HL Deb 18 April 1967 vol 282 cc108-54

3.59 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of the Bill is to seek to prevent deliberate, unscrupulous evasion of the law, and I am sure this purpose will commend itself to all noble Lords in their desire that the law of the land should have respect. Your Lord-ships will be aware that around our coastline are a number of unlicensed broadcasting stations (more precisely nine) from which pour, daily and nightly, streams of what colloquially is known as "pop" music, interrupted by lucrative advertisements. I am not now referring, of course, to those stations in other lands, as well as in islands nearby, as, for instance, in the Isle of Man, which are under some kind of Government control, but rather to those vessels and structures on the high seas, some inside and some outside our territorial waters.

I understand, as I am sure we all do, that those vocal or instrumental emanations greatly stimulate and gratify the younger generation, and even a considerable number of those whose youth is receding or has receded. Hence this is described as "pop" or popular, although in this instance "popular" is not synonymous with plebeian for I understand it also embraces quite a number of patrician aural appetites. Both the B.B.C. and I.T.A. also provide this form of entertainment, and rightly so, for public taste has wide diversity, and democratically we must take heed of what Samuel Johnson called "the wild vicissitudes of taste." Some of us who I believe are ambiguously described as "squares" by one noble Lord, may indeed consider that some tastes are worse than wild and accordingly may be dismissed as not being "with it", whatever that may mean. But it takes all sorts to make a world, and therefore television must cater for all tastes. Of that there is no question.

Equally, whatever be our evaluation of commercial television advertising, it is irrelevant to the issue before us now, even if some commercial interests seem rather too avidly to have become involved in encouraging the pursuit of profit irrespective of law and order. What we are concerned with to-day is a sinister form of commercial anarchy. I hope noble Lords will accept that that is not too strong a word to use in this connection. These unlicensed offshore broadcasting stations are rogue transmitters whose operators are not subject to any restraints which authorised operators must observe. Therefore, the authorised operators are put at a great disadvantage. These rogue transmitters use wavelengths without regard to the effect their transmissions have on the lawful users. They can without compunction broadcast harmful or offensive programmes, even possibly sedition, libel, incitement to violence or fraud; and if that has not occurred it is not because the opportunity has not been there; nor does it mean that it cannot occur in the future. Also, they can ignore the copy- right Statutes, to the detriment of composers and musicians, and those who are in that category have complained very bitterly indeed of what they have lost.

To defend this situation by an appeal to liberty and freedom, as one has heard in certain connections, is, I submit, ingenuous, insincere and even hypocritical. Oh liberty, oh liberty, what crimes have been committed in thy name! By that same plea of liberty and freedom, cheating, forgery and burglary can be justified, and so could the trespassing into any of your Lordships' estates by icecream vendors or poachers. The unlawful or unlicensed broadcasting stations which this Bill proposes to suppress are poachers. As we know, they also have been designated "pirates", and certainly they have a kinship with those who in former days sailed the high seas under the "Jolly Roger", defiant of the law and of those engaged in their legal occasions.

After that personal preliminary, I must turn more prosaically to the contents of the Bill. Yet before that I must also utter a few words regarding broadcasting as a whole. Radio communication is one of the beneficial technological developments of our age, notwithstanding certain perils and abuses, but as with so many blessings we find that curses are mixed up with them, so sometimes broadcasting can be a curse. On the whole, however, I believe that the blessings are more abundant. It has revolutionised communication between far distant places and people, including those on the move, on ships, in motor vehicles, aeroplanes or even on foot, and has made possible dissemination of information, education and entertainment over a far wider field that ever was dreamed of before.

Broadcasting is now such an accepted feature of our daily lives that it is difficult to appreciate that it is a comparatively recent invention. Children are now growing up with it as if it were as natural and commonplace as the kitchen tap or the postbox round the corner. For the lonely and the aged it has become a precious boon, and for most of us it renders immense service either in entertainment, news and education, or in giving an opportunity to hear practical and other viewpoints. Partisans have to listen to opposite standpoints without indulging in reckless heckling, for it is both futile and costly to throw a book in exasperation at the concave screen. That is all to the good, because we have to listen to both sides.

It is even more difficult to realise the elaborate system of governmental regulation and intergovermental co-ordination necessary to enable broadcasting and all the other kinds of radio services to work effectively. When wireless licences are mentioned we are apt to think simply of broadcast receiving licences, but of course transmitters are also subject to licensing, not only in this country, but in all the countries of the world. To this extent we have accepted a common principle. Radio transmitters use up a scarce international commodity—that is, radio wavelengths—and the only way in which the use of wavelengths can be so regulated that the transmissions from different stations do not blot each other out is by an elaborate system of international co-ordination, backed up within individual countries by a system of licensing, which not only specifies what wave-length a particular transmitter shall use but also what power it shall use and what other technical characteristics it shall have. Only in this way is it possible to contrive that a particular transmitter shall be receivable over most or all of the area which it is intended to serve.

The International Telecommunication Union, which is the United Nations specialised agency responsible for telecommunication matters, divides up all the available bands of wavelengths between the different kinds of radio services—broadcasting, ships' radio, aircraft radio, and so on. All countries notify the Union of the wavelengths which they have licensed for use by the transmitting stations in their territories, and the Union maintains a central register of the wave-lengths used by transmitting stations throughout the world. Medium waves are used mainly for domestic broadcasting services; they should not be confused with the short waves which are of little use for domestic services but are important for long-range broadcasting. Medium wave broadcasting services operate in the band of wavelengths from about 200 metres to 500 metres, and there are about 120 different wavelengths in that band which can be used for broadcasting. A typical transmitter may give a broadcasting service on one of these wave- lengths to an area extending for about 40 miles all round the transmitter, if there are no other transmitters using the same wavelengths for a different programme within 700 or 800 miles. I hasten to add that these are not firm figures.

The point I wish to make here is that a broadcasting transmitter gives an effective service over quite a modest range, measured in terms of miles, but sterilises the use of its particular wavelength over a radius measured in hundreds of miles. In Europe, where the separate national broadcasting services of many countries have to be accommodated in quite a small area, there simply is not room for all the different broadcasting services which all the nations may wish to operate. Although each nation has the sovereign right to regulate the number and nature of its broadcasting services provided that they do not cause interference to other countries, the scope for adjustment is very much limited by that proviso. The available wavelengths were shared out, or rather redistributed, between the countries of Europe by an International Telecommunication Union Conference in Copenhagen in 1948.

It has not worked in practice as a rigid plan: all the European countries, including ourselves, have made adjustments, but we have kept to the same general framework. Even countries which were not represented at Copenhagen, or which were represented but did not formally accept the plan because they did not feel that it gave them a fair share of the available wavelengths, try to keep as nearly as possible within the pattern set by that plan. Many of our own services have, so to speak, been "nibbled away at the edges" by interference from other countries, but over most of their intended service areas our stations are usually receivable without serious interference. It is still broadly true that most countries of Europe respect each others' claims to the use of particular wave-lengths. That is all to the good.

So far, my Lords, I have spoken of countries. In this international co-ordination, Governments represent countries, and Governments ensure through licensing legislation that their countries observe their international obligations. That is why, as I have already mentioned, and as we know, there are stations that transmit to this country, but nevertheless are subject to Government control within the country from which they transmit. They have undertaken to do this in ratifying the International Telecommunication Convention. One of the regulations annexed to that Convention lays down that no transmitting station may be established or operated by a private person or by any enterprise without a licence issued by the Government of the country to which the station in question is subject. Our legislation, for example, requires the B.B.C. to have a licence for its transmitting stations just as it requires all other users of wireless apparatus to have licences.

From the outset of broadcasting until recent years the system of co-ordination between Governments and licensing within countries sufficed to keep the air sufficiently clear to permit broadcasting to develop, even in so congested a part of the world as our own Continent of Europe. But in recent years a few artful dodgers, or, alternatively and more euphemistically, enterprising adventurers—"a rose by any other name smells as sweet", or an onion as sour—have realised that, although Governments keep a strict control over the use of transmitters within their territories, they cannot in the same way control transmitters which are on the high seas, where they may be free from all restraint. This is a sinister form of evasion. Why is it sinister? First, because, necessarily, the supply of wavelengths is limited. This is a natural fact. This evasion alone can rapidly destroy the pattern of European broadcasting. How rapidly depends, of course, on how many such stations there are and how powerful they may be.

It follows from all I have said that all Governments, and particularly all European Governments, must exercise some measure of selection or rationing in deciding who is to be allowed to operate broadcasting services within their territories. Expediency alone has dictated this quite apart from any principle which may be involved. That often is so: that expediency fortifies preceding principle. In this country, for example, we entrust all medium wave sound broadcasting to the B.B.C. and hold that Corporation responsible for giving the best service possible, within the wavelengths avail- able, to meet all the different tastes. In other countries there are two or more separate networks—as, indeed, there are in this country for television. But this is all within the framework that the total wavelength usage available to a country is severely limited.

Pirate broadcasters, on the other hand, select themselves. They are under no obligation to cater for tastes. They cater for no other than a particular taste for which they choose to cater and which proves most lucrative to them. In practice, this has resulted in stations catering for people who like listening to gramophone records. There is no reason why they should not. Continuous popular music attracts the audiences. We recognise that. This, in turn, attracts the advertising; and this, in turn, attracts the money.

