HL Deb 18 July 1963 vol 252 cc321-87

4.3 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Chesham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD AILWYN in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Extension of period for which Authority are to provide television services]:

LORD SHACKLETON moved to add to the clause: Provided that the general report prepared by the Authority in accordance with section 15 of the principal Act shall within a reasonable time after die Postmaster General shall have considered it and laid copies thereof before each House of Parliament be approved by resolution of each such House.

The noble Lord said: The purpose behind this Amendment is to ensure that a formal occasion should be provided for a debate of the report which the Independent Television Authority produce in accordance with Section 15 of the principal Act. I do not suggest that this is a major Amendment, but it is one that seemed to us might be desirable as providing an occasion when the attention of Parliament could be formally drawn to the report by a Resolution on the Order Paper of both Houses. It does not mean that there would have to be a debate, but, in view of the importance and interest of the operation of the Television Act and the new Television Bill, it might give occasion for a short debate to deal with a particular point. We think that this aspect of this matter is at least worth considering. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 9, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Shackleton.)


I was relieved to hear the noble Lord declare what I had anticipated to be the reason behind this Amendment, because I began to think that I, too, was developing in some ways a nasty suspicious mind in thinking that there might be something further behind it than evidently there is. I am relieved that I do not have to tackle that aspect of the matter. I do not want to labour the discussion on this, because I do not think there will be much between us on the principle of the Amendment, that it is desirable that the Authority's report should be debated as and when it comes along. There is, of course, already adequate provision for the report to be laid, which gets us just that far. But I feel that the noble Lord's Amendment is perhaps not the vehicle for that and would go rather too far by making it a statutory obligation that there should be willy-nilly, come what may, a debate on the report. I should have thought that, if it was right for the I.T.A., in due course it would be considered by your Lordships to be right in respect of the B.B.C., as well. I should have thought that, on the whole, your Lordships would probably not wish to undertake a statutory commitment to have at least one stautory debate, and possibly two, because it is a matter of opinion whether one debate could do both or whether it would have to be two debates, irrespective of what was in the report. It seems that this is going a little too far.

In any case, I could not suggest that your Lordships should accept the Amendment in this way, since it is, from the Parliamentary point of view, a rather strange Amendment, in that nobody would have the slightest idea what to do if by any chance the report were not approved. I do not know whether the noble Lord has thought about that aspect of the matter. In that respect, the Amendment is—I will not say defective, but somewhat deficient, and would get us into a terrible muddle. I agree with the noble Lord that such a debate is desirable. For what it is worth, I can give the noble Lord an assurance that the Government are well aware of what is in his mind and the minds of other people as to the desirability of a regular debate, and will do all that is possible to meet their wishes having regard to what is going on at the time.


It is the case that in another place there is an established practice (it is not a Standing Order, but an established practice which I began as Leader of the House of Commons at that time) that the Government place at the disposal of the House three days in which the reports of public corporations are considered. They may debate them one on each day, or two on one day, or four over two days, as the House likes; and, indeed, the choice, as if it were a Supply Day, is substantially that of the Opposition, which I think is right. The Motion in another place then is: That the House takes note "of the annual report" of such-and-such a public corporation. It is competent on the Motion "That the House takes note" for an Amendment to be moved, for example, "but regrets so and so", in which case you begin to reach the point raised by my noble friend's Amendment.

On the other hand, I think my noble friend will agree on reflection that it is perhaps going a little far to require statutorily that there should be an Affirmative Motion of approval of this Report each time it comes up. I do not see how it could stop at commercial television. It would then have to apply to the Coal Board, the Transport Commission and other public corporations. Once you get a Motion "That the Report be approved", the House is faced with a great responsibility, because it is highly probable that there will be some things in the Report which various Members, perhaps substantial numbers of Members, would not wish to approve.

Therefore, while I see the point of my noble friend's Amendment (and I think it was wise to move it in order to ventilate the matter), in view of the fact that an Amendment could be moved in either House on the Motion to take note of the Report, perhaps that is good enough, and that it would not be a good thing to put a statutory imposition upon this corporation, or upon the two Houses whereby they must give positive approval. It is true that in this House we have no traditional arrangement whereby three days are allocated for the consideration of these Reports; but we hardly need it, because we are much more adaptable in the use of Parliamentary time than the House of Commons possibly can be, with all the financial, supply and other responsibilities placed upon them. I think it was wise for my noble friend to raise and ventilate this matter, but in view of the statement by the Parliamentary Secretary, with which I do not find it easy to disagree, I think my noble friend would be disposed, at this stage, either not to press the Amendment, or to ask leave of the House to withdraw it.


I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth. The more I saw of this Amendment when it appeared in print, the less enthusiastic I became. Perhaps this was apparent in my speech. It would, of course, be interesting to know what would happen if we disapproved of the Report. I presume the Authority would have to resign en masse. It would be an interesting form of censure. It is possible that, by the time we have finished with this Bill, none of us will feel like debating television for several years to come. In the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Authority's responsibility for programmes

2.—(1) It shall be the duty of the Authority—

  1. (a) to provide the television broadcasting services as a public service for disseminating information, education and entertainment,
  2. (b) to ensure that the programmes broadcast by the Authority in each area maintain a high general standard in all respects, and in particular in respect of their content and quality, and a proper balance and wide range in their subject-matter, having regard both to the programmes as a whole and also having regard to the days of the week on which, and the times of the day at which, the programmes are broadcast, and
  3. (c) to secure a wide showing for programmes of merit.

(2) The Authority shall—

  1. (a) draw up, and from time to time review, a code giving guidance as to the rules to be observed in regard to the showing of violence, particularly when large numbers of children and young persons may be expected to be watching the programmes, and as to such other matters concerning standards and practice for programmes (other than advertisements) broadcast by the Authority as the Authority may consider suitable for inclusion in the code, and
  2. (b) secure that the provisions of the code are observed in relation to all such programmes.


This is a drafting Amendment, to improve the English. If the Amendment is accepted, the clause will have the meaning that is intended. As it stands, the clause has the sort of defect which is liable to happen from time to time in the work of even the best draftsmen. The point can be put quite shortly like this. It is good English to say, "add pepper and salt"; it is quite good English to say, "add both pepper and salt"; but it is very poor English to say, "add both pepper and also add salt." That is what the draftsman has done on this occasion in this passage. The drafting is therefore defective, and must be improved. A very simple way of improving it is that which I suggest, but if some other method is preferred by Her Majesty's Government—there are several other possible methods of putting the matter right—I shall not object. The essential thing is that the language should be put right. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 4, leave out ("having regard").—(Lord Conesford.)


Having regard to the considerations to which my noble friend has had regard, I am very glad to accept his Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.15 p.m.

LORD SHACKLETON moved, in subsection (1)(b), after "broadcast", where that word occurs a last time, to insert: and in negotiating contracts to replace their contracts with programme contractors which are due to expire on 29th June, 1964, the Authority shall unsure as far as practical that the programme areas so constituted shall be adequate for the purposes of this subsection.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment, the purpose of which, among other things, is to enable us to consider the whole question of the viability—which I think is the word that seems to be used in these matters—of programme contractors. In the course of the Committee stage we are likely to hear from a number of your Lordships who are concerned with the financial stability and, therefore, the effectiveness, of certain of the programme contractors. There is, for instance, an Amendment which will deal specifically with the position of Anglia Television, and we know, too, that certain programme contractors are worried about the extra cost to them, as they see it, of operating a split fran- chise —a situation in which they have a weekday programme in one area and a week-end programme in another.

When we look at the map of the television contractors in this country, we find it very odd indeed. I realise that there are technical reasons which may have been decisive in leading the Authority to set up contract areas which were certainly not natural in terms of populations. We have a great disparity between these different areas. We have a situation in which in the London area the contractor has a population of nearly 13 million; in the Midlands, of nearly 9 million and in certain smaller areas, such as the South-West (which we believe to be in some financial difficulty) of only 1.6 million; the Borders of only 0.48 million; and Wales, West and North, of only just over 1 million. If we wish to see Independent Television flourish—and I think we have reached the stage now when even the most hostile opponents to commercial television, like myself, are anxious to produce a more workable situation and, on the whole, welcome the Government's Bill—we hope we shall not be confronted with a situation in which certain contractors are having an excessively easy time (and this is a matter with which the Government are dealing by their special advertising levy) and other, and possibly equally worthy, and sometimes even worthier, contractors are really "up against it".

We know that certain of these contractors are having a difficult time and are unable to develop the resources of the particular area, because either it is too small or they lack the financial resources. Looking at the map, it would be the view, certainly of some of us on all sides of the House, that it would be much more convenient and, indeed, logical if there were certain rather bigger areas for some of the smaller contractors. It would be logical for instance, to have a Welsh programme. I do not propose to go into the question of the need of the Welsh, but it is understandable that Bristol and South Wales may not regard themselves as a natural ethnical area. Meanwhile, Wales, West and North, with its activities complicated by "mush areas"—which I believe is the correct term—are finding it very difficult to achieve their purpose. What we are asking is that the Authority should bear these particular needs in mind. We are asking that they should specifically have laid upon them the responsibility of producing rather better areas. Again, we appreciate that there are difficulties in doing this, especially as the changeover to 625 lines and the movement into the higher frequencies take place; but the present situation is not satisfactory and we should like this issue to be considered very much more firmly than it has been done.

If I could give one more example, it is that of Anglia Television. We appreciate that Anglia Television has a great deal to its credit. I do not doubt that it will survive; but it would survive with less anxiety, and even improve on its present performance, if it had a little more population and if as we think it should be, in the light of our experience now, which, admittedly, the Authority did not have before in seeing how the contracts would work out, it is possible to produce much more sensible areas of responsibility for the different contractors. If, in due course, we see a second commercial television programme, this may also be a time when it will be easier to plan these areas a good deal more sensibly than it has been possible to do.

I repeat, again, that I accept the fact that the Authority no doubt had good reasons for doing what they have done. Obliged to produce such competition as was possible under an Act of Parliament which was certainly not calculated to produce competition, and anxious also to provide for local interests and local opportunities, they have, in my view, rather overdone it, and we are now asking the Government to think about this matter and to lay down a special requirement into the Bill to meet this particular point. Therefore, to ensure that the Authority, in negotiating new contracts, shall, so far as practicable, ensure that the programme areas shall be adequate for this subsection, I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 6, after ("broadcast") insert the said words.—(Lord Shackleton.)

4.23 p.m.


My noble friend has outlined the reasons for this Amendment and I should like to say a few words relating, perhaps particularly, to the position of Wales. As I understand it, this clause places firmly on the shoulders of the Authority the responsibility for programmes disseminated by the programme companies. Subsection (1)(b) of this clause tells us that It shall be the duty of the Authority"— among other programme duties— to ensure that the programmes broadcast by the Authority in each area maintain a high general standard in all respects,". Our Amendment seeks to ensure that each programme contractor shall have, within the limits imposed by geographical and population factors, a sufficient area to enable him to meet the requirements of this clause. If he has too small an area, clearly, that is to expect the impossible of the programme contractor. He just cannot do it unless he has a sufficient area, sufficient population and a sufficient number of sites within that area to ensure that he will be able, to use the term which my noble friend used, to be viable. If area boundaries are wrongly drawn, then the contractors will not be able to meet the requirement which is implicit in this clause, if not explicitly mentioned in this clause, namely, that they will be able to make a contribution to the cultural and community life of the area and also make, as I believe is the case at present with Anglia Television, which has already been mentioned, a reasonable contribution to Britain's television as a whole.

One of the claims, as I understand it, made by commercial television is that its introduction has brought about a greater recognition of regional areas in relation both to the people who live in them and to the wider television audiences. They also claim that the B.B.C. has been forced to follow their lead in this connection. I do not know much about the truth of that assertion; nevertheless, it is one that has been made.

It was strongly claimed in the other place of the work of Anglia Television—and my noble friend Lord Shackleton has referred to it this afternoon—that it has made a contribution to community life, particularly of Norfolk and Suffolk, and that some of their programmes have been of such merit that they have found their way into the national network and have made, thereby, a reasonable and useful contribution to the whole service. I cannot pretend to know whether those claims are justified; I do not live in the area; but I notice some noble Lords nod vigorously in support of what I am now saying about Anglia Television. What I do know, however, is that the Postmaster General, in moving in another place a series of Amendments designed to make the small regional companies a good deal better off, as he put it, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 252 (No. 116). col. 958]: … if, as the Government hope, these proposals tempt the smaller regional companies to produce more television and encourage them to get at least some programmes on the network under the new arrangements which transfer networking control to the Authority, so much the better, for this could well lead to more genuine competition between the companies and programmes of a more genuinely national character. From what I have read of his contributions in the other place, both in Standing Committee on Report and on the other stages of the Bill in that House, it is clear that the Postmaster General really believes that regional television has a worthwhile contribution to make.

