§ Provision by Authority of local sound broadcasting services
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
I beg to move Amendment No. 71, in page 2, line 6 at end insert:Provided that in respect of local sound broadcasting only the Minister and the Authority shall from time to time draw up and publish after consultation with all interested parties a statement setting out the criteria they shall adopt as to programme content and quality, advertising duration and nature, and the extent to which news programmes and minority interest programmes shall be catered for.This is, frankly, a probing Amendment, and in its drafting it repeats in considerable detail a series of Amendments which we debated in Committee, I am afraid in the early hours of the morning but at only moderate length, on 16th December last year. It may be helpful if I briefly put the Amendment and the scope of it into its context, and if I then indicate to the Minister how perhaps he may answer the points that I am about to make, which, unfortunately, were not answered in the debate on the Amendments in December.
The Minister knows that one of our criticisms of the White Paper, and, indeed, of the Bill, is that we are providing a legislative framework within which the renamed I.T.A. is to operate, and that we are doing so merely by amending the Television Act, 1964, so as to include in the discretion which the renamed I.T.A. is to exercise authority to control commercial radio as well as commercial television.
We have had experience now over some years of the way in which the I.T.A. has operated in relation to television. It is now possible to answer with a considerable degree of precision what pro-portion of matter broadcast on television is likely to be news or news features. 1265 It is now possible to say what proportion of matter broadcast on television is likely to be of local origin or of particularly local interest. One knows, for example, roughly how much of the time of the television output is likely to be devoted to general features, drama or music. One knows, too—and perhaps this is one of the most important aspects of the whole matter—approximately how much time per hour is to be devoted to advertisements. Also, generally speaking, one knows the sort of advertisements that one is likely to see, and the duration of each advertisement is known within fairly fine limits. The time at which advertisements are likely to appear in the programme is also known. Again, one can now say the number of hours in each week which are likely to be devoted by the I.T.A. to minority programmes, religious programmes and educational broadcasts.
None of those matters is as yet clear in relation to commercial radio. Although the I.T.A. has been operating in relation to television and, therefore, we have some information upon which to form a judgment there, we have no information upon which we can form any similar judgment in relation to the way in which commercial radio is to be operated.
These are matters of substance and not of detail. I think that the attitude of hon. Members, and certainly of the public outside, towards a commercial radio network would be influenced—if not wholly governed—by, for example, how much time in 24 hours was to be devoted to news or news features, minority interest programmes, drama, serious music, and so on. I think, therefore, that it would be in the interests of the I.B.A. and of the commercial radio structure which the Minister is proposing if we could have some more information and some more facts upon which to form a judgment about the desirability or otherwise of our proposals.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ In Committee I found that because of the way in which the Bill was drafted—I make no complaint about its drafting; it just happens to be rather a massive piece of legislation by reference—it was not open to us to probe in as much detail as we would have liked to do the number of minutes in each hour during which advertising was to be permitted. The Amendment is drafted in a form which, 1266 frankly, is unsatisfactory in the sense that it does not pose the questions which we should like answered, but it is the only way in which it is possible to find a drafting peg upon which to hang these requests.
§ I therefore ask that in respect of local sound broadcasting only the Minister and the Authority shall from time to time draw up and publish after consultation with all interested parties a statement setting out the criteria they shall adopt as to programme content and quality. The phrase "programme content and quality" is designed specifically to cover the various matters raised in the six Amendments that we considered on 16th December.
§ I hope the Minister will be able to say something this afternoon about how much news and news features he sees it being obligatory for the commercial network to carry. I hope he will say something about what percentage of the time should be devoted to minority programmes, religious programmes and educational broadcasts. I hope, too, that he can reassure us about the next item in the Amendment; namely, the duration and nature of the advertising which is to be permitted. People are genuinely seeking information on all those matters, but, seek as they may, they will not find that information either in the Bill or in the whole of the Committee stage, which, as the House knows, was somewhat protracted.
§ We know one other thing, too, and that is that the Minister has been having detailed discussions with the I.T.A. about the way in which the Bill is to be operated should it become law. Indeed, it would be extraordinary if he had not had such discussions. I suspect that by now the I.T.A., about to be re-named the I.B.A., is pretty clear about how it will run the commercial radio network. I suspect that somewhere in the recesses of that organisation, and even in the recesses of the Ministry, there lurks, awaiting the light of day and parliamentary scrutiny, some fairly detailed information about how much time is to be devoted per hour to advertising, what sort of advertisements there will be, the duration of each advertisement, whether they can come only in a natural break, whether they should come at the beginning or at the end of a programme, how much time 1267 should be given to minority programmes, religious programmes, educational broadcasts, and all the other matters referred to in the Amendment.
§ If that information is available, and I suspect that a lot of it is—or at least if it is not hard information the Minister and the I.T.A. have some fairly clear thoughts about the way in which they want to see the network operate in relation to those matters—it is incumbent upon the Minister to tell the House and the country the way in which it is to be done.
§ What we are talking about in the Amendment is the quality of the programmes that commercial radio will put out. We are talking about what sort of programmes will be put out, the extent to which they will be interrupted by advertisements, how much news will be permitted—or enforced, I trust—and so on. We are talking about all those things, and on none of them do we in the House or people in the country have the information which it is essential that we should have if we are to form a rational and sensible judgment.
§ I would therefore appeal to the Minister, even at this late hour, that he should—I hesitate to use the phrase "come clean", because that implies concealment, of which, being a generous man, I would acquit the Minister totally—consider it not a bad idea to take the House and the country a little more into his confidence than he has done so far on these very important issues.
§ Mr.Ray Mawby (Totnes)
The hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) has made it clear that the Amendment is a probing one, covering all the aspects of broadcasting. The Bill seeks only to amend and augment the Television Act, so presumably where it makes no change the rules of that Act will still apply. Therefore, the times and periodicity of advertisements would presumably coincide with those in that Act. I would expect my right hon. Friend to make that clear.
We are dealing here with a different form of communication, as our Committee debates showed. The Amendment does the House a service, because we can discuss the basic differences between television and radio. Not only because 1268 television is laid out regionally and radio is to be local but for a number of other reasons, the system is basically different.
News features are dealt with in later Amendments. We discussed in Committee what should be the standard and length of news services.
The hon. and learned Member then mentioned programmes for minorities. Commercial radio should not be required to supply a service to the minority. We are always told that the B.B.C. sets out to supply a minority service, but in many cases it does not. If the B.B.C, whose sole income is licence revenue, is not prepared to provide minority interest programmes, we should not put that burden on commercial radio stations, which will be able to operate only so long as they get enough listeners to guarantee their advertising revenue.
§ Mr. Richard
I am not sure whether I made the point clear, in view of the flavour of some of the hon. Member's remarks. When I use the phrase "minority interest programmes" I am talking about taste and not about an identifiable group of people marked out by race or language—
§ Mr. Mawby indicated assent.
§ Mr. Richard
If the hon. Member understands, then my intervention is superfluous. I was not sure he did.
§ Mr. Mawby
I quite take the hon. and learned Member's point. I was not trying to suggest that he was saying that one should cater to particular sections, whether they be sectarian or racial. It is a question of taste, of what the B.B.C. would call the "high cultural value" programme, the sort of programme that I immediately switch off. I switch over to what the B.B.C. calls the mass communication programme, because I enjoy that sort of programme much better.
This is the sort of programme that I talk about, because I am not one of the minority. The fact that the B.B.C. pays lip service to the cultural minorities and yet in its local sound broadcasting seems to have done very little about it does not suggest to me that we should tie down a commercial broadcasting station to provide that sort of programme when it can operate only with sufficient listeners to guarantee the revenue.
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that there are great dangers in the opposite argument, to which I believe his conclusions will lead him—that is, that these stations should go only for a lowest-common-denominator, maximum-revenue audience? Some of the minorities who have been extolled in his right hon. Friend's speeches about the Bill—suoh as the shoppers and motorists—might not be adequately served by these stations, without exhortation from the I.B.A.,if they were not sufficiently profitable.
§ Mr. Mawby
This is the question that we have argued for some time—who is best fitted to decide who will listen to a programme, the I.B.A. or a group of people who have their finger on the pulse of the potential listeners? Where an organisation has got over the first hurdle and has its contract to supply a service for a local sound broadcasting station, it is restricted because it is local rather than regional, and so has more problems than the television organisation. It will obviously try to produce a programme which will interest sufficient listeners to guarantee the listener ship upon which to get the advertising revenue.
Of course, it is right that the I.B.A. should be able to ensure that a station follows certain rules and is giving a proper news service. But at some point the local station operator is better fitted to decide what sort of programme his listeners will want. The I.B.A. has to lay down certain standards. For television these are in the principal Act, and the same sort of requirements will be made by the I.B.A. of a local broadcasting station as of a regional television station.
The Bill is designed to introduce commercial local radio. This is more restrictive than a regional radio service, because the operator has a much more restricted choice of advertising revenue. I want to make certain that if we pass the Bill the odds are not loaded against the operator when he is finally appointed so that there is no point in his continuing in business. I believe that it is right and proper that the I.B.A. should lay down a number of guidelines. Such guidelines are already laid down in the principal Act. I do not want any more restrictions upon the right of operation by the operator of the new local radio station than 1270 there are on the regional television operators at the moment.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
I welcome the Amendment proposed by myhon. and learned Friend the Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard). Although he does not intend to push it to a Division—[Interruption.]—I got that impression. We must wait and see. My impression was that he described it as a probing Amendment, and I should like to add one or two things to the probes. I like the idea of this Amendment because it seems to emphasise the responsibility of the Minister and the Authority.
The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) said that too many restrictions on the local radio station will be onerous and irksome. If we do not have an Authority which does a real job, we stand in danger of getting an overall authority, a national broadcasting council, which will act more as a restrictive and censoring body than as an effective Authority. The price of avoidance of some special censorship is that the members of the Authority and the governors of the B.B.C. should do their jobs. If they do their jobs, we may avoid the development of some overall censorship body.
I think that the Minister and I share the view that a broadcasting council of a censoring character is an undesirable development. I hope that he will assure us that his successor takes the same view on this subject. It would be most undesirable to have an interventionist Minister of Posts and Telecommunications—an interventionist in the full sense of the word. The Minister, however excessively interventionist he may have been in the opinion of some of my hon. Friends on some subjects, has always taken the view that it is not his job to guide the nature of programmes. It is important that this principle shall be maintained by both the Minister and his successor. I hope that when he replies he will reaffirm not only that he continues to hold this opinion but that his successor has an identical view on this subject.
§ Mr. Norman Fowler (Nottingham, South)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman wants to be fair to those people who advocate a broadcasting council and that he recognises the distinction between a censoring body and a body able to give 1271 redress to those people who are or who believe they are harmed by broadcasting activities.
§ Mr. Jenkins
When this subject was last examined in detail the Pilkington Committee drew attention to the wide variety of ideas about what such an overall body should do. Even those who were advocating such a body did not seem to be very clear as to its object. They began by advocating one purpose, namely, to provide an appeals organisation. Later, in answer to questions, they revealed that they had a more restrictive purpose at the back of their minds.
If we can avoid the establishment of some overall body, I take the view that that would be a good thing. I recognise that this can be done only if we are satisfied that the existing bodies are doing the sort of job which they were created to do. If we have a publicly appointed body to carry out the function of looking after national broadcasting, it would be rather absurd to establish a further publicly appointed body to look after the publicly appointed body we have already established. If we are to do that, why not have a super broadcasting council to make sure that the broadcasting council does its job? We could go on ad infinitum establishing body after body to supervise and further supervise.
Having got a Board of Governors and an Independent Broadcasting Authority, we have to ensure that these bodies carry out their functions properly. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that they carry out their jobs properly and to lay down certain guidelines indicating the sort of function which the Authority should exercise concerning local sound broadcasting.
We can talk about local sound broadcasting only in this context. I have been in danger of speaking a little too widely and now I bring myself back into order in the fear that, if I do not, you, Mr. Speaker, will point out that I have been talking in rather over-general terms.
There is some danger of the establishment of a censorship development. Not only do we have such amusing and interesting figures as Mr. Milton Shulman, but we have other people who take an interest in the establishment of a 1272 restrictive attitude. One can understand sometimes that their motives are perfectly sound. I think that it would be a sad day if we were to establish a special censorship, because we can be sure that, whatever the censor did, he would be offending one group of people even if he managed to please another. I think that we would all want to try to avoid that.
In general terms I welcome the Amendment. I hope that the Minister will feel able to accept it, or at least to accept the spirit behind it. He may be able to tell us that the Authority will carry out these functions or suggestions which are proposed in the Amendment. It may be that it needs nothing more than an indication from him to ensure that the sort of job which the Amendment suggests should and will be done.
If the Authority is to act as a court of appeal, it must remain a little apart from the programme contractors. I think that this has been done in Independent Television, but less so in the B.B.C. When I was asked recently by a journalist who should succeed Lord Hill as Chairman of the Governors of the B.B.C, I said that it did not matter as long as he was a nonentity. The point is that we have too much of an executive chairman. If we have an executive chairman, he becomes responsible for the actions of the Authority, and the Authority loses that appeal capacity which it has if it is not in itself an executive body.
I commend the spirit behind the Amendment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that spirit both on his own behalf and that of the right hon. Gentleman who will follow him in his present position.
§ Mr. Wilfred Proudfoot (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I cannot possibly agree with the Amendment. I think that it has been drawn up for two reasons. First, it wants to stop commercial radio dead in its tracks; and, secondly, the Opposition do not understand what local radio will be like.
I am tempted to give the new Minister of Posts and Telecommunications a bit of a teach-in during this debate. I am sorry that he was not upstairs with us on the Bill. There will be an enormous change in radio in this country. The Amendment does not seem to recognise 1273 that the B.B.C. will continue after commercial radio starts. It will have a minor audience, but it will continue. It should go after the minority audience, so enabling B.B.C. 3 to play more chamber music and put out even more exciting Press releases about its activities.
Meanwhile, commercial radio will maximise its audience, if it is wise, by a process of local involvement, with ring-in programmes and entertainment which the British public have never experienced in radio. I am sure that the public will enjoy these programmes and that it will be good business for the companies which are lucky enough to get licences.
The Amendment also assumes, as do hon. Members and the British Press, that there will be only one radio station in each locality. The faster we get competition between commercial radio stations, the better. The sooner the commercial boys hit each other on the head, the sooner hon. Members will not have to worry about excess profits being made. Competition will keep things in order.
When Lord Reith was organising the B.B.C. he went for the sort of service that would uplift the public and present what in his view were cultural or semi-cultural programmes. But most people are interested in their localities, local sport and activities, and most conversation in the HighStreet is concerned with these issues. The B.B.C. will never be able to provide the sort of local service about which we are speaking.
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)
The hon. Gentleman is a Yorkshireman and represents a Yorkshire constituency. Has he never listened to B.B.C. Radio Leeds, which provides precisely the service to which he looks forward via commercial radio? Does he agree that B.B.C. Radio Leeds provides a high level of local entertainment, as distinct from the sort of programmes that will be provided by commercial radio in the real world in which we live rather than in the idealised dream world which that hon. Gentleman appears to occupy?
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I am a Geordie by birth. Radio Leeds is local for only six measly hours a day. If commercial stations have any sense and want to make profits they will be local for 24 hours a day.
1274 There is one big gap in the programmes put out by B.B.C. Leeds. They contain no advertisements. Whether or not hon. Gentlemen opposite like it, advertisements are an essential part of any community. Ask any housewife how essential it is for her to know where the local products are available and what is the ruling price of butter and so on. Housewives enjoy shopping and much of the conversation in which they indulge while shopping is about the mundane, everyday things of life.
In the same way, the local newspaper floats on a mini sea of advertising. Housewives buy the local paper for the advertisements and the fact that there is so much interest in local births, marriages and deaths proves the importance of the local scene.
§ Mr. Richard
The hon. Gentleman is talking about what loosely we have described as Radio Scunthorpe, a small radio station in a relatively small town in which the death of Mr. X is an important piece of information to disseminate. That will not be the structure under the Bill. We shall have Radio London, Radio Manchester, Radio Birmingham and Radio Glasgow. The hon. Gentleman ran a pirate station and his proud boast was that he was able to play the Top 40 three times in a 24-hour spell. Would he like to see commercial stations throughout Britain doing that?
§ Mr. Proud foot
No, not at all—[Interruption.]—because I would play to the market place. There is nothing wrong with the market place. It has a great deal more honesty than this place. The principle of a willing buyer and a willing seller is the law of commerce and when one is in the market place one can see precisely what is needed.
