§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
I beg to move,That this House expresses its alarm at the manner in which the Television Act is operating; and requests Her Majesty's Government to bring forward legislation to amend or repeal the Act.In moving on behalf of the Members of the official Opposition this Motion about the operation of the Television Act, 1954, I recall the main criticisms of the Measure and the fact that the Government in those debates took a line which we submit is not working out in practice as the operation of the Act develops and as the administration of the Independent Television Authority proceeds.
It was argued that this was a way to break a monopoly, but now we see monopoly spreading in commercial television. It was argued that there would be a better service for nothing, but it is clear that the aggregate cost of both the B.B.C. and commercial television will increase. It was argued that there would be an alternative programme, balanced and carefully planned, but it looks as if the programme will be unbalanced and not carefully planned; and the whole thing is dominated by the commercial element.
It is clear that, owing to the rush methods of the Government and their 1126 limited band of really hot supporters on this matter, the Authority has been rushed in its administration and rushed into action without time to prepare its plans, and without the Government themselves having any real ideas as to how the Act should work. As a result of the rush methods we are getting all sorts of imperfections.
The Assistant Postmaster-General said on one occasion, "Leave it to the I.T.A." Now look where he has left it: All this is very much like the handling of the Bill, for that was rushed. The Government expected the House to swallow it quickly, without reasonable examination and debate, and when we proceeded to exercise our rights to reasonable examination and debate, on this of all subjects —this new departure which was not in any Election manifesto of the Conservative Party—the Government came forth with a Guillotine Motion which made discussion and adequate examination of the Bill impossible.
Consequently, the Bill was transformed into an ill-considered, imperfect Act of Parliament, and we are suffering from that as well. From all this party political rush, and the pressure of interests, we are now suffering. [HON. MEMBERS: "You are."] The country is suffering too, as is indicated in a powerful and influential letter in "The Times" this morning.
Let us consider the programme contractors. I want to ask the Government what the standards of selection were and what criteria were judged by the Authority to be fitting for the selection of certain firms, undertakings and businesses as programme contractors. Did 1127 the Postmaster-General give the Authority any advice? If so, what was the advice? Or did he not care?
Did the Postmaster-General give any advice about the political complexion of the companies to be allowed to promote programmes, and the organisations, financial institutions and industrial and business undertakings which are behind the programme contractors? We are entitled to know whether the Government gave any advice or, indeed, instructions, to the Authority on that point.
I also ask whether competition was really so limited in this allegedly anti-monopolistic field that the I.T.A. was glad to get almost anybody—because that is where we appear to have drifted—except perhaps Mr. Prince Littler, who has extensive command of music-hall or theatrical talent? The Assistant Postmaster-General informed the House not very long ago that many people had applied, that there was no shortage of applicants, and that there would be a wide area of choice.
Was there a wide area of choice, or was it limited? Indeed, did the Authority have to go round asking people to make application, or was there this extraordinary variety of choice? It does not look as if that was so. Did the Authority almost insist that a capital of £3 million or thereabouts was required, because, if that was so, it clearly meant that big aggregations of finance were necessary? That clearly ruled out people of limited means, all the relatively small people who might wish to enter this line of business.
It was bound to mean that big business was to dominate the programme contractors. We ought to know about these things. The figure may be right; I do not know, but some of my hon. Friends hold that a smaller figure might suffice for the flotation of these organisations.
On the other hand, they will be involved in a good many running costs of one sort or another. If £3 million was the figure that was almost stipulated, it means that what was required was about the equivalent to that required for the notation of a daily newspaper. In any case, if that is so, it was inevitable that big business of some sort would step in and that the little man would be out. 1128 I will come to the consideration of some of the programme contractors later.
Incidentally, I want to raise a point with regard to Miss Dilys Powell, who is a regular contributor to one of Lord Kemsley's Sunday newspapers. May I make it quite clear at once that I am making no personal attack on Miss Powell? She is an able journalist and writes with ability on subjects within her province. Indeed, I myself, when Lord President of the Council, recommended her name to the Prime Minister for appointment as a member of the British Film Institue, so that it is quite clear that I have no personal prejudice against her, and I think that is true of my hon. Friends.
But Miss Powell is employed by the Kemsley Press; and the Act provides in Section 1 (7) that no member shall have any financial or other interest in this class of business; that is to say, the class of business of commercial television. Paragraph 5 of the First Schedule contains a provision against a direct or indirect interest in contracts, and there is in Section 1 (4) a power to remove any member of the Authority. We have to face the fact that these are the provisions of the Act, and that that is the law.
The question therefore arises, first, whether Miss Powell should remain a member of the Authority. The question also arises whether, when the contract in which Lord Kemsley or his firm are interested was discussed, she disclosed her interest, and whether she participated in any way in the decision. Was she, in fact, present at the meeting of the I.T.A.? Was there, in short, a disclosure and non-participation? Further, was this recorded in the minutes of the I.T.A., as required in the Act of Parliament?
Now, I come to what I think has come as a shock to the nation, namely, the inclusion of newspaper proprietors in the programme contractors. The Royal Commission on the Press, at any rate, got on the edge of this business, if not over the edge, in the course of its consideration of the evidence which had been taken by that Commission the bona fides or impartiality of which nobody had challenged. Indeed, its report was received with great glee, not only by the Conservative Party in this House; but by some Conservative newspapers outside, and especially those which were a little 1129 nervous, though, on second examination, the pleasure was not so great.
In page 98, paragraph 350 of the Commission's Report, the Commission recorded that it would deplore…any tendency on the part of the larger chains to expand, particularly by the acquisition of further papers in areas where they are already strong.It is perfectly true that that dealt with newspapers, and I want to be fair about it, but the principle was laid down that expansion and development of the power of these great organisations was a matter of public concern and was deplored.
It is true that this quotation refers only to newspapers, but the principle against monopoly is there, and, in page 164, paragraph 615, of the report, the Commission, while making no recommendations, stated:…we think that the scale and significance of any future combination of newspaper ownership with control of either news films or news broadcasting ought to be carefully examined.Again, I want to be quite fair. That refers to news broadcasts.
I am perfectly sure, however, that the Royal Commission would have had in mind that a tie-up between newspapers and commercial television was an extension of the sphere of the Press into a field which had not hitherto obtained, and, therefore in principle, was a development of the monopolistic characteristics of newspapers which were certainly demonstrated in the case of Kemsley Newspapers in many areas in the country and which, in principle, must be a matter for concern in the case of great undertakings like Associated Newspapers. Therefore, I say that the Royal Commission on the Press had opinions on the subject which incline to our point of view.
It is interesting that, in the leading article in "The Times" this morning, reference is made to the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Simonds, as having invoked Milton. There is a very good opening to an excellent leading article, which I commend to hon. Members opposite. It says:The essence of the case to be made by the Opposition in the debate on the television motion in the House of Commons this evening is that the Government having started out with Milton have had to end up with Lords Kemsley and Rothermere.1130 It seems that references to Milton were a prominent feature of the debate in the other House, and I think he has been mentioned in this House. Well, it is a far cry from Milton to their Lordships who are at the head of these great newspaper companies, and I am very glad that "The Times" has written what I have just quoted.
Moreover, it was said by the Assistant Postmaster-General—and this is also quoted in "The Times" leading article —in this House, on 25th March, 1954:It certainly is not the view of the potential programme companies that the scheme is unworkable. —we have had some dozens of applications from potential programme companies. Even if we whittle the number down a little, I can assure the House that the number of potential companies which are prepared to take on the job and are financially capable of doing so is far greater than we really want."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1954; Vol. 525, c. 1548.]Will somebody tell us from the Government Front Bench whether that is true or not? If it is the case that they have had applications far greater in number than they really wanted, why have they called in Lords Kemsley and Rothermere? Are we to understand that they are adopting this principle of the extension of newspaper interests and great newspaper undertakings into the field of commercial broadcasting?
In view of all this, I would ask the Government: was this principle of newspapers coming into this field carefully considered, either by Her Majesty's Government or by the Independent Television Authority? Or have the Government, with their doctrinaire, anti-monopolistic views, connived at spreading the influence of two of the greatest newspaper combinations into the field of commercial television?
There is even a third combination in it according to my information. Mr. Harold Drayton is, I think, associated with A.B.D.C., as one of the directors. That organisation is, in turn, associated with the "Daily Mail." Mr. Harold Drayton, according to my information—I am open to correction if I am wrong—is chairman and a director of an exceptional number of investment companies. He is also Chairman of Provincial Newspapers, and of United Newspapers, another chain. The latter owns 95 per cent. of Provincial Newspapers; and this is probably the third largest chain of newspapers in the country.
1131 Our objections to newspapers coming into this business are based, first, on the principle of the Royal Commission's objections; second, on opposition to the further concentration, in the hands of a few men, of power in the formation of opinion and of public taste. Newspapers vary in their tastes, as do the tastes of readers. It is a free Press, and newspapers can do substantially what they like, short of committing libel and actionable indecency. They vary. I do not think that some of the newspapers concerned are to be trusted in the exercise of fair judgment on public taste in commercial television.
There has been some value in the relationship of the Press with broadcasting and television up to now, which means, of course, with the B.B.C. The Press has been a valuable critic of the B.B.C. It has criticised sound broadcasting and television. Some people may think that its criticism has been excessive and unjust, and others may think that the criticism could have been hotter. That is a matter of opinion.
The newspapers have commented and criticised in a lively way the programmes of sound broadcasting and television. I do not think that has done the B.B.C. any harm. It is the business of the newspapers to criticise opinions that they think ought to be criticised, whether of the Government, the Opposition, the B.B.C. or any other institution in the country. That is quite all right, and it is valuable.
Broadcasting and television under the B.B.C. have had an objective independence. They have not attacked particular newspapers, so far as I know. They have given the independent opinions of people who were before the microphone or who appeared on television. If those opinions have been controversial they usually have been answered back. The B.B.C. gives news bulletins which are objective and impartial to the best of its ability, although all of us have criticised them now and again. All that is a check upon the accuracy of news in newspapers, and indeed, upon the propagation of biased or ignorant opinion. There is a countercheck, therefore, on both sides; but the most valuable check is the criticism in the newspapers of sound and television broadcasting.
1132 Now come the commercial programme company sponsored by Lord Kemsley, the commercial company sponsored by Lord Rothermere, and the company associated with Provincial Newspapers and United Newspapers. Which newspapers of these groups will criticise the commercial television programmes with which those newspapers are associated? Who will appear in certain London evening newspapers writing criticisms of T.V. programmes, such as has happened from time to time, even by hon. Members on both sides of the House? Who is going to knock the programmes of the commercial companies about and subject them to critical examination?
It is most unlikely that those newspapers will wish their own programme contractors to be criticised. It is most unlikely that they will want these programme contractors to run in conflict with the general lines of policy and taste of the newspapers themselves. It is worse than that. For a good many years now there has been a general, but not universal, practice among the newspapers in Fleet Street that they do not attack each other. It is a great pity.
Much public interest and amusement are lost by newspapers not attacking each other. It used to be good fun. There is a well-known saying, "Dog don't eat dog." [HON. MEMBERS: "Ask 'Tribune'."] I do not think that hon. Members ought, from rather mean motives, to bring in extraneous matters; but it is all right. I can take it, but Government supporters might do me the courtesy of listening. I am seeking to move this Motion in a reasonable way and according to reasonable arguments. I am not going to be provoked into mere abusive knockabout, even by the bad conduct of hon. Members on the Government benches.
