§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 8, after "and," to insert, "to maintain."
§ The Chairman
I think that this Amendment might be discussed together with the Amendment in line 12, after "of" to insert "no less" and the Amendment in line 13, after "transmitted" to insert, "and in every other respect."
§ Sir L. Plummer
Yes, Sir Charles, I think they do go together.
The purpose of these Amendments is quite clear. It is that the Television Authority shall be responsible that the quality of the programmes and the quality of their transmission shall be comparable with that of the B.B.C. The Government are quite right in this respect in taking the standards of the B.B.C. as a yardstick of measurement of the quality both of the programmes operated by the programme companies under the control of the Authority and their transmission. But the words in the Bill "high quality" certainly need definition. What is so lacking in this Clause, and indeed throughout the Bill, is a definition of specific points of instruction both to the I.T.A. and the programme companies.
I do not know whether we are to have the Assistant Postmaster-General with us on the argument that we are advancing. It is inherent in this Clause that what is necessary is that there shall be some regulation controlling the standard of quality of the programmes. I think that, in fact, we are not to have the Assistant Postmaster-General with us. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has made it quite clear that he is not even in favour of the Clause as it appears in the Bill.
My reason for saying that is that when talking to a body of advertisers the hon. Gentleman used these words, as reported in the "World's Press News" of 30th April: 376Even if there were no regulations as to the type of advertising that might 'be used on television he personally would be happy to rely on the advertising profession to control programmes.That is to say, he is now convinced that the standard of quality of the programmes to be televised is safe in the hands of the advertisers who are to pay for and organise their showing and that he would rather leave it in the hands of those people than have properly regulated control.
That is not the view of the Government, and it is not the view of the Opposition. On this occasion it is clear that the Assistant Postmaster-General isolates himself from his own Government, because he holds a different view. I presume, therefore, that I shall be in order in directing my remarks to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary who, presumably, does agree with practically all the Clauses in the Bill. The Assistant Postmaster-General made it clear that he was talking personally and not on behalf of the Government on the occasion to which I have referred. I do not wish to do the hon. Gentleman any injustice. The report says he was speaking personally and I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I wish to put this point to the Committee. Unless standards equally as high as those of the B.B.C. are laid down by this Committee, or by Parliament, it is absolutely certain that, either deliberately or accidentally, the I.T.A. programmes will be markedly worse than those we have experienced in television controlled by the B.B.C. and that great confusion will arise. Let me put an example which is not so hypothetical as it may sound. The B.B.C. has employed some really capable doctors over a number of years, including the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food—[HON. MEMBERS: "Capable?"]—I mean capable in medicine. They have given some salutary advice to the people of this country. The present "Radio Doctor" —I do not know who he is—is constantly giving very good advice to the people of this country.
Think what will happen when advertisers produce a programme—designed, as I shall prove later, not to entertain but to sell goods—devoted to selling something containing, say, chlorophyll. It may be stated in the course of that programme, "You should pay money for 377 this article because it contains chlorophyll, and chlorophyll is good for you." The B.B.C. doctor may say, "Do not take any notice of this nonsense. Chlorophyll is only a colouring. It has no real value." The American Medical Association has denounced the claims of the makers and advertisers of chlorophyll as being so much "eyewash," if I may use that term —[HON. MEMBERS: "Mouthwash."]—so that the B.B.C. doctor on television or on "steam" radio denounces it; but the programme companies put on a doctor in their programme to say, "You must have chlorophyll otherwise your teeth will fall out or you will have a sore throat."
Of course, in conditions like that, straightaway the quality of commercial television programmes is lowered, apart altogether from the fact that the poor sufferer from a sore throat or bad teeth is deluded and the country is confused as to which is the best medical advice— the disinterested advice of the B.B.C. doctor or the interested advice of the doctor, who of course may be a pseudo-doctor, who is employed solely for the purpose of boosting a certain product.
The B.B.C. doctors in their programmes are insistent on saying, "Do not, for goodness sake, if you are not feeling well, swallow a lot of patent medicines; do not treat yourself; do not constantly take pills." Their general advice if one is not well is to stay in bed and to send for a doctor; but the gentleman for whose benefit this Bill is produced do not want that. They want to say, "If you do not feel well, swallow gallons of patent medicine, stuff yourself with pills and do not send for a doctor."
Unless we ensure that the advertising programmes are of the same high quality as the B.B.C. programmes, we shall in fact get a deliberate lowering of standards of quality on the programmes. We shall get this confusion between the two programmes, one from the B.B.C. saying to the people, "In your own interest do not," and the other saying to the people, "In our interests as advertisers do." How in those circumstances can we produce an enlightened and informed public?
In addition, we are getting into a position where I think that the Assistant Postmaster-General, or at least the advertising interests who are pressing the Bill, will some time come forward and say, "The B.B.C. is damaging our 378 interests by giving information of this sort and therefore some control should be put on what the B.B.C. say." I hope that the Committee will not think that that is an exaggerated point of view. I hope that hon. Members opposite who think that it is exaggerated will allow me to remind them of what took place in this country before the war when a gentleman who was once an honoured Member of the House of Commons, Sir Charles Higham, was responsible for the "Eat More Bread" campaign. It was not worth the while of some newspapers to write articles saying that bread was fattening because if they did say so Sir Charles Higham threatened that the advertising would be taken out of the papers.
The pressure that the advertiser has at times exerted successfully on some newspapers is an indication of the frame of mind of the advertiser when he starts to consider what will be said on other services about matters in which he is interested. In fact, unless we have this definition of a high quality programme, it will be impossible for a programme company to produce a decent, intelligent, sustaining programme.
For the benefit of the Committee, I will explain that a sustaining programme is one which will be paid for by the programme companies, which will contain no advertising but will be designed to attract the interest of a potential advertiser who will ultimately either buy the programme or buy time in the programme. Some of the best programmes produced in the United States started as sustaining programmes. Such a programme must be challenging and different from the ordinary run of programmes.
That is a good thing; but it is not a good thing if a man wants to produce a sustaining programme of high quality which contains facts designed to advise mothers on how to look after their children. The programme might say to mothers that it is not a good thing that they should give their child a purgative a day. It would be a very bad thing if influences could be used to get a programme like that either taken off the air or altered in some way or another.
As it stands, this Bill will produce a sort of Gresham's law of bad entertainment driving out the good. The reason is the considerable number of programmes which it is proposed should be broadcast. 379 I do not know whether I am right in quoting what Mr. Norman Collins has to say.
§ Sir L. Plummer
He is a gentleman who seems to have the inside of the Postmaster-General's office and who is able to go to potential advertisers and to give to people who might be interested a great deal of information which I have not yet heard being given to the House of Commons. Speaking to the free-lance section of the Institute of Journalists, and reported again in that bible of Fleet Street, the "World's Press News" of 26th March, Mr. Collins says:Commercial television will run for five hours a day.We knew that. Then he says:There will have to be 70 half-hour programmes a week.I do not know how he is privileged to know that there are to be 70 half-hour programmes a week. Nobody else knew that the programme day was to be chopped up into half-hour intervals, but presumably Mr. Collins, who has already been making it clear that he expects to have a monopoly in London, or who at least has been giving the impression that he has been promised a monopoly in London, now says that there are to be 70 half-hour programmes a week.
I checked the "Radio Times" for this week and found that there are 58 programmes, not counting the sound programme that comes on last thing at night containing the news. Therefore, the B.B.C. with all its staff, its resources and experience is only able to put on 58 programmes in the course of a week against the 70 that Mr. Collins announces that it is Government policy that there should be. If the number of programmes is to be increased to that extent, what will happen is that—unless there is a definite understanding that the quality shall be not inferior to the B.B.C.—we shall produce programmes which are far inferior to those produced by the B.B.C. That is bound to happen, because the pressure will be tremendous.
Those of us who have watched television and studied it know that there is no other instrument in the world that is such a devourer of the arts and of the 380 planners. I do not think that there will be enough programmes of a high quality to maintain 70 half-hour programmes a week. Something has to go. Some of the advertising men who are now in this country from the United States and who have been imported by the advertising agents to teach them the television business, because the British advertising agents do not know that business and many of them do not even want to know it—they are quite content to go on serving their clients faithfully in the media they understand and are not eager that there should be commercial television—are with some of the biggest and highly concentrated groups.
They are coming from the United States and saying to clients over here, "Forget any question of entertainment so far as commercial television programmes are concerned. We made a great mistake in the United States when we argued that programmes should contain entertainment. That is not the purpose of the programme. The purpose of the programme is to shift the goods, to sell the advertisers' goods. If you think that the purpose is simply to produce entertainment or education or programmes designed to illuminate the dark corners of the world, you are making a great mistake. The test of a programme is, 'Does it sell the goods?'" These advertising men are supported by that great and wonderful man, Mr. Bernard Braden, whose voice I am sure will carry the respect of this House. Mr. Braden—
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Sir L. Plummer
That is a point of view. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The answer is that my hon. Friend does not have to. I am gratified to see that there are enough hon. Members in the Chamber to sustain me in the belief that I had better go on with my speech. Mr. Bernard Braden said:The entertainers' responsibility will be to realise that each viewer is a potential buying unit, and unless enough viewers (a) watch him and (b) buy advertised products, he will be given short shrift indeed. Unless programmes are presented and performed with that primary fact in mind, entertainers will be unwise to start counting that extra money before it is safely in the pockets.381 He was talking from the point of view of the comedian. That is Mr. Bernard Braden's view, and I presume that it is for similar reasons that Mr. Danny Kaye, also an expert in this art, refuses to go on commercial television.
We are entitled to consider what is going on in the United States today, where there is no yardstick of measurement of quality except that of the ability of one programme to be so designed to sell goods that it is more successful than another. "Time," which is a prominent American weekly news magazine, makes it clear that there is a constant degeneration in the quality of the programmes. The United States programmes are mainly devoted to quiz programmes of one sort or another, and "Time" complains that as quiz after quiz begins to flop, another and even sillier quiz is started. It is a pity that in this country we are subjected to as many quiz programmes as we get at the moment, but I suggest that under the Bill the door will be opened for the buying of quiz programmes from the United States which the Americans no longer want. These are to be imposed upon us.
Further, as the quiz programmes fail in their purpose, as they fail to sell the advertised goods, as they cease to make it (possible for the goods to be shifted, the emphasis in the United States is to get away from the quiz and to concentrate on the "strike-it-rich "programmes—the sort of programme which induces what advertising men call "audience participation," in the hope of being able to win large prizes either in money or household goods or motor cars. These programmes are now being declared illegal in the United States.
The other day, "The Times" had an interesting illustration of what is happening in Canada, where the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has decided to keep a watchful eye on prize-giving schemes. "The Times" says:Recently one station ran a contest for a large money prize in which the correct answer was "the career of Clarence Decatur Howe," which caused the Minister of Trade and Commerce to be inundated for weeks… with telephone calls.This almost drove Mr. Howe mad. We do not want to see programmes here devoted to the life of David Maxwell Fyfe or Richard Austen Butler. I do 382 not think we want to see them subjected to the same sort of programme as that in connection with Mr. Howe. But if this is a successful form of selling goods, although it will be a great inconvenience to the Home Secretary, the Assistant Postmaster-General and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it will be adopted unless we insist that the quality of these programmes shall be not less than that of the B.B.C. We are entitled to demand that.
If sponsored radio, commercial radio—Radio Luxembourg, Athlone or any other station—had ever thrown up any programme which was worth listening to and which made any serious contribution to the art of radio, one would say, "These people have learned and will go on producing good programmes from now on." But what do we get on commercial "steam" radio? There has never been a good play, there is nothing but disc jockeys turning out the same agonising American music every time, there are no documentaries, there is no original work of any kind; because the advertiser does not believe that that is the sort of work which sells his goods. He believes that if he puts on an audible wallpaper and breaks it every now and again with an interpolation to buy somebody's goods, that is the way to sell. He does not care anything at all about entertainment value: he is concerned with shifting the goods.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey (Harrow, East)
Would the hon. Gentleman admit two things—first, that many of the most successful programmes on B.B.C. television originated as American commercial programes; and, secondly, that "Itma," one of the most successful B.B.C. programmes ever, started on Radio Luxembourg?
§ Sir L. Plummer
I was not aware of that and I am deeply obliged for the information from the hon. Member, whose interest in these matters is so considerable. It is true that the great Tommy Handley took "Itma" to the B.B.C. and never took it away again. It was exclusive to the B.B.C.; he stayed there. The reason was that Tommy Handley preferred working for the B.B.C. to working for commercial interests. No commercial interest was able to get him away from the B.B.C.
§ Mr. Harvey
The hon. Member must not pervert the facts. The reason he could not get away was that Radio Luxembourg had closed down owing to the war.
§ Sir L. Plummer
And reminiscences. One other reason was that the B.B.C. paid Tommy Handley £400 a week. Tommy Handley once said to me, "While I get £400 a week, why should I be at the dictation of a laxative?"
§ Sir L. Plummer
Apart from that example, the commercial stations have not produced outstanding works. We have had some quiz programmes on British television which have come from the United States—and they are the throw-outs from the United States. What will happen is that there will be a steadily declining audience interest in many of the quiz programmes. Only one of them is an outstanding success today— "What's my Line?"; and in another year that will go to the ash-can, as others have gone before it, because this medium is a tremendous devourer of programmes, artists and writers.
I have dealt so far with the importance of keeping the programmes up to the very high quality of the B.B.C. [Interruption.] What is equally important is the standard of transmission. I gather that some hon. Members opposite do not think the quality of the B.B.C. programmes is very high. They will have an opportunity, alas, if the Bill is passed, of comparing the "drip" which they will get from their advertising friends on that side of the Committee with the efforts of the B.B.C., and we are content to let the public judge. Indeed, if hon. Members opposite hold this point of view, I cannot understand why they accepted the dictation of the Whips on such a matter as this. Had they wanted freedom on this question, I should have thought that they would have seen that they got it.
We were told yesterday that the delivery of transmission equipment is something like two years. The temptation of 384 the programme companies, who are now being told to get ahead as fast as they can, is to get transmission equipment from wherever they can. That means that they will go to the second-hand market, for what matters is getting the programme started. Every single man interested in the programme companies wants to get in before his rival and to establish himself.
We therefore have the danger that inferior transmission equipment will be used in place of good transmission equipment—in place of the best transmission equipment, which at the moment is available to the B.B.C. It is, therefore, all the more necessary to see that we do not have the fuzzy kind of pictures which the Americans are producing. They, too, were in a hurry. We must ensure that only the best is provided, both in quality of programme and in quality of transmission, for the people of this country. These two Amendments have an important bearing on the future and I therefore recommend them to the Committee.
§ Mr. Joseph Reeves (Greenwich)
The Committee has listened to a very significant speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), and I hope that, in spite of the interruptions to which he was subjected, the Committee will take those views very seriously, because I myself have had very considerable experience in a field in which my hon. Friend has operated for many years, and the conclusions at which I have arrived coincide entirely with his.
My hon. Friend made a very serious statement as to the possibilities facing us if we pass this Bill, and I think it is exceedingly important that these Amendments, which are designed to protect standards, should have the very careful consideration and sympathy of the Committee. The public have a right both to standards in television and safeguards for those standards, and that is the object of the Amendments. We ought to protect the public, because already there are various mass media which are influencing public opinion, public taste and public views, and which tend to lower public taste. Already these mass media are debasing tastes in this country.
We have American comics which are flooding the market and which our youngsters are reading, and at the moment we have no means of protecting 385 those youngsters from this depraving influence. American films, many of which are very good and attain a high degree of technical efficiency, include a proportion which are influencing our language, altering our spelling, changing our syntax, and, indeed, changing our way of life in all manner of respects. Again, such films are shown to children and they have all manner of social effects.
There is no doubt that the television programme which our people are now viewing is well devised, and that a great endeavour is made to provide the people with the varied programme which meets their many tastes. There is also no purpose other than to provide entertainment behind the activities of the B.B.C. It is this standard which has already been established which we think needs to be defended, and we say that this standard which has been built up over the years should be defended, and that the work of the B.B.C. should not be challenged in the way in which there is every possibility of its being challenged if this Bill goes through in its present form.
I had an opportunity during the last few hours of running through the B.B.C. television programme for one week, and I find that, among many other things, it provides a children's programme every afternoon and educational programmes on Monday evenings, and that there is at the moment an important series being presented on the subject of world religions. These are the standards which we ought to defend. There are also political broadcasts, a science review, a feature dealing with the filming of wild animals in Africa, and another concerned with the Severn Wild Fowl Trust, which is a purely educational television broadcast.
I ask hon. Members whether they really anticipate that, when the programme companies get into operation, they will exercise the same kind of care for the interests of the people of this country? Of course, they will not.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
While appreciating all that the hon. Member has said, may I ask him why he speaks as if the work of the B.B.C. is about to come to an end?
§ Mr. Reeves
Of course it will go on, but there is a danger inherent in the whole situation, and it is about that danger that I want to speak.
386 What we are trying to do is to examine the methods which will be employed in the devising of programmes financed by the advertisers. Hitherto, all broadcast programmes, both radio and television, have been designed to meet the wishes of the listeners, not for the purpose of selling goods and not for the purpose of meeting the needs of advertisers. The listener or the viewer has been the sole concern of the Corporation which has been established to undertake this type of work, and, in order that the view of the listener shall be thoroughly understood and appreciated, a large proportion of B.B.C. funds has been allocated to what is called listener and viewer research. Throughout the history of the B.B.C., a constant effort has been made to ascertain people's tastes and the kind of programme they prefer, so that the focus of all this work has been the interests of the listener and the viewer.
In the United States, where they have commercial sponsoring and advertising programmes, the Federal Communications Commission insists that there shall be a certain amount of "sustaining time," but the Commission has complained time and time again that the regulation about "sustaining time" is ignored by the companies, and that they reduce it to an absolute minimum so as to meet the requirements of the advertisers. Whether the programme companies in this country will be prepared to provide a worthwhile "sustaining time" is in my view a very doubtful proposition. Already we know that it will cost a very large sum of money to institute this new service, and that the advertisers will have to pay large sums of money for the time which they use. The advertisers will have to be very wealthy, and, in my view, there is hardly likely to be very much "sustaining time" on the new service, once it is instituted.
The demand will be for mass audiences. That has always been the case in countries where broadcasting services are financed by advertisers, who tend all the time to play to the gallery. Gradually, the selective viewer and listener are ignored. People with taste are by-passed. We shall find in this country that the slow but socially desirable task of raising standards will be reversed, by a form of competition which will affect the B.B.C., which will have to look to its standards. 387 The tendency will be for this kind of competition to degrade generally the taste of the people and to interfere with the taste of those who now use the services of the B.B.C. The whole level of standards is in very serious jeopardy.
The time may come when the B.B.C. will have to decide between television broadcasts on world religion and Vic Oliver. Not that I am complaining about Vic Oliver; he gives magnificent programmes, but there is a fine distinction between the two. It may not be desirable to give broadcasts on world religion simply because the number of viewers participating would not justify the transmission.
§ Mr. F. P. Bishop (Harrow, Central)
I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman noticed a paragraph in a newspaper a week or two ago saying that the Director of Religious Broadcasts in the B.B.C. had gone over to America to study how they do it on the commercial system there.
§ Mr. Reeves
I can tell the hon. Gentleman how they do it in America. If he likes, he can listen in to Luxembourg and hear the types of religious organisation and the techniques they employ to advance their philosophy. Our programmes can be debased. One has only to go to America to hear some of the programmes that are transmitted to be certain of that. I remember what happened on one occasion when I was in Cleveland, where I was interested in the frequency modulation system which is used in America, and which I felt might be used with advantage here. Now the B.B.C. propose to use this new type of broadcasting medium.
When I started to listen in America, I heard a man telephoning people. Apparently he was taking names at random out of the telephone book and phoning the people up. He would say: "Is that Mrs. So-and-so?" "Yes," would be the answer. "Have you discovered the answer to Brown's question?" he would ask. "Oh, you have not. I am very sorry. I was hoping that you might be able to give me the answer." Then he would phone someone else, and the same thing would happen. Strangely enough, I happened to be listening when a person to whom a telephone conversation was being addressed replied: "Oh, 388 yes, I know who discovered the screw." She gave the name of the person who discovered the screw. The advertiser then said, "You know the inventor of the screw. Then you are indeed a lucky woman. You are to have 5,000 dollars worth of goods." He detailed a list of goods she was to have, including a motor car.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey
The hon. Member has made a very interesting statement. Would he please name the person who invented the screw?
§ Mr. Reeves
I heard this man ask people whether they knew the name of the king who followed Hamlet. So it went on. There is no doubt that standards have been terribly debased in America, because all forms of broadcasting, both radio and television, are in the hands of the advertisers, who are out to obtain mass audiences and are not satisfied unless they get them. It will be very much better if the Committee supports the Amendment.
§ The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr. David Gammans)
I shall deal first with the point raised by the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Reeves), who rather feared that there might be an opportunity under the Bill for religious bodies to buy time. If he looks at the Schedule he will find that he is wrong.
§ Mr. Gammans
I thought the hon. Gentleman feared that it might happen here; and in any case I do not see that what they do in America has much relevance to this discussion. I did not see the point of his very interesting story about ringing someone up and asking her who invented the screw. If anyone rang me up and asked me who invented the screw I could not tell him, and I should be inclined to put the 'phone down.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
Is the hon. Gentleman quite sure that the Schedule does not allow anybody to buy time? If a particular denomination of religion wanted to broadcast a service could they not do that under the Schedule?
§ Mr. Gammans
No, Sir. It may not be in order to discuss that point, but 389 I can say offhand that it is not so. The point raised by the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) was that the Bill lacked depth. He tried to find a definition of the words "high quality," and wanted to make the standard of definition of high quality the standard of the B.B.C. services. I do not think it is possible to define the words "high quality."
I suppose high quality is one of those things which we know when we meet it, and we must remember that high quality for one person is not necessarily high quality for another person. What is more, standards of high quality differ from age to age. For example, do we regard the poems of Edith Sitwell as of high quality? Some do. Some people do not understand them and are not sure whether they are of high quality or not. So it is with Picasso's paintings. It is impossible to do what the hon. Gentleman would like to do, define "high quality," although we all know it when we meet it.
§ Mr. Edward Shackleton (Preston, South)
If high quality is indefinable, what is the point of having the words in the Bill at all?
§ Mr. Gammans
There is nothing incomprehensible about them. High quality is something that we recognise when we experience it and it is quite well understood by people responsible for turning out programmes of high quality; but to attempt to define it in detail would land us in an impossible situation.
The second part of the Amendment is designed to make the B.B.C.'s services the standard of quality by which the Authority's services are to be judged. With all due respect to the hon. Gentleman—and I think he wanted to try to help in this matter—I suggest that when we come to break it down the Amendment is meaningless. Who is to be the judge concerning the comparative worth of a service sent out by the B.B.C. and one transmitted by the Authority? I think that the hon. Gentleman is trying to lay down a scientific standard for something that does not, and cannot possibly, lend itself to a scientific definition.
390 Let us take some of the programmes transmitted by the B.B.C. Who is to judge whether "Ballet for Beginners" is better or worse than cabaret for adults? What about the doings of the "Under Twenty Club"? By what yardstick do we assess these programmes? What about a table tennis tournament?
I agree that normally the B.B.C. sends out programmes of very high quality, but there are certain lapses for which I would be the last to blame it. I do not suppose that very many hon. Members have the time, the opportunity, or, possibly, the inclination to look at television, but the other night I saw a play in which we were shown a dead girl, head downwards on a bed with blood gushing out of a knife wound. Then we were shown someone being scientifically throttled.
It was a horror film, and I hope that such a film would not be put forward as being of a standard of quality to which everything else should be subordinated. I do not imagine that the B.B.C. was very proud of it. According to the Press, a large number of people wrote to the B.B.C. complaining about it. It is true that before showing this horror programme the B.B.C. warned people what to expect.
§ Mr. Gammans
I agree that it was an exception, but it was not the kind of programme to which we should necessarily tie the standard of the new Authority. Though the B.B.C. warned viewers that it was going to show this horror film, I do not know whether that is satisfactory or whether it means that children who ought to have been in bed might not have stayed up half an hour later.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
Does not my hon. Friend consider that it might be better if some of the very rough things said in Shakespeare's plays were expunged?
§ Mr. Gammans
My hon. Friend has given another illustration of how impossible it is to define high quality.
§ Sir L. Plummer
The standard by which one can judge B.B.C. programmes is, broadly speaking, that they are not offensive. They are designed to give entertainment and instruction, but not to 391 be offensive. The B.B.C. may have lapses from grace, but then everybody does. I am prepared to accept that. But the trouble with sponsored programmes is that they will not be designed to be either offensive or inoffensive, but to sell goods. That is a low standard of quality which could well be compared with the higher standard of the B.B.C.
§ Mr. Gammans
This horror programme to which I have referred was exceptional, but if such a programme were put out by a commercial station, I should expect the I.T.A. to have something to say about it. I do not believe that even scientifically we can accept any definition of a high standard, and less still can we say that the B.B.C. is to be the criterion of good taste.
This Amendment proposes to lay an obligation upon the Authority which has never been laid upon the B.B.C. The B.B.C. has never been told to put out programmes of high quality or of good taste. We have trusted it, as we propose to trust this other authority which is to be set up in exactly the same way. I think that to lay down someone else's standard as a standard of good taste must surely misrepresent the whole meaning of competition to which we on this side of the House attach such importance in this Bill.
The responsibility for what goes out over the air is to rest on men and women no less eminent than the people who have been selected for the B.B.C. I believe that we can trust them to see that the programmes sent out are of a high standard. As I say, the whole idea of this Bill is competition. If we do not appreciate that, then, I think, we have failed to understand what I regard as one of the fundamentals. To suggest an Amendment of this sort is like saying that if, for example, there had been a monopoly in the manufacture of motor cars, anyone else who made motor cars must make them as good as those produced by the monopoly.
§ Mr. Gammans
It would be a ridiculous thing to say. I suggest that the real arbiters in the matter are not hon. Members of this House, but the people who look at the programmes. While we on 392 this side of the Committee have infinite faith in the good sense of the British people, hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to have very little. They want to lay down regulations as to what the British public should be allowed to view.
If we attempted to lay a statutory obligation on this new Authority, and, above all, if we attempted to tie the quality of what it transmits to some undefined standards of the B.B.C., we should be laying an impossible burden upon it. I cannot imagine that if we attempted to do that, anybody of any standing would ever serve on the Authority at all.
We may disagree about whether this Bill is a good one or a bad one, but I take it that we are all agreed that, if there is to be an Authority, we want first-class people to serve on it. Quite frankly, if we were to do as the hon. Gentleman suggests, and try to tie down people in this way, I cannot imagine any self-respecting people being prepared to serve on such a body.
There is one other point about transmission equipment. The hon. Gentleman rather feared that the quality of the transmission might be bad. I do not know why he feared that. After all, we are dealing here with a public authority, and the question of transmission is something that is completely self-regulating. If the new programmes are blurred and unsatisfactory to look at, people will not look at them. They are not compelled to look at them. It is something purely voluntary, and I think that is the best safeguard that we can possibly have.
I have endeavoured to answer the point raised by the hon. Gentleman, and I hope that as we have discussed this Amendment for a considerable time—I am sure that we all want to get on—the Committee will be prepared to come to a decision on the matter.
§ Mr. Shackleton
One thing that is apparent from the speech of the Assistant Postmaster-General is that there is no point at all in putting in the words "high quality." The hon. Gentleman was at great pains to say that high quality was undefinable, and that it could mean so many things to so many people that there was no point in trying to attach a particular meaning to it. He gave analogies to support that argument.
393 The hon. Gentleman suggested that it would be quite impossible to define a high quality motorcar by saying that it was of as high a quality as another motorcar. I suggest that if one were to say that the motorcar was to be of the same high quality as a Rolls Royce, it would mean something. The truth is that this is another example of the sloppy and deceptive drafting of this Bill.
I am not one of those who seek to support the B.B.C.'s television service on the grounds of quality. I have seen some very good stuff and I have seen some very bad stuff. The Assistant Postmaster-General says that we can trust these people and that, in any case, if we cannot trust them they will be censored by the I.T.A. Broadly speaking, we trust that, overall, the B.B.C. will give good quality programmes but, as is apparent from the Assistant Postmaster-General's speech we cannot trust these other people. Though at one moment he may say he trusts them, in fact he says that we cannot because he says that the I.T.A. will tick them off if they broadcast something which they should not.
If he is not prepared to accept the Amendment he had far better take the words out of the Bill altogether. It would be encouraging if the Government would stop putting in these smooth euphemisms which are inserted to satisfy the consciences of people who do not like this sort of thing.
§ Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
The Assistant Postmaster-General very astutely asked the Committee to come to a decision now. It is not surprising that he should try to foreshorten this debate on what is, I should think, one of the most material issues in this piece of legislation. He made no attempt whatsoever to answer the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), who put his finger on a most crucial point. The whole test of this Bill is whether it is to serve business interests purely and simply, or whether it is to devote itself at all to any interests of any sort or kind connected with the viewer.
