§ 6.13 p.m.
§ LORD MORRIS rose to call attention to an impending broadcast by the Bishop of Southwark; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, may I first thank those noble Lords who have kindly intimated their intention of speaking, albeit to a practically empty House, on my Motion this afternoon. Secondly, may I thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House for protecting, if it be necessary to do so, my right to address your Lordships. Finally, may I tender my sympathy to noble Lords opposite for their, fortunately, ineffectual, albeit courteous, attempt to shut me up altogether.
§ After what I trust for me is an uncharacteristic and conciliatory opening, perhaps I may tell your Lordships briefly what this is about. A fortnight or so ago—this is really for the benefit of those your Lordships who understandably have neither the time nor the inclination to follow the deliberations of another place—the matter was raised in another place by the honourable Member for Brighton. He was in due course shouted down, and then the Postmaster-General in effect said that it was the 357 responsibility of the B.B.C. and, following the infamous example of Pontius Pilate, washed his hands of it.
§ As I understand the position, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of South-wark proposes on a date next month which I really do not know, to make use of the "Good Cause" time on the B.B.C. to plead the cause of a concern called the Family Planning Association. We have heard the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, speak very entertainingly this afternoon about euphemisms, and I do not think anyone would deny that family planning is anything but a euphemism for birth control. Contrary to what some noble Lords may expect, I do not propose to say anything about birth control this afternoon, either for or against. The one point that I desire to make falls within a very small compass, and it is this. I imagine that this "Good Cause" effort on the B.B.C., with which we are all familiar, and which has gone on for many years, should be confined to what the words mean—that is to say, it must be good and it must be a cause.
§ Many of your Lordships have listened to these talks, and many of you have even given them. They are given for the halt, the lame, the blind, prevention of cruelty to children and prevention of cruelty to animals, and they all have this one feature in common: that they are not controversial. I maintain that it behoves those following me—and I should indeed be simple if I did not imagine that they were going to oppose rather than support me—to show that this topic is not highly controversial. I say that it would be difficult to find a topic to air over the air more controversial than this matter of birth control.
§ I do not think it is open to the Government, the Postmaster-General or anyone else to say, "We must leave these matters to the good taste and good sense of the B.B.C." I should have thought that on the eve of a General Election it was political folly of the first order to offend the views, tenets and opinions of a by no means small proportion of the electorate by misuse of B.B.C. time, misuse of a public service, and generally misuse of the entire organisation for which we pay and which is a public concern. I do not think it is open for the Postmaster-General to "laugh it 358 off", if I may use the vernacular, as he attempted to do in another place the other day.
§ Another point that I think is relevant is the identity and persuasion of the speaker in aid of the cause. The speaker in this instance is a new recruit to the Episcopal Bench, and I think his most ardent admirers and those of the same persuasion must be compelled to agree that since he has been on the Bench he has hardly evinced that discretion in his public utterances which one is entitled to expect from a Bishop.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Order, order!
§ LORD MORRIS
In those circumstances I think it becomes absolutely deplorable if the Bishop or, indeed, anyone else, is allowed to go on the air in order virtually to appeal for and "plug", if you like, the rather dingy wares of the Family Planning Association.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Order, order!
§ LORD MORRIS
I have not been here for twenty-four years without observing that those noble Lords who most frequently cry, "Order, order!" are those who contribute least to our deliberations. Be that as it may, I would submit, with great respect and with such moderation as I can command on this matter, that it is highly improper for the Government to allow the B.B.C. to be made use of for a purpose of this kind, knowing full well, as they must, that it cannot fail to give grave offence to a large section of the community. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I need detain your Lordships but a few moments because I think the main point I wished to put was dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, at the start of our proceedings to-day. As the noble Lord, Lord Morris, said, the issue is not one of the merits or demerits of family planning or birth control. The issue is the freedom of action of the B.B.C. within the terms of the Charter under which it works. I think the noble Lord, Lord Morris, did scarce justice to that principle when he used the phrase of the Postmaster General, "It is not open for him to laugh it off".
