HC Deb 25 October 1956 vol 558 cc919-44
Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)

I beg to move, in page 89, line 29, column 3, after "fifteen", to insert subsections (1), (2), (3), (4), (6) and (7).

The purpose of this Amendment is to correct the anomalous and unfair position in which the National Library of Wales alone of the great deposit libraries of the Kingdom is placed. Section 15 of the 1911 Act named the following libraries as having prescriptive right to copies of books : the British Museum, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge, the Library of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh, the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, and the National Library of Wales. Subsection (5) of that Section, however, said : The books of which copies are to be delivered to the National Library of Wales shall not include books of such classes as may be specified in regular editions to be made by the Board of Trade. In fact the Board of Trade Regulations of 1912, following closely on the passage of that Act, imposed restrictions on the National Library of Wales alone of the six great deposit libraries. The library was debarred from claiming copies of books published in editions of less than 300 ; books of a price exceeding £5 where the edition was 400 or less ; and books of a price exceeding £10 where the edition was 600 or less. The monetary limit has been raised, but the discrimination still stands and is to be perpetuated in this Measure. The Regulations were further amended in 1924 to debar the Library from claiming copies of imported books if the edition was 100 or less. These Regulations were used in an increasingly deleterious fashion so far as this one national library was concerned.

We in Wales have always resented this discrimination against our Library, for discrimination it is. There is absolutely no valid reason whatsoever why this Library should be singled out for this kind of treatment. In every way and by every test the National Library of Wales is comparable in scope, purpose and service to any one of the other deposit libraries except the British Museum, which of course stands on its own. The Welsh Library is not simply a regional library. It is a very substantial centre of records and research enjoying considerable international renown. It is used by scholars from all over the world.

Its facilities and staff are of the highest standing—indeed there is a great deal of competition in other countries for the services of members of the staff. They are presided over by a scholar of very high distinction, Dr. Thomas Parry. Hon. Members on both sides of this House who have visited the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth will agree that both as to site and design its premises are truly magnificent. On the merits of the Library itself, therefore, there can be no justification at all for this discrimination.

These restrictions do not apply—quite rightly—to the Edinburgh Library, nor do they apply to the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. While none of us would wish them to apply to the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, it is rather odd, to say the least, that the Dublin Library, which is situated in the completely independent Republic of Eire, is treated with full generosity, but the National Library of Wales, situated in the Principality, which is so far still part of the United Kingdom, is treated so meanly. One is tempted to ask whether it is necessary for us to declare ourselves an independent republic in order to secure for ourselves the facilities which so rightly have been granted to Eire.

What are the results of this discrimination on the Library itself? It is a fact that the Library is obliged to spend large sums on the purchase of books which the other deposit libraries have a right to receive gratis. I could give some examples, but possibly my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) will do so. This burden is likely to increase as the years go on.

One aspect which I should like to press upon the Parliamentary Secretary relates to scientific research, particularly in the fields of agriculture and hydro-electricity. It will certainly be necessary for this Library, possibly more than any other library in Great Britain, to make quite sure that its records and files are complete. With these restrictions in effect in any form, that activity will be hampered ; and even if hampered only to a very small degree it still remains true that a major institute of research and learning will be hampered in completing the fullest possible services of which it is capable.

It is true that some of the publications on these subjects are, in fact, sent to the Library by the publishers as an act of grace. We are most grateful to those publishers for making up for the meanness of the Government, but that is not good enough. The principle still remains the same—that this national institution, which serves not only Wales but the whole of the United Kingdom, and indeed other parts of the world, in the field of research and scholarship is, alone among the six deposit libraries of the country, subjected to these restrictions.

We are asking for a very small concession, but a small concession which will sustain a great principle, and I hope that the Minister will grant it. There can surely be no objection to placing the National Library of Wales on exactly the same basis as the other great deposit libraries of the country. If the Parliamentary Secretary grants this, he can take this Bill home with him in a blaze of glory reflected from the Welsh hills.

8.15 p.m.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

I wish very briefly to support the case so very ably and lucidly put by my hon. Friend the Member for Caernarvon (Mr. G. Roberts). For a long time this matter, which may seem a very small thing, has rankled among Welsh scholars, and we feel that this is surely an occasion when the House could rectify an injustice.

I do not pretend that it was necessarily an injustice when the provision was first made, because the National Library of Wales is clearly not as old a foundation as some of the other deposit libraries. When the provision was made in 1911 it may then have appeared that this institution would not necessarily achieve its present status. I feel that we ought, in 1956, to recognise that the National Library of Wales has a standing in the world of scholarship and research as illustrious as that of the other deposit libraries.

As my hon. Friend has said, it seems a very peculiar anomaly that in this Bill we should perpetuate the privilege of Trinity College, Dublin, and refuse the same privilege to Wales. There is some dispute as to the precise position of Monmouth, but the President of the Board of Trade is at least a neighbour of ours, and we hope that he will take a friendly interest in this matter.