In nearly all the matters I have just mentioned, however—I am not talking about wavelengths now—it is fair to say that the pirate broadcasters, as yet, have not offended very seriously. But there is one fundamental matter in which they have most callously and, so far as I can tell, unrepentently exploited their freedom from the restraints which the law imposes; and this is in the matter of copyright. The principal requirement of any broadcaster is programme material; and obtaining a continuous supply of it, year in and year out, day in and day out, is about the biggest problem facing broadcasting undertakings of any kind. Recorded music is, of course, a tempting solution to this problem. But recorded music is the work of live musicians who are, quite understandably, sensitive and anxious about the extent to which their services are dispensed with in favour of recorded material, because it affects their livelihood. They have substantial protection at law through the Copyright Act 1956 and through the Dramatic and Musical Performers' Protection Act 1958. But these are mere Statutes, of less significance to the pirates than the winds and waves that beat around them.

In consequence, the great majority of the pirates' programmes are made up of recordings which they have no right to broadcast. So we have the situation that the B.B.C, which of course is subject in all respects to the law of this country, is not allowed to use records for more than one-fifth of its programmes and has to make substantial copyright payments even for that; while the pirate broadcasters plunder the whole range of recorded material without the consent of, or payment to, the holders of the copyright in the recordings.


My Lords, would the noble Lord give way for a moment? He has been most interesting about the subject of pirate radios. Would he indicate in what respect Radio Luxembourg is different from the pirate radios?


My Lords, I thought I had already pointed out the difference. Radio Luxembourg is subject to the Government of Luxembourg, and therefore is not in any respect akin to those that are responsible to no one but themselves.


The programmes are just the same.


My Lords, that is not the point. The issue is whether they are responsible. The programmes may be the same as those broadcast by the B.B.C. or by the I.T.A. in this country. But that surely is quite irrelevant.


No, my Lords. The noble Lord is talking about stations which broadcast only recorded music. As I understand it, Radio Luxembourg broadcasts into this country are subsidized entirely by advertising, and use entirely recorded music.


My Lords, the main fact, surely, is that the term "pirate" is applied to those on the high seas, either in vessels or on structures, who are responsible to no Government. The other matter is an important one, but is subsidiary. The term "pirate" is used merely in the connection which I have mentioned. The other issue, as to the proper use of copyright, is an important question, but entirely subordinate. To avoid misunderstanding, I will repeat that what I have said refers to the copyrights in the recordings. The composers of the music which is recorded have a quite separate copyright interest. This perhaps covers part of the secondary factor which the noble Lord raised. They are represented by the Performing Right Society.


My Lords, may I clarify a point which I do not think is quite clear? As I understand it, the music in this country is controlled by a very strong monopoly. Radio Caroline has approached the Musicians' Union, and would be only too pleased to pay them, but the Union feel that if they play with Radio Caroline the very strong monopoly would frown on them, like the mother who says to her daughter, "Don't play with that dirty little girl down the street". That is the reason they are not tied to the Musicians' Union, although, of course, they pay copyright to the other recording companies.


I thank the noble Lord very much for his intervention, and what he said will be taken into consideration during the debate this afternoon. My noble friend Lady Phillips will be taking up some of these points and amplifying them a little later on. No doubt we shall have invaluable contributions from other noble Lords on this particular point before the debate is over. Meanwhile, if I may be permitted to continue, although some of the pirates—not all of them—make token payments to the Performing Right Society, such payments do not in any way condone or justify the use of recordings. The Performing Right Society represents composers, not musicians or record manufacturers. Secondly, the pirate broadcasting transmissions are a constant danger to shipping, a danger which the pirates themselves may not fully appreciate. Pirate broadcasting transmissions often block messages between ships and the shore, and this could—it is not very likely to do so at the moment, but it could—cause loss of life. I believe that there is more than one instance of serious interference occurring when messages of an urgent character have been transmitted.

Let me now turn to the precise measures which are proposed for, we hope, putting an end to this serious situation. This Bill proposes to make this kind of broadcasting substantially illegal. That is what Clause 3 of the Bill aims to do. But I agree that that does not get us very far. The fundamental problem is that the pirates work on the high seas, in ships which are either unregistered or registered in countries which have no means of controlling their activities. One might act against them by physical force, as one country suggested.

But I think it would be most inadvisable to send out gunboats, and to put a landing party on to them: it might lead to a great deal of difficulty. Therefore, on humane grounds alone we should avoid any possibility of blowing to bits the various structures of the pirate broadcasting stations. I should like to make it quite clear that the International Telecommunication Union, of which nearly all the countries of the world are members, laid down, in the International Telecommunication Convention, Geneva, 1959, that broadcasting on the high seas is prohibited. The countries of the Council of Europe decided some years ago that as it is only in European waters that this prohibition is being flouted, they should consider what they might do collectively to enforce it. For what we are concerned with to-day in many aspects affects not only this country but other countries as well. What we are trying to do is in some ways to lead the way, as they expect us to do.

Their conclusions were embodied in an Agreement which was reproduced in this country as Command Paper 2616. The full title of this Agreement, which was signed at Strasbourg on January 22, 1965, is "An Agreement for the Prevention of Broadcasts transmitted from stations outside National Territories". The method agreed upon for putting down the pirates is, in effect, that countries should make punishable the participation by their own nationals in the operation of broadcasting stations on the high seas; and all activities by anyone in their countries or in their ships in support of such stations. If a sufficient number of countries do this, pirate broadcasting will be made impossible. In drawing up this Agreement the Council of Europe had the collaboration of the International Telecommunication Union, and eventually all member countries of that Union will be invited to join.

This Bill has, in the main, been determined by the requirements of the Council of Europe Agreement. It is also designed to enable the Government to deal effectively with any pirate broadcasting stations within their territorial limits, whether they are on ships, aircraft or other floating or airborne objects, or on structure such as the abandoned forts in the Thames Estuary. Clauses 1, 2 and 3 specify different circumstances in which broadcasting from ships, marine struc- tures or aircraft is prohibited, and Clauses 4 and 5 list prohibited activities in support of any of the stations described in the earlier clauses. These are the primary provisions of the Bill.

To be a little more specific, Clauses 1 and 2 make all broadcasts from ships, aircraft and marine structures within our territorial limits unlawful. Clause 1 also makes broadcasting from United Kingdom registered ships and aircraft anywhere else unlawful. These two clauses lay down primarily that the owner and master of the ship or aircraft, and everyone operating or participating in the operation of the station, are guilty of an offence; but in practice such persons are usually agents or servants of the companies on land, and these clauses make clear that this legislation is also aimed directly at the broadcasting organisers on shore, by making it an offence to procure such broadcasts.

Clauses 1 and 2, then, relate to broadcasting in situations over which the Government clearly must have full legal control. The European Agreement additionally provides that each signatory country will take powers to deal with its own nationals if they operate broadcast stations in any ships or aircraft on or over the high seas, regardless of registration of place of registration. This we do in Clause 3, as regards United Kingdom nationals who operate broadcasting apparatus, or who participate in this, on or over the high seas, from any ship or aircraft that is not registered in the United Kingdom. Indeed, we have gone further and made it an offence for any such person to operate broadcasting apparatus on a structure erected in the high seas. This is a necessary precaution, since there are one or two such structures around our coasts outside our territorial waters. There are one or two within territorial waters which have been dealt with or which are being dealt with at the present time.

I now come to Clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill, which deal with what the European Agreement terms "acts of collaboration" knowingly performed. These clauses will provide the Government with their main weapons against the pirates. They are intended to make it so difficult for the pirate broadcasters to obtain supplies of all things they require from land, including their advertising revenues, that they will be unable to continue to operate. Clause 4 makes it an offence to facilitate the establishment or operation of pirate broadcasting stations by furnishing ships or aircraft, providing apparatus, supplies and materials, transporting goods or persons to and from the stations, repairing or maintaining the wireless apparatus and engaging staff to serve on the stations. Of course, we have to he reasonable about this. Therefore this clause, and Clause 5 as well, are aimed only against people who are clearly and directly doing things in furtherance of a pirate broadcasting enterprise and may be reasonably supposed to know what their actions are in aid of. The sort of people we have in mind are those who are regularly provisioning these stations, or keeping them supplied with oil for their generators, or carrying persons to and fro by tenders.

Clause 5 deals with acts relating to the programmes themselves. This makes it an offence to supply programme material to be broadcast by the stations, to participate in the broadcasts, to advertise by means of them, either directly or by arranging sponsored programmes, or to issue any publicity about them. This Bill does not, of course, overlook the possibility of situations arising in which humanitarian issues will be before us, when some action has to be taken purely on humanitarian grounds. If a pirate broadcasting ship or structure was in distress, for instance, or one of the disc jockeys was taken ill—I mean physically ill—and a lifeboat or a doctor went out, it would obviously be wrong for the coxwain or other boatmen to be penalised for helping to save lives. With callous logic, it could be said that if for mercenary reasons anyone prefers to be an exile, he should suffer the fate of exiles and be left accordingly; but we do not strain the quality of mercy in that way. Therefore, Clause 7 ensures that this shall not happen. Similarly, with journeys for official purposes: no one will be penalised for conveying a customs officer or coastguard, for example, who may need to go out for one reason or another.