We now have a situation in which great newspaper proprietors, with great newspaper chains behind them, are coming into the television business. They are entering it in a way which will extend the power of the great Press empires into television and will diminish the free functioning of television on the one hand and of the Press on the other. They should be independent organs of entertainment and opinion, and quite free to criticise each other.
1133 Incidentally—if it is an incident, which I doubt, because it is a most curious and extraordinary incidental happening—the first two newspaper chains which came into this business were Tory. The Government are playing the fool with public relations. We have caught them out at least twice using the taxpayers' money for the spreading of party propaganda on the part of Her Majesty's Government—twice, and they know it. In this case of commercial television, they have deliberately done it, not for the purpose of competing with the B.B.C., but in order that capitalist influences and power may be brought into commercial television so that the minds of the people may be influenced.
Now the Government have gone further than that, by themselves presumably assenting to it. I do not believe that the I.T.A. would have done all this without keeping in touch with the Minister. The Government may answer, "It has nothing to do with us. It is purely the business of the Independent Television Authority." If the Government tell me that they do not know anything about it, that they were not kept informed and they were never consulted—if, indeed, they did not give directions—I tell the Government that I do not believe it. I do not believe it is true.
§ Sir Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
The right hon. Gentleman has said that the first two newspaper groups to come into commercial television are Tory. Is he certain that the "Daily Herald" representing Socialism, or the "Tribune," or any Liberal group applied? I think that only the two newspaper groups mentioned did apply. It is not a case of exclusion.
§ Mr. Morrison
What is the good of hon. Members shouting "Answer" before I have had half a second in which to answer? Hon. Members opposite are not as well behaved as people at a street corner meeting.
I was coming to the point which the hon. Gentleman has quite properly and quite legitimately raised. In fact, I only wish to reinforce my point in order that it may sink in, and to say that the first two newspaper groups are Conservative and that I imagine that the direction of the third group which I have mentioned, namely, Provincial Newspapers and 1134 United Newspapers, is also Conservative, although it is only fair to say that some of its newspapers are Liberal. However, from what I know about Liberal papers in a Tory chain, there will not be much Liberalism about it, at least not in any recognisable form.
Already this "Daily Mail" group, a group that has to be so impartial, so high-minded on commercial television and which must not concern itself with party politics, has delivered a sharp and unfair attack upon Her Majesty's Opposition because we have dared to put down this Motion today. Already, therefore, the "Daily Mail" is beginning to champion the interests of the television programme company with which it is associated. It is a contractor and a participant in one of the companies which are floating programmes.
In reply to the hon. Member for Southgate (Sir B. Baxter)—and this I have on my notes—it is only fair to the Independent Television Authority to say that it would have considered other applications had it received them. I go further than that and say that it is perhaps true that the Independent Television Authority went out of its way to ask newspapers.
§ Mr. Morrison
I am saying so. What is the hon. Gentleman so miserable about? I do not want any help from hon. Gentlemen interested in advertising. We know quite enough of their pressure on the Government and of the miserable, cowardly way in which the Government surrendered to them.
It is not only the case that there was an opportunity for other newspapers to apply, but I will be additionally fair by adding that the I.T.A. actually approached some of those newspapers to come in. But had they wanted to come in, they could have applied, and, if they did not, there was no obligation to apply. Moreover, it is not every newspaper which has behind it the financial resources of the "Daily Mail" group, the Kemsley group, or the other. I could mention a number of newspapers which are very respectable and decent daily papers, but which, in all probability, would not have the financial resources behind them to enable them to enter this business.
1135 It happens that all the newspaper interests which up to now are in this business—what the future may hold, I do not know—are Tory newspapers, or pre-dominantly Tory newspapers. I should have thought that any Government ought to have had the decency to put the brakes on such a situation developing in connection with a so-called Independent Television Authority.
What is going to happen? The television programme contractors are in regions, and in some regions it may be that a newspaper group associated with a regional contractor will have its newspapers circulating predominantly in that region. Therefore, we get an additional tie-up and an additional intensification of the offence.
We do not rest our case entirely on the point that it is the Tory newspapers which have evidently been offered the first facilities. We say—and we say this because we are friends of a free Press—that, irrespective of newspaper opinions, or of particular newspaper opinions, the newspapers should not be concerned in this development at all. We believe that it is bad for commercial television and bad for the Press, and I think that there are some hon. Members opposite who will agree with us on that point.
One can hardly assume that the Kemsley chain of newspapers will, as I have said, criticise the programme contractor with which its papers are associated, and that is so in the case of Associated Newspapers also. Nor will the T.V. thus controlled conflict with the convenience of the relevant newspapers. For the rest, as we anticipated would be the case, there are too many big interests in this business, and too much of the existing aggregations of capital and finance.
I do not wish to be dogmatic regarding whether it is desirable or not, but it is significant that, so far as I know, no company has been floated for public subscription in order to become a programme contractor. It could be argued that such a company would attract shareholders who were after a profit, though it is not certain that they would get one. However, it might attract some who wished to attend the annual meeting of such a company in order to have their arguments about the company, and that might have been an advantage.
1136 As I say, the present set-up is drawing upon the existing aggregations of big business capital. They are the people who, in the name of anti-monopoly, are to be the "big boys" and the programme contractors of commercial television. All the claims of the Conservative Party about being the friend of the little man are revealed as hypocritical; because big business is to control the contractors and therefore the programmes. The little man is not going to have enough money to spend on advertising in television programmes. Big Tory business, which is tied up with the Conservative Party, is to get the advantage, both as the controller of the programme contractors and as the body which will spend substantial sums on advertising.
Among the directors of A.B.D.C. is Sir Robert Renwick. I have known Sir Robert and his father before him. Prior to nationalisation he, with his father, I think, was prominently associated with private electricity supply. I think that here I ought to mention a rumour which is freely circulating, because, in justice to Sir Robert, it ought to be ventilated. The Government ought to be given an opportunity to reply to it, and we shall expect them to do so, clearly and categorically. I think it is in Sir Robert's interest, no less than in the public interest that the information should be given.
Because certain things are being alleged, I would ask the Government, first, whether Sir Robert has political connections with the Government; second, whether he has been active in contributing to or in raising money for the Conservative Party; and, third, whether, before the actual decision of the Government to support commercial television, there was any understanding between Sir Robert and the Conservative leaders on the question of Government policy regarding this matter. I do not allege any of these things, because I cannot be sure, but I think that as they are being said, the question ought to be asked in the House, and that the Government ought to give us a clear and unequivocal reply.
§ Mr. John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, I think that in all fairness one ought to ask him whether any of the Labour interests in these contracts subscribe to Labour Party funds.
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not know. Let me say in all fairness that we did not let the contracts. I am asking how far there was Government information, guidance or influence behind these matters. I believe the freer this business is from political parties and their agents, the better it will be, irrespective of whom they may be and with whatever political party they may be associated.
In our submission the Act is not working out as the country was led by the Government to believe it would. Even the "Daily Telegraph," in a leading article, has said this, and is sharply critical of how the whole business has worked out. It is disappointed in the contracts which have been awarded, and thinks that great mistakes are being made. It is obviously disappointed at the results. And the "Daily Telegraph" is a paper which is usually very favourable to the Government and to the Conservative Central Office, and is certainly not usually favourable to any point of view associated with the Labour Party.
What is the consequence of this scheme? Far from being economic, far from it leading to a reduction in costs and to a better public service, it is certain that, in the organisation of these various rival undertakings, costs will be duplicated which need not have been duplicated—at any rate to anything like the same extent—had the B.B.C. been given the opportunity it sought to run a business which would have been competitive within its own organisation, as, indeed, the regions are in sound broadcasting.
It is also the case that an unholy and undignified scramble is proceeding between the B.B.C. and the rest for talent and staff. We read of this broadcaster or that television personality being bought up by the commercial people, or that the B.B.C., by a contract over a period of years—and presumably by giving financial concessions—has retained the services of a given person.
It may, of course, be argued that that is good. It is good for the artistes, yes. The hon. Member for Southgate (Sir Beverley Baxter), as a journalist, nods sympathetically. He likes that sort of thing——
§ Sir B. Baxter rose—
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not blame him. I understand it.
1138 I am not sure that this game of building stars and possibly paying them fabulous salaries is socially, or morally, or financially good for the community. Someone has to pay for it all at the end of the day—and at the beginning of the day, too—and this process which is going on will add to the costs of television. It will be a miserable business of bargaining for particular people, and the pursuit and the challenge is going on all the time.
Moreover, in some cases, the B.B.C. is also having its staff tempted away by better offers. It is their own business, of course—this is a free country—whether or not they leave the B.B.C. to go somewhere else, but what is happening is bound to be costly. It will put up B.B.C. as well as commercial television costs. Whether, in the end, these people who are going over to commercial television will find things as secure and as rosy as they think, is anyone's guess, because it is not certain that these concerns will be financially successful.
The principles of the Government elements, poor as many of them were, have broken down, as is shown in the letter to "The Times" this morning, to which I have referred. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Although the signatures include some Conservative names it is received with contempt by hon. Members opposite. This is one of the things the signatories say:One of the greatest dangers of commercial television is that it puts power up to auction—and power is 'knocked down' to the highest financial bidder. Television is too vital a force for good or evil to be sold in the market place.The letter ends:If a fair balance cannot be achieved, would it not be better to make sure that active political partisans of all parties are excluded from key points in this vitally important new organisation?We say that the Act is being administered in a way which conflicts with the undertakings and promises of Ministers; conflicts with the intention of the general body of opinion of this House, and conflicts even with those elements of public opinion which supported the Bill. In those circumstances we think it reasonable to ask for this law to be repealed, or, at any rate, amended, and, therefore, with confidence, we submit that the case for the Motion is proved.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ The Assistant Postmaster-General (Mr. David Gammans)
The Government very much welcome this debate. It will give the House an opportunity to express its confidence in Sir Kenneth Clark and the Independent Television Authority, and allow that body, I hope, to get on with the job entrusted to it under the Television Act.
Less than four months have passed since the Act became law. The I.T.A.'s programmes have not yet gone on the air, the contracts with the potential programme contractors have not yet been settled or signed, nor have the arrangements for the production of news yet been decided. I am afraid that I cannot agree with what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) has just said—that the whole show has broken down. At this stage, I cannot see how it is possible for the House to come to a considered judgment which would justify the type of action which the Opposition recommends this House to take.
It is very interesting to know that the first complaint that the I.T.A. had introduced the element of politics came from the "Daily Express." That newspaper objected to the appointment of Sir Robert Fraser as director-general on the grounds that he was of the Left—that he had been a Socialist candidate. I gathered from the right hon. Gentleman, however, that the main complaint in the Motion now before the House is that the I.T.A. has unduly favoured the Right. The Motion expresses alarm at the way in which the Television Act is operating, and suggests that the I.T.A. has failed in its duty because it has included some programme contractors who are newspaper owners.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I only want to make it clear—as I thought I did in my speech—that our biggest criticism is of the Government themselves. They were responsible for the Act and have considerable responsibility for its administration. It would not, therefore, be right to assume that we are putting all the blame on the Independent Television Authority, or are making any personal attack on the Authority or its members.
§ Mr. Gammans
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman went very near to that, 1140 and certainly, in what he said a week or two ago, he was accusing the Authority of political partiality.
