HC Deb 27 March 1980 vol 981 cc1637-8
12. Mr. Freud

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in order to enable the British Broadcasting Corporation to retain a competitive wage structure, he will reconsider his decision not to provide extra financing for at least two years.

Mr. Whitelaw

No, Sir.

Mr. Freud

Does the Home Secretary accept that with the introduction of channel 4—which he calls service 2—the competition will become tougher? Do not the Government accept that if people are able to spend El on a National Health Service prescription—which, presumably, is what the Government believe—they are willing to pay 11p a day—one-ninth of that sum—to receive a quality BBC service? Is he no longer worried about the popularity or credibility of his Administration?

Mr. Whitelaw

I shall ignore the hon. Gentleman's last remark. The increase in the television licences that I authorised for both colour and monochrome will bring £1,000 million to the BBC for two years. That is a considerable sum. It is right that the BBC, like everyone else in the country, should consider economies and the way in which it conducts its affairs.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, unfortunately, the BBC is grossly overmanned? Is he further aware that if it employed fewer people it could pay larger salaries?

Mr. Whitelaw

As I have already said very carefully, these are matters for the chairman and governors of the BBC. I make the same response to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Hannam

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the BBC should look in the opposite direction to raise more revenue? It could easily raise the necessary £130 million by considering other methods of sponsorship, or by selling its excellent productions, which it does not do at present.

Mr. Whitelaw

As my hon. Friend will be the first to appreciate, the Annan committee, which studied the matter, did not advocate those courses to the BBC. The BBC governors would have to decide whether they wished to change from the course that they are following. Many would doubt whether that was wise—certainly the Annan committee did so.