so much a part of our creditable history, and which has contributed so much to the high artistic and cultural standards existing in this country today. But that is by the way.
As the Lords Amendment stands at the moment, who is to decide what is the proper proportion? Of course, only one person can decide, and that is the advertiser. If the Bill goes through in this form, he will decide what is the proper proportion in relation to whether the programme satisfies him as an advertising medium.
I am sure that the House is getting tired of constantly hearing the phrase that the purpose of the programme is to create the climate for the commercial. But that phrase is not mine it was used by a prominent commercial television man. That being so, the proper proportion of these films to be made in this country will be decided ultimately not by the Independent Television Authority but by the advertiser. If the advertiser goes to the I.T.A. and says, "I have been hamstrung because you will not let me have the sort of programmes I want in this country" there is always the danger that the I.T.A. will say that from its point of view some sort of reasonable and sensible attitude should be adopted towards the advertiser, but that may not be a good attitude as far as the viewer is concerned.
It is advisable, therefore, that the proportion should be specific in the form suggested in the Amendment. People like the Screen Writers' Guild, who are most highly skilled technicians, are eager that we should be absolutely specific and that we should say how much of this programme material should be British. 276 The Assistant Postmaster-General has expressed his hope that Great Britain should become the Hollywood of commercial television films. God forbid that that should happen. I should not like the London film industry to sink to the depths of the Hollywood industry. If the hon. Member is sincere and wants to see London as a great film centre the thing to do is to support our Amendment. If 80 per cent. of the television films were to be made in this country the Bill would give a genuine fillip to the television film industry here.
Hollywood has its eyes on London. It will not allow London to become a real rival without putting up a fight. This is not the time to hamper the industry but the time to help it. Mr. Samuel Goldwyn, who, from time to time, makes shrewd remarks about the film industry and who, possibly, knows the industry better than anyone else, has said, "The movies and T.V. have now settled their tiff. They are now going steady." That means that the section of the industry in Hollywood which makes television films and that section which makes what is called entertainment films—and I hope that hon. Members note the subtle difference between them—have now decided to amalgamate and go steady.
The first effect of that is that this year Hollywood is to make 600 hours of entertainment pictures and 3,000 hours of television films. It will make five hours of television films for every hour of entertainment films because the people there know that they have a potential market in this country. They are able to read the provisions of this Bill perhaps better than we can and they see that if we say that "proper proportions" of the films are to be British made and are so indefinite about it there is an opportunity for them.
Any hon. Member who has experience of advertising or of advertising agency work or of working for a newspaper in trying to induce advertisers to buy space knows that if one has such an indefinite phrase as "proper proportions" one can do anything one likes. Although the I.T.A., at the beginning, may have nothing but good intentions, when the Authority comes up against advertisers and their agents it may well be softened up to regard "proper proportions" as meaning miserable proportions. I want 277 to ensure that there will be an overwhelming proportion of British films. I want to see a growing and thriving television film industry in this country and it is for those reasons that I move the Amendment.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Lords Amendment.
Once again, here we have an instance of the financial interests of the programme contractors and the advertisers conflicting with the interests of the public and of viewers. It is in the interest of the programme contractors and the advertisers to see a very high proportion of recorded programmes and films being imported from the United States. One has only to study the possible figures for half an hour's broadcast of the commercial network to see that that is so. One might well have a situation in which to put on a play of British origin, live with British performers might easily cost £1,000 or more. To import it recorded from the United States might cost £50 or less.
If one puts oneself in the position of a programme contractor who is receiving £500 from the advertiser for his commercial, one sees that the financial incentive to him to spend only £50 in filling up half an hour instead of spending £1,000 on a live British programme is very great, though he might well have half the audience for the canned film that he would have for a good, live, British play. The economics are that it will pay over and over again to run a bad canned programme, and I am not in favour of making this country a kind of refuse bin for the American television industry.
Hon. Members may say that the I.T.A. will prevent that. I agree that if a public service body were not involved and pure commercial interests ran, matters would be a great deal worse, but we cannot expect programme contractors not to consider profitability. One cannot, on the one hand, favour private enterprise in this medium on the grounds that the profit motive leads to enterprise and initiative and, on the other hand, not expect those concerned to pursue that profit when we set them up in business. The net result of setting them up in business will be the strongest possible incentive to bring 278 in canned programmes and keep live British programmes out.
Our Amendment strengthens the hands of the I.T.A. in dealing with the programme contractors. I know that the programme contractors will say that it does not pay to put on live British programmes, in the same way as they said that it does not pay to have competition between programme contractors. The Government immediately abandoned competition. They also said that it does not pay to have regional programmes, and, in the same way, the Government abandoned that proposal. Now we shall have the programme contractors saying that it does not pay to have British programmes on television in this country and today, aware of the economics of the situation, the Government are opening the way for full-scale importation of canned American programmes.
These programmes will be used because they are the cheap ones. I am told that the first six months of commercial television programmes for this country are already in the vaults of Messrs. J. Walter Thompson and Company in London. I hope that the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers) will be here later to deny that. Perhaps it is a little exaggerated, but it applies to a very large proportion of the programmes. They are already canned, they have been shown to American audiences and they are hiding in the vaults of that largely American controlled advertising concern in London.
Unlike some of my hon. Friends, I am disappointed that the Government have abandoned the provision that programmes should be predominantly British in tone and style. I shall do them the justice of saying that I do not think they are deleting the words because they do not want the programmes to be predominantly British in tone and style, but because they know that the provision is quite unenforceable. In any case the financial and commercial motivation behind these programmes will be American. It is useless to put pious wishes into legislation. We know that the origin of the idea was American; we know that the programmes we shall get if we are not careful will be American; we know that the motive forces behind the whole thing are American and that American capital is trying to enter the field. At least we can, 279 by this Amendment to the Lords Amendment, tie down the I.T.A. to providing an 80 per cent. quota of programmes of British origin and performance.
Who are the pioneers in commercial broadcasting? They are America, Radio Luxembourg, Greece, Portugal, Monaco and Andorra. We are now being asked to tread in the footsteps of those countries. It has always been a disappointment to me that the Minister has never visited Luxembourg and studied at first hand some of the procedure which they have instituted, He would get a great welcome if he went, as he would in Monaco and Andorra. I hope that the Government will see their way to doing something specific about the Amendment to the Lords Amendment, so that we can at least save something from the wreck and ensure that four-fifths of the programmes will be of British origin and performance.
The fact that these programmes will have to be of British origin and performance will not mean that they will be British in tone and style. Companies are already working here to produce programmes with American capital and personalities. Douglas Fairbanks is the most active man in this field. They are producing television film programmes which are British in origin and performance yet wholly American in tone and style. The Government ought to look particularly carefully at our proposal. I am sorry that we have abandoned the provision insisting on programmes being British in tone and style, but if our proposal is accepted we can at least ensure that 80 per cent. will be British in origin and performance. They will, of course, still be produced by American-financed companies, and they will be American in tone and style intended not for the British but the American market.
§ Squadron Leader A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
Of all the stupid Amendments which have been put forward by the Opposition during the progress of this Bill, this series plumbs the depths. There is a whole number of unparliamentary phrases which I could use to describe them, but if I did so I should be immediately ruled out of order, so I shall refrain. First, we must bear in mind that the sanction which hon. Members opposite propose to impose upon the new 280 Authority has no counterpart in the B.B.C. The B.B.C. can broadcast programmes which are wholly American, or of any other national complexion, if it so desires. But such is the impact of public opinion that the B.B.C. is not able to do so. It finds that it must broadcast programmes which are mainly British in content. There is no reason to suppose that any commercial authority would be able to get away with any standards lower than the B.B.C., in the face of British public opinion.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
Surely the hon. and gallant Gentleman recognises that the B.B.C. would have no incentive to broadcast Americanised programmes, because it would not have to pick its programmes with a view to ensuring its income. But that is the whole point in connection with the I.T.A., who will have to ensure its income.
§ Squadron Leader Cooper
The answer is that what the B.B.C. seeks to do is to please the greatest proportion of British listeners and viewers. It is not concerned with other matters. If advertisers use this medium to sell their goods their primary object will be to broadcast programmes which will encourage people to look at them. If they broadcast programmes which are so foreign and alien to the British point of view that they do not encourage the British public to look at them they will never succeed in selling their goods. That is an obvious point.
This series of Amendments, however, falls down not because of that but because of what occurred in the cinematograph industry in recent years, when a similar quota was imposed upon it. The imposition of a quota in the case of that industry brought about the production of the kind of film which put the British film industry in jeopardy, and it took many years to lift itself out of the mess. If we now impose upon this new Authority the requirement that four-fifths of the programmes which are broadcast must have been produced within this country and performed solely by British artistes, we shall do the very thing which we do not want to do. We shall produce programmes which are mediocre in quality, because at the present time there is not a sufficient number of artistes of the requisite quality in every 281 sphere of artistic and theatrical life to provide enough programmes to satisfy not only the requirements of the B.B.C. but the new Authority.
I should be the first to admit that the words "proper proportion" are not very satisfactory, but I believe that it is better to be indefinite in this matter. It is sufficient if this House expresses the view that there should be as high a proportion of British artistes as possible; we ought not to impose upon the I.T.A. a quota of 80 per cent. which it cannot in any circumstances carry out without offering programmes which are poor in quality.
There are very many ways in which we can help the theatrical profession to reach the standards required to carry out this object, and in the next Session we may have an opportunity of doing something about it. I beg hon. Members opposite to remember the history of the film industry in pre-war years and to remember the awful straits to which it was reduced as a consequence of having a quota imposed upon it. We do not want to reduce the new I.T.A. to the same position.
§ Mr. Hobson
I listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper) and I thought that his analogy with the B.B.C. was quite fair. The one thing he failed to recognise, however, was that in the last analysis the Postmaster-General has complete control over the B.B.C. If there were a tendency on the part of the B.B.C. to broadcast nothing but foreign programmes, or programmes which originated abroad, it would be possible for him to intervene.
I would also question the hon. and gallant Member's argument that there will not be sufficient good short films available if this quota is imposed. I should have thought it was one of the cardinal doctrines of hon. Gentlemen opposite that the law of supply and demand would operate to enable the British to provide short films and our Amendment seems to me to give the answer of the requisite incentive for the provision of short films.