What, I think, have been ignored up to now in this debate, and what the right hon. Gentleman completely omitted in his charge, are the I.T.A.'s powers of control, which are embodied in the Act itself and, in particular, in Sections 3 (1, c), 3 (1, f) and the last part of Section 3 (2). These are a cardinal part of the scheme which Parliament approved. They provide, first, for impartiality in the presentation of news; and they demand impartiality on matters of political and industrial controversy, and a complete banning from all programmes of the opinion of the programme contractors on these matters. I think that if the right hon. Gentleman is to make the charge which he has made, he, at least, ought to have had the good sense, if I may say so, to put forward those points as well, because that is the cardinal part of the Act, which we discussed in this House night after night.
We suggest that the enforcing of these safeguards is one of the prime responsibilities of the I.T.A. I assure the House that the I.T.A. intends to carry them out, and that no programme contractor, whether he be a newspaper proprietor, or whether he be of the Right or the Left, will be allowed to influence his programmes in a political direction. In other words, Lord Rothermere and Lord Kemsley will no more be able to influence their programmes to the Right than Mr. Sidney Bernstein—who, I understand, is a fully paid up member of the Labour Party—will be able to influence his to the Left. As to news items and newsreels, the programme contractors will have nothing whatever to do with them. The I.T.A. has in mind that these will be provided by a specialised organisation, about which there cannot be the slightest criticism.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Is it intended that the programme contractors shall not deal with issues of current policy and controversy at all?
§ Mr. Gammans
I think that if the hon. Gentleman will read the relevant Sections of the Act he will find that they must treat them with impartiality. If they do not deal with them impartially, it will be the responsibility of the I.T.A. to take action under the powers which this House has given it.
§ Mr. Mayhew
There will be a marked contrast between the treatment of current issues on television and their treatment in the newspapers.
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not know what that has to do with it. A newspaper is not compelled to deal with either news or views with impartiality, but programme contractors have to do so and it is one of the charges laid upon the I.T.A. under this Act to see that this is done. I can assure the House that my noble Friend would regard it as a grave dereliction of duty if the I.T.A. did not enforce this provision.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
We should be happy to believe in the safeguards that have been stated if it were not for the fact that certain safeguards had not been exercised, namely, the case of Miss Dilys Powell, who is a servant of the Kemsley Press chains gaining control of additional newspapers.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
May I appeal to the House to realise that a large number of Members want to take part in this debate in a very short time, and I hope that these interventions will not take up the time of the House.
§ Mr. Gammans
The right hon. Gentleman asked what was the main criterion which had led the Authority to choose these programme contractors. The answer is that the I.T.A. had to decide whether the company applying had the knowledge, skill and resources to put on a balanced programme. The alternative indictment which the right hon. Gentleman put forward was that it was wrong to have the Press at all in connection with programme companies.
I must remind him that during the Committee stage over 150 Amendments were put down by the Opposition and at no time in those long and weary discussions we had in this House was the question of the Press raised at all. If the Opposition felt that the Press should be excluded, the least that they could have done was to put down an Amendment. I would suggest that it is very difficult to think of a system of independent television which does exclude newspapers.
Experience throughout the world, and especially throughout the Commonwealth, shows that television companies are drawn from three main sources. The 1142 first is the radio and electronic manufacturing industry; the second is the entertainment interests, and the third is the newspapers. That is the experience throughout the Commonwealth. For example, in Australia the "Daily Mirror," which has a lot to say in this controversy, owns five commercial broadcasting stations and has just applied for a licence to run the Sydney commercial television station. Why, therefore, should the newspapers in this country be barred from these interests. Parliament has never decided that they should be and there is nothing wrong in their putting forward applications.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Royal Commission on the Press and quoted, quite correctly, that part of the Report which says:We should deplore any tendency on the part of the larger chains to expand, particularly by the acquisition of further papers in areas where they are already strong.This only relates to Press chains gaining control of newspapers. It cannot be taken as implying that they should have nothing to do with television. These companies, as I hope I have made clear, will not be responsible for the news programmes and will be subject to the very wide powers of control given to the Authority under this Act. In other words, they cannot transmit news: let alone can they comment on it.
The other point which the right hon. Gentleman made was that if we have newspapers as programme companies there might be the danger of newspapers stiffing criticism because same of the Press are in the scheme. That may be true, but I doubt it. There has been no reluctance by the Press up to now to criticise competitive television, and, as to the future, it seems to me a very wide thing to suggest that because two newspaper proprietors are involved all the other newspapers will have nothing to say.
For example, are we to assume that "The Times," "Manchester Guardian," "Daily Herald," "News Chronicle," "Spectator," "New Statesman" and the "Observer" are all to keep quiet over the programmes put out by two programme contractors simply because they do not happen to be associated with them? I think that the whole idea of that is complete fantasy.
1143 May I describe the four companies who will provide programmes? There is, first, the Broadcast Relay Services "Daily Mail" group. In this case Broadcast Relay Services will have no less than a 50 per cent. interest in the company, and they have a very wide experience in this field. They relay broadcast programmes in the United Kingdom, they operate commercial television in Canada, and run commercial broadcasting stations in the Colonies. This company, incidentally, in the days of the Labour Government, was given permission to operate commercial radio stations in Jamaica, Trinidad, Malaya and other parts of the Commonwealth. It is rather amusing for me that hon. Members opposite are so solicitous about the people in this country, but when it comes to the Colonies their care is less noticeable.
The second group is the Winnick-Kemsley group, and here Kemsley newspapers will have a one-third share and the rest will be held by the entertainment interests.
I was asked about Miss Dilys Powell.
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not know whether he is in or not. Miss Dilys Powell is a critic on the "Sunday Times" and, as such, is in the employ of Lord Kemsley. I am informed by the I.T.A. that when the application by the group in which Lord Kemsley is concerned was considered by the I.T.A., Miss Dilys Powell behaved in a perfectly correct manner, and, as specified in the First Schedule of the Television Act, paragraph 5, which the right hon. Gentleman quoted, she declared her interest and took no part whatever in the discussions or in the voting.
§ Mr. Gammans
The actual recording in the minutes of these facts was omitted at the time, but it was put in later. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I would remind the House that my noble Friend in regard to these appointments has not 1144 merely a first interest, as it were, but has a continuing interest, and it is his duty from time to time to satisfy himself that Miss Powell, or anyone else on the I.T.A., has no financial interests which may conflict with her duties on the I.T.A., and that my noble Friend proposes to carry out.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards (Caerphilly)
Do I understand that the Postmaster-General has taken a decision not to interfere with Miss Powell's appointment?
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not say that. Up to now my noble Friend is satisfied that the action taken by Miss Powell was quite proper, and he does not propose to intervene now.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Do I understand from what the hon. Gentleman is saying that the Postmaster-General regards Miss Dilys Powell's present financial interest such as not to make her unsuitable for a position with the I.T.A.?
§ Mr. Gammans
No, Sir. He regards her present financial interest—that is, her tie-up with Kemsley—as in no way conflicting up to now with her duty to the I.T.A. as laid down under the Act. But that does not mean that he is relieved from any obligation to fulfil the conditions of the Act for the future. The third company is Granada Cinemas, the Bernstein Group. This will be run completely by entertainment interests. Finally, there is the Associated Broadcasting Development Company, which at present includes programme interests and radio manufacturing interests
The right hon. Gentleman asked me about Sir Robert Renwick. He might have given me notice of that, because I should have been most pleased to give him the information for which he asked, had he given me notice and time to look it up.
§ Mr. Morrison
If the hon. Gentleman is not able to answer that, perhaps he would be good enough to let me know in some way or to make it public.
§ Mr. Gammans
I will gladly look into that. It would be difficult for the I.T.A. to have found a more balanced group within the limited field of organisations capable of undertaking the heavy task which the House has imposed upon them.
1145 I should like to tell the House of the inquiries and discussions that have taken place between potential programme contractors and the Government and the I.T.A. These fall into two distinct categories. The first are the preliminary and exploratory discussions, which took place before the Act was passed. The second group is the discussions between the I.T.A. and the programme contractors, of which the I.T.A. has furnished me with particulars. In these my noble Friend was not involved in any way. The right hon. Gentleman asked for an assurance that the Government had not interfered with I.T.A. I give him that assurance fully and unreservedly: there has been no interference whatsoever.
As regards the first category—the exploratory discussions between the potential programme contractors and my noble Friend—there were 98 applications. These included newspapers of the Right, Left and Centre, and also cinema and other interests. Many of these applicants automatically fell out when it became clear after the publication of the White Paper in 1953 that there was to be no direct licensing of programme companies.
Next, we come to the second category. The I.T.A., which was appointed at the beginning of August, put an advertisement in the main national and local newspapers on 25th August, inviting applications from companies to become programme contractors. Two months later, the I.T.A. had received 28 applications, of which only six were from firms or companies which by themselves at that stage were capable of undertaking the heavy financial responsibility of becoming programme contractors. From these the I.T.A. selected four potential programme companies, whose names I have given to the House.
So far as the newspapers are concerned, many did not apply at all. Those which did not apply included the "Manchester Guardian," Odhams, the "Daily Herald," the "Daily Express," the "Daily Mirror," the "News Chronicle," and the "Daily Telegraph," all of whom had shown some interest in the earlier stages. The Authority could reasonably have taken the view that it could not consider giving a contract to a newspaper—or, for that matter, to anyone else—if it did not ask for one. No applications whatever have been received from these newspapers which I have named.
1146 The Authority then took what I regard as most exceptional steps to discover whether some of these newspapers, especially non-Conservative newspapers, had not submitted applications because of a misapprehension. The I.T.A., therefore, approached Odhams, the "Manchester Guardian" and the "News Chronicle" to see whether the absence of their applications was due to a deliberate decision on their part or was due to a misunderstanding.
§ Mr. Gammans
I am glad to hear that the right han. Gentleman answers for all these newspapers. That is more than I could do.
§ Mr. Gammans
The "Daily Mirror" was not approached in this way, because exactly the same point had been made perfectly clear to it by letter as late as 23rd July this year. There has, therefore, been every conceivable opportunity for newspapers——
§ Mr. Shackleton rose——
§ Mr. Gammans
Let me finish the sentence—other than the two now in the the scheme, to be represented in the scheme had they so wished.
§ Mr. Shackleton
Who wrote the letter to the "Daily Mirror" on 23rd July? The I.T.A. was not then in existence.
§ Mr. Gammans
The right hon. Gentleman asked me whether the Postmaster-General had interfered with the I.T.A. On 23rd July, there was no I.T.A.; it came into existence in the first week of August. It may well be that some of these other interests, and, possibly, even the C.W.S.—there is no earthly reason why it should not make application—will want to come in at a later date.
Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, what has been criticised in this 1147 debate is not the Government, but the action taken by a statutory body, the Independent Television Authority. So far as I am aware, this is the first time in our history that such a body has been accused of political partiality. Much of the legislation passed in this House since the war, including the nationalisation Acts, has entailed the setting up of statutory bodies. I hope that on reflection the right hon. Gentleman will feel that it was an unfortunate charge even to have insinuated. If he persists with it. I can imagine that in future very few public men of any repute will want to serve on a statutory body.
§ Mr. Gammans
The basic policy which has influenced the Government in entrusting the operation of the Act to a statutory body is best illustrated in the following words:In deciding whether the British Electricity Authority should be a Government Department or a public corporation, Parliament decided on the latter because it did not want it to be interfered with by politicians.Those are the words of the right hon. Gentleman himself which he used in his evidence to the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries on 26th February last year. It is to avoid any suspicion of interference by politicians or the use of political pressure in Parliament that the power of appointing contractors has been entrusted to the I.T.A.
