§ 1.58 p.m.
§ Report of Amendments received (according to Order).
§ Clause 15 [Short title, citation, interpretation and extent]:
§ LORD AIREDALE moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "Wireless Telegraphy" and insert "Television and Radio etc." The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an Amendment to amend the Short Title of the Bill from Wireless Telegraphy Bill to Television and Radio, etc. Bill. This is the same as the Amendment I moved in Committee and withdrew except for the addition of the word "etc.". The addition is introduced to meet the objection voiced by the Minister in Committee that this Bill does not deal exclusively with things that can be described under the heading of "television and radio". I think this is true. Television and radio cover only about 95 per cent. of the matters dealt with by this Bill, and I have now included the word "etc." to include the other 5 per cent. There are precedents for using the word "etc." in the Titles of Bills. There is, for instance, the Marine, &c. Broadcasting (Offences) Bill; and, be it noted, it is not called the Marine, etc., Wireless Telegraphy (Offences) Bill.
§ I was also told in Committee that television is included in the word "radio", being only a form of radio. I accept that. On the other hand television and radio are well understood, well-defined terms which ordinary people understand and recognise, and if this Bill were to be called the Television and Radio, etc., Bill ordinary people would undoubtedly comprehend what the Bill was about, whereas if it continues to be called the Wireless Telegraphy Bill ordinary people undoubtedly will not comprehend what it is about. They will suppose it is about the kind of wireless telegraphy that existed when the 1904 Wireless Telegraphy Act was passed—that is to say, the transmission of messages by radio. That is what the words meant in 1904, years before public broadcasting began, and that is what the words "wireless telegraphy" still mean, I am quite sure, in the minds of ordinary people. Early in the present Parliament I remem- 1406 ber the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor saying how excellent it would be if the Statute Book could be made more comprehensible to ordinary people. Surely one should begin with Short Titles and make the Short Titles of Statutes more easily comprehensible to ordinary people. I venture to suggest that this Bill, which is almost entirely about television and radio, will be much more comprehensible to ordinary people if the Government can begin by having it called the "Television and Radio etc., Bill", and not the "Wireless Telegraphy Bill", a name which will put ordinary people completely off the scent. I beg to move.
Amendment moved —
Pag 12, line 6, leave out ("Wireless Telegraphy") and insert ("Television and Radio etc.").—(Lord Airedale.)
§ 2.2 p.m.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, I should like to support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, in its revised form, as indeed I supported his previous Amendment on the Committee stage. In spite of the clear and courteous explanation by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, for which we were all grateful on the Committee stage, I am by no means persuaded that these words "Wireless Telegraphy" are intelligible to the general public.
As the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, pointed out, the noble Baroness said that to the experts the word "radio" includes "television". That may be so. But I think it would not make much sense if, for example, we were going to change the title of the Independent Television Authority to Independent Radio Authority, although that might make it more intelligible to the experts. But, of course, to the general public it would be absolutely meaningless. So I cannot see that there is any logical reason why this Bill should not be amended in the way my noble friend Lord Airedale has proposed, and I hope that the Government will be able to consider and accept his Amendment.
§ 2.5 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I should like to express my thanks to both noble Lords for the extremely brief and concise way in which they have made their points in connection with this Amendment. Both noble Lords will know that I was personally extremely 1407 interested in this suggestion, and have therefore had an opportunity of a great deal of discussion with my right honourable friend on the point. Perhaps I had better repeat the whole of the explanation given me, though in fact the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, may feel that I am repeating something that was said before. But he will be happy to know that a little more has been added, and perhaps there is a little extension of the original argument.