I do not pretend to know much about the film industry, but I know that most of the short films I have seen of British origin have been excellent productions. 282 I think that in our Amendment to the Lords Amendment it is fair to stipulate that four-fifths of the programme should be British is fair and reasonable. Let us look at it arithmetically for a moment. Four-fifths of 60 minutes works out of 48 minutes, and that seems to be a reasonable proportion.
But what is a "proper proportion"? I should like one of the hon. Members with legal knowledge to define it. I suggest it would be the correct meaning of the English language for one minute out of 60 minutes to be a proper proportion. After all, as long as the deviser multiplied by the quotient is equal to the sum to be divided that would be a proper proportion. I think that is perfectly satisfactory. I see my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who used to be a schoolmaster, is smiling. Nevertheless, I am convinced that that would be a proper proportion.
We are told at the moment that quite a number of short films are being produced by British capital in Holland for reasons which it would not be germane, relevant or in order for me to go into. These films are produced by British capital but are they to be classed as being within the meaning of "predominantly British" or "proper proportions." To these points we need answers. I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) that the phrase should be "predominantly British," but now we are seeking to put the matter on an arithmetical basis I think 48 minutes out of one hour's programme is reasonable, fair and just. I hope that the Assistant Postmaster-General, when he replies, will be able to tell us that he has accepted the Amendment.
§ Mr. Benn
From what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron-Leader Cooper), I did get a glimpse for the first time of what really lies behind the opposition to this Amendment. The hon. and gallant Member and his friends, who represent what I suppose one must call a proper proportion of the party opposite, although some of us would rather call them a vulgar fraction, have made us realise that commercial television is not going to be concerned so much with British programmes, but that the programme contractor will bring in cheap programmes from the United States which 283 have already earned their keep, as my hon. Friends have said, on the other side of the Atlantic and are brought over here to keep British commercial television going.
§ Mr. Benn
I hope the hon. Member will not jump too far ahead, because I am coming on to what I regard as the proper and the improper form of nationalism that is sure to be advanced from this side of the House. But perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to conclude my initial point which is, of course, that American programmes will come here for public entertainment in order to keep commercial television going at any rate in its early stages. That candid admission is an interesting one, particularly to one like myself who never concealed his desire for some form of alternative television programme. But it is very different from the original proposal, which was that the B.B.C. should not have a monopoly in television.
The Lord Chancellor quoted Milton when this Bill was being debated in another place, and we were all stirred by early memories of the British tradition of liberty and so on, but he finished up by talking about some commercial programmes put out in the United States and then brought over here in order to make up time on commercial television. We have given a good many things to the United States, including the Pilgrim Fathers and a constitution that is based on a misunderstanding of our own constitution. I should be very sorry indeed if the greatest contribution in return that came to us from the United States was J. Walter Thompson and his associates in order to provide the innocent British public with competition against B.B.C. television.
The reason why we have never proposed such a similar scheme or a similar role for the B.B.C. is that the B.B.C. programme planners are doing one thing the programme contractors can never do. They pick the programme simply on its merits and for no other reason.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I meant that this is not like a Committee stage, and an hon. Member cannot speak more than once.
§ Mr. Benn
I was about to say that your Ruling reminded me of a colonel who separated two privates and said, "We will not have fighting in this regiment."
It is certainly true that the B.B.C. programme planners, when they consider a programme, consider it on its merits. They, of course, consider the listening figures. That inevitably affects them, because as people who have to provide a public service they are bound to look at the programmes to see whether they are popular or not. Basically, the only thing that they have in mind is whether they think the programme is a good one or not.
That leads me to the question of what I would regard as proper as against improper. I do not share the feeling of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) against American programmes. I do not have a general distaste of American programmes. My own view is that the Americans have an immense amount to offer us. I do not know whether there are other hon. Members who are as pleased as I am at the way the Americans have given a new fillip to folk music. The Library at Congress has played an important part in this and has enabled people to go all over this country and to Europe to study folk music, making it attractive to the ordinary listeners.
I like some American programmes, and I want to see some of those programmes over here. If I had my way, I would link up the Russians with this new Eurovision—a hideous word—and I would also bring plenty of American programmes over to the British public to everyone's benefit. But what we do not want is American programmes that are brought here, not because of the intrinsic merits of the programme, but 285 because it is an economic necessity to provide cheap products in order that the programme contractor can arrange his programmes to have a plug at the beginning and at the end.
In one of the earlier debates on this question I referred to an extract from the Luxembourg station regulations, and I hope I will be forgiven if I refer to it again. The regulations say that advertisers are asked not to look on the programme as an unpleasant necessity in order to get their advertising in, but to try and think of the programme as having some merit in it. That is an exaggeration perhaps, but in any case Radio Luxembourg was dealing mainly with advertisers who did not regard the programme as something having merit in itself but as something in which they could have their advertising plug at the beginning and at the end. The attitude of the programme contractors is that they are providing an opportunity by means of these programmes for a plug at the beginning and the end.
This is my last word. I am against the importation of cheap American goods, but most of the Amendments which we have had before us have shown the difference between the high ideals of the Conservative Party which suddenly, without a mandate, discovered its soul and advocated the necessity for some competitive television service, and the rather sordid commercial details which we have had to go into.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I hope that that is the hon. Gentleman's last word because he is now out of order.
§ Mr. Benn
I hope that you will not think it out of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to refer to this Amendment as one dealing with a sordid commercial matter. I believe that when we come to the question of what proportion is to be British and what is to be foreign that must be regarded as a commercial detail, and in my humble judgment it is an exceptionally sordid one. It is when we come up against the realities of commercial television that we are able to forget the high ideals which are supposed to be behind it. I hope that the House will support us in our Amendment.
§ Mr. Houghton
The merit of our Amendment to the Lords Amendment is that it would make definite what is other- 286 wise an indefinite provision. Most of Clause 3 is guff. If we were discussing an Authority which was independent in the sense that the B.B.C. is independent, we should not need to be discussing this Clause at all. The Amendment to the Amendment seeks to give some arithmetical proportion to something which otherwise is to be a "proper proportion." I notice in the Lords Amendment that what began as a "proper proportion" has now become "proper proportions." Why the change from the singular to the plural, I do not know. I do not see the need for the change, but that is an unimportant point.
We want to lay down a specific proportion. I notice that in subsection (1, f) a proper proportion has become a "suitable proportion." Why the proportion should be proper for one purpose and suitable for another, I do not profess to know. Another example of the kind of thing which we are trying to correct is the reference to "due impartiality." What is undue impartiality? Here again one sees how ridiculous the whole Clause is, yet because we are dealing with a wolf in this Bill it has to be given sheep's clothing. That is what Clause 3 tries to do.
We would prefer not to have to deal with this kind of definition at all, but we could be in that position only if we were dealing with a quite different Independent Television Authority. These safeguards, one of which we are trying to make more specific by our Amendment, serve to show what dangers there are and how important it is to guard against them. Evidently the Government felt that without these safeguards there would be such uneasiness among the public about what might be the consequences of the setting up of commercial television that they would be opposed to it in principle.
Even though something more specific has come to the otherwise indefinite provision about proper proportions, there will still be difficulty in deciding what is "British origin" and what is "British performance." They are matters not specifically related to the Amendment, though at some time someone might tell us whether Vic Oliver is of British origin or British performance, he having been born in Austria. All these difficulties of interpretation make the whole matter manifestly ridiculous.
287 This safeguard against the importation of undesirable canned programmes from the United States is probably one of the most important provisions in the Clause. We cannot see whether the Assistant Postmaster-General really wants to give the Authority something on which it can work or whether it, in common with everybody else, is to be left in the air to decide whether a proportion is proper or not.
What court of law will ever be asked to decide whether the Authority has satisfied the provisions of this subsection? How is a court to interpret it? We all know that under the Rent Acts the courts have had different opinions about the meaning of the word "substantial." Nobody has ever been satisfied about the meaning of the word or about the numerous interpretations put upon it.
The provisions would have been more satisfactory if much more specific and detailed directives had been given to the Authority. They would have been just as effective. This law cannot be enforced. As far as I know, we shall not imprison members of the Authority if the Authority fails to comply with the law. There is nothing in the Bill about penalties. There will not be a fine of £500 or the option of three months' imprisonment. The members can merely be removed, and they can be removed without a lot of the guff that is in this subsection.
This merely shows that in the final stages of the Bill we are continuing to discuss many of the illusory aspects of the question, but in this respect we want to make more specific what otherwise is a meaningless phrase, "proper proportions."
§ Mr. Gammans
I should like first to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who unfortunately is not present now. He made what I thought was a very thoughtful speech in favour of what I might call sane internationalism. I am not sure whether he was in favour of trying to deal with the matter by quotas or not. If he was, I find it rather difficult to reconcile those two points of view.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) is not here, because I must correct one statement which he made. I may be wrong, but I understood him to say that if the B.B.C. were 288 to put on too many American programmes the Postmaster-General would have the power and the duty to interfere. That is not so. The B.B.C. is completely independent with regard to its programmes. We have discussed this question before. I make no apology for referring to it again. It is important.
What we are really discussing is whether there should be some quota arrangement or whether the whole questions of the type of programme to be shown should be left to the discretion of an independent body called the Authority. I am assuming also that both sides approach the question with the same two objectives.
Our first objective is to safeguard British artistes, producers and technicians from the risk of dumping. That is a risk. Let us face it. We all know that there are many programmes in the United States especially which have earned their keep in that country and which can be dumped here very cheaply. We know that. It is a matter we have always faced from the beginning. Together with that objective we have another one, and that is to avoid a narrow nationalism which will impair the value of programmes which will be shown in this country and which will deny to viewers the chance of seeing programmes which, frankly, I think they ought to see.
Those are our two objectives. I believe that the objectives of the Opposition are the same as ours. What we have to do is to see whether we can marry up the two objectives and find a way out of the difficulties that face us. We must surely start off by saying that we can never accept any idea that the British market should be virtually a closed shop for British artistes, producers and technicians. I believe that that will be the view of hon. Members opposite. It would certainly be bad for viewers, and I believe it would be bad for the artistes in the long run. The B.B.C. has never taken the attitude that this country should be a closed shop for British artistes and technicians. To give an example, on television we have "Café Continentale," consisting entirely of foreign artistes, which, in my opinion, is a first-class show.