I would say that the Government make great play of their friendship for Wales when it costs nothing. We have the little tag on the end of the title of the Home Secretary, who is now also called Minister for Welsh Affairs. Tomorrow he is going to Cardiff to eat at a banquet, at the expense of the Lord Mayor there, in connection with the privilege of Cardiff being named the capital city. I believe that he is even going to dance at a ball at the city hall tomorrow evening. That is all admirable public relations, no doubt, but we are a little sceptical as to the real affection of the Government for Wales when it is confined to such social activities as those of the Home Secretary.

This is an occasion when a small thing could be done which would give immense satisfaction. I dislike suggesting to the Government that they should do something which could give great satisfaction to Wales, but I am afraid that my patriotism must come before my political interest. I would suggest that this is really something which, if they chose to do it, would give very great satisfaction to the Principality, because this is just one of those small, irritating discriminations for which, at the present time, there is no adequate reason. After all, we are being asked, in the Ninth Schedule to the Bill, to continue the deposit Section of the 1911 Act. All we are asking is that we should also repeal Section 15 (5). That is very easy, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will do it.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) said that she was very sceptical of the Government's affection for Wales. I am even more sceptical of the affection of Wales for the Government, in view of their scant reputation in the Principality. As an Englishman I have some diffidence in speaking now in support of this Amendment. My only interest in the matter is that I am an admirer of my hon. Friends the Members for Flint, East and for Caernarvon (Mr. G. Roberts), and I am also one who has a Welsh wife.

I am sure that the whole House will agree that my hon. Friends have made a most persuasive case. This concession for which they ask is a very modest one. It is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East has said, just an irritaing discrimination, and I am sure that all of us would want to remove any discrimination which causes any irritation to our fellow-citizens in Wales.

My hon. Friend the Member for Caernarvon has said that the publishers do send these books as an act of grace—

Mr. G. Roberts

Some of them.

Mr. Greenwood

Yes, some of them—but I think that it would be much more generous on our part if we were to bestow on the Library the accolade of Government privilege in this way.

I therefore hope that the President will be able to accept this Amendment, and accept it as a first step towards a general revision of the whole law on libraries of deposit. I should be out of order if I went much further into that matter, but I think that the time is rapidly approaching when we shall need a new Bill dealing exclusively with libraries of deposit. I hope that such a Measure will appear in the next Session, not only because it will remove such irritating discriminations but will serve also to crowd out other more contentious and controversial legislation.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The National Library of Wales could not have hoped for two more eloquent or persuasive advocates of its cause than the hon. Members for Caernarvon (Mr. G. Roberts) and for Flint, East (Mrs. White). They referred to the discrimination against the National Library of Wales. I should like to make it absolutely clear that there is no question of discrimination against that Library being based on what might be called a current assessment. The sole reasons for the difference of treatment lie very far back in history, and as the hon. Members would appreciate, the Welsh, though An old. and haughty Nation proud in Arms as, I think, Milton called them, nevertheless did not achieve a National Library until some centuries later than the other countries involved. It is in these accidents of history, therefore, that these differences arise.

It is not for me to adjudicate as to whether or not Monmouth is in Wales and, therefore, whether or not my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is a Welsh Member of Parliament or not. However, if he is not one he is very nearly so, and I share with him a high regard and keen appreciation of the long traditions of Welsh culture.

When we look at the historical side of this matter, it is a fact that the library deposit arrangement started as far back as 1610 in an agreement made between Sir Thomas Bodley and the Stationers' Company. Indeed, the early days of libraries of deposit are not based upon a particularly respectable principle because they are part of the machinery of the licensing system of the Star Chamber and were operated as an instrument of censorship, so that in that sense it may be complimentary to Wales that they were not in the field at that time.

There were then extensions to the Royal Library, then to the British Museum, the Cambridge University Library, the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, and the Library at Trinity College, Dublin. The extensions took place very shortly after the respective Acts of Union at the beginning of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries between those countries.

It was not until 1909, centuries later, that the National Library of Wales came into the picture and by that time the privilege of deposit had become something of an ancient right. It was for that reason, that this matter was regarded in a different context and a different climate of opinion, that the differentiation was made in the case of the National Library of Wales.

Looking at the matter as it is today, one has to have regard to these important considerations relating to libraries of deposit, but one must also have some consideration for the interests of the publishers. Their position was put forward and is expressed in paragraph 57 of the Report of the Copyright Committee. The point is made that this is the only trade which is required by law to give away free specimens of its work. Indeed, six copies of an expensive and limited edition can be an onerous burden on a publisher and would make, one would imagine, a considerable difference to the profit margin on the books.

In those circumstances, the way we look at this matter is this. One can retain these ancient privileges and libraries of deposit which have gone along over the centuries, but it is more difficult to extend them. The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) spoke of a fresh approach to the subject and fresh legislation. I am not at all sure that if we viewed this matter de novo we would not be more inclined to assimilate the position of the other libraries to the existing position of Wales rather than the other way round, so as to limit the liability of the publishers in this regard.