359 Representations have been made in another place to Her Majesty's Government that Section 15 (4) of the B.B.C. Charter should be invoked. I do not think one can deal with subsection (4) unless one also remembers subsection (3), and subsection (3) says:The Corporation shall, whenever so requested by any Department of Her Majesty's Government…send from all or any of the stations any announcement…which such Department may request the Corporation to broadcast.…Subsection (4) says:The Postmaster-General may from time to time by notice in writing require the Corporation to refrain at any specified time or at all times from sending any matter or matter of any class specified in such notice.…I think the House would agree in general that that provision was intended for matters of high State policy which the Government of the day considered the B.B.C. should not broadcast, and also for high matters of policy which the B.B.C. should broadcast in the interests of the nation. I think it would be entirely wrong and a dangerous precedent to interfere with the B.B.C., not in respect of an error that has been made, but on a claim that the Government should exercise its powers in respect of a future broadcast of unknown terms. The B.B.C., I submit, can see the script, and they can judge of its suitability. The noble Lord, Lord Morris, has prejudged what is in the script before any of us knows what it may contain. The B.B.C. have an Appeals Advisory Committee and this Committee has raised no objection to this appeal being made.
I cannot understand why the noble Lord, Lord Morris, assumes that birth control will be discussed. This particular body, the Family Planning Association, does in fact aid the overcoming of sterility in childless marriages for those who wish to have children. The reason, I think, that it is in its place is that it is a good cause; and I feel that it must be a good cause because four-fifths of the Family Planning Association clinics, some 300 clinics, are on local authority and regional hospital premises. All are staffed by qualified doctors and qualified nurses. It is because the Royal Commission on Population recommended that family planning should be part of the National Health Scheme and that suggestion has not been adopted (and I 360 do not argue at all as to the merits or demerits of the decision which excluded it) that an appeal for voluntary funds is necessary, and I submit to your Lordships is reasonable in the place which the B.B.C. have given to it.
There are many broadcasts other than debates which arouse antagonism, disagreement and resentment in the hearts of many. I can remember some unilateral talks with no debate or discussion, some years ago on the question of agnostic beliefs: there was much outcry raised against that, but the B.B.C. went on with it. After all, if we are strong enough in our faith we can withstand hearing views with which we do not agree. I fancy the objection really is at a plea for this cause, and because there is not an answerable and arguable debate, I repeat that the issue is not family planning or birth control but Government interference with the B.B.C., and in this case there has been a proposal—I submit to the noble Lord, Lord Morris, entirely unjustified—to invoke powers not appropriate to this or anything except the national interest or a blunder by the B.B.C. Governors. As we do not know what is going to be said, I think, with all respect, that the action of Her Majesty's Government in refusing to interfere is entirely justified.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, I rise to say only a very few words on this subject. There are two points which seem to be raised by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Morris. One is the question of the independence of the B.B.C., which has been very well answered, if I may say so, by the previous speaker, but I think one should not fail to emphasise the danger it would be if any minority group who disagreed on a certain point could persuade the Government to interfere in the day-to-day running of the B.B.C. This would be an intolerable censorship by a minority, and I do not think any of us in this House should agree to such steps being taken. It may well be, as the noble Lord has just told us, that many controversial issues are discussed, but in a democracy we must have that discussion if we are to arrive at the best possible steps to be taken.
The other point is that I wanted to emphasise, as I know something about 361 the working of this organisation, that the Family Planning Association is undoubtedly, in my opinion, an extremely good cause. The Association works very hard, usually on premises of the local authorities, always with a qualified doctor in attendance, and their work is as much devoted to helping fertility in cases where children cannot be begotten as it is to helping families who do not wish to have many children—shall we say, more than they can cope with—to limit their families when the occasion arises. I think that anyone at all familiar with the terrible condition which over-population in housing can bring about, the terrible effects of breaking down a happy marriage when there are so many children that they cannot be cared for and looked after or fed or clothed as they should be, knows that that is a greater blow to family happiness and family life than any measure which may limit that family to a reasonable proportion.
I do not want to continue at this late hour with this theme, but there is one sad thing; that is the fact that this very good organisation, which is doing such magnificent work, cannot have a public grant and has to carry on supported practically entirely by voluntary subscriptions. I would suggest to your Lordships that it is our duty to do all we can to support this work, and above all to make sure that Her Majesty's Government do not interfere in this good cause.