If there is a case for regional commercial television—and I must say that I believe there is—then Wales must surely have the strongest possible case for such a regional service. Wales has a language of its own which is still a living language. Although only some 750,000 out of a population of 2½ million actually speak the language, there is no doubt that as between the three quarters of a million who do and the 1¾ million who do not speak the language of the hearth, there is a strong cultural affinity which has been recognised by them all. The people feel it, and the Government accept this fact of Wales as a nation, for indeed, we have a Minister of State for Welsh Affairs in this House, and it is quite right that they should do so.

And as I understand it, the B.B.C. will, in 1964, establish a unified television service for Wales; as a whole; and Wales recognises and welcomes that fact. What I am saying here in support of this Amendment is that the B.B.C. ought to be followed by commercial television in this matter of the regional areas. What is the present position in Wales? My noble friend Lord Shackleton touched briefly on this point. For commercial television, Wales is cut up into three parts. Two of these parts are tacked on to areas in England which, by no stretch of the imagination, could claim to have any cultural affinity with Wales. The populous parts of North Wales, the Dee side and the Wrexham area, form part of the empire of Granada, which is operated from Manchester. The heavily populated South-East of Wales, consisting of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, is part of the area allocated to T.W.W., whose area stretches virtually from Swansea to Southampton.

This leaves the other remaining part, the third part—and this is the truly Welsh part—which is given to Wales, West and North. Wales, West and North gets the thinly populated parts of rural Wales, as anyone here who knows anything at all about Wales will know. This means that the only truly Welsh commercial service was given initially to a programme contractor to cover a population of only one million. At least, that is the population on paper; those are the figures which I gather they worked upon. But it is only a paper population for them, as my noble friend has said, because of the overlapping by the very high-powered stations, particularly in the case of T.W.W., and because of the fact that this overlapping produces "mush" in a very big area. W.W.N. has in fact a population round about 400,000 with a set count of rather less than 100,000, as against an expected 260,000 sets. It is small wonder, then, that the programme company, W.W.N. is already verging on bankruptcy, if indeed it has not already reached that state.

Talking now about advertising income, as I understand it T.W.W. receives for 15 seconds of advertising £160; W.W.N. for the same period of 15 seconds receives £16. Clearly, that station cannot be expected to operate with an income such as that—£16 for 15 seconds. It is no wonder that the 900 investors in the W.W.N. company look like losing their money. It is true that not all of them put their money into this undertaking purely on commercial grounds and hoping to get a reasonable return on their investments. A number of them did it because they wanted to see a Welsh programme which would have real regard to their cultural affinities and the rest. Their investment was certainly an act of faith, entirely unjustified by the commercial prospects of an undertaking, given a population of only one million which, even then, has been cut by the factors I have already mentioned. The fact remains that W.W.N. is the only commercial television designed to serve a distinctive national community such as Wales very definitely is.

I know something about the West of England, and the people there, because I happen to have been born in the West of England. But I have spent most of my life in Wales. But even my relatives in the West of England tell me, when I go down, that they object strongly to Welsh programmes being put over to them, particularly when the programmes are in the Welsh language. The West of England objects to those sops that are thrown to Welsh culture by T.W.W., and I must say that Wales, as I know Wales, has no particular liking for the programmes designed to serve only the West of England. Each part of this area, in fact, is bored by the other.

This Amendment has no special reference to Wales, or Scotland, where I gather that much the same sort of conditions exist. But it would ensure that the Authority, in granting contracts to programme companies, would have to review the contract areas. It seems to me to be right and proper to stake a claim that in such a review Wales should be treated as a contract area, and that there should be created for Wales a viable unit, one that can live wholly upon its advertising revenue, which is clearly the only income it can expect to have. In rejecting a similar Amendment—not exactly the same—in the other place, the Postmaster General said (and I am paraphrasing rather than quoting exactly) "Let us leave it to the Authority. But I will also convey to the Chairman of the Authority and the Authority generally the views of Welsh members on this point." We feel that that is not enough. We feel that Parliament should place upon the Authority an express duty to ensure, so far as practicable, that the programme areas after June, 1964, will be adequate for the purpose of subsection (2); and that would mean that Wales would have a commercial service capable of expressing its own culture, its own way of life and its own characteristics; and it would also, I think, enable Wales to make a worthwhile contribution to the networking service as a whole. I support the Amendment moved by my noble friend.

4.38 p.m.


In supporting this Amendment, I should like to point out, as I am sure your Lordships are all aware, that the present regions are, in a sense, a result, at any rate in part, of the historical accident that the ability to transmit programmes over the whole of the country on commercial transmitters did not exist when the Act came into being. Therefore, a number of stations were set up, and as the capacity to transmit proceeded, new regions were set up, with the result that towards the end all that was left, so to speak, were the little bits and pieces that had not fitted into the regional pattern. I remember talking to some of the people running Border Television and asking them about their area. They said, "The trouble with it is that although it covers a fair distance most of the population are sheep". And they literally meant, in this case, four-legged sheep; with the result that they, like many other of the smaller regions on the periphery, have not a viable population to produce the kind of commercial revenue that will give them the money to produce good programmes.

Also, as I think my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth mentioned in the debate on Second Reading, and as I did also, the drawing up of the regions as they at present stand makes for a good deal of inequity, even among the "Big Four", in that it leaves two companies, A.B.C. and A.T.V., which have to operate in two quite distinct areas, while the other two have a self-contained unit in which to work. Therefore, it is, I think, most desirable that the Authority should be quite firmly charged with the responsibility for taking a new look at this area division of television in the quite different circumstances which now exist, as compared wth those which existed when the original Act was passed.

As the Pilkington Committee reported, the Authority had hoped that the setting up of the regions, and, indeed, the networking system, would create competition, and they described themselves as disappointed that it had not been so, Although inevitably, in the structure of a national system of this kind, there should be a small group of main companies—the "Big Four" as they are described—it is surely essential that the other companies shall be of a size and of a financial structure and capacity for success which will not make them, as some of them inevitably are made, simply the small satellites of the big companies, without the necessary financial element, and possibility of commercial and economic viability, really to stand up to them. What we want, in addition to the "Big Four" is a group of regional companies rooted in their areas, but all with an income sufficient to enable them to make programmes which can compete in quality with those made by the big companies; which can satisfy their own regions, and which can demand, as of right, by quality a place on the national network. I support this Amendment.

4.42 p.m.


I agree with what my noble friends have said, including the points mentioned by Lord Francis-Williams which introduce some additional matter to which I wish to refer. I think the case here is that the areas which were determined, I believe by the Authority, under the original Act, were determined in a hurry and there was a great anxiety—perhaps too much hurry—to spread the companies in such a way that there would be as many companies as possible. I quite understand the motive for that. On the other hand, some of them are in areas where the population is limited and where it is difficult for them to pay their way. That is one of the points which have to be considered.

My noble friend Lord Francis-Williams again mentioned the point which he and I raised on Second Reading—namely, the problem of four of the big programme companies. I am in favour of the levy, and I think that the companies have to make their appropriate contribution. On the other hand, I think there is a responsibility on Parliament to see that justice is done as between one company and another. I hope that the Committee will not ask me to explain it technically because it is not easy to explain, but it appears that two of these four companies have transmission centres—I suppose that is the right phrase; I do not mean offices or branch studios—in two important cities, one in Birmingham and London and the other in two important, populous provincial cities. The other two companies stay firmly on the ground in one city. The result is that the two companies, A.B.C. and A.T.V., which are split between two important transmitting centres, each have certain city or regional days of the week and also at the week ends. For some curious reason, the levy is going to hit at them much more severely than it does at the other two companies. This does not seem to be just as between one company and another.

This matter can arise again on Clause 7, I think, which we shall not reach to-day, and I wondered whether, as this was raised on Second Reading, the Parliamentary Secretary could make any statement as to what the Government's intentions are about it. It may be that he will be able to say that this can be dealt with as a matter of administration, either by the Postmaster General, or possibly, and more likely, by the Independent Television Authority. But if he could deal with this matter I should be much obliged. As I say, I do not mind a levy being imposed on the television companies as such, but I think it is always in the mind of Parliament that it should be fair as between one programme company and another, and I think it is our duty to try to see that this is so.

To turn to the point made by my noble friend Lord Champion, who made an excellent speech in appealing for Wales, I remember this in the earlier days of the B.B.C. I think they had something of a technical problem about Wales. Indeed, if I am not mistaken, they still have a problem as between the North of England and Northern Ireland, neither of which particularly wants to be mixed up with the other for television or sound radio purposes. But technically the B.B.C. were not able to get over it. Whether they have now, I do not know. In a way, the case made by my noble friend Lord Champion was put by the Postmaster General. He shows that this is much more difficult to solve in commercial television than it is under a public service provided by the British Broadcasting Corporation. That is true. Directly you bring in the commercial element, then the element of population and its density becomes a commercial factor on advertising revenue, just as the circulation of a popular newspaper becomes a factor in their advertising revenue.

In saying that, I am not advocating that this should be so. I was an opponent of commercial television because, among other possibilities, I saw this one following it. Indeed, the point that I and my noble friend Lord Champion have made was made by the Postmaster General himself in another place on June 24, when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 69 (No. 132), col. 1014]: An example of that attitude is the Government's decision, taken some time ago without any hesitation, to make sure that the Principality should enjoy a self-contained Welsh television service. I stop at that point to interpolate that if that means that the Government have made arrangements to give my noble friend Lord Champion and Wales what he and they want, then the sooner they make it clear the better, because it is not clear to me from subsequent observations that the Postmaster General has made. If it means that Wales is to have a television service all to itself, and that the Government have provided for it, that would meet my noble friend's point.


If I may intervene, I think that the Postmaster General was here referring to the service which is to be provided in 1964 by the B.B.C. What I was after was the commercial aspect, so that they would have both sorts of broadcasting, commercial television and B.B.C.


I am much obliged to my noble friend. That must be the case. I had not read the whole of the debate, and I assumed that he was talking about commercial television; but evidently I am wrong. I could not follow him, because the Postmaster General went on to say … and that service will, as the right honourable Gentleman rightly said, be in full operation by 1964. That will be a real advance in the Welsh service, but it is not quite appropriate then to say, by inference, that if the B.B.C. can do this for the Principality as a whole commercial television should do it as well. Complicating factors are involved"— here we get to the point which is the disadvantage which is experienced in commercial television— The B.B.C. lives on the basis of licence revenue"— He might just as well have said that the B.B.C. lives on public service. But he went on to say: A commercial television company lives on the basis of advertising revenue, and if that advertising revenue is inadequate to sustain it the company goes to the wall. We have seen recently what can happen when indifferent judgment leads to the creation of a company, and the giving of a contract to a company, in circumstances that do not allow the company's affairs to be financially successful. So what the Postmaster General said was: We can meet what Wales wants under the B.B.C. because it is a public service. It is difficult to meet what Wales wants, not so much for engineering and technical reasons, but for commercial reasons, because, in addition to the sparsely populated parts of Wales, they need to tack on to it some of the densely populated areas of the North-West; and, presumably, in the South-West of England they want to tack on part of that population, because although that population is fairly sparse it improves the population ratio when added to the heavier populations of Monmouthshire and Glamorgan.

I have sympathy with my noble friend Lord Champion, and I understand the Welsh feeling. I have met it many times. I was the Minister who brought in a Bill for the first time to enable Welsh-speaking witnesses in the courts of Wales to give their evidence in Welsh, because I was assured by Lady Megan Lloyd George that they thought in Welsh and therefore could not give their evidence properly in English. I thought she was right and accordingly I brought in that Bill. I am not a wild enthusiast for the spreading of as many languages as we can throughout the world. I think the world would be an easier one to live in if there were fewer languages. But it is no good telling my friend, or the Northern Scots, who speak another language of which they are very proud, or the Irish who are doing their best to speak Erse, or whatever it is called, that they should not speak their own language. But, as I have said, I feel that it would be much simpler if there were not so many languages and if Esperanto were a universally taught language in the world. I once tried to learn it myself and got so far, but it is not easy to get these things done. It is no good scorning the association of peoples and languages, because they feel these things deeply. Therefore, there is a duty on the part of the Government, not only in respect of the B.B.C., but so far as they can in respect of commercial television, to meet the case for Wales which has been so ably put by my noble friend Lord Champion.