Provision is made in Clause 6 for offenders to be prosecuted summarily or on indictment. In view of the variety of places in which offences under this Bill may be committed, and the pro- cedural difficulties which could arise, provision is also made for proceedings to be taken anywhere within the United Kingdom. In debate in another place, my right honourable friend the Postmaster General undertook to look again at this point in the light of anxieties which had been expressed, lest offences committed in Scotland be referred to courts outside Scotland without the prior consent of the Lord Advocate of Scotland, which would, of course, be most serious. My right honourable friend is doing this, but has not yet completed his reconsideration of the matter. In Clause 8 provision is made for the Government to authorise by licence what is otherwise forbidden under the provisions of the Bill. As I mentioned earlier, the Bill relates to United Kingdom territorial waters as well as to the high seas, and without the saving in Clause 8 the Government could not authorise the siting of a broadcasting station within territorial waters, even if circumstances arose in which that was clearly a suitable place to put a station.

Noble Lords may expect me to make some reference to the demand for continuous popular music which the pirate broadcasting stations seem to have created, and to the need for supplying an alternative source when the pirate broadcasters have shot their bolt. The Government, in the recent White Paper on Broadcasting, have themselves said how this demand can be catered for in a legitimate fashion. The B.B.C., by a rearrangement of their services, will before long provide such a programme which we hope will be entirely satisfactory to all concerned.


My Lords, before the noble Lord finishes with the Bill and his explanation of the clauses, could he give us an indication of what objects he thinks will fall within the terms of subsection (1)(b) of Clause 2, which says: any other object in such waters, being neither a structure fixed or supported … nor a ship or aircraft"? What else can there be?


My Lords, I do not know of anything else, but it may be that there is something else. This is a proviso lest there be other forms by which transmitting can take place. It is simply, I think, an additional factor.

I trust that I have given a fair outline of the contents of the Bill. As I have assured the House, my colleague Lady Phillips will reply to points arising in the debate. All I can trust now is that we shall appreciate that this is no attempt whatever—and I would re-emphasise this—to prevent the broadcasting of light entertainment for those who enjoy it. It may truly be said that a thousand flowers bloom. Certainly, one would agree, let there be a large garden in which people can pluck any kind of blossom, including poppies if they so desire. All we are trying to do here is to bring to an end what I hope noble Lords will appreciate is something which is menacing and sinister; in other words, to bring to an end the unlawful and unscrupulous pirating of broadcasting material from the high seas, in or near territorial waters, from ships or from structures, which is to the detriment of all concerned, whether they be composers, musicians or, indeed. people who listen to it. We believe and hope that this will lead the way to other countries to follow suit. They have complained more than once of the effect of piratical broadcasting on their own wavelengths, on their own transmissions. Therefore, in their own interests and ours. I commend this Bill to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Sorensen.)

3.37 p.m.


My Lords, I think we must all thank the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, for explaining the clauses of this Bill so carefully, and also for a most amusing speech. I should like to make it clear from the beginning that my noble friends and I support this Bill. Both our Parties are committed to it by the European Treaty. But, apart from that, it is intolerable that, through a loophole in the law, a number of private people and companies should be able to operate radio stations on wavelengths to which they have helped themselves, and that they should be beyond the control of Parliament, even though most of them, despite what the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, has said, have taken care to conduct their affairs in an otherwise unexceptionable manner.

There are one or two Committee points and my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross will be mentioning those later. But, apart from them, the only complaint we have with this Bill is one of timing. I should say, however, that this is a very serious complaint, indeed. My honourable friends in another place were jeered at by Labour Members for their apparent inconsistency in accusing Her Majesty's Government of introducing this Bill, in the first place, too late and, secondly, in too much of a hurry. In fact, both of those accusations were justified. The delay in introducing the Bill allowed large sections of the population to acquire a taste for types of light music which the B.B.C. was, and is, unable or unwilling to give them. Having allowed this taste to develop by their delay, they are now bringing in the Bill before they have taken the necessary steps to provide a satisfactory alternative.

Why the delay, and why now the hurry? The European Agreement for the Prevention of Broadcasts transmitted from Stations outside National Territories was signed on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on the opening day, January 22, 1965. The Second Reading of this Bill in another place was on February 15, 1967—over two years later. The terms of legislation were specified in very great detail in the Agreement. We all have the greatest respect for the Parliamentary draftsmen, and it cannot have taken them very long to translate those terms into the form of a Bill. It is true that we have been considering a great deal of Government legislation since the 1964 Election, but no Government programme is so full that there is no time to squeeze in an urgent Bill that is necessary to comply with an international agreement.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will look back to the early days of this Government, he will see that we implemented a number of international agreements which had been made two or three years earlier during the lifetime of the previous Administration. It is not an easy matter to fit in all the different types of legislation. It is relatively easy in your Lordships' House, but it is quite a different matter in another place.


My Lords, what I am complaining about is that for two years there has been absolutely no hurry at all, which has allowed this situation to develop. Now, before a proper alternative is arranged, this Bill must go through at the earliest possible moment. But I will come to that later.

The only possible excuse for this delay would be that Her Majesty's Government needed the time to arrange for a satisfactory alternative to the pirate programmes. Have they done this? In the latest White Paper on Broadcasting (Cmnd. 3169), which the noble Lord quoted, Her Majesty's Government promise a popular music programme on the medium wave channel of 247 metres which will broadcast from 5.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., and from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and local radio on v.h.f. Neither of these proposals will, as I shall show your Lordships, provide a satisfactory alternative. But even if they did, this Bill comes into operation one month after the day it is passed, which looks like being some time shortly after the Spring Recess, whereas Radio 247, as it has come to be known, does not start until some unspecified time in the autumn, and, as for local radio, even the pilot scheme will not be fully operational until 1968.

I think it is necessary at this point that your Lordships should know exactly what it is that the pirate radios sell, and why they have become so popular and so much a part of the lives of their listeners. From reading the debates on the Bill in another place, I cannot think that the Postmaster General himself has got the point at all, and I regret to tell your Lordships that from listening to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, I do not think he has, either. But perhaps if I explain this point he can get together with his right honourable friend. Broadly speaking, the pirate radios are of two distinct types—those which play what is called "pop" music, and those which play what is technically known as "sweet" music. I think it right that the noble Lord should know. Both types employ smooth-talking gentlemen known by the rather regrettable American expression of "disc jockeys", which has now mercifully been shortened to the initials "D.J.". It is the job of these gentlemen to introduce the records of which their programmes are made up.

The leading "pop" music stations are Radio London, Radio Caroline North, Radio Caroline South and Radio Scot- land. This type have at any one time a very limited repertoire. Their programmes are devoted to new records which top the sales in shops throughout the British Isles. Each week a list is prepared and published of the 40 or 50 best sellers in numerical order of popularity. These lists are known as "The charts". An individual record starts its "pop" life before it is on sale to the general public, when it is played by a D.J. as a record that he considers is likely to get into the charts; and at this stage it is known as "a climber". If a climber catches on, the public will buy it, and possibly the next week or the week after it will enter the charts at, say, No. 33. The following week it may climb to No. 18, and so on, until it reaches the peak of its popularity and therefore the lowest number, after which the sales will start declining and it will gradually lose position until it is out of the charts altogether. After that, it will be heard no more until, if it has had a good run of popularity, it may eventually make the odd, fleeting reappearance as what is known either as "a revived 45" or "a flashback". These are occasionally played to remind one of the happy days of one's youth, some time about last November, in much the same nostalgic way as the B.B.C. will sometimes play a hit tune from No, No, Nanette or The Quaker Girl.

A "pop" record therefore has a very short playing life. Its appearance on a "pop" programme is entirely governed by the number of copies sold, or likely to be sold. A very important point is that it is not the song that wins a place in the charts but the individual record of that song by a particular singer or group—as one noble Lord says, Sandie Shaw. For instance, if a record of a song made by some obscure group should gain freak popularity for some weeks, the public would want that recording to be played, and the same song played by another group would be no substitute at all, even if the other group were to be the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Monkees or such stalwarts as Messrs. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch. Very often, not even a live performance by the group themselves can reproduce the sounds on the records, many of which need devices such as over-recording or echo chambers.

My Lords, to the unaccustomed ear, one "pop" noise may sound very much like another; but let us not be intellectual snobs over this. To the devotee, "pop" is an art form, and "pop" records have all the variants from the very good to the very bad. To him, "pop" is the top 40 or 50 of the moment, together with a few climbers and a few revived 45s, and there is no substitute. This brings me, my Lords, to "sweet" music.


My Lords, before the noble Lord proceeds, may I say that I am extremely grateful for all the most valuable information he has given me? I take it that both he and I have been learning a great deal in the last few days.


My Lords, the leading "sweet" music pirate is Radio 390. This second type play a very much wider selection of music. They appeal mainly to the older listener, such as the noble Lord and myself, and include tunes by composers such as Ivor Novello, Noel Coward, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, and singers such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. But they also play any new "pop" record that comes into the "sweet" music category. Sometimes the two distinct types of pirate programmes are closer together than at others. The reason for this is that, while "sweet" music remains constant, "pop" music is continually changing, veering towards it or away from it, according to the particular phase the record-buying public is going through at the moment. "Pop" music can vary over the years from big beat, through rhythm and blues, country and western, to ballads. Just at the moment, the "pop" public is going through a ballad phase, ballads being "sweet" music. There are a lot of ballads in the charts at the moment, and Radio 390 are playing something like 25 out of "pop" radio's top 40. But in six months' time the two may be poles apart.