§ Mr. Gammans
I do not suppose I have succeeded in dispelling the alarm which the Opposition apparently feels in this Motion of censure. At least. I have tried to explain that there is not the slightest justification for it. I suggest that this is nothing more than an attempt to fight the battle of the Television Act over again—and that Act was voted on line by line four months ago.
§ Mr. Gammans
I know that the Opposition dislikes the Act very much, but I think it is fair to suggest that its heart it not in this attack. How could it be after four months of operation, before the programmes have gone on the air? If the Opposition proposes to make the 1148 work of the I.T.A. one of the election issues, we on this side will gladly meet that challenge. Approximately 1 million homes will have television sets capable of receiving an alternative programme——
§ Mr. Gammans
—by next autumn—quite apart from those who put adaptors on to their older sets. All these people and their friends and dependants will have a good opportunity to see what the new programmes are like and to judge for themselves. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks it is a good election cry to say, "Vote for me and I will take away these programmes," I for one would not dissuade him from it.
The success or failure of this scheme will not depend on what the Opposition think about it. It will depend on what the viewers think about it. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South sees himself as a sort of Sir Galahad with a mission to save the British people from a fate worse than death. He thinks that the attitude he has taken up is popular, but I am certain he is wrong. I am equally certain that the country welcomes the chance of having another programme provided by an authority with an independent outlook and that they do not want their television confined to the enterprise and energy of a single monopoly, however good the B.B.C. may be.
The Opposition in every walk of life favour rationing, restrictions and the like, whereas the Conservative Party do not. Every time the Opposition make that clear the better we like it. I say that it is for the people themselves to decide what the new television is like, and the I.T.A. should now be allowed to do its job and be judged by the merits of its programme.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
The Assistant Postmaster-General said that the heart of the Opposition cannot be in the attack on the Authority because we are attacking it after only four months. The answer to that is that we have already seen enough of its operations.
First of all, we know that this Act lays down that we are to have independent 1149 members on the Authority, really independent people with no financial interest in any programme contractors. According to Section 5 of the Act, these people are to see that there is an adequate supply of programmes between contractors who are really independent. It is against that background that the independence of the chosen members of the Authority has to be judged, as well as the independence of the programme contractors. I want to say a few words about that.
First of all, let us take the case of Miss Dilys Powell. I am very sorry, indeed, that the Assistant Postmaster-General read the statement given to him by the Independent Television Authority. Miss Dilys Powell is an employee of Lord Kemsley's staff. She was present at the first meeting at which a contract was granted to the Kemsley-Winnick Group and, subsequently, I put a Question down about Miss Dilys Powell's membership of the Authority. But before that she gave a statement to the "Evening Standard." It went something like this—and I paraphrase it, although I looked it up about half an hour ago to refresh my memory—" I did not have to declare my interest because there was no vote. In fact, the thing went through and it was all over before I knew that I was even involved." Those are the remarks of the person concerned as compared with some apologia issued afterwards by the Independent Television Authority that they had failed to record something in the minutes.
Frankly, I prefer to have Miss Dilys Powell's version of the proceedings of the meeting, and we then have to ask for a reply to the question; what exactly happened at the meeting? If we say, in fact, that the thing just slipped through, as she says, and "I did not need to declare my interest and I did not realise that I ought to have done so," it is a very different story to what the Assistant Postmaster-General has told us. Frankly, I accept her word as against his, because she was there and she was standing up for herself in the statement she gave to the Press afterwards.
Secondly, let us look a little further at the implications of Miss Dilys Powell's membership of the Independent Television Authority. In Section 6 of the Act it is stated that any contract made between the Authority and the programme 1150 contractors must contain provisions to secure that, in the case of a breach of the contract, the Authority has to impose a penalty on the programme contractor. What is the situation here? Are we, in fact, to have Miss Dilys Powell sitting as judge and jury on her employer as to whether, in fact, he is obeying the contract? It is no good saying that she can declare her interest and absent herself, because that is against the whole idea of the earlier part of the Act which says she should have no such interest that would in any way prejudice her.
§ Mr. Philip Bell (Bolton, East)
What the First Schedule says is that if any matter comes up about a contract in which she has an interest she must take no part in it, and, therefore, she could not have a discussion about imposing a penalty.
§ Mr. Chapman
What the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to read is the earlier part of the Act where it disqualifies people with any real interest in these programmes from ever being a member of the Authority in the first place. It is quite wrong that the lady, honourable and well intentioned as she may be, should ever be there as judge and jury on her employer when matters of the controls of public opinion are at stake, and it is quite wrong that she should be required to remain there.
§ Sir B. Baxter
What kind of a person does the hon. Member visualise? It must be apparently someone from Mars, detached altogether from this world.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I made an appeal earlier that these interventions should be as limited as possible.
§ Mr. Chapman
I will answer the point, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because I knew what the hon. Gentleman was going to say. The Act provides that nobody shall be appointed or shall have an interest as shall be likely prejudicially to affect the discharge of his functions. In most of these cases they have found somebody to fill the Bill, and there is no reason why somebody should not be found to replace Miss Dilys Powell——
§ Mr. Chapman
Yes, he should be got rid of in the first instance. We were told 1151 that there was to be real competition between really independent programme contractors. Instead, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) has said, we have a ring of monopolies in various areas and no real prospect of competition.
Furthermore, as far as we can gather from the private inquiries we have been able to make, there is no reason to suppose that the I.T.A. has made enough inquiries to make sure that those people will really be independent of each other in terms of the supply of finance. In several of the cases quoted as already receiving franchises, only a small part of the capital is now known, and nobody knows where the rest is to come from. In one case it is tens of thousands of pounds, in another it is a few hundreds of thousands, and it is expected that the final need will be £2 million or £3 million. What guarantee have we that the rest of the money to be provided by those people who now have contracts will make them independent of each other? They have been granted the franchises and they can now become a mass of interlocking control exercised by people who can put up the money.
Moreover, look at the indecent rush with which the whole affair has been handled by the I.T.A. Contrary to my right hon. Friend, I do not entirely absolve the I.T.A. Look at what has been happening. I have put Questions in this House which have elicited the following information: first, that nobody yet knows how many hours of broadcasting are to be allowed from these new stations. Secondly, nobody yet knows the charges for advertisements; the Authority has yet to fix them. Thirdly, nobody has any idea how many minutes of advertising per hour there are to be because that has to be agreed between the Minister and the I.T.A. and we are told that it has not yet been agreed. Lastly, nobody knows which are the exempted programmes from the point of view of advertising.
Against this background of absence of knowledge what happens? The Independent Television Authority hands out franchises to people whose financial backing they do not know, to do jobs that cannot yet be defined, and to put on programmes whose length and advertising content they know nothing about. It is 1152 clear that the reason why this has been done is because the newspapers and one or two big financial interests have rushed in to corner the market before anyone else can get in.
Now I come to one or two points which implicate the I.T.A. still further. We have no safeguard in the Act that these contracts can never be assigned. It is possible for any independence that there may be in the beginning between programme contractors to disappear in the assignment and swapping round of contracts, and a final cornering of the position by one or two people. Again there is no real evidence that even the programmes will be independent, for the latest news we have is that probably the circuits will sell programmes to each other. As Mr. Randolph Churchill has put it, they will take in each other's washing and make it look like a programme run from London anyway. What competition will there be in that set-up?
Now I come to the position of the Chairman of the I.T.A. It does not implicate him, but he was absent in America when the first three of these disputed franchises were granted, and nobody knew how far he was responsible for granting them. I now see that he is advertising himself as writing a book on nudes in most of his time, and remembering a few notes on commercial television in between. If this is the way in which an alternative television programme is being run, it is about time that amending legislation was brought in.
I have one suggestion to put to the Lord Privy Seal. Why does he not suggest as a compromise to be proposed to this House that the Independent Television Authority should be reconstituted, should be rid of the "Do Goods" who are there now and who are completely powerless against the powerful interests they are pitted against? Why does he not replace them with people who can provide the public with a really independent television programme and, if necessary, come to the Opposition and negotiate on the question as to whether that service should accept advertisements or not? That would be much better than the hated programme contractors with the political bias that their first choice has now assumed. It would be a real possibility of compromise between the Government and the Opposition. It would give a strong alternative to the B.B.C; we 1153 could negotiate on the question of advertisements and it would give what so many Government supporters have wanted up to now. No wonder that we have introduced this Motion of censure rightaway. We have seen in the last few months enough of the operation of the Act to merit very much this Motion.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvin-grove)
There are obviously some disadvantages in these duodecimo Motions of censure because it is very difficult to fit in all who wish to speak. Therefore, I shall keep my remarks brief. That is easy, because it has turned out that what we are discussing is a Motion of censure on Miss Dilys Powell. To bring down the whole House of Commons now for this second-rate purpose is one of the pettiest and meanest things that has ever been tried in Parliament.
The hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) led off with that as his main charge. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) spent a great deal of time on it also. Really, if we have nothing better to discuss than this McCarthyist inquest by the Opposition into the particular conduct of a lady, whom I have never met but for whom I have the highest respect, based on the quality and skill of her writings, it brings out very strongly a fact that has been stated by a great authority on these matters. It is that it is undesirable that Parliamentary criticism and action against the board should take place and it should be reduced to a minimum.
—which is much to be desired, for Parliament is not good at these things, and it can be positively mischievous.Who said that? It was the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South in his book on the control of public bodies.
These are the views of the right hon. Gentleman—heaven knows thoroughly borne out by the squalid discussion which has gone on here, on a subject which this House specifically did its utmost to withdraw from its own purview by setting up this Authority and passing the statutes covering and protecting this and other boards. Up to now, those safeguards have been respected by both sides of the House. It is a very bad precedent that is now being established.
The only positive criticism that is brought forward by the Opposition is that 1154 there is not enough competition. Their remedy is that there should be less. Our remedy is that there should be more. That is the difference between us. If they are willing to say, "Let there be more competition," very well. If they say, "Let there be more wavelengths" we agree. If they say, "Let more people come in," we say, "Of course." But that is not what they propose tonight. They are saying, "Back to monopoly. Screw down even the beginnings of independence."
I am not surprised that the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, after his trial run upstairs, is very angry about the suggestion of independence. It brings him right out of his corner. That is not our view, nor the view of the country. But all the arguments which hon. Members opposite were bringing forward were arguments for the suppression of competition in every possible way.
Even in the argument they brought forward about increased expenditure, what a standard they set. Artistes would be paid more if there were no monopoly. That puts the B.B.C. employer in a completely strong position. No other employer can offer himself. Let hon. Members opposite teach that to the trade unions and see how they like it.
The argument brought forward is only justified on the ground that the fees for the artistes, on which they live, are paid by other bodies. It is on the theatre fees, on the Press fees, that the artistes who make television and broadcasting possible exist. The rates of the B.B.C. are not sufficient to bring forward and maintain talent of the nature desired in this country.
It is specifically and admittedly because of the greater publicity which the B.B.C. can give that people are ready and willing to take these lower returns. This is sweated labour. I never expected the Opposition to turn out in the whole of its strength to defend a monopoly employer able to pay minimum rates because there was no one else who could afford the facilities for these people to make a living. This extraordinary confusion of thought spreads all through the whole of their arguments.
§ Mr. Elliot
Let the hon. Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) contain himself. He knows as well as I do that our Glasgow member of the I.T.A., Tom Honeyman, is capable of standing up for himself, on this issue or any other issue.
