HC Deb 26 March 1964 vol 692 cc640-1
23. Mr. Marsh

asked the Minister of Education if he will make a statement on the educational possibilities of local sound broadcasting.

26. Mr. Merlyn Rees

asked the Minister of Education, in the light of the experiments in local broadcasting two years ago which showed the potential of this medium in the field of education, if he will consult the Postmaster-General concerning the early setting up of a number of local broadcasting stations for educational purposes.

27. Mrs. White

asked the Minister of Education what co-operation is being offered by his Department in experiments in local sound broadcasting for educational purposes.

Sir E. Boyle

I would refer the hon. Members to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General to the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) on Thursday, 19th March.

Mr. Marsh

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are not asking him for the views of the Postmaster-General on local sound broadcasting as such, but for a statement on what he believes his Ministry's attitude ought to be to the educational aspect of local sound broadcasting? As it would be possible to set up these stations for a capital cost of less than £20,000 each, does he not think that this could make a big contribution? After three years since the B.B.C. first put up the suggestion, surely he has some view about whether he supports it.

Sir E. Boyle

As the hon. Gentleman's own supplementary question makes plain, technical considerations are involved and I cannot make a statement until my discussions with my right hon. Friend on the technical aspects are complete. We are considering a variety of proposals for experiments in educational broadcasting which, I agree, have important educational implications, but we must get the technical matters thrashed out first.

Mrs. White

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that there are certain experiments which could be carried out with existing stations without technical changes and that it is most desirable that, while he is carrying on with what may be lengthy discussions on new forms of local sound broadcasting, he should at least encourage the B.B.C. to proceed with what we are given to understand is now possible without making any technical changes whatsoever?

Sir E. Boyle

I was considering the technical implications of what is under discussion. I am very keen that we should make rapid progress in this matter and I hope that I or my successor will be able to make a statement on this subject before too long.

Mr. Marsh

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the B.B.C. is willing and able—it claims—to go ahead now with the formation of at least six local stations, which would be primarily concerned with educational activity, and even with schemes to provide extramural classes complementary to the actual broadcasting?

Sir E. Boyle

I cannot go further than I have this morning, but I take note of the feeling in the House and hope that it will be possible to make a statement on these matters before long.