As I said, it is not a question of there being only one local radio station in one locality. Radio Scunthorpe would have five competitors, four B.B.C. channels and Radio Humberside, from Hull, which is a local radio station operated by the B.B.C.
At this time the fastest way to get the maximum audience for Radio Scunthorpe—and a 60 per cent. audience is available—would be the Top 40 format, but interspersed with news and local items, ring-in and swop-shop programmes, which would mean that Radio Scunthorpe would 1275 probably not get through the Top 20 more than twice a day.
I agree with the demand of the Musicians' Union that there should not be more than 50 per cent. needle time. Local news programmes and information about the locality should ensure that 50 per cent needle time is ample. It is obvious that hon. Gentlemen opposite have never listened to the output of a commercial radio station.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard
The hon. Gentleman is being less than fair to my argument. The fact remains that we shall not get Radio Scunthorpe but, for example, Radio London serving eight million people. I am asking him, with Radio London as a regional rather than a local commercial station, why should there not be a distinct obligation written into the Bill to ensure that balanced programmes are provided, including the points set out in the Amendment?
§ Mr. Proudfoot
Because a balance will be demanded by the Authority and also because in London the listener will have five other channels from which to select. One need only twiddle the nob to receive five alternative B.B.C. stations. In my view that will be balance enough. Hon. Members should get away from thinking that every time the radio is switched on one must receive the same channel. I do not believe that the commercial stations in London, of which there will be two at least, should be asked to balance their programmes in the way the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests. The commercial nature of the programmes will induce balance because of the competition that will exist.
As for the amount of advertising that should be put out, if London had only one commercial transmitter it might transmit 45 minutes of commercials per hour, such would be the interest of the public. But when there is competition between commercial stations there will be a balance, just as there is among newspapers.
At present the Daily Telegraph runs pages of advertisements which I find a terrific drag, though I thoroughly enjoy its editorial matter. When local newspapers carry too much advertising people 1276 say, "We are buying this paper no longer because it carries too many advertisements." Commercial radio will be balanced in the same way. Too many commercials will kill any audience.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Is the hon. Gentleman claiming that the Daily Telegraph maintains some sort of balance, despite his remarks, because it has the Daily Express and Daily Mail with which to compete? He lives in a dream world and when he speaks about his world he sometimes carries me with him, but suddenly I am brought back to reality as I think of this ghastly little Bill which will not create the sort of commercial station he envisages in his dream world.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
One must not speak of an individual station but of commercial radio generally. There is a balance in the national Press. One need look only at the spread of difference between, for example, The Times and the Sun
§ Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)
Does my hon. Friend agree that the word "balance" is wrong in this context? Instead of the horrible local or regional monopolies which are feared, we require the station operator not to balance his programmes but to offer a comprehensive service to the whole community, whatever that community may require. Balance does not come into it from this point of view. It is the whole community for which provision must be made.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
That is absolutely correct. On the subject of balance, the balance of the hon. and learned Member is completely different from mine. Presumably the B.B.C. producers in charge of Radio 3 say that they must have balance. So they put on half-an-hour of archaeology, half-an-hour of Beethoven and half-an-hour of highfalutin recipes—compared with Jimmy Young's simple recipes. So they have balance at a different level. The Times newspaper has balance at that level, and the Sun has balance at a completely different level, with a sports page, a crime page, and so on.
§ Mr. Whitehead
Would the hon. Gentleman's balance include paid advertising for the Conservative Party, such as that broadcast by his pirate station before the General Election?
§ Mr. Proudfoot
Certainly—and for the Communist Party. I am interested only in the colour of their money in this respect. This subject is about freedom of expression. No one in this Chamber can say that advertisements should be censored and that political advertisements in this country should be eliminated from television and radio. That would be an absolute mystery to the man in the street when political parties can put advertisements in the newspapers. I claim to be the only chap who ran a radio station in Britain which sold advertising time to politicians. It was sold to a couple of councillors of Humberside during a local election. I see no evil in it, just as I see no evil in it in the United States.
The man in the street would be delighted for politicians to get off television, because they hog it when it is on all three channels as a party political broadcast. If politicians had to buy their time they would probably use it more wisely than they do today. Some of the worst television is the party political broadcast. I would sell advertisements to party politicians, certainly; but, at the same time, I would not expect them to go outside the bounds of decency in their advertising. Controls would operate, as they operate in all advertising.
On the topic of balance, local radio stations will be dramatically overbalanced in the direction of local topics. That is exactly how it should be. To try to debate the Clause without reference to the fact that the B.B.C. has much the lions' share of the sound broadcasting market, and will have it even when the Bill is passed, is quite incorrect. I ask my right hon. Friend to say—as he did in Committee—that 60 was the first number of stations that this country was to have. I ask my right hon. Friend's successor as Minister to realise that in many people's technical opinion we can have as many as 2,000 stations in this country. Then "local" will truly mean local, and there will be competition between commercial stations which will give great service to their communities.
§ Mr. Brian O'Malley (Rotherham)
The hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot) has an avowed mission in this House. I suppose that most Members of Parliament come here wanting to achieve something. Apparently what the hon. Gentleman wants to achieve is a reduction in the quality of programmes in broadcasting in this country. That is what he has tried to achieve in most of his speeches here. He began his speech by saying that if commercial radio were introduced into this country—I was not sure whether he meant commercial radio on the pattern that the Minister has proposed or his own pattern—there would be "an enormous change".
He said of the Amendment that it would stop commercial radio in its tracks. He says that he wants to see balance, but he disagrees with other people's ideas about balance. As far as I could see, not only from his speech today but from speeches he has made previously on this subject, his idea of balance is a set of scales, as it were, in which the Top 40 gramophone records are used in the morning and the Top 40 records, on the other side of the balance, are used in the afternoon. That is his sense of balance.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) pointed out, it is clear that the hon. Gentleman wants—he says so openly—a solid stream of canned music put out by disc jockeys. I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman shakes his head. However, everything he has said over recent months leads me to believe that.
Obviously I must refer to the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst). In a pamphlet published in October, 1970, the Local Radio Association made it plain that it wanted unlimited needle time. Thus there is no difference between the two hon. Gentlemen, who speak, I think, with the authentic voice of many would-be commercial radio operators. They want to see a constant out-pouring of recorded music from their local radio stations, throughout the day.
We have had some victory over the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough in recent months. On Second Reading, he envisaged a local radio station broadcasting the Top 40 three times a day. My hon. Friends will have noticed that we have modified and influenced his thinking profoundly, in that he 1279 now wants the Top 40 broadcast only twice a day instead of thrice. During our discussions we have had an impact on the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Gorst
Without any offerings to needle time or anything, the hon. Gentleman plays a most extraordinarily repetitive record. He continually trots out the lovely idea that one wants unlimited needle time, quoting from a pamphlet written by an organisation which he knows that I no longer represent. Nevertheless, he always gets the same answer from me, namely, that, as I see it, commercial local radio is primarily a news medium, augmented or supplemented by music. This is the way it ought to be seen and the way it operates best in other parts of the world. It is not fair, true or representative of the opinions he has expressed many times to suggest that nothing but wallpaper music is required of local radio stations. That is very far from the truth.
§ Mr. O'Malley
The difficulty is that when we have been concerned with the discussion of a Bill, and when discussions have taken place over several months, we all know one another's conditioned responses and reactions. The hon. Gentleman has made that reply to me on a number of occasions in the past. In reply, I am bound to say that if there is not this demand and need for a very large amount of recorded music, why does the Local Radio Association, which is not untypical of organisations and individuals who are interested in operating commercial radio in this country, say that it wants unlimited needle time?
§ Mr. O'Malley
Even after months of discussion, precisely because of the views expressed by many would-be commercial operators outside the House, and because of views expressed by hon. Members opposite, within the music profession there is still a good deal of apprehension about the pattern of commercial radio in Britain. In Committee the Government gave some indication that they accepted that Governments in this country have a responsibility towards the maintenance of a healthy music profession. But having said that, Ministers have been remarkably coy about expanding those remarks in any way. The Minister knows 1280 that one of the central questions which has to be settled before commercial radio can begin to operate is that of needle time agreements, which would be made between the Independent Broadcasting Authority, on the one hand, and the copyright organisation on the other.
I support the Amendment because, at the end of the Bill and after all the discussions, it gives the Minister the chance to indicate what he sees as the proper balance between musical programmes and other types of programme, and the proper balance between recorded music and live music. It is no use the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough pleading that a needle time deal can be done, a deal concerned solely about the amount of recorded music which local radio stations can use. There is another dimension to any such lead. Before any such agreement can be reached, hon. Members must realise that there will have to be a guarantee and an agreement about the amount of live employment which will be offered to the music profession in commercial local radio. That is what any negotiators must face if they are looking for a needle time agreement.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ I do not expect the Minister to attempt to take over the negotiating functions of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, on the one hand, and the copyright organisations, on the other. If Governments accept that they have responsibility towards, in this case, the music profession, they must issue general guidelines and general policies on which any meaningful negotiations can be based.
§ The Minister could help if he would give us such broad indications as I have asked for over a number of months. It is not a question of leaving it to the broadcasting organisations. The Government have a responsibility here.
§ I should like to see the Amendment written into the legislation. My hon. and learned Friend has pointed out the difficulties of drafting an adequate Amendment for the purposes we seek to achieve and has said that he puts forward the Amendment in a modest and even in a probing manner. The intention of the Amendment is to ensure that there is a proper degree of public knowledge and control over content and quality. I have 1281 raised one aspect of the problems dealing with both content and quality. I hope that, as the Minister is now many months away from the Second Reading of the Bill, and as there must obviously have been discussions between his Ministry and the Independent Broadcasting Authority, he will be able to give us a little more information on general Government policy on the issue I have raised than he has been able to do previously.
§ Mr. Whitehead
I support the Amendment. Some of the things we have heard today have been almost a wilful misunderstanding of what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) proposed. Essentially, what my learned Friend said is that, partly because of the nature of sound broadcasting and of the companies to be set up, be they metropolitan or regional—they certainly will not be local—there is a particular need for this kind of general injunction.
All that it is sought to write into the Bill by the Amendment is the framework for such injunctions. We are not attempting by the Amendment to put into the Bill the precise form of words or the precise criteria or the precise measurements for either the quantity or the quality of the programmes which are desired or, indeed, for the amount of advertising which shall be permitted. We are saying that, because of the nature of sound broadcasting and of some of the potential contractors, exhibited, as always, only too clearly by the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot), there is a danger that, without this kind of general guideline by the I.B.A., standards will slip and within the period of the rolling contracts standards will fall away.
The Authority—in its present form, the I.T.A.—already issues general guidelines on a wide variety of subjects. It issues guidelines and it directs its own specialist committee in the matter of the control of advertising. I think that the Authority does that well. On the whole, its control of advertising seems to me to be satisfactory. Whether it places the advertising in a satisfactory manner, and whether it will entirely be able to place advertising in the new situation of unlimited hours, is another question. However, in terms of the tone of the advertisements, the guidelines laid 1282 down from time to time have been satisfactory.
§ Mr. Gorst
When inviting applications, will not the Authority be laying down certain criteria, and will not the remainder of the criteria be self-imposed by the applicant, because in his application he will say what he intends to do and that will be the mandate which will be guiding him throughout the time he has his contract? Further, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the Bill provides for contracts to be published and to be available, so that everybody will know what the self-imposed ordinances on the contractors are.
§ Mr. Whitehead
Here we come back to the central problem posed by the Bill and the reservations that many of us have about the criteria which can effectively be imposed upon operators. Not all contractors will be guided by their mandate or mandated by their guides. Not all of the contractors will necessarily adhere to the very high hopes that the hon. Gentleman initially put in the kind of proposals he would have liked to see instituted for commercial broadcasting. Perhaps he still believes that for the new regional companies similar standards can be adhered to.
What I was saying—I will expound the point only very briefly—was that I think that one of the better innovations of the I.T.A. over the years, which the probing Amendment strongly suggests that those responsible within the I.B.A. should follow, was in the matter of general guidelines.
I take a second example in the matter of violence—the supposed code of violence. There has been great concern, as the hon. Gentleman knows as well as anyone, about the degree of violence in broadcasting—implicit violence, perhaps or violence reflected back within television programmes. The Authority has issued, in response to general criticisms expressed from time to time at Question time in Parliament, and so on, a guideline of a very satisfactory nature compared with the situation which existed before regarding the standards which the company should observe.
As I understand the Amendment, all that we are saying is that from time to time, in this matter also, similar guidelines should be issued by the Authority 1283 for the general guidance of programme contractors and that these should relate to programme content and quality, to advertising duration, and to the extent to which minority interest programmes should be catered for.
It is precisely because of the speeches that we have heard from the hon. Members for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) and for Brighouse and Spenborough that we believe that this is necessary, because there is a deep-seated visceral feeling amongst some of the supporters of the Bill that they should not be tampered with, that the voice of the advertising manager must come first, that the voice of those who have to sell advertising time must be the main criteria, and that therefore, because the main purpose of these companies will be to maximise their revenues, other considerations should be laid to one side.
It is for that reason only that we say, as we have said throughout on the Bill, that there must be a more stringent application of the general guidance of the Authority in this matter, even more stringent than that which applies in the case of television. With television there are only 15 contractors. Those contractors must prepare their schedules well in advance, so there is ample opportunity for the I.T.A. to effect a general scrutiny of what is proposed and to assess, over that time, the proposed programme, for a whole quarter.
That will not be the case with these 60 companies, when we get them. It will not be the case with the first five or 10 companies, even. This is the situation which some hon. Members who are enthusiasts for commercial radio have often described. This is the situation in which there is a much more constant flow of new programming, new ideas, and so on—things are being put in; things are being taken out; there is a great immediacy; there is a great reflex response to the needs of the audience, and so on. Precisely for this reason it will be much harder to assess and to direct—I think that there should be direction; I am a dirigiste in this matter—the way in which the companies put their programmes and their programmes schedules together.
I am not at all satisfied that in the Act as amended by the Bill we shall have 1284 that. I am certainly not satisfied by everything we heard from the right hon. Gentleman in Committee, as to why the Minister cannot lay down stringent criteria for timing of advertising and where the advertising slot should come, that the matter of advertising is adequately covered. We can only say that the Authority should be strongly advised by the House that its general guidance in these matters should be offered periodically. I cannot see how any Conservative hon. Members can oppose that, and I hope that the Minister will be at least broadly sympathetic.
§ Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
I stress the importance of control over advertising. Those of us who have interested ourselves in the quality of television have come increasingly to realise the importance of advertising in this connection. What is of reasonable quality without advertising can become of very low quality with natural and unnatural breaks for advertising. From the start we must be careful that the quality of commercial radio is not entirely destroyed by advertising policy. That quality will be destroyed if advertising continually breaks into the programmes. I wish to stress the importance of the I.B.A. exercising the fullest supervision over programme content from the start. It is very important whatever its policy on transmitters, which will be dealt with in the next Amendment, that we ensure the highest level of local broadcasting possible.
Many of us have opposed the Bill, and continue to oppose it, because we do not believe that commercial radio will equal the standards set by much of the B.B.C. local radio. We want to be certain that we do not get an inferior alternative to that which is offered now by the B.B.C. in several areas. It is very important that quality control is exercised from the beginning and that the situation does not develop in radio which has developed in television, where so much of the time of people who are concerned with television standards is taken up with criticism of the I.T.A. because it fails to act as a truly regulatory body.
§ The Minister for Industrial Development (Mr. Christopher Chataway)
I was relieved to hear the hon. and learned 1285 Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) say that his intention in moving the Amendment was to probe, because I do not think it is an Amendment which could be happily incorporated into the Bill. The debate he has initiated has enabled hon. Members on both sides who have ridden hobby-horses in the Standing Committee to give them a quick gallop round the Chamber. I am sure we have all enjoyed hearing once again views from a number of hon. Members on how commercial radio should be run.
Some of the views expressed appeared to me, as they might have to a number of hon. Members who have heard them before, to be wildly unrealistic. My hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot) talks about 2,000radio stations. I know of no technical advice anywhere which would suggest that this country could have 2,000 radio stations, unless they had a transmitting radius of not more than a quarter of a mile each.
