HC Deb 01 June 1954 vol 528 cc1209-17

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Davies

This Clause provides for the payment of a sum not exceeding £750,000 in any one financial year to the Independent Television Authority. It will be recalled that on the Financial Resolution we on this side had an Amendment to delete the payment of this £750,000 to the Authority. In view of what has since happened to the Amendments put forward by Government Members and in view of statements made by Government spokesmen, it is quite clear that the Authority has had some of its powers whittled down.

As a consequence, there is even less need now than when we were discussing the Financial Resolution for the payment of this £750,000. The powers of the Authority and the duties originally conferred upon it to put out programmes have been substantially reduced. All the Amendments which we put forward to give the Authority the duty to put out certain programmes such as news and the like and limiting those to the Authority were rejected by the Government. It is therefore open to us to question whether, with its reduced powers, this sum is really required by the Authority and whether the Government should authorise its payment each financial year.

We previously contended, and I think our arguments tonight would be stronger, that if programmes of a public service nature are put out they should be put out by the Authority itself and not by the programme contractors. It is the advertisers who should pay for them and not the Authority—not the licence payer. The money received from the advertisers should be used to finance those public service programmes.

For what purpose will the Authority require the money? During the debate on the Financial Resolution the Assistant Postmaster-General gave several instances where the Authority itself would be responsible for programmes of what we call a public service nature. For instance, he said: Another item with which, possibly, we should not want advertising associated is the news, which we are bound by our pledges in the House to present with impartiality, and maybe, even the Children's Hour. Those are the sort of things on which this money would be spent. Nevertheless the Amendments we put forward to limit the broadcasting of the news and the children's hour to the Authority were rejected by the Government. So, for the expenditure of this money, that purpose no longer stands.

The same applies to some of the other suggestions made at that time. The Assistant Postmaster-General then said: The reason we chose £750,000 was that it represented, roughly—and I want this to be taken in that sense—one hour's television a day. We thought that that figure of one hour's television per day should be sufficient for the sort of programmes which I have men- tioned and, maybe, provide the balance as well."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1954; Vol. 525, c. 1747–8.] In other words, we were then told that this money was required to enable the Independent Television Authority to put over one hour's television a day. All those who have attended the debates during the Committee stage will agree that it is quite clear from the attitude of the Government that there is no intention that the Authority shall put out even an hour's television a day. The programme contractors are going to do the job, and it is very unlikely that the Authority will require this money for that purpose. I suggest that now that the Authority itself will be putting out fewer programmes, it would be quite reasonable that the charges made by the Authority to the programme contractors, or the charges made by the programme contractors to the advertisers, should be sufficient to cover all the programmes which are transmitted.

This money is being taken out of the pockets of the viewers and the listeners. It is being taken out of their licence fees, whether they want commercial television or not. It is being diverted from the B.B.C. through the manœuvre of limiting the contribution to it, but additional programmes to those of the B.B.C. will reach less than two-thirds of the population. Every television set owner is, in effect, being robbed of what amounts to 5s. of the £3 fee, which he pays in order to enable commercial television to start, which he does not necessarily want and which he may not even be able to see.

Captain Orr

The arguments about whether or not the I.T.A. should have this £750,000 a year are almost threadbare, and there is very little more that can be said upon the subject. My views upon it are quite well known. I have never held that this money should be provided at all. I believe that programme contractors would have been perfectly happy and willing to provide such programmes as the Authority thought reasonable, and would have borne them as non-cost items as a condition of their contract to provide the type of programmes the Authority thought right.

I do not think that private enterprise has ever asked for this subvention. I should like to know whether my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secre- tary envisages this Clause becoming obsolescent. I do not share the pessimism of the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies). I think that once advertising on television commences, every advertiser will begin to see that he had better get on to it very soon or else find himself in a very bad way.

I believe that the programme contractors will do well, and that the revenue that the I.T.A. will get from them for contracts and for the leasing of their transmitters will be sufficient to build up a reserve for the I.T.A. to such an extent that it will not need any subvention from the licence revenue at all. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend envisages that this Clause may not be necessary for very long.

Mr. Shackleton

I do not know why the Home Secretary does not accept the pleas of his hon. and gallant Friend. Throughout the debate he has consistently listened to the voices behind and to the right of him, and I think that this is yet another occasion on which he might well do so. I think that the arguments of the hon. and gallant Gentleman are a great deal sounder than the arguments of the Government. On the previous Clause the Home Secretary said that he was satisfied that the Authority would pay its way and that the finances were adequate for it. The truth of the matter is that he has not the faintest idea what the money is to be spent upon. He did not know when we debated the Money Resolution. Certain vague suggestions were put forward by the Assistant Postmaster-General, but he was wise enough not to commit himself upon them, and he has wriggled out of them fairly satisfactorily.