4.55 p.m.


I should like to add a few words in support of this Amendment. As I have listened to what has been said, it seems that attention has been focussed in the main upon Wales; and it is true that they are in a special position. But, as we know from the papers we receive through the post, the position of the East Anglia Television Company, and also of one or two of the Scottish companies is also to be considered. The Amendment will go some way, if it is accepted by the Government, towards improving the position of the Television Authority or the position of the people who watch commercial television in these particular areas. But the Amendment relates merely to the existing contracts. If the Committee will refer to Clause 13, by which a second television service will be provided it will be seen that it may well be the case that a competing commercial service might be provided in these already struggling areas. It might not be for that particular area; it might not be so neatly parcelled up. We might therefore find that in the case of Wales, where there are three television companies operating, the Authority may decide to have only one company. That company would obviously be in a much stronger position in competing for advertising revenue than the three smaller companies in Wales. The position may be similar in other parts of the country.

I was very much struck by the memorandum given to the Committee on Broadcasting by Messrs. Thomas Hedley and Company. On page 976 they speak of the staggering increases charged by the television companies for advertising time. They state that there would be an increase in peak time of approximately 80 per cent. They then go on—and these are significant words, which I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, will note: This point is clearly demonstrated within our own experience in that a number of our Company's brands, whilst spending sizeable sums on television advertising"— I think that in that particular company the total is not far short of £1 million a year— are unable to sustain television on more than a very restricted number of stations. From the information that is available it is clear that the large advertisers who now use, and in fact are perhaps being forced to use, television as a medium for advertising find that the cost of providing that advertising in the main areas is now so great that they have very little, if any, resources available to be spent in the more struggling areas. Therefore, while this Amendment would go a long way towards dealing with those particular areas, the present services and contract companies, it will not go the full way in making these companies viable.

I cannot believe that there will be sufficient local advertisers in Wales who will have resources available to make it worth their while to spend the considerable sums of money necessary for the maintenance of even one commercial television service in Wales. If that is the position to-day, what is the position likely to be if the Government and the Authority decide to go ahead with a second commercial television service? I think that a new service, with a stronger organisation, may well mean the death of the already struggling companies. Therefore, if the Government intend to go ahead with a second commercial television service in these areas they must consider how viable these existing companies can be with their small areas mainly denuded, as we have heard, of population. Advertisers spend their money where they get the best results. They will not be prepared to spend fairly considerable sums of money in advertising in Wales and in Scotland in these sparse and, in the main, rather poor areas. It seems to me that the Authority must look realistically at all these areas. They may have to come to the decision that thirteen contractors is too many. They may have to consider ways in which reductions should be made. It is clear that the Government cannot leave the position as it is now, and they certainly could not, even if they themselves were prepared to do it now, face up to the impact of a second television service in those areas.

5.0 p.m.


Before I address myself to the substance of this Amendment I hope the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, will not mind my saying a couple of things about the various points he raised during his speech—points which I should not normally regard as being strictly on the subject of the Amendment, although possibly they arise out of it. The point that he made, about the possibility of a levy applying unfairly as between one company and another because of their circumstances, obviously arises from the question of areas and background. But on that I think we should be taking ourselves away from what is the substance of this Amendment, and I hope the noble Lord will not mind if I suggest that we ought perhaps to sort that matter out when we come to consider the question of the levy as a whole on Clause 7.


That is all right. I took advice that it was relevant to this Amendment. But the noble Lord should know better than I do, and if he will think the matter over between now and the time when we reach Clause 7, then I hope that we shall get a considered statement from the Government about what I admit is a complicated problem.


As I said, it has relevance to this Amendment, but it seems to me to have greater relevance to Clause 7. So I should prefer, if I may, to leave it like that. Similarly, I do not think I need devote very much time—except what I am going to say, anyway, in the course of the remarks I shall make—to the noble Lord's support for the plea of Wales. I shall have a little more to say on that in a minute. I do not know whether he quite meant this, but I feel I ought to mention that I found it a little surprising that he should have ended up with a call to the Government to produce an independent television programme for Wales as a whole. Perhaps that was not quite what the noble Lord meant, but that is not the way this could be done or should be done. But I shall be returning to that matter. I do not think that his most interesting discussion on the disunited nations and their languages really calls for any comment from me.

I have listened very carefully to the different arguments which have been put forward from a number of different directions, and they all tend towards arguing one thing, which is that the programme areas referred to in the Amendment shall be viable ones. The whole of the argument comes down to that basic fact, as I think your Lordships would agree. Here and now, I would say that I have no intention of devoting myself to going through every aspect of the arguments that have been put forward, because your Lordships will not be surprised to learn that the underlying idea is one with which we are in agreement. It is obviously a matter of great importance, and I do not disagree with your Lordships in the substance of the idea that has been put forward. I find no difficulty, for instance, in accepting the invitation of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, to think about the matter again, and to see whether anything needs doing about it. Therefore, I am going to address myself merely to this Amendment, because this is about the only point of difference that I can see.

The disagreement that I have to mention is that the Amendment before us, and which is our principal point of discussion on the Order Paper, does not ensure, as the noble Lord, Lord Champion, put forward, that the desired position is in fact achieved. I have to tell your Lordships that, while having a great deal of sympathy and agreement with the idea, as I said, this Amendment is not one that I can recommend should be accepted. The reasons for that are, as I shall go on to show in a moment, that the Amendment as such is not necessary, nor, in its present form, does it really add anything to what is already in the Bill.

Of course, the matter of contracts is one for the Authority, and, first of all, they would have to have regard to the position put forward. They would have to have regard in passing to technical considerations, which are not always of the easiest. I am not very technical myself, and I, too, would not begin to embark on an explanation of them. But there are times and occasions, or so I understand, where they do not fit in quite as conveniently as they might with commercial considerations and so on. It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the other noble Lords who put down this Amendment, recognise that there is an element of qualification on the point, because the Amendment itself contains the words "as far as practical"; and this is a matter which, in fact, can only properly be determined in practice. If there is to be a statutory obligation in this matter—and I say there should not—I think it would be necessary to have it in a rather more precise form than it is in the Amendment. It has become clear from the explanation of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that what he means is that the area shall be a viable one. That is what it is about. But, with what I have said, I do not think this Amendment is one which is sufficiently precise to be incorporated as a statutory obligation, because I do not honestly think that it means enough.

I was very glad to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, recognises that the Authority now have considerably more experience than they once had in working on the kind of problem that we have under discussion. The noble Lord, Lord Champion, said a good deal about Wales, and W.W.N. in particular, and I think that everyone regards that particular attempt as a very noble attempt to do that particular job. Also, it has been said that that was a wrong move, because of the position that W.W.N. is in now. I do not want to comment on that one way or the other, but what I do want to draw out of it is that it illustrates the difficulties of attempting to impose specific conditions on programme areas. As the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, pointed out—I thought with a little unease—there might well be an implication in this Amendment that the right thing to do would be to appoint three or four big programme contractors only, because they would be—


No, that is not true.


All right; perhaps I misunderstood the noble Lord. Perhaps he was not worried about that.


it is not a criminal offence, but the noble Lord did misunderstand me.


I regard it as a criminal offence on my part not to have understood the noble Lord's lucidity. But, whatever the noble Lord may or may not have said about it, the implication is there, I think, that there would be this tendency, and that it would be wise to appoint large and powerful programme contractors because they will have plenty of funds for developing larger areas. That happens also to agree with the views put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Champion, as to the value of the regional interests; and I do not think that we should do well lightly to overlook those interests, and allow them to get swamped. In view of the uncertainties, most of which have been mentioned—the effect of the B.B.C.'s second programme, and, we hope, the I.T.A.'s second programme, in due course; the switch to ultra-high frequency transmission; and, in fact, the choice of people from among those who wish to become programme contractors—I think that it would be wrong to circumscribe the Authority in the flexibility of their selection and choice by this kind of provision.

The point is that the Amendment refers specifically to the fact that it is for the purposes of Clause 2, but the Authority already have a duty placed upon them under that clause to ensure that their programmes comply with the provisions of it, which is the point that noble Lords have argued. They already have that duty; and under provisions dotted about the Bill, they have the necessary powers—more powers than they have ever had before—to see that their programmes do comply with those provisions. From that, from what is already written into the Bill, it follows that they must arrange their programme contracts to ensure that their duties under the clause are, in fact, carried out; and that could not be done if they failed to arrange suitable, viable areas. They would not then be carrying out their own duty; and that is the reason why I say there is no need to have this Amendment. I hope that in fact noble Lords opposite will have followed me in my arguments on that, and may agree with me.


We are not going to get on very well with this Bill if we have many answers such as the one we have just had. The noble Lord has clearly missed the point of this Amendment, and I am surprised that other noble Lords—those who have a particular interest—have not seen the relevance of this to their problems. It is perfectly true, as the noble Lord says, that the I.T.A. have considerable powers—and, indeed, increased powers, as a result of this Bill; but it is nowhere written in, either into the original Act or into this Bill, that they should have special regard to the areas and that these areas should be suitable for the purposes of this particular subsection—which are, of course, to provide proper and balanced programmes, and so on. It is a fact that the present areas—and this has been made abundantly clear—are in certain respects unsatisfactory. None of my noble friends (and this is why I am taking some exception to what the noble Lord has said) has at any time suggested that there should be just four or five, or three, big contractors. What we were saying was that there are certain very big contractors who are able to pay their way, and there are a number of small ones (one particular example was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Champion) which are not able to pay their way. We want to make it a responsibility laid upon the I.T.A. to do something about this.

The noble Lord suggested that the remarks of my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth with regard to a split franchise were not relevant to this particular Amendment, but in my view this is precisely where they are relevant. I am not myself in favour, nor are a number of my noble friends, of varying rentals. There is enough difficulty on this matter: and I do not doubt we shall hear the voices of a number of noble Lords on this subject. But what we are

suggesting is that the time has now come to produce some rational arrangements, and we are wanting the I.T.A. to do it now. We want the intention to be written into the Bill, and we want to strengthen their hand when it comes to carving a very profitable little bit off one of the existing contractors. It is not enough just to say, "Leave it to the I.T.A." The Postmaster General refuses himself to exercise powers in regard to this matter, or will not take the powers. It may be that we ought to put the powers into the Bill: it may be that this particular Amendment is not satisfactory: but the noble Lord really has missed the point of the argument. This is intended to make television more successful and more viable, and we are particularly concerned about the local companies, whether it be Anglia or whether it be any other company. In the absence of any reasoned reply to these arguments, or an appreciation of the force of what we are putting forward, I certainly hope that my noble friends will take this matter to a Division, and I hope that certain noble Lords on the other side who are concerned not only for the health of the big contractors but also for competition, and meeting local needs, will support the Amendment.


Just before that happens, I should like to say very briefly that I am sorry the noble Lord feels that I missed the point of his original introduction of this Amendment. I only hope that I did not miss it as widely as he has missed the point of my reply.

5.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 38; Not-Contents, 42.

Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Gosford, E. Ogmore, L.
Archibald, L. Henderson, L. Sainsbury, L.
Attlee, E. Hughes, L. Samuel, V.
Bessborough, E. Iddesleigh, E. Shackleton, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Latham, L. Shepherd, L.
Champion, L. Lawson, L. Sinha, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Lindgren, L. Summerskill, B.
Conesford, L. Listowel, E. Swanborough, B.
Crook, L. Longford, E. Swinton, E.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Taylor, L.
Faringdon, L. Merrivale, L. Townshend, M.
Francis-Williams, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Gladwyn, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L.
Aberdare, L. Ferrers, E. Mansfield, E.
Auckland, L. Forster of Harraby, L. Mar and Kellie, E.
Balerno, L. Fortescue, E. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Carrington, L. Fraser of North Cape, L. Mills, V.
Chesham, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Mountevans, L.
Coutanche, L. Hastings, L. Moyne, L.
Craigton, L. Hawke, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Denham, L. Ironside, L. St. Just, L.
Derwent, L. Lambert, V. Sandys, L.
Devonshire, D. Lothian, M. Somers, L.
Dundee, E. Luke, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Ebbisham, L. Mabane, L. Waleran, L.
Eccles, L. McCorquodale of Newton, L. Windlesham, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mancroft, L. Wolverton, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5.26 p.m.

