HC Deb 06 May 1959 vol 605 cc383-4
33. Mr. Gower

asked the Postmaster-General, with a view to diminishing unauthorised broadcasts on behalf of political minorities in Wales, if he will take steps to introduce new regulations, substituting for the present rule that only political parties who contest fifty United Kingdom constituencies may qualify for official political broadcasts, a new rule that a political party in Wales may so qualify if it contests twelve constituencies in the Principality.

Mr. K. Thompson

I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the joint statement issued by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Television Authority on 18th March, after joint consultation with the Government and the two Opposition parties. A copy of that statement is in the Library.

Mr. Gower

While it may be true that this rule is fair and reasonable for the whole country, does not my hon. Friend think that it is somewhat unreasonable, and somewhat absurd, in its application to the thirty-six counties in Wales? Would it not be wise to reconsider the advice of the B.B.C. Welsh Advisory Council which recommended that the rule should be changed?

Mr. Thompson

If my hon. Friend will refer to the statement I have mentioned, he will see that under the proposals, the B.B.C. regional programmes during the General Election may make it possible for small parties to participate. according to qualifications to be announced later.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Can the Assistant Postmaster-General make it quite clear that minorities will not be gagged in the General Election on the regional programmes?

Mr. Thompson

If the right hon. Gentleman, too, will read the statement, he will see that this point is carefully covered.