The Assistant Postmaster-General tried to give us a thesis on how one lays down tests about good taste. It is not surprising that he was very quickly all over the place, because he had no foundation 394 whatever upon which to base his argument. If the hon. Gentleman would just give me a moment's attention I will tell him my reason for saying that. He knows that the whole influence here will be the advertiser, and he cannot disguise it. The mere fact that he gets up and talks round it does not alter the situation.
When the Bill has become an Act and its provisions are in operation we will then begin to see the worst features of this piece of legislation—features concerned with the very point contained in my hon. Friend's Amendment. The Assistant Postmaster-General asked how anyone could tell what is good taste. He said that what one person thought was good taste another person did not. As an example he instanced Picasso. There is all the difference in the world between on the one hand expressing a certain view of something that one person thinks is eccentric or futuristic, and, on the other hand, considering something which is a sheer piece of commercial exploitation. There is no comparison between the two, and, of course, he knows it.
This is not a question of true criticism only. This is an issue of criticism versus low standards. What we will get as a result of this legislation is not genuine comparative criticism, but a low standard—a very low standard as long as profit can be gained by the advertisers whom this so called alternative programme is intended exclusively to serve.
We all know, and we had better face it—and the Assistant Postmaster-General had better face it—that the purpose of this Bill is to produce sales for advertisers. It is not to produce entertainment, or art, or education for viewers. The purpose of this particular Measure is to get sales and its success and its finance will depend exclusively upon whether it achieves that object. Therefore, what is the good of wasting the time of the Committee and trying to fool hon. Members on both sides and people in the country about this?
The hon. Gentleman tried to give us a lurid picture of an incident in a B.B.C play where some gore was streaming from someone's mouth. There may be—indeed there are—exceptions to every rule. It shows just how hard put to the Assistant Postmaster-General is when he has to cite-this remote and unusual incident. He 395 should really try to be better briefed than he has been, and should show a little more confidence in the case he is pretending to put forward.
When the hon. Gentleman speaks about the standards for a programme given through this alternative service I would like him to tell the Committee what control there will be over those standards. We know that in practice there will be no control whatever over these programmes. It is the advertiser who will dictate the programme. It is not what educates but what sells that will prevail—there is no question about that.
I wish to conclude by reading an extract from a letter which I saw purely by accident. The letter was not sent to me, nor was it known that the extract would even be read by me. It was sent from Canada by a daughter to her father in Gloucester. This is what is says:Pray that England never, never stoops to commercial radio or television. You cannot imagine the shocking quality of most of the programmes. If you do get something that you can at least find bearable it is interrupted every few minutes with a commercial for somebody's laxatives or anything under the sun—no kidding, it drives you nuts.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Major W. J. Anstruther-Gray)
Order. If the hon. and learned Gentleman does not give way no other hon. Member may be on his feet.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I will give way in a moment.
That extract is from a letter from a person who did not dream for a moment that it would be used in this debate. The lady who wrote it is merely expressing the horror and distaste which she feels at the sort of thing she is getting from the sort of system which this Government is now trying to put upon this country.
§ Mr. Leather
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman accept my assurance that 90 per cent. of the Canadians would entirely disagree with the views expressed in that letter?
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's assurance, which is tendentious. I accept this lady's version, which has no ulterior motive. She did not expect that it would be read here.
I ask the Committee to adopt this Amendment because not only will it purify this piece of legislation, but as far as the Government and their intentions are concerned it will make it impossible to carry it out, which will be all to the good.
§ Mr. Philip Bell (Bolton, East)
I wish to protest briefly against this really ingenious way of reading a letter and then proceeding as if there is something sacred about it. One might as well get up and say, "I was speaking to a man in a 'pub' and he said that American television was awful." Yet if one reads a letter, that is supposed somehow or other to make it sacred. I understood a passage in the letter which the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) read as being to the effect, "If you get a good programme it is interrupted every few minutes by an advertisement." Is that really true? Is every programme interrupted every few minutes? If one believes that one will believe anything. [Interruption] I have no letter, but perhaps it will help if I now pretend to be reading one.
A close American friend of mine was speaking to me yesterday about this matter. He was in the Gallery listening to the early part of the debate, and what he said to me was, "In New York I have 11 stations. They vary in quality, but I can turn from one to the other." I asked him about advertising. He said, "In our better programmes we have two minutes at the beginning, two minutes in some interval and two minutes at the end." Perhaps the value of that evidence is not great to Members opposite, because I made the enormous mistake of not getting that in writing.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield, East)
How long are the programmes to which the hon. and learned Member has been referring—five minutes, 10 minutes, or what?
§ Mr. Bell
I think he said they were half an hour programmes so far as this Amendment is concerned, and we seem to be a long way from it. I am bound 397 to say that these words do not mean anything to this Clause, but, as the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) said, I have great doubts whether the other words mean anything either.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I cannot see why we should not agree on this Amendment, although we approach it from different angles, because the Government say that the programmes which they are proposing are to be, owing to competition and vigour, infinitely better than those of the B.B.C. Our Amendment in no way says that they shall not be better. They are in no way being tied down, as the Assistant Postmaster-General said. If he thinks that they are to be better why is he objecting by saying that they shall not be worse than those of the B.B.C?
We think that there will be a natural tendency in these programmes to find a generally lower level. They will be pursuing profit and not public service, and they will gradually lower their standards. So, although the motives on the two sides of the Committee are different, I think we can agree about what the Amendment proposes. We seek to say that the Authority's programmes shall not be worse than those of the B.B.C.; we think they are likely to be worse. The Assistant Postmaster-General need not object to these words because he is convinced that the programmes will be better. If he is so convinced he should accept the Amendment, to show how strong his convictions are.
The hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Leather) has asserted that 90 per cent. of the people of Canada thought well of the programmes there. I do not know how he knows that.
§ Mr. Leather
I shall be delighted to tell the right hon. Gentleman. Gallup polls have been taken on the subject quite recently.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Would the hon. Gentleman accept the verdict of Gallup polls on this matter in this country? They show a very different result.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey
The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned Gallup polls in this country, but how can a Gallup poll be taken on something which the people here do not know anything about?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I do not see how, in Canada, they can have taken a Gallup 398 poll comparing commercial television with the sort of television programme that the B.B.C. gives us. We have another hon. Gentleman from the same country with us, the hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Baxter). If he would, for a minute or two, give us his opinions on the matter, and say whether he thinks that 90 per cent. of the Canadians take such a view, it would be of great benefit to the Committee.
The hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bell) laughed at the suggestion in the letter which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) read out that there would be "commercials" every few minutes. But I listened to the hon. and learned Member's own account, and apparently in a 30-minute programme there are to be six minutes of advertising—one minute to five minutes of programme time. It seems to me to be the same thing as saying "every few minutes" if for every five minutes one listens to a programme one has to have one minute of advertising, according to the hon. and learned Member's own figures which he had not written down before him but which, nevertheless, we can take on trust.
§ Mr. Philip Bell
There are two minutes at the beginning, quarter of an hour of programme following, two minutes in the interval, a quarter of an hour programme and two minutes at the end.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
According to my recollection, the hon. and learned Member said two minutes at the beginning, two minutes in the middle and two minutes at the end of a 30-minute programme, and six into 30 goes five. Then, presumably, there follows two minutes' advertising at the beginning of the next programme, so one probably gets four minutes of advertising together; and even if the proportion is one in seven that seems to me to be nearly every few minutes.
The Assistant Postmaster-General mainly concentrated his attack on our proposal by saying that it was vague. When one heard what he said about the words "high quality" it is extraordinary that he should have used that criticism against our Amendment because he directed it with much greater force against his own Bill. It will be extraordinary if, after his speech, he does not 399 come to the House, on Report, with an Amendment of words which he says are absolutely meaningless, indefensible and should not be in the Bill. Our purpose is to try to give a little definition to those words which he says are so vague.
If we make a comparison with the B.B.C. we give a certain degree of definition towards which, otherwise, are quite meaningless; we provide some sort of standard by which listeners and hon. Members of this House can judge and call into account, if necessary, the programmes that are put out. Presumably, that is the purpose of putting in the Bill the words "high quality," so that there is some standard of judgment and criticism.
We have tried to make what the Assistant Postmaster-General admits is a meaningless phrase into something with more meaning. It is so contradictory of the argument which has been used by the Postmaster-General, and some of the things he was saying were so alarming, that we really ought to divide on this Amendment to show how much importance we attach to it.
§ Mr. Baxter
It is a little unusual to be invited to make a speech on the ground that what I say may be of value. I will speak only for two minutes. May I make a confession? What I want is dull television programmes, and the only way to ensure that would be for television to be left to the B.B.C. Because
§ of that I regret very much to see the introduction of advertising into television; but I think there has been a lot of nonsense talked this afternoon.
§ The programmes will undoubtedly improve, through advertising men having to undertake them. If there is an idea that advertising men will put out vulgar programmes, I say that is just not true. It is not like a newspaper, which can establish its personality and publish pornographic stories, with the public knowing what it is going to get. No advertiser would dare to go on a mass medium for reaching the public and offend 10 or 15 per cent. of them. The idea that programmes are poor under sponsored services is not true.
§ What I dislike above all things is the introduction of commercialism in television. I wish it had not happened, but the arguments from the opposite side of the Committee have not been based upon truth, though I am sure hon. Members opposite did not intend them not to be. Programmes will improve, and since this policy has now been decided upon and carried through the House we have to see how we can help the Bill and the whole venture. As I say, a lot of nonsense has been talked this afternoon.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 239; Noes, 258.403
|Division No. 85.]||AYES||[5.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Adams, Richard||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Albu, A. H.||Brawn, Thomas (Ince)||Fernyhough, E.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Burton, Miss F. E.||Finch, H. J.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Callaghan, L. J.||Follick, M.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Carmichael, J.||Forman, J. C.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Champion, A. J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Chapman, W. D.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Baird, J.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Balfour, A.||Clunie, J.||Gibson, G. W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A. J.||Collick, P. H.||Glanville, James|
|Bartley, P.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gooch, E. G.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Cove, W. G.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Bence, C. R.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Bean, Hon. Wedgwood||Crosland, C. A. R.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Benson, G.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Grey, C. F.|
|Beswick, F.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Daines, P.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Blackburn, F.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hannan, W.|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hargreaves, A.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon A. G.||Deer, G.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Dodds, N. N.||Hastings, S.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Heatey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Brook, Dryden (Hal fax)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M||Morley, R.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Holman, P.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Holmes, Horace||Mort, D. L.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hoy, J. H.||Moyle, A.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Mulley, F. W||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Murray, J. D||Steele, T.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Nally, W.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Oldfield, W. H.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Janner, B.||Oliver, G. H.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Orbach, M.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Oswald, T.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Padley, W. E.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pannell, Charles||Thornton, E.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pargiter, G. A.||Timmons, J.|
|Keenan, W.||Parkin, B. T.||Tomney, F.|
|Kenyon, C.||Pearson, A.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Popplewell, E||Usborne, H. C.|
|Kinley, J.||Porter, G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lawson, G. M.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Price Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Proctor, W. T.||Weitzman, D.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Pryde, D. J.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||West, D. G.|
|Logan, D. G.||Rankin, John||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Reid, William (Camlachie)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|McGovern, J.||Rhodes, H.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Mclnnes, J.||Richards, R.||Willey, F. T.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|McLeavy, F.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Ross, William||Willis, E. G.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Royle, C.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Mason, Roy||Short, E. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Messer, Sir F.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Yates, V. F.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Moody, A. S.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Skeffington, A. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Wilkins and Mr. John Taylor.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Burden, F. F. A.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fisher, Nigel|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Campbell, Sir David||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Carr, Robert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Channon, H.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Fort, R.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Foster, John|
|Banks, Col. C.||Clarke, Brig. Terense (Portsmouth, W.)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Baxter, A. B.||Cole, Norman||Galbraith, Rt. Hen T. D. (Pollok)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Colegate, W. A.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Gaener-Evans, E. H.|
|Bell, Roland (Bucks, S.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Glover, D.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Godber, J. B.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Gomme-Duncan, Col A|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crouch, R. F.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Biroh, Nigel||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Gower, H. R.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Black, C. W.||Davidson, Viscountess||Grimond, J.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Deedes, W. F.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||Harden, J. R. E.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Braine, B. R.||Drayson, G. B.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Drewe, Sir C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Duthie, W. S.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Hay, John||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Marples, A. E.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Heath, Edward||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maude, Angus||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Maydon, Lt. -Comdr. S. L. C.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Mellor, Sir John||Speir, R. M.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Molson, A. H. E.||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Stevens, G. P.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Holt, A. F.||Heave, Airey||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hope, Lord John||Nicholls, Harmar||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Summers, G. S.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Oakshott, H. D.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Odey, G. W.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hurd, A. R.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||OrmsbyGore, Hon. W. D.||Teeling, W.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B H.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Osborne, C.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Page, R. G.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Perkins, Sir Robert||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Kaberry, D.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Thornton-Kamsley, Col. C. N.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Tilney, John|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Langford-Holt, J. A||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Pitman, I. J.||Turton, R. H.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Powell, J. Enoch||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Profumo, J. D.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Ramsden, J. E.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lookwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Redmayne, M.||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Remnant, Hon. P.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Renton, D. L. M.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|MacCallum, Major D.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wellwood, W.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Roper, Sir Harold||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|McKinbin, A. J.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Russell, R. S.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Wills, Gerald|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Wills, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Ian (Enfield, W.)||Schofield, Lt.-Cot. W.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Scott, R. Donald|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Shepherd, William||Major Conant and|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.|
§ The Temporary Chairman (Major Anstruther-Gray)
The next Amendment which has been selected is in page 1, line 13, leave our "so much of." It has been arranged to take with this the following Amendments: In line 14, leave out from "Islands," to end of line 15; in line 14, leave out "be reasonably practicable," and insert:not becovered by the said services of the British Broadcasting Corporation";in line 15, at end, insert:Provided that Authority shall so exercise their said functions as to provide as soon as possible such services as aforesaid for the whole of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands and, until they have so provided, shall not broadcast more than one programmed from any one of their stations;404 in line 15, at end, insert:Provided that within six months after the Authority shall first have provided a programmed from a station situated in England, they shall provide a programme for Scotland or some part of Scotland from a station situated in Scotland;In line 15, at end, insert:Provided that within six months after the Authority shall first have provided a programmed from a station situated in England, they shall provide a programmed for Wales or some part of Wales from a station situated in Wales.There will be an opportunity for separate Divisions on the last two of that two of that series of Amendments.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 13, to leave out "so much of."
405 This and the other Amendments to which you have referred, Major Anstruther-Gray, form a group designed to ensure that the second television programme shall provide a country-wide coverage and that the national interests of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland shall be fully and properly recognised. It will be better if I deal right away with what I am sure hon. Members opposite will say is an inconsistency in this group of Amendments. I expect they will tell us, as some organs of the Press already have, that if we are against commercial television it is very curious for us to seek to impose a statutory duty upon the new Authority to provide a national coverage.
There is no such inconsistency in these Amendments. We believe that commercial television is the wrong way to provide an alternative television programme; that it will provide television programmes inferior to those provided by the public service Corporation, and that, operating through commercial programme companies, it will find it impossible to provide a national coverage. These Amendments are designed to expose that fact to the public.
Whatever may be the merits of commercial television in London or Birmingham, there is very little to be said for it in many parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Not only are the people in these areas to be deprived of the chance of a second television programme, certainly within the foreseeable future, but they will actually be made to pay for a second programme to be provided for other people living in more populated parts of the country. It is important to recognise the way in which this Bill torpedoes the interests of those living in Scotland and the remoter parts of the United Kingdom.
One thing about which the B.B.C. can be justifiably proud is the degree of national coverage which it has provided in its television programmes. It has already reached 80 per cent. of the population, in a very short time, despite the tremendous post-war difficulties with which it has been faced. If this Bill were not before the Committee today, as part of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, the B.B.C. would be able to go ahead and raise its coverage to about 90 per cent. of the people. Public service television programmes, with the 406 fine traditions already set by the B.B.C., would be brought to everybody to whom it was geographically possible to bring them.
The B.B.C.'s record is in shining contrast to the other great country which operates its television on the commercial principles espoused by the party opposite. Despite the United States' tremendous: wealth and the fact that it did not have to face so many post-war difficulties as we have faced, it has a coverage of only 60 per cent., as compared with the B.B.C.'s 80 per cent. I understand—and I shall be very glad if the Home Secretary can refute it—that the proposed Independent Television Authority, working through commercial programme companies, is likely to provide only a 55 per cent. coverage.
The people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are entitled to know that when the Bill becomes an Act they will pay for a television service which is not likely to reach them in the foreseeable future. That is the main charge we make against these provisions of the Bill. The people of many parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not only not going to receive this programme but are going to pay very heavily for it. Those in Scotland who already have television sets will pay their share of the £750,000 subsidy which the Government propose to provide for the Authority out of increased television licence fees. The taxpayers of Scotland will also pay their share of the £2 million loan to be advanced by the Government to the new Authority. The general body of Scottish consumers, Scottish housewives and their husbands, will also have to pay, across the counter, their share of the advertising revenue which is the real source of the financial support for the proposed Authority.
One of the great fallacies in the argument for so-called competitive television is that it provides a free service to the people. It is very curious to find this argument being put forward so eloquently by hon. Members opposite, because they belong to the party which for many years agitated against the provision of free social services. They argued that those services were not free because, of course, the general community had to pay for them in taxation. Similarly, in the field 407 of commercial television the service is not free. The ordinary consumer has to pay an added price for the products of those who advertise. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland housewives, buying the new branded margarine or packets of soap flakes, or the Scotsman, drinking his pint of beer or taking his dram of whisky, will pay their share of the cost of running the proposed second television programme.
In the proceedings that lie ahead of us in the Committee stage, we hope to make major improvements in relation to the quality of television programmes which are to be provided by the commercial companies. We are opposed to commercial television on principle, but since it has been carried against us, we shall do our best to safeguard the interests of the people. We insist that by introducing an alternative programme on the commercial principle the party opposite is depriving a large proportion of the citizens of the United Kingdom of the opportunity they would have had of a second alternative programme—and a much better one—if the matter had been left in the hands of a public corporation, operating either under the B.B.C. or in competition with it.
The only way in which the alternative programme can be brought to the whole country, the only way in which the need of the citizens for an alternative programme can be met, is undoubtedly through a public service. For instance, the B.B.C. is able to provide television in Aberdeenshire at the moment. It was able to televise the Coronation in Aberdeenshire, not because it could make a profit or a surplus out of providing a television service up there, because the number of licences there, supposing the B.B.C. were to do its accounting on that basis, would not justify the provision of the service.
The B.B.C. is able to subsidise a service to under-populated areas out of the surplus it obtains from providing a service in more densely populated areas. On the basis of this new proposed commercial television service it is utterly impossible for the programme contractors, even if they are willing to do so, to operate on the basis that the B.B.C. does. By their very nature as profit making companies it is not within their power to 408 operate a service at a loss. They will serve the areas in which the maximum profit is to be made.
If the Bill is allowed to pass un-amended in this respect, the new Authority will be charged with the duty of providing a television service merely for… so much of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands as may from time to time be reasonably practicable.That means, in practice, that the new Authority will be charged with the duty of providing a second television service for such areas of the United Kingdom as may be reasonably profitable. That is the essence of the Government's proposal, and we seek to amend it by laying a duty on the new Authority to give first priority to providing a national coverage with this alternative service. We do not believe that it is possible to meet the real needs of the people of this country on this commercial basis, and this Amendment and the other Amendments being considered with it are designed to expose that fact.
I would ask the Home Secretary to give the Committee some frank answers to one or two questions. I want him to tell us what percentage of the population of Britain it is estimated that the proposed new Television Authority will reach. Is it indeed true that it will reach only 55 per cent. of the population? I asked, in a Question to the Assistant Postmaster-General today, how soon the commercial service was expected to reach Scotland; and he told us that it was much too early to make any estimate.
Two of these Amendments propose that the second television programme should reach Scotland and Wales not more than six months after it has been begun in England. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether this can be done or not? If it cannot be done, how soon does he estimate he will bring the second television programme into Scotland? Is it not a fact that when the second television programme does finally reach Scotland, as it will finally, though much later than it would if provided by a public service, it will be available only to the populated central belt of Scotland, and that it will be impossible for the commercial Authority to provide a national coverage in Scotland. 409 to the same degree as the B.B.C. is at present able to?
Our charge is that by pushing forward this proposal for commercial television against the overwhelming weight of public opinion in the country, the Government are making it impossible for large areas to receive television, in some cases for the first time, and in very many cases television for the second time. We were given an answer yesterday on the number of wavebands still available. By surrendering the presently available wavebands to the advertisers, the Government are postponing for a long time, and indefinitely, the possibility of providing to certain areas an alternative television programme.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I support the Amendment moved so ably and fully by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) because there is, as we said on Second Reading, a very strong feeling not only in Scotland but also in Wales that we shall have a very raw deal under commercial television. It may be asked, if we object to commercial television as such, why do we ask for a television station to be set up in a short period in the Principality?
It is not very difficult to see why. I trust that the Home Secretary, with his particular concern for Wales, will be replying to the debate on these Amendments. One of the main reasons for them is to elicit from the Government, publicly, acknowledgment of a fact which is quite obvious to those who have been studying the matter, that because of the proposals for commercial television we are likely to get a much less adequate service than we should if the B.B.C. were allowed to improve its own services.
That will be so particularly in the greater part of Wales, where, we must admit, the population is too thin for there to be any very attractive market, measured by purchasing power or numbers of people, for the commercial advertisers behind the programme contractors. If the matter were left in the hands of the B.B.C. or of some comparable alternative body that consideration, obviously, would not apply. Instead, the consideration of public service, which has actuated the B.B.C. in its dealings with the public, would be the effective consideration, and we should, therefore, 410 have a very much better chance of an adequate service. I would remind the Committee that these Amendments are only the first of a series of Amendments that affect the Principality. Others affect also the concept of the programme. It is not proper to discuss that matter on this Amendment, of course.
Public money is to be spent on the commercial television service. That seems to me slightly to alter the attitude one might otherwise have taken towards it. As my hon. Friend has emphasised, we have to pay for this service. As we have Aberdonians in Scotland, so we have in Wales people from Cardiganshire who are said to have the same characteristics. I had a Cardiganshire grandfather, a "good Cardie." That means that I, like others in the Principality, like to have value for money.
Frankly, we do not see how the majority of the people in Wales can expect to have any value whatever for the money which they will pay for the service which is to be provided. I shall be interested to learn how the Minister for Welsh Affairs proposes to satisfy them on this point. I cannot recall that he has ever dealt with the matter in public in the Principality. If he has done so, no doubt he will refresh our memory about it, but if he has not, it will be interesting to know whether he proposes to do so.
There has been a very great deal of discussion in Wales. We do not like commercial television as such. We should very much prefer an alternative programme from the B.B.C., and feel that that is the way in which our money should be spent. However, if public money is to be spent in the way suggested, it is only right that the people of Wales should have a fair share of it. There is also the fact that we feel that, educationally and culturally, we have a very strong claim for particular attention being paid to Wales.
I should be glad to know what explanation the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to give to the public of Wales on this very important matter.
§ Mr. David Llewellyn (Cardiff, North)
I have been puzzled as to how a granddaughter of a "good Cardie" could possibly support the Amendments which we are discussing. For a considerable period 411 we have heard from the Opposition of the debasement of cultural standards and the danger to public morals, especially in connection with advertisements for drink, and we have heard that the Welsh language may be drowned in a sea of commercial English. Is it not most extraordinary that we now get the Labour Party suggesting that the sooner the Welsh people are called upon to suffer these appalling and dangerous evils, the better it will be?
We have been told that the new Authority is to be regarded as an altar of Mammon, and yet fellow-countrymen of mine and a fellow-countrywoman have suggested that the Golden Calf itself must be set up in Wales. I am sure that the explanation is that hon. Members opposite do not, in their hearts, think that the social consequences of commercial television will be wicked, and that they really think that the programmes will be popular.
Before very many months have passed we shall hear no more about the wickedness, but the cry will be, "We tried to get the terrible Tories to give you this wonderful commercial television, but they resisted our Amendments." I am sure it will be found that once the Welsh people have enjoyed the benefits of commercial television they will be far too conservative to let it go.
§ Mr. Hobson
We have heard the voice of Scotland and of Wales and I think we ought now to hear the voice of England via Yorkshire. I want particularly to deal with the Amendment which seeks to prevent a second programme from being produced by the commercial television interests.
As the Bill stands, it is possible for the I.T.A. to have as many programmes as it desires. Will the Home Secretary tell us how it is possible for that to be done? At present, only two channels are available. How will it be possible to get a series of programmes, or even two programmes, when there is not the space in the appropriate waveband? What is meant by "two programmes"? I agree that it is possible on the two channels available to have the same programmes in London and Birmingham and a different one in Manchester, but that would be all.
412 The Government should accept the Amendment. If technical progress should be such as to make it possible to have a series of programmes, they should be prepared to introduce amending legislation. The only way in which we can have two programmes is by having the broadcasts on Band IV, but the Government have definitely ruled against Band IV because it is largely an experimental Band and they want the B.B.C. to have all the responsibility for carrying out experiments on it. That is entirely wrong and very unfair.
No one knows better than the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing) that the B.B.C. proposes to have its second programme on Band IV. How can a commercial interest have two programmes on the channels which have been made available, at great expense to local authorities? The suggestion was made in the Second Report of the Television Advisory Committee that the whole of Band III should be cleared. Do the Government intend to clear Band III and have the second programme on it? That will land them in a terrible dilemma. They will have to remove from that band all the air navigation distance measuring equipment.
Look at the cost and the technical complications which will be involved. Look at the change of frequencies which will be entailed in all the apparatus. The taxi-cab drivers of London will have something to say about it, because they are in Band III. So are the newspapers. I am told that the "Daily Mail" and the "News Chronicle" occasionally overhear each other.
§ Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing (Hendon, North)
Who was the Assistant Postmaster-General when these people were allowed to go into Band III? The hon. Gentleman was the Assistant Postmaster-General when these people were licensed for that Band.
§ Mr. Hobson
I take a good deal of personal responsibility for it, but I gave a full explanation yesterday. I would refer the hon. Gentleman to that speech and shall not repeat it now in case I transgress the rules of order.
I fail to see how two programmes will be possible as things are. We want to know the Government's intentions. Why will the Government not accept the 413 Amendment, which is a practical one and is not put forward carpingly? I hope that we may hear the Government's explanation.
I want to make one or two references to the Amendments. It seems to me unfair that in the whole of the sparsely populated areas of the country the development of television should be left to the B.B.C. The position at the moment is that we are to have commercial television which is to be largely in London and Birmingham. As was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), the cream is to be skimmed by the commercial interests. I think that is entirely wrong.
Why should Scottish, Welsh and Yorkshire people subscribe 3s. out of their television licences to make up the aggregate of £750,000 so that London and Birmingham should have commercial television? It may be possible that Glasgow can get it. If so, I should like to know how they are to get it. If that problem can be solved, there will be no one more pleased than the technicians.
Let us look at the expense. I am sorry that the Assistant Postmaster-General is not here, but we know that he cannot be here all the time, and I sympathise with him in having the Postmaster-General in another place. I believe that the British Post Office have stated that there is no longer any time on the coaxial cables available for commercial interests. That means that the I.T.A. will have to spend a considerable amount of money in constituting radio links between here and Birmingham. So far as radio links exist for the coverage of the North-East coast and Scotland, it may be possible to use those with extra transmitters.
To sum up, I think it is unfair that coverage cannot be given in Scotland, Wales, Yorkshire and many other parts of the North of England, and I fail to understand why the Government could not have indicated that they were ready to accept Amendments with regard to the second programme. I shall await with interest the reply of the Home Secretary as to how this can be done. If he can give that assurance, there will be no one more pleased than myself and the technicians.
§ Captain L. P. S. Orr (Down, South)
I shall not join issue with the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) again on the question of the bands available, because we shall perhaps get a better opportunity later of developing the various arguments in full, without the risk of being called to order.
I want to say a brief word about the question of areas which, within the first year or so, may not get the new programme. I am referring particularly to Northern Ireland. It is true that it is unlikely that within the first year from the passing of this Act that there will be a commercial television transmitter in Northern Ireland. It is also true, as argued by hon. Members opposite, that those who pay television licences there will be paying a proportion—a very small proportion—to support the subvention of £750,000 a year to the new television Authority.
I want it to go on record that I have always thought that that money should not be given to the new television Authority, and I also want it to go on record that I have thought that, in fact, the new television Authority should never have been given the task of building transmitters.
§ Mr. Shackleton
The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that he did not expect Northern Ireland to get the alternative television programme within the first year. Can he say when, in fact, he does expect to get it?
§ Captain Orr
The hon. Member flatters me by suggesting that I have some vast, prophetic, technical knowledge which may enable me to tell when this may happen. I have no idea at all. My guess would probably be just as good as his.
§ Captain Orr
If the hon. Member wants me to make a guess, I would say the Greek Kalends—I might say the next five or six years. If we take the standard that the B.B.C. set under the administration of hon. Members opposite for the provision of television at all for Northern Ireland, I hope that the commercial people will do better.
