HC Deb 16 February 1970 vol 796 cc23-5
37. Mr. McNamara

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if the members of the local broadcasting councils will be appointed in a representative capacity.

43. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what arrangements he proposes to make for a local broadcasting council to have access to him in the event of a dispute with the British Broadcasting Corporation on the management of the local broadcasting service.

53. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what steps he is taking to ensure the independence of the local radio councils in each of the towns where local broadcasting is to take place under the ægis of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr. Stonehouse

I am appointing council members not as representatives of any particular organisation but for the individual contribution they can make to the work of the councils. To ensure the independence of the councils they will have access to me as a final resort on matters of principle.

Mr. McNamara

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his Answer to that Question, particularly the latter part, will be very much welcomed, because it is important that these local councils shah represent as wide a range of views and opinion, and represent as many sections of society, as possible?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am grateful for that expression of view. We are very anxious that the local councils should be able to play a very fruitful, useful and energetic part in the development of this service.

Mr. Blenkinsop

While welcoming my right hon. Friend's answer, may I ask whether he can also assure us that there will be complete independence in the administrative functions of the station managers?

Mr. Stonehouse

The day-to-day operations will, of course, be the responsibility of the B.B.C., and there is no intention that the councils should attempt to do this job.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Can the Minister say, following his letter to me, and, I think to various other hon. Members, exactly what functions the councils will have and what their powers will be? Because these are the questions being asked by people who may possibly serve on this type of council, and we must know how he envisages the councils will work. It is very important to know this before one can recommend suitable names.

Mr. Stonehouse

I envisage that a council would meet at least four times a year, but the way in which it arranges its business will be for the council to decide. It will have a very lively part to play in assisting the B.B.C. staff in the way the programmes are presented, and ensuring that there is close contact with the community it serves.