The argument brought forward by the eminent signatories to the letter in "The Times" today is itself self-contradictory. They say:would it not be better to make sure that active political partisans of all parties are excluded from key points in this vitally important new organisation?That is the end paragraph, but the opening sentence said:May we express the hope … that … some method may be discovered by requiring the Independent Television Authority to reconsider its recent selection of programme contractors?There is no greater authority on our Constitution in the world than Lord Waverley. He knows as well as anyone that the only persons who could require such a thing to be done are the Government. If he thinks that the Postmaster-General is not an active political partisan he must live in a very queer world.
The debate is to be wound up by a former Postmaster-General. If the House as a whole thinks that the Lord Privy Seal has never been an active political partisan I doubt if it has listened to some of his more powerful remarks. I think he will be able to disabuse hon. Members of that impression tonight. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was of the same opinion, for he said, in the same book that I mentioned before:I am more content that the B.B.C. should be directed by Sir John Reith than that it should be directed by that rather slick politician Sir Kingsley Wood the present Postmaster-General even though he be theoretically answerable to the House of Commons.The Opposition has brought forward a Motion totally below the level of what a Motion of censure ought to be, a Motion of censure directed, as we have heard tonight, very largely on personal issues and against one particular person, a Motion of censure directed to the possibility of wrongful action by an independent authority which has not yet done any of the things of which the Opposition complains, a Motion of censure brought forward because the safeguards 1156 which this House provided are not considered by the Opposition to have been exerted, although the occasion for their use has not yet arisen.
This is shadow boxing with a spectre and is typical of the straits to which the Opposition has been reduced in looking for one issue at least on which it can go into the Lobby without finding its Members dividing three ways on any given issue. We shall be interested indeed to see whether it can get all its hon. and right hon. Members solidly into the same Lobby tonight.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Shackleton (Preston, South)
The right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) has succeeded, as always, in doing what he set for his objective, which was to "bracket the target"—I understand that he has used that analogy on a number of occasions. The trouble is that he does not know what is the target.
Let me tell him that the target is, in particular, the Assistant Postmaster-General and the way in which the Government and the hon. Gentleman in particular are responsible for the astonishing confusion and disturbance which has arisen among people of all parties—including some hon. Gentlemen opposite—with regard to the appointment of programme contractors. [Horn. MEMBERS: "Who are they?"] Let the hon. Gentlemen wait, I will deal with some of these points.
Let us take this technical argument as to whether Parliament should interest itself in a public authority. It really is absurd that the Assistant Postmaster-General or the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove should use a quotation from the book written by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) as a reason for Parliament not examining the workings of a public authority. Indeed, it is expressly laid down—and that is contained in the book, although I do not propose to quote from it—that Parliament should examine——
§ Mr. Shackleton
Then the hon. Gentleman must know perfectly well that my right hon. Friend is talking about a general public inquiry over five years and not the function of Parliament in examining the working of a public authority.
The question is whether this public authority, and the workings of it are fit, or indeed necessary, for consideration. I would suggest that there is every reason why we should examine them. I wish to ask the Lord Privy Seal if he will answer some of the questions which were dodged by the Assistant Postmaster-General In particular I would ask him what criteria were employed by the I.T.A.—the Assistant Postmaster-General did not tell us—in selecting suitable programme contractors. I am only asking about finance.
I understand—it is generally know, in fact—that the I.T.A. specified a figure of £3 million as an essential qualification to become a programme contractor. Is that one of the criteria? We know that at least some of the contractors had not £3 mil/ion. Mr. Maurice Winnick had not £3 million and has had to go round searching for it in various quarters. We have seen appeals in the "Financial Times" from A.B.D.C. inviting people to subscribe, presumably to transfer some of the load from the guaranteed fund. Yet it is obvious that that criterion is fairly certain, and I should like to know of others.
I understand that there was a questionnaire, a sort of examination paper and it was a matter of luck whether people gave the right answer or not. The only difference was that it was not followed up by a viva at which the aspiring candidates were asked whether they approved of foxhunting or some other irrelevant matter. Indeed, the questionnaire was one of the silliest things which has been drawn up. I wish to know how far the questionnaire and the answers given were a factor in deciding who should have the contracts.
There is another question to which would particularly like the answer. Had the I.T.A. power to take into consideration the political beliefs or nature of the various programme contractors whom it was considering? I should like to know whether it did so because the Assistant Postmaster-General said, in agreement with my right hon. Friend, that the 1158 I.T.A. made a special effort to try to persuade newspapers belonging to other than Tory persuasion—Labour papers and Liberal papers—to become programme contractors. If that be so, it suggests that the I.T.A. was in fact taking political attitudes into consideration. I should like to know if the I.T.A. did that, if it had the power to do that. Whether it is a good thing or not is another matter, but it is an extremely important matter in the context of our discussion tonight.
It is obvious—and I do not blame him for it—that the Assistant Postmaster-General has not read right through the Report of the Press Commission. If he had, he would not have dismissed as easily as he did the arguments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South with regard to local monopolies.
Might I have the attention of either of the Ministers, including the one who is going to wind up the debate? We all know that the Leader of the House combines great skill with great discourtesy on occasions. I hope he will answer these questions, because they are substantial and are the questions being asked by people other than members of the Labour Party.
I particularly want to know whether the Government regard it as a good thing that the newspapers should extend their activities, especially where there is a large measure of local monopoly. We find that Kemsley newspapers have a large measure of local monopoly—indeed, a degree that might well be eligible to come before the Monopolies Commission. Is it desirable that it should extend that further in the areas where already it has the greatest measure of influence, for instance, in the north of England?
There are one or two other points to which I should like to refer. In particular, I should like to refer to the suitability of certain individuals for appointment as programme contractors. When I refer to Mr. Stanley, let me say that I have never met the gentleman, nor am I making any personal imputation against him.
Again I think the Minister should answer this point, because it has been widely canvassed in the Press. I should like to know whether Mr. Stanley is a director of A.B.D.C.—one of the programme contractors—and is still a director of Arks Publicity Limited, which is an advertising agency. We know that 1159 he was a director for quite a long while. It is difficult to find out if he still is. If he is a director, or has any substantial interests, he is quite clearly a disqualified person under the terms of the Act.
§ Mr. Elliot
Of course he disposed of the whole of his holdings and gave up the directorship before the Act was through this House.
§ Mr. Elliot
In Arks. And if the hon. Gentleman had gone to the trouble of asking him he could have found out.
§ Mr. Shackleton
There is nothing I have to withdraw. I asked the right hon. Gentleman—if hon. Gentlemen would get a little less excited they would have seen this was widely canvassed in the Press. It has not been denied, and I merely ask for information. I have found out. [Interruption.] I assure hon. Members I was making no personal imputation. Why it should be regarded as disreputable to be a director of an advertising agency I do not know. I merely asked a question about the workings of this Act.
Some hon. Members opposite want to speak, and it would be better if I could proceed. There are some other matters to which I wish to refer, and I would like to know what the interests are of some of the individuals who have become programme contractors. There are a number whose interests have been a great deal more concealed and a great deal less open and above board than Mr. Stanley's. I should like to know if the Government or the I.T.A. can specifically say if this vast conglomeration of financial interests and investment trusts had any relation, in particular, to other programme contractors and whether, in fact, advertising interests are concerned.
I should like to know how the Government regard the relationship—if it is true and the Assistant Postmaster-General was not very certain—of Mr. Wolfson to one of the programme contractors. If there is a relationship, that seems to raise fairly serious issues as to whether he is a suitable person and whether his interests are likely to be prejudicial, because there are other people in the 1160 same line of business who may wish to advertise and may find themselves, or think they may find themselves, at a disadvantage with regard to the particular programme contracting firm.
There were other points which I had intended to make, but I cannot now make them because of the delay caused by the recent discussion about Mr. Stanley. I would merely say that a deplorable and even indecent scramble is taking place. It was quite unnecessary to go ahead with the Act as fast as has been done. I am sure the Authority has been prodded by the Government to get on with the job. It would have been much better if the Authority had taken time to find out who was in the field and had not merely awarded programme contracts to the first comers.
The tragedy of it is that in the end viewers will not get what they want, which is a balanced alternative programme. Hon. Members opposite who are eager to interrupt do not know what a balanced alternative programme is. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite do, and they are keeping quiet. We need a balanced alternative programme, and the Government should look at the matter again and be prepared to introduce legislation, as some future Government, whether Conservative or Labour, will undoubtedly have to do, to regularise an impossible situation.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Sir Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
I intervene only for a minute or two; we all want to hear the Leader of the House on a subject which is so close to his heart.
I am sorry that the coalition between myself and the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) on the first night this subject was raised in the House has now come to an end. He and I started in agreement. I took the view that the Government were mad to take up this subject, and I am not entirely satisfied that I was wrong. The unity of spirit between the right hon. Gentle. man and myself was, however, of a different nature. Our idea was that too much television would destroy much of the finer things of life and that we would become more and more a race of twiddlers, a race of viewers, a race taking all forms of expression from somebody else's brain. Therefore, I was prepared 1161 to follow the right hon. Gentleman, not quite into the Lobby but into no-man's-land.
Tonight I was shocked by his speech. It was unfair, which is very unusual for the right hon. Gentleman. It was singularly ill-informed. I thought he made his points out of petulance, caused perhaps by private troubles upstairs. I want to detain him only a moment more, and then I will leave him to his dreams or sleep, whichever may come first.
The right hon. Gentleman drew a terrifying picture of powerful newspaper proprietors cornering the air like some gods on Olympus. He referred to terrific interference, spreading the kingdom into the clouds, not only governing what we see and read with our eyes, but also taking our ears. He then said that only two newspaper organisations had taken programmes. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. I have never seen a jockey try to ride two horses going in different directions. That would be difficult—[Interruption.] I think we must keep the horses out of this. When making this charge of conspiracy, the right hon. Gentleman ought to consider that Lord Beaverbrook did not apply, and it is very significant if he did not, and Lord Rothermere did not apply. In fact, the Authority had to go out and beg the newspaper proprietors to come in, so that does away with the idea of conspiracy.
There was nothing to stop that very highly capitalistic combine Odhams Press taking sides on television. I think that they were perhaps embarrassed, because this highly capitalistic combine publishes the "Daily Herald," and it is a little awkward when one's mind is in one camp and one's soul in another. When the Socialist Party was opposing this Bill, no doubt Odhams suffered from split mind and decided not to apply.
There was one other point made by the right hon. Gentleman. He should remember that I was with him in his dislike of the whole business, but, in his attack, he picked out the one thing that is commendable. Look at the competition for artists; look at the competition for talent. That is the best thing, and about the only thing, that justifies this scheme.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if, on the line of his argument, he is a great believer in working 1162 men applying, responsibly or irresponsibly, for increases of wages and resorting to unofficial strikes to get what they want?
§ Sir B. Baxter
The right hon. Gentleman knows my personal philosophy about wages, and this is the great cleavage between his side of the House and mine. I believe in good pay for good work, in better pay for better work, and in outstanding rewards for outstanding achievements. Therefore, I think that is the big cleavage between the party opposite and ourselves. This competition for talent is the best thing in this scheme and the best thing in commercial television. I still think that it is a great pity that we have to some extent, and to an increasing extent, lost the art of reading books and of our children learning to play the piano—all those things which feed the mind because the mind would make the effort. I think it is too bad, and I therefore hope that commercial television will be a failure.
