HC Deb 18 January 1978 vol 942 cc541-67

Finance of Scottish Arts Council. Fixing and disbursement of grants.'

No. 479, in page 48, leave out line 8.

Mr. Reid

This should be a good amendment for the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). It should also raise still further the abnormally high blood pressure about devolution shown by the hon. Members for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) and Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), because I admit at once that devolved broadcasting in Scotland would cost more than the present system. Also—I would concede this point to the hon. Members if they were here—devolved broadcasting could tend to become more provincial or insular. Why, then, do we propose this amendment? There are two basic reasons.

First, if the Scottish National Party is asking that the economics of oil be devolved, that the £4,000 million oil wealth of our country should go to the Scots, we cannot dodge the fact that broadcasting, if devolved, would cost more. Secondly, we meet right on the nose the basic situation that we could face a Sunday Post-type broadcasting for Scotland unless we had a proper independent Scots broadcasting authority.

Scotland is a difficult country in which to broadcast. We have a difficult terrain in terms of UHF and VHF signals. Our lochs and mountains do not fit a television signal. We do not have, as England does, a country in which broadcast signals reach large parts of the population. Our base for advertising and licence fees is small.

The SNP concedes that the difference in cost between the present quality of programmes and the same service pro- vided by a separate Scots broadcasting authority would probably be between £7 million and £9 million. There is also the question of the Annan Report. If my information is correct, the Annan Committee will not report until 1981, and the BBC charter and the licences of the existing ITV companies will be extended until then. It is foolish of anyone to assume that a Scots Assembly will sit idly by for the next two years until Annan is decided in London.

There are three reasons for this. First, the Assembly itself will determine whether its proceedings should be broadcast. That means that the Assembly will have a relationship with the IBA and the BBC north of the border. Secondly, as the Bill states, Members of the Assembly will receive copies of the separate broadcasting reports as and when they are published. Thirdly, the Assembly will have to look at those areas of Scotland which do not at present receive a proper television broadcasting signal—the "white" spots, as we call them, in Galloway and the Highlands, where there is no proper BBC and IBA television coverage.

All of us will concede, as Scots Members that something is wrong with broadcasting north of the border. Much of the present output is provincial and insular. Many of our top programmes hold up the standards of the English Home Counties as desirable. These programmes deal with English architects, English lawyers and English public relations men. These are held up in Scotland, in the family home, through television, as being desirable standards to aim at. That is wrong.

Surely, from the situation on Clyde-side, for example, many a family programme could be produced for the Scots public about the ordinary man who works in Clydeside shipbuilding, about his problems and his family's problems, and there would thereby be greater understanding of Scotland's relationships to the United Kingdom in the great crises of the postwar period. Secondly, there are problems in terms of Scots broadcasting as set up in the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s. Roy Thomson went on record as saying that in Scottish Television he had a licence to print money. It was not just that. He had licence to take on board people at senior management level with no real sense of the needs and necessities of Scots broadcasting. In the United States, one often finds senior television cameramen clutching their hearts as they trundle their cameras across the floor because they have been passed over for better things. Much the same is true of Scots television. People want to be big fish in a small pool. Our problem is that as long as it is the BBC or the IBA paying the Scots cheques or making up the schedules, Scots broadcasting will inevitably remain provincial and insular.

I am therefore suggesting that we and the Assembly set up a Scots broadcasting commission, which would control licensing north of the border and simultaneously set broadcasting standards and point the way in which television and radio should be heading. I am not suggesting that we should have totally separate broadcasting services, because only a sovereign Parliament can decide the allocation of frequencies, for example, and that will have to wait until the Scots people decide themselves to go totally independent.

I congratulate Mr. Alastair Hetherington, of BBC Scotland, who has pointed out the basic problem that as long as programme schedules are made up in London Scots broadcasting will remain rather poor. Scots programmes will be tucked away at the bottom end of the day's schedule and appear on our screens at 11 o'clock or 11.30.

I would prefer, given the Assembly, that if "World in Action" on ITV is dealing with the major problem of, say, the situation in Liverpool Docks, a Scots programme could be slotted in at that time. If BBC "Panorama" is dealing with a major problem, say, London and race relations—that is not a particularly Scots problem at present—and if the programme controller wishes to slot in a Scots programme at that time, he should be able to do so.

Perhaps I can tell the House a short story that is purely personal. When I worked for Granada I had good budgets, good teams and time. When I went back to Scotland I found myself in Shetland, in the constituency of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), having to make programmes about the Shetland fishermen or about bird-watching in Shetland in two days, whether the mist was down or not. In terms of the narrow budgets available to STV, one had to go and film in those conditions. As a result, we produced, of necessity, provincial and rather bad programmes.