Equally, when I listen to hon. Members opposite shuddering with horror at the idea that commercial radio might actually result in disc jockeys and records, I wonder whether they have listened to radio since the 1930s. I imagine the last programme they heard was Henry Hall's Guest Night in the 1930s. What kind of radio broadcasts are they thinking about? Do they ever listen to radio now? Are they aware that Radio I has on average 45 per cent. of radio listeners? Radio 1, introduced, so we are told by the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) at his instigation, is pop and prattle virtually all day. Some of it may be absolutely splendid. But when the hon. and learned Gentleman talks about the possibility of pop on commercial radio he is overcome with anguish. It seems to be the fear on the Opposition benches that commercial radio will produce another Radio 1 or a series of Radio Is and that it would be all pop.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ In a moment or two I would like to turn to discussion about the kind of programmes that local commercial radio would be likely to produce. First, I shall deal with the Amendment, which contains four proposals. Three of them are undesirable or impossible of definition and the fourth is unnecessary. The 1286 first is the proposal that the Minister and the Authority are to draw up and publish statements setting out criteria. That presupposes that the Authority will not be solely responsible for making judgments about programme content, but that the Minister will have to be consulted. I think that would be a thoroughly undesirable departure from the concept of non-intervention which was proposed by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins). If hon. Members do not want the Minister to control the programme content they cannot have that proposal.
§ It would appear from the Amendment that the second proposal is that before the Minister and the Authority make up their minds they are to have consultation with all interested parties. That phrase seems incapable of definition. Every member of the public who listens to radio would, in a sense, be an interested party, and if the statement means less than that and means consultation with trade unions or business interests, the consultation would be unbalanced and probably undesirable.
§ The third proposal is not only that the Authority should be required to consult with the Minister about the criteria but apparently that the Minister is to have joint responsibility in the legal sense. The proposal requires that "they"—the Minister and the Authority—are to adopt the criteria. I need not elaborate the disadvantages of that. I believe the majority of hon. Members on both sides do not want to see Government control of the content of programmes which that proposal would require.
The fourth proposal is unnecessary because Section 22(4) of the Television Act, 1964, already requires that the Authority's annual report which is presented to Parliament by the Minister shall:
…include such information relating to the plans, and past and present activities, of the Authority…as the Postmaster General may from time to time direct.
So the Minister can already direct the Authority to publish whatever information he thinks fit about the Authority's criteria for the various matters mentioned in the Amendment.
§ I hope that it will be accepted on both sides of the House that this is not an Amendment which should be incorporated into the Bill. I believe that was 1287 accepted by the hon. and learned Gentleman and that he was anxious to provide an opportunity for hon. Members to express views, of which I am sure the Authority will take note.
§ Once again the hon. and learned Gentleman asked me a number of detailed questions about what would be provided by way of programmes in the new service. There he was reverting to a theme which has become familiar from him. When the Bill was published he said "It does not tell us how many minutes of advertising there are to be, how many plays, how much sweet music, how much pop music, whether we shall have Aspro advertisements." A Bill cannot lay down those things. It would be totally inappropriate if we attempted in legislation to provide a straitjacket of that kind. It is right that we should lay down criteria, that Parliament should in general terms indicate to the statutory authority what it expects of it, and there are pages and pages of the 1964 Act and now of the Bill which do just that. We shall lay a large number of duties for impartiality and all the rest upon the Authority.
§ What would be totally inappropriate would be for us to say that there should be X minutes of advertising time, Y minutes of religious broadcasting and not less than Z number of plays per week. That would obviously be impossible. Equally, it would be wrong for me to try to bind the Authority in advance.
§ But the Authority has been giving considerable thought already to what it will expect from the companies, and I have had discussions with it. We must recognise, as my hon. Friends the Members for Brighouse and Spenborough and Totnes (Mr. Mawby) said, that in most areas, at least at the outset, there will be one commercial radio station against a large number of B.B.C. services, so that that station will have to be popular. It will have to go for the large audiences.
§ There is a kind of condescension that argues that because something is popular it is necessarily bad, that because millions of people read the Daily Mirror it must be a dreadful paper. I do not subscribe to that view. A service can be both popular and good. Clearly, the commercial radio stations will for most 1288 of the time have to appeal to large numbers. It was in recognition of that that we concluded that it was right that the B.B.C. local radio stations should continue, because they can appeal to quite small minorities. They can put on programmes for the blind, information for people who are unemployed, and many other programmes like that, directed to quite small minorities. That is something which commercial stations will not be able to do.
§ What will be the main ingredients of the programmes? I agree with my hon. Friends that news, both local and national, is bound to be a major ingredient. When we examine the successful commercial stations in North America we find that that is the case. How much news? That will vary enormously according to what is happening on the day.
§ There will be information about the locality, the kind of information people want about traffic, what is happening in the High Street, and all the rest. That, too, must be a major ingredient for any successful station.
§ Will the commercial station be local or regional? Again we return to a rather arid argument we have had over a number of weeks, which seems to rest upon the way in which we define "local". The hon. and learned Gentleman is convinced that a station serving London is regional. All right. Is a station serving Ipswich or Plymouth regional? I assume that it is local. I do not know why the hon. Gentleman, with an obtuseness totally uncharacteristic of him, refuses to accept that in introducing a large number of stations of this kind we are bound to have great variations in their size. Some will cater for very large towns and cities. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to call them regional, that is fine. But some will cater for quite small towns and cities. If we wanted to have only very small stations, the only way would be not to allow a station to cater for the whole of London but to insist that London be split up into 20 or 30 different parts. There is no attraction in that, and no precedent anywhere else in the world.
§ The stations, whether catering for large or small areas, will inevitably spend a good deal of their time on community matters and community information. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member 1289 for Brighouse and Spenborough that there will also be participation programmes. They are one thing that community radio can do that national radio has more difficulty in doing. It is true that the B.B.C. now has a very successful phone-in national programme, but there is much more opportunity for doing it on a community basis. In North America there are successful stations which have nothing else but phone-in programmes and participation programmes of that kind.
§ Music—background music, popular music, sweet music—is bound to be a major ingredient. I said that 45 per cent. listen to Radio 1 at present and 35 percent. listen to Radio 2. So about 80 per cent. are listening to programmes principally concerned with pop or sweet music. Naturally, in commercial radio they are bound to be large-ish ingredients.
§ Mr. O'Malley
The right hon. Gentleman said there would need to be a large amount of popular and light music on commercial radio, similar to Radio I. But in a Press statement issued by his Department on 27th April last year, containing an extract from a speech he made, he was reported as saying:The B.B.C. is able to average out its needle-time allowance over several channels in order to produce more or less non-stop pop on Radio 1 in a way which will almost certainly be denied to the commercial network.I assume that the right hon. Gentleman still accepts the view he expressed then.
§ Mr. Chataway
That was a piece of intelligent guesswork. I certainly expect that to be the case. As the hon. Gentleman will know better than anyone else, there are important negotiations to be undertaken with the copyright organisations, in which the Musicians Union will play a part, to determine the amount of needle time. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is reasonable for musicians to expect that commercial radio will provide more employment, and I have no doubt that in those negotiations that will be one of their principal concerns. If I were negotiating for the Musicians Union I would certainly make sure I was satisfied that the new system would provide that kind of employment, and I would use my bargaining power to that end.
§ Mr. O'Malley
If the right hon. Gentleman were negotiating not on behalf of the union but on behalf of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, would he think, as a representative of the Authority, that there was an obligation, a public responsibility on it to respond to the claims that the musical profession should obtain some employment out of commercial radio?
§ Mr. Chataway
I go further than that. I know that the Authority takes that view. It expects that commercial radio will provide those employment opportunities, and it is anxious that it should.
That is some of the ground that will be covered by commercial radio. I do not believe that it would be reasonable to expect on one channel formal education programmes such as school programmes. That it should have a more general educational intention, I entirely agree, and it is of importance that many of the programmes should be informative and of educational value.
I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will feel that the debate which he has initiated has been useful. Although some of us who have been in Committee may feel we have heard one or two of the arguments before, this has been an opportunity for hon. Members to put clearly to the Authority some of their ideas about the kind of programmes they wish the new service to provide.
§ 5.00 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard
With permission, I will briefly comment on the right hon. Gentleman's reply. He said that we have had this debate before. We have indeed. We have often asked the same questions as we put to him today—in fact, ever since the White Paper was published in March, 1971. We had a debate in May, 1971. We then asked what sort of commercial radio network we were to get. We asked again on Second Reading what sort of programmes the great British public were to get. We asked again in Committee, and now we have asked again on Report.
We are still, however, in as great a state of ignorance at the end of this long period of questioning as we were at the beginning I am asked to make a choice. If the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot) is right in his assessment of how the system 1291 is to work, that is one type of radio; if the right hon. Gentleman is right, that is another type. It may be that the truth lies half way—perhaps with the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst)—between the hon. Member for Brig-house and Spenborough and the Minister. But I do not know, nor do the general public, how the system will operate. The hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough agrees with me. He does not know what the Authority has in mind. If he did, he might be even more forthright than his usual forthrightness leads him to be.
I regret that the Minister cannot give some idea of how many minutes of advertising time per hour will be allowed under the Bill. When Sir David Gammans was piloting the Television Act, 1954, through the House, he said "We cannot be specific; there must be room for experimentation." In fact, he
§ said all the things that the right hon. Gentleman has said today. Finally, however, he said "What we would envisage is five or six minutes of advertising time per hour."
§ I cannot see why the Government cannot tell us in broad terms what they envisage for sound radio and the way they see the system operating in practice. They have not told us, despite being questioned for the umpteenth time. We still have a bare legislative skeleton on which for 14 months we have tried to put some flesh, and we have failed to do so yet again. Despite what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I would rather have Amendment No. 71 in the Bill than nothing at all.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 171, Noes 191.1293
|Division No. 117.]||AYES||[5.5 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Foley, Maurice||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Foot, Michael||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Ford, Ben||Marks, Kenneth|
|Atkinson, Norman||Freeson, Reginald||Marsden, F.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Gilbert, Dr. John||Marshall, Dr. Edmund|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Golding, John||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Meacher, Michael|
|Bishop, E. S.||Gourlay, Harry||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mendelson, John|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mikardo,Ian|
|Booth, Albert||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Millan, Bruce|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Milne, Edward|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Hamling, William||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Moyle, Roland|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Hattersley, Roy||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Murray, Ronald King|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Heffer, Eric S.||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Horam, John||O'Malley, Brian|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Oram, Bert|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hunter, Adam||Orbach, Maurice|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Padley, Walter|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pendry, Tom|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn (W.Ham,S)||Pentland, Norman|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kaufman, Gerald||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Kerr, Russell||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Lambie, David||Prescott, John|
|Deakins, Eric||Lamond, James||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Latham, Arthur||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dempsey, James||Lawson, George||Probert, Arthur|
|Doig, Peter||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lipton, Marcus||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lomas, Kenneth||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Loughlin, Charles||Richard, Ivor|
|Dunn, James A.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Eadie, Alex||McElhone, Frank||Roper, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McGuire, Michael||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|English, Michael||Mackenzie, Gregor||Sandelson, Neville|
|Ewing, Harry||Mackie, John||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Maclennan, Robert||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Fletcher. Ted (Darlington)||McMillan. Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Sillars, James|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham,Ladywood)||Mackintosh, John P.||Skinner, Dennis|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Small, William||Tinn, James||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)||Tomney, Frank||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Spearing Nigel||Torney, Tom||Whitlock, William|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Tuck, Raphael||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Stallard, A. W.||Urwin, T. W.||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Steel, David||Wainwright, Edwin||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Stoddart, David (Swindon)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Woof, Robert|
|Strang, Gavin||Wallace, George|
|Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.||Watkins, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Taverne, Dick||Weitzman, David||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)||Wellbeloved, James||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Haselhurst, Alan||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Hayhoe, Barney||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Astor, John||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Hicks, Robert||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Bell, Ronald||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Holland, Philip||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Hornby, Richard||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Biffen, John||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Redmond, Robert|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Howell, David (Guildford)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Boscawen, Robert||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hunt, John||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Bowden, Andrew||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Bray, Ronald||James, David||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Jessel, Toby||Rost, Peter|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Jopling, Michael||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Bryan, Paul||Kaberry, Sir Donald||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N & M)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Scott, Nicholas|
|Burden, F. A.||Kershaw, Anthony||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Kimball, Marcus||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Soref, Harold|
|Channon, Paul||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Speed, Keith|
|Chapman, Sydney||Kinsey, J. R.||Spence, John|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Kitson, Timothy||Sproat, Iain|
|Cockeram, Eric||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Cooke, Robert||Knox, David||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Lane, David||Stokes, John|
|Costain, A. P.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Critchley, Julian||Le Marchant, Spencer||Sutcliffe, John|
|Crouch, David||Longden, Sir Gilbert||Tapsell, Peter|
|Dean, Paul||Luce, R. N.||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)|
|Dixon, Piers||MacArthur, Ian||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||McCrindle, R. A.||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Dykes, Hugh||McLaren, Martin||Tebbit, Norman|
|Eden, Sir John||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Temple, John M.|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Emery, Peter||Madel, David||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Farr, John||Marten, Neil||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Mather, Carol||Tilney, John|
|Fidler, Michael||Maude, Angus||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Mawby, Ray||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Meyer, Sir Anthony||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Fortescue, Tim||Moate, Roger||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Fowler, Norman||Money, Ernle||Warren, Kenneth|
|Fox, Marcus||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Fry, Peter||Monro, Hector||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Gardner, Edward||Montgomery, Fergus||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||More, Jasper||Wilkinson, John|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mudd, David||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Goodhew, Victor||Murton, Oscar||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Gorst, John||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Neave, Airey||Worsley, Marcus|
|Gray, Hamish||Normanton, Tom||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Green, Alan||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Younger, Hn. George|
|Grylls, Michael||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Gummer, J. Selwyn||Page, Graham (Crosby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gurden, Harold||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Percival, Ian||Mr. Paul Hawkins.|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)|
§ Question accordingly negatived.1295
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
I beg to move Amendment No. 66, in page 2, line 9, after "have", insert:transmitters not exceeding in power 17 kilowatts in London or six kilowatts elsewhere and".It might assist the House if I were to move the Amendment only very briefly because its object is to probe the Minister's mind. I believe that on Report stage a Member who moves an Amendment has a right of reply to the debate on the Amendment, and I would prefer to say more then, if need be.
It is not my object by the Amendment to go into the regional or semi-regional or local argument. The figures which I am proposing are slightly higher than those of the present local v.h.f. radio stations in all cases, and they include, as the Minister will be aware, stations which cover substantial areas, because half a kilowatt will cover the whole of a city the size of Nottingham, and does, and less than one kilowatt is local.
What I am worried about, what, I hope, the Minister can give me an assurance upon, are rumours of applications for stations of 50, 100, and 150 kilowatts, and there is even one rumour, which I hope is untrue, of an application for a station of 250 kilowatts. That would not be even a national station; it would cover the whole of Western Europe.
I hope that now or at another appropriate stage the Minister will have an Amendment, not necessarily in exactly the terms of this one, which would precisely limit local radio stations to those which would be at most regional, to those having a reasonable radius, and not have stations which would add to the already considerable air chaos which large stations can produce all over Europe.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Gorst
I do not want to detain the House for any length of time but I would like to take the opportunity, when we are discussing transmitting power, which, of course, involves frequencies and wavelengths, to make one or two points very quickly.
As long ago as 16th December, in the Standing Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price), the Minister who was assisting my right hon. Friend, pointed out that a plan 1296 was being prepared at that time and that when and if it were completed information about it would be made available. That is now many months ago, and we still have no frequency plans published to enable us to assess the nature of the system which is to be set up.
Surely the public are entitled to know what sort of a brief has been given to the engineers who are to decide frequency powers and the frequencies themselves. I know from my experience throughout the 'sixties, when I was responsible for preparing at least two frequency plans for use on medium waves, that the answer one gets out of engineers depends on the brief which one gives to them. We do not know what sort of brief has been given to these engineers.
This is a matter of considerable importance to the system, because the whole starting point, in anything to do with broadcasting, is the engineering feasibility study of what is technically possible; after that, of course, follow the questions whether it is economically viable and whether it is politically expedient; and by politically expedient I mean such questions as the rôle of the B.B.C., the Press interests and how they can be bought off, and, of course, what sort of sop is to be given to the Musicians Union.
Here we have taken matters in exactly the reverse order. We have taken matters of political expediency, then the question of economic viability, and finally the technical matter, so one is led to suppose, because as late as 16th December no frequency plan had been published, and we still do not know what the frequency situation is for these 60 stations.