LORD SHACKLETON moved to add to subsection (1): Without prejudice to the provisions of the principal Act, the Authority may in pursuance of their duty under this section themselves arrange for the provision of, or, if need be, themselves provide programmes or parts of programmes to be broadcast by the Authority.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Taylor. I will briefly introduce the Amendment. Its purpose is to enable the Authority themselves to arrange for the provision of programmes or parts of programmes, notwithstanding the limitations that are imposed in the principal Act. I would draw the Committee's attention to the particular section of the principal Act which is Section 2. It is our contention that the I.T.A. should be free, as part of their wider duties, to encourage competition—a word which we have heard frequently in regard to the subject of television—and, in particular, to ensure that programmes can be provided by the Authority themselves or by other contractors or, indeed, by people who are not contractors at all. Inevitably, due to the limitation in the previous Act and to the fact that there was only a single programme, there has been very little competition; and we always recognised that competition was not possible at the stage when the original Television Act was brought in. That was one of the reasons why we did not believe quite so wholeheartedly as some that the Television Bill of 1954 would be a great liberating force producing competition.

I hope that this particular Amendment will be acceptable to all sides of the Committee. It is designed to loosen things up a bit, to encourage contractors, to ensure that programmes are broadcast, and to prevent those who operate something of a monopoly at the moment from restricting others who may have something to offer whether it be news reporting or other enterprises. That, in brief, is the purpose of my noble friend's Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 7, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Shackleton.)


I must apologise first to the Committee, and secondly to my noble friend for not being in my place when the Amendment was called. I did not realise that things would happen quite so quickly as they did. My noble friend Lord Shackleton has explained the Amendment correctly to the Committee and I should like to thank him at once for so doing. The extraordinary thing is that under the original Television Act, the Independent Television Authority has the power to create programmes under certain circumstances. This power is in Clause 2(a) of the original Act, and it can arrange for the provision of parts of programmes or programmes which would not otherwise be radiated in order to achieve a proper balance of subject matter, or which cannot suitably be provided by the contractors, or if for any reason there is a break in continuity—if the contractors are not able to do it or have not been brought into existence quickly enough and there is an interval between one contract and another.

So far as I know, I.T.A. has never itself exercised this function, but this provision has not been repealed and is retained in the original Act—I think, quite rightly. We seek to enlarge this just a little for laudable reasons, as my noble friend said, so that I.T.A. may be one extra source of programme creation. The Pilkington Committee wanted the Authority to be a substantial originating source. We are not seeking that at all. We are saying that there may be occasions when it would be desirable; and we have in mind the situation of the regional stations, who have to rely on the networks, who might welcome an alternative source of commercial programmes produced by the Authority itself.

We have in mind even the position of authors and creators of programmes who are unable to market their programmes. I must confess that I have been in this situation myself. There is not a monopoly any more where programmes are concerned, but it is often difficult for someone who has made or intends to make a television programme to get anybody to take it up—anybody being either the B.B.C. or the main I.T.A. commercial companies. My own experience occurred last year, when I failed to persuade the B.B.C. or a commercial company when I wanted to make a programme about Saskatchewan. It would have been nice if there had been a third source whom one could approach.

One of the great difficulties with the B.B.C.—in almost every way an admirable organisation—is that it is easier to get them to adopt a programme idea if you can get them to think that they thought of it first, because it has to fit into some large, long-term, pre-arranged plan they have. The same applies to all companies which have to plan a long way ahead.

Here is a way by which I.T.A. could play a part in making programmes, which it may not immediately radiate but store for an appropriate time and use in that way. This proposition was advanced somewhat similarly in another place and the Assistant Postmaster General admitted that there was something in the argument. I hope that the Government may feel that this is a reasonable and valuable Amendment and would be an added strength to the diversity of our television services.


In supporting this Amendment, I would stress, as my noble friend Lord Shackleton has already done, that the purpose of it is to increase competition in television. I think experience shows that in television, as in other walks of life, inevitably the large establishment, by its own stresses, tends to reach a stage where it is apt to reject new ideas; where the vested interest, in going along as it always has gone along, becomes so great and weighs so heavily, even upon the creative people in the enterprise, that a great many experiments that ought to be made are not made.

Therefore I think it is important that in addition to the many controlling and some of the negative responsibilities which they already have, the Authority should be given a constructive, creative responsibility to stimulate and on occasion to produce new, interesting and exciting experimental television, which will get new television ideas and methods on the screen in a way that might otherwise not happen. As many of your Lordships know, I have a certain interest in this matter, in that I am a director of a small group of television commentators and producers, which exists as an independent television company. But I am not thinking in terms of companies even as small as mine. I know many excellent television producers and writers who have ideas for new experiments in television, for exploring new aspects of the television medium and who, it is important to the vitality of television, should be encouraged.

In the course of nature, they are likely to find that if they go to some big commercial company, the company will feel that what they propose is not the sort of programme they can put on as an attraction at peak viewing hour. They have already, or can buy, American films, and so on, to fill in the smaller viewing audience periods, so why should they trouble themselves about this, which may be a failure or a success? As my noble friend Lord Archibald, who has been concerned in the film industry, would agree, the existence of individual and often quite small companies to fructify the whole industry with new ideas is essential, and the purpose of this Amendment is to give the Authority itself the ability, where it feels it desirable, to commission people of this kind to make programmes and see that they are shown. Moreover, the Authority, instead of being a purely administrative hand over the industry, may become a constructive creative partner in the industry by themselves producing on occasion programmes of a kind, and possibly of an interest, which purely commercial companies may not operate. It is for these reasons that I most strongly support this Amendment.


When I thought about this Amendment before I heard it explained and discussed, I wondered what was going to come forth, because it seemed to me that there were two possible objectives. The first was that it might be intended as a kind of reserve power. I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, for explaining that such a power already exists in Clause 2 of the 1954 Act, under which the Authority may themselves provide programmes or parts of programmes in certain circumstances. Or I thought it might be a much wider suggestion, as indeed it has proved to be, involving a fundamental change in the conception of the I.T.A.

I think I should refer to the part of Clause 2 of the 1954 Act to which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, did not refer—that is, subsection 2(a), where it states that the other reserve power of I.T.A. is to arrange for the provision of programmes otherwise than by programme contractors, for the purpose of securing the inclusion of items for a balance which cannot be provided by the programme contractors. The I.T.A. cannot provide them themselves bin can arrange to get them from elsewhere. That reserve power, which already exists, seems to me to take care of the first part of the Amendment, where it says, "themselves arrange for the provision of".

I now come on to the second stage, "if need be, themselves provide". If they are themselves to provide, it means that they have to set up the organisation of the appropriate staff; they have to buy, rent or otherwise arrange to have available studios; they have to fix all contracts with the necessary writers, composers and so on: in short, they have to go completely into the production business. That has never been the rôle visualised for the Authority in the general framework of independent television which they have been set up to run. To accept this Amendment, or the principle of it, would mean making the Authority into a completely different animal from what it was ever intended to be. I think it would make it into a rather odd animal, because, if it is to retain its identity as an Authority the purpose of which is to provide an independent television service, and it is at the same time to become a programme contractor, or analogous to one, in its own right, it will be in an extremely difficult position, I should have thought; some complicated administrative problems would arise, and a few bricks would be thrown about here and there when it came to adjudicating between using its own services and those of programme contractors in the arranging of contracts.


The noble Lord talks of "the arranging of contracts". I do not think it is suggested in the Amendment that the Authority would themselves take over a contractor's whole business. All that is suggested is that the Authority might on occasion either themselves produce, or cause to be produced, particular programmes of merit, and not that they should become a day-to-day competitor of a contractor.


Perhaps I overstated the case; but I should have thought that if they had set up on this kind of basis the necessary facilities for themselves providing, they would tend to use them. Perhaps I overstressed it, but I should have thought that would be the normal thing for them to do. I can see the Authority, in those circumstances, getting into some very awkward situations. If they were to cease to be the Authority in control, it might be another matter; but it would be a shocking thing for them to do that. Therefore I do not think we ought to accept the Amendment or the principle of their going into business for themselves.


I think, if I may say so, the noble Lord has got it wrong. I think that in Clause 2(2), to which the noble Lord refers, paragraph (b) is certainly a reserve power. I agree with him there. This is a reserve power if the programme contractors break down for any reason. But paragraph (a) is not a reserve power in this sense, for it enables the Authority to arrange for the provision of parts of programmes for the purpose of securing a proper balance in the subject matter of programmes: not because the contractors are failing in their job to provide programmes, but because the Authority do not like the programmes they have provided. In the remainder of the clause the I.T.A. are already given power to make all these arrangements. The fact is that they have not done so, and a more vigorous I.T.A. might well already have been making programmes because they thought that the balance was not correct; that there were not enough cultural programmes, or not enough experimental programmes, of the kind of which my noble friend was speaking. It might be said that my new clause is unnecessary because it is already covered and the I.T.A. can, if they wish, do these things. That would be a fair argument. But we want to make sure that the intentions as set out in the principal Act are carried out, and I am afraid we must press the Amendment to a Division if the Government will not accept it.


I shall not be accused of prejudice, because I voted on the noble Lord's side on the last Amendment, which I thought was a reasonable direction to give to the I.T.A., but I must say on this occasion that I am entirely in agreement with the Government. I think this would be a most unreasonable power or direction to give to the I.T.A. and, quite briefly, I will tell your Lordships why. We are trying in this matter to adopt the Pilkington Report, which the House so firmly rejected.




Well, I do not think that there were many who were found to be enthusiastic supporters of the Pilkington Report. There was a plain issue there, which really is the issue here: were you to have the I.T.A. as the producers of programmes and the operating company, or were you to have them exercising their directional and supervisory functions? I think there is no doubt that the feeling of the great majority of people was that the recommendation of the Pilkington Report on this matter was an extremely unwise one, and that the right thing to do was what the Government have done. It is said that "this is only a little one"; it is occasional. I do not think it would be only occasional. I think you might get into great difficulties over it. I do not know where the I.T.A. are going to get the money to do this, because providing programmes is an expensive business.

If it is merely a case of "somebody ought to produce the programmes", they are producing them in the independent studios. You are really putting the I.T.A. into the production business, which most of us have accepted is something that they ought not to go into. But supposing they do produce these programmes, what are they going to do with them? If it is a good programme, they might be able to sell it. But supposing nobody wants it. I see there is a further Amendment later on, and one thing leads to another. They would then say to some contractor, who, after all, has to carry the load and take the risk in this business: "You must put this into your programme". That seems to be a very strong thing to do.

I can see, also, that they might easily be shot at. A lot of people think they write very good plays, but the real test is whether they get performed. But supposing there is this duty put upon the I.T.A., that when anybody has a bright idea they have to produce, at considerable cost, a programme, and they turn a lot of these ideas down, I can see complaints being made asking the Postmaster General why the I.T.A. have turned down a bright idea of some nice young gentleman. I do not think that would be a good plan at all. Let the I.T.A. have their full powers of direction. I think that between the B.B.C. and the Television Authority the television companies have not been at all slow to adopt novelties and to get new playwrights. After all, Pinter, who, I suppose, is the most successful new playwright of modern times, was found by the I.T.A. and produced his first play on I.T.A. I think it would be much better to give the Television Authority the proper function of supervising and directing, and if somebody puts some good ideas to them let them go to the companies and throw them out to them. More than likely they will take them. But do not let us put the Authority into a business which they would not do at all well, which would be costly, and which the House has in principle already rejected.


The noble Earl has put into words precisely my thoughts on this matter. But I think there is one point on which he might have gone further and asked, "Who polices the policeman in this matter?". Suppose this avant-garde stuff is against the public taste, who is to say that? They will be the judge in their own court.


Perhaps the noble Lord does not: share the taste of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, for Pinter, and on this I am with him. I think noble Lords are reading too much into this Amendment. Let me say straight away to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, that I am still a Pilkingtonian, as are quite a lot of other people including, I think, the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham. But we have to accept realities, and we are broadly content with the Government's approach on a number of matters. What we are now proposing in no way breaches the original principles of the Television Act, 1954, or the principles contained in Clause 2 of this Bill. I would say to the noble Earl that it is laid upon the Authority to ensure that there are programmes of high standard; that there is, in respect of content and quality, a proper balance; and they are also obliged to secure a wide showing for programmes of merit. If they are to fulfil the purposes of this Bill, it may be necessary for them to commission further programmes.

I would say quite seriously—and I ask noble Lords to believe me; and I think the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, will agree with this—that it was not our object to put the I.T.A. into the programme-making business on any sizeable scale. Indeed, if they were to exercise these powers, I should have thought that it was likely they would arrange for the provision of these programmes through existing contractors or outside contractors. When I was introducing this Amendment I mentioned that it was with a view to producing a little more competition and letting a few more people into the business, including those who are not programme contractors. It is a criticism with which I am sure noble Lords will agree. It is inevitable that the scope for people to produce pro- grammes is restricted, and it is natural for existing programme contractors—some of the bigger ones—to resist the introduction of outside programmes. There may be occasions when it would be desirable for this to be done, but I see no likelihood, under this Amendment, of the Authority's going in for the programme business on a large scale.

