HC Deb 09 February 1972 vol 830 cc1319-20
16. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications on what date the present term of office of the current Chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation expires; and when he expects to make a statement as to the new chairman.

Mr. Chataway

The appointment expires on 31st August, 1972. Lord Hill's successor has not yet been decided upon and I cannot say when an announcement will be made.

Mr. Mills

When considering this appointment, would my right hon. Friend bear in mind the necessity for a fundamental reappraisal and redefinition of the rôle of Chairman of the B.B.C.? In particular, would my right hon. Friend consider arranging for the new chairman to be much more aloof from programme making and from technical and administrative matters inside the B.B.C.? Would he also consider greatly bringing forward once again the rôle of Director-General, which seems under the present administration to have gone into a backwater?

Mr. Chataway

Without commenting on my hon. Friend's particular proposals, it is absolutely right to consider carefully the function of the chairman when making this appointment.

Mr. Hamling

May we hope from the right hon. Gentleman that when the new chairman is appointed the corporation will be even more independent than some of its present critics would like it to be? May we also expect that the corporation will give culture its rightful place and not, as is happening now, sack Charles Parker, one of the outstanding producers of documentary radio programmes, on the ground of expense, in view of some of the other rubbish that is being pumped out?

Mr. Chataway

I am not in a position to comment about the particular appointment mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Richard

The right hon. Gentleman used the word "successor" in answering the Question. May we take it from that that he has no intention of even considering the reappointment of the present chairman?

Mr. Chataway

As far as I am aware, the present chairman has always made it clear that he would not be in any way open to an offer to continue for a further five years.