§ Mr. Shackleton
I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman is speaking to the right 289 Amendment. I understood that we were concerned only with recorded programmes on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Gammans
The point I want to make is that whether we are talking about recorded or live programmes, the argument remains the same, that the B.B.C. has never tied itself down to a narrow nationalism. To give an example of recorded programmes, on Saturday night I saw one of a series of gangster films from America. In this film two people were neatly murdered and a girl was nearly throttled, but in the end virtue, in the person of Mr. George Raft, triumphed. I thought it quite a good film. Our problem is to give reasonable protection to British performers but at the same time not to be ridiculously nationalistic about it.
The point on which the two sides of the House differ—this is really what we are discussing is how the two objectives, to which we all agree, can be effected. We do not disagree on what we want to do; we disagree on the method. The Government feel that it is best done by leaving the whole matter to a responsible Authority, giving the Authority a general directive, and that is what we propose to do.
Hon. Members opposite ask me what is the meaning of a "proper proportion." The answer is, of course, what a responsible Authority regards as a proper proportion. An hon. Member opposite talked about the Authority being carted off to court. I do not think that he could have appreciated that this is not a matter which would result in anyone being carted off to court. Nor would we wish that to happen.
We object to the quota system not because we believe that the quota system is in itself bad but because we have decided, after careful consideration, that the method that we have proposed is better. I ask the House to accept that we have gone into the matter in very great 290 detail and have seen an enormous number of people about it. We are convinced that in the long run any attempt to apply a quota system would defeat the object that we have in view.
I will briefly summarise my objections. The first is that we should certainly have to apply any quota system to the B.B.C. as well as to the I.T.A. Up till now the B.B.C. has got along very well without a quota system.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Has the hon. Gentleman made any study of the actual proportion of recorded foreign material put out by the B.B.C.?
§ Mr. Gammans
Much of it depends upon what one regards as the definition of "British," and it also depends upon the recorded matter. I do not know that there is an objection to the B.B.C.'s performances. Certainly, I have heard no objections raised to them. The important point is we must be careful about this —that if we applied the quota system to the I.T.A. it would certainly have to be applied to the B.B.C.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
Will the hon. Gentleman give his reasons for that extraordinary statement? Why should it have to be applied to the B.B.C.?
§ Mr. Gammans
Not at all. The right hon. Gentleman may hold that view, but I regard them as two comparable public bodies, and if we applied a quota system to one we should certainly have to apply it to the other.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Would the hon. Gentleman say that that applies to all the other restrictions in the Bill? Are all the other restrictions applied to the I.T.A. also to be applied to the B.B.C.?
§ Mr. Gammans
No, of course not. We are here dealing with the specific point of recorded programmes. It would be unreasonable to apply this provision to the I.T.A. if we did not apply it also to the B.B.C.
291 My second objection to a quota system is that it could easily be evaded. We should have to define minutely—here we come on to a further Amendment on which I will not trespass now—what we mean by British origin and British performance instead of leaving the definition to the good sense of a responsible body. Under the film quota scheme there is a regulation which allows film distributors to use foreign films if they can show that no suitable British films are available. I do not know whether there are many in the House who honestly believe that the quota system has worked very satisfactorily.
My third objection to the quota system is that we should be asking for retaliation. As television is spreading all over the world, any attempt to fix a quota system here would at any rate invite retaliation from other countries. We are convinced that the flexible system which we suggest in the Bill will do the job better than any other method. I hope the House will accept it. If we could have been convinced as a result of our investigations that a quota system would do the job better than the more flexible system which we have proposed, we should have accepted it. There would have been no earthly reason for our not doing so. The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) spoke about Great Britain becoming a refuse bin for American films. I believe that that was pardonable exaggeration in a debate of this nature.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I have been listening and wondering whether the hon. Gentleman would give us any idea whatever of what "proper proportion" means. I wonder whether he could do that. Will he at the same time bear in mind that the most flexible phrase of all is the utterly meaningless phrase?
§ Mr. Gammans
I thought I had dealt with that point when I said that a proper proportion is what a responsible Authority regards as a proper proportion. [An HON. MEMBER: "What does the hon. Gentleman think it is?"] I am not the Authority. It is not for me to consider all the facets of the Bill. As I have already said in this House, I believe that anything in the nature of quotas is undesirable.
292 I do not mind repeating what I said in Committee, that I have very great hopes that this country will build up a great and expanding export industry. The hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) seemed to think that we could not do that. With the B.B.C. making programmes and the I.T.A. responsible for programmes, I cannot see any reason why this country should not become a springboard from which we can leap into the markets abroad. I heard a report on the television service the other night from a U.N.E.S.C.O. commentator who said that even now television covers an audience of more than 100 million and that in two years' time 57 countries will have started a television service.
I regard this as a wonderful opportunity, and I am not so pessimistic as to assume, like hon. Gentlemen opposite, that this recording or film industry of ours needs artificial protection in the home market before being able to hold its own, either in the market here or in markets beyond the seas. For those reasons, I cannot accept the Amendment to the Lords Amendment.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
This becomes funnier as we go along, and more and more inconclusive. The Assistant Postmaster-General says that a proper proportion means what is a proper proportion to the Independent Television Authority. We then ask him what he thinks a proper proportion is, and he says," I am not the Authority, and I do not know," or" I am not going to tell you." Surely, this is a quaint way in which to pass legislation?
Here are the Government asking us to pass a Bill which says that a proper proportion shall be British. They must have some reasons for putting in that provision, and they must have some ideas as to what a proper proportion is. We are not asking them to be unnecessarily precise and exact, but surely the Government have ideas? They must have had talks about it and have considered it. Is it really impossible for the Assistant Postmaster-General to say what he and the Government think is a proper proportion? I will readily give way if the hon. Gentleman would like to attempt the task.
I should have thought that the Government would have had something in their heads. I know that that is an assumption, 293 but they ought to have something in their heads when they come here and ask us to pass this legislation. We are entitled to know what they mean by it. They may not know what the words mean; I do not know myself, but we ought at least to know what is in their minds. Will not the Assistant Postmaster-General tell us roughly and in a general way what the Government really mean by and have in mind concerning the words" proper proportion"? I will gladly give way if he wishes to do so.
The other thing, of course, would be to tell us what is an improper proportion; that also would be interesting. I dare not sit down and give way for the Assistant Postmaster-General now, because Mr. Speaker might call the next speaker or put the Question. The hon. Gentleman has demonstrated once more that he does not understand the Bill and ought not to be in charge of it, and the sooner he joins on holiday the former Minister of Agriculture the better it will be. That is what he really deserves in the light of this experience.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) has said that this is a curious Clause altogether. Let us see what the Authority has to do. I think the Assistant Postmaster-General should say what is in his mind about the meaning of "proper proportion," because I do not know what the law courts will think about it, or what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) might have to say on the subject. I should think the law courts will have an awful job. Indeed, it may be impossible for the courts to adjudicate upon it, and it may be that that is the purpose of the Government in drafting this Clause.
If it is the case that the Assistant Postmaster-General does not know what is meant by "proper proportion" and has no idea about the purpose of a Bill which he cannot defend, propound or explain, that is bad enough, but if he has deliberately and with malice aforethought brought a Bill here which is deliberately designed so that it cannot be challenged in the courts of law, he ought to say so. It is all very well to do that with Defence Regulation 18B and things like that in war-time, but it is not good enough here. I do not see how the courts are to interpret it, but I am not a lawyer, and that 294 is why I appealed to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering.
In Clause 3 (1), at the beginning, it is provided—It shall be the duty of the Authority to satisfy themselves that, so far as possible,the broadcasts shall have these various qualifications which are set out in the paragraphs that follow. So it starts off by saying "as far as possible." Then, the Lords Amendment makes it a "proper proportion," and we really do not know what that means. This is not the proper way in which to pass legislation.
It is said, and it is perfectly true, that we all wish reasonably to protect British artistes and others against dumping, and we also wish to avoid a narrow and inconsiderate nationalism. We have seen some good things from the United States, and the other day I saw some good things from Moscow—the puppets from the Central Theatre—a very clever piece of work. That is all right, but we must protect ourselves not only against an excessive amount but also against the wrong kind.
The Assistant Postmaster-General says that the B.B.C. has never taken the attitude which we are taking this afternoon. My impression of the B.B.C. is that it is, in practice, within the limits of our Amendment. It is said that if we do this in the case of the I.T.A. we ought to lay down a similar stipulation for the B.B.C. I do not think we need to do so. I think the practice of the B.B.C. is probably within these limits, but, in any case, the reason why we wish to put this stipulation in the Bill in the case of the I.T.A. is that the I.T.A. will be mixed up with commercial business, and commercial business will be tempted to use cheaper stuff from the United States, which might be good, bad or indifferent, but which has been economically exploited in that country before it came here.
Then, the Assistant Postmaster-General has also argued the extraordinary doctrine that if we stipulate this in the case of the I.T.A., we must do it for the B.B.C. My first answer to that is the one I have already given—that the I.T.A. will be 295 dealing with commercial programme companies, whereas the B.B.C. is a public authority dealing with a public service, and that, therefore, the circumstances are different. Even the hon. Gentleman himself would not propose to argue, surely, that if we apply these conditions to the B.B.C. we ought to apply all the conditions. I do not think he would. The whole series of conditions to be imposed on the I.T.A. and the programme companies is to be imposed precisely because this is commercial television, and even this Government, for all their capitalist pride, know that commercial concerns, commercial motives and considerations are not to be trusted without certain checks, whereas a public service organisation like the B.B.C. is to be trusted.
If the Assistant Postmaster-General is insistent that the B.B.C. must be treated on all fours with the I.T.A., why has he not put forward an Amendment to give the B.B.C. £750,000 a year out of public money, as he is doing for the I.T.A.? [Interruption.] Yes, out of public money. As a matter of fact it is the other way about. The Assistant Postmaster-General
§ takes money from the B.B.C. out of licence collections. It is money from licence fees, not Exchequer contributions, and, therefore, if the hon. Gentleman is arguing that there is this complete analogy, why does he not give the B.B.C. £750,000 a year out of the Exchequer for this purpose?