I am suggesting that if STV were an amalgam of the Scots companies, and if STV, Grampian and Border Television came together as one Scottish ITV company, we would have an advertising base roughly comparable with that of Yorkshire at present. Such a company could begin to programme across the British network and the time available for Scots programmes, and for programmes on Shetland, would be roughly equivalent to that obtainable by "World in Action" producers. The problem at present is that north of the border we try to produce national programmes with roughly regional facilities.

I am therefore saying that, given a Scots Assembly and given the fact that the Annan Commission will not be reporting within the next three years, the Assembly itself will take a few decisions on this subject.

It would be wrong not to concede that broadcasting north of the border will cost more. It is difficult to discover the appropriate figures from STV or BBC Scotland because there are many cross-fertilisations in terms of programme budgets. But I believe that the shortfall for broadcasting in Scotland might be between £7 million and £9 million, although it could be £5 or £6 million either way, to produce in Scotland the same quality and standard of broadcasting that we have now.

We in Scotland, through the Assembly, must concede that our programmes will not necessarily be run on the present duo-poly of the British system, which has commercial standards plus public service standards. Perhaps, like Norway or Ireland, we should consider a different broadcasting standard.

The SNP itself has suggested that there should be established a Scottish Broadcasting Commission, roughly analogous to the University Grants Committee, which would hold a position midway between the Treasury and broadcasters. This could avoid the obvious problem that one could not put money into the pocket of the broadcaster without putting the broadcaster into the pocket of the politician. Perhaps underneath the Scottish broadcasting commission we should have a public service—BBC-1 and BBC-2 and a commercially financed STV.

Mr. Grimond

I have some sympathy with the hon. Gentleman's arguments, but I am not certain about his proposals to amalgamate STV, Grampian and Border Television, because there is a great deal of difference between the North of Scotland and the Central Belt. I would have thought there was a case for keeping those two separate contracting companies. I agree that it would mean that both would be rather small, but is the hon. Gentleman really convinced that Scottish broadcasting would be improved if they were amalgamated?

Mr. Reid

I accept immediately that Grampian Television has done a marvellous job in terms of relating itself to and creating programmes for the Aberdeen area. I am not suggesting that there should be an STV take-over of ITV north of the border. I suggest that there should be a different confederal company north of the border, which, by taking in all three elements, would have an advertising base comparable to Yorkshire Television. If that happened, we could give our producers the time which they do not have at present because they are producing national services with fairly regional facilities.

8.15 p.m.

It would be quite wrong to suggest that the SNP or the Labour Party—because it has put very much the same evidence to the Annan Commission—wants to see STV take over Grampian and Border. One of the things that Mr. Hetherington has done is to prove that with small facilities one can create new broadcasting communities. I congratulate him on what he has done for Shetland with Radio Shetland and for Orkney with Radio Orkney. [Interruption.] The Tories chortle on about this, but the fact remains that Mr. Hetherington created in Lerwick a service of two hours a day with one producer and one secretary. He has created in Kirkwall a service for the people of Orkney, with one producer and one secretary. I hope that very shortly he will do the same thing in the Western Isles.

It is sad that a political party in this House should condemn the controller of BBC Scotland for looking at the Scots broadcasting situation and, as the wife of the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West said in evidence to the Annan Commission, establishing a broadcasting authority north of the border which is distinctive from that of the present British State.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

There was no question of our criticising in any way the splendid radio service in Orkney and Shetland, of which we approve.

Mr. Reid

I am grateful for that.

Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)

I am not clear about the hon. Gentleman's argument for having a commercial station for Scotland with outposts in the various areas. He has rightly praised the Scottish controller of the BBC, Mr. Hetherington. Why should the present situation be substantially altered, for good or bad, by the transference of legislative authority to the Assembly?

Mr. Reid

I congratulated the chairman of BBC Scotland for all that he has done, despite the present United Kingdom financial structure. As the hon. Gentleman well knows, Mr. Hetherington has had a difficult battle with the BBC management down south to get through his overspend, because there are cross-book entries at present. I am suggesting that if one wants to create a distinctive new form of Scots broadcasting one would be better able to do it if backed by an Assembly which looked at the needs of the Scots people.

No one in the SNP is for a moment suggesting that we should take away "Coronation Street" from the average Scots viewer. There is no way in which any practising politician in Scotland could conceivably attempt to conceal the fact that a separate Scots broadcasting system will mean a licence fee of about £35. The United Kingdom structure, of course, will not allow hypothecation of revenues. Everything that is raised under the existing broadcasting structure north of the border has to enter the great maw of the United Kingdom Treasury. I do not see why that should be so. I do not see why such moneys should not be used to create a capital base for transmitters and why the Treasury itself should not provide the transmitter services or the camera services inside the duopoly of public service and commercially based licensing. That is where we could square the difference of between £7 and £9 million to which I referred earlier.