§ Captain Orr
The point I was making was that so far as the viewers in Northern Ireland are concerned, I think that the new Authority should not have an annual subvention from the licence revenue, and that the new Authority should not have been given the power of building transmitters.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Captain Orr
I voted for it because it was considered necessary by a number of my hon. Friends, for reasons for which I did not agree, that the new Authority should have these powers in order to control the commercial programmes.
I hope that there will be no inhibitions put upon the programme contractors when it comes to the question of expansion. I hope that when it comes to the question of expansion to other areas, it will not be necessary to hold that any further transmitters will have to be provided by the Authority. I hope that the programme contractor may at some time be given power by the Postmaster-General, which he can do, to put up a transmitter independent of the Authority, because in point of fact we do not need a Bill to do that.
The Postmaster-General can license persons and companies to put transmitters here and there all over the country without a Bill at all, and I hope that there will not be any inhibitions put upon persons, say, in Wales or Northern Ireland, who want to start a television service of their own without having anything to do with the Authority. I suggest that that is a possibility.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I wish to support this group of Amendments. I should like to say to the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Llewellyn) that there is nothing inconsistent with support for these Amendments on this side of the Committee with the attitude that we have taken all along to commercial television. We have made it perfectly clear that we think it is wrong.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, North, said, I think, that we had spoken about the social consequences of commercial television as being wicked. But it is not 416 only members of the Labour Party who have spoken in such terms. Commercial television has been opposed not only by members of the political party, but by many leading members of the churches and other organisations. That is why I support this group of Amendments. If we could get the Minister to accept every one of these Amendments, the Bill would in reality come to nought. [Laughter.] I say it quite openly.
As I see it, the commercial concerns who will be using commercial television are not in the least interested in providing a second programme to give a choice to the people. They are not in the least interested even in trying to foster cultural interests in any part of these islands. Their only interest is to increase the profit from their products. If it were possible—I rather think it will be impossible—to have these Amendments accepted, whereby the commercial interests would within a very short time have to provide commercial television coverage for every part of ths islands, it would no longer be a profitable matter for them.
This is a matter which concerns not only Scotland and Wales, but Northern Ireland. I was interested in the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) and his reasons for supporting the Bill, although he was against it. If people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have to pay through their licences a certain amount each year to ensure that the commercial concerns will make profits, it is entirely wrong that the people in those areas should not be assured by the Government that within a reasonable time they will have a return for their money.
The people of Scotland, for whom I speak, know only too well that in places like the Highlands and the remotest parts of the Islands, there is simply no possibility for a long time, if ever, of getting a second television programme through this method. I should say the same for places that are not as remote. It may be possible that places like Glasgow and the big industrial areas outside the city will eventually be covered, but we do not know how long the people will have to wait even there.
I am hoping that on our later Amendments something will be written into the Bill, even if we are not successful with 417 the present group of Amendments, to ensure that the commercial interests are not allowed great licence. I hope that the Home Secretary will answer the questions which my hon. Friends have raised. Scots, like the Welsh, dislike very much to have money taken from their pockets and to get nothing whatever in return.
§ Mr. Howard Johnson (Brighton, Kemptown)
I should not like it to be thought that it is only Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland that will not get a commercial television programme within a reasonable time. I have tried hard recently to ascertain what will be the radius of the television station that is to be set up in London. As far as I can see, it is likely to be a radius of about 25 miles. Therefore, I and many hon. Members on both sides are deeply concerned about what will happen for the thickly populated area of Brighton and the South Coast generally.
I should like to know whether the Authority will be empowered to set up a booster to pick up the programme from London and radiate it along the fringe areas. We must, however, be reasonable. Quite obviously, when this thing is in its infancy, there are bound to be heartaches among those who live in fringe areas, whether on the South Coast or in the nearer part of the Midlands.
I have in mind especially the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison): In line 15, at end, insert:Provided that the Authority shall so exercise their said functions as to provide as soon as possible such services as aforesaid for the whole of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands and, until they have so provided, shall not broadcast more than one programme from any one of their stations.I feel that people living in fringe areas will, as the British always are, be quite reasonable in waiting for television to reach them. Indeed, I am sure that the people of Brighton and on the South Coast will be extremely reasonable. They were reasonable for a long time until my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General set up a booster two years ago to give them reception, and they will continue to be reasonable.
But I do not think they will continue to be reasonable if the commercial television station in London is permitted to transmit two programmes before there has been national coverage throughout as 418 much of Great Britain as can possibly be covered within the quickest possible time. I shall be grateful, therefore, if my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary will give good reasons for not accepting the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South. On the face of it, it seems to be a reasonable Amendment.
The people living in fringe areas, and, indeed, those in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be very angry if London, which, in my opinion, is always over-favoured in all matters and is highly pampered and greatly spoiled, is to be allowed to have two commercial television programmes before other areas are covered. I shall listen most carefully to my right hon. and learned Friend's reply. The Amendment in line 15 commends itself to me.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I am interested in the hon. Member's show of Brighton nationalism and his rather qualified support for my right hon. Friend's Amendment. Would he support the same case for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales?
§ Mr. Johnson
I hope I have made it clear that, obviously, it would be a longer time before those areas are reached, but I would say definitely that, on the face of it, and not having heard my right hon. and learned Friend's reply, most certainly it would be grossly unfair for London to have two commercial television programmes before Ireland, Scotland and Wales—and Sussex and the other fringe areas—get their own commercial television programme.
§ Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)
I was interested in the last observation of the hon. Member for Kemptown (Mr. H. Johnson), because large parts of Wales have still to be provided with one television programme. Indeed, people in my constituency still await the provision of an adequate sound service. Large parts of the county of Cardigan still do not receive an adequate Home Service programme through the present arrangements. I am sure that my constituents would regard it as over-ambitious now to advocate a second television programme when they still await a service on sound radio and one television programme. I support these Amendments, particularly the one relating to Wales. I do not think 419 it would be right to make a claim for Wales which I was not prepared to concede to other parts of the United Kingdom, although I maintain that the claims of Wales in this respect are somewhat unique.
The reason why I support these Amendments is because I am interested in the preservation of the Welsh language. Those of us concerned with that subject are deeply concerned about the effect which the development of television programmes will have upon our language. This Government and the last were pledged to the maintenance of a policy of bilingualism in Wales. The Minister of Education has laid it down that her policy for Welsh education is to establish a full-blooded policy of bilingualism, and it would be incongruous if that policy were to be pursued in education and no adequate provision were made for the Welsh language in the field of sound broadcasting and television.
I have no illusions on this point. I do not believe for a moment that the people who will control commercial television programmes will show much consideration for the Welsh language. I am not necessarily criticising them for that, because they will have to look at it from a commercial point of view and from the point of view of the extent of their audiences. I do not think that, under these circumstances, the Welsh language will have a great appeal.
The whole problem in connection with the Welsh language is the competing and conflicting claims upon time in and money for programmes. I believe that if there was an alternative programme in Wales and if the time and money now given over by the B.B.C. particularly to light entertainment could be provided for by that second programme, the B.B.C. would have less excuse than ever for not devoting time and money to programmes relating to Wales and the Welsh language.
All that we who are interested in the preservation of the Welsh language ask for is fair play in so far as this medium of expression is concerned. If we are given it, then we have no fears as to the future of our language, but if we are to have only one television programme and that broadcasting almost entirely in English, it is going to put those of us 420 who are interested in the preservation of the Welsh language in a most unfair position. I should like to see an alternative programme, which would provide amongst other things the light entertainment in English thus enabling the B.B.C. to give more adequate consideration to programmes of particular interest to those supporting the preservation of Welsh culture.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
I do not think I am a starter in the Kemptown Races. Scotland and Wales are doing pretty well, but the promising little native foal is not quite certain whether it is going to start or not. I do not think I should take any part.
We have been putting before the Government a very fine selection of Amendments to improve the Bill, but I believe the trouble is that we offer too nice a selection. I will start at the beginning and take two samples, putting them to the professional conscience of the Home Secretary. He will be aware that we are still considering the first sentence in this Bill. We have so far found a number of words which he can defend only because they have been used before; but the words at the end of this Clause are pretty unreasonable, and they are unreasonable because the Bill itself and the whole of the Government's project is unreasonable. The words are these:… for so much of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands as may from time to time be reasonably practicable.That is the function of the Authority. The words do not lay any imperative duty upon the Authority, and the Home Secretary yesterday refused to accept any time limit as to when it should do it other than such time limit as is implied in the 10 years.
It is a question of what it ought to do. What do these words mean? What is the meaning of "reasonably practicable"? I suggest that the simplest way out of the confusion is to leave these words out and to put on this competing Authority—for that is what the Government proudly claim it to be—the obligation that rests on the B.B.C. to provide services in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
We know there are parts of the United Kingdom where it is unlikely that there will be television, but what we object to 421 is the implication in these words "reasonably practicable." They do not mean "technically possible" and that is not what is intended. Let me tell the Committee what I am afraid they mean—and I only hope that the Government's supporters, including the Home Secretary, are going to disillusion me. I think that what they mean is: "… as may from time to time be profitable to the programme contractors and advertisers." I do not see what else they can mean. If they do mean anything else, I should like to know what it is.
I should like to reply to the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Llewellyn), who has now left the Committee—but that is not my fault. He said that as we on this side of the Committee regarded this scheme of commercial television as a social iniquity, why should we want to spread it to Wales? But that it is a social iniquity very largely depends on the fact that it is going to be a commercial undertaking run for private profit and entirely destitute of any idea whatsoever of public service. What we are trying to do is to give it some element of public service to prevent it from being what at present it looks like being, namely, an undertaking to give wholly unlimited profits to a particular section of the community in the sacred name of commercial competition.
What is it that the party opposite justify in the name of commercial competition? I do not want to quote again the well-known words of the Prime Minister in his murky past, but the long history of the Tory Party shows that every social and other iniquity has from time to time been perpetrated and vindicated in the name of commercial competition. Here is just another one, and these words show it up. What do they mean? What is the point of putting in "reasonably practicable"? How are we to decide what it is? What other possible standard is there, having regard to the rest of the Bill and having regard to the line the Government have taken about it, than the same standard of profit to the programme contractors and the advertisers?
Here we are being asked to sell ourselves, to sell our constituents, and to hand over a bit of public money into the bargain, to this private interest. Why should we do it? If we are to be driven as we are now—for this Bill has had 422 its Second Reading—into having something of the kind, it is for us to see that what is provided has a proper element of service in it.
I thought that the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) in relating what he said specifically to Scotland, had the real point. The difference between the two sides of the Committee is this: hon. Members opposite say that they will provide services in the thick areas of population where the advertised products can be sold—because this is what it is all about—and we say that if we are to have this thing at all, if we are to bring in the programme contractors and the advertising agents—not to mention all the shabby gentlemen who come into the Post Office for lunch, about whom we heard yesterday—if we are to bring in all that queer collection of scallywags, let us at any rate see that what they are allowed to do is something that might conceivably be a public service.
The essential difference between a public service and a new form of commercial exploitation is simply that if it is a public service, we try to provide it—I do not say we try very hard but we do try, even this Government—for all the population. Here is the test of the intentions of the Government. Will they confine themselves to what pays? Will they confine their services to where the goods can best be sold? Will they verge towards that form of wholly unbridled commercialism which at present appears to be prevalent in County Down, where services are put up all over the place in the hope of getting a licence afterwards? Will they go back to the jungle that way, or use it, to some extent at any rate, to cater for the whole country?
If they refuse this simple Amendment, they will put into the Bill an obscure set of words at the end of this Clause with only one object, to be able to say afterwards, "Ah, we only said what was reasonably practicable and, of course, we mean reasonably practicable from the point of view of the people primarily concerned. They are the programme contractors, the advertising agents and the rest of them, whose funds will keep the programme contractors and the programmes going." That is the 423 test. I shall be interested to see what they say about it and what meaning the Home Secretary, who is, after all, pretty good at words, will put to "reasonably practicable."
§ Mr. Gower
This series of Amendments is remarkable in one respect. The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) tried to explain the Amendment which relates to the extension of this service to Scotland. As it appears to me, throughout yesterday and today we have been listening to accounts of the assumed evil of these programmes. The third Amendment merely says, "Let us have a bit of this evil in Scotland and, what is more, let us have it within six months." The fourth Amendment similarly says, "This is an evil, but they must not have it all in London. Let us have a bit of it in Wales, and let us have it there in six months."
I always find it hard to oppose any Amendment designed to bring anything reasonably into Wales, but the wording of this Amendment is unreasonable. That would appear to apply to the third and fourth of these Amendments because the third—which says:not be covered by the said services of the British Broadcasting Corporation"—would merely leave for the new and untried service the worst part of the country. The Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) would insist that the whole of the United Kingdom should be covered before there are two programmes or any other station. I should imagine that there are parts of the United Kingdom which can never be properly covered and which will never have effective television services.
We must realise that this new service will probably find it as difficult in its teething stage as did the B.B.C. when it first started a television service. Its first steps were halting. We had to wait a long time before the service was extended to a part of Wales—
§ Mr. Gower
Yes, 17 years, and in no sense is there what might be described as a Welsh television service now. We have merely a station through Wenvoe in part 424 and another station in the North which transmits the programmes put over for national coverage. In no sense, therefore, have we anything which can be described as a Welsh television service. If the B.B.C. has taken so long to provide even some transmission of the national service into part of Wales, would it not be unreasonable for us now to say that the new Authority must, within six months, provide a Welsh service? On that basis I think that these Amendments are as unreasonable as they appear to many of us to be.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
I was interested to hear what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) said, because he has divided the two approaches to this question of television very neatly. The hon. Gentle man said that the B.B.C. has only recently reached Wales and the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing) said that it took 17 years. I hope he will get to his feet so that it will get into HANSARD—
§ Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing
If the hon. Gentleman had been present yesterday, he would realise that it is already in HANSARD.
§ Mr. Benn
If it is in HANSARD already, I fail to see anything, other than a passion for publicity, which leads the hon. Gentleman to repeat it frequently. At any rate we knew that the B.B.C. took a long time to get to Wales, but Welsh Members would have had a legitimate grievance if, before television reached Wales, there had been two or three television programmes in London or even more, as might have been practicable. However, the B.B.C. work on the simple principle that they must give what they have to as many people as possible before starting an alternative programme, and that is exactly our argument.
Let me deal briefly with the suggestion made that, because this is evil, it is ludicrous that we should argue that it ought to be extended. The simple answer is that one of the reasons why we think that commercial television is not evil, but is not a good thing, is that it does not do these various things. It does not give variety of programme. Therefore, we have tried in our Amendment to give variety to the programme. We have argued that it does not give national 425 coverage and does not give high quality. All these Amendments are an intention to try to replace what is normally an unsatisfactory commercial feature with something satisfactory.
The interest of this Amendment is that it divides hon. Gentlemen opposite into two groups of clearly definable people. There are those—and I hope and believe that the Home Secretary is one—who support this Bill because they do not like monopoly in television. I am with them in this and I have said so previously. I think it is a thoroughly bad thing that television should be left to one Authority. On the other hand, there are others opposite who do not much care whether the principle of monopoly is maintained or not, but see in television the opportunity to make a little money.
This Amendment divides them because, if one believes, as the Home Secretary does, that it is bad to have a monopoly, then there must be competition with the B.B.C. in every part of the country before having a third programme. When there are commercial programmes in London, Birmingham and Manchester and the Home Secretary is asked, say, by the Authority, "Shall we go on and watch the B.B.C. pushing out its pernicious monopolistic stuff unchallenged in the north of Scotland, or shall we have another programme in London?" The instant response of the Home Secretary ought to be, "Search out monopoly wherever possible and provide fair and adequate competition to it."
This is exactly what this Amendment does, and I support it because I believe that the people in Wales who are just getting the B.B.C. ought to have an opportunity of having another programme put before them.
If one is not sincere about breaking the monopoly, one comes down on this "reasonably practicable" argument which, of course, is the commercial argument. It is no surprise to us and I hope that the Home Secretary will not try it on. This is a perfectly straight commercial argument and if one runs the new service on that basis there will never be as good a television coverage as the B.B.C. has provided up to now.
Therefore, at this stage let us try to divide ourselves up sincerely. There are those on the other side of the Committee 426 who believe that we should break the monopoly and provide an alternative service. I am with them entirely as far as my Whips will allow—and if I can find out who they are. But if there are those of that mind on the other side of the Committee, they ought to come out now and again against the commercial group who have pushed this proposal from the start, otherwise we shall not believe that the Home Secretary is really echoing the words of John Milton, who was quoted for support by the Lord Chancellor, but we shall believe that he is at the head of the bandwagon which is being pushed very hard by people on the benches behind him. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will give a satisfactory answer to this question of breaking a monopoly wherever it is found, which includes the distant parts of the country.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
I cannot imagine a more inspiring start for my poor contribution than the admirable question and suggestion of the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). I hope that I shall be able to answer his point, but I have been a little worried about one or two points in the speeches, to which I have listened carefully, in which one or two hon. Members opposite have said that they support all the Amendments that we are discussing. I should like to remind the Committee what those Amendments are. The effect of the first two is to lay on the new Authority the obligation to provide a coverage for the whole of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
§ Mr. Mitchison
With great respect, that is not correct. Do they not simply lay down the Authority's function?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I think that they lay down the function, but on the assumption that, having that function, the Authority will carry it out. That at least has been the theme of speeches this afternoon, including that of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) himself.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
We all listened with great care and pleasure to the hon. 427 and learned Member and I am sure that he will allow me to develop what is a perfectly fair point. The first Amendment, to use words that will not offend the hon. and learned Member, certainly deals with responsibility to provide coverage for the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) seeks to restrict the operations of the Authority to areas that are not covered by the B.B.C.
§ Mr. Shackleton
On a point of order. The Home Secretary is discussing an Amendment which has not been called. The Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) was not selected.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
That is one of the Amendments that are being dealt with.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
These things happen in the best regulated minds.
Then we have an Amendment to provide that until the new Authority covers the whole country it should not be permitted to provide a second programme. That Amendment is honourably associated with the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson). The fifth and sixth Amendments state that within six months there should be a station for Scotland within Scotland and for Wales within Wales. I take it from the discussion that no one is supporting in words—or no one has so far supported in words—the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East. But if no one has supported it in words, the real tenor of the supporting speakers for these Amendments as a group has been to that effect. Few hon. Members concealed that fact very skilfully, and the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) was quite clear in her words that if these Amendments were approved by the Committee then, in her opinion, the Bill would not work and would fall.
Therefore, although the wording of the Amendments is slightly different, the support is really in the sense of the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East, which 428 would confine the operations of the Authority to whatever remote percentage of the country is left after the B.B.C. has provided its coverage. I do not complain that hon. Members have made their demonstration, but now that it has been made and since it is a demonstration, and the hon. Lady has made it avowedly a demonstration with no practical result consistent with the life of the Bill, I hope that the Committee will not spend too long on what is clearly a demonstration and not practical action.
§ Miss Herbison
I said quite clearly what the result would be if the Amendments were accepted. I wanted to know from the Home Secretary what he thought about them, because if he agrees with what I said, then it is quite clear to my hon. Friends that he is in full support of the commercial interests of this second television programme. That is the only conclusion that we can reach.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am sure that the hon. Lady will allow me to deal with the points that have been raised. She was frank enough to say, and obviously everyone else who did not say it meant it, that these Amendments were not consistent with the life of the Bill, and in that sense the Amendments have been moved. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) was not here.
Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman does me an injustice. I was here whilst my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) was speaking. I will go further and say that I think that her words were "if all the Amendments," and so on.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I apologise. I did not see the right hon. Gentleman. At any rate, that makes us even.
I want now to deal with the points that have been made. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) made the initial point that it was wrong that anyone should pay for this service through a part of the licence fee if he did not receive a service from the I.T.A. The answer to that is not only the old one, which everyone rejects in the House and so often makes, that the baby is only a little one, that it is a 429 very small percentage of the service. The real answer is that for every growing service—the same applies to sound and television in the B.B.C.—there has been a period when the payer of a licence fee has been paying not only for what he or she was receiving or not receiving at the moment, but for the general development of the service. That applies with equal force to this proposal before the Committee.
The second point of the argument of the hon. Member for Dundee, East depended on the premise that there would be a rise in prices due to additional advertising. That, I submit, is an entire fallacy. Time and again it has been shown that additional advertising has not had the result of raising, but of substantially—and sometimes dramatically—reducing prices—
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
No, I cannot give way again. I have given way four times already and I must be allowed to develop my argument. If the hon. Member for Dundee, East was so anxious to hear a reply, he would have been here himself.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman should not say that, as my hon. Friend has a very important meeting.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I cannot time my replies according to the meetings which are necessary to solve the difficulties of hon. Members opposite.
I now turn to the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White). I think it is fair to say that she adopted the arguments of the hon. Member for Dundee, East and, with great good humour, she wanted to twist the tail of the Minister for Welsh Affairs in regard to this Amendment. I do not blame her for that intention. I have put the general arguments which have been made before, but I want the hon. Lady to appreciate that this Amendment is intended to put responsibility on the new Authority to do something which the B.B.C. has never been called upon to do, and has never succeeded in doing. I do not want to make any false point, but the position is that when the new capital expenditure fructifies in the case of the B.B.C. and 430 the total results are obtained, there will be a coverage of some 97 per cent. of the country—that is, at the end of the time. I do not think anyone quarrels with that.
I answer the expectation and hope of myself and, I think, the majority of people who think like me on this issue. I want to see the Authority securing the largest coverage possible at the earliest possible date. That is what we desire. I want to be quite right, because the hon. Member for Keighley would desire that. There may be a slight difference, as the hon. Member will agree, owing to the extra bands that the B.B.C. has. It would always be given a small improvement in the percentage, but there would not be a very great difference.
I put this quite seriously to the hon. Lady and to the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, who has spoken so frankly. If we accept the desire to break the monopoly, to me that postulates two things: one, a second programme, and, two, that that second programme should be given by an independent body. To my mind these are the minima for breaking the monopoly. When I said a second programme, I meant a second, alternative, programme. By this procedure we are setting up an Authority which, through the programme contractors, will provide three alternative programmes. We believe that it will require time to grow. I do not think anyone can give an exact estimate of what will be possible immediately the three stations begin to operate, but I am told that a reasonable hope and expectation is more than the figure of 55 per cent. that has been mentioned, and I see no reason why that should not grow.
The point I put to the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East is that, if we start from the same premise that the monopoly should be broken, does not equity come in and demand that the new functioning organisation should have a fair chance and should not be at once reined and bridled with conditions which no fair-minded person would ever put on a new body taking up the task? I am paying the hon. Member the compliment of speaking to him seriously and with complete sincerity and I hope he will believe that, whether he agrees with me or not. That is what I am asking him to do and to consider as being a view perfectly tenable by those who hope to see the extension as wide as possible.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I do not think it can be simplified so far as that. I think it is necessary for the new child to get going—
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I quite agree and I am much obliged for the interruption—so that out of the profits and success it can grow naturally and give the coverage. It is easy to be flippant, but I thought the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East was putting the point seriously to me. I do not think that one ought to put on a body which has to grow out of its own success an obligation at an early time which might be very reasonably thought to be destructive of that success. I do not for a moment envisage that there will be an artificial barrier to the area of expansion. I believe that the general success demanded will stir the new Authority to take that course. When one considers that not only is something demanded which has never been demanded of the B.B.C.—
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Really, if the right hon. Gentleman would allow me to develop my argument, I should be grateful. I am trying to answer a series of speeches, and it is difficult to do so if a Privy Councillor on the Opposition Front Bench interrupts, because one does want—
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
You are very touchy tonight. It is frequently done by hon. Members on the other side of the Committee.
§ Mr. Manuel
On a point of order. I should be sorry, Sir Charles, if you took my interjection to refer to yourself, I was addressing the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Manuel
Do I take it from your rebuke, Sir Charles, that interjections are entirely out of order?
§ The Chairman
I did not say that. Someone said that I had done something, and I said that I had not.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I will endeavour not to transgress.
I was making the point that this obligation has never been laid upon the B.B.C. I want to emphasise that here the obligation is not only to ensure national coverage, but to erect transmitting stations in Wales and Scotland within six months. From the point of view of cost and everything else, that is not a reasonable suggestion. I put it to the Committee that it is an unreasonable demand.
I have tried very hard to understand and to acquire the knowledge necessary to reply to the very interesting speech of the hon. Member for Keighley. I do not think I can give him much more assistance than he will obtain from paragraph 5 of the last White Paper. It may well be that some of the stations may have to have a limited range or to make an inter-network agreement in the initial period. I think that is the effect of the paragraph, but I understand that we shall have other opportunities to discuss it more fully.
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering drew attention to the last words of the subsection:so much of the United Kingdom… as may from time to time be reasonably practicable.I read that as meaning as much as they reasonably could. I think the difference between the hon. and learned Gentleman and myself regarding the interpretation of these words arises because he applies a subjective test of reasonability, namely, reasonability in the view of the Authority according to the financial position of the programme companies. I respectfully disagree with him and suggest that "reasonably practicable" is an objective test, and that the Authority must apply it taking into account what it thinks is a reasonable expenditure of capital and devotion of income according to the 433 period and the needs of the organisation as a whole. In that way I believe the decision must be for the Authority according to the general test of reasonableness, which is what benefits the public interest.
I am sorry that I have delayed the Committee so long. I am sorry, too, if I appeared to lose my temper. It was only because I was trying hard to deal with one point at the moment when the right hon. Gentleman diverted me. As the Committee will know, I have no desire to lose my temper, and I hope that I shall be forgiven if I appeared to do so for a moment. I have tried to answer the points which have been made and I hope that, after the long and interesting discussion which we have had, and after further intimation from the Opposition Front Bench, the Committee will be prepared to come to a decision.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Johnson
Because my right hon. and learned Friend is well known for his great courtesy and helpfulness. I think it must be an oversight on his part that he has not replied to the question asked by several hon. Members with regard to the transmission of a second programme from commercial television stations for other fringe areas. Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland at least will receive one transmission.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am sorry if I missed out my hon. Friend the Member for Kemptown (Mr. H. Johnson), but I thought I covered the point in the general thesis I was advancing that the new Authority should increase its coverage as quickly as possible. I did not mean that that should be limited to Scotland or Wales, but that it should apply generally. My hon. Friend knows the difficulties which exist even with regard to the B.B.C. and the booster and the new Isle of Wight station, but obviously it is a matter which the Authority would have to consider generally.
§ Mr. Johnson
But is not the right hon. Gentleman going to prohibit the I.T.A. from transmitting two commercial programmes in London?
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has tried to lubricate the passage of his Bill with his usual good humour and courtesy, but it is quite obvious from his failure to answer the hon. Member for Brighton that in defending the Bill he is up against great difficulties. It is a purely selfish Bill designed to bring profit to the highly populated City of London while the rest of the country can go "phut." There is not the slightest doubt about that. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has done his best to get round the point, but he has failed to answer the hon. Member for Brighton. Indeed, the hon. Member for Brighton in his earlier speech—
§ Mr. Woodburn
I gathered that the hon. Gentleman was speaking for Brighton and the area round about.
In his earlier speech he aroused some sympathy when he put the point that there were people in Scotland who had doubts about whether this was a serious Amendment. Someone suggested that we were anxious to extend an evil to Scotland. So far as I know the opinion in Scotland, the Churches and the educational interests, and people who are interested in television from the highest of motives, are against commercial television because of the debasement it brings to the purposes which can be achieved by television.
The introduction of advertising would take away some of the very limited amount of time available for educational and cultural matters which cannot be replaced or multiplied. It would be a monopoly, not in the sense of one organisation having control, but because any time taken for commercial television is automatically robbing the time which could be devoted to such services. It is my belief that television will be one of the greatest educational mediums in the future. It is not yet being developed and this will have the effect, so to speak, of robbing that medium before it is born. If it does not prevent the actual possibility of the birth of such a medium it will prevent its growth. That is a most dangerous thing.
I must confess that the majority of the people in Scotland are indifferent at the 435 moment, probably because they have not got television sets and, therefore, for them this is an academic argument. This is not a question of establishing good or evil. It is a question of using capital equipment to establish stations in different parts of the country. It is like the atom bomb. People might object to the atom bomb and to atomic energy, but, while the atom bomb can do tremendous damage, atomic energy is the hope of the future for the production of power.
§ Mr. Woodburn
It is quite possible that the hydrogen bomb will in time produce a form of power more useful to the economy even than atomic energy. Unfortunately, science can be used for evil as well as for good. We have to look at the capital expenditure not from the point of view of the evil that it might do under commercial television, but from the point of view that that commercial capital which is being expended in the erection of stations can also be used for good. A future Government may eventually use the stations for a better purpose.
It is on these grounds that we say that there should not be a monopoly in London. One of the objections is that it is difficult to pay for these stations and that they must be paid for out of profits. That is true, but the profits will not be subscribed only by the people of London. They will be subscribed from all over the country.
