HC Deb 28 June 1979 vol 969 cc636-8
12. Mrs. Fenner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he is making in his consideration of the introduction of citizens' band radio; and if he will make a statement.

23. Mr. Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to be able to announce the Government's policy on the introduction of citizens' band radio into Great Britain.

Mr. Raison

I have already indicated that the question of the introduction of citizens' band radio is under review. It is too early to say when we shall be able to draw firm conclusions.

Mrs. Fenner

I compliment my hon. Friend on pursuing the pledge that we made during the election campaign. However, I must express my disappointment that it is taking rather a long time. I seek my hon. Friend's reassurance that the delay has bona fide reasons and is not part of the renowned reluctance of his Department to live with the innovation of free-enterprise radio.

Mr. Raison

I gently say to my hon. Friend that I do not think that eight weeks is a long time in which to consider a matter that is as complicated as this. I assure her that our consideration of the subject is absolutely genuine.

Mr. John Evans

Is the Minister aware that there is a considerable danger of a clash of interest between those who want citizens' band radio and those who fly model aircraft? Will he ensure that the views of the model aircraft enthusiasts are taken fully into account before he introduces citizens' band radio?

Mr. Raison

I confess that I had not thought of that aspect. I suggest that tripartite talks should take place between my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby), the hon. Gentleman, and my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Fenner).

Mr. Rathbone

Does my hon. Friend accept that there are many ramifications of passing into law the right to have citizens' band radio? Does he also accept that the Home Office was reluctant to encourage Ministers to take that step? Will he provide the reassurance requested by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Fenner) that his investigation is genuine and will end with a proper conclusion?

Mr. Raison

It is not for me to comment on the policy of the Home Office under a previous Administration. However, I assure my hon. Friend, as I as- sured my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Fenner), that we are genuinely considering this matter with an open mind.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Will the Minister take into account the fact that there is evidence that citizens' band radio could interfere with the use of radio by the essential services? Indeed, it would be extremely dangerous. There is already some evidence to that effect.

Mr. Raison

It is fairly widely agreed that on 27 MegaHertz there are problems of the kind to which the hon. Lady referred. We are wondering whether there are other ways of approaching this matter.

Mr. Butcher

Is my hon. Friend aware that the all-party committee on citizens' band radio recommended that we use the waveband now being vacated by the 405-line television transmissions? That would not interfere with emergency services or model aircraft. Is my hon. Friend further aware that citizens' band radio saves approximately 2,000 lives per annum in the United States and that 13 European countries already have citizens' band radio?

Mr. Raison

Those are exactly the kinds of considerations at which we shall look in our review.