HL Deb 26 November 1959 vol 219 cc971-3

3.7 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask Her Majesty's Government the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the B.E.A. or the B.O.A.C. intend to subject their passengers to compulsory background music on any of their services; and, if so, what steps they take to warn the passengers before they buy their tickets.]


My Lords, I am informed that British Overseas Airways Corporation are considering a proposal to broadcast music to passengers while aircraft are stationary on the ground. The Corporation do not envisage such broadcasting while aircraft are in the air: nor, if the proposal is adopted, do they think it necessary to warn passengers in advance. I understand that British European Airways have no similar plans.


My Lords, may I thank my noble friend for an Answer that is partly satisfactory? Is my noble friend aware that the helpless victim of such noise may suffer intense discomfort? Is there any possible reason why those who intend to inflict such discomfort upon him should not warn him of such intention in order to enable him to travel by other means?


Before the noble Lord answers that question, may I ask him what the advantage is to the passengers of having what I presume is either potted or tinned music?


My Lords, I must confess that I myself come into the category referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford. But that is not to say that the Corporation are wrong in seeking to find out whether passengers require this form of entertainment while they are waiting. The matter is entirely one for their own commercial judgment, and not one for my right honourable friend the Minister of Aviation.


My Lords, would the Minister be good enough to tell the commercial corporations that if they must give their unfortunate captives music, then at least it should not be interspersed, in natural breaks, with commercials?


My Lords, I will inform my right honourable friend accordingly.


My Lords, I suppose that if some passengers on these aeroplanes were to take their own private wireless sets and pocket sets, they probably would not be allowed to broadcast to themselves. Why should they, therefore, be subject to compulsory overall broadcasting?


My Lords, I think the noble Viscount is probably right, and I will see that his remarks, too, are brought to the notice of my right honourable friend.


Might I ask the noble Lord whether he will suggest to the corporations that, if they desire to do this, they should first of all try it out with headphones, so that only those who want the music need have it?


My Lords, I can only repeat that we are getting a lot of useful suggestions, and I will see that they are brought to the notice of my right honourable friend.


Is the noble Lord aware that this matter involves a very great deal of tact? Because on October 9 of this year the broadcasting system of one railway station was playing, "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag", which was offensive to almost half of Her Majesty's subjects.


My Lords, might I ask the noble Lord what kind of music the corporations propose to put over to these unfortunate passengers? Is it merry music or classical music?


My Lords, I am afraid that that is a matter for the Corporation, and is not a matter for my right honourable friend the Minister.


May I return to the original Question which my noble and learned friend Lord Conesford asked? If the corporations propose to carry out this suggestion, which they are perfectly entitled to do if they are so minded, then in the same way as those passengers who are to be subjected to the horrors of an aircraft meal are told so in the timetable by a crossed knife and fork, why cannot those passengers who are to be subjected to tinned music be told so by crossed semi-quavers in the timetable?

Back to