In these matters it is always so easy to be generous at somebody else's expense. This is what we are doing if we increase the burden on the publishers in this matter. This is not really a copyright matter at all, except by accident, and it would be better, if it is to be reviewed, that it should be done in separate legislation.

It follows from what I have said that it is not possible for me to recommend the House to accept this Amendment, but we are anxious to give such practical help as we can, short of that, to the National Library of Wales. I might mention that the Treasury grant for the purchase of books for the National Library of Wales has been increased by 30 per cent. for 1956–57 as against the preceding year. With respect to the restrictions in the regulations to which reference has been made, it has been pointed out that under these regulations if the number of copies in an edition does not exceed 400 and the published price of each volume exceeds £5, there is a maximum of £5 for that edition and £10 if the edition does not exceed 600.

I fully appreciate that those maxima were fixed some years ago and that changes have taken place in the value of money, and so on. With those considerations in mind, we have been in consultation with the National Library of Wales and with the Publishers' Association on the question of those maxima, and I am glad to be able to say that as a result of those consultations we think it right that those maxima—the £5 and the £10 to which the hon. Gentleman referred—should in each case be doubled so as to make them £10 and £20, and we would propose to introduce regulations in the near future to give effect to that improvement in the position of the National Library of Wales.

Mr. G. Roberts

The concessions which the Parliamentary Secretary has announced, while acceptable and helpful, still do not touch the root of the matter, which is the principle of equal treatment of comparable institutions. Nothing that he has said tonight, although we all enjoyed his eloquent discursions into ancient history, has removed the fact that a discrimination is to be perpetuated in this Bill when a very small concession on the part of the Government could put it right and give untold satisfaction to the people of the Principality. I really must ask that this Amendment be pressed to a Division.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill :—

The House divided : Ayes 126, Noes 164.

Division No. 290.] AYES [8.27 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bacon, Miss Alice Hubbard, T. F. Proctor, W. T.
Baird, J. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Pryde, D. J.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Randall, H. E.
Benson, C. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Rankin, John
Beswick, F. Hunter, A. E. Reid, William
Blackburn, F. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Irving, S. (Dartford) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Boyd, T. C, Janner, B. Ross, William
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Royle, C.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Chapman, W. D. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Clunie, J. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Skeffington, A. M.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditoh & Finsbury) King, Dr. H. M. Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Steele, T.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Stones, W. (Consett)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Deer, G. MacColl, J. E. Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Delargy, H. J. McInnes, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Dodds, N. N. McKay, John (Wallsend) Swingler, S. T.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) McLeavy, Frank Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Thornton, E.
Fletcher, Eric Mahon, Simon Turner-Samuels, M.
Forman, J. C. Mann, Mrs. Jean Usborne, H. C.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mason, Roy Viant, S. P.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mellish, R. J. Warbey, W. N.
Greenwood, Anthony Mitchison, G. R. Weitzman, D.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Monslow, W. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Grey, C. F. Moody, A. S. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Wheeldon, W. E.
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Moyle, A. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Hale, Leslie Mulley, F. W. Wilkins, W. A.
Hamilton. W. W. Oliver, G. H. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Hannan, W. Oram, A. E. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Orbach, M. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Hastings, S. Oswald, T. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Hayman, F. H. Owen, W. J. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Healey, Denis Pannen, Charles (Leeds, W.) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Parker, J. Winterbottom, Richard
Herbison, Miss M. Parkin, B. T.
Holman, P. Peart, T. F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES :
Houghton, Douglas Pentland, N. Mr. John Taylor an, Mr. Holmes.
Aitken, W. T. Currie, G. B. H. Hicks-Beach, Ma). W. W.
Alport, C. J. M. Dance, J. C. G. Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Arbuthnot, John Deedes, W. F. Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Armstrong, C. W. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Atkins, H. E. Doughty, C. J. A. Holland-Martin, C. J.
Baldwin, A. E. Drayson, G. B. Hornby, R. P.
Barber, Anthony du Cann, E. D. L. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.
Barter, John Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hurd, A. R.
Beamish, Mal. Tufton Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Errington, Sir Eric Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Finlay, Graeme Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Fisher, Nigel Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Freeth, D. K. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bidgood, J. C. Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Gammans, Sir David Joseph, Sir Keith
Bishop, F. P. George, J. C. (Pollok) Keegan, D.
Body, R. F. Glover, D. Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Boyle, Sir Edward Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Kerr, H. W.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Gower, H. R. Kimball, M.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Graham, Sir Fergus Lagden, G. W.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Grant, W. (Woodside) Leather, E. H. C.
Channon, H. Green, A. Leavey, J. A.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Gresham Cooke, R. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Cole, Norman Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Gurden, Harold Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hall, John (Wycombe) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Lucas, Sir Jooelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macolesfd) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Hesketh, R. F. Macdonald, Sir Peter
Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Powell, J. Enoch Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Price, David (Eastleigh) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)
Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Raikes, Sir Victor Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Redmayne, M. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Maadan, Martin Renton, D. L, M. Touche, Sir Gordon
Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W.(Horncastle) Ridsdale, J. E. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Marples, A. E. Rippon, A. G. F, Vane, W. M. F.
Maude, Angus Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Vickers, Miss J. H.
Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Roper, Sir Harold Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, w.)
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Nairn, D. L. S. Russell, R. S. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Neave, Airey Schofield, Lt.-Co. W. Wall, Major Patrick
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R, Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Nugent, G. R. H. Sharples, R, C. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Shepherd, William Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)
Orr, Capt. L, P. S. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Page, R. G. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Spearman, Sir Alexander Woollam, John Victor
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Studholme, Sir Henry
Pitman, I. J. Summers, Sir Spencer TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Pitt, Miss E. M. Teeling, W. Colonel J. H. Harrison and
Pott, H. P. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Mr. Bryan.