These are the two distinct lines on which the pirate radios have developed. The public have heard them, grown used to them and, to a certain extent, adapted their lives to them. Some like one type, some like the other, and a few—but they are the very small minority—like to vary between the two. It is mainly true to say that neither the "pop" listener nor the "sweet" music listener would find the other's programme any substitute at all for their own. It would similarly be very hard to put together a programme that would appeal to both. Even when the two are fairly close together, as at the moment, there are always records which are indispensable to the "pop" listener but which would be anathema to the "sweet" music listener, and vice versa.

Neither type may be educational, but, then, neither type does any harm. Whether your Lordships like them yourselves or not, between the two of them they provide 20 million listeners with what they want when they want it, at the turn of a switch. And not only is it the type of music the public want: it is presented in the way they want it. The D.J.s have voices, mannerisms and catch-phrases which are individually known. In these times of change, when whole communities get separated and moved to unfamiliar surroundings, the tuning in to a friendy, cheerful, recognisable voice on the wireless can be a great antidote to loneliness.

This Bill, which we all support, is designed to sink the pirate ships as they are to-day, leaving a void in the lives of their listeners. Two questions arise. Have Her Majesty's Government a responsibility to fill that void with a satisfactory alternative; and, secondly, if they do not fill that void, will someone else do it for them? I think the answer to both those questions is, "Yes". What arc Her Majesty's Government proposing to put in its place? From the time when the Bill becomes operative until the unspecified time when Radio 247 comes on the air—nothing. After that, for the parts of the country that are unable to receive 247 metres clearly—nothing. In all parts of the country between the hours of 7.30 p.m. and 10 p.m.—nothing. Both types of pirate radio are based on gramophone records. "Pop," by its very nature, must consist of recordings. But the B.B.C. is limited to about, I thought it was 40 per cent., but the noble Lord said 20 per cent., of needle time. So take away from the hours of Radio 247, when it can be heard and where it can be heard, 80 per cent. of what is left. Divide this time again between those who want to hear "pop" and those who want to hear "sweet" music, neither of whom want to hear the other, and then imagine how this emasculated time can provide a substitute for the choice of two full day-long programmes.

To be fair, the problem of replacing pirate radio presented three difficult but not overwhelming obstacles. The noble Lord has referred to them. These are the limitation of wavelengths; the intransigent, though understandable, attitude of the Musicians' Union about needle time; and the shortage of money. Each of these problems has to be overcome and the Government have had two clear years in which to solve them. What have they done about them during those two years?

At least two new wavelengths are needed, one for "pop" and one for "sweet" music. As the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, has explained, wavelengths are allotted by the International Telecommunication Union under the Copenhagen Plan. Under Article 8 of the Copenhagen Convention, a country which wants to use an additional wavelength must first approach any other country whose allotted wavelengths may be affected. After obtaining that country's agreement, notice of the intended use must be served on the Union. If no-one else objects within a specified period, the use of the new wavelength is allowed. If, however, there is an objection, the matter can go to arbitration. There are a large number of stations throughout Europe which operate in this way on wavelengths not originally allocated in the Copenhagen Plan. Many of them have come about because of bilateral agreement between countries over the use of a particular wavelength at an agreed strength and between agreed times. Have Her Majesty's Government made any approaches on these lines either to other countries or to the International Telecommunication Union itself? If so, when? If not, when will they do so?

My Lords, the Musicians' Union have always held out strongly against having more than a certain percentage of broadcasting time devoted to the playing of gramophone records—known as "needle time". They want to protect the interests of their members and make sure that adequate employment is available for them. The same problem arose in the United States some years ago. After a strike lasting a year, which did inestimable harm to both sides, agreement was reached under which a fund was established, financed by a levy on records, which ensured adequate employment for musicians. In return, the Union conceded unlimited "needle time". Could not some solution be found here which would provide adequate employment for those musicians who do not make records and adequate rewards for those who do? When, during the two years, did negotiations start with the Musicians' Union over this?

For this money is needed—which brings me to the third obstacle: money for the settlement with the Musicians' Union; money for the payment of royalties to the Performing Right Society, which looks after the interests of authors and composers; money for royalties to Phonographic Performance, Limited, which represents the big record companies. Some of the pirates have been paying in full the royalties asked for by the Performing Right Society and have offered to pay Phongraphic Performance, Limited, who would not accept it. I think the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, was a little unfair on that point. All this is expensive. Can the B.B.C. afford it, out of their share of the licence revenue, or does this present a strong case for allowing commercial radio in this country?

Noble Lords opposite, and their Party, have a doctrinaire dislike of the idea of commercial radio. On this side of the House we understand their feelings. We understand them, but we do not share them. We too have an antipathy to monopoly, however benevolent, and to the paternalism that is apt to arise from benevolent monoply. But perhaps I can help Her Majesty's Government over this point, too. Which would they rather have? Commercial radio, sanctioned by them, over the running of which they can ensure that there is adequate control; or commercial radio which they do not countenance, but cannot prevent, and over which they have no control. In spite of this Bill, to a greater or less extent, they will probably get one or the other. If this Bill is successful, a vast listening public, with a huge advertising potential, will be left with no radio programme adequate to cater for their needs. Is it not obvious that there will be people who will seek ways to get around the new law and, by providing such a programme, help themselves to the advertising revenue?

I have heard rumours over the past few days as to what will happen when this Bill becomes effective. I cannot give chapter and verse as, naturally, such plans are kept very quiet; but I pass them on for what they are worth. Noble Lords opposite may dismiss them as only rumours, but if I were sitting in their place I should at least give them serious consideration.

The first, which my noble friend Lord Harlech has mentioned already, would be the logical outcome of the Bill. When the pirate radios started they attracted listeners and advertising away from Radio Luxembourg. Radio Luxembourg will get both back with interest, when and if the pirates stop transmitting. Radio Luxembourg is commercial radio, outside the control of this Parliament. The noble Lord mentioned, absolutely correctly, that it is under the control of the Luxembourg Parliament. But it is not under the control of Her Majesty's Government. The control of that particular section of commercial radio is being abdicated by Her Majesty's Government to the Luxembourg Government. The second rumour is that other stations, similar to Radio Luxembourg will start up. Two are planned in the Pyrenees. One of them, Radio Andorra, is ready to start broadcasting the moment this Bill comes into effect. The noble Lord no doubt will comfort himself with the thought that this will be under the control of the Spanish Government. But it will not be under the control of this Government.

The third rumour is that the foreign backers of one of the present pirate ships has negotiated a merger with Europe One and will continue to broadcast to this country in exactly the same way as before. The fourth rumour is that an American religious organisation is prepared to finance a full "pop" programme to this country from a ship which will also broadcast to a foreign country and will be manned by nationals of that country (which has not yet got legislation of the sort we are discussing) purely so that they can broadcast one religious talk to Great Britain each day. The fifth is that some of the existing ships intend, with their present foreign backers, a foreign crew and supplied from a foreign country, to carry on broadcasting as at the moment, attracting revenue from foreign advertisers who export to this country.

My Lords, none of these would be stopped by this Bill. They would, if the rumours are true and if the plans come off, be completely outside the control of this country. The ironic thing is that the only control of what went out on their broadcasts would be that set by the standards of the advertisers themselves—and advertisers do have such standards. I am advised that if a properly organised commercial radio system were set up in this country, under the control of some body similar to the I.T.A., none of these projects—nor even the present pirates, with their present freedom—would find it financially worth while to compete against it.

Under Clause 11(2), this Bill will come into force one month after it is passed. I shall be moving a simple Amendment on Committee stage to make the Bill come into force on a day appointed by the Postmaster General, which should not be earlier than one month after the day it is passed. This will give the Postmaster General power, if he sees fit, to delay the date the Bill comes into effect at least until Radio 247 is on the air. It will also give him time to go fully into the questions of wavelengths, "needle time" and commercial radio, and, possibly, even to make some announcement as to future plans—something which by itself could well discourage any further evasion of the law by the pirates. But if at any time, even under this Amendment, there were any danger of loss of life on the seas, or of interference with a foreign radio, the Postmaster General would still be able to bring the Act into force as early as the day at present named in the Bill. This is a very modest Amendment, and I hope that at some stage Her Majesty's Government will accept it and make full use of it.

3.59 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Denham, on an amusing, lucid and well-informed speech. In fact, I have rarely enjoyed a speech so much since the noble Lord's own speech on mock street auctions some years ago when he introduced his Private Members Bill on that subject. The noble Lord has also made out a most devastating case over the void which will be left by the Government's present proposals. May I assure the noble Lord, Lord Denham, that I am by no means against commercial broadcasting. As the noble Lord has pointed out, the suppression of these pirate radio stations, which have been giving pleasure to 20 million people, will leave a considerable vacuum.