Mr. Dalyell

I am told that a separate Scottish broadcasting system along the lines suggested by the hon. Gentleman would mean a TV licence of £60 per set. Can the hon. Gentleman deny that? He may well deny it. But that is the figure that I have been given and I should like him to comment on it.

Mr. Reid

I deny that. I think that £60 is double what the fee might be. What I am trying to work my way through is the difficult situation of the SNP having to concede that broadcasting north of the border, being totally devolved, will cost a great deal more. Nevertheless, £60 is far too high. I would think that £32 or £33 is about right.

We must not think of the present United Kingdom structure of financing broadcasting as being parallel to that north of the border. We must not think of the present duopoly continuing. We in the SNP are suggesting that there might be a single Scots broadcasting commission which could look at priorities north of the border. Neither we nor the Labour Party—which gave evidence to the Annan Committee along these lines—believe in the fourth channel. We are concerned with the spread of broadcasting rather than more broadcasting. We are concerned with filling the white spots in television rather than creating a blanket service. We need a complete commitment to the view that those people in Galloway or the Western Isles who are without a service at present should have one through BBC Scotland.

The Committee will know that Scottish Television used to be housed in the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, and the Scottish Opera is there at present. All hon. Members will have heard the arguments from the Government Benches that we have a fine broadcasting service. There is a mood of self-congratulation on the Labour side. Labour Members believe that everything is wonderful in broadcasting in Britain. They claim that in this country at least we have the best broadcasting service in the world.

Let me tell the Committee a story. The Glasgow Opera had a new Italian tenor who said publicly at the end of his first concert that he had never before had so many curtain calls. He said that Gigli and Caruso received only five or six encores, but that he had received eight. A little Scots voice piped up from the balcony "Aye, and ye will keep getting them until ye get it right." That is basically the argument that we in the SNP are putting to the Government.

Mr. John Smith

I have listened very carefully to the hon. Gentleman's arguments. As I read it, the amendment gives the Scottish Assembly and Executive devolved powers for radio and television broadcasting, excluding the allocation of frequencies. Can he explain the relationship between the transfer of legislative and executive powers and a licence fee which is gathered by the United Kingdom Government?

Mr. Reid

I must concede immediately to the Minister. As I said before, perhaps my amendment is not properly drafted. I accept that allocation of frequency is a matter for a sovereign Parliament dealing with other sovereign Parliaments. Nevertheless, this is a useful opportunity to debate broadcasting north of the border.

Secondly, the Minister himself should contact the Home Office and point out that if it is right for the Home Office to put off a report on the Annan Committee for another three years it would be crazy for anyone to think that the Scottish Assembly will wait around for another three years for London to decide what will happen to Scottish broadcasting. The Assembly will decide whether to broadcast its proceedings—and I hope it will —whether its committees will be broadcast and whether, for example, Radio Clyde will extend its services to Oban and Ayr. The Minister is foolish if he assumes that when proceedings in the Scottish Assembly are being broadcast, its members will leave all these things to London to decide.

Mr. John Smith

I am not assuming anything. I am seeking elucidation. If this amendment is simply an attempt to have a debate about broadcasting in Scotland, I understand. However, I am taking the amendment at its face value as a serious attempt to amend the Bill. The licence fees are gathered by the United Kingdom Government. I would be grateful if the hon. Member would explain to me what he intends. I am simply seeking information.

Mr. Reid

We are under the guillotime and many financial clauses in the Bill have not been debated. The basic financial structure of the Assembly has not been debated at all.

When the Minister was at university in Glasgow with me we were both fairly active in the Labour student movement at that time. There we discussed the relationship between central Government and Scotland in terms of devolved-expenditure. That has never been discussed in this Bill.

I am in great difficulties trying to juxtapose this matter with proposals for a Scottish Treasury. All we are doing in this debate is putting up our own arguments on both sides in the post-imperial failure of the British State. I do not think that the Bill is workable. The Minister is trying to draft a federal relationship in the British Isles within a unitary State. To ask me, therefore, to justify my remarks in terms of the measure is difficult.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

The hon. Member has said, in effect, that this debate is a farce. Would it not be much better for him to withdraw his amendment and allow us to get on with the debate on universities, which has much more substance?