§ Sir B. Baxter
I think we are losing something very precious in our lives when the music of Chopin, the works of the poets or the great plays of the past are brought to us for commercial reasons when the real purpose is to advertise what these people want to sell. I have seen it in Canada and America, and I wish we had never taken up this business. I am still sorry that my colleague and good friend across the way made such an awful mess of his attack upon this scheme, because it will enable me with dragging feet to go into the Lobby with my hon. Friends.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
On this side of the House we are very sorry that we have lost the support of the hon. Member for Southgate (Sir B. Baxter). His reasons for changing are more in the nature of animadversions than of serious criticisms.
I do not want to take up too much time because of the shortness of the debate, but I am concerned about the public attitude of hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches and of the Government particularly, and about the whole way in which contracts have been allocated and the whole scheme brought into being. These fall far short of what we have 1163 come to expect of British standards in public life.
A Television Advisory Committee was set up, with the express purpose of finding whether appropriate wavelengths for commercial television and for the B.B.C. services could be found. Recommendations were made by the committee. The Majority Report was to the effect that two channels should be cleared. What did the Government do? They accepted the Minority Report, which proposed that the whole of Band III should be cleared to make it available for commercial television. What has that meant? It has brought the Government into serious legal difficulty and is one of the reasons why we have to have this debate to make the Assistant Postmaster-General and his noble Friend honest men. It has involved great expense to local authorities in having to change the wavelengths of their municipal services, and it probably means an alteration of air navigation instruments.
Who was responsible for these changes? It was none other than our friend Mr. Stanley, who has been mentioned already. I do not want to weary the House with a quotation from the "Wireless World" which condemned the appointment of Mr. Stanley and of Mr. Darnley Smith to the Television Advisory Committee. It is very important to consider whether these appointments should have taken place, having regard to the fact that Mr. Smith is a director of Pye. It would be interesting to know whether Messrs. Pye have any money in the Associated Broadcasting Development Corporation. As a result of the recommendations of the Television Advisory Committee, not only have the wavelengths been made available, but the firm of Pye Radio have benefited by them because they make a large proportion of the sets, which will have to be altered or renewed.
The matter has gone even further. In a report which is not available in the Vote Office but which has to be got as a non-parliamentary paper, there is a recommendation for clearing the whole of Band II. We say on this side of the House that that is entirely wrong.
There is more to come. Mr. Stanley was a director of the Associated Broadcasting Development Corporation. He 1164 resigned at practically the same time as the report was made available to hon. Members. Mr. Collins is associated with the A.B.D.C. We want an answer to a question on this point. Has a cable already been laid for the purpose of commercial television from the A.B.D.C. studios to, I believe, the Museum Telephone Exchange, for the specific purpose of commercial television? We are entitled to know the answer. This is very important because, if it has taken place, it means that the- Assistant Postmaster-General has got off the mark before the gun. It is all part of the mad rush.
My condemnation of this commercial television arrangement is that it is not in conformity with British standards of public life. The way in which the wavelengths have been made available, as the result of the presence of Mr. Stanley on the Advisory Committee, and the' past association of Mr. Stanley with A.B.D.C. and the fact that Mr. Collins is now on one of the production companies, seem entirely wrong.
I made an almost identical speech when the second White Paper was before the House, when I pressed the then Home Secretary on this question. I am particularly concerned about clean Government in this country, and we ought to watch this matter very carefully indeed. I do not wish to go over the ground already covered with regard to the monopoly of the Press, but who was the person who decided that it was necessary to have a capital of £3 million in order to become a production company? On what basis was that sum decided, because such a figure automatically rules out the small person? How can it be really competitive television when a capital sum of £3 million is demanded? In point of fact, it is only the large monopolies who can take advantage of that. We are entitled to know the basis on which that sum was arrived at.
I come now to another question. There is nothing to prevent the production companies from changing hands, or the contract held by one person passing within six or 12 months' time into the hands of an entirely different set of individuals. I suggest that that is a weakness in the Act, and I think that, in the terms of the Motion, that is a point which the Lord Privy Seal might tell us that he is prepared to look into.
1165 The whole thing is wrong. As was pointed out by Mr. Randolph Churchill in an article in "Truth," there is nothing to prevent the ownership of programme companies passing into the hands of one person. There is nothing in the Act to prevent members of the I.T.A. owning and controlling the production companies. I should like to know whether that could happen, and I hope that we shall be given some information on the point.
Only one ray of hope has been given tonight, and that is that the contracts have not yet been signed. I hope that they will not be signed, and that there will be a complete review of the acceptance of the contracts and of the wavelengths which have been made available. To me, the whole business savours of American log-rolling. But for the 1951 election, we should never have heard of the Bill. It is something which, on reflection, I am sure that Members of the Government will regret having introduced.
Finally, in answer to the hon. Member for Southgate (Sir B. Baxter), I would say that the probable reason why Lord Beaverbrook and Odhams were not interested An the contracts was that they believe that in its present form the I.T.A. cannot work.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Grimston (Westbury)
One thing in this debate has struck me very forcibly, and that is that permeating every speech from the benches apposite is the personal suspicion of somebody. All I can think is that it reflects the prevailing suspicion of hon. Members opposite among themselves.
Let us recognise this debate and this Motion for what they are. They are merely a last-ditch effort to frustrate, delay or prevent the breaking of the B.B.C. monopoly. The whole thing is true to 'the pattern which we have seen throughout these controversies. The Socialist Party put down a Motion. In "The Times" this morning there appears the pontifical leading article which was quoted by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). At the top of the correspondence column there appears the usual letter, couched in rather different terms, from the five signatories who launched the National Television 1166 Council. The whole thing has been repeated ad nauseam ever since this campaign started, and we are merely having it again tonight. It is not exactly a frontal assault this time, but a sort of lateral skirmish, because the party opposite, and the highminded, and the "Daily Mirror," are all mucking in together to attack the I.T.A.
As far as the "Daily Mirror" is concerned, having missed the bus, it is trying to smear the Authority. I think that we can dismiss that with the contempt it deserves, because it has been quite clearly pointed out that the "Daily Mirror," having, shall I say, more than toyed with the idea of becoming a programme company, quite definitely decided not to do so and is now merely endeavouring to smear the Authority because it has not got a contract.
I want to refer to one sentence in the letter in "The Times" this morning from the five signatories who have been mentioned. It reads:Television is too vital a force for good or evil to be sold in the market place.That is one of those, I would not call it a catch phrase, perhaps, emanating from such a source, but one of those phrases which are intended to capture the imagination of people who do not think too deeply. What does it mean? It simply means that television is not to be consumer choice, but is to be what is given by people who know better. That is the very essence of their case. If we want a totalitarian State that is what we have; and if we want freedom we have freedom particularly in the medium of expression.
§ Sir R. Grimston
It has proved to be exceedingly difficult to break this B.B.C. monopoly, so entrenched has it become. We have had 80 hours of debate in this House and 40 hours of debate in another place. This is merely another attempt to repeat the process, but this time to switch the attack on to the Independent Authority. That is all there is in it.
Who, as a matter of fact, can accuse the Independent Authority of having a pro-Tory or pro-Conservative bias? I think that the best quotation I can give —and no one can seriously maintain that the I.T.A. is under Conservative domination—is what was said in the "Star":These highly respected men and women"—1167 said the Left-wing "Star" on 4th August—are just 'the sort of people who become B.B.C. governors.At this moment the I.T.A. has an extremely difficult task. That task will be much less difficult when there are more channels. I hope very much that the Government will make more channels available, so that the choice of programme contractors will not be completely limited by the channels there are at present.
I think that what comes out of this is that the sooner the I.T.A. is on the air the better. The public, as was evidenced at the recent exhibition, are keenly anxious to see this new departure in commercial television. Of this I am quite certain; the public do not want to be everlastingly rationed to the B.B.C., which is what the opposition to this Bill wants. I hope that every step will be taken to get these programmes on the air as soon as possible and let the public be the final arbiter. That is what the party opposite are afraid of.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hills-borough)
The hon. Member for West-bury (Sir R. Grimston) has said that this is a last-ditch stand on our part to prevent the breaking up of the B.B.C. He has said that sort of thing before.
§ Sir R. Grimston
No. I said to break the B.B.C. monopoly, not the breaking up of the B.B.C.—a very different thing.
§ Mr. Darling
I am sorry that I misquoted the hon. Member, but I think I mean the same thing. I should have said the breaking up of the B.B.C. monopoly, but I have had occasion to correct the hon. Member before. Many Members on this side of the House were advocating the breaking up of the B.B.C. monopoly before the hon. Member came on the scene, and many of us still stand by that point of view.
The hon. Gentleman says that it is difficult to break up the B.B.C. monopoly. The reason it is difficult is that this is such a cock-eyed scheme. There are far better ways of doing it, and if I had the time, I could give a few ideas about that. The hon. Member for South-gate (Sir B. Baxter) was against this setup right from the beginning until the newspapers became involved in the 1168 controversy, and I certainly hope—and I say this in a friendly fashion—that the hon. Gentleman is not going to follow the line of the brewers and say, "My trade; my politics."
§ Sir B. Baxter
I think that the hon. Gentleman is most insulting. I have said tonight that I think that the Government are mad, but for him to think that I should make the speech which I did in the House tonight because I was some newspaper proprietor's employee is insulting. I think that the hon. Gentleman ought to withdraw it.
§ Mr. Darling
I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if he took my expression of opinion in the wrong way.
What I meant was that if any of us who have interests in this—I have Co-operative interests—were influenced in our views because of our associations, instead of taking the viewers' interest as being of paramount importance, we should get involved in all kinds of things which we should like to avoid. I applauded the views of the hon. Gentle, man at the end of his speech. I think that if he could forget the expression of opinion which he disliked, and which I did not mean in the fashion in which he took it, and if he and I got together, we could evolve a scheme for breaking up the B.B.C. monopoly which would satisfy the views of the majority of the Members of the House.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) has left the Chamber, because he gave another exhibition of his appalling ignorance of this Act and what is behind it. He told us, for instance, that the I.T.A. is in line with the boards of the nationalised industries. Of course, it is not. The I.T.A. is handing out exclusive contracts to private profit-making firms, and it is essential, in these circumstances, that we lay down a strict code of conduct for the behaviour of the I.T.A. and everyone else associated with this business. I regret that we had to raise the case of Miss Dilys Powell—but we must point out that there cannot be any kind of nepotism in this set-up. We have to have strict codes of conduct, and I will leave that point there.
With regard to one remark made by the Assistant Postmaster-General, I wish 1169 he would find out just what is going on in this business. He said that the Co-operative movement could apply for a licence to run a programme contracting company. The Co-operative movement is barred from doing so under the Act because lit does its own advertising and does not employ an advertising agent. That is the end of the Co-operative movement in this business. The Assistant Postmaster-Genera] also said that it was wrong of us to raise this issue at this time because the I.T.A. has only been working for four months. We want to raise it now before we get in a far worse mess than we are in at the moment. As we see it, the I.T.A. has been launched in rather difficult seas, without proper charts to guide its course, and with a craw which has had no training an navigation. There are rocks and reefs ahead, and we want to see that the I.T.A. floats off, as it were, in a proper course with proper charts. Otherwise, the enterprise is in great danger of being sunk in a way that we do not wish it to be.