The noble Lord seemed to be very sympathetic to "pop" music, more sympathetic than some of the older Members of your Lordships' House who were present during his speech. What we forget is that for young people "pop" music is almost their whole main interest during their leisure hours. It is difficult for we older people to appreciate how much popular music means to the young people, not only of this country but of countries throughout the world. It is something which unites young people of all classes and nationalities, and if we are to deny it to them, we should think very seriously about what is to be put in its place.

It is very easy to sneer at popular culture. I believe that art of all kinds, and culture, should be admired if it is the best of its kind. I would far prefer to hear a good "pop" record than a pretentious cultural programme of some kind. I would far rather hear Frank and Nancy Sinatra singing, "Something Stupid", which I think was "Top of the Pops" the week before last, than some phoney, pretentious cultural programme where, say, one heard French poetry read in a bad translation by third-rate actresses with R.A.D.A. accents.

I think that my noble friend Lord Sorensen has also made out a strong case for suppressing the pirate radios, and the principle of the Bill has my support. But I should like to pursue a little further than the noble Lord, Lord Denham, was able to do what are the Government's alternatives as described in their White Paper; because one alternative, I think, would benefit from competition and the other alternative is just not viable. The White Paper claims, rather naïvely I think, that these local radio stations will not require any general subvention from the rates. However, paragraph 41 of the White Paper states that local authorities might wish to contribute. I cannot see any difference, and neither can I see how a rate increase can be avoided. Last Saturday, April 15, the Guardian had an interesting article which reported that one local authority has already admitted that this contribution would mean at least an extra halfpenny on the rates. I should also like to draw the attention of your Lordships' House to the other local bodies which the White Paper so confidently envisages will be able to give their financial support. These are the local university, when there is one"— I rather like that remark— Chambers of Trade and Commerce; local Councils of Churches; art associations; and other representative bodies active in the social and cultural life of the community". My Lords, are we really supposed to take seriously the suggestion that these bodies, which are so hard-pressed for money, will have substantial funds to spare for subsidising local radio which, if the programmes are to be good and merit attention, will be rather an expensive business? I submit to the Government that this local radio proposal is clearly a non-starter even as an experiment. The only viable way to set up local radio is to operate it on a commercial basis with local advertising support. I cannot see what is wrong with that. If the local chamber of commerce is permitted, as is suggested in the White Paper, to advertise itself why cannot its members advertise their goods? There is considerable scope for local advertising on local radio. For example, the local cinema would no doubt wish to advertise the film of the week; supermarkets and shops would be able to advertise the best buy of the week for the housewife, and national advertisers would no doubt wish to use the local radio as a test market when launching new products.

Here I must declare a professional interest in advertising, although I am expressing a personal point of view. In paragraphs 33 and 34 the White Paper states: In their White Paper of July 1962 (Cmnd. 1770) the Conservative administration agreed 'that the justification for local sound broadcasting would be the provision of a service genuinely "local" in character'. The Government share this view. And so do I. The White Paper goes on: They consider that this objective would prove incompatible with the commercial objectives of companies engaged in local sound broadcasting; and that, in the result, the former would be likely to suffer. This appears to me to be a dogmatic argument adduced from an entrenched position, and supported by absolutely no evidence; because there is the case of Radio Manx operating in the Isle of Man under Government licence and perfectly legally. This is a very good instance of successful local radio supported by advertising. It is also very popular in the Island. For example, of all adult listeners in the Isle of Man, 79 per cent. listen to Manx. Only 71 per cent. listen to other stations; only 44 per cent. listen to the B.B.C. Light Programme and, I am sorry to say, only 29 per cent. to the Home Programme. I therefore suggest to your Lordships that the only way that the B.B.C. can be kept on its toes and made to give audiences the programmes they want and deserve, is through competition.

It is perfectly clear that the pirate radio programmes have far more appeal to those who like popular music. These programmes, with their disc jockeys, are much snappier and more scintillating. I agree that the B.B.C. popular music programmes have improved considerably lately, as a result of this competition, but I have gone to the trouble recently of asking a great many young people which they prefer, and almost everyone said they preferred the "pop" music of the pirates to that put out by the B.B.C. Therefore I think it would be very good for the B.B.C. to be in competition with commercial radio, just as in television they are in competition with I.T.V., and that this commercial radio should be set up on a regional basis.

I am not averse to the B.B.C. and certain local authorities conducting an experiment on the lines suggested in the White Paper, but in order that a full picture should he given, I suggest that the Government should also conduct an experiment with one or two commercial radio stations in selected areas. They could then consider the two experiments alongside each other and make a considered decision. I think that we must face the fact that for millions of people, not only young people, but older people as well, the closing of popular radio would be the same as the closing of all golf courses for golfers and the closing of all football grounds for football fans. It would leave an enormous vacuum, and the Government must consider carefully what they are going to do to fill it. In my view the White Paper is found wanting in this respect, and far more consideration has to be given to this question if the people of this country are to have the radio programmes they want and deserve.

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, I sometimes feel myself required to agree with what is said on the other side of the House and to disagree with what is said on this side, and certainly I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Denham, in greatly regretting the delay of the Government in dealing with pirate radios. They should have been tackled much sooner, before they had time to dig themselves in. In a moment I shall explain why I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi.

We have been told by the noble Lord, Lord Denham, that the Opposition are not going to oppose this Bill and force a Division. I am glad to hear that. He also gave us to understand that the pirates are satisfying more people than the programmes of the B.B.C. or than the programmes as outlined in the White Paper are likely to do in future. He asked the question: what do the pirate radios sell? In answer to that question he gave us a fascinating account of what they sell. I know a little about what they sell. I also know something about what the B.B.C. sells, because I am constantly under some compulsion to listen to "Top of the Pops" on a Thursday evening. I think that the real answer to the question, so far as noble Lords opposite are concerned, is that they sell advertising time.

At the back of all the criticisms of the B.B.C. and its programmes we can note the addiction of the Conservative Party to commercial radio in the interests of the advertisers. That was shown very clearly in the years 1949 to 1951 when the Beveridge Report was issued and its conclusions were being debated. The main evidence in favour of breaking the monopoly of the B.B.C. in the interests of commercial radio and television came from the big advertising agencies and some of the big individual advertisers. There was a certain amount from the radio manufacturers, but the real force came from the advertising agencies. That was the lobby which in the end carried the Government against what I may call the better feelings of some of their leading members, such as the noble Lords, Lord Halifax and Lord Hailsham, and others I could mention.

We let this interest into television, and television advertising has become a great power. It has involved the absorption of an increasing proportion of our national resources in manpower and equipment and office accommodation in the great business of persuading people to buy goods and services. I do not think that I could ever be accused of a pathological antipathy to advertisements, because I was one of the three members of the Beveridge Committee who signed a Minority Report, together with Lord Beveridge and Lady Megan Lloyd George, recommending that the B.B.C. should be allowed to make a little honest revenue by advertising on television, but the majority of our colleagues, including the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, opposed it. They did not want the B.B.C. to touch what they regarded as this low and improper interest. What we had at the back of our minds was that the B.B.C. would control the advertisements, instead of being controlled by them, as is the case where commercial radio and television is entirely dependent for its finances on advertising revenue. The B.B.C. would not be solely dependent on its advertising revenue and would be able to select its advertisements.

Advertising is an amoral—I do not say immoral—thing. It tells us to clean our teeth, wash whiter, decorate our homes better, cook and wash more economically. It shows us labour saving devices and new gadgets of all sorts which are useful and valuable. It tells us to smoke more cigarettes, to patronise the local. Above all, it takes every opportunity of working up sex consciousness. It is the great exploiter of sex. If your Lordships would look at the first issue last week of the Times Business Supplement, you would see a good example of this. Selling with sex is Regent's approach. Regent intend to follow through their ebullient petrol advertising this season with a campaign that is highly sex-slanted by the standards of both the Independent Television Authority and the Independent Television Contractors' Association although it has been approved by both bodies. Having created the Regent cowgirl last year the firm's advertising agency, … have decided to intensify the sex symbolism. Yesterday I saw some of the 1967 Regent television commercials which are to be shown repeatedly from now until autumn in the heaviest concentration of television petrol advertising ever seen in Britain. So it goes on. That is what our people are subjected to, and if we recognise the commercial power of broadcasting, television and radio we must realise that they will increase this subjection as time goes on.

I do not think that in criticising this Bill members of the Conservative Party are really attempting to indicate their support of all the various delinquencies of the pirate radio stations. What they are doing, in fact, is committing themselves to an adherence to a crude commercial conception of democracy. When the broad mass of the people get what they want, then we have democracy. Who said that? A certain Mr. Henley, speaking in favour of television advertising at a conference some years ago. What he meant was that when the broad mass get what they have been persuaded to think they want for our profit, then we have democracy. Then we call ourselves supporters of freedom.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, I have been asked to speak on this Bill by a number of people in the Isle of Man. Before doing so, I took the opportunity of recording talks with people who know more about this and how it affects them in the Isle and Man and elsewhere than I do—the gentleman who runs Manx Radio, several of the most important legal authorities, and others in the Isle of Man; and I had dinner last night with the "Pirate King". Therefore, I am well informed of all the different views. But the extraordinary thing is that they all had a solution; and all their solutions were the same. I thought they would each have a different solution and so it amazed me. Each person—and I did not prompt them in any way—offered me a solution which turned out to be the same. I will come to the solution after I have said what I feel I should say in fairness to some of these people.