It has been objected that an alternative station would put a tremendous burden on either the licence holder or the taxpayer, but it is the taxpayer who will pay for the commercial stations. The taxation will not be imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the ground of public policy. It will be imposed by private individuals as a purchase tax on the goods sold in the shops. Therefore, this is a measure of private taxation. The only reason why it is supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they are to get a rake off. There is to be a rake off to the people interested in commercial television. They are anxious to have it not because it will be a benefit to the public, but because it will be a source 436 almost of blackmail of the public—forcing them to pay taxation, only part of which will go for the provision of any service.
§ Captain Orr
As I understand, the right hon. Gentleman says that, in some way or another, the fact that the money will be paid out of licence fees and taxation means that somebody, some private concern, will get a rake off. How does he account for the fact that private enterprise has never wanted this and has always resisted it? Can the right hon. Gentleman explain?
§ Mr. Woodburn
It all depends upon whether one regards the advertising agents and the people who are to run this affair as private enterprise. They may not be called private enterprise, but they have been boosted in this Committee as private enterprise. The commercial people will have the rake off. I heard Lord Moyne say so in another place. He said, "I do not want this, but if it is introduced Guinness's stout will have to be advertised on it and we will have to put it on the cost of the beer. The customer will have to pay."
§ Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing
I did not hear the speech, but I do not think that the noble Lord said that they would have to put it on the cost of the beer.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Lord Moyne was also grumbling that the advertising agents would take the cost out of his funds without his getting anything in return. In other words, he said that he would be forced by competition to advertise and to spend money, and that that money would be a complete loss to the community and certainly to Guinness's. He objected to being forced into this expenditure.
It is a great mistake to have all this duplication until the services can be extended. As a matter of fact, television has only a very limited source from which to draw for its entertainment and education. Instead of spreading that supply over two or three stations, all competing from the same limited supply of talent, it would be better to expend the capital in extending the field from which to draw education and entertainment not only to the Continent but perhaps throughout the world. Also, the service should be extended to every part of the country. That 437 would be a much wiser way, but the Government have decided to force the Bill through Parliament.
One of the main objections of Scotland to the Bill is that it is carrying on a tendency which is destroying the balance of population. Merely because of the conglomeration of people in London every service that is established comes to London. Television makes London more attractive. More people want to live there and, because more people live in London, more people want to have shops and light industries in London and we have to have more houses for them. London is growing like a great octopus.
The Labour Government, in their public planning, tried to stop this tendency, but one cannot automatically disperse the population. They tried to stop it growing. One of the things that must be done to stop the population growing is to place these attractions in Scotland, Wales and the rural areas. Eventually, television will be one of the great instruments for persuading people to stay in the countryside. Instead of attracting them to London it ought to be attracting them to the countryside. Even if at first it does not bring great profits to commercial television, the station ought to be placed in the countryside. This shows the disadvantage of having an economic basis for all these progressive measures.
London gets bridges because there is a great population. Scotland cannot get a Forth Road Bridge although it would link up the Great North Road from the south to the north of the country. Scotland and Wales cannot get any amenities, simply because London has a great population. London is the great, bloated office boy of the Empire. The clerks and administrators in London must get all the advantages, and the people who do the work in the rural parts of the country, the people who produce the wealth that keeps London, get no amenities at all.
The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) does not seem to want any amenities for Northern Ireland. The unemployed will have to leave Northern Ireland to come to London to try to get jobs and amenities which Ireland cannot provide.
§ Captain Orr
On a point of order. I should like to take up this point with the right hon. Gentleman at a later stage, 438 but might I inquire whether he is in order now in developing an argument about unemployment in Northern Ireland?
§ The Chairman
That is not a point of order. If the right hon. Gentleman was not in order, I should stop him.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that if economics are to decide, people will be brought to London, and Northern Ireland will be depopulated, as Scotland is being depopulated, by this conglomeration around London.
It is sheer madness that the Government should be spending millions of pounds to try to defend the country while building up a population in London that makes a target which, if destroyed, would destroy the whole economy of the country. That would happen if an atomic bomb or a hydrogen bomb fell on London. Even from the point of view of national policy the population ought to be dispersed. I suggest that the Highlands, Ireland and Wales would be ideal places, because bombs would not do nearly so much damage among the mountains.
This Bill is just another of the tendencies to cater for and pander to the overgrown population of London, giving it every possible advantage. Sooner or later, the Government will have to think about this matter and they will realise that economic profit is not the way which will enable the country to progress. Unless we have some social purpose in what we do the country will destroy itself by this continual running after profit, for it will bring about its own destruction in the long run.
We object to the proposal not only because we shall be paying for something which we shall not get, but also because this is a continuation of something which is disturbing and destroying the proper balance of our population. Our purpose should be the reverse; it should be to build the stations where we can attract people back to the countryside, where they will be able to produce wealth instead of consuming it.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Shackleton
I should be grateful for the Home Secretary's patience, which has been very noticeable during the debate, while I attempt to sum up what 439 seems to me to be the Government's attitude to the development of competitive television services for the less populated areas. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not accept the view of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) that it will not be until the Greek Kalends that Northern Ireland will get commercial television. If the hon. and gallant Member does not know what the Greek Kalends are, I am sure that his right hon. and learned Friend will tell him.
I am sure that "never" is not in the Home Secretary's vocabulary, but it appears—I am anxious to be as fair as I can be—that the Government do not contemplate putting any obligation upon the new alternative system to provide coverage for at least the greater part of the country. I am not arguing on the wording of particular Amendments. If we could get agreement on the substance of what we seek, I am sure that my hon. Friend would consider withdrawing the Amendment.
What we seek is clear and simple. We know what has happened in other countries. New York has a choice of 15 programmes but many states there have no television service at all. About 40 per cent. of the population of America have no television programme. I know that there may be reasons of range and so on for that, but it seems wrong that a thickly populated area, whether London or New York, should have a choice of several services while parts of the country are far worse served.
I suggest that we should try to arrive at an agreement about this and that similar obligations should be imposed upon both the B.B.C. and the new commercial system. We should determine that, as a minimum, the commercial system and the B.B.C. shall not be permitted to develop an alternative service until an agreed proportion of the country is provided with its first service. I do not know what the figure should be, whether it should be 80 per cent. or 90 per cent.—there will be certain areas where there will be great difficulties—but this seems to be elementary justice. In view of what my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) has said about the desirability of establishing competitive services, this seems 440 to me to be consistent with the Government's declared aims.
I appreciate the difficulties if this is to be dependent upon profit. I am not saying this in an aggressive sense, for I realise that there is difficulty, but it seems to me reasonable that, in return for the facilities and concessions which we give them, the commercial companies should accept certain obligations. Leaving aside the wording of the Amendments, it is clear that their purpose is that an obligation should be laid upon the commercial companies, not in the vague terms of the Bill, but in precise terms. If the Government would be prepared to consider it, the necessary provision could be inserted in the Bill at a later stage. I hope that the Home Secretary will think that this is a fair and reasonable suggestion and will consider it.
§ Mr. Warbey
The case of the Government and, in particular, of the Home Secretary, who unlike some members of the Government has a conscience about these matters and is concerned to proclaim the serious purpose of the Bill all the time, is that their purpose is to ensure that the people of the country are provided with an alternative television service.
§ Mr. Warbey
Yes, the right hon. and learned Gentleman wants to break the monopoly of the B.B.C. and to provide the people of the country with an alternative service.
The purpose of the Amendment, to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman did rather scant justice, is to ascertain how far the implied undertaking of the Government will be realised in practice and how far our people will get an alternative television service as a result of the Bill. What we have been told has been unsatisfactory but, at the same time, illuminating. The Home Secretary thought that when the new stations under the Authority were established, the coverage might be 55 per cent. or a little more. It is clear that nearly half the population will not be covered.
That half of the population will be situated not only in large parts of Scotland and Wales but also in large parts of England. The hon. Member for Kemptown (Mr. H. Johnson) is concerned 441 about his part of England. Other parts of England ought to know what their fate will be. To what extent will south-west England get an alternative service under the Bill? To what extent will East Anglia and Lincolnshire get an alternative service? What are the chances for north-east England and for Cumberland? It seems to me that their chances are very small indeed.
Our people are being asked to contribute in three ways towards the establishment of the service, and they ought to know what they are paying for and whether they will get any return for what they pay. Nearly half the people will have to pay in three ways for something from which they will get no return whatsoever.
The people will have to pay through the general national taxation to the initial grant of £2 million for capital expenditure. Perhaps "grant" is an improper word. The Treasury may hope at some very distant date to get back some of the money, but, having seen the example of the National Film Finance Corporation, I am not sure that we can be very optimistic about money going back into the national Exchequer at an early date. For the time being at least, the taxpayers will be making a contribution to the Authority.
All the licence holders—not only the 55 per cent. who will be able to enjoy an alternative service, but also the 45 per cent. who will not—will make their contribution to the £750,000 a year which is to be given to the Authority. Also, all consumers will have to make their contribution towards the costs of the advertising agencies and the firms which advertise on this service. I hope that no one will suggest that the costs of advertising are not a part of the costs of production of the firms concerned. Therefore, the public will pay in three ways, and nearly half of them will get nothing for it. If this debate has established nothing else, it has at least made clear to the people of this country that what the Government offer to them is rather less than half a loaf, for which they will have to pay for rather more than the whole.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
One thing we can say about the Home Secretary is that, generally, he tries to give an honest and sincere answer to the points 442 that are put to him, and I rather regretted today that the right hon. and learned Gentleman found himself in a position in which he just could not do it. He is not a very artful dodger; indeed, we might even christen him the unartful dodger.
When the hon. Member for Kemptown (Mr. H. Johnson) put a categorical question to him, which could and should have been answered, and which the country and those interested in the development of an Independent Television Authority would like to have answered, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he had nothing to add. Surely, out of fairness to the rest of the country, which will be paying for this new venture in some measure—indeed, as one of my hon. Friends said, to a great extent—it cannot be right that in London there should be two or three alternative programmes when other parts of the country will be denied even a single programme. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was asked that question, and he refused to answer it, and, thereby, he went down considerably in my estimation. I know that he will rise again, and I blame the Government more than the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
I also thought that the Home Secretary was unfair when he talked of a conflict in this group of Amendments. If he would prefer us to take our Amendments one at a time, we will gladly do so, but we grouped these Amendments to assist the Government and speed the passage of the Bill. Simply because an hon. Member has put down an Amendment which differs from some others, it should not be open to the right hon. and learned Gentleman to talk about a certain amount of conflict.
I think hon. Gentlemen opposite were right to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that here we seem to be supporting commercial television and to want it in Scotland, whereas, earlier, we had been stressing our fears of the evils implicit in it. That is seemingly true, but the important fact is that, if the Government will accept this Amendment, then I am quite sure they will accept all our other Amendments, and if they do that throughout the Committee stage, it will completely transform this Bill and certainly mitigate many of the evils about which we have spoken. It was for that 443 reason that we put down these Amendments, but, judging by the reception they have received from the Home Secretary, I do not think the Government will accept them.
When we asked when we were to get an alternative programme for the whole country, and when we protested that we should really be paying for a service which we were not receiving, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, very unconvincingly, that it would be for only a short time. Is he so sure about that? He said that he expects 50 per cent. coverage.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
No. I said I thought they would start with more than the 55 per cent. that had been suggested. I said I had not got any exact estimate, but that the 55 per cent. was lower than what we believe will be the figure.
§ Mr. Ross
It will start about that, but that is no great consolation to the people of Scotland, and, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman adds 25 per cent. on to that, it probably would still not bring in a single Scot at all. It depends entirely on who will control the expense; and it certainly will not be the Home Secretary.
Then, the Home Secretary said that he was not prepared to put on the Independent Television Authority an obligation which did not lie on the B.B.C. There may not be a statutory obligation on the B.B.C. to cover the whole country, but, certainly, the B.B.C. has accepted that obligation. It has accepted it at the request of this House, and I have heard one Assistant Postmaster-General after another proclaim this very thing in this House.
Where are all the Scottish Conservatives? Where is the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir)? Surely, the Assistant Postmaster-General remembers the Question which she put to him before the Coronation, insisting that Aberdeen must get a transmitter. Where is the noble Lady today? Is she appealing for the people of Aberdeen? Where are all the other hon. Members from the North-East of England, who used to put the same question? They have been conspicuous 444 by their silence. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait a bit."] Well, I have been waiting for several hours, and the hon. Gentleman has had plenty of opportunity.
The Home Secretary was very weak in his argument in this respect. This is the time when we should be putting these obligations on the Independent Television Authority. After all, what was the proclamation of hon. Gentlemen opposite? It was that the country needed an alternative service, and ought not to rely on the B.B.C. It was suggested that it would take the B.B.C. a long time and that it would be very expensive, and that the right way to do it was to set up commercial television. That would give an alternative service. Now we learn from the Home Secretary that we are not to get a national alternative programme at once. Indeed, there was no indication in his speech that we shall ever get it at all, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows it.
I do not think it should be the Home Secretary who should be replying to the debate on these Amendments. We have a Cabinet Minister who is responsible for one of the countries affected by this proposal. The right hon. Gentleman looked into the House for a few fleeting minutes, but, for some reason, he flitted away and left a junior Under-Secretary of State for Scotland with a watching brief. Really, we have a Minister who is responsible for Scotland. We have also a Minister of State and three Joint Undersecretaries, and yet it is the poor Minister for Welsh Affairs who is left with the whole burden. It may be because he is a Scotsman; I do not know.
What we have been trying to do in these Amendments is to put into the Bill what hon. Gentlemen opposite have been saying, and to remove what to my mind is a blemish. The Bill states that there shall be an obligation on the Independent Television Authority to providetelevision broadcasting services … for so much of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands as may from time to time be reasonably practicable.We have had no indication—or, at least, a very slight indication—from the Home Secretary as to what considerations will apply when we come to decide what is reasonably practicable. The right hon. and learned Gentleman tried to differentiate between his approach and that of 445 my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), but, from what I could understand, they were both the same.
I am not going into the subjective and objective considerations, questions of finance, and so on. All that it means is that the responsibility for that decision, and the responsibility for making the decision whether the service will be profitable or not, will rest with the I.T.A., and they will only do it if they are spurred on to do it by the programme contractors. The advertisers, who, in the end, are to provide the main amount of the money, will be the people who will be deciding whether the stations shall be set up or not, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows it.
§ Mr. Ross
I think I mentioned this matter yesterday, when I said that it was very silly to call it an independent Authority, when the Postmaster-General will be able to say where to site the stations. There is no guarantee here. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks differently, why did he not say so in replying to the debate? The purpose of every speech was to ask whether or not Wales was to be properly covered and to express fears that the Independent Television Authority was so much dependent upon advertisers that their interests and not the needs of the people in a particular area would decide whether a service would be provided. The contractor will decide whether a service is reasonable and practicable. It will not be the Government or the Postmaster-General. In the last resort, it will be the advertisers. What will be considered will be density of population. The outlying parts of Scotland will have to wait a long time to get an alternative programme, if they are ever to get it at all.
In these Amendments we challenge the supporters of this alternative system of television. The Home Secretary has failed to prove that it will go even half way towards covering the country. London will be put before Lossiemouth, and Motherwell will come a long way after Manchester.
§ Mr. Hamilton
The Home Secretary did himself less than justice in attributing 446 to us a motive different from that which was attributed by other hon. Members behind him. We have been told that this is a political manoeuvre on our part, because we are afraid that when the people of Scotland get commercial television—if they ever do—they will like it and that we can then say that we pressed for it to be provided earlier than the Government were willing to do it. The Home Secretary said that the Amendments were, on the admission of my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), wrecking Amendments, and that this was a demonstration that had gone far enough.
The Amendments depend upon a principle which underlines the philosophy of our party, that of fair shares for every citizen. However important the 9 million people in the London area may be, we cannot accept the suggestion that they are more important than the 5 million people who are doing a good job of work in Scotland and Wales. We are not concerned in these Amendments with the merits or demerits of commercial television.
We have no wish to inflict these commercial programmes on the Scottish people. Because we say that, it has been argued that it is inconsistent for us to want the system extended to Scotland. A second programme would be good, but this is not the best way to do it. However, the principle was accepted by the House of Commons on Second Reading, and we have to make the best of what we think is a bad job. The Home Secretary replied to points made by my hon. Friend for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), but I deprecate the attack he made on my hon. Friend for his absence. My hon. Friend is one of the most conscientious Members—
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I did not mean to attack the hon. Member for Dundee. East (Mr. G. M. Thomson). I am glad he is back in the Committee. Another hon. Member was wanting to interrupt while I was dealing with the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee, East, and all I intended to say was that it would have been a reasonable interruption if it had been made by the hon. Member for Dundee, East and not by anyone else. I did not mean to make any reflection on the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I express my apologies to the Home Secretary for any seeming discourtesy. I was called out of the Committee on very urgent business.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I quite accept that. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not think there is any aspersion upon him.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I quite understand the position of the Home Secretary, particularly after he heard the result of the local elections in Dundee. They do not give him and his party cause for congratulation.
The reply of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to my hon. Friend was, as he admitted, an old one, relating to the relatively small proportion of the licence fee involved. Coming from the Home Secretary, that was a feeble effort. My hon. Friend had also made the point that people would be paying for something they were not likely to get, which would raise prices in the shops because they would be paying for an increased cost of living. The right hon. and learned Gentleman challenged that on the ground that advertisements usually resulted in price decreases. I do not think the price of tea now bears that out, in view of the amount of advertisement that the tea companies are pursuing. On what basis is the Secretary of State for Scotland excluded from the provisions of the Bill?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
He is not excluded. As my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General said in a previous debate, we expect that parts of Scotland and Wales will be covered.
§ Mr. Hamilton
I fully understand that, but the parts that will be included will depend on priorities. On what basis will Birmingham and Manchester get priority over Glasgow? Figures show that a commercial transmitted in Glasgow would cover almost as great a population as one set up in the Birmingham or Manchester area. If a transmitter were set up in the Glasgow area, I believe that it would cover a population of something like 3½ million, which is 65 or 70 per cent. of the total population of Scotland. I should have thought that on that basis alone—I do not know what the technical difficulties are—there is just as great a case to be made for Glasgow as there is for Birmingham or Manchester. I leave out of the question the problem of London.
448 7.30 p.m.
The point has been made, and not adequately answered by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that London is being mollycoddled in every kind of way, particularly in regard to commercial television, and at a time when, as my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) said, we are trying to do everything possible to get some of the population out of London, we are increasing attractions which are likely to bring more people into London. I urge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to look again at the Scottish question to see whether Scotland can have priority, if not over London, at any rate over Birmingham and Manchester.
Without associating myself with the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), I wish to try to put quite bluntly the main point which has emerged from this debate, and which, of course, emerged from the reply to the question asked by the hon. Member for Kemp-town (Mr. H. Johnson). I think that the hon. Member for Kemptown has every reason to feel slightly cross with the Home Secretary and with several of his hon. Friends from whom he might have expected some support on this point, because in the past we have heard many of them make comparable demands on the Assistant Postmaster-General in relation to the B.B.C.
The hon. and learned Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bell), who is well liked on both sides of the Committee, looked as though he intended to speak. I thought that the Whip had not wandered up to the third bench by accident; I am sure he was not there to talk about the weather to 'the hon. and learned Gentleman. But it is a pity that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not press his point. I think that the Home Secretary has been less than fair to the B.B.C., and was a little less forthcoming to the Committee on this subject than he usually is. I do not say that he lacked candour, because that is not like the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
The Home Secretary took refuge in the general plea that these Amendments sought to lay upon the new Authority an obligation that was not laid upon the 449 B.B.C. I think that is a fair statement of a section of his argument. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, as certainly does his hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General, knows perfectly well that the B.B.C. has extended its television transmission to meet the needs of the community and not in relation to its density. He knows perfectly well that the B.B.C. has now five high-power transmitters, and that there is an agreement under which it is to erect five medium-power transmitters.
That will give the B.B.C. a coverage of between 90 and 95 per cent. of the entire population of these islands. That is what the B.B.C. intends to do, and is expected to do. Does the Assistant Postmaster-General wish to interrupt? No. I should not have thought that there would be an interruption on that point, because the B.B.C. would have been able to reach that saturation point of 95 per cent. more quickly if funds were not being taken from it, if capacity were not being absorbed from it, and if channels were not going to be tubed as a result of this Bill.
§ Mr. Gammans
I cannot agree with that statement. The setting up of this Authority would in no sense affect the growth of the B.B.C.'s progress.
I am not a technician and have no authority for making this statement, but my understanding of the matter is that at present there is a paucity of channels. I understand that the need for channels will be met by removing other services from existing channels, and that therefore this Authority is being placed in front of the B.B.C. in terms of the present available channels. Is that wrong?
§ Mr. Gammans
It is wrong when put in the way in which the right hon. Gentleman puts it. The B.B.C. has had sanction for the provision of one programme for the whole country. This proposal to set up an Independent Television Authority in no way affects that position. As I told the House yesterday, the machinery and transmitters have all been ordered, and therefore it has no effect on the coverage of the country.
But the hon. Gentleman does not attempt to answer my point. I 450 know, but apparently the Home Secretary does not, that the B.B.C. has engaged itself to secure a coverage of between 90 and 95 per cent. of the country.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The right hon. Gentleman did not hear me say that after this programme of capital investment the B.B.C.'s coverage would, according to my information, be 97 per cent. I went even further than the right hon. Gentleman.
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I wish he would swallow his own figures and then pursue the logic of them, because he certainly said in my hearing that we were seeking by these Amendments to place upon the new Authority an obligation which we did not seek to impose upon the B.B.C. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is agreeable to the B.B.C. reaching a coverage for the whole country of between 90 and 95 per cent. before his hon. and right hon. Friends will contemplate permitting the Authority to develop its second programme in any area, then, of course, he will be directly answering his hon. Friend the Member for Kemptown and will be removing many of our fears. But he has not said that. I would gladly give way if he wished to say it, but he does not. I must assume that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is unwilling to give such an undertaking, and, therefore, he is scarcely being reasonable in his apparent anxiety to treat the B.B.C. and the new Authority as equals.
The Assistant Postmaster-General says, "No second programme until this figure of 97 per cent. coverage is secured." But he does not say that for the new Authority. Why not? He knows perfectly well that the programme contractors will not be attracted to supplying a service for the areas for which my hon. Friends have pleaded and which are set out in the Amendments. The hon. Member for Kemptown knows the difficulty. He knows perfectly well that if the commercial conditions exist for a second programme in London before the wishes of his constituents in Kemptown have been met, a second programme will be provided. The hon. Gentleman knows the condition in the United States. There are many areas there where there are no television services at all; but the hon. Gentleman knows that he could walk into 451 any New York—I was going to say into any saloon in New York, but I am sure that he would not do that—he could walk into many private homes in New York and have the choice of seven channels.
The hon. Member for Kemptown knows the answer—there is no mystery about it. It is because it is profitable to run seven services in New York and not profitable to run them for 65 per cent. of the rest of the United States. [HON. MEMBERS: "Thirty-five per cent."] I may have got my percentages wrong, but the Home Secretary has not got his answer pat either. He has been given repeated opportunities before the hon. Gentleman arrived to meet issues raised, not by us, but by his hon. Friend.
I was not attempting to say that the hon. Gentleman had not been here, but in the hon. Gentleman's absence the right hon. and learned Gentleman was given opportunities and did not take them. He will not reply to this question, and the whole Committee must conclude that the Government are unwilling to declare that under the Authority part of the country will have an alternative service before other parts, and that, of course, London and Birmingham will have more than one programme. The basis of their argument, therefore, disappears.
To us and to the public they say, "Look at us generous, far-sighted, public-spirited men. We want to compete with the B.B.C.'s monopoly—but not in Aberdeenshire. The B.B.C. can have Aberdeenshire. Not in South-West England—the B.B.C. can still have the monopoly there. Not in Wales—no, the B.B.C. will be permitted the monopoly there, too." It will be permitted the monopoly wherever the robbers who are called contractors do not think that the prospect is attractive.
I am sorry that I do not see opposite any of the hon. Gentlemen who sit for the Scottish constituencies—
I am sorry. I think that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) has displayed a consist- 452 ent interest in this subject. I did him a great injustice. I am sure that outside the House he has pursued it with greater vigour than I have. But he must be feeling pretty lonely. I might also say that he has not been the most unreasonable of the Scottish Members. I have not heard him make demands on the B.B.C. that are not commensurate with the demands made upon the new Authority. I may however refer to the Aberdeenshire Members.
I shall be quite certain that his vote is recorded or accounted for.
The real difficulty does not lie in Aberdeenshire. The distribution of votes there is not too tough. But I should think that some of the hon. Gentlemen who sit, with a nice narrow majority, for example, in South Lanarkshire, will feel fairly uncomfortable when the second alternative service is given by the new Authority in London while they still have to enjoy the monopoly of the B.B.C.
Regretfully I must say that I think that the debate on this set of Amendments has been unsatisfactory. No one expected the Home Secretary to be able to say that all the Amendments would be accepted—
There are some which are exclusive, I quite agree. The Committee expected the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the Government would see that these people—who are getting public funds in order to make further profit—would be bound by undertakings similar to those binding the public service, the B.B.C. That is not unreasonable. Despite all the propaganda, the people in those areas which are not to be served are contributing. They have a right to expect to share the benefits which the right hon. and learned Gentleman claimed for this organisation.
It would have been a great pleasure if from the right hon. and learned Gentleman we could have had an undertaking that at a later stage he would find a form of words—and there is no one better in this Committee at finding a form of words 453 —which would have expressed that intention, and enabled us to withdraw these Amendments.
The Home Secretary directed our attention to Clause 6 (4). I shall be delighted if, at the appropriate stage the right hon. and learned Gentleman tells us that in terms of that Clause, if an approximate equal coverage to the B.B.C. is not being undertaken by the new Authority, he will see to it that no licence is available for second programmes. At that stage of course, we shall have to reconsider our position. However, I do not think he will say that either. We have all noticed that the subsection carefully lays down that the Authority can do the limited things it is permitted to do only after or in consultation with
§ the Postmaster-General. The Authority will therefore be permitted to prevail.
§ Many people in the remoter areas will test the good intentions of the Government—and many people are anxious to believe that the Government have good intentions here—by whether they are willing to set public need at any rate at a parity with the profit of these private contractors who are to be given public funds. If the Government cannot give any indication, then, of course, we shall have to divide the Committee.
§ Question put, "That the words 'so much of' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 252: Noes, 242.457
|Division No. 86.]||AYES||[7.48 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddingnton, S.)||Drayson, G. B.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Duthie, W. S.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Erroll, F. J.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Finlay, Graeme||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Fisher, Nigel||Kaberry, D.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Kerr, H. W.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Readling, N.)||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Lambert, Hon G.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Fort, R.||Langford-Holt, J. A|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Foster, John||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Birch, Nigel||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Bishop, F. P||Fyfe, Rt. Hen. Sir David (Maxwell||Lindsay, Martin|
|Black, C. W.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Linstead, Sir H. N.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A||Gammans, L. D.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Braine, B. R.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Lookwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Glover, D.||Longden, Gilbert|
|Braithwaite Sir Gurney||Godber, J. B.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Gomme-Dunoan, Col A.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Cough, C. F. H.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Gower, H. R.||McAdden, S. J|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Graham, Sir Fergus||MoCallum, Major D.|
|Bullard, D. C.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hall, John (Wyoombe)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Harden, J. R. E.||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maokie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Carr, Robert||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Channon, H.||Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Harvey-Watt, Sir George||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastls)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Hay, John||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Heath, Edward||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Cole, Norman||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Marples, A. E.|
|Delegate, W. A.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Maude, Angus|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hills, Mrs. E. (Wythemhawe)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Crookshank, Capt, Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hirst. Geoffrey||Mellor, Sir John|
|Crouch, R. F.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hollis, M. C.||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S)||Holt, A. F.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hope, Lord John||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Neave, Airey|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Horobin, I. M.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Nield, Basil (Chester)||Roper, Sir Harold||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Thompson, Lt-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Russell, R. S.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Odey, G. W.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Tilney, John|
|O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Scott, R. Donald||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Orr, Cap). L. P. S.||Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.||Turton, R. H.|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Shepherd, William||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Osborne, C.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Page, R. G.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Perkins, Sir Robert||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Soames, Capt. C.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Peyton, J. W. W.||Spearman, A. C. M||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M||Speir, R. M.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Pitman, I. J.||Stevens, G. P.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Pitt, Miss E. M.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Walkinson, H. A.|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Profumo, J. D.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wellwood, W.|
|Raikes, Sir Victor||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Ramsden, J. E.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Studholme, H. G.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Rees-Davies, W. R||Summers, G. S.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold||Wills, G.|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Ridsdale, J. E.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Teeling, W.|
|Robertson, Sir David||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Sir Cedric Drewe and|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Delargy, H. J||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Adams, Richard||Dodds, N. N.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Albu, A. H.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Edelman, M.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Evans, Edward (Lowesloft)||Jones, T. W (Merioneth)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Keenan, W|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Fernyhough, E.||Kenyon, C.|
|Baird, J.||Finch, H. J.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Fletcher, Eric (Islington. E.)||King, Dr. H M|
|Bartley, P.||Follick, M.||Kinley, J.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Forman, J. C.||Lawson, G. M|
|Bence, C. R.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Benson, G.||Glbson, C. W.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Beswick, F.||Glanville, James||Lindgren, G, S|
|Blackburn, F||Gooch, E. G.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Logan, D. G.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||McGhee, H. G|
|Boardman, H.||Grey, C. F.||McGovern, J|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon A. G||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mclnnes, J.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Grimond, J.||McLeavy, F.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvll (Colne Valley)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H|
|Brock, Dryden (Halifax)||Hamilton, W. W||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D||Hannan, W.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hargreaves, A.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hastings, S.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney. S.)||Hayman, F. H.||Marquand, Rt. Hon H. A.|
|Callaghan, L. J||Healey, Dennis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mason, Roy|
|Carmichael, J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hewitson, Capt M||Messer, Sir F.|
|Chapman, W. D||Hobson, C. R||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Holman, P.||Monslow, W.|
|Clunie, J.||Houghton, Douglas||Moody, A. S.|
|Collick, P. H||Hoy, J. H.||Morgan, Dr. H B. W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hubbard, T. F.||Morley, R.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Crosland, C. A. R||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H (Lewisham, S.)|
|Crossman, R. H S||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N)||Mort, D. L.|
|Culler, Mrs. A||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Moyle, A.|
|Daines, D.||Hynd, J. B. (Atteroliffe)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Murray, J. D.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfieid, E.)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Nally, W.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Janner, B.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P J.|
|Deer, G.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Orbach, M.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E||Wallace, H. W.|
|Oswald, T.||Short, E. W.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Padley, W. E.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Weitzman, D.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Pannell, Charles||Skeffington, A. M.||West, D. G.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Parker, J.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Pearson, A.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Sparks, J. A.||Wigg, George|
|Popplewell, E.||Steels, T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Porter, G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Willey, F. T.|
|Proctor, W. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Swingler, S. T.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Rankin, John||Sylvester, G. O.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Willis, E. G.|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Reid, William (Camlachie)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Rhodes, H.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Richards, R.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon A.|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thornton, E.||Yates, V. F.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Timmons, J.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Tomney, F.|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ross, William||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Mr. Holmes and Mr. J. T. Price.|
|Royle, C.||Usborne, H. C.|
Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 15, at end, insert:
Provided that within six months after the Authority shall first have provided a programme from a station situated in England, they shall provide a programme for Scotland
§ or some part of Scotland from a station situated in Scotland.—[Mr. Gordon Walker.]