I would draw to the attention of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and others who are concerned about it that this Amendment specifically refers to the provisions of the principal Act which severely restrict the I.T.A. They already have certain powers for providing programmes, but within specific limits. We do not go any further than the limits contained in the original Act or in the Television Bill.


The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is such a fair controversialist that I am sure that what he is now saying is a misunderstanding of his own Amendment. When he says, Without prejudice to the provisions of the principal Act, the Authority may that takes them right outside the limitations of the provisions of the principal Act.


I am grateful to the noble Lord. We are still within the provisions of this Bill. I can only say that the intention of this Amendment is not a back-door way of turning the I.T.A. into another B.B.C. I dismiss as unworthy the anxiety of the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, about who is going to police the policeman in the shape of the I.T.A. I would hope that the I.T.A. or the B.B.C. would not need much policing. In any case, they are subject to certain pressures in a way in which the programme contractors were not, and it is agreed that they have to be policed. This Amendment may not be entirely satisfactory, but I say to the Government that we are trying to loosen the thing up a bit to provide for more opportunities for the I.T.A. themselves if necessary to make programmes or, more likely, to commission others maybe by other programme contractors. I think it would be absurd for the I.T.A. at this stage to go in for programme making on a large scale, and I am quite sure that what they would do would be to place the contract for a particular programme. I hope I have interpreted the intentions of my noble friend Lord Taylor correctly in this matter, and I hope he will take this Amendment to a Division.

6.5 p.m.

LORD CONESFORD moved to leave out subsection (2). The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment of some importance and, for the second time in a television debate, I think it my duty to disclose an absence of interest. I am bound to admit, and I hope the admission will not be thought too damning, that I have no experience of watching television programmes, either B.B.C. or I.T.A. But before noble Lords consider that admission too disgraceful and as one disqualifying me from now intervening, I want to bring three matters to their attention.

The first is that I am not going to dispute the evils against which this subsection is directed. I shall assume for the purposes of my argument that the Pilkington Committee have, in general, accurately described them. Secondly, though I have no experience of watching television, I have some experience of kindred arts. I have been and do go occasionally to see films, and I have

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 25; Not-Contents, 53.

Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Latham, L. Samuel, V.
Annaly, L. Lawson, L. Shackleton, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Lindgren, L. Shepherd, L.
Champion, L. Listowel, E. Sinha, L.
Crook, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Summerskill, B.
Faringdon, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Taylor, L.
Francis-Williams, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Williams, L.
Henderson, L. Ogmore, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Hughes, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Ellenborough, L. Mancroft, L.
Atholl, D. Elliot of Harwood, B. Mar and Kellie, E.
Balerno, L. Ferrers, E. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Bessborough, E. Forster of Harraby, L. Merrivale, L.
Carew, L. Fortescue, E. Mills, V.
Carrington, L. Fraser of North Cape, L. Mountevans, L.
Chesham, L. Gladwyn, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Goschen, V. [Teller.] St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Conesford, L. Gosford, E. Sandys, L.
Coutanche, L. Grantchester, L. Somers, L.
Craigton, L. Hastings, L. Strang, L.
Denham, L. Hawke, L. Swanborough, B.
Derwent, L. Hereford, V. Swinton, E.
Devonshire, D. Iddesleigh, E. Townshend, M.
Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Jellicoe, E. Waleran, L.
Dundee, E. Lothian, M. Windlesham, L.
Ebbisham, L. Luke, L. Wolverton, L.
Eccles, L. McCorquodale of Newton, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

also had some experience of examining evidence critically and trying to draft legislation. Thirdly, let me say that I approach the Bill and this subsection with, I hope, suitable modesty. I shall give reasons why I think that this subsection ought to be omitted, but I am quite willing to be shown that I am wrong, but I must be shown that by argument, and not by people directing my attention to the fact—which I already know—that there are evils in violence. What I want is some reason to think that the promulgation of a code will do some good.

I share the Government's desire for better standards in television. But why do Her Majesty's Government now assume that a code is the right remedy to prevent the danger of excessive violence? May I remind the Committee that other investigators of the problem have come to the opposite conclusion? As my right honourable friend the Postmaster General pointed out to the Standing Committee considering this Bill at the sitting of March 21 (I am going to paraphrase the information he gave, in columns 227 and 228). the I.T.A. and the B.B.C. decided some time ago, on this whole problem of violence, to seek advice from the O'Conor Committee, and it was the emphatic view of that Committee that no code on television was desirable, either a code governing violence or a code of a wider kind.

I now quote the express findings of that Committee: While a code can save time, it can also serve as a scapegoat on to which a producer can pass off his responsibilities. It is only too easy to argue that, because a particular theme is not specifically banned in the code, there is no harm in exploiting it. A code may, therefore, become a shield for irresponsibility and it may also become an excuse for the mediocre programme or the programme which plays safe.


I beg the noble Lord's pardon—I expect this is my fault—but would he tell us the Committee from which he is quoting?


The O'Conor Committee, which, if my memory serves me aright—Her Majesty's Government will correct me if I am wrong—was set up by the I.T.A. the B.B.C. to advise them on this question of violence, and I think particularly in relation to its influence on children. It is always referred to, in the Pilkington Report and elsewhere, as the O'Conor Committee. The passage I quoted was the opinion of the expert O'Conor Committee who considered this question. The Independent Television Authority are still against having a code, which this subsection would force them to have. That also was revealed by my right honourable friend the Postmaster-General to the Commons Committee on the same occasion. So much for the view of the I.T.A. and of this expert Committee.

Now let me turn to the Pilkington Report. The Pilkington Report dealt with the matter at some length, particularly in paragraphs 168 to 174 of their Report. Paragraph 174 is also the paragraph which they mention in their recommendation on this subject. So I think perhaps I should quote some passages from paragraph 174: We conclude that the portrayal of violence, in its amount, treatment and timing is unsatisfactory on independent television. Further, we believe that the Authority's policy on the portrayal of violence in television is defective on a number of counts. Generally, it depends too much on the view that violence is part of life and must therefore be mirrored. There is validity in this view, but, unless it is supported by those further considerations about the use of violence which we have noted above, it can easily become an excuse for the portrayal of too much violence for its own sake, rather than a justification for the portrayal of those incidents of violence that are properly part of an imaginative work. In particular, we consider that the Authority can not, by relying on the policies towards violence of the individual companies, properly discharge its responsibilities. A little lower down, in the same paragraph the Report says: No code or stated policy could be perfect. But to exercise its responsibilities, the Authority"— and these are the important words, because it was also part of the recommendation— should at least define the elements of a policy on violence. That was the Pilkington recommendation. They did not say in terms that there should be a code on the subject, though that may have been their intention.

The Government had two White Papers and each had a paragraph dealing with that recommendation to which I have just referred. In the first of the White Papers, that of July, 1962, Her Majesty's Government said, in paragraph 40: The Government recognises that there is a wish for improvement in the general standards of all television programmes and that programmes should, in particular, include less violence and triviality. The Government will discuss these matters with the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. That statement, as I say, appeared in the first White Paper. In the second White Paper, that of December, 1962, we had the most complete statement of the Government's policy on this matter that we had before this Bill was introduced. Noble Lords will find the matter dealt with in paragraph 38 of this Second White Paper in the following words: Discussions have taken place with both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. on programme standards. The Government is seriously concerned to prevent the danger not only of excessive violence but also of excessive triviality in the treatment of programmes. In the last resort these are matters which must depend on the vigilance of broadcasting authorities. Prescription by legislation of detailed programme standards would be ineffective. Then we come to these important words: The Government nevertheless considers that codes of standards and practice in programmes, issued by the broadcasting authorities themselves, are valuable, not least in focusing the attention of producers on the need for care, and it expects the broadcasting authorities to make the most effective use of them". And then we see the only reference in words to a written code: Written codes are better adapted to dealing with recognisable incidents in programmes, such as acts of violence, than with the essential spirit underlying production". That is what the Government said about their policy.

When this legislation was introduced the subsection that we are now considering was in considerably wider terms: the compulsory power was not limited to dealing with violence. But Her Majesty's Government had second thoughts, and we now have the clause making it mandatory on the I.T.A., against their will, to draw up this code on violence and permitting them to include other matters. The subsection which I am now suggesting we should omit from the Bill makes it mandatory on the Authority to produce a code giving guidance on violence. I think what led up to this subsection is relevant to our consideration. Now I come to what will be the considerations which will enable us to judge whether the O'Conor Committee and the I.T.A., on the one hand, are right in opposing a code, or whether Her Majesty's Government are right in making one compulsory. There is a direct conflict of view. How are we to decide between them? Can we get any guidance from experience? At the present time the B.B.C. have a code, of which I shall say more later, which noble Lords will find printed on pages 48 to 50 of the Pilkington Report. The I.T.A. have none. So that is the present position; the B.B.C. have a code, the I.T.A. have none.

The first question, therefore, which I put to Her Majesty's Government is this: Have the BB.C. been more successful than the I.T.A. in avoiding excessive violence, or have they not? For the reasons I gave at the beginning of my speech, I cannot answer that question, because I do not see either. But I can direct the attention of this Committee, and in particular of Her Majesty's Government, to what was said to the Standing Committee by my right honourable friend the Postmaster General on March 14, 1963—it will be found in column 142. My right honourable friend, having explained that the Authority were, on balance, oposed to a code of any sort, went on with these words: On the other hand, the B.B.C., despite reports to the contrary, still has a code governing the showing of violence on television. And then come these very significant words: Whether that is an argument for or against a code I am not quite sure. Lest it should be thought that that was a rather biased Conservative view, I may say that a Member of the Opposition, Mr. Willey, speaking on March 19 to the same Committee, found the B.B.C. the worse offender of the two. So far as experience goes, and so far as the considered opinion of my right honourable friend the Postmaster General and other Members on both sides go, there is no reason to think that the B.B.C. with the code has been any more successful than the I.T.A. without the code. I cannot add to that; I just ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give us their considered view.


The noble Lord has been quoting from, or paraphrasing, column 142 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee when referring to what the Postmaster General said. But he did not follow it on, because the Postmaster General went on to say that, on balance, he thought that the clause, as amended, and as we have received it, was about right.


I know. That is his view, and of course I do not deny that. I really was not trying to mislead the Committee. I was saying that the only point which I was dealing with was whether the evidence that the Postmaster General gave as to the code was soundly based. Of course Her Majesty's Government think it is, otherwise they would not have put the subsection in the Bill. But what I am drawing the attention of the Committee to is whether there is any reason whatever for thinking them right. As I have said, one of those bodies has a code, the other has not. I have no experience to say that one is better than the other, and the Postmaster General does not know whether the fact that the B.B.C. has a code is in favour of, or against, his argument for putting this compulsory code into the Bill.

Just before I pass to another subject I must express my astonishment that there is so much in the Pilkington Report and elsewhere making reference to the effect on B.B.C. standards of competition with the I.T.A. The Pilkington Committee actually says that their standards have been adversely affected. What on earth is meant by tie B.B.C. being in competition with the I.T.A.? Parliament has never told the B.B.C. to compete with the I.T.A. Their revenue is in no way dependent on competition with the I.T.A. If the B.B.C. have altered their standards one iota since the I.T.A. came into existence it must be because they are of opinion that their new standards are better than their old ones. There is no compulsion by Parliament, either financially or by anything said, which compels them in any shape or form to compete with the T.T.A.


Surely the original, stated purpose of the earlier Television Act, which we are now amending, was to stimulate competition between the two channels? That was the great purpose, to destroy the monopoly—


Exactly; to destroy the monopoly, a totally—


Wait a minute; I have not finished—and, incidentally, to start another monopoly. The whole argument was that this would not only stimulate competition and give us only good television on commercial grounds, but would improve the television programmes of the B.B.C. That was the Government's argument.


Having taken some part in that argument, I wholly agree. I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression, but I thought I was making the speech and that the noble Lord was not. Nevertheless, I took some part in that matter; and, of course, as I said in an earlier debate, the principal Conservative reason for setting up the I.T.A. was that we thought there ought not to be a monopoly in television. That is certainly absolutely true.

