HC Deb 07 July 2004 vol 423 cc828-9
8. Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West) (Lab)

What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the future of BBC Wales in relation to renewal of the BBC charter. [181920]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

The charter review is still at an early stage. While I cannot prejudge its outcome, I think that the importance of the national and regional dimensions of the BBC's work is well recognised.

Kevin Brennan

I know that my right hon. Friend recognises the important contribution of the BBC to the civic and economic welfare of Wales. Was he as concerned as I was when the BBC recently cut the post of nations and regions from its executive committee? Will he ensure in his discussions with colleagues that the role of the nations—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman) should not walk in front of an hon. Member who is speaking.

Kevin Brennan

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the role of the nations and regions is robustly included in charter renewal discussions by him and his colleagues?

Mr. Hain

Like my hon. Friend, I am a little troubled by the fact that although each of the nations is represented by a national governor on the BBC's board of directors, the nations are no longer directly represented on the executive board. I understand that management restructuring may be part of the explanation, but I have raised the matter with the director-general. I agree that BBC Wales has a fantastic record of achievement and excellence and that is one of the reasons why Wales is driving forward the digital television agenda, with my support, and why it is fast establishing a reputation as a centre for creative industries in the multi-media field. I know that that will continue under the present director-general, and I hope that he will be as generous to Wales as the previous one was.

Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire) (LD)

BBC Wales is highly regarded for its public service broadcasting, but S4C is also highly regarded in Wales. What actions has the Secretary of State taken to ensure that it receives adequate funding to continue its excellent programme making?

Mr. Hain:

S4C has had a very good record and is currently in the middle of a review—at its request—of its future in the digital age. I am working closely with the company to ensure that it gets a good deal. I also want to ensure that S4C's Welsh language broadcasting continues to move forward, alongside BBC Wales, which provides much of the programming that S4C puts out. All of it is of a very high standard.