HC Deb 15 December 1965 vol 722 cc1249-50
14. Mr. Ian Gilmour

asked the Postmaster-General what decision has yet been reached by the Government on whether local sound broadcasting should be introduced into the United Kingdom.

30. Mr. A. Royle

asked the Postmaster-General what action he has taken to establish local sound radio; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

The Government are currently reviewing this and other aspects of broadcasting policy. As soon as the review is completed I will, of course, be reporting its outcome to the House.

Mr. Gilmour

Since there is an obvious demand for programmes other than those supplied by the B.B.C., would the right hon. Gentleman not be better occupied in licensing local radio stations and not indolently threatening the pirate radio stations which are merely meeting this demand?

Mr. Benn

Nobody disputes the popularity of local record programmes, which almost all members of the House and the general public like. The question is whether they should be provided at the expense of the enjoyment and rights of, and duties to, others. The question of local broadcasting, in which I am keenly interested, is one of the subjects of the review. That is why we are hoping that when the review comes out we shall be able to give a clear answer on this.

Mr. Royle

But when will the review come out and when will the decision be taken? All we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman so far, as my hon. Friend has said, are threats against pirate radios. We still have not heard any comments from him or his right hon. Friends about the setting up of a university of the air. When will these decisions be taken by the Post Office?

Mr. Benn

The hon. Gentleman knows that even the last Government promised a review of broadcasting policy at the end of last year. These are very complex questions and I hope, as I announced earlier, that we shall be able to publish a White Paper or make a statement early in the New Year. But I do not believe that these matters should be rushed as a result of pressure exercised in the way in which the present pressure group is seeking to exercise it.