§ We think that the words in the Bill are meaningless, and that it is reasonable that we should stipulate something. Therefore we propose to insist on putting our Amendment to the vote. Particularly is this necessary in view of the apparently complete incapacity of the Assistant Postmaster-General to explain the words in the Bill and those which it is proposed to put in by means of the Amendment from Their Lordships' House. The situation, in the words of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir R. De la Bère), is entirely unsatisfactory.
§ Question put, "That 'proper proportions' stand part of so much of the Lords Amendment as proposed to insert words."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 268; Noes, 235.299
|Division No. 209.]||AYES||[6.21 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Channon, H.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Gammans, L. D.|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Anstruther-Cray, Major W. J.||Cole, Norman||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd|
|Arbuthnot, John||Colegate, W. A.||Glover, D.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Godber, J. B.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gower, H. R.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Barber, Anthony||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crouch, R. F.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Batter, Sir Beverley||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Davidson, Viscountess||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Deedes, W. F.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||Hay, John|
|Birch, Nigel||Donner, Sir P. W.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Bishop, F. P.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Heath, Edward|
|Black, C. W.||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Drayson, G. B.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Braine, B. R.||Duthie, W. S.||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Holt, A. F.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Erroll, F. J.||Horobin, I. M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Fell, A.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Bullard, D. G.||Fisher, Nigel||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R F||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Fort, R.||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)|
|Carr, Robert||Foster, John||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Neave, Airey||Snadden, w. McN.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nicholls, Harmar||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Jennings, Sir Roland||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Speir, R. M.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Kaberry, D.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B||Oakshott, H. D.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Odey, G. W.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Storey, S.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Osborne, C.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Page, R. G.||Summers, G. S.|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T||Peake, Rt, Hon. O.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Lindsay, Martin||Perkins, Sir Robert||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Linstead, Sir H N||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Teeling, W.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Han. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Pitman, I. J.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Tilney, John|
|Low, A. R. W.||Powell, J. Enoch||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Turton, R. H.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Profumo, J. D.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Ramsden, J. E.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Redmayoe, M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon Iain (Enfield, W.)||Renton, D. L. M.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Manningham-Buller Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Roper, Sir Harold||Wellwood, W.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Marples, A. E.||Russell, R. S.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Maude, Angus||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Wills, G.|
|Medlicott, Brig. F.||Scott, R. Donald||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Mellor, Sir John||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Shepherd, William|
|Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Moore, Sir Thomas||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Sir Cedric Drewe and Mr. Richard Thompson.|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Mr. Richard Thompson.|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Carmichael, J.||Foot, M. M.|
|Adams, Richard||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Forman, J. C.|
|Albu, A. H.||Champion, A. J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Chapman, W. D.||Freeman, John (Watford)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Clunie, J.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cove, W. G.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Glanville, James|
|Baird, J.||Crosland, C. A. R.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C|
|Balfour, A.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Greenwood, Anthony|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Bartley, P.||Daines, P.||Grey, C. F.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Benson, G.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Beswick, F.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hale, Leslie|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Deer, G.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Boardman, H.||Delargy, H. J.||Hannan, W.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Dodds, N. N.||Hargreaves, A.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hastings, S.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Edwards, Rt. Hon Ness (Caerphilly)||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Burke, W. A.||Fernyhough, E.||Holman, P.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Fienburgh, W.||Holmes, Horace|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Hoy, J. H.||Mort, D. L.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Moyle, A.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mulley, F. W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S, Ayrshire)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Steele, T.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oldfield, W. H.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Orbach, M.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Oswald, T||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Padley, W. E.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Palmer, A. M. F.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Pannell, Charles||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Pargiter, G. A.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Parker, J.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Parkin, B. T||Thornton, E.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Paton, J.||Timmons, J.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pearson, A.||Tommy, F.|
|Keenan, W.||Peart, T. F.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Kenyon, C.||Plummet, Sir Leslie||Viant, S. P.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Warbey, W. N.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Proctor, W. T.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Lawson G. M.||Pryde, D. J.||Weitzman, D.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Rankin, John||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Reeves, J.||West, D. G.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Reid, William (Camlaohie)||While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Rhodes, H.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Richards, R.||Wigg, George|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|McLeavy, F.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancrat, N.)||Willey, F. T.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Ross, William||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Royle, C.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mason, Roy||Short, E. W.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Messer, Sir F.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Monslow, G. R.||Skeffington, A. M.||Yates, V. F.|
|Moody, A. S.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Mortey, R.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Mr. Wallace and Mr. J. T. Price.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Snow, J. W.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the words proposed to be inserted by the Lords, to leave out "and other."
I do not think that this Amendment to the Lords Amendment need take up much of the time of the House, in view of the discussion which we had on our previous Amendment, which covered very much the same field. This Amendment to the Amendment has a very much more limited effect. The result of the acceptance of the deletion of the words "and other" would be that the" proper proportions of British programme would be confined to recorded matter. We propose to delete from the Amendment which came from another place the requirement that "proper proportions" should apply both to recorded matter and to live programmes.
Now that our previous Amendment to the Lords Amendment has been defeated 300 and the words "proper proportions" are to be retained, it is extremely difficult for us to accept the definition given by the Assistant Postmaster-General of those words. In our view, it is quite impossible accurately to define their meaning, as the Assistant Postmaster-General has failed to do. He refused to give any indication of what he had in mind as to what the words meant. It seems to me to be far more difficult to determine what are "proper proportions" in relation to live programmes than in relation to recorded programmes.
Recorded programmes are the greater danger. During the discussions on our previous Amendments to the Lords Amendment and in earlier debates, reference was frequently made to the very large number of recorded American programmes which are ready to be put on the air. This afternoon the Assistant Postmaster-General himself referred to the danger of dumping, and to the desire 301 to eliminate that danger. That is our main objective, and if our Amendment were agreed to, we could then reluctantly accept this vague term "proper proportions," simply because it is essential that recorded programmes should be limited.
The second reason I am moving this Amendment is that I am still worried about the danger, to use the words of the Assistant Postmaster-General, of "narrow nationalism." Once we start trying to determine the proportion of live programmes which should be of British origin and performed by British subjects, we face the grave danger of developing a restriction on those who are interested in art as an international culture, and enter a dangerous field in which we should not wish to wander long because it might have a serious effect on our own culture owing to the retaliation which we might suffer elsewhere.
This afternoon the Assistant Postmaster-General referred to the danger of retaliation in regard to what we term canned programmes. He said that if we fixed a known quota of recorded programmes, then a similar quota would be imposed upon us in other countries. I think it equally likely, or possibly even more likely, that if, in order to maintain a high proportion of British programmes performed by British subjects, we restricted foreign operas, ballets, puppet shows, and the like, from coming to this country, we should be faced with a similar restriction when our performers endeavour to go on tour abroad. It would be a sad day for America, the Commonwealth, and for some European countries if, because of our restriction on their performances and performers, they found it necessary to restrict, say, the Sadler's Wells Ballet from visiting them.
There is the difficulty of determining what is of British origin and what are British performers. In referring to this matter in another place, the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, speaking of the performance of "The Ring," said:Some proportion of that particular performance should be British."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 20th July, 1954; Vol. 188, c. 1194.]In the first place, how can Wagner be British? Nothing is more Germanic than "The Ring." For instance, if the Vienna State Opera comes to Covent Garden with its full caste and its own orchestra, must we then insist that it does not bring 302 all its caste and all its orchestra because part of them must consist of British performers?
As soon as one goes into the matter one finds how impossible it is to determine what these words mean. Would their acceptance mean that Glyndebourne could not go on the air if its production were thought to include too large a proportion of foreign matter and because foreign artistes were included in its cast? The more one looks into this point as far as live programmes are concerned, the more difficult it appears to be.
With recorded matter it is different, because one knows where the recorded programmes originate, and, therefore, it is not nearly so difficult to deal with them. I suggest that by proposing to narrow the restrictions which it is intended to impose, while at the same time restrictions dumping, this Amendment would prevent our going too far in our xenophobia, too far in our narrow nationalism, of which, I believe, there is some danger.
§ Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
I beg to second the Amendment to the Lords Amendment.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) has said, what we are discussing here is really the question of canned programmes. He said that if we tried to apply the provisions of the Lords Amendments now before us to all programmes that are televised, we should find ourselves in difficulties with regard to live programmes. I should imagine that both the viewers and all the other people engaged in the preparation of television programmes are united in not wanting their programmes to be imported in large measure from overseas. I think we are all agreed on that. With regard to the canned programmes to which there has been much reference in the debate, it is quite clear that viewers would complain if they had to look continually at cheap canned films from America. Programme staffs, actors and artistes over here would have grounds for complaint if they were put out of work by large importations of such matter.
With regard to live programmes, the case is different. For the time being at any rate— because we do not know what the future holds for the importation of live programmes from the Continent and elsewhere— live programmes would mainly be produced in this country. They 303 would give employment to studio staffs and technicians and to those taking part in the programme. We think that it would be quite wrong to say that all the actors and artistes taking part in the live programmes should be British. As the Assistant Postmaster-General himself has said in this debate, we want an intelligent internationalism in this matter. Therefore, whatever restrictions may be placed on the importation of programmes we believe that the restriction on imported material should apply only to completed programmes—to recorded material, to the films that come over— and not to live programmes produced here.
We think that our Amendment is very sensible and should be accepted so that it may be made quite clear that we are dealing only with recorded material, and do not want the restrictive provisions that must inevitably result from the form of words used by the Government. We do not want those restrictive provisions to apply to all the live programmes that we hope will go out to the viewers. As I say, this Amendment to the Lords Amendment is really most sensible, and I am sure that it will be accepted in good faith by the Government.
§ Mr. Gammans
I must confess that there does not seem to be very much cohesion about this in the Labour Party, because what we are discussing is an Amendment to an Amendment moved in the other place by the leader of the Labour Peers, Lord Jowitt. Listening to the hon. Gentleman, I find it difficult to understand exactly why he wants to do this. We now seem to be going in the exactly opposite direction. In the previous Amendment, we were talking about the tightening up of recorded programmes; here we are talking about the loosening up of live programmes. I do not see any consistency between the two.
The hon. Gentleman said that he regarded recorded programmes as the greater danger. He may be right. They may be the greater danger to the well-being of British artistes—that we cannot say—but I would not like to feel that we had eliminated altogether from this Bill any directions to the Authority as to what should be its policy towards live performances. We have cut out of the Clause the words "British tone and style," but if this 304 Amendment is accepted there are no directions whatever given to the Authority about programmes which are non-recorded.