Mr. Reid

I shall conclude my remarks very quickly. It is not unreasonable for the SNP to try to get a debate on broadcasting. If anybody thinks that the SNP simply wants to create a more Scottish broadcasting system he underestimates and misunderstands what our party is about. Most of us come from an apolitical situation of wanting a more international Scotland, rather than a more Sunday Post Scotland.

Anyone who concludes that we will make broadcasting north of the border 100 per cent. Scottish is wrong. England makes some of the best television programmes in the world and these will continue to be screened in Scotland. All we want is the same freedom for television producers as there is for people in economics, social workers and so on. In broadcasting, as in politics, as long as London signs the cheques and makes up the schedules, Scotland will remain provincial.

The First Deputy Chairman

May I make an official contribution to the debate by indicating that the guillotine will fall on this and other amendments at 9 p.m. I hope that that will have some effect on the length of the speeches.

Mr. Craigen

I agree with the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) that we want to improve the quality of television and radio in Scotland, but I wonder whether this amendment is the best way to achieve that aim.

The hon. Gentleman zig-zagged throughout his case. Until he said so explicitly I had not appreciated that he was not seeking a separate broadcasting set-up in Scotland but one in which the United Kingdom would be prepared to pay the high capital costs of servicing Scotland's outlying areas, with Scotland and its Assembly being concerned in the administration and running of television and radio programmes.

It was interesting to hear the hon. Gentleman refer to Roy Thomson. I read Roy Thomson's autobiography and what came through to me was that when he sought to establish Scottish Television there was a great lack of interest among many Scottish organisations in subscribing to such a company.

I feel that there is a need for the Government to take early action on some of the Annan recommendations. However, I wonder how quickly the Scottish Assembly when set up would be able to get down to the task of looking at the adequacy of TV and radio programmes within the country.

The hon. Gentleman might have told us a little more, had time permitted, about commercial television and how the advertising base would be strengthened. He did not answer to my satisfaction the point mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) about the cost of the licence fee in Scotland. I do not know about the people in London writing cheques, but certainly the people in Scotland would have to write pretty large cheques if they were to pay the licence fees to sustain either a separate television authority or an authority with such decentralised powers as I suspect the hon. Gentleman envisages.

8.30 p.m.

Mr Reid

The hon. Gentleman must accept that he is either a United Kingdom Treasury man who believes that all money raised from broadcasting north of the border should go into the English Treasury or he is not. I believe that there is about £7 million to £8 million raised from broadcasting which could go back into providing the services and which could close the gap in providing the more expensive services. Has the hon. Gentleman ever watched programmes on Saturday afternoon and, although wishing to see a good "B" movie, found himself on both channels having to watch some football programme? Perhaps a Scottish broadcasting commission, if we do not have to live with British standards, would allow differentiation and freedom of choice.

Mr. Craigen

I do not get much time to watch television on Saturdays, but I know that some of my enthusiastic football friends prefer to watch some of the football programmes produced down south rather than some of the Scottish programmes.

As for my being a United Kingdom Treasury man, that is not the case. I want to see an improvement in the quality of television in the United Kingdom as a whole. I took part in the debate on the Annan proposals, and what concerns me about television in the United Kingdom generally is the extent to which we seem to depend on American television. I am also concerned about insularity. I have watched television programmes in Norway and Sweden—nations which SNP Members invariably quote as superior models of the small State. I was surprised at the extent to which their television services drew on the United States and the United Kingdom output. Those countries appeared to be far more international in their approach than is the case here.

Since the Chair has called for brevity, I conclude by saying that the approach in this amendment is not the best way to obtain greater decentralisation in run- ning our television and radio programmes. I shall vote against the amendment.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher (Edinburgh, North)

I shall try to be as brief as I can on this subject, considering that there are other subjects which, because of the guillotine, the Committee will not reach at all.

Mr. Teddy Taylor


Mr. Fletcher

The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) was nationalistic in his reference to English presentation of programmes, as though the BBC in London were not well staffed indeed by people from Scotland.

Mr. Reid


Mr. Fletcher

I am very limited in time and the hon. Gentleman has already had a good share of it.

The question is whether broadcasting would be improved if the amendment were passed and responsibility for broadcasting moved towards the Scottish Assembly. Would that benefit the listeners and viewers in Scotland? We must ask whether people want more political involvement in broadcasting and the arts, because they would get unnecessary meddling by the Assembly in programmes and the content of programmes. Radio and television producers could hardly want that.