I ask my right hon. Friend to give us some undertaking about when these facts will be made available to us so that we can scrutinise them very carefully before the Bill is given the Royal Assent.
§ Mr. Chataway
I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) is right in his description of the order in which these matters have been taken. If he looks at the annex to the White Paper he will see the nature of the brief which was given to the engineers. I think it will be clear to him 1297 from the White Paper that the engineers, of the B.B.C. and the I.T.A., have been told what we want—v.h.f. provision for B.B.C. local radio and as much m.f. back up for B.B.C. local radio as we can find, and similarly, for up to 60 commercial stations we want v.h.f. and m.f. provision. It is a fairly complicated exercise. There is also a good deal of hard bargaining in the matter, as I am sure the House will recognise. Over these past weeks, under the chairmanship of my Ministry, B.B.C. and I.T.A. engineers have been meeting on this, and they have had outside specialist help as well. They have made substantial progress. I cannot give my hon. Friend a date, but I know that my right hon. Friend will want to publish the detailed frequency plan, with powers, as soon as he can. It may be possible to publish one part before another.
We have to decide on the allocation of the spare British frequencies, which are the frequencies which are released by the ending of regional variations on Radio 4. One then has to decide provisionally where the stations may go and to work out the powers that will be necessary for B.B.C. and I.T.A. to broadcast on m.f. and v.h.f. That is the process that is under way, and the engineers are somewhere near the end of their work.
§ Mr. Gorst
I fully appreciate that certain information was given in the White Paper, although I suspect that modifications to that now exist of which we are not aware. The point I am making and wish to emphasise is that, on the one hand, engineers can decide to use the transmitter power at very low power and consequently use the same frequency three and perhaps four and five times over within the United Kingdom, or they can use much higher powers, in which case they can use them only once or twice. The decision which has to be made is whether to have a small number of powerful stations or a larger number of lower powered stations, and we do not know which decision has been made on that.
§ Mr. Chataway
With respect, I think my hon. Friend does know. He knows that we are trying to get room for both v.h.f. and m.f. for all the B.B.C. stations and for up to 60 I.B.A. stations. He knows that these are to be local stations in the sense of serving the communities. 1298 He knows that the largest will be the two Greater London stations. We are not going for larger powers than are necessary to provide as good a night and day coverage as we can on both m.f. and v.h.f. for these stations.
The hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) is anxious that permission should not be given for powers of transmission which will either limit the number of stations there can be or cause interference, and I hope that I can give him some reassurance. He would do well to bear in mind that power is vested completely in my right hon. Friend's Ministry. Under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1949, my righthon. Friend has complete control. He has control over transmitting powers, characteristics of aerials and the location of stations. There will be no question of a commercial company putting in an application to transmit at 250 kilowatts and being able to do so off its own bat.
The jigsaw is put together by the Ministry, and it is important that it should be. If we are to get the maximum use of the scarce resources of the frequency spectrum, it is important that it should be centrally and skilfully planned. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Ministry and my right hon. Friend have no intention of allowing powers of transmission which would cause interference or any of the harmful effects that he fears.
§ Mr. English
Has the Ministry in mind a top limit for the power of a station? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would rather say than have a figure in the Bill.
§ Mr. Chataway
I do not want to tie my right hon. Friend to a figure at the moment because a great deal of discussion is going on, particularly about medium frequency. As the hon. Gentleman will probably know, somewhat higher powers are required for medium frequency than for v.h.f. When he took the 17 kilowatts, he was looking at v.h.f. because B.B.C. local radio broadcasts only on v.h.f. at the moment. In London certainly powers substantially higher than that will be required, but 250 kilowatts is certainly on top of anything that is being thought about
A number of factors enter into this, not only transmitting power but type of aerial. With a directional aerial one 1299 can use substantially higher power without causing interference, and the kind of terrain that has to be covered matters a good deal. To reach high buildings and car radio listeners it may be necessary to transmit at higher powers to get good reception. These are all factors that have to be taken into account.
I think the hon. Gentleman agrees that it would not be reasonable to write a power into the Bill. It just is not necessary, because my right hon. Friend has total control over the matter and he licenses the two broadcasting authorities, the B.B.C. and the I.B.A. He will allow them to transmit only at the powers which he believes are consistent with the requirements of other users.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
My right hon. Friend should make it crystal clear that when he speaks about the allocation of wavelength and power he means that each of the 60 stations will, in effect, have two transmitters, one v.h.f. and one medium wave. When he poked fun at my 2,000 radio stations with a range of a quarter of a mile he meant on medium wave and v.h.f. I meant commercial opportunity for v.h.f. stations only, because within a short time everybody in the country will own a v.h.f. set. Therefore, the first 60 stations are merely the jigsaw of medium wave, and after the first 60 perhaps there will be a greater opportunity for my 2,000 stations on v.h.f. only.
§ Mr. Chataway
Even if we doubled my 60 stations we should not be very near my hon. Friend's 2,000. I entirely agree that the time will come when there are only v.h.f. sets, when it will be unreasonable to continue to duplicate in this way, but at the moment both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. feel that it is unsatisfactory simply to have a programme going out on v.h.f. because there will be only quite a small minority of the population listening to v.h.f. at any one time.
§ Mr. Richard
The Minister will know that the extension of the B.B.C. local radio stations on to the medium waveband has been held up by the preparation of the general frequency plan. Even if he is not in a position to tell us a great deal about the overall position, if the frequency plan is likely to be seriously delayed, will he assure us that the B.B.C 1300 will nevertheless be permitted to expand its local radio stations on to medium wave, if necessary before the whole country has been considered for the v.h.f. band?
§ Mr. Chataway
It will not be possible for the B.B.C. to start broadcasting on medium wave before the plan has been worked out. I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that there is no reason to expect serious delay. The work has been going forward satisfactorily, and I expect that it will be concluded fairly soon. Then there is the re-engineering to be done by the broadcasting authorities before they can transmit. During the time I have been responsible I have always wanted to ensure that the B.B.C. should use medium frequency as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Gorst
My right hon. Friend has mentioned car radios. Will he assure the House that the B.B.C. is being pressed to change its aerial arrays in such a way that v.h.f. car radios will be able to receive v.h.f. radio programmes, which is not so at the moment because of the nature of the B.B.C. aerial arrays?
§ Mr. Chataway
I must not be lured too far into waters in which I am not entirely sure I am capable of swimming. These are technical matters, and it would be better for my hon. Friend to raise them either with the B.B.C. or at some later stage with my right hon. Friend.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. English
I thank the Minister for his reply and I am glad to see his successor the right hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden) on the Treasury Front Bench since he will have heard this discussion. I am not personally against local commercial radio, provided that it is competitive with a public service system of local radio and provided that it exists as an extra rather than as a complete alternative.
I appreciate that in the present negotiations, in the great argument over the frequency plan for medium wave and v.h.f. the Minister wishes to retain a degree of flexibility. I hope he will 1301 remember that the prime reason for higher power on medium wave is that it is much more possible than on v.h.f. for a freak of nature to bring in another local station from the far side of Europe and thus for it to interfere with the local programme. The higher power transmission is required on medium wave to protect the listeners from interference. If we are to have high power on medium wave, this will determine the whole pattern of local radio and will exclude the possibility of local radio being really local. We might end up with a four-channel national network of commercial radio, and I am sure that nobody would wish to see that.
It is essential to keep down the limit as far as possible. I was overjoyed when the B.B.C. put out on v.h.f. a ½ kW station because of the necessity for additional channels of local communication. For example, I feel that there should be better communication between the local councils and their electors and I am all in favour of additional local methods of communication.
Now that we have six-kilowatt stations outside London we have gone a little beyond the concept of local radio—almost to a form of semi-regional radio. I am a little disappointed about that. There could be many regional stations under the Bill's provisions, but if we go in for that sort of concept we shall not have local radio in the real sense of the word but semi-regional or fully regional stations. If we take the power any higher we shall have national or international stations which will automatically keep down the total number of possible local stations. I believe that such a situation would be disastrous.
I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman's soft answer, but I hope that he appreciates that hon. Members on all sides of the House would prefer him to use his powers to lean in the direction of having more stations in the lower power range rather than fewer stations at very high power. I believe that I have achieved my object. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
I beg to move Amendment No. 10, in line 36, at end insert: — 1302(5) At the end of section 3(l)(c) of the principal Act there shall be added the words 'and, in respect of sound broadcasting programmes shall be of United Kingdom origin and of United Kingdom performance'.This is an important Amendment since the Television Act, 1964, provided that the Authority was to satisfy itselfthat proper proportions of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes are of British origin and of British performance…That provision was included by a Conservative Government, at the request of the people who work in the medium who saw developments in television as likely to take away much of the work in the theatres. They wanted to see a proper proportion of programmes allocated to British performers and reflecting the culture of the British people.
These arguments were accepted by the then Conservative Government, not merely in terms of leaving the matter to the Authority, but in terms of giving the Authority a clear directive in the Act that it was to seek a "proper proportion"—a proportion which has turned out to be 85 per cent.
Hon. Members will be surprised to learn that the proportion is as high as that and it is true that a great deal of American material—15 per cent.—is transmitted at peak times. However, the British television service is primarily a British service and is recognised as such. It is television which is produced in this country and we have reason to be proud of this fact. I appreciate that we are occasionally disposed to knock British television and British radio, but one has only to visit other countries to realise what a relatively good service we have. The people of this country use their absolute right to criticise the service, but it would appear that they are generally satisfied with it since most of them stay home night after night to watch television. If they did not like it, they would not do so.
The provision to which I have drawn attention in the 1964 Act has been responsible for the excellence of British television, and but for that provision a great deal more American material would have been seen on our screens. Therefore, the essentially British character of our television would just not have happened.
1303 I recall the situation in the cinema industry in the early years when, because of the lack of any protective quota, the British cinema became an offshoot of Hollywood—a situation from which it has never recovered. Even since a quota was introduced we have been left with a situation of only 30 per cent. of British product.
Sir Winston Churchill, once said that we are more the creatures of our institutions than we know, and I add that how an institution begins life frequently determines its character.
Since the cinema began without any protection in the early days more and more American films were shown on British screens. The British film industry has laboured ever since under great difficulties and has never been able to command its home ground. Therefore, we stopped that process ever occurring in television by ensuring a proper proportion of British material. This was determined by the Authority in discussion with the people working in the industry and was set at the reasonable figure of about 85 per cent., which has been the figure ever since.
I moved a similar Amendment in Committee and withdrew it after an interesting debate. On that occasion in Committee I said:…in view of what the Minister has said, and having regard to his invitation to argue our case behind the scenes between now and Report, and having regard to the right to suggest Amendments on Report, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment."—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 18th January, 1972; c. 678.]The Amendment seeks to substitute the words "United Kingdom" for "British". At first glance, that seems to be rather esoteric, and perhaps the object of the exercise is not easily recognisable. But whereas the threat to television in the early days was from America, the threat to commercial radio will be from Canada and Australia, where there are banked up vast quantities of programmes, which have already recovered their costs in their countries of origin, waiting for the advent of British commercial radio. Unless a provision on the lines that I suggest is written into the Bill, programmes of that type may have the effect of making British commercial radio essentially a foreign product rather than a home-produced one.
1304 In Committee, the Minister agreed that the effect of substituting "United Kingdom" for "British" would be that the restriction would operate against all forms of programme other than those actually made in the United Kingdom. That is the object of the exercise and the effect of the change. In other words, instead of being open to Commonwealth products it will be restricted to products made in this country.
The Minister said, without giving any undertaking, that he would look further into the matter. He added that any material that my Friends and I produced would be considered.
As long ago as 15th November of last year, the Radio and Television Safeguards Committee wrote to the right hon. Gentleman. That body represents everyone who works in radio and television, by which I mean not only performers but technicians, journalists and writers. It is a universal organisation, and everyone working in television is represented on that body. In its letter it said:Our attention has been drawn to the threat to the quality of local radio programmes which arises from the vast quantity of old radio material which is available from Australia and Canada, and doubtless from elsewhere also. We enclose a copy of a letter which sets out the appalling conditions under which much of the old Australian material was produced; and we have also been informed that one of the largest London advertising agencies has been offered a large quantity of old Canadian programmes at £3 per half hour. The temptation to contractors to acquire and use such material may be considerable, especially at the beginning. In order that this impending flood of low quality material may be stemmed and limited, we would suggest that in the new Bill the words 'United Kingdom' should be substituted for the word 'British' in the appropriate subsection, which would then read: 'that proper proportions of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes are of United Kingdom origin and of United Kingdom performance.'The Amendment is almost identical to that suggested to the right hon. Gentleman by that body as early as November, 1971.
After our debate in Committee, I wrote to the Minister in that sense adding some of the points that I have made since. I do not think that it is necessary to read all of my letter. In the course of it I pointed out:In short, the excellence of British television and its essentially British nature stems from the protection given to it in its early 1305 Days.…In order to extend the same protection which a Conservative Government thought it right in television to radio, it is necessary to protect the service from an influx not only of American but of Canadian and Australian material, and for this reason we urge the change from 'British' to 'United Kingdom'.Whether or not hon. Members agree with that proposal, I think that they will understand the objective behind it.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
The hon. Gentleman says that there are floods of Australian and Canadian programmes ready to come in at £3 a half hour. If that is the case, why has not the B.B.C. already bought them? The B.B.C. and independent television buy American material for television. I do not believe that these programmes exist. If they do, they cannot be much good.
§ Mr. Jenkins
The B.B.C. and the independent television companies are subject to the restriction to which I have referred. However, a contractor starting a radio station from scratch is likely in the early days to be under severe financial pressure. From sheer necessity he will be tempted to obtain his material as cheaply as possible. For his own benefit he should be prevented from starting off on the wrong foot by using the cheapest possible material, thereby setting a standard which would be one to live down to rather than one to live up to.
Following the Bill's Committee stage, I wrote to the right hon. Gentleman as I have said. In his reply, he expressed sympathy with my objective but added:There are however two real difficulties. First, it has in the past been represented by U.S. and other interests in O.E.C.D. and GATT that the 'proper proportions' provision is not culturally motivated, but contains an important element of restraint in trade. We have managed to maintain our position so far, but an Amendment such as you suggest might make the provision appear to be less of a cultural one and more directed to protecting domestic industry and domestic workers against overseas competition.That is a fair argument, and it has to be answered. It is impossible in this connection to make a distinction between the cultural and the industrial argument. Initially, in the case of the Television Act, it was the people engaged in the industry who suggested this proposal. But it is also true that the relatively high cultural quality of British television stems from the fact that it is a native product. 1306 It gives work locally, it stems from what is done in this country, and it gives our people an opportunity to exercise their artistic and entertainment genius.
§ Mr. O'Malley
Amongst his other inquiries, has my hon. Friend inquired whether Section 3(l)(c) of the parent Act…that proper proportions of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes are of British origin and of British performance…would be regarded as being in restraint of trade if and when this country entered the E.E.C. and whether we should be allowed as a member of the Community to maintain even the Section in the parent Act which refers to "British origin"?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I should prefer not to pursue that argument. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend will wish to do so himself. I should prefer to continue with the reply which I received from the Minister and to deal with his second point. We in this country are unique in this respect, in that no other country in the world shares a language with highly industrialised countries which themselves produce a product which is saleable in this country.
The second point made by the right hon. Gentleman in his reply has little substance. He suggested that the term "British" or "United Kingdom performance" must refer to the nationality or citizenship of the performers. I think not. If it were argued that that would be the effect of the Amendment. I should be prepared to accept an alteration which would remove any doubt about the matter. The object of the exercise is to ensure that the product is made in this country. It is not intended to refer in any way to the racial origins of the performers. If there is any doubt about that, I am prepared to remit the Amendment for appropriate alteration by the Minister if he says that he accepts it in principle.
The right hon. Gentleman then said that he did not believe there was any real danger of opening the floodgates, to which I have referred, and that the I.T.A. has assured him that it intends to keep a firm eye on programme schedules and at least in the beginning so that the pattern is firmly set. If it was necessary to reinforce the determination of the I.T.A. when the Television Act was produced by giving it authority to do this, it 1307 is equally necessary to reinforce the determination of the I.B.A. by legislative measures so that it has equal authority to act and cannot be said to be doing something arbitrarily without the backing of Parliament. I hope that that argument will persuade the Minister that it is appropriate to make this change, having regard to the nature of the alterations that we are seeking to make to the Bill, and that he will accept it in principle.