§ Mr. Driberg
Surely it is the Government who are eliminating all directions by insisting on retaining the vague words "proper proportion."
§ Mr. Gammans
No, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has followed me. If we are to eliminate the words "British tone and style" and are to give no direction about live programmes that is a serious defect, because the Authority will have no indication of the wishes of the House in regard to programmes which are not recorded. We cannot yet say what percentage shall be, or will be, recorded, but I think that, on further reflection, the House will agree that it would be a very great mistake that now we have eliminated the words "British tone and style," the Authority should start off without any directions whatsoever as to what should be its policy in regard to live programmes. For those reasons, I regret that I cannot accept the Amendment to the Lords Amendment.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn
We are somewhat handicapped in considering this Amendment by the fact that the words to which we propose an amendment:proper proportions of the recorded and other matter…are very largely meaningless, or can be interpreted in a variety of ways. One reading of the Lords Amendment which we are now considering is that when the Lords use those words they might mean proper proportions of recorded and proper proportions of other matter—that it is to be interpreted separately. Whether that is meant or not, it is certainly pleasing to me that my hon. Friends should have joined in putting down this Amendment to the Lords Amendment, because it enables us to make absolutely clear our view on the importation of foreign programmes and the mixing in the programmes of foreign cultures with our own.
Those of us who have frequently spoken of the menace of American programmes have considered the matter entirely from the point of view of recorded programmes. We are not against—of course we are not against—foreign shows, 305 foreign artistes, foreign musicians and conductors coming to this country and giving us the benefit of their own culture. It does not seem a bit surprising to me that we should be moving an Amendment to an Amendment moved by our noble colleagues in the other House. A Bill goes to the other place and comes back again in order to give as many opportunities as possible for it to be looked at. In the other place they did rush the Bill through, and I dare say that my noble colleagues had not fully considered the possible effects of limiting foreign visitors with their own programmes.
We are very anxious that this Bill when it becomes law, as presumably it will, should not be taken to exclude an exchange of cultural programmes of one kind and another. Most hon. Members, I suppose, have been to the American musicals put on in London from time to time. Some friends of mine make a point, before the six months are up, of going to see a full American chorus before it is replaced by a local one. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, would wish to see American shows brought here.
When one talks of a British performance, one gets into terrible difficulties, in particular in regard to live programmes. I will not go into details, but will only say that there are important programmes that are not British in origin or performance. Indeed, if the Prime Minister were to give a party political broadcast, his mother being an American, I think that it would be very questionable whether it would be wholly British in origin, or British in "proper proportion." Those are questions of paternity and maternity which perhaps we ought to leave to a hereditary House.
I hope that the Postmaster-General will change his mind and will be willing to accept the Amendment to the Lords Amendment. In my view, it is a perfectly satisfactory proof of our sincerity that, if it has to come, we want commercial television to include the best from all countries and all we want to exclude is its very worst commercial aspect.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Maldon)
With respect, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman quite caught the point of my interruption. I support my hon. Friend's Amendment to the Lords Amendment for 306 the reasons which they have given. The hon. Gentleman resisted it on the grounds, as I understood him to say, that it was important that in this Bill we should give some more or less specific instructions to the Authority about live programmes. Earlier, when we were asking him to be a bit more specific about the definition of "proper proportions," he said, "We will leave it to the Authority to determine what proportions are proper." Really therefore, to keep in the words "and other" does not give any effective specific instructions to the Authority at all. On the hon. Gentleman's own showing in his reply on the previous Amendment, it might be 2 per cent, or 5 per cent, or 90 per cent., in the view of the Authority at any one time. As it would reduce even by two words a Bill the greater part of which is utterly futile, I am in favour of my hon. Friend's Amendment.
§ Mr. Shackleton
The Assistant Postmaster-General has been rather unfair to the Opposition in another place. Since he referred to them, I think it will be in order for me also to refer to the matter. He knows very well that this Lords Amendment was the result of a compromise between the two sides of the House, and the Opposition were entirely dissatisfied with this compromise in order to get rid of the thoroughly objectionable paragraph (a).
Let me explain the views of most hon. Members on this side of the House and, I am sure, of a number of hon. Members opposite. What we are concerned with is not to build up a nationalist culture in our commercial television system, but to protect not merely the British public but those who work in the entertainment industry—composers and others—from the importation of cheap American programmes which have already recovered their cost. I should say that we have explained that point to the Assistant Postmaster-General at least 30 times. There is, therefore, nothing inconsistent in saying that, while we wish to prevent that sort of thing from happening, we do not want to put in the Bill some national tag on the type of programmes that shall be televised—in other words, to establish a British culture—
§ Mr. Philip Bell (Bolton, East)
Is it not begging the question to say that we want to keep cheap American films out? I understand that the hon. Gentleman does 307 not mind if an American play comes to London and is performed live, but that if a recording of it is made in America it suddenly becomes a cheap American play?
§ Mr. Shackleton
Let me try to explain. When I use the word "cheap," I mean inexpensive—in other words something which does not cost very much to put on because it has already recovered its cost. I am not using "cheap" in the perjorative sense in which it is sometimes used. I mean something the cost of which has already been recovered and which can be dumped in this country to the grave detriment of those engaged in the entertainment industry. That is frankly our case, and there is grave danger of an importation of programmes which have recovered their cost.
What we are saying is that, whereas there should be protection in the case of recorded matter, we want the field to be wide open in the case of all other types of entertainment. There is no doubt that Equity and similar organisations will seek in their negotiations to protect the interests of their members. I am content to leave it to them in negotiation with the I.T.A.
I think it is objectionable that we should put this type of provision in a Bill of this kind in an age when we are trying, I hope, to develop a more international outlook. To put into a Measure words of this kind designed largely to help the Government out of what they imagine to be a difficult position merely shows that they do not understand the object of television, whether it be commercial or publicly run. I ask the Government to look again at this point. It is not good enough, even if the Members of another place have arrived at a compromise, for this House to put into a Bill words of this kind which are deplorable by any standard.
§ Sir L. Plummer
I do not think the Assistant Postmaster-General has a right to accuse us on these benches of lack of political cohesion, because if anybody is lacking in political cohesion it is the Conservative Party. The hon. and learned Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bill) smiles, but we remember when the Assistant Postmaster-General would rather drop in his tracks than allow paragraph (a) to 308 be deleted. Over and over again the issues on which the hon. Gentleman has taken us into the Lobby have so angered the Members of another place, and it does not do for a Government which permitted a Bill which could not be amended here to be amended in another place to accuse us of lack of political cohesion.
It is important that the Assistant Postmaster-General should consider this point. He seemed deliberately to have misunderstood what I was saying when I moved the Amendment on the "proper proportions." I made it clear that I was opposing what I described as a sort of xenophobia where live artistes were concerned, and I did not like the references on the last Amendment to the constant use of the wordsof British origin and of British performance.The Assistant Postmaster-General continues to repeat this phrase and he appears to be following the example of his friends in the advertising business and repeating something over and over again in the belief that ultimately somebody will believe him.
We have made our position absolutely clear where live artistes are concerned. I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider this point. If programme companies produce a serious of programmes in the winter devoted to circuses, none of those could be described as "of British origin and of British performance" because there is no such thing as a British circus. Most of the performers are foreign, and a circus is a peculiarly Continental form of the art of entertainment. We might have a series of circuses night after night throughout the winter, and none of them could be described as "of British origin and of British performance."
Glyndebourne would be quite impossible. By no stretch of the imagination can Mozart be regarded as British. It is the same with ballet. There are no more than four or five ballets being performed anywhere in the world today which are British, and no more than two composers of ballet music can be regarded as British.
I hope that the Government will play their part in seeing that we pull down some of these "iron curtains" which separate the artistes who do not live in this country from our television screens. There is too much of this exclusion as it is. I should like to see employed in this 309 country many more of the American actors, singers, writers, and producers who are refugees from McCarthy. I should like those people to enrich the television screens of this country. For that reason, I hope that the Assistant Postmaster-General, having at last understood our point, will accept our Amendment.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I am surprised at the Assistant Postmaster-General taking this line and charging us on this side of the House with lacking cohesion and with not knowing where we were going. If there is one man who has changed his direction and his policy more than any other, it is the hon. Gentleman himself. The number of times that he has changed these provisions cannot be calculated. Surely he can get into his mind that what may be right for films and telefilms coming from America may be entirely wrong for live programmes in this country. That is the point which my hon. Friends have been trying to drive home. In his anxiety to give the I.T.A. directions, what has become of that oft-repeated phrase of his "Trust the I.T.A."? Where has that gone? "Trust the advertiser"—that has all gone.
The hon. Gentleman is now very anxious that the I.T.A. shall receive a direction which he himself says is meaningless. He says that the question of what is a proper proportion should be decided by the I.T.A. He knows that if the Lords Amendment is left as it now stands, the Authority will be in a very great difficulty if an Italian opera or a British opera in which non-Britishers are singing is offered. What about all the foreign conductors who come either to Glyndebourne or Covent Garden? Are they to be excluded? I should have thought it was most dangerous to insert a provision of this sort. It will give the impression that we are an arrogant, uncultured lot.
Surely the hon. Gentleman ought to know what his own Government are doing? No foreign artiste can perform in this country unless he or she has a Ministry of Labour permit. That, in itself, ought to be considered adequate protection, and ought not to need to be reinforced by a direction in this Bill. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have 310 second thoughts on this matter and will accept this Amendment to the Lords Amendment.
Question, "That 'and other' stand part of so much of the Lords Amendment as proposes to insert words," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the words proposed to be inserted by the Lords, at the end, to add:(that is to say, performed and produced by British subjects).We have now accepted in principle that there are to be proper proportions both of recorded and other matter, and we are also substituting for the words "programmes … of British origin" the words "programmes … of British origin and British performance." I noticed a short time ago that in talking about this matter of what was and was not British for this purpose the Assistant Postmaster-General, of his own accord, used the words: "produced by British people and performed by British people." "Of British origin," I should have thought, refers to the place of origin and, possibly, to the commercial side of the business. "British origin" may well mean "produced by a British company," and it would obviously include produced in a British theatre or cinema," thereby corresponding to part of the definition of "British origin" used in regard to cinemas. But the words British performance" have been added, and they clearly mean something.
