HC Deb 04 April 1963 vol 675 cc614-5
19. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Television Authority concerning the inquiry into the impact of television on crime; what form the inquiry is taking; who have been appointed to take part; and what progress has been made.

Mr. Brooke

I have consulted the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Television Authority about the scope and organisation of the research which the Authority has generously agreed to finance into the impact of television on the young. Following on these consultations, I have decided to appoint a committee to plan and co-ordinate research in this field. I will circulate the terms of reference in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Vice-Chancellor of Leicester University, Mr. T. A. F. Noble, has accepted my invitation to be chairman of the committee, and I am grateful to him for his readiness to undertake this important public service. I shall proceed as quickly as possible with the appointment of the other members.

Mr. Yates

I thank the Home Secretary for that reply, but as he and his predecessor promised an inquiry a year ago, has there not been a rather regrettable delay? Will he give some sense of urgency to this inquiry, especially as, in the last fortnight, a young boy has been convicted by the Edinburgh High Court of murdering his mother, and it was stated clearly in court that he had been watching television and acting again scenes on television? This is urgent. Can the right hon. Gentleman really speed up the inquiry? How long is it likely to last?

Mr. Brooke

I attach immense importance to this inquiry, and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to make the announcement today. Certainly, I have never promised to set up an inquiry of this kind, and I did not know that my predecessor had. I am happy indeed, that it should now come to fruition, but I must say to the House that we shall not get reliable results by a quick inquiry into these matters. Serious research must be made. That is why I am glad to have the vice-chancellor of a university willing to take charge of the committee that will guide it.

Following are the terms of reference: To initiate and co-ordinate research into the part which television plays or could play, in relation to other influences, as a medium of communication and in fostering attitudes, with particular reference to the ways in which young people's moral concepts and attitudes develop and the processes of perception through which they are influenced by television and other media of communication; and to administer any funds made available to it for such research".