HC Deb 30 November 1966 vol 737 cc454-5
45. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Postmaster-General whether it is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government to alter the fee for the television-radio combined licence.

52. Mr. Channon

asked the Postmaster-General when he will announce the conclusions of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the future of sound broadcasting and, in particular, their conclusions about the possibility of a third frequency devoted to light music.

54. Mr. Bryan

asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a statement on his discussions with the musicians' unions regarding the future of sound broadcasting.

Mr. Edward Short

I would ask the hon. Gentleman to await the White Paper on broadcasting. As the House will be aware, many organisations and interests, including a large number of hon. Gentlemen of this House, have felt it right to make their views known to me, and my colleagues and I are considering them. I hope to publish the White Paper before the Christmas Recess.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking now that he will resist the blandishments of the B.B.C. to have a£6 licence fee since this would impose a tax of an extra£1 on almost every family in the country?

Mr. Short

There will be a section in the White Paper dealing with the B.B.C's finances. I must ask the hon. Member to await that.

Mr. Channon

Can the Postmaster-General give an assurance that there will be no debate on the Second Reading of the Marine and Broadcasting (Offences) Bill until this matter has been considered by the House?

Mr. Short

I cannot give any assurance on that. There is no connection whatever between the two.

Mr. Bryan

Does the Postmaster-General recall that before the last election the previous Postmaster-General, in a speech in this House, said that he was in the middle of negotiations with the B.B.C. which suggested that it would be possible to hold the licence fee at the present level for two years? The inference was that those negotiations with the B.B.C. were almost over and that we should be able to have the result of them in literally weeks. Could we please hear the results of those negotiations? Secondly, could we hear also to what extent and at what speed the B.B.C's indebtedness will increase during those two years?

Mr. Short

Those negotiations are now finished. There is a section in the White Paper dealing with them and the hon. Member must contain himself for another two or three weeks.