The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire painted a dismal picture when talking of Scottish broadcasting generally. He missed out the success of Radio Clyde, which is probably the most successful commercial radio station in the United Kingdom. I am authorised to quote the managing director of Radio Clyde, Mr. James Gordon, who has said: We do not think that broadcasting should be devolved to a Scottish Assembly. In terms of transmitter costs, Scotland benefits considerably from broadcasting being organised and financed on a UK basis. As regards programme content and control over it, most of the television output will still come from south of the Border; and it is better that Scotland continues to be represented in the control that is exercised there, rather than opt out and be forced to treat English television output as though it were from a different country. Most important of all, the relationship between broadcasters and Government in this country is a very delicate and sophisticated one: it would be difficult to duplicate this mature relationship if a separate broadcasting authority were to be set up in Scotland. That is an important statement from someone in a responsible position in Scottish broadcasting.

Mr. Reid

The hon. Gentleman talks about English influence on Scots broadcasting. I hope that, like other Scots Members, he objects to major programmes referring constantly to "the three major parties" in broadcast after broadcast. This clearly disadvantages the SNP.

Radio Clyde is identified with a clear area on Clydeside, it has been fairly brash and has created a good advertising base, but I wonder whether Jimmy Gordon would be as willing to extend his services to Oban and Ayr. I wonder whether that has the backing of the Conservative Party.

Mr. Fletcher

That response shows an extremely partisan attitude and perhaps some professional jealously towards James Gordon, who has been particularly successful in this area.

The hon. Gentleman did not mention the success of Scottish Television with Grampian and Border, who appear to be well thought of in their own areas. I am authorised to quote the managing director of STV, who said: The IBA could not be responsible to two separate legislative bodies. If the Assembly were able to pass a broadcasting Act for Scotland, they could apply quite different conditions to such vital matters as finance, hours of broadcasting, standards of programmes and advertising, numbers of channels and technical development. As the spread of transmitters increases throughout Scotland, there is a very substantial capital expenditure being undertaken by the UK system in Scotland. I should like to quote some more of his comments, but, in view of the shortage of time, I shall not do so. I merely add that these two men, who are both running successful stations in Scotland, do not support the amendment.

The problem with Scottish broadcasting may revolve around the BBC and there may be a case for a greater autonomy for BBC Scotland within the organisation as a whole, but it is a nationalised body and is, inevitably, overcentralised. I understand the frustrations of BBC staff in Scotland and no doubt similar frustrations are felt by the same sort of people in Wales and the English regions, but organisational problems within the BBC can hardly be a reason for changing the whole system of government in Great Britain. The question is, therefore, whether the BBC, STV or Radio Clyde would be freer to produce programmes to suit listeners and viewers in Scotland if broadcasting were devolved. I contend that the chances are that the opposite would be the case.

I make two other points about broadcasting. Obviously, the major BBC and ITV networks are fully and freely available in Scotland as in the rest of the United Kingdom. The popularity of network programmes—the hon. Gentleman referred to this—and regional programmes emanating from Bristol and Manchester, for example, knows no physical or political boundaries throughout Britain. I should not advise anyone, politician or broadcaster, to stand between Scottish viewers and their favourite programmes, whether it is "Play of the Month", "Match of the Day" or, as the hon. Gentleman said, "Coronation Street". It might even be "Today in Parliament". However, that is what the amendment is about.

There is the question of hiving off television and broadcasting to an Assembly. We must be talking of hiving off if we are to take the amendment seriously. That must be so, unless yet again the SNP is seeking some sort of authority without responsibility—in other words, looking for a façade of independence in broadcasting.

The bulk of the programmes originate outside Scotland and very few people in Scotland would want to change that. To most viewers in Scotland a BBC programme is a BBC programme from wherever it comes. The same applies to those who watch programmes emanating from the ITV network.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the cost of television licences. That is a matter that cannot be made too clear to those who might support the amendment, or those in Scotland who think that magically they will enjoy anything like the same standard of programme. The information that I have about the cost of a television licence in Scotland if there were any prospects of achieving the same standard of programme is that it would be not £60 or £70 but £120. That is the equivalent figure that I have been quoted. It is clearly a substantial figure.

Mr. Reid

Will the hon. Gentleman identify the source of his information?

Mr. Fletcher

I cannot allow another intervention.

Mr. Reid

Tell us the source of your information.

Mr. Fletcher

If the hon. Gentleman thinks about it, the source is quite obvious. That is the figure that I have been quoted, and it is a serious figure. It does not seem ridiculous if we consider the situation that would apply in Scotland.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)

I can help the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) with the source of the information. The source is Mr. John Gray, BBC Scotland's chief assistant, radio, who told an Edinburgh business club that the cost of a tartan television licence would be £120 in a separate Scotland.