I do not suppose that they necessarily mean that every performer must be British, but they certainly mean that there must be a substantial element of British performers. I suggest that there is no logical reason for not including the business of production in exactly the same way, and on exactly the same terms, as the matter of performance is included. The definition would apply both to the production of a play—a live performance —and to the production of a film. We further suggest that if it is omitted it leaves a very noticeable gap in the language of the Clause and would seem to indicate that no attention whatever is to be paid to the element of production.
After all, that element is notoriously of very great importance in films and in the live theatre, and exactly the same considerations apply to it as apply to those 311 of what I may call the leading performers. I hope that the Assistant Postmaster-General will accept this proposed Amendment. He referred to it recently, in advance, as something which gave more detail to the instructions to be given to the Authority. It is nothing of the sort; it is a definition—a mere correction of what I am perfectly certain was an unintentional but real omission in the language of the Clause as drafted.
§ Mr. Driberg
I beg to second the Amendment to the Lords Amendment.
In doing so, I must say what a relief it is to reach a question upon which we can feel reasonably sure that we shall have a clear and definite statement from the Assistant Postmaster-General. For the last hour or two he has been extremely vague—not to say woolly—on such subjects as a "proper proportion," but he said that when we reached this point—I took down the words he used—we should have to define minutely what we meant by "of British origin and of British performance." I therefore hope that he will do so, and he may be helped if he decides to accept this Amendment to the Lords Amendment, because that at least gives some definition to a phrase which otherwise is almost as meaningless as "proper proportion."
In defining it minutely I hope that the hon. Member will deal with two points. First, when he uses the word "British," does he use it as referring to citizens of the United Kingdom and the Colonies. I ask that bearing in mind that he has had many interests in the Colonies in the past. I hope he will assure us on that point, because we would not wish to see a West Indian band excluded on the ground that it was not British, in the narrow sense of the term.
Secondly, in defining this phrase minutely, as he promised to do, I hope that he will define the word "and," in "of British origin and of British performance." Did he really mean to say" or, "or that rather curious locution— "and/or"? "British origin and … British performance" is a little sweeping and difficult to insist upon in every programme. For instance, would an arrangement of the "St. Louis Blues" played by the cousin of the Secretary of State for the Colonies—Humphrey Lyttelton—be of British origin and British 312 performance? It is really "or" that is needed, and not "and," in a case like that. We know that Humphrey Lyttelton can play the "St. Louis Blues" as practically no other band leader outside the United States can play it, and I am sure that the Secretary of State for the Colonies is prouder of his cousin than his cousin is of him. I shall be grateful if the hon. Gentleman will deal with those two specific points.
§ Mr. Gammans
The hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) asked me whether the term "British" was confined to citizens of the United Kingdom, or whether it meant something wider. In this connection it means something wider: it means citizens of the Commonwealth and also of the Colonies.
§ Mr. Driberg
I am sorry to interrupt so early, but I particularly did not say "Commonwealth" because, of course, the title is no longer "British Commonwealth" on account of India's status.
§ Mr. Gammans
Yes, but in this connection the term "British" means Commonwealth citizens, and it also means citizens of Southern Ireland.
I am sorry I cannot help the hon. Gentleman about the "St. Louis Blues." I confess I have never heard of them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] Whether or not they will be permitted in this country in the terms set forth by the hon. Gentleman, I am afraid I cannot tell him. That is an instance of the sort of thing we are entrusting to the Authority.
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) for a genuine attempt to define something not very easily defined. He wants to help the Authority, I know, in this difficult task of discharging its functions in this respect. He is quite right, for it is not easy to define in specific terms what we mean by "British origin" or "British performance" and—
§ Mr. Gammans
"And" or "or." We have "and" in the Lords Amendment. In the film quota the criterion which has been applied—and this is one of the difficulties we have to face, and that we have had to cope with before—is that of the labour costs involved in the making of a film, and the extent to which those labour 313 costs are applicable to British subjects. That has never been a quota easy to operate.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Is not the phrase in the film industry the phrase "of British origin"? Is what the hon. Gentleman is saying applicable only to the question whether it is or is not of British origin? The trouble here is that another phrase is added, the phrase "of British performance." I am sure the hon. Gentleman is going to tell us what it means.
The hon. and learned Gentleman may be right. I was using the analogy of the film quota only as an example of the difficulty of precise definition. The only question we have to ask ourselves is whether the definition proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman would help the Authority in any way, If it would, then, I think, we ought to consider it. If it would not help in any way, there would not be very much point in adopting it. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman himself would agree with that. I have considered this very carefully to see whether it would help in any way, and I cannot see that it would.
We have laid upon the Authority general instructions as to what shall guide it in the selection of programmes. I do not believe that if we were to attempt to break the instructions down, as the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests by his Amendment to the Lords Amendment, we should help very much. I should like to have accepted his Amendment to the Lords Amendment because I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to be helpful, but I do not feel that if we were to accept it we should make the task of the Authority any easier or help it in any way in carrying out the injunctions laid upon it, and for that reason I must resist it.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Can the hon. Gentleman explain why he applies different standards to performers and producers?
§ Mr. Shackleton
The Assistant Postmaster-General must give the House a better answer than that, and I am sure we shall give him leave to speak again. He has not answered any of the questions put to him. There is one simple question, that is whether the words of the Lords Amendment should be "British origin and of British performance" or 314…British origin or of British performance." Should the word be "and" or should it be "or"?If the hon. Gentleman does not know, perhaps it would help if we were to postpone further consideration of the Lords Amendments to allow an interval in which one of the Law Officers could come to help. We have had to make such a suggestion on other occasions. We are not working under the Guillotine now, and we have time on our side. If one Minister is inadequate in dealing with a question, we can send for another to deal with it. We must have an answer to the questions that have been asked. The proposed Amendment to the Lords Amendment was a probing one, moved in an attempt to find out what this was all about, and if we do not get answers to our questions I think that my hon. Friends will not be prepared to let this matter go.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The matter has been put very firmly to the hon. Gentleman, who says that the programmes must be of British origin and of British performance, although when it comes to production he is not prepared to agree that that, too, should be limited to production by British producers. I cannot understand why it is that he cannot give us an answer about that.
Then there is the other question whether the Lords Amendment should read "… British origin and of British performance "or" … British origin or British performance" or "British origin and/or British performance." Surely this is important? Yet all the hon. Gentleman says is that because" and is in the Lords Amendment he will take "and." Should it not be "or"? He said it could be either. Which is it? The hon. Gentleman certainly ought to inform himself of what is the intention of the words in the Lords Amendment, and I ask him to make another effort to tell us what the Government mean by these words.
§ Mr. G. Darling
I feel very much concerned about this point, as I think we all do. When I first read the Lords Amendment I took it to mean that the programmes could be of British origin or of British performance, and the importance of the word "and" in this context has 315 been brought home to me only in the last few minutes. The Lords Amendment says that proper proportions of the programmes must be of British origin and of British performance, and it may be that the proportions of British origin and performance will be large proportions. The question is whether works, for instance, of a foreign composer and performed by a British orchestra will or will not come within this definition. Will a film, whose script was written by a foreigner, which was directed by an American, which was made in this country, and which it is desired to show on television, come in this definition or not?
Surely, what the Government mean is that the programme should be of British origin or of British performance not of both British origin and British performance? The definition in the Lords Amendment is so narrow that as proportions, that may be large proportions, of the programmes have to be of British origin and British performance the programmes will be of a very limited range. I am sure that that cannot be the Government's intention.
We are entitled to expect from the Assistant Postmaster-General, who is responsible for this Lords Amendment, or, at least, is the spokesman of those responsible for it, an explanation of what it means. He should not sit there as if the matter is of no concern to him. I think it is of great concern to the whole Bill, and particularly to the working of the Independent Television Authority. If the hon. Member is not concerned about these important matters, I think we ought to move the Adjournment of the House in order to see whether somebody else can come here to tell us what these words mean.
§ Mr. Houghton
The Assistant Postmaster-General is being very tiresome, if I may say so. I rise only to give him a few more moments for reflection. He singled out this Amendment for a special approval. He said it was a genuine Amendment. The inference to be drawn from that about the other Amendments was a little hurtful to other hon. Members, but we swallowed our pride and took the implied rebuke. We thought that here at last we were to get something from the hon. Gentleman.
316 A little later he said that he was sure that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) was trying to be helpful, so that was a double blessing to the Amendment, and we thought that the hon. Gentleman would say, "In view of the genuine nature of the Amendment and the helpfulness of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I will accept the Amendment." Instead, he said that he regretted that the Amendment would not help him.
I should have thought that any Amendment to the Bill which defined the ambiguous would be helpful, because so far the refuge of the Assistant Postmaster-General on all questions about definition has been, "What is proper is what the Independent Television Authority considers to be proper; what is suitable is what the Independent Television Authority considers to be suitable; what is due impartiality is what the Independent Television Authority considers to be due impartiality; what is good taste is what the Independent Television Authority considers to be good taste."
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that British origin and British performance is what the Independent Television Authority considers to be British either in origin or in performance—
§ Mr. Houghton
I should have thought that the hon. Member would have welcomed this lifeline which my hon. and learned Friend has thrown out to him, because nothing simpler could be inserted at the end of the Lords Amendment than the words,(that is to say, performed and produced by British subjects).If there is any doubt about who are British subjects, we could leave that, but at any rate our Amendment states more clearly what British origin and British performance mean.
I hope that the interval which I have given him to ponder further will lead the Assistant Postmaster-General to ask the leave of the House in order to say that, in view of the helpful nature of the genuine Amendment, he will accept it. If it does not help, at least can he say whether it does any harm? If it does no harm, then there is some virtue in 317 his saying that for once he will oblige the Opposition. Even on that footing I appeal to him for some sign that there is some flexibility in his approach to the matter and that it is not all vested in the Independent Television Authority.
Question, "That those words be added to the words proposed to be inserted by the Lords," put, and negatived.
So much of the Lords Amendment as proposes to insert words, agreed to.
Lords Amendment: In line 42, at end insert:(4) Except with the previous approval of the Authority, there shall not be included in any programme broadcast by the Authority—Read a second time.
- (a) any religious service or any propaganda relating to matters of a religious nature;
- (b) any item, whether an advertisement or not, which gives or is designed to give publicity to the needs or objects of any association or organisation conducted for charitable or benevolent purposes.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the Lords Amendment. after "for." to insert "religious."