I do not think that Radio Caroline has been fairly treated to-day. It is very popular in the Isle of Man—not that people listen to it there, because we are all old, but because of the amazing amount of advertising done and the service it has performed. They have been very good in their services. An S.O.S. message, which was missed by other people, was acted upon by Radio Caroline, and they saved a ship in a storm last winter. They are all young people and, like all pirates, I suppose, they are full of joie de vivre and "go" and "with it", and they appeal to the young people. It is not only the "pop" music, but what goes behind it. They appeal so strongly that they have just over 500,000 people who belong to a society, which costs them 10s. a year. These are young people in the different towns which they cover. These young people like them. They have their own way of talking to each other, which they understand. And what they appreciate is that this is an enterprise. They are free; it is democracy; they are "having a go, Joe".

This is something that I have to say. I feel extremely sad when I hear old people running down young people. When I was young, naturally I could not understand the old people. But I was tolerant. I thought that most of my relations should be shut up right away, but I realised that some of them had some human qualities; and I had some touch with them. But it was not so difficult for me to have touch with them, because I was born long before the aeroplane left the ground—it did not leave the ground until I was fairly old—and things had not changed all that much; we still went by horse, and there were roads that you could ride on without being killed. These people are living in an entirely different world. I cannot understand the world they live in, and they cannot understand me. They think that I am something out of the Ark; and I just do not try to understand them, because I feel the chances are that they might be right. Radio Caroline is giving them what they want, and its popularity is enormous. It has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Denham, and others that the loss will be greatly felt when eventually it is sunk.

But I would tell your Lordships that the Radio Caroline people do not intend to be sunk. They intend to fight it out, and they have all sorts of schemes which I would never give away. Cross-my-heart as a pirate—I am not one really—but talking to pirates and consorting with them, I would never give their secrets away. But they are full of fight. At the last local elections they fought through- out the country. When they say that there were 20 million people listening to them I do not know whether they are right; but their broadcasts are going on all day, and it is the only thing you can get on transister radios. They plugged against the Government for all they were worth; they were fighting like mad and doing everything they could to influence the election. I think the result of the election is largely due to pirate radios. Their next move is to go much stronger than they have gone before against the Government in the by-elections, and they hope to smash them. All this is very popular with the young people. The young people love to have a crack at the Government, and they could never hope to do so without Radio Caroline. It has brought them out of their houses; it has combed their long hair; it has got them down the streets; they have discovered that they have votes. I tell your Lordships that for what it is worth.

In 1950 the Isle of Man started a Radio Manx Station. It is a legal station; the Government espoused it, and it is properly run. The British Government said that they would increase the strength of the power they were allotted. I must tell your Lordships—and this is true—that the Isle of Man Government is a descended pedigree Government which goes back to the Vikings; and when they say they are the oldest Government in the world I think they are probably quite right. They are very nice people. They trust other people, and they always expected that they would get the little bit extra that they wanted on their radio. But when it came to the point, they were told that the British Government did not have free frequencies, wavelengths and so forth, and they could not have it.

My memory is not very good, but I think I am right in saying that in the Financial Times on August 24, 1946, an important article was published by Pye Radio. Pye Radio, to my mind, are the last word, the last authority, about frequencies, wavelengths and so on. What they said was that Britain had a superabundance of wavelengths and frequencies which they could use. They said that when arguments are used against this they are false. Shortly after that, so far as I can understand from what I was told, every year, or every so often, the Manx Government have asked for an increase of power.

The question of the frequency rather drifted away, and they have been told about the Copenhagen Agreement, and they listened. They were told that by the Copenhagen Agreement nothing much could be done for them. At that Conference, as noble Lords know, six countries, so to speak, walked out and did not take part. I think I am right in saying that 208 licences were given, and shortly afterwards 510 radio stations were in operation. The 208 licences were given, and as soon as the Copenhagen Conference was over they all started to increase their power. I do not know whether the British Government are in a position to dictate to the Isle of Man about the Copenhagen Agreement, because the British Forces programme in Benghazi runs on a channel which is prohibited by the Copenhagen Agreement.

The important point is that, as your Lordships know, there is Radio Luxembourg, which somebody said was a pirate. I suppose, in a way, it is a pirate; but it has been a pirate for so long that people have become accustomed to it. It broadcasts to this country. And there are now the newer, what are called peripheral, radio stations which surround France, like Radio Monte Carlo and so on. I think there are about five in all. They are "legal-ish". They are round France, but they do not all fit in with the Copenhagen Agreement. They broadcast, and they are profitable enterprises. Radio Luxembourg is a very profitable enterprise. They are controlled by a central company, which I believe has its headquarters in Paris. And who owns 50 per cent. of the shares? The French Government. This is common sense.

As your Lordships know, there has been a lot of talk about going into the Common Market. If we go into the Common Market we shall have to advertise our goods, and we shall have to do that through Radio Luxembourg. We shall spend millions of pounds on advertisements, and half of the money will go to the French Government. Everybody, including the skull-and-crossbones friends of mine, agree that all that is required is to give Manx Radio the extra power it was promised and which has been refused year by year, and when they get that piracy will come to an end at once. There is a wavelength, or an entry, if we go into the Common Market, and the money spent on advertisements would do some good to our own people.

4.30 p.m.


My Lords, it is a matter of considerable regret to me that I have not been able to join the sallies of the noble Lord, Lord Strange, into the lairs of the pirate king. And perhaps, although I do not regret this, I ought to have taken more care when the cowgirl, who advertises the petrol referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, threatened to shoot me down when I looked at her either on the screen or in the newspaper. I would say to the noble Lady, in passing, while declaring an interest as a director of a programme contractor who has a licence under the Independent Television Act, that I think, despite what has been said, there are methods of voluntary control of the contents of advertisements which do not necessarily let the most terrible things slip through. I am sure she is well aware of the contents of the code of advertising that is observed by these companies.


My Lords, it took a Government Act to cut out cigarette advertising.


My Lords, it was not done by an Act; it was done by the proposed exercise of powers under the Television Act. The noble Lady will, I think, give the companies credit for the fact that no formal document ever had to be laid in this matter. The Minister of Health said that in his view it would be a good thing if this step was taken; and taken it was.

These matters of extremely important note have been fully dealt with by my noble friend Lord Denham, and I do not propose to follow them up. There are other matters which, after my wont, I feel that I ought to deal with, perhaps by way of anticipation; and I would ask the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, whether she will at least consider them before we come to the next stage of the Bill. These are, I am afraid, as the House will now be aware, legal points to some extent. The first is one about International Law and concerns the ratification of the European Agreement. I apologise to the noble Lady, because I have not given her notice of these matters. I do not think that the matter is altogether desperate, because if she thinks there is anything in what I say I am sure she will consider the matter and let me know; and if she thinks there is nothing in my points she will wisely ignore them. But we have the European Agreement upon which, in both Houses, a great deal of emphasis has been placed by Her Majesty's Government as being the cornerstone of this Bill.

This Agreement is in fact one which, according to its very terms, has to be ratified. As I understand the United Kingdom practice, it is not the policy of the Foreign Office to ratify treaties of this nature unless there is special provision in them which requires it. But in this one there is a special provision. It is in Article 8, which provides that countries may become parties to the Treaty either by signature without reservation in respect of ratification or acceptance, or by signature with such a reservation. The Treaty, or Agreement, does not come into force until three parties have ratified it.

The first thing I think it would be interesting to know, since so much stress has been laid upon our obligations under this Treaty, is whether it is yet in force. In other words, have three countries who were signatories to it ratified it? I know that legislation has been in hand in Belgium, I think in Denmark, and I rather suspect in Norway. But it would be interesting for this House to know, when so much stress has been laid on this particular requirement to honour our obligations, what other countries have done so.

This leads me to a slightly more general point, which perhaps arises out of what the noble Lord, Lord Strange, said. He told us that, despite the passage of this Bill—and I think that may be safely anticipated by your Lordships—some of the pirates, at any rate, are determined that they will carry on. I think he was talking particularly about Radio Caroline North. Of course, there are three parties specifically concerned with this matter: the Government of this country; the Government of Ireland, who did not initially sign the Treaty; and the Government of the Isle of Man, to whom the provisions of this Bill can be extended by Order in Council, if they choose to pass the Bill, which I gather the Tynwald threw out the other day. This has a much more general application. We are saying that we are a bad offender in the realm of pirate ships, pirate radio stations, and we have to honour the obligations we have undertaken under this Treaty. We further say that, until we have passed this Bill we cannot ratify the Treaty, and until we ratify the Treaty we are not a party to it.

Far be it from me to suggest what should be the practice in these matters so far as other countries are concerned, but I should have thought that our position would have been stronger—and our position vis-a-vis other countries would have been stronger, if they had taken the same line—if, instead of ratifying the Agreement after domestic legislation had been passed to implement these provisions, they had ratified it in advance and then passed the legislation. Because in those circumstances we should have known which countries were covered by this Agreement, and the area to which it extends, and which countries were prepared to do something about this particular matter. If that were so, those who say, as apparently some of the pirate radios do, that, willy-nilly, they will carry on. would have known from a comparatively early stage which of the countries in Europe were prepared to accept and to abide by this Agreement. As it is, apparently we do not know until they have passed domestic legislation; and even then the Treaty does not come into force until three of them have done so and ratified it.