The right hon. Gentleman was kind enough to say in his letter that he hoped I would agree that it was all right to leave this to the Authority, but that if I felt strongly about it and wanted to return to the matter he would receive a deputation between Report stage and the Bill being considered by the other place. It would be very much better to deal with it in this House. If we could send the Bill to the other place with this provision in it, we should be saved from this influx.
This is no imagining. In the Daily Telegraph as long ago as August, 1971, Mr. S. R. I. Clarke, the Managing Director of the MacQuarie Broadcast Holdings, said that he had a large amount of material available for use in this country, and my informant says that even the large amount held by MacQuarie which is a big company, and ready for putting on British commercial radio is only about 20 per cent. of the potential flood. The material therefore is here, and what exercises me even more is the latest news, given in February of this year, that A.T.V. has found an Australian to head its British commercial radio interests.
The report says:Now it's A.T.V. who have found an Australian to head their British commercial radio interests: once a 14-year-old office boy with MacQuarie broadcasting network, he's Robert Walker, hired to carry out A.T.V.'s plans to apply for a commercial radio licence (in its own right and with others) and 'be ready and equipped to supply full programme services to other operators'.Not only that station, but other operators are to be supplied with ready made, £3 per half-hour products. The report concludes by saying:Till his just-completed move here, he was assistant manager of the MacQuarie radio station 5DN in Adelaide. So, listeners, you have been warned.That report appeared in The Times on 29th February, 1972.
1308 This is not a figment of my imagination. The stuff is here, and unless the Amendment is accepted we shall run the grave risk of starting commercial radio on a bad basis. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will agree to look sympathetically at the Amendment. If he is able to say that he accepts the principle of it, I shall be happy with that. But if he says only that he is prepared to discuss the matter between now and the Bill being considered in another place that will not be enough, and I shall have to ask my hon. Friends to join me in dividing the House on this issue. It is my hope that the Minister will not make that necessary.
§ Mr. Chataway
I am afraid that I shall have to disappoint the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins). He has spelled out to the House some of the considerations that I have had to take into account. I, of course, do not want to see—and I should not think that anybody in the House would wish to see—commercial radio in this country dominated by products from abroad. The advice that I get from most quarters does not suggest that the threat is as great as the hon. Gentleman suggests. The advice that I get is that it is extremely unlikely that this material will be acceptable.
Clearly, the commercial radio stations will have to attract to themselves an audience. The advice that I get from potential operators and others to whom I have spoken does not suggest that a station would be likely to attract great popularity by carrying large quantities of the kind of material referred to by the hon. Gentleman, even if it were available.
§ Mr. O'Malley
Is the Minister's information similar to mine, namely, that salesmen from the Commonwealth, the United States and the Continent are approaching would-be commercial radio operators with a flood of cheap material of the kind mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins)? Does not the Minister think that there should be some protection against the influx of that kind of material into commercial radio?
§ Mr. Chataway
The hon. Gentleman probably knows more than I do about the efforts being made to sell material 1309 of this kind in this country, but we ought not to get this out of proportion. I cannot get too anxious because an Australian has been appointed to a job in commercial radio in this country. I hope that there will not be too much of a Little Englander outlook on this matter. It will not do a lot of harm if we listen to some material that is produced in Canada or Australia.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr) would never forgive me if I adopted an anti-Australian attitude. The objection is not to an Australian, but to the sale and establishment of the Australian product in this country. It is the flood, and not the nationality of the individual, that is the cause of the worry.
§ Mr. Chataway
The difficulties mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, and which Ispelled out in my letter, remain. We have real obligations in O.E.C.D. and G.A.T.T. There are real difficulties about making an alteration of this kind. The difficulties are added to because, by the nature of the Bill, we are trying to make this alteration in respect of radio and not of television. The provision "British" is accepted in the 1964 Act as applying to television, but by the Amendment a distinction would be made between United Kingdom for radio, and British for television, and that might add to some of the difficulties that I have described.
I accept that this difficulty could be got round, but so far an answer has not presented itself to me. My advice is that the term "United Kingdom" might be interpreted as meaning performance by British subjects who were citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies. Thus, it would appear to be a provision directed partly against immigrants. One is in a real difficulty in this matter.
There are disadvantages in attempting to alter the legislation in this delicate area in the way that the hon. Member has described. As I said, the I.T.A. has given assurances in this matter. There is its past practice in television to go by. It will be concerned to ensure that its service is a predominantly British service.
It would be reasonable for the House to leave the Bill as it is at this stage. 1310 There would, of course, be an opportunity, before 1976, to consider the provision in relation to both television and radio, if that were thought necessary.
§ Mr. O'Malley
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, would he answer my point on the Common Market?
§ Mr. Chataway
I am sorry; I forgot. The hon. Member asked whether that provision in the 1964 Act was inconsistent with membership of the Common Market. No regulation of the Community is inconsistent with that provision. There would be no need on accession to make any change there.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Gregor Mackenzie (Rutherglen)
I cannot understand why the Minister is taking such objection to a very reasonable and helpful Amendment. Many of us do not want local commercial radio, but if we are to have it, it should get off on the right footing. The right footing is what we described in Committee—that it should have genuine local content, local in origin and in performance. That would mean having performers from the United Kingdom.
This Amendment was linked last night with that of the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Donald Stewart), to the effect that these performances should have even more local content—that they should be Scottish or Yorkshire, for instance.
When the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot) has been talking about his notions of local commercial radio, he has not perhaps endeared himself to the House. Some hon. Members opposite may fear that commercial radio as described by him would not be to the cultural advantage of the British people. That may be why the hon. Members for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) and Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) have turned up to listen to the debate with such care. They would be terribly offended if they thought that we were to have format radio as advocated by their hon. Friend. The Minister appreciated this in correspondence with my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins).
I do not understand the Minister's comments about dumping. He said that his advice was that there was no evidence 1311 to support the contentions of my hon. Friend about Australian salesmen peddling inferior stuff. Later, when questioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley), he made one accurate statement when he said that my hon. Friend knew much more about that than he did.
§ Mr. Chataway
Obviously, I was not sufficiently clear. What I hoped I had said was that my advice was that it was unlikely that any station would be able to attract a large audience predominantly using this material.
§ a good deal about it and that he was prepared to accept the evidence afforded him by my hon. Friend. We feel that there is a genuine fear, on the evidence presented by my hon. Friends.
§ I failed to understand the second point that the Minister made, about Clause 3(l)(c) and our obligations to the G.A.T.T. I see no great objection to the Amendment. I think that the Minister should reconsider his position and accept it.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 174.1313
|Division No. 118.]||AYES||[6.5 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Pannell Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Pendry, Tom|
|Allen, Scholefield||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Hamling, William||Ferry, Ernest G.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Prescott, John|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Heffer, Eric S.||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Horam, John||Probert, Arthur|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hunter, Adam||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Booth, Albert||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Richard, Ivor|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Kaufman, Gerald||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Kerr, Russell||Roper, John|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Lambie, David||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Lamond, James||Sandelson, Neville|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Latham, Arthur||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Lawson, George||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward (N'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Sillars, James|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Lipton, Marcus||Skinner, Dennis|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Loughlin, Charles||Small, William|
|Concannon, J. D.||McElhone, Frank||Spearing, Nigel|
|Conlan, Bernard||McGuire, Michael||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Mackenzie, Gregor||Stallard, A. W.|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Mackie, John||Steel, David|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Mackintosh, John P.||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Cronin, John||Maclennan, Robert||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Strang, Gavin|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Tinn, James|
|Deakins, Eric||Marks, Kenneth||Tomney, Frank|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Maraden, F.||Torney, Tom|
|Dempsey, James||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Trew, Peter|
|Doig, Peter||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Dormand, J. D.||Mayhew, Christopher||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Meacher, Michael||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Wallace, George|
|Dunn, James A.||Mendelson, John||Watkins, David|
|Eadie, Alex||Mikardo, Ian||Weitzman, David|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Millan, Bruce||Wellbeloved, James|
|Ewing, Harry||Milne, Edward||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Whitlock, William|
|Fisher,Mrs. Doris(B'ham,Ladywood)||Moyle, Roland||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Foley, Maurice||Murray, Ronald King||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Foot, Michael||O'Halloran, Michael||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||O'Malley, Brian||Woof, Robert|
|Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Oram, Bert|
|Gourlay, Harry||Orbach, Maurice||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Oswald, Thomas||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Padley, Walter||Mr. John Golding.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Astor, John||Haselhurst, Alan||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Hawkins, Paul||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Bell, Ronald||Hayhoe, Barney||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Hicks, Robert||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Holland, Philip||Redmond, Robert|
|Biffen, John||Hornby, Richard||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Howell, David (Guildford)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Boscawen, Robert||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hunt, John||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Bray, Ronald||James, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Rost, Peter|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Jessel, Toby||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Jopling, Michael||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N & M)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Scott, Nicholas|
|Burden, F. A.||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Kimball, Marcus||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Channon, Paul||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Speed, Keith|
|Chapman, Sydney||Kinsey, J. R.||Spence, John|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Kitson, Timothy||Stainton, Keith|
|Clegg, Walter||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Cockeram, Eric||Knox, David||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Cooke, Robert||Lane, David||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Le Marchant, Spencer||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Cormack, Patrick||Longden, Sir Gilbert||Stokes, John|
|Costain, A. P.||Loveridge, John||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Critchley, Julian||Luce, R. N.||Sutcliffe, John|
|Crouch, David||MacArthur, Ian||Tapsell, Peter|
|Dean, Paul||McCrindle, R. A.||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Dixon, Piers||McLaren, Martin||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Temple, John M.|
|Dykes, Hugh||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Eden, Sir John||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Madel, David||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Emery, Peter||Marten, Neil||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Mather, Carol||Tilney, John|
|Fidler, Michael||Mawby, Ray||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Moate, Roger||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Fortescue, Tim||Money, Ernle||Warren, Kenneth|
|Fowler, Norman||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Fox, Marcus||Monro, Hector||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Fry, Peter||Montgomery, Fergus||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Gibson-Watt, David||More, Jasper||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Goodhart, Philip||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Gorst, John||Mudd, David||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Neave, Airey||Younger, Hn. George|
|Gray, Hamish||Normanton, Tom|
|Green, Alan||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grylls, Michael||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Mr. Victor Goodhew and|
|Gummer, J. Selwyn||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Mr. Oscar Murton.|
|Gurden, Harold||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Percival, Ian|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Mr. Speaker
The next Amendment is No. 11. Ihave received a request that that Amendment should be divided. I therefore ask the Minister formally to move, in page 2, line 37, leave out subsection (5). It will be in order at the same time to discuss the leaving out of subsection (6) and the three Amendments standing in the names of the hon. Members for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding), Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) and Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris):
§ No. 12, in page 2, line 38, leave out '60' and insert '70'.
§ No. 13, in page 2, line 40, leave out from 'category' to end of line 41.
§ No. 14, in page 3, line 8, after 'a', insert 'local'.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Chataway
I beg to move Amendment No. 11, in page 2, line 37, leave out subsection (5).
In Committee we had considerable debate about the news service and current affairs. It was reasonable that we 1315 should have discussed it in some detail, because there is widespread agreement that one of the most important advantages to be gained from introducing competition in radio is to have an alternative source of news. I think that everybody wants to see that.
In Committee an Amendment was passed which would effectively have stopped any station specialising in news and current affairs. Those who voted for that Amendment did so for a variety of different and conflicting reasons. I am asking the House to remove that subsection which would prevent a specialist station. I hope that, in moving the Amendment, I can give some reassurance to those of my hon. Friends who were worried about the particular proposal which I advanced in Committee and are anxious about the Authority's plans.
The Authority believes, and I agree, that the best way to provide a good central news service for commercial radio is to have the second London station specialising in news and current affairs. There will be two stations in London: one a general entertainment station and the other a news station. It may be a news station on the American model specialising entirely in news, or it may have a somewhat wider remit in that it will include other talk, but it will be a station specialising in that respect. Those who provide that service will also provide national and international news to the network as a whole. This is what the Authority has envisaged.
This arrangement has considerable advantages. It means that at the centre there will be a professional radio news outfit with considerable resources, getting part of its revenue direct from its advertising in London and part from the service which it provides to the other stations. Those who work for it will not only be supplying a service for others to use but will have the satisfaction of putting out programmes in London which they will be able to hear. It has the advantage for London of providing a potentially good, almost round-the-clock, provision of news alternative to the B.B.C. There are great attractions in this scheme.
Some of my hon. Friends were worried on a number of points. I have discussed further with the I.T.A. some of 1316 the anxieties which were raised in Committee. First, there was the worry that all the stations would have to take this central service, which is the position in television. The I.T.N. is taken by all the regional television companies. They have to pay for and take it.
There is a different situation in radio. First, we want much more flexibility. It is right that the stations should be enabled to use the central news service as they wish; not to provide a quarter or half an hour in the day as is done by the regional television companies which simply take in toto the news service supplied from the centre. Radio is more flexible than that.
It will be up to any station to make use of the services of the national and international news source as it wishes. It might opt to lead on a national story, using an item from the central source, with a local item next. Alternatively, it might broadcast a bulletin of purely local news.
The Authority will take the view that it is not necessary to compel stations to take the central news service or to contribute to its cost. However, the Authority will have to be satisfied about the adequacy of the alternative source of news that any station is using if it is not taking the central source. The Authority also has an obligation to satisfy itself about the standard and impartiality of news broadcasts.
One of the larger out-of-London stations may wish to provide its own service of national news. This would be expensive, but it is a possibility. I understand the hope of my hon. Friends that there will be more than one source, and there is enormous advantage to be gained from the introduction of commercial radio because there will be two sources of radio news.
My hon. Friends look to the example of the United States, with C.B.S., N.B.C. and Westinghouse all providing good news services, and I regard this as part of a healthy democracy. What I have described is the current thinking of the Authority.
§ Mr. Gorst
Will new Clauses 1 and 2—the provisions that have crept back into the Bill giving newspapers the right to acquire an interest in stations—be 1317 utilised to enable London newspapers with a significant circulation which would be likely to be affected by the activities of the all-news station to buy into the all-news station as of right?
§ Mr. Richard
The right hon. Gentleman said that last night. From where does he get that information?
§ Mr. Chataway
If the hon. and learned Gentleman is querying the point, I will look at the wording of the provision again. The advice I have is that there could be no question of a newspaper having a right to participate in both London stations.
If the hon. and learned Gentleman were able to persuade my right hon. Friend that there was a danger of such an interpretation being placed on the Bill, my right hon. Friend would be willing to table the necessary Amendment in another place. I hope that I can satisfy the House that there is no question of a newspaper having a right to buy into both. It is the view of the Authority that participation under new Clause 2 would be likely to be in the general entertainment station, with the minority shareholding being offered in that station.
§ Mr. Gorst
Is my right hon. Friend saying, in other words, that there will be an option, if the Authority so permits, for a newspaper to buy into the general entertainment station, but that if it were affected in the way that new Clauses I and 2 state by the activities of the all-news station, then even though the Authority might agree that it was affected in that way, it would not be able to buy into that all-news station but only into the general entertainment station? Alternatively, would a newspaper in that position have an option to buy into either one or the other?
§ Mr. Richard
It would be unfair of my hon. Friends to press the right hon. Gentleman too far on this point if he does not know the answer. I understand the position well. However, I must probe the matter further. If the Authority will not allow a newspaper to buy into the 1318 all-news station, what is the point of leaving the legal right of purchase into that station in the Bill? This right seems to be superfluous.
§ Mr. Chataway
The point that has been raised is not whether newspapers in London or in any other town in which there was more than one station would have the right to participate in both stations—
§ Mr. Richard rose—
§ Mr. Chataway
I have told the hon. and learned Gentleman of the intention. My right hon. Friend will be prepared to examine the wording of the provision to satisfy himself that what is feared is not a possibility.
If, therefore, a newspaper had the right to buy into only one or other and not into both, it would be for the Authority to decide what the arrangements between the two stations should be. The view is that the shares would be more likely to be made available for this purpose in the general entertainment station.
§ Mr. Richard
I put this question yesterday. What, in common sense, is the justification of allowing a newspaper to buy into an all-news station with which it is in direct competition for advertisement revenue?
§ Mr. Chataway
The hon. and learned Gentleman is jogging back to an argument we had on an earlier Amendment. I do not see that there would necessarily be any over-riding objection to a London newspaper being a part of the winning consortium and, in that way, perhaps having a larger stake than it would otherwise have had simply by exercising its later option to buy in. It does not seem that the concentration of power that would be thus involved would be unacceptable.