This is a pleasant occasion on which one can say something complimentary about the Postmaster-General. By this Amendment to the Lords Amendment I am seeking to close any hole which may be left after the Postmaster-General has apparently accepted the view of, I think it was, the Bishop of Bristol in the debate in another place. We are wholly in agreement with the general purpose of the Lords Amendment.
If our Amendment were accepted, paragraph (b) would read,Any item, whether an advertisement or not, which gives or is designed to give publicity to the needs or objects of any association or organisation conducted for religious, charitable or benevolent purposes.This is the sort of Amendment which I should have thought the hon. Gentleman might accept. He may argue that paragraph (a) covers the point because it refers toany propaganda relating to matters of a religious nature.It may be said that the organisation of a body is something different from the nature of the body. I am not quite certain that paragraph (a) completely covers 318 advertisements by religious organisations or covers the point of religious purposes.
Some religious organisations may be legitimate charitable organisations. Equally, some benevolent organisations may be religious organisations. On the other hand, it is possible that a religious organisation could get advertisements or notices in the televised programmes without coming under the ban under paragraph (b) as drafted, while paragraph (a) does not necessarily exclude them, either.
As I understand it, the purpose of the Lords Amendment is to exclude religious advertising in all shapes and forms. If that is the purpose, I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider our Amendment as removing any possible chance of our entering into the field of competing religious advertisements. If we can look at the Amendment co-operatively, I hope that in the interest of religion in this country we shall be able to stop anything which the Postmaster-General obviously desires to stop. I hope that such a sensible and co-operative Amendment will have at least some sympathetic consideration from the Assistant Postmaster-General, which will be quite unusual from him.
§ Mr. Ross
I hope the Assistant Postmaster-General will give serious consideration to the merits of our Amendment. We have gone quite a long way since our original Clause relating to religious matters, but I very much doubt whether even yet we have gone far enough. It is surprising that the Government were more prepared to listen to arguments in another place than to listen to our warnings here, but it may well be that the cumulative effect of all the voices that have been raised on this matter has proved successful.
It would have been far easier had the Government in the first place done the plain straightforward thing which we wanted and placed the creation of these religious programmes directly in the hands of the Independent Television Authority. As a result of their refusal, we have now to write in more restrictions. In writing them in we expect that there will be a certain amount of pressure from various bodies and we have to look for loopholes as they might arise.
319 7.30 p.m.
As I see it, the position is this, that there will now require to be the previous approval of the Authority before there is any religious service of any kind and also before there is any religious propaganda. So far as formal religious advertisements are concerned, they are still covered by the Second Schedule which rules them out altogether. But then we have left other religious matters. They are still dealt with, I think, in Clause 6 (2,a), so that any other item or programme in which there is a religious element is purely and simply a matter for the programme contractor and the I.T.A. to seek the advice of the Religious Advisory Committee.
I do not know why the approval of the Religious Advisory Committee has been ruled out in this one small section. I think that is the only thing which now divides us. The Government have gone so far that I hope that if they accept this Amendment to the Lords Amendment they will have completely covered the matter to the satisfaction of practically everyone in both Houses. I am sure that the Assistant Postmaster-General will remember that the Lord Bishop of Bristol, when he moved the Amendment in another place, had second thoughts and felt that it would have been better if the word "religious" had been put in. I hope that the Minister will see his way to accept this Amendment to the Lords Amendment.
There is one other thing on which I should like to have the hon. Gentleman's opinion. That is whether the Government have given consideration to a point raised in another place as to whether or not it was desirable that all charitable advertisements or items of that kind should be dealt with by the Religious Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. Gammans
I will deal first with the point raised by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). I think that he was talking about appeals for good causes and things of that kind. The B.B.C. has a special Appeals Advisory Committee, and we hope, and expect, that the same Committee will be prepared to advise the new Authority with regard to appeals. If that is done, I think that he would agree that that would be a very satisfactory solution.
§ Mr. Gammans
No. The Authority has full powers to set up what advisory committees it likes, and we hope that on this question of appeals it will be advised by the same committee that advises the B.B.C. What we are now discussing is whether it is necessary to insert the word "reliaious" before the words "charitable or benevolent purposes." I hope that I shall convince the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends that it is unnecessary to put in this word because the matter is covered in an entirely different way.
The right hon. Gentleman said that it would probably be covered by the provisions of paragraph (4) (a), but he was not quite sure and wanted to be reassured. I think that I can reassure him. Of course, religious advertisements as such are banned under paragraph 6 of the Second Schedule, as he himself said. What I think the right hon. Gentleman is thinking of is an item, not an advertisement, which gives publicity to a religious object. The main reason why I do not think the Amendment to the Lords Amendment is necessary is because of the judgment of the House of Lords, in 1891, in a famous case, the Income Tax Commissioners v. Pemsel.
It was a case with regard to a donation or publicity—I have forgotten which —with regard to the Moravian Church, and the judgment in the House of Lords, which still operates, was that the word "charity" in law includes four different divisions. One of these is its use in the ordinary sense of the word "charity." Another is in connection with the promotion of religion, and the other two are not relevant. Therefore, to put in the word "religious" would not add in any way to the power conferred by the subsection and would, from a point of law, be quite meaningless. I hope that I have convinced the right hon. Gentleman that we accept his point.
I am trying to take this seriously, and I do not think the intervention of the hon. Gentleman helps very much. I presume that the hon. Gentleman is genuinely interested in the points which he put forward; at any rate I am, and I am trying to answer the right hon. Gentleman's question which, I think, was a perfectly fair one. He wanted reassurance on this matter, and I hope that I have given it to him and convinced him that this Amendment to the Lords Amendment is not necessary because the point is fully covered in another way.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I am sorry that there is no Law Officer of the Crown present, but I would just as soon, with all respect to the Law Officers, have the opinion of the Home Secretary on this matter. I feel considerable doubt about this. The case to which the Assistant Postmaster-General refers is, of course, a very well known case indeed, but the context, purpose and subject matter of Lord Macnaghten's speech in that case was so entirely different from what we are considering here that I feel very doubtful indeed whether the religious purpose would in this context be necessarily included in these words.
I should like to give my reasons for trying to argue what is, after all, a matter of construction. There are two matters to be considered. Under paragraph (a) of the Lords Amendment there are quite definitely religious matters. They are so called, and there they are. There is no doubt about it. Then we come to paragraph (b). It is not a religious need or object which we are talking about. It is a need or objectof any association or organisation conducted for charitable or benevolent purposes,and the two words hang together as it were.
At first sight, I would have said that the natural meaning of this, considering one's own experience and knowledge of what goes on the wireless, would be that appeals and things of that sort on behalf of associations or organisations of this kind were with the purpose of at least commending them generally to the public in some way or another. The fact that they came under separate subsections and that they were really treated in quite a different way, and there were questions here about organisations and associations, did seem to indicate that they were not 322 meant to include religious associations. Let me give the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, if he is to reply, as I hope he will, the sort of case which I have in mind.
Assume that there is an association or organisation connected with particular religious and, perhaps, doctrinal purposes of some church or another or some sect or another. Of course, it may or may not come under (a); that would depend upon the kind of publicity that was being given in this way. But is that anassociation or organisation conducted for charitable or benevolent purposesin this context, for instance?
One does not want to do more than take instances, and of course nothing turns upon the particular instance that one takes, but let us assume that there was, for example, a particular Catholic or Protestant organisation conducted for the purposes of the particular religious views of the people concerned, and the question was whether it was or was not in this context anorganisation conducted for charitable or benevolent purposes.Is the Home Secretary prepared to say that he is quite certain that in this context an organisation of that sort would be included in the words "charitable cm benevolent purposes"? I suggest that it is at least doubtful—I should have said that it was more than doubtful—in this context, and that no harm could possibly be done by putting in the word "religious" if, as I gather to be the case from the Assistant Postmaster-General's reply, it is intended to include the word "religious" here.
It is a matter which I should be prepared to argued at much greater length than the House would wish anybody to do at this moment, but surely, if there is any doubt, particularly in view of what was said in another place, no harm could possibly be done by putting in the word "religious." It would make it perfectly clear that it was intended to cover that particular set of circumstances, and I do not think anybody would suggest that by inserting it we could possibly limit the meaning of the other two words.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
I gladly accept the invitation of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), who has put the matter 323 most clearly, as far as one can state any doubt clearly, and with great temperance in expression. I do not share the hon. and learned Member's doubts, and I shall try to prevent the rest of the House being bored for too long with what the House usually calls a lawyer's holiday, but I should like to give the hon. and learned Member the reasons.
First, let me put the difficulty in the form of an actual experience of my own when arguing a tax case dealing with charity before a learned judge some years ago. He said to my opponent at the Bar, a distinguished Revenue "silk," "Are you referring to charity in the sense that it is used in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians?" My learned friend replied, "No. I am using it in the wider sense known to courts of equity." There is a distinction, as the hon. and learned Member appreciates, and I should like to take up the point that he made. He does not dispute, because he is familiar with Pemsel's case, that the speech of Lord Macnaghten is the foundation of the modern application of the law of charities.
Lord Macnaghten was seeking in that speech to relate charitable purposes as known to modern courts to the old fount and origin, the Preamble to the Statute of Elizabeth. Lord Macnaghten made the four categories, which were religion, education, poverty and a vague one for other public purposes which are analogous to those mentioned in the Statute. I do not think that anyone would have any doubt that "charitable purposes," especially as stated with regard to the object of an association, would include religious purposes.
When one is deciding the sordid question of whether an association is to pay Income Tax or not, one of the relevant points is as to whether their purpose is charitable in that way. But the hon. and learned Member was disturbed by the argument on context, and I agree that it is one that wants consideration. I refer the hon. and learned Member, first, to paragraph (a), in which is included "religious service" and, secondly,propaganda relating to matters of a religious nature.324 These are attempts to define clearly things which are fairly easy to denote and which are fairly clear in their connotation as well. But when one comes to the second point—this, I think, is the answer—the words areconducted for charitable or benevolent purposes.The hon. and learned Member will be just as familiar as I am with the distinction which courts of Chancery have drawn between "charitable" and "benevolent." My memory may be wrong, but I think it is the case in re Macduff in which that juxtaposition was a matter which the court had to consider. It came to the conclusion that the addition of the words "or benevolent" to a testamentary instrument introduced such a new element that it took it out of the conception of "charitable." I am sure that the hon. and learned Member remembers the interesting examples, which I will not quote, as there may be an Ulster Member in the background, which were given by the judges in that case.