Question put and agreed to.

Order for Third Reading read.—[Queen's consent signified.]

8.36 p.m.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

I beg to move. That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I confess that before moving the Third Reading of the Bill, I turned back the pages of HANSARD to see in what terms my predecessor moved the Third Reading of the Bill which subsequently became the Act of 1911, and I found that on that occasion the Third Reading was purely formal. I do not think that I can hope to equal my predecessor's record in making no comments on the Bill.

I should like to take the opportunity of paying a tribute to the hard work and admirable skill of my colleagues, especially my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General, who, I think, the House and those who served on the Standing Committee will agree, have been masterly in their handling of this very complicated Measure at all stages.

This Bill is concerned with a subject which does not lend itself to a single comprehensive review. While component parts of the Bill are interlocked, perhaps, to a greater extent than is generally supposed, it is fair to say that we are dealing with a complex of issues rather than with one single issue, and many parts remain remote from the others. It is for that reason that the Bill touches such a wide variety of interests.

Many of those interests present conflicting claims. As one has listened even to the debates on the Report stage, one has been constantly impressed with the fact that there is no absolutely right or wrong answer to many of the questions which we have been discussing. It is equally clear that not all the claims can be met, because many of them are directly contrary to one another.

As I indicated on Second Reading, we have consistently sought to make a fair compromise in which the competing claims of the interests directly affected are weighed one against the other, whether they concern publishers, the public or musicians, authors and the like. The nature of the subject has meant much detailed consideration in Standing Committee and the thanks of the House are due to the Chairman and the Members of that Committee for the immensely detailed study which they made of the Bill. Not for the first time, a Bill of this nature has emerged from that Committee certainly a sounder and better Bill than when it went into it.

No fundamental or spectacular changes have been made—indeed, this is not a spectacular subject—but possibly the most noticeable changes made in Committee and on Report have been those relating to the duration of the copyright in photographs, in recordings and in broadcasts, to the improvement of the position of the writers of articles commissioned for periodicals, and certain Amendments which have been made in the provisions relating to the Performing Right Tribunal. That, at least, is my view, although I have no doubt that other hon. Members and right hon. Members make their own list of priorities as to what the most important changes have been.

At any rate, I think I can safely claim that the Bill now represents what it has always been our intention to achieve—a reasonable settlement of a series of highly technical and highly complicated issues. Once again, I should like to thank hon. Members on both sides of the House for the contributions which have been made to the debate, which have resulted in an improved Bill to which, I trust, the House will now give an unopposed Third Reading.

8.41 p.m.

Mr. W. Wells

As the President of the Board of Trade has just said, this is a technical Bill and one involving a complex of issues, rather than one single important topic of debate, but, although technical and difficult, it is not unimportant. On the contrary, it is of very wide general importance, because what has been discussed underlying the immensely complicated technicalities in which, unfortunately, we have been involved is really this question : what are to be the rewards for creative artistic endeavour in the coming generation, and how are we to reconcile giving artists, writers, composers and performers a generous and encouraging reward, without, at the same time, imposing conditions which render the general diffusion of their efforts too costly to be ultimately for their advantage?

Therefore, on whether we have done our work in the House and in the Standing Committee well or ill will depend to a large extent the cultural wealth of our country in twenty and thirty years' time, because it will be pure hypocrisy and sheer cant to imagine that without proper financial rewards people will be able to come forward and devote their lives to artistic endeavour. I have not the Parliamentary Secretary's facile gift for recollection, but I am sure that Dr. Johnson's remark about the motives which induce people to write will be in the recollection of hon. Members, and I am sure that this need, for most people at least, of a financial incentive will be as real for musicians and other artists as it is for writers.

If one may very quickly glance at the changes that have been made in the Bill, one can say that there have been certain improvements, certain failures to improve and some question marks. I would agree with the right hon. Gentleman that one of the main improvements has been in connection with the copyright of works produced in magazines, papers, and so forth ; that is to say, so far as commissioned articles are concerned.