The Bill contains a provision that no newspaper which has a monopoly in its area should be able to have control of the station in its area, and I believe that to be a reasonable provision. That is probably about as far as one should go. I do not wish to suggest that the Authority would necessarily say to the Evening Standard or Evening News, "You may not be part of a consortium bidding for an all-news station."
§ Mr. Richard
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that my hon. Friends opposed this provision in Committee. He will also recall the ground of our opposition. He will further know that our attitudes have perhaps been mollified somewhat between that stage and now. However, if he goes on expressing thoughts along the lines that the Evening Standard and Evening News should be part runners of such a station in London, he will be in danger of breaking even the fragile bond that exists between the two Front Benches over this matter.
§ Mr. Chataway
I would not wish to mislead the hon. and learned Gentleman or to give any assurances on behalf of the I.B.A. which I do not feel entitled to give.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Chataway
What I have said is that there is, in my view and, I believe, in the Authority's view, no reason to debar a newspaper group—the particular group we have mentioned is a group which owns London newspapers—from being part of the consortium that would run the news station. Those who take the view that newspapers have to be entirely separate from television and radio would object to that as a proposition. The Authority will naturally be concerned to ensure that it chooses the best contractor. It may be that I.T.N. could be a part of that consortium. Certainly there have been suggestions that I.T.N. might play a rôle. Whether or not I.T.N. was a member of the consortium, I have no doubt that the news station would work in close conjunction and collaboration with I.T.N. The Authority's concern will simply be to choose the best of the consortia that will apply. The Authority will take into account the need for it to be as independent as possible, obviously, and of as high a standard as possible.
§ Mr. Whitehead
Surely the Minister would agree that the whole strength of I.T.N. is that it is a non-profit-making company owned by the 15 television companies and the Authority. Newspapers 1320 do not have any kind of prescriptive right to buy in or to have part control of it.
§ Mr. Chataway
We were talking about the Authority choosing the best company that it can. Whether or not that would include any newspaper interest should, in my view, be for the Authority to decide. I could envisage that the best consortium might well contain a newspaper.
§ Mr. Whitehead rose—
§ Mr. Chataway
The hon. Gentleman is on to a different point, and I will answer it. Presumably the hon. Gentleman wants to see in radio the I.T.N. system, a company which is owned by all the other contracting radio companies. In radio this would be likely to be a less satisfactory system than it is in television because it would be owned by 60 stations as opposed to 14 or 15. It seems, therefore, that there are great advantages in the arrangements I have described.
What the Bill would not rule out—it would certainly be within the competence of the Authority to do this if it wished, although I am bound to say that it is not its current thinking—is to have a company such as the hon. Gentleman suggests both to run a London news station and to provide the central news service. There is nothing in the Bill to prohibit the Authority from doing that. If the Authority came to the conclusion that there were no private applicants in which it had complete confidence, it may be that it would turn to that solution; but that is not its current intention.
§ Mr. Whitehead
Would the Minister take this matter a stage further and give an undertaking that the Authority might also consider whether the best solution may not be, in view of some of the difficulties which have emerged in the interrogation that the Minister is undergoing, to allow I.T.N. to extend its services into radio to provide national and international news at the radio level?
§ Mr. Chataway
That would be a less satisfactory solution, because it would mean that no new source of news would be set up. It is not impossible that if if there were no satisfactory applicant the Authority would wish, perhaps, to look at that alternative. But what that 1321 would mean—and these are the two potential disadvantages—is that one would not be creating any new source; one would be extending I.T.N.'s remit. Also, the danger of radio—as the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) has left the Chamber, I will not continue to answer his question. I see now that he has returned. What a remarkable performance.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) was worried about ensuring that any set up such as this, the all-London news station, would not be subsidised by the regions. I can assure him that the Authority would be strongly opposed to any arrangement of that kind. The Authority has the right to determine the price that is paid on any programme exchange between any companies. That is a power which it has in relation to television as well as to radio. In exercising its powers in this respect—if it had to—for determining the price which companies outside London would pay for the central service of news, the Authority would be principally concerned to ensure that that central news service did not exploit its near monopoly position.
The Authority would be concerned in these respects principally, therefore, to ensure that the companies were not being made to pay more for the news service than they should. The Authority would not wish to see, and would avoid, a situation in which there was any question of the contributions from the companies being used to subsidise that part of the news station concerned with the London service.
The Authority is anxious in these arrangements to maintain the maximum flexibility so as to get the best use out of radio. There would be no question, for example, of prescribing any number of minutes which a station had to take of national and international news. Given the nature of radio, it could well be that on some days stations would carry little or nothing in the way of national or international news. There might be major stories breaking in their locality which they felt were of overriding importance. On the other hand, on other days, national news might take up virtually the whole of the broadcasting time of a local station. For example, on the day after polling day for a General Election, results 1322 are coming through which determine what the complexion of the Government will be. If it is lively, a radio service will be continually flashing over to a central news service. That is one of the important points to remember.
We have to ensure that we have a good central source of news. It will be used by the stations in varying degrees. On some occasions they will not want very much. On many occasions they will want a great deal. They will not be able to use that service and to draw on it in a major way when it is needed unless it is there and it is strong. For these reasons, the combining of a central source of news with a news station has much to commend it.
I pass to subsection (6). This seemed to be passed in Committee without a great deal of discussion of the implications of the Amendment. We were all principally concerned in Committee with whether there should be a central news service and what form it should take. Regarding the Amendment, the Authority takes the view that it would not find it acceptable for a news service to be supplied wholly from a local newspaper. The B.B.C. has tried it with its local radio stations and has found it to be unsatisfactory. The Authority's thinking is that this is not what it would want to see in its radio stations. But if we leave this provision in the Bill, it may well inhibit a perfectly sensible collaboration between the local newspaper and the station. It may well mean that none of the news service could be provided from the resources of a newspaper. One can envisage a situation in which it would be perfectly sensible for specialist correspondents to be broadcasting on the radio and writing in the newspapers. There are many areas in which it might well seem that there should be such co-operation. I think, for instance, of a drama correspondent.
The Amendment also sought to ensure that only suitably qualified journalists should be employed in the news service. I agree that the collection and preparation of news should be done by competent persons, but it would be strange if we were to allow these provisions to stand in the Bill imposing this requirement in relation to journalists but in relation to nobody else employed in local radio. The inference that might well be drawn, if any inference were to 1323 be drawn, and if any exact meaning could be attributed to "suitably qualified", would be that it did not matter whether the engineers, musicians, station managers and others employed in local radio were qualified.
I believe that these provisions are not required in the Bill. I therefore hope that the House will agree to the deletions of subsections (5) and (6).
§ Mr. Richard
It is apparent that the Minister has not considered these two subsections in relation to new Clauses Nos. 1 and 2. The idea that a London news station can be set up and, it having been set up and the Authority being about to award the contract to a consortium including neither the Evening News nor the Evening Standard, then the Authority would be bound under new Clauses Nos. 1 and 2 to offer the London Evening News and the London Evening Standard the right to buy into the consortium, with all that that might imply in terms of news gathering, news content, current affairs programmes, editorial, and so on, fills one with horror.
I assume that the object of allowing newspapers to buy in is not merely to allow them to have some vague financial stake. The prospect of having a newspaper which is as politically committed—whether one agrees with it is neither here nor there—as is the London Evening Standard as part of the consortium which is running the main source of news throughout the whole of the United Kingdom is a prospect which any fair-minded individual in the House and in the country at large will view with horror. I can imagine what the Minister's reaction would be were the proposition to be stood on its head.
There has been a great deal of trouble, as the Minister will know better than anybody, within the last year or so about allegations of bias from both sides of the House against the Independent Television Authority, and particularly against the British Broadcasting Corporation. If the London Evening News and the London Evening Standard are to be given the right to purchase their way into the programme company that is to provide the main source of news for the whole of the commercial network, the allegations of bias that we have heard in the last two years will be as nothing com- 1324 pared with those that we shall hear in the future.
I would not trust to have as the disseminator of news for the whole of the commercial network a consortium which had as one of its major shareholders and which had, perhaps, as one of its major organisers and administrators, the Beaverbrook Group. It would be grossly unfair; and, even if it were not being grossly unfair, it would seem to be being grossly unfair. I cannot imagine that this is something that we wish to achieve in the setting-up of the London news station. I imagine that the Minister would wish to strain every nerve to fight that.
It may be hoped that the monument to the right hon. Gentleman when he leaves this Ministry in about three or four hours' time is to be the commercial radio network he has set up and that the London news station is to be the shining jewel in the whole of the network. If the Minister is not prepared to ensure that politically committed newspapers are excluded from the running of that central news disseminating authority, I am not prepared to support his proposition.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Chataway
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that nobody who is involved with any newspaper should be a part of the consortium that runs the news service? This would be to exclude many people. The hon. and learned Gentleman would not seriously suggest that Parliament should try to determine which would be suitable newspaper groups and which would not. That must be left to the Authority. Finally, the hon. and learned Gentleman might consider that indirectly through their shareholdings there are large numbers of newspapers which are shareholders of I.T.A.
§ Mr. Richard
Of course I am not saying that the House of Commons should say which newspapers should be allowed in and which newspapers should not be allowed in. I am saying that the House of Commons should ensure that no newspaper, particularly a London regional one, which is the one which under new Clause No. 1(2) is most likely to be affected and the one which is the most 1325 likely to be considered, should have an automatic right of entry into a programme company whose main purpose is the gathering and dissemination of news.
After all, the effect of new Clause No. 1(2), which we considered in sufficient detail last night, is that in an area covered by a local station—we are here considering the whole of London—if a newspaper has a substantial circulation in the area, prima facie it has a right of entry. That is what the Clause says. If I am wrong about that, I will give way.
§ Mr. Chataway
The hon. and learned Gentleman will recollect that the Authority has the right now, as we have revised Clause 2(1), not to allow a shareholding to anybody if it considers that it would be contrary to the public interest to do so. Therefore, if the Authority took the view that it would not be in the public interest to allow anybody to participate in any station, it would not allow him to do so.
§ Mr. Richard
That may be, but let us look at the realities of what we are considering. The whole of the Minister's speeches on Second Reading and in Committee on this aspect were devoted to saying how important it was that we had a central London news station. The Minister has continually said that there are to be two stations for London—one will be the normal entertainment station and the other will deal with news. The news station to be set up in London is designed to be the principal source of news for the whole of the network for the United Kingdom.
Under Clause 1(2) the effect is that the London Evening News and the London Evening Standard have an automatic right of entry into that programme contractor. The only way in which that right of entry can be denied them is if the Authority in its discretion thinks that the broadcasting of the programmes would be unlikelyto have a materially adverse effect on the financial position of the newspaperor if it considers it against the public interest to allow the newspaper in.
Is the Minister seriously arguing that he is prepared to say now that it is against the public interest to allow the London Evening Standard and the London Evening News the automatic right 1326 of entry into the London news-gathering service? If the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to say that, I merely say on this part of the debate that we do not need the provisions in the Bill. If there is an automatic presumption that it is against the public interest to allow the London Evening Standard and the London Evening News a direct participation in the London news-gathering service, I should be interested to hear a Conservative Minister say that. The logic of the Minister's position must take him there. When considering London we are considering eight million people, a news service to be provided by a commercial station, and two newspapers which have a substantial circulation in area, namely, the London Evening News and the London Evening Standard.
I say again—I am sure that I carry most fair-minded hon. Members with me—that if the position is that one or other—or both—of those two totally politically committed newspapers is to have a direct say in the way in which the principal source of news for the whole commercial network is to be run, one can only regard that as totally wrong.
§ Mr. Chataway rose—
§ Mr. Richard
I am about to finish. The right hon. Gentleman will know that, both in Committee and since, I have been reluctant, on behalf of the Opposition, to lose an additional news service. [Interruption.] There is no need for the Minister to froth at me. All he needs to do is to read Hansard. I said that I thought that the idea of having alternative source of news to the B.B.C. was desirable. I am sure that he will concede at least that.
If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to have the Opposition's support in setting up a central news service based in London for the whole of the network, he will have to give us an assurance now—we are entitled to ask for it—that the automatic right of newspapers to buy in should be excluded. Let the Evening Standard, if it wishes, buy into Radio London. It should not buy into London Radio News, and there is no justification, practical or logical, for giving such a right.
I had hoped that we should be in a position to give the Minister support in 1327 the setting up of his news station. That had been my attitude until he spoke today and deviated from his brief. Indeed, until then I was certain that he would have my support. But once he started not only envisaging but almost positively anticipating participation by the London Evening News and the Evening Standard in the principal source of news for the whole network, the Minister began to lose me.
§ Mr. Fowler
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that the Evening News and the Evening Standard should be automatically excluded from consideration for a central news station? If that is his view, will he answer this further question? He has made a lot of what I take to be his fear of bias, and political bias at that. Can he give any examples from commercial television showing where editorial content or other matter in television programmes has been affected by newspaper holdings?
§ Mr. Richard
The great difference in television is that Independent Television News is owned by the programme companies. There is no direct participation by a Fleet Street newspaper in the I.T.N. company.
The hon. Gentleman asks whether I am arguing that they should be automatically excluded. What I am saying is that they should certainly not have an automatic right of entry, which is what they will have as matters now stand. If that automatic right of entry is taken out, it becomes a matter for the Authority to sort out which consortium it wants, but, at the moment, the Authority could decide to give it to consortium X and then, before it could award the contract to consortium X, it would have to go to the Evening Standard and the Evening News and say, "You have a substantial circulation in London, and you may be adversely affected by this news station. Do you wish to participate?" That is a nonsense, and the Minister ought to do something about it.
§ Mr. Fowler
But the hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware that not all the news on television is provided by I.T.N. Newspaper groups have interests in regional stations producing regional news of their own kind. He has not answered my question. Has he any evi- 1328 dence that a newspaper holding has led to bias in that regional news?
§ Mr. Richard
One hears of instances of bias in various parts of the country. I put the point back to the hon. Gentleman. I cannot, on my feet now, give specific instances of bias. Of course not. I did not know that the point was going to arise until 25 minutes ago, when the Minister made his extraordinary speech. We are here envisaging newspapers having an automatic right to purchase a shareholding, and the measure of power and control which goes with a shareholding, in the principal news service for the commercial network, and, by a provision in the Bill, which I regard as a nonsense, we are brought back to the point that the London Evening News and the Evening Standard will have an automatic right of entry of that sort.
I put it to the House—I almost said "in my respectful submission", as though I were addressing a jury—that that provision is a nonsense. It is plainly wrong, and the Minister ought to give an undertaking that he will exclude them from that automatic right.
§ Mr. Gorst
I see that my right hon. Friend is about to depart, so I shall put this point to him at once. If new Clauses 1 and 2 are to be in the Bill—I voted for them yesterday—I should have no objection to the London newspapers affected in the way envisaged buying in and having a share if they bought into a station which was not the all-news station. But if they are to buy into the all-news station, I find it totally unacceptable. I am not even sure that I find it attractive that existing newspaper groups or organisations should be the prime shareholders. But perhaps that is a matter which can be safely left to the discretion of the Authority.
I hope that the Minister will consider again, before we finish our debate to-night, whether it is right or desirable to allow an option to buy into the all-news station.
I welcome the Minister's assurances that it will no longer be obligatory for stations set up outside London either to take or to pay for the service provided by the all-news station in London. It is highly desirable that that amount of national and international news required by a local commercial station should be 1329 obtained freely, without dictation from any authority or government, from whatever source the station operator desires.
I am sure that most reasonable-minded Members will agree, also, that it is highly desirable that there be no obligation, or even suspicion in the mind of applications for a franchise, if their application makes clear that they will not be using the all-news service, that this will be held as a mark against them. I hope that in due course, when it is set up, the I.B.A. will bear that point in mind.
When, in Committee, in company with my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot), I opposed this provision by putting down an Amendment, I had another reservation of a different kind. I felt that we should be wasting a valuable wavelength which we could ill afford to dispose of to a specialist service at this stage, in view of the frequency shortage. In North America, where there is an abundance of frequencies in comparison with our situation, it is possible for 60 stations to operate in, say, the New York area, and for one of them to be a specialist station of this nature. In our situation, however, I do not in any way retract the comments which I made in Committee about this being a waste.