The point that I make to the hon. and learned Member is that when we have "charitable" in contradistinction to "benevolent," as we have here, I should be satisfied that "charitable" was used in its legal sense, and that when used in its legal sense it would include the religious purposes. I do not want to elaborate the argument, but I have considered it and the hon. and learned Member was good enough to be polite about my opinion. For what it is worth, I have given it.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman accept my assurance that I should have accepted his opinion if he had not given reasons for it? I find it even more convincing with the reasons he has given.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Does the Home Secretary's argument not rest upon the assumption that this sort of thing will come before the courts? We were told earlier that this sort of instruction, and so on, to the Authority would never come before the courts. When we asked what the words in the Bill meant, we were told that they were instructions to the Authority and that they meant what the Authority might think they meant.
Therefore, we are not arguing that we should insert something to satisfy the 325 courts. We say that we should put in something to guide the Authority when coming to its conclusion as to what it thinks the words mean it to do. I should have thought, therefore, that argument in that respect was beside the point, because this sort of thing will never get anywhere near the courts. We are giving instructions to the Authority, and because the words in the Bill will always mean what the Authority thinks they mean, our view is that they ought to be made as clear as possible. That did not seem to me to be met by what he was saying.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I think it does meet the point of the right hon. Gentleman, because I have not applied my mind to the question of whether an ingenious legal mind could not bring this before the court. It still remains an obligation to any body in a Statute to follow the legal sense of the words in so far as the body can find out what is the legal sense. We were wanting to make clear, and I have tried to do so, that charitable purposes includes religious purposes. As far as that is concerned, it is important to get at the meaning, and I am sure that the meaning will be followed. This is not only to deal with the religious question —which I think it does—but it also has to deal with appeals as a whole and I think it gives clear instruction.
§ Mr. Houghton
I want to apologise to the Assistant Postmaster-General for any discourtesy in my recent intervention. It was not made with that intention and was intended to be a mildly facetious observation, which evidently misfired. I apologise if I hurt the feelings of the hon. Gentleman. On this other matter, there is one point worth bearing in mind, namely, that many of the provisions of this Bill are not put there for legal purposes but to reassure the public and to satisfy them as to the guiding principles upon which the Independent Television Authority will work.
We have already seen that much in the Bill would not be legally enforceable. I need not go over much that we have already discussed in Clause 3 and I am sure that we would not be expected to go back to the case mentioned in 1891. Generally, I think people would not appreciate that a religious body is a charitable body for certain purposes and that one includes the other.
326 I do not know whether there is any difficulty in particular cases. For instance, I understand that in the case of Moral Rearmament there was a legal tussle over whether it was a religious body and could obtain the benefits of charitable objects within the meaning of the Income Tax Acts. Another marginal case may be the Lords' Day Observance Society, and there may be others. No one will really know whether they are a religious or charitable body and so it might have been worth while putting that beyond doubt. I do not press the matter, but I emphasise that we are not here to split legal hairs but to reassure the public, and that if they do not understand that religious means charitable, it would probably be as well to say so.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
In view of the co-operative debate we have had, the courtesy shown us, particularly by the Home Secretary, and the assurance that the purpose of this Amendment is covered already by the words of the Lords Amendment, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the Lords Amendment.
§ Amendment to the Lords Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ Mr. Shackleton
With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker may I point out that we have not yet had any explanation of this Lords Amendment except in passing. I do not want to exhaust my right to speak, but it seems to me that we should have some explanation.
§ Mr. Gammans
I was under the impression that the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) said that the Opposition were satisfied—
§ Mr. Gammans
If I misunderstood him, I apologise. I thought that we might have saved time by not referring to the Lords Amendment in detail. However, I will explain it, since I have been asked to do so. I suggest that in discussing this Lords Amendment it would be for the convenience of the House if we also discussed the Lords Amendments in page 7, line 46 and page 11, line 20.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think it is in order to discuss those Lords Amendments with this one. They should be discussed separately.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not see how that distinction is made, but it is strictly in order to take the Lords Amendments as they come.
§ Mr. Gammans
I accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The effect of this Amendment would be twofold. It would mean that the previous approval of the Authority would be required for all religious services, religious propaganda and charitable appeals. It would also extend the scope of the Religious Advisory Committee to cover any propaganda relating to matters of a religious nature. The new Amendments clear up a number of points to which the other place attached importance and which I think are desirable in order to clarify the situation.
The first is under the new subsection (4) of Clause 3 which reads:(a) any religious service or any propaganda relating to matters of a religious nature;These have to be approved by the Authority and, under Clause 6 (2,a) as amended in another place, the Religious Advisory Committee has the duty of advising in these matters. The reference to religious propaganda is desirable because fears were expressed in the other place that this might create a loophole by which a church, for example, could give publicity to the fact that it wanted money or voluntary helpers.
The second point covered by the words apply to what we call the "Week's Good Cause." Here the Authority has to decide which good causes should be publicised. Without the approval of the Authority, no contractor can broadcast any item, whether as an advertisement or not, which is designed to give publicity to the needs or objects of any association conducted for charitable or benevolent purposes.
§ Mr. Gammans
Yes, which gives or is designed to give publicity. The reason 328 this paragraph (b) has been included is to prevent a programme contractor, without the approval of the Authority, from giving publicity to a rich church to the possible exclusion of some equally deserving but less powerful organisation. In theory it would have been possible for a rich body, by being able to pay for an advertisement, to get some advantage by reason of its wealth. This can no longer happen, since the Authority itself has to agree which good causes shall be publicised. I think the House will agree that it is desirable to have some control over appeals for good causes. As I have told the House already, there is a special committee dealing with this in the case of the B.B.C., and we hope that the same committee will be prepared to advise the new Authority. That deals with the main objects of this Amendment.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Our discussions have been so appropriately charitable that I wish to put my question to the Assistant Postmaster-General in the most calm and uncontroversial way possible. I should like him to explain a little more the word "propaganda."
As I understand this Clause, whereas the approval of the Religious Advisory Committee and the Authority must be obtained for religious services, and for what was described as "religious propaganda," religious programmes do not require such approval. This may be an oversight on the part of the Government. I feel that a religious programme which is neither a service nor propaganda, but which nevertheless is of a distinctively religious character, should have the consideration of the Advisory Committee. Such a programme might inadvertently give offence, or give an undue proportion of time to one particular religion or sect. That again might give great offence. Surely this should be included somewhere in the Bill. Perhaps we might have a specific explanation.
Last Sunday I saw a programme which was neither a religious service nor propaganda, but which was a distinctively religious programme. It was a programme about a religious mission, I think in West Ham. Is that sort of thing included under the Bill, or is it the intention of the Government to exclude it?
§ Mr. Ross
I had hoped that we would obtain some assurance or clarification 329 from the Assistant Postmaster-General on this very important point. The hon. Gentleman should define "propaganda" in order that we may be reassured. We can easily understand the matter of pure, formal propaganda; but this is a question of indirect approach. We have created many restrictions because we recognise the danger; but the danger will remain in the shape of people, associations or bodies who are prepared to use television for their own purposes. We must remember that we are dealing with commercial television; that there are people who are prepared to commercialise religion, and that therefore we may well get indirect propaganda.
I wish to know the answer to the question put by my hon. Friend. There is still the possibility of bias being used for some denomination or other in the way of indirect propaganda; a sort of week-by-week or month-by-month bias towards one denomination or another—not only favourable, but unfavourable propaganda as well. The public might easily be turned against a certain denomination by a programme which, without seeming to do so, made a laughing stock of a particular association.
I can remember seeing a lady who was fairly well known—I do not suppose it was meant to be so—make a laughing stock of a particular body. I am thinking of Mae West as someone in the Salvation Army. That kind of indirect propaganda might be used in such a way. I think that we ought to be reassured about this word "propaganda." It is a point about which I am concerned.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. This is not like the Committee stage of a Bill. We are now discussing Lords Amendments, and there is no right of reply.
§ Mr. Shackleton
We are in some difficulty here, and I am sure that the Home Secretary will assist us. This is not a point upon which we should take up much time, and the Home Secretary 330 knows that hon. Members are worried about the use of the word "propaganda." I do not know whether it would be in order at this stage to move a manuscript Amendment which might make the position more clear.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. It is too late at this stage to move any Amendment at all. The Question has been proposed.
§ Mr. Shackleton
But may we have some further explanation? Perhaps the Home Secretary could answer the point raised by my hon. Friend.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I will do my best. I should first point out that in the Amendment before the House we have a very wide range. We first of all have the words, "any religious service," and then the words,any propaganda relating to matters of a religious nature.I think that one of the difficulties of the hon. Member is met by the very wide phrase,matters of a religious nature.because as I see it, that would cover a great variety of matters connected with religious affairs, even though they were not part of the activities of a known church, or anything of that kind. I should have thought that that was wide enough to cover the sort of matter described by the hon. Member, although he will agree that it is difficult to pick up the exact terms from a description.
Then we have paragraph (b) which states,any item[...]which gives or is designed to give publicity to the needs or objects of any association.…On the one hand, we have "propaganda" which, I think, covers the doubts of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) because, of course, propaganda may work either way. Secondly, we have the words, which the hon. Member noted as my hon. Friend was reading them, namely, that in addition to,gives or is designed to give publicity to the needs or objects of any association …and on the view that I take of "charitable," that it includes "religious," that means that we have any item which is,designed to give publicity to the needs or objects of any association or organisation conducted for331 religious purposes. That again, to my mind, covers a very wide field.
In addition to that we must bear in mind the provision of Clause 6 (2, a) which saysWithout prejudice to the generality of the foregoing subsection, the Authority shall in particular appoint, or arrange for the assistance of … a committee representative of the main streams of religious thought"—and so on—to give advice to the Authority on any religious services or other matters of a religious nature ….I should have thought that between these provisions we had covered the dangers likely to arise. On this point there has been complete co-operation between everyone interested in the matter, and we have tried—I think we have succeeded —in dealing with the difficulties which I know were in the minds of hon. Members.