But there is all the difference in the world between setting up this new body, the I.T.A., which had to attract an audience, otherwise it would not have had any revenue, and saying that the B.B.C. were compelled to do anything whatsoever. They were not. I must say that, when either of these bodies has asked me to do anything, I have received friendship more often from the B.B.C. than from the I.T.A., though now, of course, I am much too ridiculously old to be of any interest to either. But if I advised the B.B.C. I should say, "So far from being influenced by the I.T.A., enjoy your absolute freedom to plan your programmes without any necessity to compete. Make your standards higher, rather than lower." And when it is said, in excuse of the B.B.C., that they were compelled by competition to change their standards, that seems to me to be abject nonsense.

I now come to the question of what sort of code the Government contemplate if this subsection, which I wish to omit, remains in the Bill. From the little passage I read out from the second White Paper, which, your Lordships will remember, was paragraph 38: Written codes are better adapted to dealing with recognisable incidents in programmes, such as acts of violence, than with the essential spirit underlying production. it seems to me that it might be intended that the cruel acts should be defined and codified. Perhaps you could kick a man in the teeth, but not in another part of his anatomy. Perhaps you could do both; but neither too often. Perhaps you could smack a lady's face, but no other part of her anatomy. I do not know what is supposed to go into the code. But may I say this in general: that I believe that if the Government started to draft a code, they would find out what absolute nonsense this was. I think that by casting off the job on Lord Hill of Luton and his assistants they suppose that they will somehow accomplish a job that Parliament may not be able to accomplish. High though my opinion of Lord Hill of Luton is, I have no reason to think that he could accomplish a job that is beyond the wit of Parliament.

But there is another possibility. Perhaps the Government may say that what they are thinking about is a code such as the B.B.C. have—and it is set out on pages 48 to 50 of the Pilkington Report. That is headed "Programme policy governing violence. A code of practice for the B.B.C. Television Service. A note by Controller of Programmes, Television." It is the work of Kenneth Adam. Let me say at once, that I think there is in it a great deal that is good sense. I do not think it is what noble Lords, merely looking at the subsection in the Bill, would normally expect to find in a code dealing with violence. For instance, it deals inter alia with the undesirability of showing children chain-smoking. There is a lot to be said about chain-smoking; but it does not fall, in the view of most people, ordinarily within the category of violence. Nevertheless, I think there is a good deal of good sense in this code of the B.B.C.

Some of the things they say might, I feel, be questioned. One of the things that puzzles me—and I do not wholly agree with it—is their conviction of the harmlessness of guns and of shooting. I think that shooting may be a good deal better than some of the other things sometimes portrayed; nevertheless, I think it is possible to have too much of it. Let me read three passages from this code of the B.B.C. First of all, on the children's programmes it says, with great good sense, The worlds which children and grownups occupy, though they overlap, are different. Subjects with unpleasant associations for the one will often be taken for granted by the other. Guns and fisticuffs may have sinister implications for adults; seldom for children. Family insecurity and marital infidelity may be commonplace to adults; to children they can be deeply disturbing. I believe that most noble Lords would agree with the general wisdom of what is there stated. Then, again dealing with children's programmes, it has this to say on weapons: Weapons: the choice is important. Coshes, knives, whips and bottles are more suspect than revolvers, rifles or swords, because they are more easily available or improvised. I think that, again, may be true.

Then, when it gets on to adult programmes, it says this: As with children's programmes, the use of dangerous implements, other than firearms, has to be watched, to avoid both revulsion and imitation in viewers. As I have said, I think there is a great deal of wisdom in a good deal of this Report, but I must say I cannot quite share their equanimity about no special need to watch firearms. I think that perhaps the population can become over-accustomed to the habitual use of firearms on the slightest, or indeed on no, provocation.

Having quoted those passages—and there are other passages of value—I am bound to say that certain passages in their code are to me wholly obscure. I shall read them to the Committee. I am sure noble Lords will know exactly what is meant, and that it is merely a defect in my own intelligence. The B.B.C. like Westerns.


Hear, hear!


Well, I rather agree with them. It is a matter of taste. I find myself, with some pleasure, in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth. But perhaps he will be able to explain this passage in the B.B.C. code: The 'Western', on the other hand, has a formal and stylised tradition, of which shooting and slogging it out are an essential part. Now I come to the words of which I cannot make head or tail: The latest film-makers, however, are apt to interject a sudden piece of optical or acoustic self-indulgence into an otherwise admissible fight betwen law and outlaw. This requires vigilance from us. I have read those words several times, but so far I have not made head or tail of what they mean—though no doubt they give very clear guidance to the filmmakers of the B.B.C.


I suggest that this particular code is directed at the staff and the producers in the B.B.C. Since they are concerned with the editing of films, they would know what they were looking for, and would not necessarily expect the general public—even the non-viewer such as the noble Lord—to follow it.


I hope that they understand it, but it is a little alarming for this Committee to assume as a matter of course that any employee of the B.B.C. will understand language which is wholly meaningless to this Committee. But the noble Lord may be perfectly right.


It is not a question of understanding language. It is a question of understanding that they are dealing with the technique of editing films. It is their business. It is not of course the noble Lord's business. Conversely, I am sure that there are many things the noble Lord understands which would be well over the heads of the B.B.C. employees.


One of the things I try to understand is the English language, and I think it is quite conceivable, however unlikely it may appear to the noble Lord, that there are a certain number of educated Englishmen employed by the B.B.C. However improbable that may appear to him, it is at least a possibility. If they are absolutely unable to understand the passage I have read, I think they ought to be provided with an English translation.

I come to another passage which puzzles me greatly: Violence inflicted on a woman or animal must require special scrutiny. I find that very puzzling. I do not think it means scrutiny by the viewer. I do not think it means that the scene of violence has got to be put on a screen for an extra time so that nobody shall miss it. I think it means that the compilers of these programmes are, on the whole and on balance, slightly against violence inflicted on a woman or an animal; that if it is to appear in the programme it requires considerable justification.


To give a very small example to the noble Lord, if he knows anything about children's programmes he would know about Bill Sikes and his dog. There is a case of suffering inflicted on an animal which is justifiable for the dramatic story. That doubtless would have had the special scrutiny it would require, but it would still be shown.


I am deeply obliged to the noble Lord, because on the whole that is what I myself had concluded. I am delighted for the expert advice as to what it did in fact mean, but when it said that it required special scrutiny it might have made it a little clearer had it said by whom and for what purpose. However, I may be entirely wrong.

The trouble is that in this, as in other media—and here I am cordially agreeing with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who just intervened in a very friendly way—a thing may be right and tolerable as an essential part of a work of art, and intolerable if introduced irrelevantly for its own sake in order to deprave. That is a matter on which every one of us, if we think about it, will be in agreement. Take incest, for example, as one subject. Incest is not a subject to be constantly depicted, or depicted for its own sake; but no reasonable person would say that that constituted any reason to censor the Œdipus Tyrannus of Sophocles.


There are, however, good reasons for not showing the Œdipus Tyrannus in the children's hour.


I cordially agree, though from my own experience of children I rather doubt whether they would remain "glued" to the screen for very long.

But are we sure that violence causes more harm among the young than frequent and well-advertised attacks on Christian virtues?


Hear, hear!


In the Radio Times of last week there appeared the following notice of a programme televised by the B.B.C. at 10 o'clock last Sunday. It runs as follows: This Nation Tomorrow. A fortnightly programme that takes a hard look at the ideas that may shape our future. Dr. Alex Comfort, writer, anarchist, medical biologist, urges that we should adopt more realistic and enlightened social attitudes towards sex and family life. It has been my general practice, if I wish to quote from anything broadcast by the B.B.C., to secure a script of the whole programme, which I have not yet had time to do in this case. But I have seen reported in a reputable part of the Press something that Dr. Alex Comfort is alleged to have said in this television programme: I think we have come to the view that chastity is no more a virtue than malnutrition. Let me say at once that I understand that there were other persons on that programme who were given a chance of being critical, and I am not going to say for one moment—certainly not on the information that I have—that the B.B.C. did anything wrong in broadcasting that programme. What I am saying is that the possibility of harm from that is, I should have thought, at least as great as the possibility of harm from violence. If such broadcasting is made all right, it will be because the B.B.C., believing as I do in discussion, provide a proper balance and secure a number of people holding different views, so that there can be a proper control of the programme.

In the case of violence the I.T.A. think again that by their control, without the setting up of a code, they too can control things adequately. What I am saying is that if the question dealt with by Dr. Alex Comfort on that night can be dealt with without a code, notwithstanding the dangers of some of the things he said, so, surely, can these other matters.


The programme with which the noble Lord is dealing was put on the air at ten o'clock at night, a period of time when not a large number of children are likely to be viewing. Also the code against violence is particularly concerned with preventing violence which might affect children.


Yes, but of course the harm which a complete disbelief in chastity may do is not necessarily confined to small children. That, I think, is a point worth mentioning. If the people who listen really believe that chastity is no more a virtue than malnutrition, I should have thought they might be harmed, even if they were not children.


I do not want constantly to interrupt the noble Lord, but does he object to the examination (he has already said there were other people taking part in this programme) of propositions, some of which may offend him and others of us, at a late hour of the night? The appeal of such a programme is to an older audience which, presumably, is capable of judging arguments to some extent on their own merits, and is not simply swallowing what it is told by one member of a discussion group on a programme.


I could not be in greater agreement with the noble Lord. I have constantly pleaded, both in another place and here, for vigorous discussion. I would never exclude these things from discussion. But to get a discussion in which people of all views take part, we must rely on the B.B.C. to see that there is a proper balance, and these are things not included in any code. I believe that I am in agreement with the noble Lord on a great number of these matters, but I am not in agreement that any case has been shown for the utility of a code.

The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, in his speech on Second Reading, referred to his experience as a film censor. I listened with interest. He did not convince me of the need for a code, even in that medium. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, is convinced that the things he bans are worse than the things he passes. I wonder. No films are, in my opinion, more nauseatingly disgusting and corrupting in their violence and sadism than those lengthy American epics in which the events are tied on to an Old or New Testament story and the whole is smeared with the pretence of religion. They never seem to incur the ban of the Board of Film Censors. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, in his interesting speech, gave one example of the code that his body themselves have set up. That was the probibition of nudity. The prohibition of nudity struck me, and strikes me, as wholly and absolutely idiotic. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 8, leave out subsection (2).—(Lord Conesford.)

6.47 p.m.


I started listening to the noble Lord, Lord Conesford—a long time ago, as my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth says—with a good deal of sympathy. But I thought he destroyed his case as he went on: destroyed it systematically and completely. First of all, this code is not a compulsory code.


Yes, it is.


No; it is a code for giving guidance, as the noble Lord will see if he looks at the Bill. It gives guidance, exactly as the B.B.C. codes give guidance to producers. These are not compulsory things; they are very useful guides. If it were compulsory I think it would be a bad thing. None of us wants codes; none of us wants to tie down television in any way. But there are certain things which are undesirable, some things which the noble Lord has quoted, which are as well kept away from children's hours and times when large numbers of children are watching. The noble Lord doubts the value of codes. He says that he does not know whether the B.B.C. code has worked better than the I.T.V. no-code. I would have said that the effect has been to make the B.B.C. programmes considerably more courageous for children, adventurous for children, than the I.T.V. children's programmes, which consist very largely of comic cartoons, some of which I must say I find quite amusing and quite good fun. But there is certainly none of the originality, verve and vitality which is in the average B.B.C. children's programme.


I interrupt because I think the noble Lord misunderstood me on one point. Of course I agree that it is not compulsory in the sense in which the noble Lord is using the word. What I would point out is that it is compulsory on the J.T.A. to make this code, even though they themselves think that it will not be useful.


Yes, indeed. Of course it is compulsory on the I.T.A. to make the code, which is itself not compulsory. It is not very difficult for them, because all they have to do is to copy out the B.B.C. code—leaving out three words to which the noble Lord objects—and a very good code it is, too. The only point (we shall come to this on the next Amendment) is that the Government have landed themselves in a position where they appear to object to violence more than anything else in children's programmes, and there I am with the noble Lord. There are many things more abhorrent than violence in children's programmes, and I am sure the Government did not intend what they have done.

We are going to try to help them to get it right in a minute and I am sure that between us we shall get it right somehow, so that the code can cover precisely the things to which the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, referred, with my full agreement: such things as the showing of adultery to children, desertion, cruelty to children, unwanted children, quarrelling parents, friction between parents—and I am quoting from the B.B.C. code of guidance—as well as a distressing portrayal of injury, illness and disability, especially when used to sharpen the dramatic crisis; for example, a deaf child unable to hear a warning. This sort of thing is really not suitable for showing to children, and I think it is quite right to have a code to show those concerned the things they ought to avoid.