I myself regret that the Government were unable to accept an Amendment put forward yesterday, which, so far as staff journalists are concerned, differentiated between the article that was written solely to appear in the paper or group of papers which the employer of the journalist owned or controlled and those subsequent publications which represented a transaction of sale between the employing publisher, on the one hand, and other people who wished to use the article, on the other. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted against me some remarks on Second Reading, but, properly construed, those meant nothing more than that while the case for commissioned work was overwhelmingly strong the case for the staff journalists required examination.

However, on the whole there has been a substantial improvement there, and another substantial improvement, for which, I think, we must be grateful to the Government, in that in relation to Clause 24, which now, owing to the Amendment put down by the Government on Report after strong representations from the Opposition in Standing Committee, results in the Tribunal having the discretion to allow parties other than applicants for and grantors of licences to appear before the Tribunal. In effect, that means, of course, the organisations representing those professionally interested or interested by reason of their employment.

I consider the main failure to improve the Bill, and certainly that which has occasioned most disquiet outside, is in relation to Clause 8. Reluctantly, on this side we have felt bound to accede to the principle at this late stage of the licence of right remaining in our copyright law. I mean at this late stage after the effluxion of forty-five years since it was first introduced. I consider that the refusal of the Government, both here in this Chamber and in Standing Committee upstairs, either to accept any of the Amendments we put forward in that relation or to propound any of their own does mean that the licence of rights as at present enshrined in the Bill is too wide, takes away too much of the rights of composers, and is ultimately, I think, so contrary to the interests of composers as not really to be in the best interests of th gramophone industry. I think that that, perhaps, has been our most important failure.

I think, too, that we have left Clause 12 too open. That is the Clause dealing with sound recordings. I think that we shall find that a number of organisations conducted for profit are using sound recordings without making any payment, and that that is simply a bonus, to hotels and holiday camps, people of that sort, purely commercial, which is not really justifiable.

The two main question marks are first, in Clause 14, relating to copyright in broadcasts. I feel sure that by our failure to ensure that the benefits of the rights thereby created flow to artists and performers, and leaving the rights vested in the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. we are really creating a new kind of copyright which gives the benefit not to somebody who has used any creative endeavour, but merely to transmitters. There may be no practical alternative, and because of that doubt I put that as a question mark rather than as a failure, though I think that it is a fairly large question mark.

The even larger question mark which I think must remain is in relation to the main topic of discussion today, namely, rediffusion. That matter has been so fully discussed that I will not go over the ground again, but I doubt whether anybody who listened to the arguments propounded today would not consider that this is a question which is very uncertain and on which we may well live to regret the decisions taken by the House today.

We said on Second Reading that we thought that this was a good Bill. We think that it has certainly been improved in Committee. We agree with the tributes which the right hon. Gentleman paid to his two hon. Friends and accept with pleasure the tribute which he paid to the Chairman and Members of the Standing Committee. I feel that in this example the Parliamentary system has worked well and that my hon. Friends who attended the Committee proceedings with such assiduity and who took so active a part in its proceedings have made a valuable contribution to the improvements that have taken place in the Bill. We have not been able to improve the Bill as much as we should have wished, but that, perhaps, is in the nature of the disabilities that attach to being in Opposition.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. P. B. Lucas (Brentford and Chiswick)

I intervene at this late stage only to make one or two general observations on the effects which I believe the Bill, as amended, will have on the televising of sporting events. As I am here dealing with a narrow, although important, point, I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells) will forgive me if I do not follow his arguments.

First, I must declare an interest. I am a director of companies associated with the promotion of sport and the provision of entertainment. As a result, it must be said that I am an interested party in the particular aspect of these proposals upon which I wish briefly to touch.

My first point is this. I believe that one of the effects of the Bill as amended—and I think it is a good effect—will be to enable the viewing public to see more television of sporting events than would otherwise have been the case. That, I believe is a fact which will come out in the future, and one which will be generally welcomed in the country.

The fact that copyright is now to rest in the hands of the televising authority—and the hon. and learned Gentleman made a point about that with which I was not wholly in disagreement—and there are to be restrictions on the public showing of sporting events in places where there are paying audiences will, I believe, to some degree allay the fears which have existed, not I think unreasonably, in the minds of the promoters.

Of course, there are some who would always say that those whose job it is to present these spectacles are today altogether too touchy about the effect of television upon the events which they are promoting. It is sometimes contended—I think rather unreasonably—that such promoters are thinking more in terms of the box office receipts than of the people with the television sets who wish to see these sporting events shown on their screens.

All I can say is that anyone who has had first-hand experience of this problem, anyone who has lived alongside it for the past five or six years, knows quite well that that is not really a very fair contention. It is not just the effect of television upon one particular event which worries the promoter. It is the result which the televising of a major sporting spectacle will have upon all the other numerous minor sporting events which are being held at the same time which is one of his primary concerns. In the long term the success of the major events, which naturally must be very much in the promoter's mind, will indirectly depend upon the fortunes of the minor fixtures, for without the success of the minor events—the local interest which they create and the players which they produce—the great national spectacles could not prosper.

