HC Deb 13 July 1966 vol 731 cc1439-40
22. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Postmaster-General when he will publish the Broadcasting White Paper; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Edward Short

The White Paper will deal with a number of complicated issues and will be published as soon as possible.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Has not the delay over this White Paper been absolutely fantastic? May we have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that there will be a statement on it before the Summer Recess and that a statement will be made in the House at the same time as the White Paper is presented?

Mr. Short

All I am prepared to say is that there will be a statement as soon as we can possibly make it. But the hon. Gentleman must realise that the Government were left with a whole pile of very complicated issues by the Conservative Government, a whole backlog of issues. Central to all of them was the question of financing television. The hon. Gentleman must be patient and not complain if we take a little time over it.

Mr. O'Malley

Bearing in mind the desirability of having a soundly based musical profession, will my right hon. Friend reject any proposals for commercial radio and regard with great caution the suggestion by the B.B.C. that it could provide adequate programmes of local sound radio for as little as £50,000 a year?

Mr. Short

If we decide to have a national music programme, that is one of the issues which we will have to discuss with the hon. Gentleman's own union.

Mr. Bryan

Returning to the White Paper; despite all these excuses, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his predecessor expected to get this White Paper out last January? That being so, will the hon. Gentleman tell us exactly what obstacle is stopping it from coming out?

Mr. Short

There is no specific obstacle. It is simply that there is a great backlog of major problems dealing with television and broadcasting bequeathed to us by the Conservative Government. Central to all these, as I said earlier, is the dichotomy in British broadcasting and British television and this presents an almost intractable problem of financing. I often think that it would be better to put the two systems into the melting pot and go back to square one and get something new.