I can see nothing wrong in doing this. Indeed, I would very largely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, and the B.B.C. said about the showing of violence. It does not do anybody any harm to see a good cowboy film, but there are certain undesirable bits and tricks in a cowboy film, such as where a fellow stamps on somebody's face—this is what they mean by that phrase—and there is a close up of the fellow being stamped on. That sort of thing is extremely unpleasant and extremely undesirable, and I would suggest that often the right word is "brutality" rather than "violence". Harmless violence is something that we all ought to get through in our childhood days. I think, again, that the B.B.C. have worked out a good code in respect of weapons, because they deal with weapons which can be quickly produced and easily made, and I am sure they have got it all right.

I was brought up, I remember, on a book which the noble Lord, being a student of English literature, may know—The Fool's Paradise of Mirth and Laughter: Wilhelm Busch's Bilderbögen, translated into English. It was a most horrible book, full of violence, given to me by an old aunt, and my favourite for many years. It showed, for example, a miller coming out of a mill with a crosscut saw over his shoulder, and as he jerks it he catches his wife's nose, and there is blood running down. The right time to go through this is when you are a little child, when you can find this sort of thing funny and harmless; and then you grow out of it perfectly satisfactorily and perfectly well, and become such a pacific person as myself. I do not think violence is what it is all about. There, I am with the noble Lord. I think the Government have got this clause a little bit wrong. I think when we put it right in a minute, it will be all right; and I am quite sure that on the whole they are right in thinking that it is a good thing to have a code of guidance, provided always it is not a compulsory code.


First of all, I feel rather indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, for a good deal of what he has just said, with which I am in agreement, because it will save my saying it. After the extremely interesting and discursive introduction of this Amendment by my noble friend, particularly when he came to the wide-ranging (indeed, I might say free-ranging) realms into which he went, when he proceeded to begin to do just what he said should not be done—that is, to specify what should be covered in the code that you should not have—I must admit that, when he came to his final words, "I beg to move", I had almost got to the stage of saying, "Well, he begs to move what?" Because it did seem to me, if he will allow me to say so, that he had become so preoccupied with the matter of a code that he had rather lost sight of the wood for the trees. If he has not lost sight of the wood for the trees, he will no doubt appreciate that the Amendment, if accepted, would knock out all the powers and duties that the Authority have to ensure that a high standard is kept, generally, and so on, because knocking out subsection (2) would automatically mean the removal of subsection (3) which hangs on subsection (2)—and a quick look at the contents of the Bill will show your Lordships that that would be a very undesirable thing indeed to do.


May I interrupt my noble friend? It had not escaped me that, if we adopted my Amendment and excluded subsection (2), subsection (3) would need amendment. I preferred that that amendment should wait until I knew the fate of subsection (2), and I preferred that the Parliamentary draftsmen should have the task of doing the amending.


I had no doubt that that would be the case, and I am delighted to hear that the situation is not the one that I feared it to be. I am not going to follow noble Lords into a discourse on what may or may not be more evil than the effects of violence, and whether that is the right term for it—it is not for me, I think, to do so—but, from what has been said in the past, both inside your Lordships' House and outside it, often widespread and very strongly by many people, it is obvious that there is very general concern about the showing of violence on television, particularly to children and young persons. That is so to the extent that it is perfectly plain that Her Majesty's Government cannot fail to do, or try to do, something about it.

Much has been suggested. With many of the things put forward I have agreed, and with many I have not. Many, I think, could be settled by the excellent edict laid down in Bernard Levin's pronouncement on March 2, in That Was The Week That Was, when he was commenting in a very similar context. He said, "Try turning it off, mate". That would no doubt be very effective; but, on balance, it seems perfectly clear that action is required in this matter. As your Lordships will probably know, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has in fact recently appointed a Committee to consider the question of research into the impact of television on children and young people. The results of that research will certainly take some time to come along, and will not produce anything in time for what we are considering now.

I do not think I can give my noble friend a considered answer on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on whether the B.B.C., with their code, have been more successful than the I.T.A. without. If he wants a personal opinion from me, I should not think so; but I did say on Second Reading—perhaps your Lordships will recall it—that I accepted that a written code does not suffice of itself. It is the spirit which inspires it, the way it is carried out and the atmosphere that matters. But we have to remember here that the I.T.A. are in a position where they do not actually produce the programmes for which they are responsible, and for that reason it is desirable for them to give guidance. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, very properly gave emphasis to that point.

This is a code to give guidance to the programme companies about what is the thinking of the I.T.A. themselves on the question. They are responsible for those standards, and I think they are fully justified in using this method—it may be described, perhaps, as a slightly compromise one, but it is nevertheless a method—of helping and guiding the companies as to what they should do. The Authority themselves are in a much stronger position to exercise control over programmes, and it is right—I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is right—that the programme companies should be left in as little doubt as possible about what are the standards to which they are expected to conform.

The noble Lord told us that the Bill originally required a code to cover standards fully in respect of all programmes, and it was largely in the light of arguments and opinions, very similar to many of the opinions that he himself put forward this evening, that there was a change; because it was thought and agreed that an all-embracing code would be restrictive in everything, and would give rise to many of the troubles that he suggested. But I still think that the need for controlling violence in particular (we may discuss other matters later) is there, and that it is of such special importance that this provision should remain in the Bill. I hope that your Lordships will see that it does.


May I put one question to my noble friend? It is his view, is it, that, if we leave this subsection in the Bill, the requirements of the subsection could be met by something on the lines of what the B.B.C. now have? Is that his view?


Does my noble friend mean the code that they now have?


Yes; the code which is set out in the Report. Is it his view that that would comply with the subsection?


I think I should have preferred to have a little notice of that question, so to speak, but I believe that something of that kind would meet it. I should not like my noble friend to think of this in terms of just a code which comprises a whole lot of set things in black and white, but to consider it in the words of the Bill, as a code giving guidance as to the rules to be observed … et cetera.

That, I think, is the important thing: to take those words together, to understand them together, rather than just to say the word "code". I should have thought a code of that type would have done the job.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

7.0 p.m.

LORD TAYLOR moved, in subsection (2)(a), after "observed" to insert "particularly". The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friends and myself. I was very pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, say that he thought that something on the lines of the B.B.C.'s code would be the kind of code required in this case. He was very careful. Quite rightly, he said that he needed notice. But I entirely agree with him, and I am sure he was right in thinking this. But as the clause stands he could not get it, because the clause says: … the rules to be observed in regard 40 the showing of violence … I need not repeat all the arguments. They boil down to the fact that there are many more things far more undesirable for showing to children and young people than violence; and any code is bound to step over the line of violence and to deal with other things which we suggest are more undesirable; and I am sure the Committee will agree about that. To get over this we suggest that the words should be "particularly in regard to the showing of violence", so that it may be generally in regard to the showing of other unpleasant matters unsuitable for children. If one goes along with Clause 2, one finds no restriction about violence when it comes to drawing up the rules for programmes other than for young children. It is really dubious draftsmanship, and I hope the Government will accept our two simple Amendments; otherwise we shall have to see that this matter is put right so that a general code for programmes for young people can be drawn up.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 10, after ("observed") insert ("particularly").—(Lord Taylor.)


I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, in thanking my noble friend for his indication that he thought the code mentioned in the subsection which the Committee has now decided shall be retained in the Bill can be the sort of code that the B.B.C. have. I preferred not to withdraw my Amendment but to have it negatived, because I dare say that noble Lords will realise that I have a sincere disbelief in the efficacy of such codes; but, if there is to be one, then I agree that that is the sort of code there ought to be. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is wrong in thinking that either of his Amendments is required. The code that the Authority have to draw up is one dealing with violence, particularly when there are children watching; but the compulsion is to have a code on violence. What they can also do is to add anything they like. They can add all those other matters and they have full power to differentiate in those other matters between adults and others, and between times. I do not think, from the point of view of enabling what he wishes to be done, that the noble Lord's Amendments are needed.


Basically I must agree with the last words of my noble friend. But do not let the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, think I am endeavouring to reject his Amendments on that account, because the matter he has raised is too interesting and important to do that. He says that in his opinion the drafting of the clause as it stands gives emphasis only to the showing of violence where children and young persons are viewing. My noble friend Lord Conesford did not agree with that and pointed out that it referred to violence in general, and children in particular. All I have to point out to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is that if he thinks that the present wording in the Bill does not do what the Bill intends to do then his suggested amended wording does not do it either. If there is any inconsistency—and I do not think there is—we should not replace it by another inconsistency by the insertion of these particular words.

The reason I say that is that if we insert the word "particularly" as the noble Lord proposes, it carries, I think, a fairly clear implication that the I.T.A. are then obliged to include violence in their code. "Particularly" including violence means that there must be some obligation to include something else. What that something else might be is unspecified. Later, it says they may have discretion to include other matters. I should have thought, with my noble friend, that the present wording would be wide enough to cover it. I believe that the importation of the word "particularly"—I am sorry to be so fussy about this but I think it is very important—where the noble Lord suggests, is an inconsistency in drafting which tends to obscure rather than clarify.

Having said that, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw this Amendment. What I should like Ito do, if he will allow me, is to consult with him over the points he has raised (and I do not think there is much argument that, while violence is important, there are other important matters) and decide whether there is something I could consider putting down at a later stage on this matter to cover these things or whether the situation is already covered. If I could do that, perhaps the noble Lord would be prepared to withdraw his Amendment at the present stage.


I think that is a very sensible suggestion and one with which I readily agree. We can consult together and, I hope, reach a solution which we can embody in the Bill at the Report stage to make sure that there is no possible misunderstanding that there are other bad things in this world besides violence.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3:

Submission to Authority of programme schedules


(3) The Authority may give directions, which may be, to any degree, either general or specific and qualified or unqualified,— (c) as to the inclusion in a particular part of a programme schedule of a particular item, and the Authority shall not approve a programme schedule until they are satisfied that it conforms with any directions given under this section.

7.8 p.m.

VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved, in subsection (3)(c), to leave out "a particular item" and to insert: any programme contractor of a particular item supplied or originated by another programme contractor".

The noble Viscount said: My noble friend Lord Chesham has just indicated that there is some very small chink in Her Majesty's Government's armour on the drafting of this Bill. I do not suppose for a moment that it is wide enough to let through my Amendment; nevertheless, I should like to ask for a certain amount of explanation on it and suggest that it would be a good amendment to make in the Bill. The Authority, under Clause 3(3), are given power to make certain directions which probably one must admit are not unreasonable. I should have prefaced my remarks by reminding the Committee of my interest in this Bill in that I am a director of one of the so-called "Big Four" television companies; and I ask your Lordships' pardon for not having done so at the beginning. Despite the fact that I am interested in that way, I nevertheless believe that it may be sensible and good that the Authority should have certain powers of direction to deal with various things under this subsection. I do not suppose that there is anything wrong with giving them the power to exclude an item from a programme schedule if they do not like the look of it, and this will no doubt be complementary with the code that has just been discussed in the last half hour or so. Equally, I do not suppose that there is any objection to their having power by direction to order the insertion of an item in a particular part of a programme schedule. It may be that they think that a serious programme ought to go in during peak hour, whereas the programme contractor thinks it should go on either earlier or later.

Then comes paragraph (c) to which my Amendment is directed. Again I should not object to the power to direct the inclusion of a programme in the schedule which a programme contractor was not otherwise willing to put in. I believe that it might be necessary to deal with the programmes of regional companies in such a way that the Authority insist that they go in the nationwide network and be shown all over the country because of their merits. Why is it necessary for the Authority to be able to direct the insertion in the programme schedule of anything wider than that? The implications are very remarkable.

May I direct your Lordships' attention to the other powers under Clause 4(2)(b)? There they have power also to lay down the financial arrangements for the supply of programmes. They can say for how much a programme is to be bought. Combined with the power in Clause 3(3), they can say to a big contractor that he is to include in his schedule a programme not produced as part of the British network at all or under the general jurisdiction of I.T.A., but from anywhere in the world—from America or Australia. In addition, they can say what the price shall be. The theory behind Independent Television is that the contract to run a station is let out at a suitable rental to a programme contractor. This applies to big ones as much as to small ones. There must be certain assumptions on which those who tender for this contract will work, and one thing they cannot do, surely, is take into account the possibility of their own commercial judgment being completely overturned by the I.T.A.'s insistence on their putting some programme into their schedule which they simply cannot afford. How could any programme contractor possibly continue, if this power is held over their heads all the time?