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 241: Noes, 252.461
|Division No. 87.]||AYES||[8.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir. Richard||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hargreaves, A.|
|Adams, Richard||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Albu, A. H.||Crosland, C. A. R.||Hastings, S.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Grossman, R. H. S.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Daines, P.||Herbison, Miss. M.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Davies Harold (Leek)||Holman, P.|
|Baird, J.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Bartley, P.||Deer, G.||Hoy, J. H.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Delargy, H. J.||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Bence, C. R.||Dodds, N. N.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Benson, G.||Edelman, M.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Beswick, F.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Blackburn, F.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Boardman, H.||Fernyhough, E.||Janner, B.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Finch, H. J.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Follick, M.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Bowles, F. G.||Forman, J. C.||Jenkins, R. H. (Steehford)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Gibson, C. W.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Glanville, James||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Gooch, E. G.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Keenan, W.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Kenyon, C.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Grey, C. F.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Carmichael, J.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Kinley, J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Grimond, J.||Lawson, G. M.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Clunie, J.||Hamilton, W. W.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Collick, P. H.||Hannan. W.||Lindgren, G S|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Parker, J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Logan, D. G.||Parkin, B. T.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Pearson, A.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|McGovern, J.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|McInnes, J.||Popplewell, E.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mckay, John (Wallsend)||Porter, G.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|McLeavy, F.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Proctor, W. T.||Thornton, E.|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Pryde, D. J.||Timmons, J.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Tomney, F.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Rankin, John||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Reeves, J.||Ungoed-Thomas, sir Lynn|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Viant, S. P.|
|Manuel, A. C.||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Rhodes, H.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mason, Roy||Richards, R.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Messer, Sir F.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Monslow, W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||West, D. G.|
|Moody, A. S.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Ross, William||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Morley, R.||Royle, C.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Morris, Parcy (Swansea, W.)||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wigg, George|
|Mort, D. L.||Short, E. W.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Moyle, A.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mulley, F. W.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Willey, F. T.|
|Murray, J. D.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Nally, W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Skeffington, A. M.||Williams, W. R. (Draylsden)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Willis, E. G.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Orbach, M.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Oswald, T.||Sparks, J. A.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Padley, W. E.||Steele, T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Yates, V. F,|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Pannell, Charles||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Swingler, S. T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Holmes and Mr. J. T. Price.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Cole, Norman||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Colegate, W. A.||Gower, H. R.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hall, John (Wyoombe)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Crookshank, Capt Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Harden, J. R. E.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crouch, R. F.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Davidson, Viscountess||Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Deedes, W. F.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||Hay, John|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Heath, Edward|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Drayson, G. B.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Birch, Nigel||Drewe, Sir C.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Black, C. W.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Duthie, W. S.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Braine, B. R.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Erroll, F. J.||Holt, A. F.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Finlay, Graeme||Hope, Lord John|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Fisher, Nigel||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Horobin, I. M.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Billiard, D. G.||Fort, R.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Carr, Robert||Gammans, L. D.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Channon, H.||Garner-Evans, E. H||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Glover, D.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Godber, J. B||Kaberry, D.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Odey, G. W.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Kerr, H. W.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Osborne, C.||Summers, G. S.|
|Lindsay, Martin||Page, R. G.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Teeling, W.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pitman, I. J.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Powell, J. Enoch||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Profumo, J. D.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|McAdden, S. J.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Tilney, John|
|McCallum, Major D.||Ramsden, J. E.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Tunner, H. F. L.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Redmayne, M.||Turton, R. H.|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Renton, D. L. M.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Ridsdale, J. E.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Robertson, Sir David||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horneastle)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Roper, Sir Harold||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Maude, Angus||Russell, R. S.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C|
|Medlicott, Brig. F.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Mellor, Sir John||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Wellwood, W.|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Scott, R. Donald||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Moore, Sir Thomas||Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Shepherd, William||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Neave, Airey||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Wills, G.|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Nield, Basil (Chester)||Spearman, A. C. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Speir, R. M.||Mr. Studholme and Mr. Robert Allan|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 15, at the end, insert:
Provided that within six months after the Authority shall first have provided a programme from a station situated in England, they shall provide a programme for Wales or
§ some part of Wales from a station situated in Wales.—[Mr. Gordon Walker.]
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 252.
|Division No. 88.]||AYES||[8.11 p.m|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Delargy, H. J|
|Adams, Richard||Brockway, A. F.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Albu, A. H.||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Edelman, M.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Brown, Thomas (Inoe)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Burton, Miss F. E.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Callaghan, L. J.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Baird, J.||Carmichael, J.||Finch, H. J.|
|Bartley, P.||Champion, A. J.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Chapman, W. D.||Follick, M.|
|Benee, C. R.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Forman, J. C.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Clunie, J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Benson, G.||Collick, P. H.||Gaitekell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N|
|Beswick, F.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gibson, C. W.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Craddock, George (Bradford. S.)||Glanville, James|
|Blackburn, F.||Crosland, C. A. R.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Crossman, R. H. S||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Boardman, H.||Daines, P.||Grey, C. F.|
|Bottomley, Rt, Hon. A. G.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Grimond, J.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Deer, G.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Mason, Roy||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Mellish, R. J.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Hannan, W.||Messer, Sir F.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Hargreaves, A.||Mitchinson, G. R.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Monslow, W.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hastings, S.||Moody, A. S.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Steele, T.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Morley, R.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Howitson, Capt. M.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Mort, D. L.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Holman, P.||Moyle, A.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Mulley, F. W.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Murray, J. D.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Nally, W.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oldfield, W. H.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oliver, G. H.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Orbach, M.||Thornton, E.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Oswald, T.||Timmons, J.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Padley, W. E.||Tomney, F.|
|Janner, B.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Pannell, Charles||Viant, S. P.|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Parker, J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Parkin, B. T.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pearson, A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Plummer, Sir Leslie.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Popplewell, E.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Keenan, W.||Porter, G|
|Kenyan, C.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||West, D. G.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Proctor, W. T.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Pryde, D. J.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Kinley J.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Lawson, G. M.||Rankin, John||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Reeves, J.||Wigg, George|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Lewis, Arthur||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Rhodes, H.||Willey, F. T.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Richards, R.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Logan, D. G.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|McGovern, J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S)|
|McInnes, J.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Willis, E. G.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|McLeavy, F.||Ross, William||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Royle, C.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Shackleton, E. A. A||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Short, E. W.||Yates, V. F.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Mr. Holmes and Mr. J. T. Price.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Deedes, W. F.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Bullard, D. G.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M&A|
|Banks, Col. C.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Burden, F. F. A.||Drayson, G. B|
|Baxter, A. B.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Drewe, Sir C.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Campbell, Sir David||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Carr, Robert||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Channon, H.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Erroll, F. J.|
|Birch, Nigel||Cole, Norman||Finlay, Graeme|
|Bishop, F. P.||Colegate, W. A.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Black, C. W.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R[ill]|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Ford, Mrs. Patricia|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Crookshank, Cant. Rt. Hon. H. F C||Fort, R.|
|Braine, B. R.||Crouch, R. F.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Gammans, L. D.||McAdden, S. J.||Russell, R. S.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||McCallum, Major D.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Glover, D.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Scott, R. Donald|
|Godber, J, B.||McKibbin, A. J.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Shepherd, William|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Simon, J. E. C. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Gower, H. R.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Speir, R. M.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Marples, A. E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Maude, Angus||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hay, John||Mellor, Sir John||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Heath, Edward||Melson, A. H. E.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Summers, G. S.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Taylor, Cir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Neave, Airey||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicholls, Harmar||Teeling, W.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Holt, A. F.||Nugent, G, R. H.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hope, Lord John||Oakshott, H. D.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Odey, G. W.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Horobin, I. M.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Tilney, John|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Turton, R. H.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Osborne, C.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Page, R. G.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Vosper, D. F.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Pickthorn, K. W. M||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Kaberry, D.||Pitman, I. J.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Kerr, H. W.||Powell, J. Enoch||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Profumo, J. D.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wellwood, W.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Ramsden, J. E.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Rayner, Brig. R||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Potersfield)||Redmayne, M.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Rees-Davies, W. R||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Linstead Sir H. N.||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wills, G.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Renton, D. L. M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Robertson, Sir David||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Longden, Gilbert||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Mr. Studholme and Mr. Robert Allan.|
§ Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 4, at the end, to insert:Provided that unless and until the Postmaster-General otherwise determines by notice in writing to the Authority, a copy of which shall be laid before each House of Parliament, the number of the said other members shall be eight.There should not, I think, be any objection to this Amendment; nor do I think it will detain the Committee very long. There has been a certain amount of criticism that the new Authority will not be sufficiently independent. This is the first of our steps towards making it 466 a little more independent. The Bill says that, apart from the chairman and a deputy-chairman, the Authority shall consist of not fewer than five nor more than eight other members. We seek to have the numbers determined at eight, and that, if, for any reason, the number is reduced below that, the Postmaster-General must lay before each House of Parliament a copy of the notice which, we say, he should give to the Authority of his determination to reduce the number.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield, East)
The right hon. Gentleman might have 467 given a little more explanation of his object. He said that it was to make the Authority more independent. I do not quite follow that argument, and I would ask him what he has in mind in thinking that the Authority must be composed of 10 members altogether. Are some of the members to be full-time and some part-time? Exactly how is the Authority to be made up? Later tonight we shall be discussing the qualifications for membership of the Authority and other matters concerning its composition, but for the present I feel that the right hon. Gentleman, who must have had some very cogent reasons for moving the Amendment, should have given us a little more information.
I am not enthusiastic about making the numbers of any of the public boards and corporations too rigid. It is advantageous to have flexibility on these boards. In the time of the Labour Government we found, as the nationalised industries got into their stride, that from time to time it was necessary to change the composition of the boards, and there was amending legislation. It was decided in some cases that a board should have more full-time members or more part-time members, that at times a board should be enlarged, and that on other occasions that a board should be reduced. I think one needs to hear a few reasons why this Authority should be compelled to start with such a large number of members as 10.
There are only nine Governors of the B.B.C. at present. Of those, three represent the different parts of the United Kingdom. Why should this Authority have a larger number of members than the B.B.C., especially as it is to be responsible only for television, and television of less coverage than the B.B.C. has? Unlike the B.B.C., it will not be responsible for sound broadcasting, too. Nor will it be responsible for producing the programmes to the same extent as the B.B.C. is for producing its programmes.
In other words, the Authority will have less work to do than the B.B.C., and it will have less coverage. Yet it is suggested it should consist of 10 persons. Admittedly, three will represent the different parts of the United Kingdom, as three Governors of the B.B.C. do. Moreover, it will have a capital of only 468 a £2 million loan over a period. Consequently, it is difficult to believe that the Authority will require so large a membership at the outset.
When we were in office hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite hurled taunts at us about "Jobs for the boys" whenever we created boards. Whether we set up a small board or a large board they shouted, "Jobs for the boys." Yet here is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting a board that should be large enough to include, presumably, a certain number of right hon. Gentlemen, perhaps outside the Committee, who would like to be on this Authority.
§ Mr. Davies
In view of some of the things said during this debate we are convinced that there are to be jobs for the wrong boys on this Authority. We have no doubt whatever of that in view of the contacts that have been referred to, that the Assistant Postmaster-General has been having with people who are interested in programme companies and in advertising.
It is not necessary to start with a rigid number of members like this for the Authority. What is wrong with the Bill as it is, whereby there can be up to 10 members including the chairman and deputy-chairman, and the Postmaster-General, in making the appointments, can decide how many there should be? Because of the defeat of an Amendment of ours yesterday it will be necessary for him to find the members of the Authority immediately, but we do not want him to have to rush round to find the full number all at once.
It will not be easy to find the right people for this job. Already, I have no doubt, he has some wrong people in mind. It will not be easy to find the right people, so we should like to hear a few more reasons why the number of the members of the Authority must be fixed rigidly at this number at this stage.
§ Mr. Elliot
Hon. and right hon. Gentle men opposite are a little difficult to satisfy. They complain bitterly that the Independent Television Authority is not sufficiently independent. Whenever any steps are taken towards making it more independent—
§ Mr. Davies
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how increasing the number of the members of the Authority makes it more independent? If it is his view that it does, why does he not propose doubling the number of the members, or having 30, or more?
§ Mr. Elliot
One of our difficulties is that the Opposition do not read the proposed Amendments, their own or those of anyone else. If they had read them they would have seen that this Amendment has to be read with subsequent Amendments—
§ Mr. Elliot
—which will continue to carry out our process. The hon. Gentleman has not even read this Amendment. He complains that it fixes the numbers of the members rigidly. If he had bothered to read the Amendment he would have seen—could I have the hon. Gentleman's attention?
He has asked me a number of questions, and when I am answering perhaps he will do me the honour to listen to my explanation. If he will read the Amendment, he will see that there need not necessarily be 10, but that if the Postmaster-General otherwise determines, he shall inform Parliament. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] The hon. Gentleman asks why should the Postmaster-General bother to inform Parliament; why not leave this to the Postmaster-General?
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
The right hon. Gentleman should make his own speech and leave us to make ours.
§ Mr. Elliot
We think that if this important board should be reduced below that number from time to time, Parliament should be informed. I trust that these few words of explanation will satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ 8.30 p.m.
It is difficult for the Committee when the right hon. Gentleman treats us in a cavalier fashion on an Amendment which deserves serious examination. I quote from memory, but I believe that "Crossbencher" stated that if the right hon. Gentleman's speeches 470 were cut from HANSARD and pasted together the number of columns he spoke in a Session would run the length of the Chamber. Now, however, he has spoken too briefly and I would like more explanation of this Amendment.
In one particular I am entirely with him, and that is that the Postmaster-General should put the notice in writing and place it in the Library of the House of Commons. If all the Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman to this Bill moved us in the direction of, I will not say Parliamentary control but Parliamentary interest, I assure him that I would be with him wherever I could on his Amendments.
Now I come to the number. The right hon. Gentleman sticks rigidly to eight—at any rate, that is what he has put in his Amendment. It deserves more consideration. It may well be that by taking a larger group of eight or 10, including the chairman and deputy-chairman, one could bring in people with other interests and, as a result, the board might be more independent. On the other hand, it might be argued that too big a board is unmanageable, and in that case one is much more likely to be at the mercy of the programme contractors or whoever they may happen to be. It is the experience that the smaller the group the more they can make their influence felt, and one of the criticisms of the Board of Governors of the B.B.C. is this very fact. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has been a Governor of the B.B.C.?
The right hon. Gentleman has held many distinguished posts and it would have been to the credit of the B.B.C. had they had the benefit of his experience on the Board of Governors.
I believe I am right in saying, however, that one of the problems of that Board has been that, being not a large amorphous mass, but a large Board, it tends to be at the mercy of the Director-General. He is, of course, a man of immense power and experience with his base at Broadcasting House and at any given moment he knows much more about what is going on than all the Governors separately or collectively. That problem can be met by having a smaller board, though I am open to be convinced by the right 471 hon. Gentleman one way or another. Therefore, I should like him to tell me why eight would be a better number than five.
§ Mr. Elliot
I say again that it is a little difficult to satisfy hon. Members because now we have moved into an attack upon the B.B.C., which I thought was the model and exemplar of what such things should be. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) is one of the ablest younger Members of the House, so able indeed that his views have tended to merge with ours on this point. The reason which led us to specify a number similar to that of the B.B.C. was that territorial interests should not dominate the board. On the other hand, if the House so thought fit, the number could be reduced by the House concurring with the action of the Postmaster-General, and a notice in writing laid by the Postmaster-General could be prayed against and thereby Parliamentary control could be completely established.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
If this is modelled on the B.B.C., would the right hon. Gentleman tell me why he fixes the number at 10 instead of nine?
§ Mr. Elliot
Exact mathematical calculation would be a little difficult to explain at length. I am quite willing to go into that with the hon. Member outside the Chamber, but I think it would delay the Committee if one went into too great a differentiation between nine and 10. We cannot say that there is much difference between us on that difference in numbers.
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not think that this Amendment is likely to arouse very much opposition on either side of the Committee. It seeks to fix the number of members of the Authority, other than the chairman and deputy-chairman, at eight, and to give the Postmaster-General power to vary that number, with the proviso that he gives notice in writing and lays a copy of the notice before Parliament.
472 We are discussing two separate points. We are discussing the different form of selection, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) commended to the Committee with such delightful brevity, and the question that was raised by the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) as to why there should be 10 governors instead of nine, as in the case of the B.B.C.
§ Mr. Gammans
We shall come to that in a moment. The way in which the Amendment would seek to appoint governors is in line with the procedure by which the B.B.C. governors are appointed. The Charter of the B.B.C. lays down that there shall be nine governors:… or such other number as may from time to time be directed by Order in Council.The Order in Council is used because the B.B.C. is set up by Royal Charter.
Now we come to the point about the additional governor for this Authority. I do not see any objection to it at all and, certainly in the early stages while this new Authority is setting itself up and meeting its teething troubles and overcoming the problems which we are all agreed might arise, I think that there might be an additional governor. In one direction, at any rate, the work of this Authority has no counterpart with the B.B.C., because it is financed in quite a different way. There is something to be said for having at least one additional governor with knowledge and experience of commercial matters.
The other point on which, to my mind, the Amendment is desirable is that it provides the element of flexibility whereby the Postmaster-General can change the number. At this stage it is difficult for us, and it would be almost presumptuous of us, to try to make up our minds in a kind of vacuum as to how the new Authority will develop. In so far as one can foresee the development of an organisation like this, I can foresee that after a year or two the work of the authority might quite sensibly diminish and there would be no need for a full board of 10. As the hon. Member for Enfield, East quite rightly pointed out, in the nationalisation boards set up by his Government there were some ideas and schemes for flexibility. I think that idea of flexibility 473 has been maintained in this Amendment. I am quite prepared to accept it.
§ Mr. Shackleton
This is really a most extraordinary business. We had three little speeches from the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) without any real explanation, and finally we get an explanation from the Assistant Postmaster-General as if in fact this were his Amendment. Whether this is a sop thrown to the back benchers opposite in order that they shall have some chance of speaking on the Bill, I do not know, but the other hon. Members who have put down their names in support of the Amendment have not spoken. I think that on this occasion the Government side of the Committee have quite unnecessarily taken up the time of the Committee.
I do not even now see what the Amendment does. The right hon. Member for Kelvingrove says that the notice, of course, will be subject to Prayer in the House. It will not automatically be subject to the negative Prayer procedure at all. All that the Amendment says is that a copy will be laid before each House of Parliament, but it might be laid in a number of different forms. If the right hon. Member proposes to move Amendments to this Bill, I suggest that he direct his attention to some of the really serious ones and make a really serious speech on the subject.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
I have not previously intervened, but I am a little puzzled about the effect of the Amendment and still more puzzled by the explanation we have been given by the Assistant Postmaster-General. As it stands, subsection (2) of the Clause gives the Assistant Postmaster-General the flexibility of which he spoke, but that flexibility is not in the Amendment. The subsection says:The Authority shall consist of a Chairman, a Deputy Chairman and such other members, not being less than five nor more than eight, as the Postmaster-General may from time to time determine.Surely that gives the Postmaster-General the power to determine the numbers between five and eight without laying anything before the House of Commons and without putting anything in writing. All he has to do is to determine; and if he is questioned, his explanation can be that he has determined within the terms of the Bill.
474 The Amendment of the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) introduces a rigidity into the number on the Authority, and the effect of the Amendment is to say that, unless the Postmaster-General goes through some paraphernalia, the number shall be eight. I can see some quite unnecessary difficulty in going through the processes provided for in the Amendment merely to reduce the number below eight. The House might wish to know what moved the Postmaster-General to give notice in writing to the Authority and to lay a copy before each House of Parliament for the purpose of reducing the number from eight to seven. Quite unjustifiably, hon. Members on both sides might think there might have been some jiggery-pokery and some particular reason why he should reduce the number which led him to go to the length prescribed by the Amendment.
I appeal to the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove to withdraw the Amendment, because it seems to me that it does not really add to the value of the original version and it would be much better to leave it as it is. I simply cannot understand why the right hon. Member should suggest that his Amendment would make this Authority more independent than otherwise it would be. I just do not see the relevance of that. It may be that the right hon. Member was so conscious of his loneliness on the benches opposite that he did not realise what he was saying, but it had no bearing on the Amendment.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I understand that the Assistant Postmaster-General is going to accept the Amendment. Why? If the Amendment is accepted and the proviso is added, what power does it give which is not already included in the Clause? The Clause lays down that there may be eight members, or fewer—anywhere between five and eight. The Amendment says that the number cannot be more than eight. It does not say that there must be five members or fewer than five.
What is the purpose of accepting this Amendment? The only new point which I can see in making such a proposal is that if the number is less than eight, the Assistant Postmaster-General must come to the House of Commons with it. Is that the reason he wishes to 475 accept this Amendment—that he wants to tell the House if there are to be fewer than eight and to give the reasons for such a proposal? Otherwise, it seems to me that this Amendment is purposeless. I think that we are entitled to ask the hon. Gentleman why he is willing to accept this Amendment. What power does it add to the Clause?
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Gammans
I said originally that I did not think that the Amendment was of any substance and I hoped, therefore, that the House would accept it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] The reason we accept it is that it fixes the number to start with at 10 and we think that a good thing, in view of the work which we know the Authority will have to do in the early stages. I do not know why hon. Gentlemen opposite should object to reference to Parliament. I should have thought they would have—[HON. MEMBERS: "It means nothing."] It means something. It means that the proposal has to be laid before Parliament.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Surely it would be meaningless for the Assistant Postmaster-General to take power to submit something to the House unless he also took steps to make sure that the House could discuss it?
§ Mr. Gammans
The House has many opportunities for discussing anything. The point is that this notice has to be laid before the House of Commons. I think that is an advantage, but I never pretended that it was a great advantage. I think that, on balance, this is an Amendment which we should accept.
§ Mr. Shackleton
I am sorry, but that is not good enough. What exactly will this Amendment do? The Assistant Postmaster-General says that the result will be that he will have to tell Parliament. But Parliament could find out. The hon. Gentleman is obliged to tell Parliament about salaries and presumably he will in any case announce who are the members of the Authority at any one 476 time—he has to do so. This Amendment will not confer any power on Parliament to discuss the decisions made. The right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) seemed to suggest that it did, but it does not. If he really wishes to go on with the matter, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw this Amendment and draft an Amendment in a form which would provide additional powers, and bring it forward on Report stage.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
So far as I understand it, the only new point raised by this Amendment is that the House of Commons shall be notified in some form or other when a decision is made. I hope the hon. Gentleman has considered what provision is made in this Bill regarding such a reference to the House and whether the effect will be real and not meaningless. Will the proposal be put before the House in such a form that we can pray against it?
§ Mr. Gammans
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has been a Member of this House longer than I have, and he knows that when anything is notified to Parliament, it gives Parliament certain powers of questioning. The whole matter can be raised in a variety of ways—
§ Mr. Gammans
Questions can be asked about it. It can be raised on the Adjournment, and so on. We consider that in this case, where a new Authority is being set up, that will be an advantage. It is not a very great advantage, and I never pretended that it was; but, on balance, I think that the Amendment is worthy of acceptance, and recommend the Committee to accept it.
§ Mr. Blackburn
This Amendment seems to me to be just nonsense, but I suppose that the Government have decided that at some time or other they must accept an Amendment. Therefore, they propose to accept this one as being fairly innocuous and not very different from the actual Clause.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I think it is presumptuous of the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) to try to dismiss the matter in two or three words, and to 477 say, "I am moving this Amendment and therefore you must accept it." It is presumption. Why it is to be accepted, I do not know. I cannot see any special merit in it compared with the wording of the Clause which refers to:… not being less than five or more than eight.…The Amendment fixes the number at eight, but in any case the Assistant Postmaster-General can make the number eight if he wants to do so. I do not understand why the Amendment should be accepted. We have not yet had a satisfactory explanation.
§ Mr. Elliot
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are extremely difficult to satisfy. They are so difficult to satisfy that even when they are getting Parliamentary control they do not understand it. Anybody who had been here for any length of time would recognise that to put something in the statute is more positive than leaving it at the discretion of the Minister. If the Postmaster-General wishes to vary the number, he will have to inform Parliament.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been complaining that the Authority was too amorphous and too shadowy a body. Here is a step—and there are others later—which gives it a greater security of tenure and makes other arrangements which it would be out of order to discuss now. This debate is beginning to raise in my mind a doubt that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are not so much interested in ascertaining the purpose of the Amendment as in delaying the progress of the Committee.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman asked us to support the Amendment. I should like to ask him a question which I asked the Assistant Postmaster-General but to which I did not get a reply. I should like to know the precise way in which we get Parliamentary control by accepting the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman said that we could ask Questions, but we can ask them under the Clause as drafted. There is no need for an Amendment to enable us to ask Questions. We could ask, "Why have you appointed less than the number provided for?" under the Clause at present. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, since he sponsored the Amendment, to tell us in 478 what way he thinks that it provides us with Parliamentary control.
§ Mr. Elliot
My hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General answered that question. The right hon. Gentleman, with his great experience, knows the answer. I fear that he is talking with his tongue in his cheek. This is an Amendment moved from the back benches to limit the power of the Executive. I should have thought that the Opposition would have been the first to support it. The right hon. Gentleman has had wide Parliamentary experience and he has a great knowledge of our affairs, having held office for many years in great and important offices. He knows that in his Department, if a notice had to be given in writing to the House of Commons, the Department treated the matter with the very greatest circumspection and care. My argument convinced the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will not throw over his own colleague who was convinced by my argument.
§ Sir F. Messer
—but I am concerned with Parliamentary procedure.
When the 1945 Parliament started a special committee was set up for the purpose of considering in what way Parliamentary procedure could be altered. That committee made certain recommendations which were accepted. They were not very revolutionary and they have left the House of Commons still very much in the dark as to how Parliament can gain control unless there is specific reference in an Act of Parliament to control.
I suggest that if it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) to give the House control, he should have mentioned regulations. It is not sufficient to say that Parliament should be notified. There is nothing to determine by what process Parliament is to debate such papers unless it is stated that they are to be laid for a period.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman, who has had a longer experience of the House 479 than I have, although mine extends over 21 years, to tell us in what way we should debate the notification. Would it be on a negative Resolution after 10 p.m., or in what way? If we could be assured that the Amendment gives the House some control we could not possibly object to it. Indeed, we should support it.
§ Mr. Elliot
Hon. Members opposite must decide which horse they are to ride. A minute or two ago they said that the proposal was too rigid and that we should leave the Clause as it is. Now the hon. Gentleman says that there should be something still more rigid. That is not what we want. The hon. Gentleman said that regulations should be introduced and there should be specific provision for praying against the notification, but that would produce exactly the rigidity about which hon. Members opposite were complaining a moment ago.
