§ 69. Mr. Shepherd
asked the Postmaster-General if he will introduce legislation to establish an organisation similar to the Press Council which will have the authority to receive, select, consider and pronounce judgment on complaints in respect of all sound and television programmes, and authority to compel the broadcasting of its judgments when, in the opinion of the organisation, this is necessary.
§ 80. Mr. Dempsey
asked the Postmaster-General if, in view of the growing number of obscene, blasphemous and indecent performances on television, he will make it a condition of renewing the Charter of the British Broadcasting Corporation that they appoint a censorship body as is done by the film industry; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Benn
No, Sir. The governing bodies of both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. are appointed as public corporations and are entrusted with responsibility for the programme content of their services. 1251 They are already under a duty to satisfy themselves that, so far as possible, their programmes do not offend against good taste or decency, nor are offensive to public feeling and they have full powers of control. Both bodies also have Advisory Councils.
§ Mr. Benn
I very well understand the strong feelings expressed by the hon. Member. For my part, I should greatly welcome an opportunity to debate this matter rather than just discuss it by exchange in this way across the Floor of the House. But with the Board of Governors exercising full responsibility, it is clearly not for me to intervene.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member may not take that step at this moment because Questions by other hon. Members were answered at the same time as his Question, and his giving notice would prevent them from putting a supplementary question.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Has my right hon. Friend forgotten that he also refused my request to establish a viewers' council? As the B.B.C. is obviously not exercising these controls, can my right hon. Friend suggest any ways and means to the House whereby the blasphemous, sexy and profane parts of television performances can be removed?
§ Mr. Benn
Being very well aware of this problem and of the strong feeling aroused by it, as I told the House I asked the B.B.C. and I.T.A. to make a point of bringing to the attention of their Boards of Governors comments made by hon. Members and reported in HANSARD about the quality of their programmes. A number of individual hon. Members and groups make representations. I think that this 1252 is the best way of doing it, although in the debate on 13th May, my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council said that the Government were considering proposals for a viewers' council, which is a suggestion which has been made.
§ Mr. Blackburn
My right hon. Friend said that there was a responsibility for seeing that there was nothing offensive to public taste. Does he not agree that the use of a crucifix as a pipe rack was offensive to public taste?