HC Deb 06 April 1967 vol 744 cc426-8
2. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Postmaster-General what replies he has had to his inquiries about the establishment of local radio stations.

16. Mr. Berry

asked the Postmaster-General if he will give details of the way in which the British Broadcasting Corporation's requirement that the cost of the experimental local radio stations should be met from local sources will be positively and substantially satisfied.

25. Mr. Ashley

asked the Postmaster-General if he will now give further details of the financial arrangements for the experimental local sound radio stations.

Mr. Edward Short

Before the White Paper was published, I made inquiries in order to establish whether local financial support was a real possibility. The replies were such as to justify an experiment designed to show, among other things, whether enough local financial support would be forthcoming for a general and permanent service. On the financial arrangements, I have nothing to add to the reply I gave on 17th March to Questions from the hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Berry).—[Vol. 743, Col. 167.]

Mr. Ridsdale

Will the Postmaster-General consider laying on the Table the replies which he has had in response to the inquiries? Is it not evident that his policy is a law for the rich and not for the poor among local authorities? What kind of replies has he had from East Anglia?

Mr. Short

The replies go to the B.B.C. It is a matter for the B.B.C. to decide, and I cannot lay on the Table letters that the B.B.C. gets from towns up and down the country. It is not one law for the rich and another for the poor. The purpose of the experiment is to see whether we can run genuine communal stations in this country.

Mr. Berry

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the answer to which he referred me gives no information at all in reply to my Question? Since he has failed to give any information about money being supplied by local chambers of trade, religious bodies and other people named in the White Paper, one can only assume that all the money will be found by the local ratepayer. Can he answer that question?

Mr. Short

All the money is not coming from the local ratepayer. One of the purposes of the experiment is to find whether a station can be financed in this way. If we knew the answer, there would be no need for an experiment. If one takes Merseyside, for example, a whole variety of organisations and bodies on Merseyside are contributing to the local station.

Mr. Ashley

Although money from local chambers of commerce, presumably, will be welcome, will my right hon. Friend give the House a categorical assurance that at no time and in no circumstances will the sponsorship of local programmes ever be permitted?

Mr. Short

Yes, Sir. The B.B.C. is not allowed to do that. I can give that assurance.

Mr. Bryan

Is the Postmaster-General aware that the Director General of the B.B.C. held a conference of local authorities to describe and discuss the financial conditions under which this experiment might take place and invitations might be sent? A verbatim account was made of that conference and was sent to the authorities not present. Would it be possible for that verbatim account to be put in the Library and made available to hon. Members?

Mr. Short

Certainly I will look into that. I have not seen a verbatim account, but I will see if anything can be done.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Is the Postmaster-General aware that the station known as Radio Scotland has moved from her anchorage? What does he intend to do about that?

Mr. Short

I saw a Press Report that, after the Procurator Fiscal's successful prosecution, Radio Scotland was moving to the Firth of Forth, but I hear from an hon. Gentleman that it is moving near the Irish Coast. We shall have to wait and see where it ends up.

Mr. Berry

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. Ridsdale

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I beg to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I, too, shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.