It is true—I do not think any promoter would deny it—that television has been in part responsible for the build-up of certain sporting events. There is, for instance, no doubt in my mind that the remarkable growth in the popularity of show-jumping in this country since the war—I have particularly in mind two events in which I have an interest, the International Horse Show at the White City and the Horse of the Year Show at Harringay—has been hastened by the careful and limited use of television.

At the same time, it would be possible to argue on the basis of the experience that we have had over recent years that these and other similar events could have been killed stone dead by the unlimited and unrestricted use of television. That is why I say that the safeguards which the Government have written into the Bill will allay to some considerable degree—I do not say altogether—the fears which those who are responsible for producing these various forms of entertainment have not unreasonably harboured. There are some who feel that in these cases the copyright should have rested in the hands of the promoter or body presenting the sport rather than in the hands of the televising authority. I am one who feels that. I think it was a pity that that was done, but I appreciate the Government's point of view.

Again, I think the promoters themselves would have felt much happier if the restrictions offered by this Measure had covered wholly the public showing of events rather than limiting the coverage to the instances where there were paying audiences. These were matters upon which there was a great deal of discussion and about which compromises were suggested, argued on and eventually accepted, and few would now say that the interests of all the parties concerned—the public, the promoters and the televising authorities—have not been best served in this way.

Having had some very small part in the prolonged earlier discussions which took place on this narrow and complicated portion of the Bill, I should like to pay my own humble tribute to the officials of both the Board of Trade and the Post Office who were so much concerned with those talks. From my experience I should say that it would be hard to conceive of anything fairer, more reasonable or more patient than their treatment of the views and problems of the promoters.

I congratulate the Government upon the manner in which they have handled this extremely controversial part of the Bill. In my view, they have reached a working formula. I do not say that it is necessarily the best one, but I think it will work. I believe that the viewing public, who really matter in this case, will have good reason in the future to be pleased at the arrangements which have been made.

8.59 p.m.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

I should like, briefly, to echo some of the sentiments expressed by the President of the Board of Trade and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. W. Wells).

Now that the Bill has reached its Third Reading, we all want, if for different reasons, to give it a welcome and wish it well. While it is true that it has emerged in a very different form from that in which it was introduced in another place, I think we can all congratulate ourselves upon the work that has been done both here and in the Committee, and I think that we should all agree that a great many Amendments of value have been made to the Bill and that a great many improvements have been brought about.

It is difficult to speak on Third Reading about a Bill which is full of so many diverse and complicated matters. In a sense, it is unnecessary to do so because of the very thorough and painstaking examination which the Bill received in Committee. I suppose that while it is true, as the President of the Board of Trade said, that the Bill, in a great many of its Clauses, represents compromises which have been hammered out to protect the legitimate but conflicting interests of authors, makers of records, makers of films, the television companies, relay companies and the public, there are, of course, over-riding reasons why we all welcome the Bill.

Perhaps the chief of those reasons is that the passing of the Bill into law will enable this country to adhere both to the latest revision of the Berne Convention and to the Universal Copyright Convention. It has, of course, been a matter of some grievance and criticism by British authors for a long time that they have had no copyright protection in the United States, unless the author's work was manufactured there in the sense of being printed there from type set up in that country.

Now, for the first time, the fact that we are adopting the Universal Copyright Convention and making certain changes in our copyright law, coupled with the fact that the United States has also ratified the Convention and altered the conditions of their domestic law in favour of other countries, including our own, will be of very considerable benefit to British authors. I would put that as one of the principle reasons why I think that we should all welcome the Bill.

There are, of course, as my hon. and learned Friend has said, numerous matters of detail on which we should have much preferred the Amendments which we put down to have been accepted. I listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Lucas), who has just spoken, and I want to mention only one matter of detail which was debated to some extent during the Committee stage and which was left, as I thought, in not an entirely satisfactory position.

We have had today a long and most interesting debate on Clause 40 on the very obstruse question as to what was and what was not desirable for the protection of the competing interests of the relay companies and the Performing Right Society. I think that the weight of argument in that debate was very nicely balanced and there was not, in the ultimate result, a tremendous amount of difference between the Amendment proposed from these benches and that proposed from the Government benches. In connection with that subject, as the Assistant Postmaster-General will recall, there was an incidental and related subject which gave rise to doubts on the part of some Members of the Committee.

I refer to the operations of the I.T.A. and the operations of the television companies with one of which, as the House knows, I have a professional interest. I pointed out in Committee that the operations of the I.T.A. are at present organised under the Television Act, 1954, on a wholly regional basis, the basis being that different programme companies have exclusive rights in the various areas into which the country is divided for the purposes of independent television.