We should still like to know for what this money is to be used. We have been told that the Authority will be in a position to do certain things, but its powers have been consistently whittled down. Now £750,000 a year is being given as an unwanted subvention to private enterprise. I share the view of the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) that it is unnecessary to subsidise private enterprise in this field. We do not want the Authority to be left without the power to do what I am sure the Home Secretary hopes it will be able to do.

We regard this provision as being as objectionable now as when we voted against it on the Money Resolution. Even now I ask the Home Secretary to give us a concrete example, rather than the vague mathematics we have had about one hour's programme a day, presumably based on the 2,000-hour programme calculation. If he regards that as sound finance, I hope that the Chancellor will look at these calculations privately.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I think that it was our general view that this matter had been rather fully debated on the Financial Resolution and that we should cut short the debate on the Committee stage. That was the tacit agreement between us. Therefore I want to make only two points. What was said about the Amendments which we did not accept merely goes to two aspects of the matter, one being that it is for the Authority to decide how it will work out the machinery for commercial television and the other that it does not in any way derogate from the Authority's powers.

There are two objectives. First, to keep a proper balance in the programmes and, second, to secure that items are put on to the television screen which none of us would desire to be associated with advertising. These are the purposes we have in mind. We stand by them and we see no reason to alter our view.

Sir L. Plummer

The Government having accepted that it is right to finance private enterprise to the extent of £750,000 a year, I should like to put one

point to the Home Secretary. If, as is adduced by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), commercial television is going to be a success, the I.T.A. will not need anything like £750,000 a year. If it is going to be a success it will draw its revenues from rival advertising media—newspapers, magazines and the like—and it is almost certain that they will come mainly from the weakest of those media, the provincial newspapers.

These newspapers have had to struggle against considerable odds and have never had a proper share of the profitable advertising. If the hon. and gallant Member and I are correct, the success of commercial television will be at the expense of the small provincial newspapers. In those circumstances, having accepted the principle that it is perfectly right to subsidise private enterprise are the Government prepared to take that part of the £750,000 a year which is necessary to make those provincial newspapers solvent and give it to them?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I am afraid that the hon. Member's argument, attractive and humorous, as his argument always is, cannot lead me as far as that. I am grateful to him for one point. I did not make clear, as I should have done, that this is permissive and that if the money is not required it will not be paid.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 241; Noes, 218.