I am afraid that if we were to follow the noble Lord's proposal we should find ourselves in a great many difficulties. One of the difficulties is that the word "radio" used as a substantive has no very precise meaning. It is not defined in our Statutes, or in the present Bill. Used colloquially, it means different things to different people. If one had to make a guess at what it meant here—and I think the noble Lord would agree that it would be better not to have to guess—perhaps the nearest one could get is that it means something rather like "wireless telegraphy" as defined in the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949. That is to say, it is intended to cover the whole field of radio communications, radio navigation, and radiolocation. But the definition of "wireless telegraphy" in the 1949 Act is very carefully drawn, and I do not think that anyone could read into the word "radio", standing by itself, the precise meaning of wireless telegraphy as defined in the principal Act. Yet, as noble Lords are aware, the present Bill is concerned throughout Part II explicitly with wireless telegraphy apparatus in the sense in which the term is used in the 1949 Act. That being so, I can see no virtue in giving the Bill a Short Title which fails to reflect accurately what the Bill is concerned with and is both vague and misleading.
It is misleading because the word "radio", if used in the broad sense I have indicated, is certainly wide enough to include television. Television is simply a form of radio-communication. The use of both words in the Title would suggest—although I do not believe that this was the noble Lord's intention—that "radio" is intended to have some narrower, more specialised, meaning. It is indeed the case that when the words "radio" and "television" are used together 1408 in this way it is, more often than not, to describe the two forms of broadcasting—radio sound broadcasting, on the one hand, and television, on the other. The dealers who sell broadcasting receivers often describe themselves as "radio and television" dealers. The B.B.C. and I.T.V. programmes in the daily newspapers are often entitled "radio and television". But as noble Lords are aware, the purposes of the present Bill go well beyond sound broadcasting and television apparatus, as we shall see by a close study of Part II.
Although I cannot recommend noble Lords to accept this Amendment, I recognise the concern that the noble Lords, Lord Airedale and Lord Strabolgi have expressed that we may be perpetuating in our legislation a term for which it might be possible to find some more contemporary equivalent. I think noble Lords will agree that a modest measure of the kind we have before us does not provide the appropriate occasion for a complete review of terminology. But my right honourable friend the Postmaster General has given me an assurance that when the time comes for a comprehensive review of the wireless telegraphy legislation the views that have been expressed here will be taken fully into account.
On the question of the word "etc.", which I rather thought the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, might mention, we having so recently discussed the Marine, &c., Broadcasting (Offences) Bill, I would merely point out that in that particular case the word covered a small extra section, whereas in this case it would really be discussing almost the whole of Part II, or a major part of the Bill. I hope that, with this assurance, the noble Lord will not feel it necessary to press his Amendment.
§ LORD AIREDALE
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Baroness for having taken great care about this matter, and I am glad to think that the day may come when we shall be able to use the word "television" in Acts of Parliament. Of course, this we have already done, for we had the Television Act of 1954, and another Television Act in 1964. I am rather sorry that the occasion has not been taken to use the word "television" in this Act. Television is a subject of which this nation can be 1409 proud. We pioneered it, and we started the first television broadcasting station. I have met many people in the United States who simply did not believe this when I told them so. We in this country rather tend sometimes to behave as though we are not great pioneers of great scientific achievements. However, I shall not keep your Lordships any longer, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule [Notifications and records]:
§ 2.9 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I beg to move the first of the Amendments standing in my name on the Marshalled List. These Amendments are consequential. They bring Part I of the Third Schedule into line with Part II of the Schedule, as amended in Committee, on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Denham. I beg to move.
Page 13, line 15, leave out first ("is") and insert ("has been").—(Baroness Phillips.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 13, line 16, leave out first ("is") and insert ("has been").—(Baroness Phillips.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1410
Page 13, line 18, leave out first ("is not") and insert ("has not been").—(Baroness Phillips.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 13, line 18, leave out third ("is") and insert ("has been").—(Baroness Phillips.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, with the permission of the House, I should like to say how grateful I am—and I am sure this also applies to the noble Lord, Lord Denham, who cannot be here to-day—that the noble Baroness, on behalf of the Government, has been able to move these Amendments. I felt that the original wording had a kind of poetic lilt, rather like something out of Gertrude Stein; but the present wording makes much more grammatical sense and is a great improvement on the Bill. I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Baroness.
§ House adjourned at eleven minutes past two o'clock.