It seemed to me and I think to the Government that the whole of the operations of the I.T.A. were liable to be frustrated and thrown into confusion if this Bill finally emerged in a form which enabled relay companies to relay television or broadcast programmes from one area to another. I put down certain Amendments designed to see that the objects with which the I.T.A. was concerned were protected. The Assistant Postmaster-General said on 26th July, having, I think, accepted the principle I was urging, that discussions were taking place with the relay companies.

He went on to say, on behalf of the Government : …we are anxious to ensure that the pattern which the I.T.A. has chosen as a means of getting on to its feet and developing its service should have the proper safeguards in order to see that that service is as effective as possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 26th July, 1956; c. 545.] My own view was that it would be desirable to include the appropriate provisions in the Bill. The Assistant Postmaster-General thought that it would be more satisfactory, or perhaps equally satisfactory, to secure that result by agreement with the relay companies, or alternatively to deal with the matter by including adequate protection and safeguards in the Postmaster-General's licences to the relay companies.

I think that it is proper to say that since the Committee stage I have had correspondence with the Assistant Postmaster-General on that subject. He has been good enough to assure me that if agreement with the relay companies is not reached it is the intention of the Post Office to give effect to the required arrangements as terms of the relay licences. I thought it fair and proper, as the matter is one of public interest, for the record to make those observations.

9.9. p.m.

Mr. Alport

I wonder whether it would be convenient, since there are properly no provisions for a winding-up speech, at this moment for me to deal with the issues which the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) has raised. He is aware that we attach importance to this matter and he, like others, is aware that these negotiations have taken some time.

The main reason is that the relay companies are anxious to be able to consider their position in the light of the provisions eventually enacted in this Bill. For that reason it was not possible for us to complete the negotiations before the Report stage, but I have no doubt that as soon as the Bill is completed and becomes law, and the relay companies have had time to consider its implications, we will be able to take the next step. We hope to reach a successful conclusion by means of negotiation, but, as I said in my letter to the hon. Member, if that is not so, then the undertaking I gave there stands.

9.10 p.m.

Sir L. Plummer

Those of us who worked in the Standing Committee and who have devoted a good deal of our time in the House itself to this Bill will, I think, agree that the Measure has well compensated us for the amount of time, trouble, worry and energy which we have put into it. For my part, I have always felt that there were too many harpies battening on the original work of the artist, composer and instrumentalist ; people who by the very nature of their work, as it were by the artistic temperament which they possess, are not able to defend themselves from the depredations of people who live parasitically on them as are other people who are more capable of looking after their own interests.

I have seen too often the spectacle of a man who, not knowing how to protect himself, has been robbed of the whole of the rewards of his work, particularly in the aesthetic and artistic fields. This Bill gives us an opportunity to do what we ought to have done, what all the nations ought to have done, much sooner than in the forty-five years which have elapsed since the last Copyright Act became the law in this country.

To that extent I think we ought to congratulate not only the Government for having introduced this Measure, but those hon. Members who devoted their time at the International Conference to trying to do justice to the producers all over the world. One thing, of course, is clear ; this Bill has disposed, I hope for all time, of the argument that the other place is useful because it is a splendid revising Chamber. I do not think that anyone has ever seen such a shambles of a Bill as this Measure was when it came to the House of Commons. This House of Commons has proved itself to be an ideal revising Chamber, because the Bill is now an infinitely better Measure than it was when it descended upon us in its rather ragged, tattered and obscure form from the other place.

I think that the Government could have been a little more helpful. I do not think they quite understood all the implications of the Bill. When it comes to be revised, as revised it will have to be in the next decade or so—because the development of mechanical productions is moving at such a pace that all sorts of things will happen to affect the producer—I hope that the Government or, as it will then be, the Opposition, will give us the same support when we revise this Measure as we ourselves have given to the present Government.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. Page

May I, from the back benches on this side of he House, offer sincere congratulations to my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and to my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General for their very able guidance of this Bill through its earlier stages? I feel that we can think that we have achieved something in this difficult piece of legislation through their guidance and through the guidance of the hon. Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams), who was the Chairman of the Standing Committee. I think it very worthy of him to be in his place tonight. I should have thought that he had heard our voices long enough during the Committee stage.

This Bill was not just a codification of the law, nor was it only a revision of an old Statute. We were charting out entirely new ground. As has been said by the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), new methods of mechanical reproduction are many since the 1911 Act. That Act in Section 19 talked only about records and perforated rolls. I think it did add "other contrivances" but they have so much increased in the last thirty-five years that we were charting out entirely new ground.

In doing that survey of the new territory we were continually being tripped up by the international Convention. All the time, as we traced out the chart of the new territory of copyright, there was at our elbow Article bis something or other, or ter something or other, which did not make the study of this Bill any easier.