Mr. Fletcher

I am sure that yet again the Committee is grateful to the Under-Secretary of State in this debate, as in other debates. That would be the cost of a television licence if an attempt were made to maintain anything like present day standards. There is no guarantee that even with that sort of licence fee it would be possible to produce in Scotland the standard of radio and television programme that we now enjoy throughout the United Kingdom.

Surely broadcasting is one subject in respect of which it may be said that the further away politicians are from the programme producers the better it is for the listeners and viewers. The same might be said about the other part of the debate —namely, the arts. It is unfortunate that we should be debating these matters in such a rush. It is unfortunate that a whole list of subjects, including education, agriculture and forestry, will not be considered. I am sure that the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire is as worried about that as everyone else.

Mr. Buchan

Hurry up.

Mr. Fletcher

I tell the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) that I am hurrying up.

As for the arts, there is one thing that we must try to clear up with the assistance of the Minister—namely, the confusion that seems to exist as to what is or is not devolved. I refer to an Answer that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) received from the Department of Education and Science. The most important part of the Answer read: The arts are a devolved subject in the Scotland Bill, and the precise arrangements for the handling of the arts in Scotland after devolution will be a matter for discussion between the Government, the Scottish Assembly and the Arts Council."—[Official Report, 2nd December 1977; Vol. 940, c. 469.] Therefore, it is quite clear that it is very difficult this evening for the Committee to be sure what it is talking about at all when discussing the arts unless the Minister can make some clarification on that point.

8.45 p.m.

Nevertheless, I contend that the argument about the arts is not seriously different from the argument about broadcasting. Whether or not one supports the idea of an opera house in Edinburgh or a football stadium in Glasgow—I happen to support both—or anything else, the fact that neither exists at present is not because there has been no devolution in this context. The reasons lie entirely in Scotland, particularly on the former proposition. The Committee will understand if I do not elaborate on the reason why that has not come about.

Mr. Hector Monro (Dumfries)

The third amendment under discussion concerns recreation. Will my hon. Friend press the Minister about the relationship between the Sports Council and the Scottish Sports Council in relation to the Royal Charter, which clearly gives responsibility for certain aspects to the Sports Council for the British Isles?

Mr. Fletcher

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I am sure that the Minister of State was listening most attentively and will try to include a reply later.

Yesterday and in other debates the Committee has recognised the increase in Scottish Office activities that has taken place over the years in the shift of responsibilities to the Secretary of State. The fact that broadcasting and the arts have not been transferred previously, by successive Governments—as they could have been and, I am sure, as they would have been had the demand and desire existed —indicates that over the years Governments have thought better. We believe that that has been the right decision. Therefore, we cannot in any way support the amendment.

Mr. Dalyell

The point made by my hon. Friend the Minister of State must be borne in mind. Mr. John Gray has stated, with the authority that he holds in his position in Edinburgh, that the television licence would cost £120.

Coupled with that, there is the question of frequencies. Mr. Gray has said, We'd have to go to Geneva for allocation of frequencies. If we went as an independent nation and as a separate independent unit it's unlikely that we'd get the amount of frequencies we'd require. We'd have technical limitations and the cost of transmitters would be astronomical. The licence income from Scotland is between £14 and £15 million a year and it's cost £17 million to provide TV and radio. There's a shortfall of £2 million, and between £6 million and £7 million of the licence revenue comes back to Scotland for the TV and radio we produce here. Are those the facts of the situation? If they are, there are financial consequences to any of the ideas put forward by the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid).

Mr. John Smith

I should like to make a brief intervention now to answer a question put by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher). First, concerning the amendment, I am not quite sure as to what its status is. The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) said at one stage that it was to initiate a debate on broadcasting. There are some obvious problems about it, to some of which he referred. The hon. Member conceded, I think, that the question of frequencies would have to be a matter for the United Kingdom Government and the United Kingdom Parliament. That is so. It is stressed repeatedly in the Annan Report that that would have to be the position.

However, what I must confess I am not very clear about is the relationship of the Scottish Administration and the Assembly, if they dealt with radio and television broadcasting, when we have a financial structure based upon a United Kingdom licence. I do not think that I should recommend to the Committee that we could accept the amendment until there is more clarification on that point.

The Government are considering the Annan Report on the future of broadcasting. It is rather foolish to forecast that it will take three years for any proposals to be put forward. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already announced that he hopes to publish his proposals in the form of a White Paper. The Committee knows that some of the questions relating to broadcasting in Scotland, and in Wales and Northern Ireland, were considered by the Annan Committee. Its recommendations were probably against the devolution of responsibility for these matters to the Assemblies in Scotland and in Wales.

The arts are devolved as a subject to the Scottish Assembly, but there is the complication that the Arts Council of Great Britain is a Royal chartered body. I think that the Sports Council falls into the same category.