A great many mistakes are being made by the Government and the I.T.A. We expected these mistakes. We expected this trouble because the Act, as we said at the time, leaves far too much to the I.T.A. The Authority does not start off with clear directions as to the terms and conditions which it should impose in the selection of programme contractors. Whenever we tried to make the Bill more specific in those and other matters, we were told by the present Lord Chancellor and the Assistant Postmaster-General that we ought not to lay down rigid rules but should trust the I.T.A. and "leave it to the I.T.A." That is all right so long as the I.T.A. has clear guidance in this very difficult field.
We are not setting up another nationalised industry for which we can lay down the whole procedure quite clearly in specific terms, in discussion in this House and in the rules and regulations under the Act. We are giving to a semi-public body the task of picking and choosing programme contractors that will operate, and we are preventing—eliminating—other programme contractors from coming in because they do not satisfy the Authority.
In those circumstances, surely the rules and regulations that we lay down for that 1170 selection must be clear and specific. They must have the approval of this House and of the people. But there are no guiding rules, and that is why we are in this trouble and having this discussion and controversy about whether newspapers should be in.
The Assistant Postmaster-General said that the Government have put no pressure whatever upon the I.T.A. in regard to anything. I am afraid that there is evidence that rather suggests that that statement is not quite correct. When Sir Kenneth Clark was first appointed to be Chairman of the Authority, a "News-Chronicle" reporter telephoned him, and the "News-Chronicle" next day carried a report of that telephone conversation, in the course of which Sir Kenneth said:I can tell you that we are going to provide an alternative and not a competitive service with the B.B.C.He went on to explain why there ought to be an alternative and not a competitive service. That was a common sense approach, as we on this side of the House had all been saying throughout the two years of discussion on this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, no."] Oh, yes. Competition, yes—competition for staff, for scripts and writers, for artistes and entertainers, but competition to produce alternative programmes for the benefit of the viewers. That is what Sir Kenneth Clark wanted. But next day, when Sir Kenneth appeared before a Press conference, after meeting the Postmaster-General and getting his views about all this, he had to announce that the B.B.C. and he would not work together and would not provide alternative programmes. It was quite clear that he took that line as the result of the conversations with the Postmaster-General.
Then we come to the Assistant Postmaster-General's statement on Second Reading, which is quoted in "The Times" today. I am sorry that "The Times" has quoted it, because I had looked this up and had it in my notes long before today. I shall not give the quotation again. The hon. Gentleman said that there would be plenty of programme contractors, more than were really needed. That was the whole basis of the argument for the Act and for the setting up of the I.T.A.—that there would be plenty of competition and free 1171 enterprise, and nobody need bother about little monopolies growing up here and there.
I am confident that many hon. Members opposite went tramping through the Lobbies in favour of the various views which had been expressed on the Government side of the House, and of the Clauses in the Bill, because they really believed what the Assistant Postmaster-General was telling them. But it was a misleading statement. It is well to point out that that view was not corrected at any time during the passage of the Bill; not even on the last day of the Committee stage, when the hon. Member for Westbury moved an Amendment which said, in effect, that although the Government had been talking about competition for a long time, they really did not mean it, and that instead of competition the Government would allow programme companies to have monopolies at the regional stations.
Although the Assistant Postmaster-General and the Government resisted that Amendment, it was only at that stage, the very last day in Committee, that the Government gave an indication that this monopoly situation, of programme contractors having regional monopolies, was in their minds. Even at that stage the Assistant Postmaster-General made no attempt at all to correct his previous statement, upon which all the arguments for the Bill had been based. That was the final sell-out. There were not dozens of programme contractors coming in to provide straightforward competition, but just two or three, including newspaper influences.
How is it that the I.T.A. has got itself into this mess? I have stated one reason, and why we are not to have proper competition side by side as we were promised. The Act is not clear and specific in the obligations laid upon the I.T.A. It seems to me that at the back of all of this there is a fundamental mistake which we all made during the discussions on this Bill.
I remember during the Committee stage trying to put what I thought was a sensible point of view, and the Assistant Postmaster-General asked me for whom I was speaking. When I ventured to say that I was speaking for the viewers—the viewers had not been mentioned during 1172 the course of the Bill—the Assistant Postmaster-General said, "We have other interests to consider." How well they are being considered now.
We do not like this Act because it puts commercial interests before the public and the viewers' interests. I agree that there should be competition in radio and television. We have been pleading for it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh, yes, and there is no point now in suggesting that what we are seeking to do at this stage is to defend the B.B.C. monopoly, because that decision has been taken and is settled.
§ Mr. Darling
I will come to it in a moment.
Surely in all these discussions we ought to take the viewers' interests into consideration. Surely if we have to accept the Act we should see to it that the companies which are licensed as programme contractors are those companies which are most likely to give the best service without any commercial interests and without any bias on political considerations. Their idea ought to be to give entertainment and information which go to make good programmes.
Here I come to the political aspect. I think it was quite wrong for the I.T.A., when it had only two and later on three newspaper groups all on the Right applying to be programme contractors, to go round touting among newspapers of the Left to come in and join the merry throng. Surely that is not the way to set up a public service of this kind, and in any case we cannot balance the conflicting interests in that way.
The "Daily Mail" group will operate in London. I do not believe that the leopard will change its spots, and there will be political stunts in its programmes. I hope I am wrong, but even supposing it does happen, we cannot correct the balance by putting on a "Daily Herald" programme in Glasgow. That cannot be a correction of the balance, as things are in the set-up which we have. It has to be remembered that, in the original set-up, there were to be a number of programme 1173 contractors above suspicion of political bias who were to have the straightforward job of serving the public with the entertainment programmes that the public wanted.
I accept the view that a large amount of capital is needed to start a programme company, but I do not believe that £3 million is needed to cover its operations until it begins to break even. It is wrong that that arbitrary figure should be laid down which cuts out many companies that might otherwise have come in, and results in a regional monopoly entering into what should be a competitive organisation. The selection of programme contractors must be taken into consideration, because we have departed from the normal concept of free enterprise and free competition: we think it is wrong that if there is any money to be made, it should be made only by companies which have been selected by the Authority. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) asked what we would do. As I have said, we want competition within a public service. We hope that opportunities will arise whereby we can transform the I.T.A. into a real public service. However, whatever may be the policy which we shall advocate when we sit on the benches opposite, what we are concerned with now is what is to be done by this Government.
In the two minutes left to me I suggest that there is an easy way out of the difficulty over the I.T.A. We shall need regional companies or regional authorities of some kind. Why not make the regional companies or authorities public service corporations, to operate and produce television programmes in the regions, financed to begin with by a Government loan to provide equipment, with revenue coming in partly from licence fees and partly from advertising? I would hope that such advertising would take different forms—advertising films, trade announcements, marketing information and so on. A high proportion of the programmes could be provided by the programme contractors, which would allow not just one or two selected companies to operate, but would bring in a much larger number of companies, giving real and adequate competition.
I venture to suggest to the House that we cannot have in the present set-up the 1174 competition that was promised in the Act, and the competition which everybody wants, because of the conditions that are being laid down in regard to programme contractors. We can, however, get competition of the right kind if we make the Authority which governs the programmes a public service authority, one in each region, with the programmes in large measure, but not entirely, supplied by programme contractors competing to do the job.
Is that not real competition? Would that not bring in the small men who are now being kept out? Would that not serve the purposes which we all want—a proper measure of public service and a proper measure of private enterprise and competition? I suggest that this is the view the party opposite should take; whether it will do so remains to be seen.
I warn the Government that if they allow the position to go on as it is, this will not be the last occasion on which we shall have to criticise the I.T.A. and its activities in this House. This will not be the last occasion when we shall have to criticise the arrangements made with the programme contractors. I hope that to avoid all that the Government will announce tonight that they are going to take steps—they do not need new legislation to do it—to put this matter on a better basis and get the mixture of public service and private enterprise which is so urgently needed.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)
I think that that speech by the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) was the most peculiar winding-up speech for a Motion of censure that I have ever heard. I have taken part in debates on Motions of censure from the benches opposite attacking and from these benches defending, but I have never heard a speech winding up a debate of that kind that seemed to be a Second Reading speech on a Bill which the hon. Member hopes to see introduced at some time in the future. The speech was also very different in its content from the Second Reading speeches made on the Act itself by hon. Members opposite.
It passes my comprehension how this can be a Motion of censure on the Government. There are only two Front Bench names attached to the Motion and 1175 the debate was not wound up by a Front Bench spokesman opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "What of it?"] That is the common form on a Motion of censure, the common Parliamentary practice which the Labour Party is always very rightly proud to fulfil.
Let us look at the Motion itself. The House is asked to express its alarm, the House in this context being of course hon. and right hon. Members opposite. [Interruption.] Everybody has been very good so far in not interrupting and we have had a very short debate. I hope that I shall be allowed to say what I want to say, more or less. As I was saying, in this context the Opposition expresses its alarm at the manner in which the Television Act is operating. What rubbish, because if they were dissatisfied with the way in which it was working they would only be too pleased to tell us. Not "alarmed" at all but "delighted" is the word.
What action has been taken to date? How is the Act operating? After all, it is not quite four months to the actual day since the Royal Assent was given. What action has taken place in between which has been viewed with such alarm? The first thing which had to happen was that my noble Friend the Postmaster-General had to appoint members of the Authority. [HON. MEMBERS: "Alarming."] The "Star" has been quoted as saying that they were estimable people, just the kind of folk who would be on the B.B.C. itself. Anyhow, we on this side of the House have every confidence in the judgment of my noble Friend in the selection which he made.
Then the Authority started to get its staff together—not very alarming. It appointed particularly a director-general. There was slight alarm from the Right when that happened, but nothing from the Left at all. They probably patted themselves on the back in the dark and thought that it was all to the good. Then the Authority started to advertise and to select programme contractors. That is no so very alarming. No contracts have been signed yet. On that subject I should like to take up a small point which was put to me by the hon. Member for Northfields (Mr. Chapman) about how dangerous it would be if contracts could be assigned and therefore the programme 1176 contractors become monopolists. I am advised that it is intended to make it a clause in the contract that it cannot be assigned. Therefore that fear can be brushed away.
I now resume my account of the alarming action taken. We have had the appointment of the Authority and its staff and the discussions going on with the possible programme contractors. I understand that transmitters have been ordered, links between the television stations have had to be arranged with the Post Office and agreement reached with the B.B.C. for the sharing of masts. I do not say that that is not a very considerable achievement in four months, but certainly there is nothing alarming about it.
I shall come back to the points made in the debate, but what I have said disposes of the first part of the Motion, thealarm at the manner in which the Television Act is operating.I put to right hon. and hon. Members opposite that what I have told them has in fact happened in the last few months and there is really not anything at all for them to get into a panic about. The second part of the Motionrequests Her Majesty's Government to bring forward legislation to amend or repeal the Act.That is the strangest proposition in a Motion of censure which I believe could be made. Which do night hon. and hon. Members opposite mean, amend, or repeal? They obviously cannot have both at the same time. If they mean repeal I can understand their position, and I can understand why the hon. Member for Hillsborough gave us a glimpse of the Second Reading speech he will make on the Bill, which is to take its place when the Labour Government come in. But, if they mean amend, that is something quite different because that means the acceptance of the principle of the Act.