It was right and proper that throughout all stages we should give full consideration to the rights of the author, the artist, and the composer. I have wondered at times whether we had not got the wrong author, artist and composer in mind. I am not concerned with those very eminent people who wrote to The Times. They can look after themselves and can pick and choose their markets. The author, artist and composer who will be protected by the Bill are the small men, who are keen on having the greatest publicity for their work. They are not keen on saying, "You shall not publish my work in this or that medium," but want the greatest publicity they can get. I hope that we have not in any way restricted their market.

I hope that we have also regarded the public interest. At times we have almost leaned over backwards to protect the author, artist and composer and, reading the earlier stages of our deliberations, one might think that the poor old public had been left out altogether. We got so tied up with the Musicians' Union, radio-diffusion companies and various interests, that a layman might think that we had forgotten that the public are entitled to hear the music, read the work and see the pictures. However, the Bill will show that we have protected the public interest in these matters.

Finally, I would make a rather ungenerous and complaining remark, ungenerous because on all the Amendments which I have proposed, except one, I have had the greatest concessions. I have Clause 40 in mind. A great number of hon. Members on both sides do not delay the business of the House by making speeches on high-level political issues. We save those speeches for the constituencies. We think that we can best contribute to the business of the House by studying the non-controversial legislation and offering such constructive proposals upon it as we can. It ill becomes the Front Bench, even though we may be little worms only throwing up worm casts on the lawn of government, to bring out the heavy roller on the Report stage and flatten out proposals which have passed through the Committee—proposals which we had gained not because of any pressure group or ginger group but by sheer force of argument. If the Front Bench finds that the worms, I will not say turn, but at least wriggle a bit when we reach this stage, it is only to be expected.

Apart from that, I wish the Bill well and I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and the Assistant Postmaster-General on the able way in which they have conducted it through these proceedings.

9.19 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

All of us have rather mixed feelings tonight. There is an inevitable feeling of relief that we have come to the end of a long and rather difficult journey and there is a slight feeling of a sadness at the same time. We are saying goodbye to the old Copyright Act, which saw the light in the year in which I was born. I only hope that its successor, the one which we are now sending to another place, will not survive as long as I hope to survive. It is capable of improvement and I hope that we shall not have to wait too long before the improvement is made.

I think that why this has been an enjoyable experience for most of us is because this is a Bill of what we might call a quasi-philosophical nature. So far as I know, the National Executive of the Labour Party has never laid down what should be the relation between copyright law and the relay services. Therefore, all of us have had rather to feel our way and make up our minds as the discussion has gone along.

Other hon. Members referred to the various conflicting interests which have been at work. I think that in itself has had some compensation for us because we have always known that if we pleased one of the various interests we were bound to antagonise another, and if on one Clause we pleased one interest, it was possible that in a later Clause we would antagonise the same organisation. Therefore, I think we have been able to act without fear or favour throughout the discussions which have taken place. In view of the fact that the Bill has been of that character it has been fortunate that on our benches and, thinly scattered on the Government benches, there have been men of vision, flexibility, responsibility and moderation.

I should like to emphasise again, as I did earlier today, that on our side there has been no party pressure brought to bear at all during the discussions on this Bill, although occasionally our common political philosophy has led us to a point of view which has entailed a clash with Her Majesty's Government. Tonight, I want only to content myself with four very brief reflections. The first is that I think most of us must have felt during discussion of this Bill some doubt whether we were doing everything we ought to do to protect the creative artists. At the moment I think that they are really getting the dirty end of the stick, and if we are not to discourage them in the work they are doing, we may have to consider at a later stage whether there are not other inducements and forms of assistance that we can give to them.

The second reflection is that it has been made clear to us during our discussions that at any rate among musicians and, I think, to a lesser extent, among employees in the film industry, there are grave fears of what is called technological unemployment. I hope that during the coming months the Government will watch that position carefully, and do everything necessary to protect musicians and other workers from unemployment.

The third reflection is the extent of the improvements that have been made during the passage of the Bill, improvements in respect of photographs, of free-lance journalists and of trade union representation before the Tribunal. Those may seem in some ways small victories which have been achieved, but nevertheless they are victories which, from our point of view. have made the Bill a great deal better than it was.

The last reflection I want to make is to revert to what my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) said about the history of the Bill. This is a Bill which came from the Board of Trade to another place where, I think, 300 Amendments were discussed. After that it was necessary for us in Standing Committee upstairs to spend 13 days discussing further Amendments. We were even forced at one point to spend some time discussing whether we should refer to the Queen or the Crown. It seems to me that neither the Board of Trade nor the other place can feel very proud of the Bill in the form in which it first appeared for our consideration.

Now we are at the end of what has been a long, and might have been a very arduous task. Many of us have lived with the Bill now for several months. So far as I am concerned, what might have been a tedious responsibility has been an enjoyable experience for which I should like to join other hon. Members in thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams) for his good humour in the Chair in Committee upstairs, my hon. Friends for their cooperation, and hon. Members opposite, particularly the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and the Assistant Postmaster-General, for their unfailing courtesy and patience throughout the various stages of the Bill.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with Amendments.

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