HC Deb 19 October 1966 vol 734 cc198-9
13. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the Postmaster-General what type of service he intends to introduce in place of that at present provided by the pirate radio stations; and when this change-over will take place.

23. Mr. Ian Gilmour

asked the Postmaster-General when Her Majesty's Government now expect to publish their White Paper on broadcasting policy.

26. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Postmaster-General if he will now make a statement on the White Paper on Broadcasting.

Mr. Short

The Government's White Paper on broadcasting will be issued very shortly.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the numbers of the public, particularly teen-agers, who listen to pirate radio? It will not do merely to shut it down; he must provide some comparable service.

Mr. Short

I am well aware of this consideration and of the other considerations. If the previous Administration had not bequeathed so many intractable problems about broadcasting, to which they were quite unable to find any solution, the White Paper would have been out long ago.

Mr. Gilmour

Is the Postmaster-General aware that, in view of the leaks which so far have taken place, it is highly unlikely that his White Paper will have been worth waiting for?

Mr. Mills

When the right hon. Gentleman says "very shortly", will he be good enough to confirm that it is his intention to bring it forward before Christmas? Secondly, will he say whether or not he has yet made a final and irrevocable decision to exclude colour on 405 lines, which 98 per cent of the population watch television on?

Mr. Short

The answer to the first part of the Question is, Yes. I certainly hope it will be out long before Christmas. With regard to colour, I am afraid that the hon. Member must wait for the White Paper. There will be a section dealing with colour.

Mr. O'Malley

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the services provided by pirate radio are based entirely on gramophone records? Will he resist any pressure from commercial radio which would mean that any new service provided would also be based on gramophone records?

An Hon. Member

Why not?

Mr. Short

I am afraid that my hon. Friend must wait for the White Paper. What he says is quite true, pirate radio stations operate outside the law, and any alternative which we provide must operate within it.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Has the Postmaster-General seen the B.B.C.'s poll this morning, which indicates that 6 million people listen to pirate radio, and does this not show that there is a real demand for local broadcasting which ought to be satisfied before those stations are shut down?

Mr. Short

I think there is a demand for local broadcasting. I do not think it is connected with the number of people listening to pirate stations. They are outside the law and must be closed down.