However, the Minister's concession regarding the obligation on stations outside London satisfies me on the core of my objection, so I shall be happy not to stand in his way on these Amendments.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ The other part of the Amendment, which is to delete subsection (6), would remove the provision which states that a news service shall not be regarded as independent if it is provided by newspapers circulating in the locality specified in the contract. Such newspapers will, therefore, be able to provide a service. But Amendment No. 52, which we have yet to reach, says that the Authority will not be allowed to enter into a contract with a television contractor to provide television programmes for an area and at the same time provide local sound broadcasts for that area.
§ As I understand it, the newspapers are to be allowed to provide a news service which the television programme contractor in the same area will not be able to provide, even though it may have a 1330 news-gathering organisation. This does not seem fair as between one medium of communications and another. There is one law for the Press and another for the television companies. I should be grateful if the Minister, who appears to think that I have misunderstood the point, would put me right.
§ Mr. Chataway
I hesitate to intervene but the Amendment to which we shall come later is simply a drafting Amendment which ties up a loose end to make it absolutely clear that the television contractor cannot own a radio franchise in his area. I understand that it is not the Authority's intention that radio companies should hand over their news service to a local newspaper, and there is no disagreement in principle about that. All I have argued is that the Amendment imports an unnecessary rigidity and might stop sensible collaboration.
§ Mr. Gorst
If my right hon. Friend is saying that a television contractor who has a minority shareholding in the franchise in his own area will be permitted to supply programmes on the same basis as that on which a newspaper is permitted to supply news, using the same staffs, the same organisation, then I would concede that the two are at least on a par. But will he look very carefully at the wording of the Amendment when we come to it? Perhaps I should be out of order to pursue it further at this stage, but I hope that he will give a categorical assurance when we come to the point. I am happy to withdraw my opposition to the principle of an all-news station.
§ Mr. Golding
We were pleased to hear Mr. Speaker say that we could vote separately on subsection (5) and subsection (6) because at the time we asked for the separate votes we thought that perhaps the reasons for our opposition to subsection (5) would have disappeared. But as I have listened, I have reverted to my former hostility to the all-news station. In London I can see the threat of the Evening News and the Evening Standard being allowed to buy themselves into an all-news station. I regard this with distaste because of the point which I raised with the Minister yesterday.
I have no doubt that an all-news station could have a very adverse effect on the circulation of an evening newspaper. The 1331 I.T.N. is not a threat to daily newspapers because it presents its news when newspapers are stale. The newspapers will do their best to ensure that television does not present news at breakfast-time, when the newspapers are fresh, or less fresh than the television news.
If these two newspapers obtain an undue influence—and that it all they need—in the London news station, that station will operate in such a way that takes into account the technical difficulties of producing news as quickly in newspapers as on radio. Certainly the ownership would have an influence on policy. But the situation is even worse than my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) said. Subsections (5) and (6) taken together present a very grave situation. The Evening News and the Evening Standard could have an undue influence in an all-news station in London, and I do not believe that the I.T.A. at present would declare that to be against the public interest. They would have an undue influence over policy. Under subsecttion (6) they would be prohibited from providing news from their resources, but if the Minister has his way the all-news station could draw its news from the Evening Standard and the Evening News. It could derive its coverage from the newspapers which already have a stake in the all-news station.
§ Mr. Fowler
Surely this enables the newspapers to supplement the news service that is provided by the central news service. This seems a flexible arrangement. It does not mean that it replaces the news service.
§ Mr. Golding
The Bill does not say that. Whatever the Minister may say, he will have gone from office within three hours. God save the Minister. There is no point in talking about the Minister because we have two Ministers.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Is this not precisely a situation which we faced in Standing Committee in that whenever we asked for something it was never given in the form of an Amendment but it was given by the Minister in the form of an assurance. We said at that time that he was "demob happy", and now he has been demobbed.
§ Mr. Golding
As so often in the past, my hon. Friend the Member for Man- 1332 Chester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) has made my point for me. The Bill can provide for the creation of an all-news station. The two newspapers can take part in the control of that all-news station. It then gives them the power to obtain their information from their own resources and there will be nothing in the Act which says that the all-news station must have a separate staff.
My arguments have been directed to the situation in London. On the Standing Committee I was at odds to some extent with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Barons Court because he was speaking as a London Member, as one who equates "national" with "London". Several hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, speaking as provincial Members, objected to getting news from London. We were concerned that local radio stations should have a choice of national and international news, because the importance of such news appears different according to where it is heard.
An apocryphal story illustrates my point. It is said that early in September, 1939 the Manchester Guardian, which used to be a provincial paper, with its Gothic print and advertisements on the front page, had on an inside page a headline which said, "The price of cotton slumps", and further down the column there was a small item which said, "The cause of the slump is believed to be an outbreak of war with Germany." That in a sense illustrates the North-West mentality and my point that even international and national news is seen differently according to whether it is seen from Hull or from London, for example. A dispute with Iceland is of more importance in Hull than in London. I could multiply my examples, but I do not want to speak for as long as did the Minister.
It is most unfortunate that the Minister wants to delete the requirementthat the collection and preparation of news is performed by suitably qualified journalistsWe know that there can be an argument about "suitably qualified", but at the extreme we know what the requirement is. It is quality. We want in commercial radio a situation like that in my area of North Staffordshire with Radio Stoke. We want the highest quality presentation of news. It is not sufficient to talk simply in terms of competent individuals—
§ Mr. Fowler rose—
§ Mr. Fowler
As a journalist with fewer vested interests than many, I suspect, I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman for the slightest hint of what he imagines to be meant by "suitably qualified journalists". As he has criticised the Bill for being vague, he has a small duty at least to give a hint of the meaning he attaches to the term.
§ Mr. Golding
If I did that, I should go into far too great detail. If the hon. Gentleman wants a working definition, I am prepared to put him in touch with the National Union of Journalists, which will provide him with it.
§ Mr. Kaufman
A suitably qualified journalist is a member of the National Union of Journalists, as an unsuitably qualified one is a member of the Institute of Journalists.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
There has been a case—the first of its kind in my division—of one of my local newspapers being forced to carry out training in the meaning of the Industrial Training Act, so presumably a fully qualified journalist is now one who has gone through proper training as laid down by the Training Board.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Golding
There can be no doubt that this provision is important, and worthy of rather greater discussion than we have had this evening. The Government should examine both subsections again and not rush into deleting them. Perhaps subsection (6) could be worded differently to read, "that a new service shall not, for the purpose of this section, be regarded as independent if it is mainly or wholly provided by a newspaper circulating in the locality specified in the 1334 contract". I take the Minister's point that as it stands the provision would prohibit any item of news from being taken, but it will be unsatisfactory if we have local news stations which take all their news from the local newspaper.
Under the new Clause added to the Bill yesterday the local newspaper can obtain undue influence over the policies. If it can then provide the hard news from its own resources, we on this side know what will happen. There will be a uniformity of view and presentation by the local newspaper and the local radio station. If there is any merit in the Bill it is that it will possibly provide an alternative news service to our communities. If the subsections are deleted, I very much fear that that alternative will not come to pass.
§ Mr. Fowler
I very much support what my right hon. Friend is doing in his Amendment. The hon. and learned Member for Barons Court (Mr. Richard) yesterday invited me to look very closely at subsection (6), and I have done so. I have a certain sympathy with it, but there are great difficulties, particularly that of defining "suitably qualified journalists". When I was in Fleet Street a suitably qualified journalist was someone whose shorthand speed reached a certain standard. I suspect that if that were the criterion now there would be a considerable hole in the journalistic ranks. I suspect that, as the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) said, the criterion is the holding of an N.U.J. card, or at least an equivalent.
Someone who has been a qualified journalist can go into other fields. There are men with whom I have worked who regard journalists who go over to public relations as having lost their souls, though that is not a personal view of mine. As for journalists who turn up as the Press officer to Labour Prime Ministers, some journalists would consider that a descent into the Inferno.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Even during that infernal episode in my own journalistic career, I maintained my journalistic bona fides by continuing as film critic of the Listener, to which I contributed a regular column over a considerable period. Therefore, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not regard me as totally lost to the trade of journalism.
§ Mr. Fowler
I am happy to say that the hon. Gentleman has now, perforce of circumstance, given up his public relations rôle and has come back into the journalistic ranks, to which, without presumption, I welcome him.
In the vast majority of cases with which we are dealing, journalists will, I am sure, be employed to do the news-gathering. This is for the simple reason that news-gathering is a specialised and difficult job. Any company knows and any consortium running a radio station will know that to be true. They know that they run the risk of libel and they will therefore take safeguards against it. I confidently expect the journalistic function to be carried out predominantly by experienced journalists.
§ Mr. Whitehead
These are pious hopes, but what is there in the Bill to prevent a disc jockey from operating for himself a "rip and read" service as the sole news service of a local station? Nothing.
§ Mr. Fowler
The hon. Gentleman will no doubt make his own contribution. Personally, I accept that the journalistic function will be carried out predominantly by experienced journalists. However, it is one thing to expect that the natural laws governing journalism and newspapers will also govern the news-gathering process in local radio, so that the function will be carried out by journalists, but it is quite another to say that it is only this class—which I find impossible to define—which shall actually do it. Journalism above all is an activity which needs new talent, fresh sources of recruits. I do not think that necessarily they always come, although predominantly they will come, from the ranks of qualified journalists if by that is meant members of the newspaper unions.
When commercial television started, what percentage of its news-gathering business was done by qualified journalists? Was Robin Day a member of the N.U.J.? I do not know what were the N.U.J. credentials of my right hon. Friend the former Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. People should have the opportunity of going into journalism and into the news-reporting business without necessarily having the qualifications and having done the training necessary, for example, for N.U.J. membership.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I think the hon. Gentleman misunderstands the nature of this subsection and the nature of the rôle of, for example, Mr. Robin Day or anyone else who might do an equivalent job—indeed, of the right hon. Gentleman, the former Minister, who is now going to help greater Manchester. I should like an assurance about that at any rate. The subsection refers to…the collection and preparation of…news…but it does not refer to the person who broadcasts what has been collected and prepared. Mr. Day did not go out into the street and collect and prepare the news. He got what professional journalists provided him with. He sat in front of a camera and used his own particular talent to communicate it to the viewer.
§ Mr. Fowler
I do not accept this. The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. Many of the people whom he and I may regard as anchor men have done a great deal of news-gathering themselves. It would be a brave announcer who went on presenting a programme without being fully briefed and without having done much of the research himself. I do not accept the distinction the hon. Gentleman is making and I stand firmly by the point that journalism above all things must not be a closed shop and that it should be possible for fresh sources of talent to enter it.
I have no sympathy with subsection (5) as it stands. I regard as one of the most important and exciting developments the prospect of an all-news station in London. I know that some of my hon. Friends and some hon. Members opposite may disagree. I believe such stations already run successfully in the United States. I believe that there is enormous potential for having one running in London. It also effectively answers part of the case of those who say that commercial radio is simply going to deal with pop music and sweet music. It is something which is and will be quite new in radio in this country.
Radio is very much a natural medium to use. It can be presented sensibly and objectively. Perhaps it even has an advantage over television inasmuch as the television producer may be thinking of what is going to be a good picture 1337 situation, whereas his real criterion should be whether the situation is significant or not. I believe that the radio producer has a considerable advantage. His criterion can be and should only be whether the news is significant or not.
I believe also that such an all-news station would allow the public rapidly to get up to date with the news. The listener can hear the news literally minutes after it has been made, or even at the same time as it is being made. I predict that the new station will attract a very big audience. It will also provide one of the major justifications of the Bill in that this is something which the B.B.C. should have done several years ago. I am not one of those who criticise the B.B.C. for everything it does. I think that it produces good radio news affairs programmes like "The World at One" and "The World Tonight". But I think that instead of developing pop and sweet music programmes it would have been well advised to have developed an all-news radio programme.
I believe that if this all-news station gets off the ground—I believe that it will and will prove a success—the B.B.C. will be prompt to copy it. Just as the I.T.N. set an example, so I think that commmercial radio's all-news station will do the same to the B.B.C. I am not saying that the B.B.C. is bad but I am saying that the competition will do it a good deal of good, and above all—perhaps this is the major justification of the Bill—Amendment No.11 is very much in the interests of the listener.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Whitehead
It is with some sadness that one contemplates in the debate thus far the abject failure of the Minister to take any account whatsoever, in considering subsections (5) and (6), of the proceedings of the Standing Committee over the last four and a half months. The despair on my part is equalled only by my dismay at seeing that a fellow member of the National Union of Journalists, the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Fowler) has, clearly enough, not even now read the proceedings of the Committee on an Amendment proposed largely at the suggestion of his own union.
I shall come in a moment to the things which seem to me to stand out among 1338 the errors of the hon. Member for Nottingham, South, but I wish, first of all, in view of the curious statement of the Minister earlier in the debate, to go back to the way in which now we are inextricably tied up, in the proposals for both national and local news services, both by this Amendment and new Clause 1 which was passed by the House yesterday.
We already know that the large Press combines have a double right to buy into radio. All of us who have been approached by some of the interests who wish to put together a consortium of one sort or another in one of the "gravy" contracts, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) described them, know that large newspapers, national newspapers, are already getting in on the act. They are getting in on the act to buy a piece of the equity. They do not need but will be greatly strengthened by new Clause 1, and they will be in on the act with a double rôle.
They have, most of them, sufficient accumulations of capital to be able to put up the outlay necessary to buy and equip a station and float a consortium in the early stages, the risk-bearing stages, of a commercial radio. They have got, through the double criteria suggested to us yesterday in new Clause 1, every reason to be able to turn to the Minister and say, "Look, our circulation is affected, our advertising revenue may be affected". We have seen this already and this should materially affect how the House considers these two subsections. The Press combines are able to say, "We ought to get a handout, we ought to get help, because we may be affected and be able to prove that we shall be affected."
We know the agglomeration of power in local newspapers; we know the extent to which over the last five or six years a number of large groups have increasingly taken over control of all the local newspapers in a given area, so that very often, as in the case of the newspapers covering the constituency of the hon. Member for Nottingham, South, the same group owns the local evening paper and the local morning paper. The Minister was unable to deny yesterday that in such a situation presumably those proprietors can come forward wearing two hats and buy their way in under new Clause 1. Now we are saying, if 1339 this Amendment of the Minister goes through, that at both the local and national levels these people will be protected in addition through their right to influence the kind of news collected by the commercial radio station. This seems to me a most alarming situation—a most alarming situation because of the size of the newspaper organisations concerned.
§ Mr. Chataway
Perhaps it would be convenient if I were to intervene at this point simply to say that while we have not envisaged that it would be reasonable to exclude newspaper groups from the right to take part in the consortium which would run the London news station and the news service, my right hon. Friend is, none the less, willing, in view of the discussion there has been, to look at the question as to whether newspapers in London have the right of buying into two stations—into both stations—and in particular he would wish to look at the possibility that they have the right to buy into the news station. He would wish, in that context, to consider whether the safeguards, to which I referred, in the Bill, are sufficient for the Authority. I hope that that will be of assistance to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) and to hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been anxious on this point—that my right hon. Friend is prepared to make that specific undertaking.
§ Mr. Whitehead
I very much welcome what the Minister has just said, and, outgoing as he is, I congratulate him upon it, and would want him to know that we shall follow closely what his right hon. Friend his successor decides, after deliberation, about these provisions. I think I speak for hon. Members on this side of the House when I say that we were taken very much by surprise by the apparent revelation in what the Minister said this afternoon about the all-news station. In view of what he has now said he has significantly shortened my own remarks, and he leaves me to concentrate on the way in which, as I see it, the pattern of Press ownership—speaking now of the local commercial stations throughout the country and not of the all-news station—makes exceptionally alarming subsection (6) which he has not said he will reconsider.
1340 One of the things which is disturbing to us is that there appears to be no limit in size of the newspaper combine which can take this kind of control. For example, we were told that the national newspapers will be excluded. I am somewhat alarmed when my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie) tells us that two-thirds of the circulation of the Scottish Daily Express is in Glasgow. Another of the hydra-heads of the Beaverbrook empire raises itself here. Will the Scottish Daily Express be able to claim that it is a local newspaper? Will it be able to say that because it has two-thirds of its circulation in Glasgow, and because it would, therefore, be materially affected by both circulation and advertising revenue considerations, it should have a prescriptive right to buy into the Glasgow station? If it were to have that right we ought to look very carefully indeed at what we are doing if we take out subsection (6).