§ 6.29 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER
My Lords, if I understand the noble Lord, Lord Morris, aright, he is objecting to this particular broadcast on two grounds. The first is that it is likely to be controversial. I very much wonder whether it is. I should have thought that very few people now would disagree with the statement that for any married couple to have as many children as nature will allow, and without any regard to the spacing between them, was irresponsible and reckless behaviour. I should have thought there would be very little disagreement in this country about that proposition. Where there is disagreement, of course, is as to the means which may properly be employed to plan the family.
Roman Catholics are taught—wrongly as I see it; but they are so taught—that 362 there are only two legitimate methods to be used: one is to abstain altogether from the marital act, or to abstain for periods from the marital act, and the other is to rely upon what is generally called the safe period. The Roman Catholics are perfectly entitled to hold that opinion and to propagate it. But they are not, I think, entitled to demand that nobody shall hold or propagate any contrary opinion. But as a matter of fact, the Family Planning Association does not officially or solely "plug" any one method. I think that I am right in saying that in at least two-thirds of the clinics which are run by the Association the teaching of the Roman Catholics is carefully passed on to all those Roman Catholics who ask for it. So I really do not quite see why there should be any controversy at all about this matter.
The second objection is that the Family Planning Association is not a good cause. I am quite certain that anybody who has had experience of over-large families in under-sized houses and the squalor and misery that result, would not hesitate for one moment in describing the work of this Association as a good work. The Association works entirely for the stability and the happiness of marriages. I am myself proud and happy that this particular cause should over the B.B.C. be sponsored by a Bishop of the Church of England.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ LORD JESSEL
My Lords, I should think that by now the noble Lord, Lord Morris, may have sensed that the feeling of the House is hostile to his Motion, and I rise only in the hope that sheet weight of numbers may help to bring home to Lord Morris and his friends the fact that nearly every Member of the House is against him and the issues that he has raised. I feel sure that when the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, comes to reply for Her Majesty's Government he will deal in a most forthright manner with the suggestion that this broadcast is a matter for governmental interference. When I first saw this Motion in print I could hardly believe my eyes. I thought, could it possibly be a serious one?—it must be a "leg pull". But no. I always respect people who have a sincere belief in any religion and envy them the spiritual comfort that they receive from it. Equally, I deplore the attempt 363 of a minority to forbid others to express views which are held by most of the population and its leaders, political, medical and spiritual.
I do not intend to add to what has been said about family planning, the value of which is now almost universally recognised. I would submit that in this country it is so firmly established and performs such an essential function in the lives of the community that it now—this point has already been made by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon—should receive an Exchequer grant, for your Lordships should realise that some 300 branch clinics which are now in being came into being as the result of private money alone. But this is a world problem. Countries like India and China are faced with the increasing pressure of population, and their Governments are earnestly studying the problem of family planning. Are Lord Morris and his friends going to try to stop Mr. Nehru from doing what he thinks is in the best interests of the people of India? I personally hope that there will be international co-operation, so that family planning can become cheap, effective and world-wide.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, as one who has some position in the Family Planning Association, although a purely honorary one, I should like to say that I rather resented the way in which the noble Lord referred to the work of these splendid doctors, as principally they are, who with tremendous self-sacrifice in time and energy give their services to the alleviation of distress all over the country. I hope that the noble Lord who moved this Motion, when he comes to look at what he said in Hansard, will feel a little ashamed of some of the phrases which he used in respect of this work.
I should like to associate myself with what has been said by those who have advocated that the Government themselves should assist. This is an expensive work. It has been carried on for quite a number of years now at great sacrifice by those who are the active workers in the organisation, and it is only by B.B.C. appeals and charity arrangements of one kind or another that the necessary money is got together. I am associated 364 with many organisations of this sort which do such wonderfully good work—and certainly none of them does better work than the Family Planning Association—and which are continually in difficulties because of financial stringency. The Marriage Guidance Council, which does, I think, get some assistance from the Government—I am glad to see the energetic Chairman af the Council here this afternoon—works very closely in touch with the Family Planning Association, and if the one can receive assistance I really do not see why the other one should not do so.