§ Mr. Elliot
It will be within the recollection of the Committee. Hon. Members were complaining bitterly that this "beautifully flexible" Clause—that is the first sign that they have shown of friendliness towards this Measure—should not be altered to make the procedure more rigid.
§ Mr. Shackleton
The right hon. Gentleman said that it would be subject to the negative Resolution procedure.
§ Mr. Elliot
No, I said that it would be brought to the notice of the House. To bring a matter to the notice of Parliament in writing is putting it before the House. There are innumerable ways in which Parliament can deal with it. I do not suggest that we should apply the ultimate sanction of negative or affirmative Resolutions, for that would be too rigid. We have struck a happy medium. Anyone with Parliamentary experience knows that a notification in writing to Parliament is something which Departments treat with the utmost respect, and they warn Ministers very carefully about the consequences of their action.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that if the Minister has to put in writing whom he has appointed and how many persons he has appointed it will make any difference 480 to whom he appoints and how many he appoints? In any case, under subsection (1) the Minister already has to report to Parliament whom he has appointed to the Authority and what remuneration they shall receive.
That being so, what greater control does Parliament obtain by virtue of the fact that the Minister has to lay on the Table a statement if he increases or decreases the number of members, especially when the notification is merely laid on the Table? Every day we see on the Order Paper a list of papers which have been laid on the Table, and that is all we ever hear of them. We can ask Questions as often as we like about who is appointed to the Authority and what he receives irrespective of whether anything is laid on the Table or not. No greater power is given to Parliament by the Amendment than exists at present.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
May I ask the Assistant Postmaster-General, who has accepted this Amendment, a question? Before he made up his mind to accept it, presumably, he had consultations with the right hon. and learned Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill, sought the views of his Department, and, I should have thought on a matter of this kind, also the views of his legal advisers. The hon. Gentleman will, therefore, have formed in his own mind some idea of a clear course of action to be taken if the Amendment is accepted.
Will he now tell us in what precise form he proposes to lay the information before the House, because that is a matter upon which we are entitled to some explanation before we agree to the Amendment which the hon. Gentleman has already accepted. Let us assume that the Amendment is accepted and that it becomes part of the Bill, which eventually reaches the Statute Book, will he tell us if he has clearly in his mind how he will inform the House and in what precise form will he lay the information?
§ Mr. Gammans
It will be laid before the House in the way mentioned by the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies). His contention was that, if that is to be done, that is no particular Parliamentary safeguard at all, and that, therefore, it did not matter much whether we did it in one way or another. The 481 right hon. Gentleman opposite, with his very great experience of a Government Department, knows that anything that is to be laid before Parliament is treated with more respect, and certainly with more care, because the whole matter is brought to the notice of Parliament in a very direct way, and that is the real point of this Amendment.
§ Mr. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), in commending the Amendment to us, urged us to accept it because he said it would give Parliamentary control. I am asking the Minister whether he is accepting it on the understanding that it gives us effective Parliamentary control, which is why it is commended to us, and whether he will tell us in what way we shall have objective control under the procedure of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not know what is the right hon. Gentleman's definition of Parliamentary control, but the definition which I would accept in such matters is that the whole thing is laid directly before Parliament. It gives a measure of control, in so far as Parliament has control over many things. The right hon. Gentleman, who has great knowledge of administration, will admit that, from the point of view of the inside of any Government Department, there is a very distinct difference in the attitude to what a Minister can do on his own and what he can do when the matter has to be laid before Parliament. There is all the difference in the world.
That is the measure of control which I would adduce in favour of this Amendment. I said at the beginning, in accepting the Amendment, that there was not very much in all this, and I do not pretend there is. I do not suggest that my right hon. Friend suggests that there is, but I think it is an improvement, and, as such, I think we should accept it.
§ Mr. Blackburn
Are we to understand that the value of the Amendment is that the Postmaster-General will be nervous because papers will have to be laid before the House? I do not think we have been convinced of the importance of this Amendment yet, and I am wondering whether hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have put their names to this Amendment, can give us some more convincing reasons why we should accept it than have been given either by the right hon. Gentleman 482 who moved it or by the Assistant Postmaster-General.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I move this Motion because I do not think we ought to be asked to vote upon an Amendment which is commended to us because it gives effective Parliamentary control, when the Minister in charge of the Bill is unable to tell us how that Parliamentary control will be ensured if the Amendment is carried. I ask you, Sir Rhys, to accept this Motion to report Progress so that we might have the attendance of a Minister who can explain to us how this control will be ensured.
§ Mr. Shackleton
This is a question which the Committee must seriously debate, and I would suggest that the Assistant Postmaster-General should ask his Parliamentary Private Secretary to fetch his right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary so that we might have some rational explanation why the Committee has to discuss this particular Amendment and why the Government propose to accept it. I realise that I have to speak strictly to the Motion.
The Committee has been treated with less than respect by the Government. For the first time in our Committee debates on the Bill the Government have shown willingness to accept an Amendment, but the only valid reason for doing so is, I gather, that the Amendment is of no importance. Those are the actual words used by the Assistant Postmaster-General. Quite apart from the cavalier way in which the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) presented the Amendment, it is obvious that the Government have decided for some reason or another to accept an Amendment without due consideration of the effect of the Amendment on the Bill or on Parliament, or of whether it has any effect at all. If we are to get on with the business, which we were quite prepared to do until the Committee was treated in an almost indecent way, we should have somebody sitting on the Government Front Bench who is familiar with the statutes and with the procedure of the House.
§ Mr. Elliot
I rise to oppose the Motion. We do not blame the Opposition for attempting to waste time in filibustering on the Bill.
§ Mr. Shackleton
On a point of order. Surely it is out of order for the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that this is filibustering procedure. You have accepted this Motion as a proper one, Sir Rhys, and the right hon. Gentleman has no right to make that suggestion.
§ Mr. Elliot
I have no intention of withdrawing until I am asked to do so by the Chair. I said "attempting," and the accusation of attempting to filibuster is perfectly Parliamentary. We are not complaining. The Opposition desire to wreck the Bill, and have said so in terms. If they cannot do so, they will delay it as far as possible, and they are now engaged in that process. There is no reason why we should co-operate with them. We recognise their desire to take every opportunity, under Parliamentary procedure, to do their utmost to wreck, delay and distort, and, if they can, to destroy the Bill. We make no protest about their doing their utmost in that way, but we shall remember it against them. They are delaying the Bill to which Parliament has given a Second Reading, and, therefore, the Motion ought not to be accepted but should be rejected.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
I support the Motion, and suggest that if anybody has delayed the Committee it is the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove, first, by moving the Amendment, and, secondly, by moving it so briefly that we have had to cross-examine him for 45 minutes to find out what it means. Then we had to cross-examine the Assistant Postmaster-General to find out why he accepted it.
We do not understand what the Amendment does that is not done in the Bill already, pie Committee has "been misled into thinking that the Amendment introduces Parliamentary control over the members of the Authority, but it does no such thing. We do not understand the difference between the Amendment and the Clause as it stands, and for that reason we consider that the Committee has been treated with contempt and disrespect. I suggest, there-lore, that the Committee should accept 484 this Motion, and that we should adjourn until we receive an explanation. In the meantime, perhaps the Home Secretary will be able to explain how this situation has arisen, exactly what this Amendment means, and why the Government are prepared to accept it.
§ Sir F. Messer
I support the Motion, and do so because I can hardly be called a filibustered I do not believe in wasting time and in going on all night. I think that is a very silly business, and the very fact that I have taken part in this discussion should be indicative of the fact that I aim not taking part in time wasting.
I was quite serious in my intervention. I wanted to know under what procedure we were to gain control if this Amendment were accepted. Now that the Home Secretary is here, I am sure that he will be able to give us an explanation. If it were by regulation, the negative Resolution procedure would apply. We should know that we should have to pray, and that we should be able to do so at 10 o'clock at night. But nobody knows just What power the House has in dealing with papers that are laid. There is no Parliamentary method by which we can object to those papers any more than we can object to the information contained in them even if they are not laid. If the Home Secretary will explain that point, I am sure the Committee will be prepared to go on with the business.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I hope that the Committee will give me the indulgence which a slight regard for the inner man connotes for a very short absence from our discussions for the first time today.
I do not think that there is anything in this matter which should worry right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. The constitution of a new statutory public authority is always a matter on which more than one opinion can be held. The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) knows that very well, because, as I reminded him yesterday, we have had several discussions on this point on earlier Bills, and he has directed a lot of attention to it.
Originally, as the Committee will see from looking at subsection (2), it was provided thatThe Authority shall consist of a Chairman, a Deputy Chairman and such other members, not being less than five nor more than 485 eight, as the Postmaster-General may from time to time determine.If the Amendment is accepted, and the Commmittee approves, the proviso will ensure thatunless and until the Postmaster-General otherwise determines… the number of the said other members shall be eight.In other words, it definitely starts the Authority off with 10 members, and that is a number which I think gives a flexibility which would be useful. To my mind, that is a point which is worthy of consideration.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that a board of 10 gives flexibility. Does not he realise that a greater flexibility is given in sub section (2) which, in the first place, would enable the Postmaster-General to appoint 10 people, but, at the same time—
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am sorry, Sir Rhys, if I was led into forbidden ways.
As I say it is always possible to have two views on a matter like this. This Amendment means that there will be an Authority which, by its numbers, is able to deal with the matter. It is a little difficult to deal with the other point because I am speaking on the Motion to report Progress.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
We understand why the Home Secretary was not here, but it is a point of some substance and we are glad that he has come back. In order to facilitate things, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am grateful to you, Sir Rhys, and to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly for helping me in this situation.
Another ground which seemed to us to show the reasonableness of my right hon. Friend's suggestion was that it would bring the position of the new Authority more into line with the procedure adopted in the case of the B.B.C. The B.B.C. Charter lays down that there shall be nine governors, or such other number as 486 may from time to time be directed by order in Council. In other words, in that case it starts off from the optimum number of nine and allows for the provision of another number in case it is needed.
Here we start with 10—the eight ordinary members and the chairman and deputy-chairman—until the Postmaster-General otherwise determines the number of the ordinary members. If I may be legalistic for a moment, that puts the prima facie position at a fixed number, and puts the onus on the appointers of the members to change it.
It might be said that this is too large a number, but I cannot think that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen can see any great difference between 10 and nine. I think, however, that because of the duties which we have rightly put on the Authority there is something to be said for having the larger number. The Authority has to operate through the medium of the programme contractors, and it is our wish—and from what has been said, I gather that it is the wish of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite— that it should keep a watch and safeguard the position.
If an Authority has to see that the initial work is done, provide equipment—and it may be some part of the studios—see that things get under way, design its policy and its programme, and select programme contractors—and often to see that they are in a position to do their work—then there is something to be said for a larger number on the Authority. In meeting this, we thought we were meeting a reasonable request.
It is right that there should be what the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) would describe as greater flexibility, but I think that it is also right that as time goes on, when the initial work is done, when the burdens which rest on the Authority in the earlier period have become lightened through fulfilment and when, as we hope, the work will be less, the Postmaster-General should be entitled to reduce the number.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
This is the only difference between us, and that is why we feel it is not a great difference. It is a matter of getting what is best. Is it best to start with a small number, or is it best to start with a number which we 487 think is the proper number for dealing with the situation? The Government accept the Amendment because it is felt that we should start with a number which will be capable of dealing with the various problems. Then the matter can be looked at again.
As I have said in so many connections, it is impossible to prognosticate exactly what will happen, but we hope that the work will grow less, and in that case it will be possible under the Amendment for the Postmaster-General to reduce the number. We thought that in this situation it would be better to start with the larger number, and that is why we acceded to this suggestion.
I do not think that there is all that difference between us. We have had a long debate on various matters, and there is still a great deal to be discussed. I appeal to hon. Members not to waste time—I feel that I must use that expression—on a matter on which there is so small a difference.
§ Mr. Houghton
I also want to make an appeal, and it is to the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) to bring this tedious debate to an end by withdrawing the Amendment. Really, this place is deadlier than the Third Programme, and it is almost deadlier than television. Surely, there is not another word to be said that makes sense in this debate. I do not know what has come over hon. Members opposite. They still have not made their intentions clear, so let us give it up.
The Government cannot have attached any importance to this matter originally, or they would have thought of this to begin with. This is not a Government Amendment. It is a back bench Amendment. The Assistant Postmaster-General has already said that it is not an Amendment of any substance, so why are we bothering with it? Why is the right hon. Gentleman sticking to his ridiculous guns in this matter? I appeal to him to save the Committee from further tedium by withdrawing the Amendment. We on. these benches could not care less. It does not matter.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Gammans
I beg to move, in page 2, line 7, to leave out from "qualified," to "and," in line 9, and to insert "for the office."
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I suggest that with this Amendment could be taken the-Amendments in line 8, leave out "industry, trade, finance," and insert "public service."
In line 8, after "administration," insert "the organisation of workers."
In line 8, at the end, insert, "television."
In line 8, at the end, insert "broadcasting."
§ Mr. Gammans
The object of this Amendment is to delete the list of qualifications for membership of the Authority and to leave the matter to the discretion of the Postmaster-General. I hope that the Committee, and especially hon. Members opposite, will accept my assurance that it was only when I realised the complexity of this situation, very largely as a result of reading their own Amendments, that I wondered whether the particular problem that we all have to solve and the difficulty we all have in mind could not be dealt with in another way.
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) feels that experience in the organisation of workers should be a qualification. I do not dispute that. Such a qualification would be extremely useful in a body of this sort, and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, it has been accepted in many similar bodies set up under the nationalisation Acts. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) would like to include people with experience of television and broadcasting. That, too, has something to be said for it, although it would be very difficult to find an adequate description of what one meant by it. Would it mean viewers, listeners, ex-governors of the B.B.C., or even a director of Radio Luxembourg?
The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) would like to exclude anybody who has anything to do with industry, trade and finance. That is rather odd, considering the amount of time we spent yesterday in talking about calling this the Commercial Television Authority. As the Bill now stands, we have included persons with experience in education, entertainment and the arts, and I hope the Committee will agree that, in trying to specify in detail the kind of people we want, we are likely to run into very great difficulties. Hon. Members 489 opposite have made it clear that they would require someone with a knowledge of labour relations, and they are right. The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East is also a fair one. If we can find anyone with the right qualifications in television and broadcasting, let us have him. But we are likely to get mixed up in a vast jumble of people, from which it would be very difficult to find our way out.
I hope that the Committee will accept the Amendment, not only because I believe it is a good one, but because of the spirit in which it is put forward. It meets the wishes of hon. Members opposite in a rather different way, but in a way which I hope they will find acceptable. It washes out the degrees of qualification altogether and substitutes the words "qualified for the office." This more general phrase will give the Postmaster-General very wide powers of selection. There is nothing to prevent him from selecting any of the types of person to which hon. Members opposite attach special importance.
I want to take the analogy of the B.B.C. In appointing anyone to the Board of Governors there is no obligation to see that he has any specific qualifications; in fact, there is no obligation not to appoint him if he has any specific disqualifications. To that extent the Bill tightens up matters considerably. The Government are responsible for the men appointed having the necessary qualifications and abilities. I would remind the Committee that this obligation is laid upon the Postmaster-General, and he is, therefore, responsible to the House for the way in which he exercises it. I hope that I have convinced the Committee that the Amendment provides a more workable and sensible arrangement, and one which in no way deprives Parliament of the power and obligation which is rightly its due.
§ 9 30 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
Presumably the Government, when they drafted the Bill, took into consideration the desirability of the Postmaster-General being directed to take into account certain qualifications. Those qualifications which the Government thought necessary are set out in the Bill. Therefore, the Government must have 490 realised that there was a case for setting out some qualifications. Why they have altered their mind is not clear to me even after listening to the Assistant Postmaster-General. He argued that in the case of the B.B.C. no specific requirements are set out, presumably in the Charter. I will take his word for it. I do not remember clearly. However, that may be so.
The Committee are entitled to argue from time to time that this commercial Authority ought to comply with B.B.C. practice, and that the constitutional set-up should be on B.B.C. lines. However, there are circumstances in which there is not a perfect analogy between the commercial Authority and the B.B.C., and in this respect the great difference is that the Corporation is a public service organisation set up for the purpose of furthering the public interest and for no other purpose at all. In that case there is a lot to be said for having a body of good citizens who can be trusted with this very great and high public responsibility.
The commercial Authority, however, is not a public service organisation. It is intended to be a commercial organisation. It is intended to be dominated by the capitalist frame of mind. That is the whole idea behind the Bill. It is not intended to be a body which is animated by public spirit. It is intended to be a body which is dependent on advertising revenue almost wholly and, therefore, naturally must work in sympathy with the outlook of big business, for they are the people on whom it will depend. That is why we do not like the thing, because that is bound to influence the whole atmosphere of the show produced.
In these circumstances it seems to us that it is desirable that the Postmaster-General, in making his appointments, should be required to take account of at any rate certain qualifications. There are some qualifications set out in subsection (3). We are proposing to alter them in a number of respects. The Government are proposing to leave them out altogether, and, quite frankly, I do not like the idea, and nor do my hon. Friends, of giving the Postmaster-General—or the Assistant Postmaster-General—a blank cheque to appoint whom they like. We do not trust them enough. We do not believe they are to be trusted out of our sight. We are not sure we can trust them 491 within our sight. They ought to have some directions as to the kind of qualifications they should keep in mind.
That is why we have put down a series of Amendments—there are not many of them—by which we propose that certain qualifications should be stated in the Bill. The sad thing is that if the Government's Amendment is carried, my hon. Friends, who have given a good deal of thought to the matter and have put down Amendments, will not be able to move their Amendments.
§ Mr. Morrison
It is very hard, and that is why, I suspect, this Amendment has been moved. I cannot remember whether our Amendments or those of the Assistant Postmaster-General were put down first. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ours."] Ours were, and it is perfectly clear that this is some strategy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] It is a Parliamentary trick on the part of the Government, with malice aforethought, to prevent a Committee of the whole House from being master of the situation and of what is to be in the Bill. A Minister who is capable of dropping to such depths of strategy—I am very careful about my words—certainly ought not to be trusted with a blank cheque to appoint anybody he likes. The subsection speaks of persons appearing to be qualified. Who appears to whom to be qualified? The person appears to the Postmaster-General. He, presumably, will be assisted and guided in this matter by the Assistant Postmaster-General.
§ Mr. Morrison
There may be something in that. As I was saying, if the person appears to the Postmaster-General to be qualified, he can do what he likes. In due course perhaps the Home Secretary will tell me—I agree that the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not function here in that capacity, because he is not a Law Officer, but we value his opinion if it is not resented either by the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General —what "appearing to him to be qualified "means? Does it mean anything at all? Or might not the words mean that the Postmaster-General can appoint anybody he likes? Because it seems to me 492 that if we leave in the words "appearing to him to be qualified," there ought to be some indication of what are the qualifications. Therefore, we do not like this Amendment.
There are a number of Amendments down from this side of the Committee to which no doubt, Sir Charles, you will permit my hon. Friends to address themselves, even though we may not be able to divide upon them. However, as these are being taken in a group, I presume we are able to argue against the Government Amendment and in favour of the alternative courses we had in mind had we been in a position to move and to divide upon our Amendments.
I will deal with only one of the proposals. Remembering that this is a commercial organisation which will have dose and intimate relationships with industry and with big business, it appears to us that in these circumstances the same provision should be made here which has become customary in the nationalisation or, as I prefer to call them, socialisation Acts of Parliament, whereby among the persons qualified are those experienced in the organisation of workers. There is no obligation in those Acts that such a person has to be appointed, if I remember rightly, but the provision is put in the Act of Parliament so that this consideration may be present in the mind of the appointing Minister.
Again, I emphasise that this is a commercial organisation which will have intimate relationships with big business and will be concerned with many industrial matters. For instance, it will be concerned with the nature of advertisements and the effect of them. Therefore, it will have an indirect effect upon industry itself, and I should have thought that somebody associated with the organisation of workers, a responsible person associated with the trade union movement, and also a person of good reputation and high public spirit, ought to be included among these people. It is not enough for us to say, as has been said quite legitimately, that the Postmaster-General is still, under the amended wording, free to accept such a person. I accept that, but I do not trust him to do so. I do not want the Postmaster-General to be fettered too much, but I want him to be required to take into 493 account certain qualifications, of which this should be one.
Moreover, the trade union movement, apart from its more direct industrial interests, is a great body of public opinion, and in this kind of outfit it is desirable that somebody associated with the trade union movement should be there. That was the reason for the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), who is himself a member of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress. No doubt he will be heard upon it in due course.
In these circumstances, we do not like the idea of having a mere blank direction by which the Postmaster-General is free to appoint anybody who appears to him to be qualified. It is desirable, where possible, especially where a commercial undertaking is involved and a statute is involved, that the House of Commons should give some direction to the Minister as to the kind of thing he should take into account. It is for these reasons that we feel, first, that the Amendment is unfair, that it is cutting us out on Amendments which we wanted to move; and, secondly, that it is a bad Amendment in itself.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I believe that this is an extremely important Amendment. First of all, one asks why this list was ever put in if it is to be limited now. We have had no explanation whatever from the Assistant Postmaster-General except that when he had his own list to consider and also had to consider the suggestions that were made for remissions from and additions to that list he threw his hand in and decided that no list at all was the simpler and better course. That amounts to giving the Postmaster-General a completely free hand. I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) that the words that are left in have absolutely no meaning whatever and are only a third instance of a set of quite meaningless words in the first Clause of the Bill.
But the serious objection to the Amendment only appears when one considers what the Authority has to do. All I know at present is that the Postmaster-General and the Assistant Postmaster-General are interviewing programme contractors on a large scale.
§ Mr. Mitchison
The Assistant Postmaster-General's recent answer to a Parliamentary Question, in which he gave the number of programme contractors whom he had interviewed. It was a rather staggering list. He must have been very active.
That is all we know, but let us see what this Authority has to do. What it really has to do is to hold the balance, such as there is, between the public at large and a collection of commercial interests. The collection of commercial interests are represented immediately by the programme contractors, a little less immediately by the advertising agents and ultimately by the advertisers themselves. It is up to the Authority to hold the balance, and Clause 3 of the Bill goes at some length into the duties of the Authority. It is to see:All that rests on the Authority.
- "(a) that the tone and style of the programmes are predominantly British;
- (b) that nothing is included in the programmes which offends against good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime…"
Next, when one comes to deal with the programme contractors it is up to the Authority not only to make contracts with programme contractors but, as it chooses, to enforce those contracts. And it is only on those contracts that the programme contractors can be held in any way to the will and intention of Parliament under this Bill. Accordingly, if the Authority is in any way either interested or incompetent, the intentions of Parliament in the Bill will be completely ineffective inasmuch as the Authority is the only body that can act as the enforcing agent.
Therefore, on those two grounds alone, I should have said that this was a case where every possible precaution should be taken to see that the Authority is both independent and competent and represents the major functions and interests in the country. The very things that I should have thought it was not particularly necessary that the Authority should represent are industry, trade and finance, because, after all, it is with industry, trade and finance in a big way that the Authority has to deal on behalf of the 495 public. I do not see why those with whom the Authority has to deal should be represented in the Authority. The educationists have gone out. Even such people concerned in public life, government, administration and the public service as were already covered in the Bill have disappeared.
As for the question of trade unions and all that they represent, the Government are using this opportunity to prevent that question being raised and voted upon. Perhaps they do not particularly like to vote down the organisation of workers, but I would remind them that it is not only in nationalisation Bills that this kind of device was used to secure a proper authority or a proper board. It was equally done by the Government itself in recent denationalisation Measures. If they look at those Measures they will find in them that the organisation of the workers, in one Act at any rate, at the instance of the Opposition, was deliberately put in. Of course, that is as it should be.
The trade union movement cannot be neglected nowadays and Parliamentary devices cannot be used to rule them out of some sort of representation on such an authority. At present, we in this Committee have not the foggiest idea as to who will be on the Authority. All we are told about is the shabby individuals who come into the back door of the Post Office to have lunch with the Postmaster-General. I am innocent of these things and not up in the television world. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) can tell us. I shall be grateful.
§ Captain Orr
All I wanted to know was how the hon. and gallant Member knew by which door they went in.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I understood from the description of the gentlemen in question was that it was the back door. I take all these matters on trust. I am a child in these things. I do not know about bands and all these things but, when I am told there is to be a commercial, or independent, Television Authority I do know that it will be an opportunity for advertising agents and agents of big business. The general public innocently believe that they are to get an independent 496 and impartial Authority. They should be given an assurance that this Authority, which has a responsible task, shall be independent. I do not want any of the first cousins, brothers-in-law, co-directors or co-trustees or any of these gentlemen to have anything whatever to do with the Authority.
I simply say to the Home Secretary and Assistant Postmaster-General that if I were asked to omit these words from the Bill and asked to omit any qualification whatever for the gentlemen concerned the least I would have done long ago would have been to give the Committee some indication of who these people were. Personally, being a child in these things, and having an overwhelming natural frankness, I would have gone the whole hog and told the Committee whom I proposed to appoint. If the Postmaster-General has been so busy interviewing programme contractors, I cannot believe that he has not by now decided who are to be on the Authority. It would be wrong to go to the programme contractors and find out who they were before setting up the Authority which is to represent us and our constituents vis-à-vis these interests.
Therefore, I say to the Government, perhaps with more seriousness than appeals to right hon. and hon. Members opposite, that in this matter they have a very considerable responsibility towards the public, towards the people who send them to this House. Their responsibility is not to give an entirely blank cheque to the Postmaster-General, who is in another place and whom we cannot control here, nor to the Assistant Postmaster-General, about whom we know singularly little except that he has a most remarkable interpretation of the word "now" and whose main business in the past few months has been interviewing prospective programme contractors.
§ Mr. G. Darling
We shall need far clearer and stronger assurances than we have so far received from the Postmaster-General before we can agree to accept this Amendment, or anything like it. It seems to me that to give power to the Postmaster-General to decide who shall be qualified for office without any conditions laid down in the Bill will lead us into great difficulties.
There is one likely qualification for the office which may be in the minds of the 497 Government and I hope that I can be assured that this qualification to which I propose to refer is not in their minds. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has said that all we know about the detailed intentions of the Government in this matter of commercial broadcasting is that the Postmaster-General and the Assistant Postmaster-General have been having secret discussions with unknown people, We have not been told about those discussions and we do not know who was there.
I am not certain—perhaps the Home Secretary, with his legal knowledge, can help the Committee—about the constitutional propriety of engaging in discussions of this kind before the Bill is passed. It may be that I am exaggerating the whole position and perhaps the Home Secretary will explain that I am. At any rate, whether the matter is constitutional or not, it would seem to me that the Government may be fixing up a deal with this or that potential programme company and then, having become tied up in this unfortunate business, seek to appoint members to the Independent Television Authority who may be relied on not to undo the work of the Government. I should like an assurance on those two points, because I think they are important. We may be jovial and jocular about one or two of the issues which have arisen, but this is serious.
I hope before we part with the Bill, that it will be made clear that any agreement which may be made by the Government before the Bill is passed will not be valid. I hope we shall be assured about the type of persons to be appointed to this Independent Television Authority, that they are not mere puppets appointed by the Government to cover up Government deals.
The Assistant Postmaster-General said that he thought it odd that we should put down an Amendment to leave out persons associated with industry, trade and finance. One of the most telling arguments against the proposals of the Government, and against this Bill, is that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering has said that the Bill will place commercial television in the hands of a small group of people. I have said 498 that before on Second Reading and I have followed it up now by adding my name to the Amendment.
We are to have a relatively small group of people engaged in quite a proper commercial proceeding. They will run programme companies and be responsible for the operation of television programmes. Whatever "highfalutin" nonsense we may hear from hon. Members opposite, these people will be running a privately-owned profit-making business. There is nothing improper about it, but that is what they will be doing. In most matters they will think and behave alike because they have the same kind of background, they are the same type of people. There are sound arguments—and I agree with a great many of them—against the B.B.C. monopoly. But there is this to be said for the B.B.C., that it did try to balance, and I think it has been successful, all the variety of interests that go to make up our national life.
Nobody was kept out. It did not serve any one section of the community. Industry, trade, finance, trade unions, cooperative societies, art, literature, the sciences, sport, entertainment, drama, music and all the rest of it, were all represented in the job of work that the B.B.C. had to do. In the higher ranks of control in the B.B.C., we had people who were looking after all the varied interests.
Commercial television will be completely different. Those who it is proposed will make and present the programmes are, with few exceptions, likely to be drawn from this narrow business community which I would say from my experience—and I had to live and work with them for many years—contains a higher proportion of Philistines than many others in matters of art, literature, and so on. In our view it would be wrong to put this small group of business men not only in charge of the programme companies but also in charge of the Authority.
In the questionable arrangements that are being made for commercial television, we cannot guarantee that all the rich variety of our national life will be represented and given expression, as is the case with the B.B.C, unless we make sure that the members of the Authority are not drawn from this narrow group, but are drawn from a much wider group in the 499 community. To balance this, because it is doubtful whether there will be places for actors, musicians, singers, artiste and writers, and so on, in control of the programme companies, there ought to be no representatives of commercial interests in the Authority.
