HC Deb 01 June 1967 vol 747 cc240-2
7. Mr. Rowland

asked the Postmaster-General what proposals he has to deal with political broadcasting by pirate radio stations, which is at present outside the terms of the Representation of the People Act and the charters of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Independent Television Authority.

Mr. Edward Short

My proposals for dealing with such broadcasting are contained in the Marine Etc., Broadcasting (Offences) Bill, which is intended to silence the pirate radio stations. I believe that this is the most effective way of dealing with the problem.

Mr. Rowland

While we are waiting for the Bill to become effective and bearing in mind the slight possibility that some operators will try to circumvent its provisions, will my right hon. Friend institute or consider instituting discussions among all the political parties so that the spirit as well as the letter of the Representation of the People Act is observed?

Mr. Short

To be fair, I do not think that the political parties as such have had anything to do with this. Individual candidates in local elections certainly have had something to do with it and have actually paid for time on some of the stations. I do not think that the party organisations as such have done so. However, I am willing to consider my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Sir C. Osborne

Why should pirate radio stations be denied free speech on political matters?

Dr. Winstanley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Section 80 of the Representation of the People Act, which makes it illegal to use radio for the purpose of influencing elections, refers to Parliamentary elections and not in any way to local elections? Will he seek to remedy that defect?

Mr. Short

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will address his question to him.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he and the Leader of the House still think that the colossal local government disaster which the Government suffered in the recent elections was due to pirate radio broadcasts?

Mr. Short

When the hon. Gentleman talks about a colossal disaster in local government terms, he should think in three-year cycles. Let him wait until the end of the three-year period.