I think that the situation, so far as International Law is concerned in this matter, is this. Nowadays the difference between signature and ratification is not one of very great distinction. Ratification is generally considered to be merely a formal acknowledgment by the signature of the person who signs the treaty for his Government—in this case, Mr. I. F. Porter, who signed for the Queen, on behalf of this country. Obviously, one cannot reorganise International Law overnight. I cannot do so, nor can I use the Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Bill as a platform for so doing. But I think the noble Lady might find that we should have been in a stronger position in dealing with the problem, which I think all Parties in this House agree has existed, if we had had some other method under International Law of showing which countries were proposing to implement the intentions of this Agreement. The noble Lady has not had notice of this point. I apologise. Indeed, it would not be a point that could be decided on this Bill, but I feel that it may be worth putting forward for future reference.

There are two other points that ought perhaps to be mentioned at this stage of the Bill, because although they may form the subject of Amendments at a subsequent stage, they are, I think, of a certain amount of importance. The first is the matter of advertisement relating to pirate radios; and this arises on Clause 5(3)(f). In another place there was a great deal of discourse, both in Committee and on Report stage, about what was an advertisement for the purpose of this Bill. Certain contradictory statements were made by the right honourable gentleman the Postmaster General, who was in charge of the Bill in that House. I have no doubt what it is the Government intend to catch. They intend to catch direct advertisements for the merits of the station itself, and they intend to catch those who wish to publish the times and the details of programmes that any pirate station which may exist after the passing of this Bill intends to put out.

However there are discrepancies in what the right honourable gentleman said which I think would leave one in some doubt as to what may safely be put in a newspaper or any other publication as a matter of genuine news. A great deal of discussion took place on the basis of what was "editorial comment". It may be that I do not understand Press terminology, but whether it is editorial comment or not, it seems to me there are circumstances in which a newspaper or other journal could make some reference in its columns to the existence, or the activities, or indeed the demise, of a pirate radio station, which would at least have the effect of drawing the attention of those who read that newspaper to the existence of that station.

If there is one thing that is quite clear from the discussions in another place it is that advertisements are not only those matters which are paid for. They are also matters which are published and which are free, and I can quite easily envisage some people being in doubt prima facie—although, of course, this matter is protected by the fact that prosecutions can only be brought with the leave of the Director of Public Prosecutions in England, the Attorney General in Northern Ireland, or the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland, who has the same office—whether they are entitled to mention in certain columns of their newspapers the existence of these pirate radio stations, if any remain.

It is also perfectly clear from the discussions in another place that this is not what the Government intend. If there is a genuine, newsworthy item which relates to a pirate radio, whether it is broadcasting to this country or to anywhere else, they do not intend to cramp the style of the Press so that a proper piece of news may not be printed on that subject. But I think the Bill suffers from this defect, that when we have a subject which is a little vague, as, for instance, the subject of advertisement in Clause 5 which I have already mentioned, we have nothing very much to pin down what may or may not be an offence.

The reason why I return to this is because of what the right honourable gentleman the Postmaster General said at the end, when pressed on Report Stage in another place. He said that in the end it would depend on the courts. Of course it will, my Lords, but I think the citizen and the newspaper proprietor, and anyone else who wishes to publish matters—and it would only, of course, be an ancillary or incidental matter—should know what the criminal law is upon this point. There are powerful penalties, and it is a serious matter. I think that the noble Lady, if she will be so kind, ought to take this matter back and consider it a little further to see whether we cannot put a rather clearer form of words in the Bill; because when it comes to the point it is not the slightest use, whatever the right honourable gentleman the Postmaster General may have said in another place, or indeed what a Member of the Government may say in this House, because the courts will pay no attention to that. They will decide what is an advertisement within the terms of the Bill. I think it is too wide and that we ought to look at it again.

My third point was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, and it was a matter which was expressly reserved in the consideration of this Bill on Report in another place. This is with regard to the jurisdiction of the courts when they have to deal with one of these offences under the Bill. The specific reference is in Clause 6(3). In the end I think the discussion in another place was pinned down to the fact that as a whole we have an adequate jurisdiction covering offences of the nature of those contained in the Bill which are committed in territorial waters, whether off the coast of England or off Northern Ireland or off Scotland—and indeed for all I know off the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man—but that there has to be a special provision for offences committed on the high seas—and the Continental Shelf Act 1964 was quoted as a precedent for this.

So far as this matter is concerned, I do not think anyone will be in the least unhappy that, particularly with the protection which this Bill contains against prosecutions being made except with the consent of the D.P.P. or his equivalent officer in the other countries concerned, the prosecutions will be brought in the right place. But here, in this short subsection of three lines, is a carte blanche for prosecutions to be brought under this Bill in any jurisdiction, quite regardless of where in the British Isles the offences may have taken place. By reason of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, comes here to-day without being able to tell your Lordships what is the answer to this problem, I can only assume that it is a matter of some difficulty. I think it must be so, because it was clearly pointed out in another place—and I need not rehearse the arguments now—that there is a difference, for instance, in the terms of what is the ingredient of the offence—matters such as corroboration between Scots law and English law. There is, at any rate until the passing of the Criminal Justice Bill—if pass it does—the difference about majority verdicts between the two countries. There is the difference whereby in Scotland the verdict of "not proven" can be given, and there are clearly considerable divergencies on this matter between the criminal law in the two countries.

It is said that this is all very well. First of all, we have the discretion of the law officers, or the judicial officers I have mentioned, who will not bring pro- secutions in the wrong place. I can appreciate that this may be so, and it is perhaps fanciful to think of pirate ships off Berwick-on-Tweed, where even genuinely conscientious, assiduous judicial officers might be forgiven for bringing a prosecution in Scotland, whereas others might think it ought to be brought in England, or vice-versa. At any rate these conflicts may arise, and I think we should deal with them. The defence put forward by Her Majesty's Government is that it will be possible for the accused to object in the court of first instance (the magistrates' court if it be that) to the jurisdiction itself.

I have not done a full amount of research into this subject, but I should have thought that an objection by the accused to the jurisdiction would have stood not an earthly chance, because the Bill is perfectly specific. It says that the prosecution can be brought anywhere. If the accused said: "I am being tried in Edinburgh, but in fact my offence was committed in Cornwall, and it is ridiculous that I should be tried under Scots law", it is obviously a fanciful occasion. Nevertheless, I do not think the accused would have any right under this Bill to object to the jurisdiction of the sheriff substitute in Edinburgh, because there is statutory authority for that sheriff substitute to deal with the case.

With great respect to those who argued upon this matter in another place, I believe that it has to be thought about again. We have a complicated system of law, the Territorial Waters Act, the Merchant Shipping Act, and, indeed, the Magistrates Courts Act, in England—for dealing with these offences in territorial waters, granting jurisdiction to the courts which should properly be seized of it; and I think there is the equivalent legislation for Scotland. In my view, this subsection ought to be confined to the offences which are committed outside territorial waters, on the high seas, where quite clearly a special provision has to be inserted in the Bill.

Those are matters which, it is perfectly true, are matters of detail. On the other hand, I think all of them are of general interest, and if this Bill is simply a vehicle for raising them, nevertheless it is no bad thing that they should be considered against the background of our system of administration as a whole. if the noble Baroness cannot deal with that aspect to-day, I will, of course, forgive her. Nevertheless, if we can return to these matters at another stage we may do some good. Meanwhile, I rest upon what my noble friend Lord Denham has said. I need not embroider it further; it was done brilliantly by him. With the reservations that he has made, I hope that the Bill will be given a Second Reading by your Lordships this afternoon.

4.51 p.m.


My Lords, I anticipated that this would be an enjoyable debate, but I confess that I had no reason to believe it was going to be as enjoyable as indeed it has proved. I am afraid that I cannot hope to entertain you with the colourful language of the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, or the knowledge and expertise which the noble Lord, Lord Denham, revealed. I am bound to say that at one point I wondered whether he had strayed into the wrong debate, as tomorrow we are talking about the arts and museums.

I found, as I am sure all your Lordships must have done, his exposition of the work of the "D.Js" extraordinarily fascinating; and since it seems popular to describe us all as "squares", I would say that I should very much refute the idea that I am a "square"; I go constantly to jazz concerts, folk concerts of all kinds, and thoroughly enjoy listening to all kinds of music. Surely the whole man will listen equally to Mozart as Sandie Shaw. However, this is not the point we are discussing this afternoon. I think the noble Lord, Lord Denham, very cleverly disguised the fact that he really had no criticism to make of the Bill. He seemed to have some criticisms of the alternative; but I am going to stick carefully to my brief and not be tempted to wander on to the paths of discussing other White Papers, because there will be other opportunities to do so.

I would merely say this. Several noble Lords have quoted surveys, and we all know (and I say this with all due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi) that you can get certain answers if you put your question in a certain way. The B.B.C. have also had a recent survey on the size of audiences to radio. They discovered that 16 per cent. of the people over 15 years of age said they listened to the pirate stations daily and nearly every day, but 77 per cent. said they never, or hardly ever, listened. I am just as disposed to take the figures of the B.B.C. survey as of anybody else's survey. I am bound to say, in passing, that I have a completely cynical attitude, or perhaps I should say healthy attitude, to most surveys.