If the Scottish Administration chose to do so, in the case of the arts it could continue to operate through the existing machinery. The Arts Council of Great Britain could consider, in consultation with the Assembly and Administration, what adjustment should be made to its charter to meet the wishes of the Scottish Executive. Then, it is assumed, the Arts Council of Great Britain would apply to the Privy Council for any necessary amendments to its constitution to be made, although, under the Bill, the Assembly could legislate to amend the charter only after having obtained Crown consent. That is the procedure for dealing with Royal Charter bodies.

What is important is that the question how the Scottish Administration wishes to deal with the arts should be discussed between it, the Government and the Arts Council of Great Britain, before there are changes. It seems to me to be sensible and practical before making any changes we should ascertain the wishes of the Assembly and Administration.

For the reasons I have given, I cannot recommend acceptance of the amendment, which is rather inchoate.

Mr. Monro

The Committee accepts that the SNP amendment has been demolished, for a whole host of reasons.

I believe that broadcasting should be retained as it is, but I also hope that, finance permitting, all viewers in Scotland will soon be able to see Scottish BBC rather than receiving BBC transmissions from Newcastle, as we do in Dumfries and Galloway. I should like the BBC and Border Television to give a firm assurance that the whole of Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway, will be able to watch all the World Cup matches this summer.

The Minister has helpfully replied on the subject of the Arts Council, but I press him to think in greater depth about the Sports Council as opposed to the Scottish Sports Council. The Sports Council has responsibility in Great Britain for such matters as overseas events and the Olympic Games. That responsibility is specifically written into its Royal Charter. When our sportsmen and women are performing for Great Britain, as opposed to Scotland, as would happen on most occasions, and particularly at such events as the Commonwealth Games, there could be severe friction if the responsibility is not clarified. I do not want to see Royal Charters, which have been set up very carefully, after much thought, chopped and changed without the best of reasons.

To sum up, I hope that in Dumfries and Galloway we can have full coverage of programmes we want to see and that the Government will carefully examine the future of Royal Charters.

Mr. Buchan

I shall be brief, because I know that everyone wants at least the university amendment to be moved tonight if possible.

I apologise to the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) for having come in late during this debate. I had not realised that it had started.

As I understand it, the heavy cost of engineering transmission and so on, will be borne by the Treasury and only the rest of the cost will be borne within Scotland. Only on that basis do we arrive at a figure of about £30 for the licence. The evidence from John Gray and from engineers and others to whom I have spoken suggests that it might be three times that amount if we had a totally self-financed Scotland. The alternative is a completely commercial structure. I hope that the Scottish people will reject that, and I am disappointed to hear that that view is held by the SNP.

I move to a second matter. The Labour Party evidence in Scotland referred to a single structure for commercial television, leaving the way open for local opting out, but basically in order to strengthen the quality of television in Scotland, which has been extremely inferior.

Another matter that I wish to raise is that, if we are to have the kind of Scotland that we all want, I hope that we shall not refer, as the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire did, to "the person" who led the evidence for the Scottish Labour Party. That was my wife. I wish that the hon. Gentleman had referred to her as Janey Buchan instead of the wife of the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West". One of the worst things in a small country is that people in public life are not seen as persons in their own right. The same would have applied if the hon. Gentleman had got on to the Scottish Arts Council, of which my wife is a member. I take great exception to this attitude on the part of the hon. Gentleman. We have distinct attitudes and distinct public postures in relation to political and social affairs in Scotland. It is an example of a male chauvinist and dreadfully Scottish attitude that it should have come out in that form.

Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

I wish to comment on the Minister's reply in relation to the Arts Council. Before doing so, however, I should say that I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid), a great believer in local autonomy, say that he was anxious to become a unionist and to unite the three existing television networks into a single one, despite the fact that two of them clearly do not wish to be united in this way. It was a curious inversion of the normal approach of the SNP.

Mr. Reid

I spoke about a confederal structure which would retain broadcasting in Aberdeen and the Borders but allow the Scottish whole to be comparable with Yorkshire in terms of advertising rates.

Mr. Rifkind

It would be interesting if the hon. Gentleman applied to the United Kingdom the degree of flexibility that he appears to be willing to give to broadcasting. I had not realised that con-federalism was now the policy of the SNP. I can understand the "con" part, but federalism seems a new development. The fact remains that it is a novel approach, and the smile of the hon. Gentleman may indicate his own attitude to the matter.

I want to question the Minister about his unsatisfactory reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher). My hon. Friend quoted a reply which I had received from the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science on 2nd December of last year about responsibility for the arts, especially the Arts Council. The Minister made a very unsatisfactory and confused response.

