HC Deb 22 April 1971 vol 815 cc1351-2
24. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the question of political bias in the comunications media.

Mr. Carlisle

No, Sir.

Mr. Jenkins

Is the Under-Secretary not aware that a number of his hon. Friends take the view that as television and radio media have not as firm a pro-Tory bias as the majority of the Press, this means that they are not independent? Will he look into this matter again and try to ensure that the Labour Party has one-quarter of the amount of bias which is apparent in all the media?

Mr. Carlisle

No, Sir, I will not look at that answer again. I do not see any need for a Royal Commission, and the question of impartiality is one for the B.B.C. and I.T.A. As for the hon. Gentleman's comment about newspapers and pro-Tory bias, I would remind him that it is free for anyone with political views to publish a newspaper at any stage, provided that he feels that he can sell enough copies to make it viable.

Mr. Fowler

Does the Under-Secretary not agree that the case would be completely met if a broadcasting council were set up to which complaints could be referred?

Mr. Carlisle

By statutory force so far as Independent Television is concerned and by administrative arrangement so far as the B.B.C. is concerned this has always been a matter for the governors of those two bodies, to whom any member of the public is entitled to refer a complaint.