They cannot have it both ways. They cannot call upon us to repeal and at the same time say that we should amend the Act. One either ends it or does not end it. Therefore, once again, this vote of censure is quite ridiculous. I think a great deal of the trouble which the Labour Party is suffering at the moment is that the right hon. Member for Lewis-ham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was so 1177 quick off the mark in saying that his party was going to have done with all this before they knew what was going to happen. They have that pledge round their necks, that they are going to do away with all this, although I have no doubt that in fact they will change their tune when they see what happens. At the moment this is all hypothetical, but I am sure that there are hon. Members opposite who do not want the Act repealed. They hope that sometime they may have some say in the matters with which these programme companies will be concerned and, possibly, even take part in some of the performances and programmes themselves.
We have to remember that one of the complaints which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South was making against the whole plan was that, as he said, the programmes Jacked balance, were unplanned and the cost would rise so that it would be very much more expensive for everyone. That argument was completely demolished by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot). He asked if the deductions were to be made that the competition this was bound to bring would mean an increase in salaries, in wages and in remuneration of the artistes, bands and all the people who may be employed by one or the other organisation because the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. would be in competition. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South says that is terrible as it will raise the cost; it is much better to keep everyone down. "Wage slaves" and all the other things which used to be thrown at us as being our desires and policy now turn out to be what the right hon. Member thinks is a good plan for television.
These propositions are quite irreconcilable. This debate has been largely one of criticising a statutory body, of criticising the way in which it is thought the I.T.A. has entered into discussions with the various programme companies with whom it is now negotiating. It must be a very long time, if ever, since a vote of censure has been devoted to the activities of a statutory body. The whole point of having statutory bodies and not putting such things as the B.B.C. or television under a Minister is in order to have an independent body. The writings of the right hon. Member have been quoted against him already this evening. If he 1178 wants me to do so, I will repeat the quotation. He is:more content that the B.B.C should be under Sir John Reith than that it should be directed by"—what he rather rudely called—that rather slick politician Sir Kingsley Wood, the present Postmaster-General"—this was in 1933—although lie be theoretically answerable to the House of Commons.That is what he said, and it really is his view. Yet here, all this evening, we have had nothing but attacks and complaints about the Independent Television Authority.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that we get a totally and fundamentally different atmosphere when these undertakings are no longer a public service, but are a matter of commercial exploitation, capitalist enterprise and newspaper influence?
§ Mr. Crookshank
That was very quick, but it does not alter the argument I was advancing. The long words rolled out from the tip of the right hon. Gentleman's tongue—I think that he must have used that phrase before.
The whole point of these statutory bodies is to remove them from day-today criticism in Parliament. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends keep asking what is this and what is that, what the Independent Television Authority has done, or what is its policy, an answer, broadly speaking, is that it is an independent Authority. It has been taken outside the purview of the Government, of the Postmaster-General, of this House, and I do not know the answers—and I do not want to know, because we have taken the course so often recommended by the right hon. Gentleman, and we cannot have it both ways.
In point of fact, my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General, having ascertained the answer to the question which the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Shackleton) asked, did say, about the sort of criteria there were, that, broadly speaking, they are knowledge, skill and resources for providing a balanced programme. Beyond that I am quite unable to go, and I would not wish to probe 1179 further, because I, and I am sure my right hon. Friends, have confidence in the general activities of the Independent Television Authority whom we wish to maintain as independent.
We pass from that to the extraordinary fear which the right hon. Gentleman has all the time about the Press. This debate has been a very strange one. A great deal of it has been a smear campaign. Names have been brought up without notice to the Minister or myself, so that, had there been any basis for the remarks which have been made, we could have found out about them. I accept nothing which has been said in a personal sense against this or that person during this debate. But there has been a considerable smear campaign, and all the time there has been this idea that there is something wrong with the Press.
One might think that these proposed programme companies were to be run by the Press. In one case one group of newspapers has a less than 50 per cent, interest, and in the other about a one-third interest. In no case have they control at all. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Press, through this uncontrolling interest, cannot be trusted to give fair judgment to public taste. If they have not the right judgment of public taste, the public will take action by refusing to look at the programmes. People do not have to look at the programmes if they do not want to.
When the right hon. Gentleman says that, owing to this link-up, the Press will not criticise the programmes I just do not believe it. Because one or two newspaper groups may have a minority interest in the programmes, I do not believe that the whole of the rest of the British Press will never criticise at all. And even if they do not, even if they gave up their right of criticism, it is the great British public which in the end will be the critic.
It looks as though hon. Members opposite think that these programmes are to be Tory Party propaganda. With all due respect, that would be a terribly dull programme—[Interruption.]—but it would only be——
§ Mr. Crookshank
—less dull and more truthful than the party propaganda from hon. Members opposite.
There seems to be the idea that, in all this question somehow or other, the news is going to be dominated by one group or other. My hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General said the programme contractors would have nothing to do with the news, that is to say, that individual companies would have nothing to do with it at all. What I understand is likely to happen is that there would be a news company, a sort of federation of the four programme companies and all other interests, working on a basis approved by the Authority and with the Authority taking responsibility for its objectivity and impartiality. Therefore, that knocks out the suspicion that a particular programme company can have any undue influence in matters of this kind.
This debate is a backwash of the summer debates. There is no question about it. Just as last night we were dealing with Lords Amendments to two Bills, with which we finished long ago, so this was the same sort of hiccoughing resultant on what occurred in July. We are even down to seeing in "The Times" today the usual letter from what I might call the Five Furies of 40, Pembridge Road, W.11; that is to say, the three noble Lords of whose disinterestedness we all have complete knowledge, Lords Waverley, Halifax and Brand, with Lady Violet Bonham Carter on her broomstick, and the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien) being benignly in the offing for some unknown purpose.
We have evidence—as good as we can get—for being in opposition to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South, because one of these companies is going to be connected with Mr. Sidney Bernstein. I suppose he is a friend of the right hon. Gentleman, because he is a paid-up member of the Labour Party. He said, as reported by the "Yorkshire Post" on 24th October:One would run a television station in this country as one runs a cinema, … for entertainment and that covers every aspect of potential television; educational, stage plays celebrities and so on.The report went on:He could not see how the charge of pro-Conservative bias could fee valid.1181 That is one of those who are going to be in this field and the one nearest to the heart of the right hon. Gentleman.
The fact of the matter is that the Labour Party sees politics everywhere and in everything. Most people get through life without continuously reflecting on political affairs. I should think about half an hour per annum is the ordinary ration. Therefore, this idea that this new Independent Television Authority is going to be riddled with party politics is merely a fantasy in the imagination of hon. Members opposite.
People want good programmes. How many hon. Members in this House have the slightest idea of the political affiliations of either the owners, or pro-
§ ducers, or managers of any London theatre. Do they refuse to go to a theatre because they fear the producer or owner or manager may be a Socialist or a Tory? They go for the play, and so it will be with television. People will look at the programmes and if they do not like them, they will turn them off and they are certainly not going to be interested—
§ Mr. Herbert W. Bowden rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly.
§ The House divided: Ayes. 268; Noes, 300.1185
|Division No. 240.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Adams, Richard||Deer, G.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Albu, A. H.||Delargy, H. J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Dodds, N. N.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Driberg, T. E. N.||Isaacs, RI. Hon. G. A.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Janner, B.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R,||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jay, Rt. Han. D. P. T.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Edelman, M.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Baird, J.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Balfour, A.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Bartley, P.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Fienburgh, W.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Bence, C. R.||Finch, H. J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Benson, G.||Follick, M.||Keenan, W.|
|Beswick, F.||Foot, M. M.||Kenyon, C.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Forman, J. C.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Lawson, G. M.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Boardman, H.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon, H. T. N.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Gibson, C. W.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bowles, F. C.||Gooch, E. G.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Cordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C||Lewis, Arthur|
|Brockway, A. F,||Greenwood, Anthony||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Grey, C. F.||Logan, D. G.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Burke, W. A.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||McGovern, J.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hale, Leslie||McInnes, J.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||McLeavy, F.|
|Carmichael, J.||Hamilton, W. W.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hannan, W.||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hardy, E. A.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hargreaves, A.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Hastings, S,||Mann, Mrs, Jean|
|Clunie, J.||Hayman, F. H.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Coldrick, W.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Gollick, P. H.||Hendersen, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Mason, Roy|
|Collins, V. J.||Herbison, Miss M.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Corbel, Mrs. Freda||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hobson, C. R.||Messer, Sir F.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Holman, P,||Mikardo, Ian|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||Holmes, Horace||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Houghton, Douglas||Monslow, W.|
|Daines, P.||Hoy, J. H||Moody, A. S.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morley, R.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Mort, D. L.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Thornton, E.|
|Moyle, A.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Timmons, J.|
|Mulley, F. W.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Turner-Samuels. M|
|Murray, J. D.||Ross, William||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Nally, W.||Royle, C.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Wallace, H. W.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Short, E. W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Oswald, T.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Owen, W. J.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Weitzman, D.|
|Padley, W. E.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Paget, R. T.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Skeffington, A. M.||West, D. G.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Pannell, Charles||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Parker, J.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Parkin, B. T.||Snow, J. W.||Wigg, George|
|Paton, J.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Peart, T. F.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Sparks, J. A.||Willey, F. T.|
|Popplewell, E.||Steele, T.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Porter, G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Probert, A. R.||Strauss, RI. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Stress, Dr. Barnett||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Horton)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Rankin, John||Swingler, S. T.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Reeves, J.||Sylvester, G. O.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Rhodes, H.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Yates, V. F.|
|Richards, R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Cary, Sir Robert||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollak)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Channon, H.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Gammans, L. D.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Glover, D.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Godber, J. B.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Cole, Norman||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Gower, H. R.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gridley, Sir Arnold|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Barber, Anthony||Crouch, R. F.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Harris, Frederic (Graydon, N.)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Davidson, Viscountess||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||De La Bére, Sir Rupert||Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Deedes, W. F.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Digby, S. Wingfield||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hay, John|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Donner, Sir P. W.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Birch, Nigel||Doughty, C. J. A.||Heath, Edward|
|Bishop, F. P.||Drayson, G. B.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Black, C. W.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Duthie, W. S.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Han. J. A.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Wrwk Lmgtn)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Braine, B. R.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Hope, Lord John|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Erroll, F. J.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Fell, A.||Horsbrugh Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Finlay, Graeme||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Fisher, Nigel||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Fletcher, Sir Walter (Bury)||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Burdett, F. F. A.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fort, R.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Foster, John||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)|
|Carr, Robert||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Hyde, Lt-Col, H. M.|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Jennings, Sir Roland||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Smyth, Brig. J. G (Norwood)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kempton)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Neave, Airey||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Nicholls, Harmar||Speir, R. M.|
|Kaberry, D.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Lampton, Viscount||Oakshott, H. D.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Odey, G. W.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Storey, S.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Osborne, C.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Lindsay, Martin||Page, R. G.||Summers, G. S.|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Partridge, E.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Teeling, W.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pitman, I. J.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Powell, J. Enoch||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W)||Tilney, John|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|McAdden, S. J.||Profumo, J. D.||Turton, R. H.|
|McCallum, Major D.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Vane, W. M. F.|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Ramsden, J. E.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Rayner, Brig. R.||Vosper, D. F.|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Redmayne, M.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Remnant, Hon. P.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Renton, D. L. M.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Robertson, Sir David||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Robson-Brown, W.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wellwood, W.|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Roper, Sir Harold||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Russell, R. S.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Marples, A. E.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Wills, G.|
|Maude, Angus||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maudling, R.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Scott, R. Donald||Woollam, John Victor|
|Medlicott, Brig, F.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Mellor, Sir John||Sharples, Maj. R. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Shepherd, William||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Sir Cedric Drewe.|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.