It is certain, from the inadequate description given to us by the Assistant Postmaster-General of who is likely to compose the Authority, that there will be no representatives of the trade unions, the Co-operative societies, the friendly societies and the other democratic bodies of workers taking charge there and being in control of that side of commercial television. This one-sidedness of the commercial interests in the programme-making companies ought to be balanced in the way I have suggested.
I want to raise a serious issue which concerns the great Co-operative movement. The Government are seeking to give a great deal of power, in their negotiations with the programme companies, to this group of business interests. Some of them have shown their antipathy to the Co-operative movement. They have shown themselves to be staunch opponents. I refer to the manufacturers of radio and television sets, and no doubt the advertising interests whom they employ act as faithful servants for them. They engage in collective boycotts which I hope are being investigated by the Monopolies Commission. They deserve to be.
These are the sort of people who will be in charge of the programme companies. It is almost certain that, if they are, they will be allowed to give full play to their prejudices and their anti-co-operative bias. If the Postmaster-General proposes also to put the same people in charge of the Authority then he will be a party to this bias and prejudice. Instead of seeking equity and fairness, as he ought to do, he will be ensuring that the Authority and the programme companies will be able to act together and to keep the Co-operative societies off the air. If the antipathy is as strong as I suspect it to be in some quarters they will be able to carry their boycott to the limit, even in commercial television, and probably encourage an anti-Co-operative bias in their programmes to which the Co-operative movement will be denied any form of answer.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. J. E. S. Simon (Middlesbrough, West)
Has the hon. Gentleman considered paragraph 4 of the Second Schedule, which states that there must be no unreasonable discrimination against any particular advertiser?
§ Mr. Darling
It depends how one defines "discrimination." One might say that there was no discrimination against a man although it had not been found possible to find programme time for him. It also depends on the power of the Authority to enforce these provisions, and we want some assurance about that.
I can assure the Government that they will be facing trouble if the members of the Authority are so selected that they add weight to the one-sidedness about which I have spoken and, instead of providing a balance, leave out the great democratic movements—the trade unions, the Co-operative societies and the friendly societies—about which I have spoken. If those movements are to be left out and the Authority is to be run by the persons who are in charge of the programme companies, it will mean a completely unbalanced second service. This ought to be a public service, and if there is one-sidedness there will be serious trouble for the Government.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
I entirely support what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Hills-borough (Mr. G. Darling) about the Co-operative movement. When my hon. Friend was speaking about the possibilities of discrimination against the Co-operative movement, the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) drew attention to paragraph 4 of the Second Schedule. In spite of those words, there will still be lots of opportunity for discrimination. The Schedule says that there must be no "unreasonable discrimination." Apparently there is to be some "reasonable discrimination."
I have no doubt that in appointing persons to the Authority the Assistant Postmaster-General will have the opportunity to do precisely what my hon. Friend has complained about. It should not be thought that the Co-operative movement is not interested in advertisement. Those of us who are in the Co-operative movement are particularly 501 proud to see the interesting Co-operative movement advertisements which are now appearing on the hoardings. If it were not for the sort of people whom the Assistant Postmaster - General might appoint to the Authority, there would be even more of a case for the appearance of the Co-operative movement in the programmes. However, effective provision is being made to ensure that the control in these matters shall be in the bands of those who are likely to be biased against the Co-operative movement.
§ Mr. Hudson
If the hon. Gentleman will wait until he has heard the second part of my speech, he may find an even greater reason for intervening. I am storing up for him an opportunity which I am sure he will be glad to take a little later.
The subsection states that the members of the Authority shall be appointed by the Postmaster-General from persons having had experience of—industry, trade, finance, administration, education, entertainment or the arts.These are the grounds upon which it is to be decided what persons shall be appointed to this Authority, and naturally when I see the word "trade," I at once think what the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey), who is wanting to interrupt, himself thinks. I think immediately of a type of trade with which I managed to deal, I hope quite effectively, this afternoon.
In the matter of advertising, a trade which already spends in advertising, not counting the hoardings, between £4 million and £5 million a year, will quite clearly be on the look-out just now for a considerable extension of its powers through the means of television for carrying its nefarious message into the homes of the people. At the present time, it seeks to carry that message on the roads, where it is most inappropriate that it should be listened to. The facts which I have been able to bring to light already about the capacity of the brewers—
§ Mr. Hudson
I am going to give the hon. Gentleman an opportunity, but I want to make it clear that I am giving him that opportunity.
§ Mr. Harvey
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Is he aware that one of the opponents of the proposal for commercial television is the chairman of Messrs. Guinness, and will he also tell us what discrimination—
§ Mr. Hudson
I gave the hon. Gentle man an opportunity; what a chance he had, and what a mess he made of it. I really cannot make out what was the second point he was hoping to put, but on the other point about the chairman of Messrs. Guinness—
§ Mr. Hudson
I will stick to the question of the trade. It makes no difference at all to the fact that certain persons or certain interests should be interested in a particular way. It is utterly irrelevant to the point I want to make now, which is that the brewers as a whole have proved their capacity to influence a public authority where the question of advertising is concerned. They have proved their capacity to go behind the scenes to use pressure on a local advertising committee and, through them, on a national authority. The advertisers' posters that now exist have proved their capacity to do that.
I am saying that, unless there be very strict provisions that people like the brewers should not be included for their own purposes on this Authority, it is more than likely that, with such an hon. Gentleman as the Assistant Postmaster-General making these appointments, we shall get the brewers firmly fixed on this body.
Although I have left out the Home Secretary up to this moment, assuming that he could never do anything like that, I must remind the Committee that he was the first Minister in this Parliament who found it in his heart, when nothing else could be found upon which to legislate, to bring in a Measure that dealt merely with the interests of the brewers. I am more than fearful that he, too, if he has any responsibility in this matter, will drag the brewers in, as brewers have been dragged into almost all the legislation for which the Government have been responsible.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I hope that the Committee will now be able to come to a conclusion on this matter. I do not follow in detail the speech of the hon. Member for Baling, North (Mr. J. Hudson) only because any debate here on any subject would be the poorer did we not have his interventions on the subject on which he has just spoken. I hope he will excuse me and will accept it from me that at the moment I am out of white sheets. I will not follow the suggestion he made in the last part of his speech.
I want to answer the question which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) put to me specifically, and also the question implicit in his speech. I am sure that all his colleagues in the Committee acknowledge the added réclame that the right hon. Gentleman has had in matters of public administration in the recent past. I will first deal with the question as it was put to me. It is equivalent to saying that the appointment will be made of those who the Postmaster-General thinks qualify. There is no magic in the words. The only addition which the right hon. Gentleman will remember from the time when we were colleagues during the war is that these words connote, and can only cover, an honest opinion honestly held. That point arose on legislation with which he and I had something to do in those days.
The second point is that although this is an appointment by the Postmaster-General, the right hon. Gentleman knows that nobody would leave appointments of this sort to the Postmaster-General by himself. They would be a matter for joint Ministerial consideration and almost certainly would be a matter for the Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman may disagree, but I think he knows that this matter would certainly be one for a Cabinet Committee and for Ministerial consultation. My view is that it would be a Cabinet matter.
In those circumstances, one gets the responsibility of appointment. The procedure in the Bill, that originally attracted us, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is that we form a panel of persons with the qualifications which we wish, and then the appointor selects from the panel. He need not take everyone or take a representative of every body on the panel. He has, first 504 of all, to make the panel and to see that anyone who is considered is within the panel. I remind the right hon. Gentleman—and there is no arrière pensée about this at all—that one of his colleagues used the words "public life." We would all accept public life as being a reasonable qualification for membership of the panel.
I was very doubtful when I considered this matter whether "administration," which is the nearest word, would cover public life. I am sorry to say—and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me after his experience—that entertainment and public life cannot easily be equated. Therefore, one is left with that doubt.
Let me take another example—social work. I doubt whether any of these words would cover social work, yet it is a term which I think we all appreciate. Take journalism. I do not think that anyone would say that journalism, provided we agree on the journalist, which is not an easy matter, was not something that we should consider. Two distinguished members of that profession who have had some common experience in the past spoke to us today on one of the Amendments.
I have only taken three examples. When one tries to form a list of qualifications for a panel, one gets into great difficulties. The trouble is that if it becomes a Government appointment— and I regard this as a Government appointment—we must, of course, express our deep distrust of the Government of the party to which we do not belong. The feature of the acceptance of the Government of the day is something which is very deeply rooted in our public life. As far as we are concerned—we can commit no one but ourselves—we regard it as a Government appointment.
There is just one other point. The right hon. Gentleman very rightly stressed the position of the trade unions. I entirely agree with him. The right hon. Gentleman knows just as well as I do that when one is considering any body today, among all the other things one looks for a trade unionist just as' in a slightly different context one looks for a Welshman, a Scotsman and a woman.
505 The right hon. Gentleman knows the drill just as well as I do, and that is one of the things that anyone making these appointments will consider. I give the undertaking that that category will be looked at so far as this Government are concerned.
I hope that I have shown that this is a matter which arises from a real difficulty. It is one which we take seriously, and we shall consider very carefully what has been said tonight. I hope, in view of what I have said, that hon. Members opposite will find it possible not to press their opposition to this Amendment.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us any idea of the kind of person or the particular people whom it is proposed to appoint?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I cannot give particular people, but I leave it to the highly ingenious mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman to take the classes that are in the Bill, and to add to them the trade unions, public life, social work and journalism. I am sure he will immediately think of other categories which are not there, but it will give him a general idea of what we have in mind.
§ Mr. Houghton
I am sure that we welcome the assurance given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman that when appointments to the Independent Television Authority are made very careful and, as I hope he intended, favourable consideration will be given to the appointment of a person representative of our great trade union movement. I think that no such appointment has yet been made to the Board of Governors of the B.B.C. Right hon. Gentlemen on both sides must perhaps bear some responsibility for that omission. The B.B.C.'s record in regard to trade union relations would have been a happier one had there been at some time a trade union representative on the Board.
I hope that at least this Authority will start off well equipped to deal with important matters of staff relations and in their dealings with the members of the trade unions, who, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said, will be the most numerous viewers of the new programme and the best customers of those whose advertisements will be put on the prorammes. After all, no advertiser can 506 possibly have any satisfactory reward for his outlay unless he receives a very large response from those employed in organised labour.
Although I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has met the intention of the Amendment standing in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South and others of my right hon. Friends in connection with this part of subsection (3), I still must criticise the Government's intention to withdraw from the subsection the words that the Amendment seeks to leave out. There can be few matters upon which the Government have had so many second thoughts as this. It is better sometimes to stick to what one has put in the Bill than to alter it, because the withdrawal of a limiting condition or amplification of a definition of qualification may give rise to misunderstanding.
I half expected the right hon. and learned Gentleman to argue that if one extends the definition of qualification sufficiently far it is no improvement' on having no definition at all. I submit to him that not only must the members of this Authority, in the opinion of the Postmaster-General, be qualified but must appear to be qualified. I think that to leave in the Bill some extension of definition of qualification gives assurance to the public that those who are appointed will have their qualifications considered in the context of the description given.
It may be that the Postmaster-General and the Assistant Postmaster-General felt that this was all right until the Opposition began to put down Amendments to extend the qualifications to organisations of workers, to those who have experience of television and to those with experience in broadcasting. They probably said, "We cannot reject these Amendments, but if we go on we shall make the definition somewhat too wide, and perhaps, in some respects, meaningless." I submit that it is better to have this definition in the Bill than not to have it.
Notwithstanding the wide definition originally in the Bill—and it would become wider still if the Amendment were accepted—there is something in having that definition there. For example, members of the public will know that a professional backer of horses could not be appointed to the Independent Television 507 Authority. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because a learned judge decided many years ago that a professional backer of horses was not engaged in trade. It could 'be argued that he was industrious, even though he was not employed in industry.
I think, also, that many members of the public will feel very reassured that no professional burglar can be appointed to the Independent Television Authority because of the limiting conditions in the Bill. But if there were no limiting conditions, although many people would have sufficient confidence in Her Majesty's Government to believe that they never would appoint a professional burglar, there are, on the other hand, some who may doubt whether Her Majesty's Government would be quite so fastidious as that.
But there is a serious point here. Once having put limiting conditions in the Bill, I think it is unwise to take them out, even though we propose, as we do, some quite reasonable and useful additions to the definition. I sincerely hope that, on reflection, the Assistant Postmaster-General will be willing to withdraw his Amendment, allow the original definition to stand in subsection (3) and to consider, on their merits, the proposals for a slight expansion of the definitions which we have on the Order Paper. I think that will be better than the proposal of the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), I appreciate the tone and the conciliatory way in which the Home Secretary put the Government case on this point. We take note not of an undertaking that he will appoint somebody experienced in the organisation of workers, but that that will be specifically considered by Her Majesty's Government when the appointments are made.
I am sorry, but, having considered the right hon. and learned Gentleman's case which he put very persuasively, we do not feel that we ought to do other than divide against the Government Amendment, both on its own merits and because it would prevent us moving the other Amendments that we wish to move. We have had a reasonable discussion, and I give notice to the Leader of the House that after this discussion, if there is no great pressure otherwise, and if I am so permitted, I shall move to report Progress so that the Leader of the House may give us an indication of the Government's intentions about the length of these proceedings. In those circumstances, I am sorry, but we must divide against this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 234; Noes, 240.511
|Division No. 89.]||AYES||[10.30 p.m|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Brown, Thomas (Inee)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Adams, Richard||Burton, Miss F. E.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Albu, A. H.||Butler, Harbort (Hackney, S.)||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Callaghan, L. J.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Carmichael, J.||Finch, H. J.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Champion, A. J||Fletcher, Erio (Islington, E.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Chapman, W. D.||Forman, J. C.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Chetwynd, G. R.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Baird, J.||Collick, P. H.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Bartley, P.||Corbet, Mrs. Freds||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Bence, C. R.||Cropland, C. A. R.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Bern, Han. Wedgwood||Grossman, R. H. S.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Benson, G.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Beswick, F.||Daines, P.||Grey, C. F.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valfey)|
|Blackburn, F.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Coine Valley)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Deer, G.||Hannan, W.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Delargy, H. J.||Hargreaves, A.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Dodds, N. N.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hastings, S.|
|Brookway, A. F.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Edelman, M.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brignouse)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphitly)||Herbison, Mist M.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Moody, A. S.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Morley, R.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Holman, P.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Steele, T.|
|Holmes, Horace||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Mort, D. L.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Moyle A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Mulley, F. W.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Murray, J. D.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Nally, W.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hen. P. J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oldfield, W. H.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Alteroliffe)||Oliver G. H.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Orbach, M.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Oswald, T.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Janner, B.||Padley, W. E.||Thornton, E.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Timmons, J.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Tomney, F.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Palmer, A. M. F.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Steohford)||Pannell, Charles||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Pargiter, G. A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Parker, J.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Parkin, B. T.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pearson, A.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Peart, T. F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Kennan, W.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Kenyon, C.||Porter, G.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Key, Rt. Han C. W||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||West, D. G.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Proctor, W. T.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Lawson, G. M.||Pryde, D. J.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Rankin, John||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Reeves, J.||Wigg, George|
|Logan, D. G.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|MacColl, J. E.||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Rhodes, H.||Willey, F. T.|
|McGovern, J.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Mclnnes, J.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, Ronald (Wlgan)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|McLeavy, F.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Paneras, N.)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Ross, William||Willis, E. G.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Royle, C.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Short, E. W.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Manuel, A. C.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Yates, V. F.|
|Mason, Roy||Simmons, C. J. (Brlerley Hill)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Rogers.|
|Monslow, W.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Burden. F. F. A.||Erroll, F. J.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Finlay, Graeme|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Campbell, Sir David||Fisher, Nigel|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Carr, Robert||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Channon, H.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Ford, Mrs. Patricia|
|Barlow, Sir John||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Fort, R.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Cole, Norman||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale|
|Beach, Maj. Hieks||Colegate, W. A.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bueks, S.)||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelihorne)||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyed|
|Birch, Nigel||Crouch, R. F.||Glover, D.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Crowder, Sir John (Finohley)||Godber, J. B.|
|Black, C. W.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip— Northwood)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Gough, C. F. H|
|Bowen, E. R.||Davidson, Viscountess||Gower, H. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Deedes, W. F.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Doughty, C. J. A||Grimond, J.|
|Braine, B. R.||Drayson, G. B.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westburry)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Drawe, Sir C.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Harden, J. R. E.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Duthie), W. S.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Eceles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Butlard, D. G.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Harvey, Air Cdra. A. V. (MaoetottoM)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hay, John||Marples, A. E.||Smithers, Sir WaWron (Orpington)|
|Heath, Edward||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Maude, Angus||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hill, Dr. Chartot (Luton)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|HiH, Mrs. E. (Wythemhawe)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Hinchmgbrooke, Viscount||Mellor, Sir John||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Molson, A. H. E.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J||Moore, Sir Thomas||Stoddart-Soott, Col. M.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Hope, Lord John||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stuarl, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Mist M. P.||Neave, Airey||Summers, G. S.|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nicholls, Harmar||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Famflam)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nicolsori, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Tee) ing, W.|
|Hulberl, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hyllon-Fosler, H. B. H.||Oakshott, H. D.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Ociey, G. W.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Crovdon, W.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Thorneytroft, Rl. Hn. Peter (Monmout*)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Jones, A, (Hall Grewi)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Tilney, John|
|Kaberry, D.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Osborne, C.||Turner, H. F. L.,|
|Kerr, H. W.||Page, R. G.||Turion, R. H.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Landlord-Holt, J. A.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A- H||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Vosper, D. F.|
§ Proposed words there inserted.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
It is fortuitous but eminently appropriate to do so, after a Government majority of only six. There is little we can do about moving, in a downward direction, a majority of six, though I wish there were, but I would ask the Leader of the House what the Government's intentions are now, this having been a day on which we have handled the Amendments with reasonable expedition. It has not been necessary for the Patronage Secretary to move the Closure. We all know how he hates doing that, and he hates doing that, and he knows how it brings the hatred and contumely of this side of the Committee upon his head. That always touches my heart, but the fact is that he 512 has not had to move the Closure at all, and in view of the reasonably expeditious way in which the Amendments have been handled, I do hope that the Leader of the House would indicate to us what are the intentions of the Government about our sitting tonight.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)
What the right hon. Gentleman has just said is rather a matter of opinion. "Reasonable expedition" is a phrase which has many interpretations, and after two full days of debate, to be still on subsection (3) of Clause 1 cannot be said to represent over-repid progress. On the other hand, I think that it would be reasonable—if I may use the same adjective again—for the Committee to make a little more progress.
After all, I must remind hon. Members, the House did decide to suspend 513 the ten o'clock rule—[HON. MEMBERS: "Only just."] Never mind; the fact is that it did suspend that rule, and these things fall upon the just and the unjust alike. I should not like to commit myself now about how far we should go, and as the House agreed that we should sit later than ten o'clock, I do not think it was ever intended that that meant we should rise at ten minutes to eleven.
To use a phrase which is popular with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), we should, I think, see how we get along. That is the wisest suggestion which I can offer at the moment.
§ Mr. Morrison
This reminds me of the good old days of the Labour Government; but I had hoped that the Committee could have been given some indication about time.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)
The right hon. Gentleman's Government had only a majority of 6.
§ Mr. Morrison
That is all the right hon. Gentleman had just now; but he does not look after his majority. I am sorry if I am getting out of order, but the Prime Minister has intervened and he has a greater majority than 6 in the Committee, although that is all the majority he had just now. We had a majority of 6, and lived up to it although I admit that, at times, it took a bit of doing. My point is that I hoped the Lord Privy Seal would have said that if we went on to, say, round about midnight, he would have considered that a good day's work. That decision would help hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, and I do assure him that it would earn him the appreciation of the whole Committee.
§ Mr. Morrison
In the circumstances, and hoping that the circumstances will be all right, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, after "Postmaster-General," to insert:after consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Minister for Welsh Affairs and 514 (in relation to Northern Ireland) the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
§ The Chairman
I think it might be for the convenience of the Committee if we discussed, with this Amendment, two other Amendments, in page 2, line 14, at the end, to insert:and who, in addition to being members of the Authority, shall be the Chairmen respectively of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland advisory committees mentioned in section three of this Act.and that to Clause 3, in page 6, line 9, at the end, to add:(b) Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland advisory committees, each of which shall consist of the Chairman mentioned in subsection (3) of section one of this Act, and of such other members, not being less than five nor more than eight, as the Authority may from time to time appoint from a panel nominated for the Scottish advisory committee by the Secretary of State for Scotland, for the Welsh advisory committee by the Minister for Welsh Affairs and for the Northern Ireland advisory committee by the Home Secretary, and each of which shall so advise the Authority as to ensure that, so far as possible, the programmes provided respectively for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland shall conform to the traditions, sentiments and needs of the country for which they are respectively provided.
§ 10.45 p.m.
I had a little difficulty in hearing, but I gather, Sir Charles, that your proposal, which is quite agreeable to us, is that we should discuss this Amendment and the Amendment to line 14 together.
The purpose of taking these three Amendments together, which I agree is quite convenient to us and fairly logical, will be plain to the Committee, or at any rate to that part of the Committee which is familiar with these proceedings. These three Amendments provide that the appointments shall be made in consultation with the appropriate Minister and that the appointees to whom the first Amendment refers shall come from the regional committees as chairmen, and the third Amendment provides for the constitution of the advisory committees.
The third Amendment states:… advisory committees, each of which shall consist of the Chairman mentioned in subsection (3) of section one of this Act, and of such other members, not being less than five nor more than eight, as the Authority may from time to time appoint…515 It will be obvious to the Committee that while from the beginning these safeguards were desirable in terms of regional needs, as the debate has proceeded the case has become inescapable.
I still look in vain for the hon. Member for Kemptown (Mr. H. Johnson), but I am glad to see the hon. and learned Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bell) is now present. On other occasions he has displayed anxiety about very reasonable requirements of his constituents. The hon. Member for Kemp-town put the right hon. and learned Gentleman in a rather unfortunate position. But all that is over and done with and I shall say no more, quite confident that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree, in view of his inability to give an undertaking that the more sparsely populated areas could anticipate the development of a service, that the Committee should be satisfied that their interests, even in this form, should be taken care of.
We are not asking very much here because it will be within the recollection of the Committee that the House found it quite agreeable to accept proposals put forward in the White Paper by the late Labour Government, and subsequently accepted by the present Government, in relation to the protection of regional interests on the two appropriate bodies of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Committee is familiar with the device under which there is an advisory committee, and the chairman of each regional committee takes his place on the parent authority. The powers of these advisory committees are quite limited but, apparently, go much further than the right hon. and learned Gentleman has anticipated in relation to the new Authority.
These advisory committees are permitted to deal with the contents of their own region's programmes. In the course of the debate it has become plain that these regions cannot anticipate having any programme of their own at all, and that the Government are determined that they shall not be committed to seeing that these regions shall have their own programmes. If they are to be left completely defenceless, completely at the mercy of the shady gentlemen to whom my hon. and learned Friend the Member 516 for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) has drawn our attention, then plainly these regions will be assaulted by unpalatable commercial uniformity. The intention behind these three Amendments is that these regions shall have the feeblest kind of protection.
I do not think that we are asking much of the Government. I should have thought that at an early stage the right hon. and learned Gentleman would be prepared to intimate that he would accept the substance, if not the actual form, of these Amendments. There will be disappointment on this side of the Committee if he does not, though if one is to judge from the conduct of the proceedings, that will not greatly distress the right hon. and learned Gentleman. But the distress will be all the greater in those areas where, as he knows, there exists real and abiding jealousy in the better sense—an anxiety to protect their standards.
Since the Government have accepted the principle that restrictions are necessary for the B.B.C.—which of course has displayed a sense of dignity in this regard—the right hon and learned Gentleman will not ask the Committee to believe that it is less necessary that these commercial interests—which are not at all likely to show the same tender regard —should have lesser restrictions placed upon them.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
I regard the first of these Amendments as extremely important and useful. I propose to devote myself to the particular points of interest to the Principality of Wales. I hope that the Home Secretary will forgive me if, for a few moments, I appear to analyse his duties as Minister for Welsh Affairs. What are his duties in this regard? First, he must keep the Cabinet advised of current Welsh opinion. Secondly, it is also his duty to consult the Council for Wales and Monmouth and, in general, to have his finger on the pulse of Welsh life and opinion. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has no executive authority and consequently has little of substance to do.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Member, as is not uncommon, has failed to acquaint himself with the policy document of the Labour Party. Had he done so he would have appreciated the merits of it.
The Minister for Welsh Affairs who is leading for the Government on this Bill has not paid attention to Welsh opinion on the question of commercial television. Had he done so he would have realised the opinion in the Principality is universally against the Bill. Even today I received a letter from the New Wales Union, Undeb Cymru Fydd, which is the foremost cultural body there, asking me to protest forcibly against this Measure. [Interruption] I should have great pleasure in reading it in Welsh, but I appreciate that only the Temporary-Chairman (Mr. G. Thomas) and one or two others would understand it. The Minister for Welsh Affairs does exist, so we must endeavour to find useful and interesting work for him to do. Here is an opportunity.
The Postmaster-General obviously will not be in touch with Scottish and Welsh opinion and may, in consequence, make a most unhappy and unsuitable choice. All we are asking for in the Amendment is consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister for Welsh Affairs.
§ Mr. Gower
I think that my right hon. and learned Friend, in replying to an earlier Amendment, indicated that undoubtedly when these appointments were made there would be consultation at Ministerial or Cabinet level. It seems to me that that statement, made in reply to an entirely different Amendment about the selection of the type of person, would carry equal weight in considering from what part of the United Kingdom the different members of the Authority should come. In that case it would seem to me that there would be no great harm in this form of words which appears on the Order Paper. They merely set out the spirit of the statement which the Home Secretary made, namely, that there would be consultation, and I think that on both sides of the Committee, those hon. Members who come from Scotland—though I would not wish to speak for my Scottish colleagues—
§ Mr. Gower
I imagine that Scottish and Welsh hon. Members on either side of the Committee would rather favour the general principle that Scotland and Wales should be appropriately represented in the composition of this body, and that Scottish and Welsh opinion should always be brought to the attention of the Authority. In those circumstances I should like my right hon. and learned Friend to say that, even if he cannot accept the suggested form of words, the spirit of them at least will be applied.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Taylor (West Lothian)
This is the second occasion on which we have discussed the national aspects and possible dangers to national sentiment inherent in the future of television, and it is the second time that the difficulties of Scotland and Wales have been considered. We have not heard a voice from Scotland up to now from the Government benches. The only member of the Front Bench who is from Scotland is the Minister for Welsh Affairs.
It is significant that there is this disinterestedness on the part of Scottish Members who support the Government. Attention should toe drawn to it because it justifies the moving of the Amendments. The safeguards for national sentiment, tastes, traditions and sensitivities which the Amendments seek to achieve are especially necessary in this Bill. For a considerable time, it is now apparent from the discussion, commercial television will be confined to the southern or south-eastern part of these Islands, where the largest and most profitable markets are. By the very nature of commercial television, it will be the constant endeavour of all who are responsible for the programmes, and who will pay the piper, to appeal to the most profitable and 519 the largest markets. There will for some time be an inevitable tendency to "Londonise "the programmes.
It is one of the national peccadilloes that anyone who lives north of St. Albans has some kind of prejudice against Londoners—perhaps "prejudice" is the wrong word—or rather not against Londoners but against southernism. It is very easy to arouse susceptibilities, and the Amendment does endeavour to ensure conformity with the traditions, sentiments and needs of the respective countries and the northern areas of England. There is an equal need to avoid arousing prejudices and dislikes of the populations of the other countries which make up this United Kingdom.
Even with all the meticulous attention of the B.B.C. to avoid mistakes and to avoid arousing prejudices, there have been some pretty gruelling gaucheries that have offended our sentiments in Scotland more than once. Even today, the B.B.C. failed to give, in its news bulletin, the results of the Scottish municipal elections in any kind of detail. [Interruption.] I am seeking to achieve both brevity and remain in order, an exercise in which I have had some experience during this week.
The procedure outlined in this Amendment is a procedure which has been adopted for Scotland for all the programmes of the B.B.C., both "steam" and television. I can only presume to speak for Scotland. I do have the greatest fears that Scottish sentiments will be scantily considered unless we have these safeguards. The proposal that the national representatives on the advisory council should be the chairmen of the separate countries' advisory councils— these councils should be set up and consist of a reasonable number of members —is reasonable.
It would, in our experience of the procedure adopted on the action of this Government and on the recommendation of the last Government, be the minimum we could reasonably ask for. I am reminded that procedure was based on the recommendation of the Beveridge Committee, and was the result of the inquiries of the members of that committee, who gave a great deal of time and careful thought to the matter.
520 I have the gravest fears that Scottish sentiments will not be adequately considered unless we have these safeguards in a Bill to legalise commercial television. I already have very grave doubt and real fear that Scottish industrialists and traders, as a result of this Bill and the inaccessibility of the service which it will provide to the Scottish people for a considerable time, will have obstacles to overcome in addition to those which they already have—obstacles of heavy transport charges to the largest market. I do urge the Government and the Committee to support these very reasonable, minimum requirements and safeguards which the Amendment proposes.