I do not want to make too much of this point. It may be thought that I am exaggerating. The power is in the Bill. That is what the words say. And I submit to your Lordships that they are much too wide. I should not object, as my Amendment expresses, to the idea of the Authority's insisting on the insertion of programmes produced by others of their flock, of the programme contractors under their control; but why should they have power to force the insertion of some material from goodness knows where because they think it is better than what the programme contractors themselves suggest? I submit that this goes too far. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 12, leave out "a particular item" and insert the said new words.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)


I hope that the Government will resist this Amendment, which I find particularly distasteful. It seems to me extraordinary to suggest that I.T.A., which we hope is a responsible body, is likely to insist on the showing of programmes unless in their judgment they are doing so in fulfilment of their obligations under the Act. It will now be up to the contractors to face up to the new age. They have had a good run on this. I think that they get away pretty lightly under this Bill. But it is clearly the general will, and the noble Viscount went a long way to accepting the principle, that I.T.A. must have power to insist on the inclusion or exclusion of a particular item. Obviously, the noble Viscount is not keen on inclusion and is far more prepared to put up with exclusion; but why on earth should not I.T.A. get items from anywhere in the world? Why should the fact that it is foreign make it so objectionable? The noble Viscount used "foreign" in a particularly strong way. It seems to me to be absurd. I should have thought that it was essential that the Authority should have power of this kind.

I am more concerned with ensuring that this hitherto rather closely controlled monopoly are exposed to the fresh winds of competition, and if they are unwilling to produce something or are unable to do so, then the I.T.A. will have to go outside. I do not see why it should be confined to contractors. I think it is exceedingly unlikely, other than in the most exceptional circumstances, that the anxiety the noble Viscount feels will be realised. This is going to be an exceptional power. It is almost certain that I.T.A. will continue to obtain their programmes, or require the inclusion of certain programmes, from other programme contractors.

I should be interested to hear what the Government say about this Amendment. I.T.A. have no general power to go outside, except for some of the specific purposes which are laid upon them. There may be times when they have to provide a particular item, a political broadcast or Coronation programme, and it may be that I.T.A. will want to intervene. I do not want to make too much of this matter, because we want to get on, but I hope that the Government will resist this and also the noble Viscount's later Amendment.


I should like to support what the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, has said, because I feel that there should be another opinion from this side of the House. I should also like to say, with respect and regret, how much I disagree with what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said. I think it is quite intolerable that programme contractors should have to submit to having their material altered at the wish of the Authority. It seems to me that a programme contractor is rather like an impresario who puts on a show or series of programmes. What impresario in the theatre would tolerate some other official body dictating to him what he has to put into his show? Or what editor or organiser of an exhibition would tolerate some body saying to him what he is to include? I think that this is quite intolerable, and I hope that the Government will give a favourable answer to the noble Viscount, because I think there is great merit in what he proposes.


May I also, from these Benches, disagree with practically everything that my noble friend has said? He seemed to be addressing himself to a proposition which, in any event, the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, is not putting up. The noble Viscount apparently had no objection to the Authority directing a programme contractor, so long as they direct him only in the direction of another programme contractor. You can say, as my noble friend says, that there should be no interference or direction of any kind to the impresario. What the noble Viscount said is that it shall be only a direction or interference directed to making him take something of another programme contractor.


Possibly I did not make myself clear, but I did not mean that at all. What I consider is intolerable is that if you are the creator you should be asked to include something in your programme which you yourself have not planned originally or has not been planned with one of your associates.


I quite understand that that is what my noble friend feels. What I am pointing out is that, so far as I understand the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, he does not mind his creative talent being interfered with so long as he is told merely that he must incorporate something from another programme contractor. What he objects to is if the Authority say, in what they regard as the general standards and the public interest which they are required to safeguard, they feel it would be desirable you should include a programme which did not originate with one of the programme contractors but originated independently in this country or abroad, but one which would, in their view, sustain and support the general interest they are trying to safeguard. I think that is a good thing. I find it difficult to understand why the noble Viscount should say that this clause should carry power only if it can be shown that it relates to something provided by another programme contractor, but that it must not, in any event, be applied to the productions of those who are, so to speak, without the law and who do not happen to have a contract in their pockets.


I do not think your Lordships would take the view that it is intolerable that the I.T.A. should have the authority to oppose an item in a programme of a contractor, if they are to have the position which the House has generally agreed they ought to have under this Bill. I do not think my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross would regard it as intolerable, because the only effect of his Amendment is to prevent the Independent Television Authority from exercising this power if the item in question is not supplied or originated by some other programme contractor. The purpose of subsection (3) is simply to facilitate net-working by enabling the Independent Television to direct that contractor A must take certain items from contractor B's programme when they consider that this item should be shown outside that contractor's area. That is what will normally happen.

But there might be cases in which the I.T.A. thought it desirable that some item from an overseas company, or an item from Eurovision, should be shown, or even, there might be, some item which the programme contractor himself should supply or originate. This Amendment would prevent the I.T.A. from requiring him to include an item which he himself might supply or originate, some feature of local importance, or maybe of national importance, which happened to be taking place inside his area. Of course, the programmes in the ordinary way will always be settled by agreement between the I.T.A. and the programme contractor, and these powers which we are giving under this Bill to the I.T.A. are reserve powers, which are intended to be used only in exceptional circumstances. But I hope your Lordships will agree that if they are to be there, they must be sufficiently wide for their purpose, if the I.T.A. are to have the authority which we agree in general they ought to have. I think my noble friend's Amendment would narrow those powers unduly.


I am grateful to those of your Lordships who have taken part and for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. Equally, I recognise the pain with which the noble Lord, Lord Francis-Williams, views my Amendment, because it would be the death blow to Television Reporters International, so far as my company is concerned.


That is a dirty crack!


I feel that the noble Viscount has no right to suggest that in putting forward the argument I did I was considering the interests of my own company. Those interests have been declared to the House and are well known. I must ask the noble Viscount to withdraw his remark.


I did not mean to offend the noble Lord. I had rather hoped, after the debate we had the other day, that this matter had been cleared up in such a way that he would not take offence. Of course, if he is offended, I at once withdraw what I said. It was not intended to be anything very serious.

My noble friend Lord Dundee has relieved my mind about this to the extent of saying that this would be very much of a reserve power. I am glad to hear that, because if this were to be indulged in very much it would be difficult to run a programme schedule at all. As I say, my noble friend has relieved my mind to a degree at which I can ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.


I can only say to the noble Viscount that his mind is very easily relieved.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Buying and selling of programmes by programme contractors


(2) The contracts between the Authority and the various programme contractors shall provide that, where items to be included in the programmes of a programme contractor are not originated by that programme contractor, the financial and other arrangements between the programme contractor and the supplier shall require the approval of the Authority—

  1. (a) in all cases where the supplier is another programme contractor, and
  2. (b) in such other cases as the Authority may from time to time direct;
and directions given for the purposes of this subsection may apply to programme contractors generally or may be different for different programme contractors.

7.26 p.m.

VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS moved, in subsection (2), to omit paragraph (b). The noble Viscount said: In case the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, should think that I am easily pacified, I would return to the charge on this Amendment, which is really the other half of the Amendment I have just moved. Your Lordships will see that under Clause 4 the Authority shall provide in their contracts with the programme contractors which they will license that there shall be various arrangements in which they have a hand for the finance of the supply of programmes. Again there is probably no objection to the Authority's having power to control to some degree the prices at which the items in the network are sold as between one programme contractor and another. That is what paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of Clause 4 provides. But, so far as paragraph (b) is concerned, the Authority are given power to take a hand in the financial arrangements "in such other cases as they may direct."

What I should like to know from my noble friend Lord Dundee is what sort of cases he is envisaging: because if this is again only a reserve power, it would be interesting to know in what sort of situation (I do not want to pin my noble friend down too closely) this power might be used. If it is to be a general power, then surely it will be difficult for the programme contractors ever to buy any material at all, for two reasons. First, they will not know what prices they can offer in any case; and secondly, in a world in which programme material is in short supply—and it will be in shorter supply still when B.B.C. 2 comes on the air, and overseas stations in Australia and elsewhere—it will be impossible for programme contractors to deal in time with the programmes offered to them, because they will have to go back and obtain the sanction for prices from the Authority before they can settle the deal.

In those cases, is it unlikely that somebody else will come in first? I have no doubt that it would happen quite frequently, and this is not the sort of restriction which would in any circumstances be applied to the B.B.C. I do not think any of your Lordships would wish to have programme contractors fettered in the availability of programmes to them in a way which does not apply to the B.B.C., because this must be unfair. I am sure that this is exactly what would happen if this power under paragraph (b) was widely used. I should like my noble friend, if he would be so good, to say what are the sort of circumstances in which he envisages this power is likely to be used. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 31, leave out sub-paragraph (b).—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)


As my noble friend has said, this is more or less complementary to his last Amendment, and I shall, I hope, be able to satisfy him fairly quickly. The effect of the Amendment would be to limit the Authority's control over the financial arrangements to cases in which the item had been obtained from another programme contractor and not from any other source, such as Eurovision or an overseas company. We do not want to restrict the trade in programmes or interfere with negotiations which may have to be done very quickly. My noble friend seemed to think that it might be difficult to exercise this power which, of course, it would be in detail. But he will see in Clause 21 that: The Authority may … (b) for the purposes of provisions included in the contracts between Authority and the various programme contractors in pursuance of Section 4(2) of this Act, give an approval in general terms applying to all cases within the terms in which the approval is given. This is a reserve power to intervene in certain cases. My noble friend asked me whether I could give him an example of the kind of case in which we contemplate it might have to be exercised, and I think the best reply I could give would be that it might have to be exercised in the case of what is called a "package deal", in which, under the contract, one good item is included, on condition that there is also included a whole lot of inferior stuff which might lower the general standards of the programme. This is a reserve power, but I think it is one which the Independent Television Authority must have if they are to remain master of the situation and carry out the functions which we want them to carry out under this Bill.


I missed a little of what the noble Earl said about the effect of Clause 21. Was he saying that the Authority were going to give a general approval in advance for the large majority of cases where programmes have to be bought outside the network, or was he saying that the Authority would be concerned in all cases, although they would give general approval?


I was saying merely that it would not be necessary for the Authority to consider every individual case, which might have to be fixed up very quickly.


I thank the noble Earl, because I had hoped that this was so. I think that satisfies my mind again—and I hope that that remark is not objectionable to noble Lords opposite. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?


This clause is clearly essential to the Bill. I hope that the Government are now succeeding in getting across to some noble Lords on their side the purposes behind these clauses. It would obviously be undesirable for the I.T.A. to use these powers except very occasionally, and I do not think it occurred to anyone, except perhaps the noble Viscount, that they were likely to do so. I am glad the noble Earl has been able to put his mind at rest. Does the noble Viscount wish to interrupt?


If the noble Lord does not think that the Authority are ever likely to use these clauses, it seems to point out very clearly why I moved that they should be taken out, because there is no point in putting them in the Bill. What I want to know is what they are to be used for.


The noble Viscount fails to understand the difference between having a sanction and enforcing it. I hope that it will not be necessary to use it, but the fact that they will be able to, if necessary, will achieve the desired result—a deterrent, as my noble friend said—and enable them to deal with this point.

Might I ask what the Government's intentions are? We were to rise at half past seven, and it is not our fault that the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, made the longest speech I have ever heard on Committee.


Could we go on for a little longer, to see whether we can finish Clause 6? I am not quite sure what the noble Lord's intentions are with regard to the Amendments to Clause 6. If he does not think that is a good plan, I should like at least to get Amendment No. 10. If the noble Lord feels that Clause 6 would take too long, can we agree to come to an end after Clause 5?


I do not think we need take very long over Clause 6. It is the next Amendment that is the major one. I think the Government are being very optimistic in thinking they will get this Committee stage through on Monday night. We will certainly press the next Amendment. I warn them to that effect. But we will go on, as we are anxious to facilitate the Bill.


I am anxious to meet the noble Lord. We had contemplated adjourning at half past seven, and we had estimated that we should get to the end of Clause 6 by then. If the noble Lord feels very decidedly that he would not like to go on, I should be willing to agree to adjourn now. But in view of what the noble Lord has said, I am afraid that, because of the state of Business, we shall have to get the Committee stage finished on Monday. So if it is recognised that we may have to sit late on Monday night, I think it would be better that we should adjourn now, if that is in accordance with the noble Lord's wishes.

Clause 4 agreed to.


I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume.—(The Earl of Dundee.)


I made an estimate to the other side that we should run until about half-past eight. It looks as though my calculation, unless the House had met earlier, would have been right. I hope that the Government will not be too optimistic about Monday evening. We want to get this Bill through, but there are many points which cause considerable anxiety. I even recognise the sincerity of the anxieties of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.