I think we can best answer some of the comments that have been made on the question of the freedom of people to listen to what they wish by the comment of Sir Alan Herbert, who is not known to be a supporter of the Government, so that I can quote his comment as strictly non-political. He is Chairman of the British Copyright Council, and he said: If groups of people were generously dispensing free beer which they themselves had acquired without payment no doubt there would be no complaints about this. This seems to me to summarise some of the attitudes which people adopt towards listening to the pirate stations.

I suggest that this afternoon we are not so concerned with the alternatives: we are concerned with the ratification of a Convention and the honouring of an obligation. The noble Lord, Lord Denham, said that the Government had allowed demand to build up for the pirate programmes and had not provided an alternative to satisfy the demand. I would suggest to him that this is no reason for opposing a measure the purpose of which is to uphold the rule of law and meet international obligations.


I do not oppose it.


But the noble Lord skilfully went away from actively supporting it by suggesting that the Government had taken too long about it and then, when they did introduce it, wished to rush it through. I would remind him that in 1964, when the previous Government were dealing with this subject, the reply given by the then Minister to an Unstarred Question by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, was that the Government would await conclusion of the draft Convention of the Council of Europe and then consider legislation on the lines proposed by the Convention. The present Government have had to consider legislation on the lines proposed by the Convention, and I am sorry if the noble Lord, Lord Denham, feels that we have been too long about it. But perhaps he will agree that at any rate this Government have brought in a measure, whereas the previous Government did not.


My Lords, will the noble Baroness forgive me for interrupting? The Convention was not signed until after the noble Baroness's Government were in power.


Yes, my Lords; but it was one of the noble Lord's own side who suggested that the then Government should not wait on the Convention, so that had his Government wished to follow out the advice of one of his own supporters they need not have waited upon the Convention. But they elected to do so, and this Government have put into effect something which the previous Government preferred to wait on. I am sorry if the noble Lord is disappointed that we have been so long, but I am sure he is going to enjoy it, now that we have it. Whether the pirates will enjoy it is another matter.

The noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, mentioned the question of the B.B.C. having control of advertisements, and said that advertising is usually exploitation. I would go a little further and say that advertising appears to me to be exhortation. I have been exhorted over the years that "beer is best", and I feel rather pleased that I have never succumbed to this kind of exhortation. As for advertising exploiting sex, this we agree is so. Perhaps in this matter we have to be very careful that we do not appear to go down as a House which does not agree with sex. What we are concerned about is that the young should not be exploited, whether it be in the matter of inviting them to smoke more or drink more, or to take drugs or do any other things, which may follow, directly or indirectly, from advertisement.


My Lords, I think the noble Baroness ought perhaps to consider a little before she suggests that any advertisement is intended to promote the taking of drugs which might be deleterious.


My Lords, I think your Lordships noticed that I did say "directly or indirectly", and I am not suggesting that any advertisement suggests people should go out and take marijuana; but it was suggested by one of the "pop" kings himself, as I understood him, that if a person first takes something very mild which may be considered medicine, there is no reason to suppose that he will not move on to others. I bow to that young man, who is more expert than myself.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness whether this was a paid advertisement? It surprises me, and it will no doubt surprise other noble Lords. Can she say what medium it was that took this paid advertisement, if it was such?


My Lords, a little later I will come to his definition of advertisement, which the noble Viscount seems to stretch rather beyond those appearing in columns. Perhaps by his own definition he may consider this an advertisement. I did not. What I would say to the noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, is that there may well be arguments in favour of a different type of radio programme, but this afternoon we are not considering this point. We are considering a Bill, and I hope that both Lord Strabolgi and Lady Stocks will accept that alternatives could be considered if we come to debate the White Paper a little later.

I was delighted, of course, as always, to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Strange, and to hear that he has enjoyed conferring with what he so delightfully calls the "pirate kings". As the noble Lord well knows, we do not regard Manx Radio as at all in this category, and I am sure he will be heartened to know that consultations have been going on with the Isle of Man Government about the Bill, and that on April 11 the Home Secretary sent a copy of the draft Order in Council to the Isle of Man Government. One may perhaps hope from this that some of the other things which the noble Lord would like to see will also have been discussed; but I feel certain he will return to this subject either at a later stage of the Bill or when we are discussing broadcasting in general. Naturally, he will appreciate that I can make no promise on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.

I liked his suggestion that democracy was "having a go, Joe". I personally have always felt that democracy should involve everyone, and any medium which will help to encourage people to use their democratic rights seems to be one we should encourage. In passing I would say that perhaps the pirate stations have adopted a slightly different way of encouraging people to use their democratic rights. As I understand it, they have been rather ingenuous in conveying to the public at large that they were more sinned against than sinning, and that they were doing nothing any more objectionable than the operation of many land-based stations in Europe. My noble friend Lord Sorensen showed in his exposition in moving the Second Reading of this Bill that they are in fact in a different category; that what this Bill seeks to do is merely to put right certain wrongs which have been enumerated several times, and that in fact their exhortations to vote might well have been based on a wrong premise.

The noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, raised three points. He will appreciate, as in fact he said, that I shall probably not be able to reply to them all to-day, but the opportunity will present itself during the Committee stage. On the question of the Convention, I would merely say that in signing the Agreement the British Government have undertaken to make punishable certain acts, such as establishing and operating broadcasting stations on the high seas, supplying goods and materials, advertising and so on. We must legislate to enable us to ratify this Agreement. As I understand it, this is normal practice in the case of International Agreements and Conventions. The Government will ratify the Agreement as soon as legislation is enacted. The noble Viscount asked me whether other countries have already ratified it. I am happy to tell him that Sweden and Denmark have done so.


My Lords, is the noble Baroness saying that this Agreement is not in force at all?


My Lords, as I understand it, from the noble Viscount's definition, there have to be three—


My Lords, it is not mine; these are the terms of the Treaty.


From reading the Treaty—I am bowing to his legal knowledge on this matter—the requirement is for three countries. If we are the third country, then in fact this will make for the ratification of the Agreement. But I think the noble Viscount will agree with me that, again, this is no argument for delaying legislation—merely waiting for other countries. If I am incorrect in my definition, I will correct it on Committee stage. But we must accept the integrity of the other signatories, and must not assume that while they signed they will not ratify, and will thus align themselves with pirate stations. I have the feeling that at one point that was what the noble Viscount was suggesting.




The noble Viscount referred to the Republic of Ireland.


My Lords, with great respect, what I said was this. Here we have, from the Printed Paper Office, Command No. 2616, which sets out all the countries who are the members of the Council of Europe. Only seven out of about 15 have signed, or at any rate had done so at the stage when this document was published. The Republic of Ireland was not one of them, and I wish to know what is the situation. After all, it is not necessarily ratified by signature. It may, as the noble Baroness said, have to be the subject of domestic legislation before it can be ratified. That is the point I was on. What is the situation? Quite apart from Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, there are many countries who not only have not ratified, but have not signed it.


My Lords, I think the noble Viscount is trying to make a rather unimportant point, in this sense. As I understand it, this country has the largest number of stations to deal with, so surely we must deal first with our own problem before going on to the wider issue. I merely make the suggestion that the noble Viscount seemed to question the integrity of some of the other countries, when, as I understood him, he suggested that Ireland was allied with the French Government in connection with another station which may take up this business in the future. I apologise if I am wrong there, but I should like to look closely at Hansard to-morrow to see where I got that impression from.

In relation to Clause 5, the noble Viscount raised the question, what is an advertisement? I suggest that the legal definition may well quarrel with the definition of a journalist. As I understand it, a journalist is quite clear on what is an advertisement; it is something which is portrayed within the printed matter as advertisement matter. I think that at different times there has been some discussion about comments which have appeared within the copy section, and these have been declared not to be advertisements. However, I should not like to give a definite reply on this point. I hope that the noble Viscount will raise it again on the Committee stage, when we can go further into it.

On the question of the jurisdiction of the courts, Clause 6, I would merely say that the Lord Advocate has not so far made any comment on this clause. But again, to get a clearer definition, I hope the noble Viscount will raise the matter again on Committee. This observation is merely for his own information at this point of time. I suggest to your Lordships that the enactment of this Bill will be a major step in protecting the broadcasting services of other European countries, as well as our own, which are being taken over and eventually destroyed by those who are ruthless and irresponsible enough to exploit the freedom of the seas for their own commercial gain at whatever cost to others.

I hope that those of your Lordships who feel that I have not adequately answered the question of the alternative will appreciate that to-day we are dealing with a Bill on rather narrower lines, and that there will be ample opportunity for further discussion about the alternative at a later date. I hope, for Lord Denham, that it will not be too far distant.


My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down—she skated with great charm over the tricky ice on which the Government have found themselves—could she possibly answer two questions I asked? The first was, when did Her Majesty's Government first approach the International Telecommunication Union with a view to getting another channel or other channels? Secondly, when did they approach the Musicians' Union with a view of solving the problem of needle time?


My Lords, I am unable to give the noble Lord a direct answer. He knows me well enough to appreciate that to any questions he puts to me he will receive a reply on the Committee stage. I give him my assurance on that.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.