I am sure that everybody in this House, except the noble Lord the Mover of the Motion and possibly a very small sprinkling of others, must appreciate the extreme value to many poor people up and down the country of the work which is done. After all, as the right reverend Prelate has pointed out, the Roman Church itself approves of planning provided it is carried out in the way which they approve of themselves. As he has pointed out, and as is perfectly clear, the use of contraceptives is only one side of the work of the Family Planning Association. I rather think that if the noble Lord, Lord Morris, had not got a wrong idea of what is done by the Family Planning Association, probably he would not have put down this Motion at all. But I hope that, having received these assurances, he may feel that he ought to withdraw the charges which he has made.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
My Lords, I rise just to say one word—namely, that I should hope that the noble Lord, Lord Morris, will regret, and I trust withdraw, the quite unjustifiable remarks that he made about the Bishop of Southwark and about the freedom and, indeed, the duty of the leaders of the Church to express their views, whether they be popular or unpopular, controversial or otherwise. I say that not being a member of his Church, but greatly valuing the guidance which they give.
§ 6.38 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, may I simply underline, briefly, two points which have already been made, because they are crucial. The first is that the Roman Catholic Church is taking part in the 365 work of family planning throughout the world, and all other Churches are only too glad to co-operate with them and respect their own traditions wherever possible. It ought to be made quite clear that the Roman Catholic Church is as deeply involved in family planning as any of us. The second thing that I should like to underline is that nobody could have travelled, as I have this year, all over the Far East, without appreciating that this is a good cause, not only for England but for all parts of the world—not only a good cause, but an urgent and a desperate cause. If anybody goes to Calcutta or Hong Kong or Japan, as I have been, they will have no doubt that there is no better cause than this one.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I must say that I cannot help feeling rather sorry for the noble Lord, Lord Morris. When first I came to this House, one of the first things I was told was that if I was to speak at least I should know something about the subject. When I saw the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Morris, on the Order Paper I came prepared to defend the Family Planning Association against a reasoned attack. I find that all my preparation is of no avail, for the noble Lord has made no case whatsoever against the Family Planning Association. His case, if I remember rightly, based itself on the fact that the Family Planning Association was not a "good cause". We have heard from all quarters of the House of the great service that this Association plays not only in this country but throughout Asia. Family planning is not a social problem; it is something far, far greater than that. There are thousands of people who live in dire misery, in deep distress, brought about largely through ignorance; and it is to the Family Planning Association that we can look until Governments accept their responsibility. It is only to that Association can we look to bring in some light and understanding among ignorant people—ignorant not in thought but ignorant in understanding.
We all accept, even in this country where we have such a high standard of education, that there is a great, tragic ignorance in regard to family matters. But the Family Planning Association is not a society, shall we say, for the wholesaling of contraceptives. Its work is far 366 greater to-day. I believe that there are over 150 clinics in this country that give advice to men and women who want to have a family. Surely that is not against any religious conviction. When one looks at the statistics—I saw them the other day—one sees that one person in eight at present is unable to have a family, though wanting a family, and according to the statistics of the Family Planning Association they can do something for one in three.
My Lords, we all know that having children in a family is something that brings the family together, and if the Family Planning Association can do something for those people it is a good cause and is in the national interest. I must say—and I think the whole House will agree with me—that I bitterly resent the noble Lord's personal attack on the Bishop of Southwark, a man who is not in this House and is not able to answer for himself. I always understood it was the tradition that we did not attack a man outside the House, and I hope the noble Lord will understand what is the feeling of this House and that he will not affront us again.
§ LORD AMWELL
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Pakenham is not present, and I am not myself a member of the Roman Catholic Church; but I was very glad to hear the most reverend Primate mention the Roman Catholic Church in this particular connection, because it is so often repeated—and it has been said again this afternoon—that there are two methods acceptable to the Roman Church. That is not true. I will not elaborate upon the subject, because I do not know the subject very well. I do know, however, that the statement is not correct, and if it is desired to find out precisely what the Catholic Church will accept with regard to the question of birth control, it is explained very carefully indeed by Aldous Huxley in his last philosophic work, which I think is called The Perennial Philosophy. I think a meed of justice is desired with regard to the Roman Catholic Church, and that we should really understand where that Church stands upon this subject.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, I am only going to ask one favour, which I do not think that even the most 367 determined opponents of the Motion will really resent. It is one which I think is reasonable. That is with regard to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark. I beg that it may be conveyed to the B.B.C. that they should make it very clear indeed, both before and after this appeal, that it is the Anglican Bishop of Southwark and not the Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark who is speaking. It would be a very great pain to us if there were any misunderstanding on that matter, and I think we all know how easily misunderstandings arise.