Mr. John Smith

The hon. Gentleman should understand that, following devolution, because of the effect of the Bill the existing administrative and statutory functions exercised by the Secretary of State for Education and Science in relation to the arts in Scotland will be transferred to a Scottish Secretary, and the devolved Administration will be able to develop its own policy for the financial support of the arts, deciding how much of the block fund should be devoted to the arts and whether to dispense the financial support directly itself or whether to operate through the Arts Council of Great Britain or its subsidiary, the Scottish Arts Council. That is an effective transfer of responsibility. However, the Royal Charter would require further consideration.

Mr. Rifkind

I had understood that there was a transfer of responsibility, and undoubtedly both the White Paper and the schedule to the Bill imply that such a transfer of responsibility will take place. But what the Minister said is in conflict with the reply from the Minister at the Department of Education and Science. In his reply, the Minister said nothing about charters. He said that the precise arrangements for the handling of the arts in Scotland after devolution would be a matter for discussion between the Government, the Scottish Assembly and the Arts Council. He did not refer specifically to the Royal Charter. He spoke of arrangements for the handling of the arts If the Government are to be entitled to take part in discussion of these matters, presumably the Government, this House and the United Kingdom as a whole will retain some responsibility for arts matters in Scotland.

It would have been more appropriate if the Government had come to a conclusion on this matter before publishing the Bill. They said that this was a matter on which they wanted to take the view of the Scottish Administration. They have not applied that criterion to every other matter which is to be devolved to the Scottish Assembly. The Government have come to a conclusion, they have put their conclusion in the Bill, and they have been prepared to Whip their supporters to ensure the acceptance of their proposal.

On this one matter the Government say that they are showing great flexibility. I suggest that all that they are doing is creating enormous confusion for the Arts Council in Scotland, which does not know whether its relationship is with the Government, the Scottish Assembly or a combination of the two. It will be a considerable time before that problem can be clarified.

We know that the Assembly will not start functioning for another year or so and that the Arts Council will not be a priority that the Assembly will want to consider as soon as it is established. The Scottish Arts Council has had a history—

It being Nine o'clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order [16th November] and the Resolution [22nd November], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question, That the Amendment be made, put and negatived.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the Business to be concluded at Nine o'clock.

Amendments made:

No. 566, in page 51, line 12, at beginning insert: 'The following, except in relation to the provision of financial assistance for the execution of works for the benefit of the fishing industry:'.

No. 567, in page 52, line 46, leave out from 'Secretary' to 'or' in line 47.

No. 568, in page 53, line 4, leave out from 'authority' to end of line 5.

No. 569, in page 53, line 5, at end insert: 'Paragraphs (a) and (b) above do not apply to a person who is a member of the home civil service of the state or to a person designated under section 64(4) of this Act; and paragraph (c) above does not apply to a person who is employed exclusively for the purpose of a reserved function.'.

No. 570, in page 54, line 43, at end insert: '() The powers to give directions under section 17(5) and determine questions under section 17(8) are not included so far as exercisable in relation to excepted statutory undertakers in cases where an objection is made by a coast protection authority;'.

No. 571, in page 54, line 48, at end insert: or held for the purposes of a Scottish Secretary '.

No. 572, in page 56, line 33, at end insert: 'or held for the purposes of a Scottish Secretary'.

No. 573, in page 56, line 36, at end insert: 'The Flood Prevention (Scotland) Act 1961 (c.41) section 14(2).

The power to determine questions is not included.'.

No. 574, in page 58, line 30, leave out from 'and' to end of line 32 and insert 'so much of paragraph 6(1) of Schedule 1 as relates to the number of officers and servants of the Forestry Commissioners.'.

No. 575, in page 61, leave out lines 26 and 27.

No. 576, in page 65, line 31, column 2, at beginning insert 'Not'.

No. 577, in page 67, line 5, leave out 'paragraph' and insert 'paragraphs 3(1), 7 and'.

No. 578, in page 67, line 13, at end insert— '() section 16, so far as relating to property held by any person for the purposes of a devolved matter;'.

No. 579, in page 67, line 14, leave out from 'Schedule 2' to end of line 15, and insert paragraph 2'.

No. 580, in page 67, leave out lines 20 and 21.

No. 581, in page 67, line 36, leave out 'Included' and insert 'Not included, except for—

  1. (a) the powers under section 1 to give directions and to make orders; and
  2. (b) the power under section 3(1)(a) to prescribe matters to be taken account of under section 2(2)(b).'

Question put, That this Schedule, as amended, be the Tenth Schedule to the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 186, Noes 164.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Schedule 10, as amended, agreed to.

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