§ Mr. Philip Bell
If I may say so, we are at last having a reasonable discussion. I began my consideration of the Amendment with great sympathy for it, although I am bound to say that if a Postmaster-General who happened to be a patriotic Scotsman or Welshman had to consult his compatriots he might find himself in some difficulty through being linked, so to speak, with one particular side.
Seriously, though, I wonder if hon. Members have considered the limitations of their Amendments. They appear to me to work out in this way, that instead of the Postmaster-General having a general responsibility, he must only consult certain named persons. [Interruption] Well, the only reference to consultation is that… after consultation with the Secretary of Statethe Postmaster-General has to appoint persons appearing to him to be suited. The only reference to consultation is consultation with these named persons. That, at any rate, is how I read the Amendments.
Do hon. Members not think that that is a little dangerous? There might be somebody in Scotland—I hope I am not being rude to the Scots—who knows something about Scotland, even as much as the Secretary of State. I know that hon. Members opposite believe that there is somebody in Wales who knows more about Wales than the Minister for Welsh Affairs. I seriously suggest that the difficulty about these words is that they do not really cover the point. Of course, when the Postmaster-General comes to make an appointment, he cannot act on 521 his own initiative. He must consult somebody. Why is it suggested that he must just consult officials?
I am sure that so distinguished a legal practitioner as the hon. and learned Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bell) would agree that the normal meaning of these words would be that these consultations are mandatory, but not exclusively so. However, if the hon. and learned Gentleman would promise us his support at a later stage, I am sure that we could try to meet his wishes in this respect.
§ Mr. Bell
I may be wrong about this, but it occurs to me that these words are rather limiting. In any case, once we start with consulation, it seems to me that we might add a lot of names and elaborate the matter in a most unwieldy way. When in other Measures Ministers have to make appointments, just think how many times we nominate the persons whom they must consult.
Let hon. Members not be too jealous of the honour of Scotland and Wales, for in this desire to be consulted they are rather denigrating themselves. No English Minister would dare act in Britain's affairs without consulting Scotland and Wales. Hon. Members insult themselves if they think that any Minister would dare to act without consulting them. Or are they so afraid of being ignored that they must have it in black and white? I do not believe that.
§ Mr. Bowen
I support the Amendment relating to Wales. I take the view that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman resists that Amendment he is doing less than justice to himself. After all, the Bill recognises the need to protect the particular interests of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and Mon-mouth. That is something for which, as a Welshman, I am particularly grateful. But when we endeavour to see how these interests are to be protected we are told they are to be protected by appointments made by the Postmaster-General. I do not think I should be in any way unfair to the present Postmaster-General if I suggested that his contacts with Wales were remote and obscure. If he is to make an appointment which is going to provide the protection which the Bill has in view then clearly he has to consult someone.
522 I should have thought that the Home Secretary would have welcomed the requirement that he should be consulted because he has tried to build up for himself—and I make no complaint about this —a reputation that if Welsh interests are not properly represented he has to be held responsible, and that the Welsh nation can look to him to attempt to put matters right. If on this Authority the interests of Wales are not protected then the people of Wales will look to him to put that matter right. I should have thought that it would have been far more satisfactory from his point of view, and everyone else's, if the appointment to protect Welsh interests was made after consultation with him.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Bowen
I should not resist an Amendment to say that some form of protection should be given to England, but we are dealing with what is in the Bill at the moment, and I should have thought that the Home Secretary would have preferred this responsibility squarely on his shoulders, and would have been sufficiently interested—I do not deny that he is—in Welsh affairs to make it the direct responsibility of the Postmaster-General to consult him before making an appointment of this kind.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
My hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) addressed himself to the second of these Amendments, and I wish to deal more particularly with the third. I want to support strongly what my hon. Friend said about the state of public opinion on the principles and provisions of this Bill. No doubt the Minister knows that no part of the United Kingdom is more strongly opposed to it than the Principality. Every section of responsible opinion, educational, industrial, religious and social is against it.
We are sincerely concerned that this Bill, if and when it becomes an Act, will unleash on our way of life influences against which we shall find very difficult to fight back. Therefore, we are concerned that there should be in the Bill adequate safeguards against the worst excesses of commercial television. I agree we find in Clause 1 recognition 523 of the fact that something is necessary to protect the Welsh position, as indeed that of Scotland and Northern Ireland. But it is not enough that the Minister or the Authority should appoint one single individual to act on the Authority as one who is deemed to know and to be conversant with every aspect of Welsh life. It is impossible to find such an individual. I am quite sure the Assistant Postmaster-General could never find such an individual.
The B.B.C. has found it impossible to operate in that way. After a quarter of a century of experience of trying to deal with the admittedly difficult problems of having regard to the needs of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the B.B.C. has had not merely to appoint a single representative from each of these countries to the Board of Governors, but also to arrange for advisory councils, composed of a variety of men and women who are bound, in association with each other, to know something about every aspect of the national life they are supposed to answer for. As a result the B.B.C. system is working very well indeed. The right hon. and learned Gentleman himself very effectively commended that system to the House of Commons and it received the support of every party in the House.
I urge him to make this simple, literal change but fundamentally necessary reform in the terms of this Clause so that the new Authority follows the example and learns from the experience of the B.B.C. and protects the views and interests of Wales and Scotland, not simply by depending upon one single nominee who cannot possibly know the whole vista of the national life of the entire country, but by having a representative body of which the nominee of the Authority is chairman. It is a reasonable and practicable thing to ask for, and I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will accede to the request.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I should have hoped that by this time persuasion from both sides of the Committee would have led the Home Secretary to come to the Despatch Box to tell us that he was willing to accept these reasonable and modest Amendments. I cannot see why he should refuse them. The Bill provides for the 524 setting up of advisory committees, and it is astonishing that in this respect the Bill did not lay down specifically that there should be advisory committees to look after the interests of Scotland and Wales.
This kind of provision exists already in connection with the B.B.C. Regional advisory committees have been associated with the B.B.C. for many years. In the most recent revision of the Charter, in the light of experience gained in the operation of the B.B.C., the matter was taken a step further, and national broadcasting councils were set up, with a member of the Board of Governors sitting on those councils, which have definite responsibility for specifically Scottish or Welsh programmes.
The excellence of the B.B.C. service has been commented upon again and again in this debate, and everybody pays tribute to the B.B.C's high sense of public responsibility. If, in the interest of Scotland and Wales, it is thought necessary to set up these advisory bodies in the case of a responsible body like the B.B.C., it seems most remarkable that the Government should not have taken steps, in the text of this Bill, to set up advisory bodies in connection with this proposed Authority, which is likely to be a highly irresponsible commercial undertaking.
As far as one can see from the contents of the Bill, the Authority will be responsible primarily to big business advertisers, who will provide it with the greater part of its revenue. But perhaps I should not go so far as to say that I cannot see any reason that the Government can put forward against the setting up of these advisory bodies. I can think of one reason. It is that the Scottish and Welsh advisory committees on the new television programme would have very little upon which to advise, because in the light of our earlier discussions it seems very unlikely that there will be an effective alternative television programme in either region. In fact, I should think that an advisory committee would spend most of its time advising that an alternative programme should be provided for Scotland and Wales.
I can imagine such an advisory committee holding a meeting and then advising the Authority that it was about time it started a programme in Dundee, for 525 instance. Only today, at Question time, I complained that Dundee cannot even get the Light Programme decently, let alone an alternative television programme. If the advisory committee advised the Authority to extend its coverage to Dundee, Aberdeen and other areas which are already reached by the B.B.C. television programme but which commercial television will not reach, the answer would be that it could not be done because it would not pay. That seems to be the only substantial argument the Government can put up against this moderate and sensible proposal.
I should point out one other very strong reason why a council of this sort should be instituted to safeguard the interests of Scotland, Wales and certain other areas. There is nothing which irons out to a greater extent our various national idiosyncrasies and differences of which we are all proud than the force of commercialism. It is a force which leads to a steadily greater uniformity—a force which tries to impose mass-produced, standards and forms of behaviour upon the whole population.
There is a double danger in allowing one of the most powerful media of public education and entertainment to fall into the hands of commerce. On the one hand, there will be this pressure towards mass-produced uniformity and, on the other, if the commercial advertisers who are to be associated with these programme companies suddenly decide that they must cater for special Scottish or Welsh interests, they are likely to do so in the most maudlin and sensational way.
They are likely to put on the television screens of Scotland—if there ever is an alternative commercial television programme for Scotland—the concept that Scotland is inhabited by people who all wear kilts, play the bagpipes, eat nothing but porridge and drink nothing but whisky. That is the sort of thing that will happen, unless a really powerful and influential body is set up in Scotland— and in Wales—to protect the cultural interests of the people when the new Authority begins its operations.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
The Scottish Office has not treated the Committee with proper respect tonight. We are now dealing with a matter which closely affects the interests 526 of Scotland and yet, despite the fact that the House of Commons sanctioned the addition of another Under-Secretary to deal with Scottish affairs, not a single Scottish Minister has sat on the Government Front Bench tonight. During the period of the last Election the Scottish Tories made a great point of the fact that one of their principal concerns was to get greater Scottish control over Scottish affairs in order to guard Scottish interests. Now, when Scottish interests are directly affected the voice of Toryism has been strangely silent, just as has those of hon. Scottish Ministers.
Does the Postmaster-General mean to proceed with the appointment of the person referred to in subsection (3) without consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland? One hon. Gentleman opposite suggested that there were people in Scotland who had as great experience and as wide knowledge as the Secretary of State for Scotland. I shall not dispute that, there may be; but they are in no way responsible to the House of Commons, and we have no way of questioning them or of finding out directly from them what they are doing.
I would remind hon. Members that there is no individual in Scotland who is in contact with so many sources of information and who has so much guidance as the Secretary of State for Scotland. So, from that point of view, there is no person better qualified than the Secretary of State for executing this function. Accordingly I ask the Home Secretary, does he propose that the Postmaster-General should make such an appointment without consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland? I am quite certain that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has no such intention. He will agree with me—he is nodding assent—that the intention here is that before this appointment affecting Scotland is made there will be consultations with the Secretary of State for Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "And others."]
The Home Secretary will save a good deal of time if he will nod his head in a perpendicular manner and indicate he agrees with me that it is his intention that the Secretary of State for Scotland shall be consulted. If that is the intention, why does he not accept the Amend- 527 ment? I take it he accepts the Amendment?
§ Mr. Rankin
That lands the right hon. and learned Gentleman in a contradiction that he will find it very difficult to resolve. We shall await his answer with interest.
I am sure that the Committee is very anxious to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman. I certainly am. Are we, however, to take it, as he is to answer the debate, that this is an indication that Scotland now comes within the care of the Office of Commonwealth Relations?
§ Mr. Foster
The right hon Gentleman can take it as no such indication.
I shall deal with the first Amendment. The argument is that before making these appointments, the Postmaster-General should consult the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Home Secretary and Minister for Welsh Affairs. The hon. Gentleman's argument was that it was clear, he thought—and I agree with him—that before making such an appointment the Postmaster-General would consult those Secretaries of State. He said, if that was to be done, why not accept an Amendment saying it should be done?
§ Mr. Foster
The hon. Gentleman will see, from the reasons I am about to give, that this would not be a proper, constitutional Amendment. It would not be apt in an Act of Parliament to lay down that one particular Member of the Government among other Members of the Government should be consulted in this way. Let us assume some person disputes the fact that the right Minister has been consulted. Will the hon. Gentleman assume that? Let us assume that a member of the public or of this Committee disputes that the right Minister was 528 consulted upon the appointment of the person to represent the interests of Scotland.
If we had a provision like this in the Act of Parliament it would lead—and this is why it is unconstitutional—to an absurd situation, because if the right Minister had not been consulted—and let us assume he had not been—then the Authority would be illegal and everything done by the Authority would be subject to tests in the courts. An action could be brought by someone such as a programme contractor whose contract might be alleged to have been broken. I give these instances to show hon. Members why such a provision would not work; and, furthermore, it is entirely contrary to constitutional practice.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards (Caerphilly)
The hon. and learned Gentleman says something about a programme contractor bringing an action in the courts. How would such a person know whether a Minister had been consulted or not?
§ Mr. Foster
To decide if there had been consultation or not, a court would have to require that communications between one Minister and another, which hon. Members know very well should be kept secret, should be produced in order to decide whether the communication was, in fact, only a communication, or a consultation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members may shake their heads in dismay, but that is the effect of this Amendment.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
The hon. and learned Gentleman is a lawyer; I am not, but surely I am right in thinking that it is the case that a court cannot require the internal documents of a Government Department to be produced on a matter of this kind? If a Minister, presumably the Secretary of State, certified that he had been consulted, would that not be accepted as conclusive evidence?
§ Mr. Foster
Yes, I think that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right. But there is the great difficulty that the courts are then brought to bear upon a communication between one Minister and another. In the opinion of the Government, such a provision would be entirely unconstitutional. It is entirely contrary to practice to require one Minister—
I apologise for interrupting the hon. and learned Gentleman, but may I point out that in the Transport Act, 1953, the present Government moved an Amendment to the end of Clause 17, which said:Before exercising his powers under this section in any case affecting Scotland, the Minister shall consult the Secretary of State for Scotland.In a most recent Bill dealing with electricity, it is directed that the Secretary of State should consult with both other Ministers affected. It is a frequent direction; the Secretary of State must be consulted, or consult, before making an appointment, and I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman if that is not common practice in relation to Acts relating to Scotland. I must add that I think it is wholly regrettable that there is not a single representative of the Scottish Office on the Treasury Bench. The hon. and learned Gentleman represents his own Department with distinction, but it is absolutely disgraceful that he should have to deal with this matter.
§ Mr. Foster
That is not dealing with the case of the appointment of a person. It is the exercise of a power; but in the case of the appointment of a person, the Amendment would invalidate the whole of the action. In the exercise of a power, it would not be possible to make such a challenge. In this case, it would mean that the Authority would be an invalid Authority. Of course, what has been said about a Minister certifying that he had been consulted, is quite right.
§ Mr. Foster
There is a practical point in that the whole Authority might be improperly constituted.
I feel that it is very unfair to tax the hon. and learned Gentleman, who is a distinguished hon. Member, but who cannot be expected to know the answer. Here, the Minister takes power to make a reorganisation scheme and to publish it. There are many people affected by such action. If I followed the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, it would be competent for any of these people affected to seek to restrain the Minister unless he proved he had consulted the Secretary of State for Scotland, although it now seems that a certificate would be 530 sufficient. But if that is true in relation to that Act it must be true in relation to other Acts.
If the hon. and learned Gentleman says that the whole Authority would be invalidated, this is a very important part of the Authority and the scheme would come to a standstill if a person could take such action in a court. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to delay committing himself further on this subject until such time as the Scottish Law Officers can attend the Committee.
§ Mr. Thomson
Before replying to the point put by my right hon. Friend, will the hon. and learned Gentleman also bear in mind that this does not seem an unusual procedure? If I recollect correctly, in the arrangements for the British Electricity Authority, now being amended by a Bill before the House, the Secretary of State for Scotland is required to appoint members of the Scottish Hydro-electric Board and the Minister of Fuel and Power is responsible for the members from England. That seems a parallel situation, but no questions were raised when that was provided.
§ Mr. Foster
I have not that particular case before me, but I think I am right in saying that in it the appointment is made by the other Minister,
§ The Deputy-Chairman
If the hon. and learned Gentleman does not give way, the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) must sit down.
§ Mr. Hughes
The Under-Secretary has given way.
Would he have regard to the words in the Clause under consideration,among the persons appearing to him.The Postmaster-General has to make the appointment from among certain persons appearing to him to be qualified. How is the Postmaster-General to realise who are the persons who are qualified? The Postmaster-General, as in the case of the present Assistant Postmaster-General, may have no connection with Scotland or Wales. Surely he should be made to enter into consultation with the Minister for Scotland or Wales, who would have the requisite knowledge.
§ Mr. Foster
The answer is, as I said, that he will in any case consult, for example, the Secretary of State for Scotland. All we are arguing is that as he would do so in any case, why should we have it in the Bill? That, I am afraid, is the point which the hon. and learned Member missed. It seems to me that in this particular case the machinery of Government is such that in the appointment of a particular person the Postmaster-General would naturally consult the Secretary of State for Scotland and the other Ministers in the case of Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no need to put it in the Bill because that would be imposing a statutory duty in an area where the machinery of government functions all the time.
On another plane, I can see a difference where powers have to be exercised and perhaps it was a bad precedent, constitutionally, in the Transport Act. I see an argument for saying that in the exercise of general powers it is not a bad thing to put in a Clause such as hon. Members opposite are proposing. Personally, however, I should have thought that to a certain extent this was also an infringement of the old doctrine of collective responsibility and consultation between Ministers.
In any event, that is the view of the Government about this part of the Bill. I do not think we can take the argument any further. It is a difference of opinion. The hon. Gentleman said, "Why not put it in? "Her Majesty's Government say that in this case it would not be apt to do so and on the whole it is not a very desirable constitutional practice.
§ 11.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Rankin
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman say what safeguard we have against the procedure suggested by one of his hon. Friends? Does he entirely disregard that there might be someone who has as much information and standing as the Secretary of State for Scotland, and who could give advice? What safeguard have we against that course being followed?
§ Mr. Foster
I could not accept the argument of the hon. Gentleman. Any reasonable Postmaster-General who acted properly would consult the Secretary of State for Scotland, and we start from that 532 basis. The argument is a much narrower one, as to whether or not this provision should be included.
If I may pass on to the second Amendment, Her Majesty's Government—
§ Mr. Mitchison
Before he leaves that point, may I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman three questions? First, why is there no Law Officer from England or Scotland to deal with what appears to be entirely a point of law on which we are entitled to have authoritative advice from the Law Officers of the Crown for one country or the other? Secondly, if the hon. and learned Gentleman will turn to Clause 10 of the Bill he will find that it follows the usual practice of saying that in monetary matters the Postmaster-General must have the approval of the Treasury, and there are similar references in other parts of the Bill.
Of course, the collective responsibility of the Government extends both the Postmaster-General and the Treasury, and yet, in Bill after Bill the approval of the Treasury is stipulated. Is there any real constitutional objection whatever to putting in a similar provision about the Secretary of State for Scotland, as has been done in other cases affecting Scotland?
Thirdly, regarding consultation and the effect of that invalidating anything done without consultation, is not the provision that there shall be consultation with the chairman or deputy-chairman of the Authority open to even more formidable objection, since in that case no Government certificate can be given by the consultee though it can, of course, be given by the consultate?
§ Mr. Foster
I should have thought that in the last case there was the desirability of laying down a statutory duty when persons outside the Government were to be consulted. The point of my argument with regard to the other matter was that it was something between Members of the Government. It concerned the way the Government worked.
The question of the approval of the Treasury seems to be on a different plane. It is not a question of consulting with one's colleagues. It is just put in that the approval of the Treasury must be obtained, and if that was omitted it would be exactly the same. It seems to me to be a harmless provision either way.
§ Mr. Foster
I thought the point was put by the hon. Gentleman.
Regarding the Law Officers, that is a question of solidarity and consultation between various Members of the Government. It is thought that one Minister can properly answer in a debate on behalf of another of his colleagues. It is an instance of the Government working as a whole, and he knows from experience that it is necessary at times for one Minister to help in the work of another Department.
I come now to the second Amendment.
§ Mr. Foster
That point has already been made, and I said that it was a different point—that the appointment should be made by different Ministers.
On the second Amendment, the Government take the view that this is really a matter of timing. At present, it would be an unnecessary obligation to lay upon the Authority. There are already three persons on the Authority who represent the various interests of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is the Government's view that at the beginning of the Authority's work it would be an unnecessary obligation to lay upon the Authority. The Committee will appreciate that the Authority has the necessary power in Section 3 (3), and it is a matter which the Authority can well undertake when, and if, the operations of the Authority extend to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
I understand the arguments which have been advanced, and that there is a good deal of force in the contention that when the Authority has more impact on Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales—for instance, through the establishment of transmitting stations there—it may be necessary to set up advisory committees, as was done in the case of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Com- 534 mittee should bear in mind that these advisory committees were not set up in the B.B.C. orginally, but only under the Charter of 1952—I mean, the National Broadcasting Councils.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
We are talking about the advisory councils. When the hon. and learned Gentleman brings in the question of the Council for Broadcasting in Wales and Scotland, that is an entirely different matter. The advisory committees have always existed.
§ Mr. Foster
It was not until 1952 that the councils were formed. That does, I think, show that there must be some relation between the area of activity of the Authority and the setting up of these committees. This, again, is a matter of opinion, and my right hon. Friend will, naturally, pay great attention to the arguments put forward, though I am not giving any undertaking on his behalf. The Government's view is that these committees are not necessary initially. The Authority has the power, under Section 3 (3) to set up these committees later. For these reasons, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Taking the last argument first, the hon. and learned Gentleman has been badly advised. The Bill proposes to establish immediately three stations; one in London; one in Birmingham; and one in Manchester. The Manchester station will impinge on Wales. The Birmingham station will do so, too. What may be good for London or Birmingham is not necessarily good for North Wales, Mid-Wales, or South Wales. The Government have accepted the principle with regard to the B.B.C. that regard shall be had to the general outlook of the people in the area covered, and that nothing shall be done to offend them. We have been assured that commercial-television would not offend the susceptibilities of people in any pan of the country. Here is a part of the country which has a different outlook. What might go down well in London would be resented in North and Mid-Wales.
If there was any need for an advisory committee, surely it is urgent here. The committee is to talk about balanced programmes and the ethics and morals of programmes, matters which deeply 535 concern the Home Secretary. The argument just put forward by the Undersecretary of State for Commonwealth Relations showed complete lack of technical knowledge. He should have been advised that the first people to hear commercial broadcasts will be some people in Eastern Wales and Mid-Wales, just as the present programmes have been received in those parts of Wales now. I am sure he will realise the necessity of an advisory committee.
I cannot understand the resistance to the establishment of an advisory committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that provision was in Bill and it had been left to the I.T.A. This is a matter on which assurances had been given in the general debates, and we should have protection in this matter, if we are not to have Ministerial protection and if it has been left to the I.T.A. to appoint where and when it thinks proper. The hon. and learned Gentleman made out a case for not appointing in Scotland or in Wales. That is a most serious breach of undertakings given by the Minister for Welsh Affairs.
There is also resistance to laying it down in the Bill that the Minister for Welsh Affairs and the Secretary of State for Scotland should be consulted. In a Welsh debate, the former Minister would have to answer for the commercial programmes in Wales, and not the Postmaster-General or his hon. Friend. If my Welsh colleagues and I guard any-
§ thing keenly it is the cultural aspect of our life. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would not leave such a debate to the Assistant Postmaster-General. The same would be true of Scottish affairs. These are cultural and not material matters.
§ I would draw the attention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the Transport Act, 1953, in which it is laid down that the Secretary of State, before exercising his powers, shall, in any matters affecting Scotland, consult the Secretary of State for Scotland. That is in a Conservative Bill. If it is right in transport how much more necessary is it in the matters now before us.
§ It is astonishing that, on this very important matter, we have not got a single Minister for Scotland here. We have had the Minister for Welsh Affairs present and he has attended very closely. I hope he has watched Welsh interests, particularly in relation to the advisory committee. I would like that to have happened in relation to Scotland.
§ Having heard the statement that has been made my right hon. and hon. Friends feel that here is an affront to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and we ought to show our dissent by pressing it to a Division.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 161: Noes, 164.537
|Division No. 90.]||AYES||[12 midnight.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Collick, P. H.||Grimond, J|
|Adams, Richard||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Albu, A. H.||Crosland, C. A. R.||Hannan, W.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Crossman, R. H. S.||Hargreaves, A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Baird, J.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Bence, C. R||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Davies, Harold (Leef)||Hewitson, Capt. M|
|Benson, G.||Deer, G.||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Delargy, H. J.||Holt, A. F.|
|Blackburn, F.||Dodds, N. N.||Houghton, Douglas|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Boardman, H.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G||Edelman, M.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Bowen, E. R||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Fernyhough, E.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Gibson, C. W.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Callaghan, L. J||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Carmichael, J.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Keenan, W.|
|Champion, A. J.||Grey, C. F.||Key, Rt. Hon. C W|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Lawson, G. M.||Porter, G.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Lindgren, G. S||Prootor, W. T.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Rankin, John||Thornton, E.|
|McLeavy, F.||Reeves, J.||Tomney, F,|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rhodes, H.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Manuel A. C.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Mellish, R. J||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Ross, William||West, D. G.|
|Monslow, W.||Royle, C.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Moody, A. S.||Shackleton, E. A. A||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Short, E. W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Moyle, A.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wigg, George|
|Mulley, F. W||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Willey, F. T.|
|Nally, W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, W. R (Droylsden)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P. J||Skeffington, A. M.||Willis, E. G.|
|Oswald, T.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Palmer, A. M. F||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Steele, T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Parker, J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Parkin, B. T||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Pearson, A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E||Mr. James Johnson and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Popplewell, E||Swingler, S. T.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Heath, Edward||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Redmayne, M|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Hollis, M. C.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Hope, Lord John||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Russell, R. S.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Birch, Nigel||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Scott, R. Donald|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Black, C W||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Shepherd, William|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Kerr, H. W.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Bullard, D. G.||Leather, E. H. C.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Legge-Bourke, Maj E A. H.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Carr, Robert||Lindsay, Martin||Studholme, H. G.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Summers, G. S.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Lockwood, Lt. -Col. J. C.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Teeling, W.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||McKibbin, A. J||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Mackie, J. H, (Galloway)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Maclean, Fitzroy||Tilney, John|
|Deedes, W. F.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Drewe, Sir C.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Turton, R. H.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Marples, A. E.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Maude, Angus||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mellor, Sir John||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Molson, A. H. E.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Fort, R.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe&Lonsdale)||Neave, Airey||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Nicholls, Harmar||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Wellwood, W.|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Glover, D.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Oakshott, H. D.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Odey, G. W.||Wills, Gerald|
|Gough, C. F. H.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Orr-Ewins, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Page, R. G.||Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith and|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Mr. Vosper.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
My hon. Friends are inclined to think that we should go on and on because the Government majority is going down and down. I must say there is something in that, although I imagine the Whips department is sending out the fire brigade or the ambulance with a view to getting the reinforcements along.
However, the Lord Privy Seal will remember at an earlier stage, on a similar Motion, I did say that I thought we had dealt with the Amendments with reasonable expedition. That is true. I would remind him that on the last Amendment we were really treated badly. There were Amendments affecting Scotland and Wales. We have a Minister for Welsh Affairs who is supposed to look after the interests of Wales. There is no real change there from the position under the Labour Government, except for the label, but, having got the label, he seems to be much more reluctant to speak on Welsh affairs than the Minister under the Labour Government was.
We have not had a single Scottish Minister here except for a junior Whip, for a time. I do not want to refer to junior Whips in Scotland at any great length, but, with great respect, that is not an adequate representation of the Scottish Office. He is a representative of the English Chief Whip. We did not have a Scottish Minister, and the Scottish Office is crowded with Ministers. There are five ordinary Ministers and two Law Officers, and the result was that the Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations—whom we all like, and who was doing his best—had to deal with a particularly tricky job, and it was really too bad to land him with it. It ought to have been a Scottish Minister.
Where is the Secretary of State; where is all the galaxy of Under-Secretaries; and where is the one Law Officer who is a Member of Parliament? The other Law Officer I do not think we can do anything about. It really is too bad. In those circumstances, we would have been justified in keeping that debate going quite a long time.
I suggest to the Lord Privy Seal, in view of the discussions earlier when he thought we should go on a little longer, 540 that it would be wise to accept the the Motion. I think the Government need a bit of rest to pull themselves together. It would be far better for us to let the debate be adjourned now, and pick it up next time, by which time the Chief Whip will have been able to do something about the absences, and as far as I can tell, deliberate abstentions of some of his hon. Friends. If that is so I can only say I am delighted. I hope it is so, but I suggest that in all the circumstances good temper will be maintained, and it would be in the interests of the Committee, if the Lord Privy Seal accepted the Motion.
§ Mr. Crookshank
It cannot be said for a moment that the temper of the debate has not been good so far, and I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the pleasant way in which he has moved his Motion. I must admit that I detected in it a little of the technique which he used to employ, when he was in power, but, of course, he has not got that yet. [HON. MEMBERS: "Very nearly."] Whether the figure is three or the magic number should be 67, which I think is the trouble with which he is faced, is quite another story.
The right hon. Gentleman keeps on asking my intentions. He is very persistent in his suit. When a similar Motion was last before the Committee I said I thought we ought to make some reasonable progress with this Bill. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the stage that we have reached after two days' debate on this matter is reasonable or not.
§ Mr. Crookshank
He does. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not think that anybody else shares that opinion, except himself and those of his supporters who are now cheering him. For all that, the Government recognise that, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, there is a magic hour about now upon which the convenience of the Committee as a whole and of its staff very much depends, and that if we rise now, as we would do if we accepted this Motion, it would be for the general convenience of the Committee. I do not want to inconvenience the Committee. I accept the Motion.
§ Committee report Progress: to sit again this day.