In the second place, I very much hope that good sense and good feeling will dictate that this appeal should not follow a Roman Catholic service. The appeals are made after an evening service on the B.B.C. It would be thoroughly inappropriate, as I am sure noble Lords would agree, and a real act of unkindness, if it were to follow one of the Roman Catholic services which are sometimes broadcast. For the rest, I would advise my noble friend Lord Morris that he had better withdraw his Motion. He has aroused very strong feelings in this House. I know no question on which feelings are more strong. They are strong on our side, too. I think that it should be realised that if this broadcast is made as a "Good cause" it will in fact cause a great many people a very great deal of pain.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTER-BURY
My Lords, may I answer the first question which the noble Earl put relating to the title? "Bishop of Southwark" means in this country the Bishop of Southwark of the Established Church, and nothing else whatsoever; and I really must make that absolutely clear. If at any time the Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark wants to distinguish himself he must say the "Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark." But it is not for us to have to explain the title which belongs to us by law and tradition.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, there we are, do you see? I am only begging for consideration that in the interests of clarity some means should be used. Let it be said, "This is not the Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark." Let some words be used that make it plain. God forbid that I 368 should interfere on matters which the most reverend Primate naturally feels very keenly!
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I thought I made it absolutely clear so that no one could possibly misunderstand. The title "Bishop of Southwark" means the Church of England Bishop of Southwark and nothing else whatsoever, by the law of the land.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, I perfectly understand. I am only pleading that before the introduction and after this appeal it should be said that this Bishop of Southwark who is speaking is a member of the Established Church. Is there any objection to that?
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I think this is perhaps the moment for me to intervene in this debate, which I must agree is a somewhat unusual one, in that we are discussing a broadcast which has not yet been made and which appears to me to have given rise to a good deal of possible misunderstanding and misapprehension in advance. It is unusual in another sense, too, so far as I am concerned, because normally at this stage, after one has been listening carefully to an interesting debate, it is a difficult moment for the Government speaker because he has so much ammunition, so to speak, from which to choose. Nevertheless, I think that this time it is in some way easier, because the noble Lord, Lord Morris, has expressed views which I have no doubt are conscientious ones which he strongly holds.
Quite recently in your Lordships' House my noble friend Lord Hailsham was replying to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham (who I am sorry has not taken part in this debate), and in replying to him he suggested that the less Governments tried to prescribe religion and morals the happier and more peaceable we should all be. He also said that it was not desirable for Ministers, when replying to such issues, to do more than 369 express tentative personal opinions. My Lords, that view must have a profound effect upon what I have to say—not because I feel in need of any shield behind which I can conveniently operate, but because I am quite sure my noble friend was absolutely right. Furthermore I think I am justified in saying that my personal views, if I expressed them, would be a good deal more than tentative, because we happen to have been on a subject on which I, too, feel quite strongly. I must therefore resist any temptation like that. That is not my job. In any case, it has been done a good deal better, perhaps, than I should have done it by several noble Lords. I must pass on straightaway to the question of how the matter stands in relation to broadcasting policy.
My Lords, the B.B.C. have decided to broadcast an appeal for funds by an association that is widely supported by many people. Opinion, as we have heard, may be divided about some part of its work; and the opinions we have heard we must respect, even if we do not agree with them. But the question of broadcasting this appeal is a matter for the B.B.C. and not for the Government, as I am going on to show. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in his intervention earlier this afternoon, was of course entirely right to that extent.
When the matter was raised in another place my right honourable friend the Postmaster-General made it clear that he did not think it appropriate to use his powers of direction under Clause 15 (4) of the B.B.C. licence to stop this appeal. He thought it better to leave it to the B.B.C.—who, after all, have the help of their Appeals Advisory Committees in this respect. In particular, my Lords, the Central Appeals Advisory Committee recommended to the B.B.C. that this particular appeal should be accepted. In a further Parliamentary reply on July 15, my right honourable friend, who had been asked what general principles he took into consideration when deciding whether or not to use his powers to stop the appeal, said that the B.B.C. had traditionally been given independence in the day-to-day administration of their affairs, including programmes, and that unless there was some overriding consideration he would not think it appropriate to use his powers 370 of direction under the appropriate clause of the licence.
