HC Deb 14 May 1958 vol 588 cc394-6
20. Mr. Benn

asked the Postmaster-General how many Conservative, Labour, Liberal and Independent Members of Parliament broadcast in the ordinary British Broadcasting Corporation's television and Independent Television Authority's programmes, respectively, and in how many broadcasts they appeared, listed by party affiliation, for each of the last 24 months for which figures are available; how many Members of Parliament of each party appeared in the British Broadcasting Corporation's television and Independent Television Authority's news programmes, and in how many such programmes they appeared, listed by part-affiliation, over the same period; and if he will furnish these figures to the Library of the House of Commons regularly, together with corresponding figurer for the British Broadcasting Corporation's sound programmes divided as between the Home and Overseas services.

Mr. K. Thompson

As a number of figures are involved I will, with permission, circulate such figures as are available regarding the appearance of Members in ordinary television programmes, in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The figures regarding the appearance of Members in television news programmes could not be obtained without a disproportionate expenditure of time and labour. I am assured that such appearances are governed entirely by news interest.

As to the last part of the Question, I do not think the House really wants figures in such detail regularly. I will always try to obtain whatever figures are available if I am asked for them.

Mr. Benn

While thanking the Assistant Postmaster-General for that reply, may I ask him to recognise that a matter of public interest is involved in this, particularly in the appearance of Ministers in news programmes, as it is questioned whether the present number of Ministerial appearances is justified by the value of the present Administration's activities?

Mr. Thompson

We find ourselves in danger of repeating ourselves. The choice of news items is entirely a matter for the companies themselves and we must leave it to them.

Mr. G. Thomas

Will the Assistant Postmaster-General give us the names so that, without having even the appearance of sour grapes, we could see which of

(excluding news programmes and party political broadcasts)
Date Conservative Number of broadcasts Labour Number of broadcasts Liberal Number of broadcasts Independent Number of broadcasts
1st April-30th June, 1956 6 6 7 13
1st July-30th September,1956 6 6 4 4 1 1
1st October-31st December, 1956 15 17 8 9 2 2
1st January-31st March, 1957 10 13 13 15 1 1
TOTAL 32* 42 25* 41 2* 3 1 1
1st April-30th June, 1957 8 9 10 12
1st July-30th September, 1957 9 9 9 11 1 2 1 1
1st October—31st December, 1957 12 13 9 13 1 1
1st January—31st March, 1958 14 17 11 11 1 1
TOTAL 35* 48 28* 47 2* 4 1 1
Note.—The figures are not available in monthly periods.
* These figures represented the total number of M.P.s who have appeared in the year. Several Members have appeared in more than one quarter.
Conservative Labour Liberal
January 11 8
February 15 12
March 13 10
April 14 7
May 14 8 1
June 2 6
July 3 10
August 3 6
September 3 8 2
Total 78 75 3


1. The number of M.P.s, as distinct from appearances, is not available.

2. Figures from October, 1957, are not readily available.

our privileged colleagues appear from time to time on the B.B.C. and the I.T.A.?

Mr. Thompson

I am not sure whether that information can be made easily available, but I will look into the hon. Member's suggestion.

Following are the figures: