HC Deb 08 December 1971 vol 827 cc1276-7
10. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications if he will ensure that no salaried employee of the British Broadcasting Corporation is recommended to the Queen for appointment to the chairmanship of the Corporation.

Mr. Chataway

When the time comes, the best available person will be recommended.

Mr. King

A most innocuous reply. Is not this the most important appointment in the gift of the Government—and that is saying something. Does my right hon. Friend accept that, although there must be a career structure which might well include the Director-Generalship, beyond that further inbreeding is undesirable, and that we want a fresh mind with a fresh approach?

Mr. Chataway

I accept that there would be very strong arguments against an employee of the B.B.C. becoming the Chairman. That would be a departure from all past practice.

Mr. Dalyell

Is the Minister aware that some of us think that in certain circumstances such a departure would be a good thing and that this post should be open to a salaried employee of the B.B.C.?

Mr. Chataway

I am inclined to agree with the hon. Gentleman that there are very strong arguments in that direction as regards other nationalised industries. However, the Chairman and the Governors of the B.B.C. are there primarily to act, and to be seen to act, as trustees for the public. In that case, probably one looks for people with rather different experience.