I think it is essential that we remind ourselves again of the independence of the B.B.C. in regard to the programmes, and I make no apology for quoting for about the third time in my career in your Lordships' House an extract from the 1952 White Paper on Broadcasting. It said:The Government accept the Broadcasting Committee's recommendation that the Corporation's current independence in making programmes and in general administration should be continued.My Lords, that is still the Government's view. The statement endorsed a policy that has been the view of successive Governments over a very long period of years down to the present day, and which even in my own experience of your Lordships' House your Lordships have been good enough to endorse again on more than one occasion. The independence of the B.B.C. is a prized and a very valued asset. It does add to the prestige and the influence of the programmes, and not least of all the overseas programmes. For the Government to interfere with that independence where there is no special overriding consideration would be, to say the least, unusual, and I would say certainly unwarrantable. In the case of the particular programme that we have been discussing to-day, no such overriding consideration presents itself.
Now the noble Lord, Lord Morris, said that the appeal fell into the nature of a controversial broadcast, and he spoke disparagingly of it. He used words such as "dingy wares," and so on. Certainly I would agree that there is an obligation on the broadcasting organisations to be impartial in dealing with controversial matters, but in this case I understand that the appeal itself does not attempt to argue the Tightness or wrongness of any particular policy. It is an appeal for funds on behalf of an organisation whose voluntary services are widely used and are widely respected. Incidentally, my Lords, it is not, I think, at all right or proper to accuse the Bishop of Southwark of "hogging" the B.B.C.'s time. It is the Family Planning Association which has been given the time, and the Bishop—who, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, very correctly said, is not a Member of this House—is 371 representing that Association, and is making the appeal for them. Incidentally, I do not think that there is very much misunderstanding or misapprehension as to which Bishop of Southwark we are talking about.
My Lords, the B.B.C. tell me that it is the amount of work which is given to this organisation which was a factor in their allowing this appeal. They took into consideration that the Association is recognised by local health authorities and by Regional Hospital Boards. They send cases to the Association's clinics, and so do doctors, churches, almoners, probation officers, nurses, midwives, industrial personnel and welfare officers of all kinds. I understand that even the Ministry of Health has agreed that local and hospital authorities should provide family planning facilities for all cases where further pregnancy would be dangerous or detrimental to health.
So far as this broadcast is concerned, the choice for the individual listeners is a free one. They can listen to the appeal, or they can not listen to the appeal. They can respond to the appeal, or they can ignore the appeal: and the Government would not think it right to fetter that freedom of choice. We have heard an argument advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Morris, in favour of a certain point of view. If it is a matter of conscience, we must respect it, even if we do not agree with it. But that there is plenty of contrary opinion we have had ample evidence from almost every speaker this afternoon—in fact, every speaker bar one; and if this is to offend a certain weight of opinion in this country, and if we are to be accused of committing a political "gaff" in allowing this broadcast, just think of the colossal weight of opinion which is going to be offended if we do not. I submit, my Lords, as Lord Shepherd did, that no case has been made—no case at all—which would provide the slightest justification for the Government to interfere with the well-proved—and, indeed, widely approved—policy of independence for the B.B.C. in arranging their own programme matters.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ LORD MORRIS
My Lords, when I opened this Motion at what now seems a very long time ago, I endeavoured to 372 make it clear that I was not discussing birth control, and that I was not discussing the virtues or otherwise of the Family Planning Association. All I was concerned with was the Tightness or wrongness of the Government in permitting this highly controversial (as I put it) broadcast to go forward. I realised, of course, that everything I said was a triumph of hope over experience, and that what I said would be completely misunderstood and that the opportunity would be taken by those noble Lords who followed me virtually to launch an appeal on this very matter. However, it is now far too late to pursue this matter any further. Needless to say, I never had the slightest intention of pressing the matter to a Division or of challenging anyone or of saying unkind things of any sort. I end as I began, by thanking those noble Lords who have spoken on the Motion; and I formally ask for leave to withdraw it.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.