Division No. 132.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Butcher, Sir Herbert Erroll, F. J.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Campbell, Sir David Finlay, Graeme
Alpert, C. J. M. Carr, Robert Fisher, Nigel
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Cary, Sir Robert Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F
Arbuthnot, John Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Fletcher-Cooke, C.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Fort, R.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L. Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)
Baldwin, A. E. Cole, Norman Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell
Banks, Col. C. Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)
Barlow, Sir John Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Galbraith, T. G. D.(Hillhead)
Baxter, A. B. Cooper-Key, E. M. Gammans, L. D.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Garner-Evans, E. H
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F C Glover, D.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Crosthwaite-Eyre, O. E. Godber, J. B
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Crouch, R. F. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Gough, C. F. H.
Birch, Nigel Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Gower, H. R.
Bishop, F. P. Deedes, W. F. Graham, Sir Fergus
Black, C. W. Digby, S. Wingfield Grimond, J.
Boothby, Sir R. J. G. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Bowen, E. R. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A Donner, Sir P. W. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Boyle, Sir Edward Doughty, C. J. A. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)
Braine, B. R. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)
Brooman-White, R. C. Duthie, W. S. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M. Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Bullard, D. G. Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Burden, F. F. A. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Heath, Edward
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Higgs, J. M. C. Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Markham, Major Sir Frank Scott, R. Donald
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Marlowe, A. A. H. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Hirst, Geoffrey Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Shepherd, William
Holland-Martin, C J Maude, Angus Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Hollis, M. C. Maudling, R. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Holt, A. F. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Hope, Lord John Medlicott, Brig. F. Snadden, W. McN.
Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Mellor, Sir John Spearman, A. C. M.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Molson, A. H. E. Speir, R. M.
Horobin, I. M. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P.(Kensington, S.)
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Stevens, Geoffrey
Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Nabarro, G. D. N. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Neave, Airey Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Nicholls, Harmar Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Hurd, A. R. Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James(Moray)
Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.) Nield, Basil (Chester) Studholme, H. G.
Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Summers, G. S.
Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Nugent, G. R. H. Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Iremonger, T. L. Oakshott, H. D. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) O'Neill, Hon. Phefim (Co. Antrim, N.) Teeling, W.
Jennings, Sir Roland Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L.(Hereford)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Jones, A. (Hall Green) Osborne, C. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Page, R. G. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Turner, H. F. L.
Kerr, H. W. Peyton, J. W. W. Turton, R. H.
Lambert, Hon. G. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Lambton, Viscount Pilkington, Capt. R. A Vane, W. M. F.
Langford-Holt, J. A. Pitman, I. J. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Leather, E. H. C. Pitt, Miss E. M. Vosper, D. F.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Powell, J. Enoch Wakefield, Edward(Derbyshire, W.)
Legh, Hon. Peter (Patersfield) Raikes, Sir Victor Walker-Smith, D. C.
Lindsay, Martin Rameden, J. E. Wall, Major Patrick
Linstead, Sir H. N. Rayner, Brig. R. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Llewellyn, D. T. Redmayne, M. Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Rees-Davies, W. R. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Longden, Gilbert Remnant, Hon. P. Watkinson, H. A.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Renton, D. L. M. Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
McCorquedale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Ridsdale, J. E. Wellwood, W.
Macdonald, Sir Peter Roberts, Peter (Heeley) Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Robertson, Sir David Williams, Gerald(Tonbridge)
McKibbin, A. J. Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Williams, Sir Herbert(Croydon, E.)
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Robson-Brown, W. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Wills, Gerald
Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Roper, Sir Harold Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Wood, Hon. R.
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Russell, R. S.
Maitland, Comdr. J. F.W. (Horncastle) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Sir Cedric Drewe and Mr. Kaberry
Adams, Richard Champion, A. J. Finch, H. J.
Albu, A. H. Chapman, W. D. Fletcher, Eric (Islington E.)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Chetwynd, G. R. Follick, M.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Clunie, J. Foot, M. M.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Coldrick, W. Forman, J. C.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Collick, P. H. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)
Awbery, S. S. Cove, W. G. Gibson, C. W.
Bacon, Miss Alice Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Glanville, James
Baird, J. Crosland, C. A. R. Gooch, E. G.
Bartley, P. Daines, P. Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)
Bence, C. R. Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.
Benson, G. Darling, George (Hillsborough) Grey, C. F
Bing, G. H. C. Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Blackburn, F. Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James(Llanelly)
Blenkinsop, A. Davies, Harold (Leek) Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Blyton, W. R. Davies. Stephen (Merthyr) Hale, Leslie
Boardman, H. de Freitas, Geoffrey Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Deer, G. Hall, John T. (Gateshead W.)
Bowden, H. W. Delargy, H. J. Hamilton, W. W
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Dodds, N. N. Hannan, W.
Brockway, A. F. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Hargreaves, A
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hastings, S.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Edelman, M. Hayman, F. H.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)
Burke, W. A. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Herbison, Miss M.
Burton, Miss F. E. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Holman, P.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Holmes, Horace
Callaghan, L. J. Fernyhough, E. Houghton, Douglas
Carmishael, J. Fienburgh, W. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Mort, D. L. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Moyle, A. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Mulley, F. W. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Stress, Dr. Barnett
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Oldfield, W. H. Sylvester, G. O.
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Oliver, G. H. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Oswald, T. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Paget, R. T. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Jeger, George (Goole) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Palmer, A. M. F. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Johnson, James (Rugby) Pannell, Charles Thornton, E.
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Parker, J. Timmons, J.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Plummer, Sir Leslie Turner-Samuels, M.
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Popplewell, E. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Keenan, W. Porter, G. Osborne, H. C.
Kenyon, C. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Viant, S. P.
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Wade, D. W.
King, Dr. H. M. Proctor, W. T. Wallace, H. W.
Lawson, G. M. Pryde, D. J. Watkins, T. E.
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Pursey, Cmdr. H. Weitzman, D.
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Rankin, John Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Lindgren, G. S. Reeves, J. Wells, William (Walsall)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Reid, Thomas (Swindon) West, D. G.
Logan, D. G Reid, William (Camlachie) Wheeldon, W. E.
McInnes, J. Rhodes, H. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
McKay, John (Wallsend) Robens, Rt. Hon. A. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Mainwaring, W. H. Roberts, Goromvy (Caernarvon) Wilkins, W. A.
Mallalieu, E L. (Brigg) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Willey, F. T.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Ross, William Williams, David (Heath)
Mann, Mrs. Jean Shackleton, E. A. A. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Manuel, A. C. Short, E. W. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Marquand, Rt. Hon H. A Shurmer, P. L. E. Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Mason, Roy Silverman, Julius (Erdington) Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Mayhew, C. P. Simmons, G. J. (Brierley Hill) Willis, E. G.
Mellish, R. J. Skeffington, Arthur Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Messer, Sir F. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Mikardo, Ian Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield) Yates, V. F.
Moody, A. S. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Sorensen, R. W.
Morley, R. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Sparks, J. A. Mr. Pearson and Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Steele, T.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.