What I propose to do now is to suggest to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South that he ought to look again at the precise wording of subsection (6). The Minister, in his remarks, said that subsection (6) was going to be an exclusive one; it was going to exclude the local newspapers and those who worked for the local papers from any kind of participation whatever in the local radio station. That simply is not true. All we were saying in subsection (6) was thatthe collection and preparation of such news broadcasts is independent and…is performed by suitably qualified journalists; and that a news service shall not, for the purpose of this section, be regarded as independent if it is provided by a newspaper circulating in the locality…".That is news services as a package—I do not think it necessary to spell that out—provided by the local newspaper. This does not mean to say that suitably qualified individuals, members, no doubt, of the National Union of Journalists, even lukewarm ones like the hon. Member for Nottingham, South, would not be able to participate in the programmes of the local radio station.
§ Mr. Fowler
I really think that the hon. Member should mind his language slightly on this. We happen to disagree, and this is a point which I have put at National Union of Journalists meetings, but that 1341 does not necessarily mean that I am a lukewarm member of it. Moreover, I would point out to the hon. Member that I represent my constituency, and not the N.U.J.
§ Mr. Whitehead
Fine words, and they will butter no parsnips with the N.U.J. The N.U.J. is seriously concerned, as the hon. Gentleman should be, with the position of its members, given the cutting down that is already going on inside the profession. The newspapers are not waiting for the onset of commercial radio before sacking people. They are not waiting to provide the evidence of a few heads on the ground or the begging bowl when the opportunity of buying in to the local radio station is available. They are firing people now.
The hon. Gentleman well knows that the combine owned by the P. Bailey Forman group in Nottingham has recently got rid of about a hundred people. In Glasgow another newspaper concern has got rid of double that number. Because all these people are going the local newspaper will be doubly concerned not to see a rival news source operating down the road in an independent commercial radio station. If they can get in on the act, having a prescriptive right to the sale of the equity which the Bill guarantees under new Clause 1, of course they will try to diminish the extent of the news competition, and probably also the circulation competition, that comes from the local radio station. Some of the hon. Gentlemen's friends realise that that is so. That is why, after lengthy consideration, and not as an absurd oversight as the Minister suggested, the Committee in its wisdom decided that it wanted this subsection added to the Bill.
The Minister made great play of what were suitable qualifications. Faithful unto death, the hon. Member for Nottingham, South followed along that line. In Committee I made it clear what "suitably qualified" meant. I said:I am now defining 'journalist' as the Union itself does, as someone either with four years experience or aged 24, properly paid up and joined. The Union is not exclusive: if someone wishes to become a journalist, he can do so quite rapidly…"—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 18th January, 1972; c. 610.]As I said then, journalism is not a profession for which there is any particular 1342 training in the sense of a lengthy apprenticeship. If someone wishes to become a journalist he can do so, unless he wishes to join the elite in Fleet Street. Some of the best journalists I know are lads of 18 and 19 straight from school who are learning the trade, and doing it well, in local newspapers. I do not want to stop people like that playing their part in a local radio station, but if they do, I want to see them doing so independently, as journalists reporting an industrial dispute or a local traffic accident or as local drama critics.
What I fear is that, unless there is a qualification in the Bill about the nature of the people who will be doing the news gathering, what was indicated time after time by the interested parties in Committee and before will happen. There will be the disc jockey doubling up, the chap putting on the records, dusting them down, maintaining the turntable and running his own news service as well, tearing off the tape with his free hand. This is the profitable way to do it and the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot) knows that. Somewhere along the line in the middle of the "top 40"or between advertising slots when he is not putting on jingles or taking off records he might have time every now and then to pull off the tape. That is not the kind of service that I want to see.
I want to see people able to cut their teeth on news gathering for the local radio station in precisely the way they do on local newspapers. I want to see—and this is a principle to which hon. Gentlemen opposite are supposed to be dedicated—real competition between news sources, and we shall not get it from the Bill if the Amendment which was carried in Committee is taken out. What we shall see are these shaky, creaky, local newspapers, all too often with a bias, able to take a stranglehold on, as well as to get a slice of equity in, the radio stations concerned.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The hon. Member for Nottingham, South asked for evidence that links between newspapers and television companies have been deleterious. I will give him some evidence, but I will not name names and get individuals thrown out of their jobs. The big difference between I.T.N. and the local coverage 1343 and magazine programmes of the television companies is that I.T.N. is a non profit-making independent organisation and there cannot be that sort of interference and control.
§ Let the hon. Member for Nottingham, South work on a local news magazine in a television company and suggest an item which affects any of the organisations which are part owners of that station and let him see what happens to him. Let him go to the managers and the production chiefs of a television company which has a significant Press holding or a significant cinema holding and say, "I want to do a piece investigating the evils of the Press today", or, "I want to do a piece about why there is semi-monopoly ownership in the cinema industry"—and let him see what happens. Let him hear all the arguments that are put in his way to stop him doing that.
§ Mr. Kaufman
My hon. Friend is taking extreme examples. Let that journalist simply say one adverse sentence about a film which is showing locally.
§ Mr. Whitehead
The newspaper campaign in this matter has not been disinterested, although the Editor of The Times may have other reasons which I will not go into for rejecting the letters of the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst).
The processes of discussion and criticism in broadcasting are two-way. If a consortium is allowed to be at least part dominated by Press interests, then equally if the television or radio company concerned is falling upon hard times and there is a legitimate case for Press comment on it, let that Press comment come from those organisations which have a part share in the television or radio company and see what happens.
If the hon. Member for Nottingham, South does not believe me on this point, let him look at the story of London Weekend Television and the absence of comment in a wide range of newspapers for a long period of time when those 1344 papers were part owners of the company. Week in, week out, month in and month out no criticism appeared of the failures of London Weekend Television in the New Statesman because, as we all know, the managing director of the New Statesman is Lord Campbell of Eskan who has a considerable influence in London Weekend Television. I am not saying that he stopped it, but there is an adverse climate and this is not the kind of subject that one wants to enter or which will be well received at the editorial conference, so one pulls away from it.
That is why it is harmful to have cross-media ownership, and why it will be particularly harmful in small local radio stations. We are making a grave mistake here, just as we made a grave mistake in television by allowing newspapers to buy in and to take control.
Let a small local radio station, with all the commercial pressures that play on it, effectively be run by the local newspapers and there will not be that competition and free interchange of information which is necessary. It will be just another small extension of a rather squalid monopoly.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
It is quite right that newspapers have never given a fair crack of the whip to the case for commercial radio. Indeed it would never have happened had it not been for the pirates who demonstrated that commercial radio in this country was possible.
The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) mentioned the union to which he belongs, and made a plea for demarcation. He thought that nobody should be allowed to throw more than one switch and that these tasks must be split among the radio station staff. I believe that the small stations could never survive without the all-rounder.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) said that editorial policy was being affected. I recommend him to read the evidence given to the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries by Sir Lew Grade on 23rd February this year. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Sir D. Kaberry) asked Sir Lew at Question 467 whether he would like to be on the air from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.?—in other words. 1345 he was suggesting breakfast television—and Sir Lew replied:No, I would not. I am absolutely, adamantly against breakfast programmes of the news nature.The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme was a member of that Committee and he will have heard the evidence.
Sir Lew was questioned about the profitability of such a venture and Sir Lew said that he would not like to see two hours of continuous news on breakfast programmes. The Chairman of the Committee asked why there was such a tender regard for newspapers. I believe that A.T.V. also owns the Birmingham Post. What is the difference between determining editorial content and purposely suppressing circulation? It is the same thing; it is market sharing. It is like one milkman saying to another "You can take that part of the town and I will take this end of it."
The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) went with that Committee to the United States in the Recess to take evidence about commercial television there. He said only yesterday that the most profitable part of American television was breakfast television which paid for the evening programmes. That evidence to this House is proof that circulation will be tampered with. I believe that, if it is profitable, Sir Lew Grade will rapidly come round to the idea of breakfast television.
§ Mr. Richard
I remember being asked to take part in a television programme in Memphis, Tennessee, on which at 7.20 a.m. I was expected to talk about the Common Market. I was immediately preceded by an advertisement for English muffins, which I have never seen on this side of the Atlantic. [Hon. Members: "Shame."] Well, I have never seen the sort of muffins I saw on that programme. After the broadcast I said to the gentleman who organised it, "Why on earth do you want a British Member of Parliament to go on television in Memphis at that hour of the morning to talk about Britain and the Common Market?" He said "The answer is simple. At that time of the morning we have a large A-B audience which consists of businessmen in hotel rooms in the process of getting up and shaving". I do not think we have yet reached the stage of having such a beard audience here as they 1346 have for that type of programme in the United States.
§ Mr. Golding
It was not that type of audience we heard emphasised in the United States. It was the housewives to whom sponsors wished to sell products. They found it much easier and cheaper to sell goods at that end of the day than later in the evening. The point which is being emphasised by the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot) is absolutely correct. The Americans cannot understand the attitude of Sir Lew Grade and others in this country, although perhaps they would understand it if their monopoly legislation were as tight as it is here.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I am sure the hon. Member is right. Next year in Parliament we shall be dealing with rules about monopoly, and we know that in the United States in the anti-trust legislation there are laws dealing with interlinking directorships.
I was intrigued to hear my hon. Friend speak about current thinking in the I.B.A. I would remind him that the I.B.A. does not yet exist. I have heard all about messages from the grave. That is more like a message from the womb.
I am very suspicious about the I.B.A.-to-be. I believe these consortia will be welded together over a period of time, but it looks as though the newspapers will be able to have the lion's share of this new medium. I do not like the situation. I believe that if the character of the applicants is all right and their credentials are in order, they should be asked to compete in open auction for licences. This would ensure that everything was above board.
The arguments about economies of scale in gathering news and selling advertising time do not interest me. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend has made it absolutely clear that the other 59 stations, apart from the London news stations, will not have news rammed down their throats. I hope that there will be no forced sale. I hope it will not be laid down that a local station will have to take the news from London.
I was intrigued the other night when on my bedside radio I tuned into A.F.N. Europe. When the news came on we were told, "This is the American Forces 1347 Network in Europe bringing you news from A.P. and U.P.I." If that news service is good enough for the American armed forces in a foreign country, it surely is considered to be unbiased. I cannot see the A.F.N. putting out material which they considered to be tampered with politically. The services of A.P. and U.P.I. are available in this country.
The news on local radio will in many cases be live. It will come straight over the telephone and go out on the air. It might be an eye-witness report of an accident, a report of a local baby show, or a local council meeting being reported direct from a lobby in the local council. I believe that much of the news put out by the B.B.C., and certainly that dealt with by I.T.N., has far too much political content. Since these bodies were created by legislation passed in this House, the organisations lean over backwards in reporting too much political news. Therefore, I hope that local station in London will not be taken over that respect.
I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said. I hope that the fact he has consulted with the new Minister about this subject will ensure that the news station in London will not be taken over by the London evening newspapers.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. O'Malley
I will not deal in detail with the Amendments which the Minister seeks to make affecting the news services of commercial local radio. I agree with what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) and from the Opposition Front Bench. However, I wish to raise one specific point with the Minister which does not affect the news services, and I hope that he will have an opportunity to reply to it.
Hon. Members will notice that Clause 2(5) deals not only with news programmes but with music programmes. The subsection which the Minister seeks to delete says:…no station shall be authorised to transmit programmes of a predominantly specialised category, whether it be of news or music, supported by advertisements.I realise that when subsection (5) was inserted in Committee we discussed hardly 1348 at all the subject of a predominantly music service. However, once again the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot) and the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst), have said that they envisage commercial radio as basically a service of news backed up by music programmes.
I understand—although I disagree with—the reasons why the Minister wishes to delete subsections (5) and (6) relating primarily to the news services. However, since his hon. Friends who have shown most interest in this matter say that commercial local radio is not predominantly to be a music service, will the Minister look again at the possibility between now and the Bill receiving consideration in another place of inserting another subsection to deal with music as it does at the moment with news? If the Minister were to do that, there would be no risk of commercial radio operators being tempted to have continuous music programmes composed largely of gramophone records which certainly would not be the balanced type of programme which most of us want and which could at the same time have an adverse effect on the type of news programme being broadcast.
If the Minister insists on deleting subsections (5) and (6), I hope that before the Bill goes to another place he will be prepared to consider inserting a specific provision affecting the amount of music programmes which may be broadcast.
§ Mr. Chataway
I do not believe that any Amendment of that kind is necessary. The authority has an array of duties laid upon it, requiring it to produce a variety of programmes in its services. An Amendment of that kind is not necessary. However, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications will consider what the hon. Gentleman has said.
§ Mr. Richard
I shall not advise my hon. Friends to vote against the deletion of subsection (5). However, we maintain our opposition to the deletion of subsection (6). I understand that Mr. Speaker agreed that we might have a Division limited purely to the proposal to delete subsection (6).
§ Amendment agreed to.1349
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 42, leave out subsection (6).—[Mr. Chataway.]1350
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 157, Noes 138.1351
|Division No. 119.]||AYES||[8.5 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Gummer, Selwyn||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Gurden, Harold||Percival, Ian|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Astor, John||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Bell, Ronald||Hawkins, Paul||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Redmond, Robert|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Hicks, Robert||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Biffen, John||Holland, Philip||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Hornby, Richard||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Rost, Peter|
|Bowden, Andrew||Hunt, John||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Bray, John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||James, David||Shaw, Michael, (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Jessel, Toby||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N & M)||Jopling, Michael||Soref, Harold|
|Burden, F. A.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Speed, Keith|
|Carlisle, Mark||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Spence, John|
|Chapman, Sydney||Kimball, Marcus||Stainton, Keith|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Kinsey, J. R.||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Clegg, Walter||Kitson, Timothy||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Cockeram, Eric||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Stokes, John|
|Cooke, Robert||Knox, David||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Cooper, A. E.||Lane, David||Sutcliffe, John|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Le Marchant, Spencer||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Costain, A. P.||Longden, Gilbert||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Crouch, David||Luce, R. N.||Tebbit, Norman|
|Dean, Paul||MacArthur, Ian||Temple, John M.|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Dixon, Piers||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Eden, Sir John||Mather, Carol||Tilney, John|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Mawby, Ray||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Meyer, Sir Anthony||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Fidler, Michael||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C.(Aberdeenshire, W)||Waddington, David|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Moate, Roger||Warren, Kenneth|
|Fortescue, Tim||Money, Ernle||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Fowler, Norman||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Fox, Marcus||Monro, Hector||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Fry, Peter||More, Jasper||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Mudd, David||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Goodhart, Philip||Neave, Airey|
|Goodhew, Victor||Normanton, Tom||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Mr. Oscar Murton and|
|Gray, Hamish||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Mr. John Stradling Thomas|
|Green, Alan||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Grieve, Percy||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Albu, Austen||Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Ewing, Harry|
|Allen, Scholefield||Concannon, J. D.||Faulds, Andrew|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Conlan, Bernard||Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Crawshaw, Richard||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Foot, Michael|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Gilbert, Dr. John|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Deakins, Eric||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)|
|Bishop, E. S.||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Gourlay, Harry|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dempsey, James||Grant, George (Morpeth)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Doig, Peter||Grant, John D. (Islington,E.)|
|Booth Albert||Dormand, J. D.||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Hamling, William|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Hardy, Peter|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Dunn, James A.||Harper, Joseph|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Eadie, Alex||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Millan, Bruce||Skinner, Dennis|
|Horam, John||Milne, Edward||Small, William|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Hunter, Adam||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Murray, Ronald King||Stallard, A. W|
|Kaufman, Gerald||O'Halloran, Michael||Steel, David|
|Kelley, Richard||O'Malley, Brian||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Kerr, Russell||Orbach, Maurice||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Lambie, David||Oswald, Thomas||Taverne, Dick|
|Lamond, James||Padley, Walter||Thomas, Jeffrey (Aberlillery)|
|Lawson, George||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Pendry, Tom||Tinn, James|
|Loughlin, Charles||Pentland, Norman||Torney, Tom|
|McElhone, Frank||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg||Tuck, Raphael|
|McGuire, Michael||Prescott, John||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Mackenzie, Gregor||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wallace, George|
|Mackie, John||Price, William (Rugby)||Watkins, David|
|Maclennan, Robert||Probert, Arthur||Weitzman, David|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)||Wellbeloved, James|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Marks, Kenneth||Richard, Ivor||Whitlock, William|
|Marsden, F.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Sandelson, Neville||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Woof, Robert|
|Meacher, Michael||Short,Rt.Hn.Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mendelson, John||Sillars, James||Mr. John Golding and|
|Mr. James Hamilton.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.