HL Deb 01 May 1967 vol 282 cc706-24

3.7 p.m.

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

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

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Prohibition of acts connected with broadcasting from certain ships and aircraft, and from marine structures outside United Kingdom

3.—(1) If a broadcast is made— (a) from a ship other than one registered in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands while the ship is on the high seas; or any of the persons mentioned in subsection (3) below who operates, or participates in the operation of, the apparatus by means of which the broadcast is made shall be guilty of an offence.

LORD DENHAM moved, in subsection (1), after "broadcast", to insert: which is intended for general reception in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands or any other country or territory which may be prescribed,".

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross, I beg to move the Amendment standing in his name. I think that it would be convenient to your Lordships if I spoke at the same time to Amendments Nos. 2 to 6. It must be questionable whether the United Kingdom Parliament can take quite such wide powers as at present exist in Clause 3(1). The effect of this clause is that any British citizen or subject may be prosecuted in the United Kingdom for broadcasting on the high seas anywhere in the world. To take a somewhat fanciful hypothetical case, a Fijiian who broadcasts from a Japanese ship in the Pacific to Tahiti, when the broadcast is not illegal in Fiji, Japan or Tahiti, may be prosecuted in Edinburgh. But, of course, much less extreme cases could be envisaged.

The Postmaster General, in dealing with this point on Report stage in another place, relied on the Treaty Article I, and there is no doubt that we ought to do everything that we properly can to implement the Agreement. The fact remains that the high seas are not within our jurisdiction, nor normally are our subjects on or over the high seas, unless in British ships or planes. I think that we should be careful before we attempt to extend our jurisdiction.

The scheme for the Bill is basically to deal with broadcasts from territorial waters in British ships and planes by means of prohibiting the supply of services, and in that way to stop broadcasting from the high seas. We can go further to prevent our subjects from broadcasting to the United Kingdom even from the high seas, and our Amendment does so. It gives the Postmaster General power to add other countries to the list of areas to which British subjects cannot broadcast from the high seas. This can be done by Order, subject to Affirmative Resolution. We envisage other countries being added, as and when they pass laws similar to this Bill. I know that wireless waves know no boundaries, but it should be fairly simple to see what is the intended country of reception for broadcasts from any station, chiefly by language. The advantage of this method is that it encourages foreign countries to pass their own laws if they dislike broadcasts to them organised by Britons.

The four other Amendments are consequential. The theory is that they do not make it an offence to do acts in subsection (3) where these are done by Britons on the high seas, unless these acts relate to broadcasts which are illegal under subsections (1), (2) and (3), as we have amended them. Whether or not we have signed the Treaty, we do not think we should allow the Government to extend our jurisdiction without making a strong legal case and quoting precedent. In fact, the Treaty can be effective only when implemented by all the signatories; and if they all have a law in the same terms as Clauses 3 and 4, with our Amendments, I think the effect will be entirely satisfactory. If not, why not? I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 2, after ("broadcast") insert the said words.—(Lord Denham.)


First of all I would say that I appreciate very much that the basic intention of the Bill has received the support of all Parties. I say that because some misconception exists in part of the public mind. There is the assumption in some quarters that this Bill is designed to prohibit all kinds of commercial broadcasting and, indeed, the broadcasting extensively of "pop" music. That is not so. We may disagree in the Committee on certain minor matters, but the basic purpose of the Bill receives general support.

I appreciate also that the Amendments moved by the noble Lord are designed to assist the passage of the Bill—they are not wrecking Amendments—and everyone in the Committee respects the intention of the noble Lord as expressed in his remarks. But I have to say that these Amendments would make the operation of Clause 3, which deals with broadcasting stations on the high seas, entirely dependent on proving where the broadcasters themselves intended their broadcasts to be received. That would make the position of the prosecution impossibly difficult. If the Amendments were made, it would also not be possible for this country to ratify and implement the European Agreement, because our legislation would be too restrictive and would not fulfil the minimum requirements of that Agreement. I heard the noble Lord say that he hoped and anticipated that more general agreement among other Governments would assist in this direction, and I will bear that point in mind.

One is therefore forced to the conclusion that either these Amendments are misconceived or they will not work. If a broadcast contains no intention of where the broadcaster intends it to be received, it may be possible for the courts to draw their own conclusions. But if the culpability of the broadcaster were made dependent on what his intentions were, he would have a wonderful scope for evasion. He would so word his broadcast by certain expressions, such as "Hello Sweden", "Hello Canada", "Hello Tristan da Cunha" or "Hello Tibet", or any other invitation, in order to disguise his intention, and would thus make a mockery of the law. In other words, it would be a deliberate attempt to evade the intention of the Bill or, as ultimately we hope, the Act.

To push this one stage further, take, for example, the offence formed by Clause 4(3)(a), that of furnishing or agreeing to furnish a ship. The prosecution would have to prove that the provider of the ship knew not only that it was to be used for broadcasting, but also that the people engaged in broadcasting had intended their broadcasts to be received in certain specific geographical areas. That would be an impossible position in which to place any prosecution.

The Bill is deliberately drafted so as to catch all broadcasting operating on the high seas. Broadcasting on the high seas is forbidden by International Law. The culpability of the offenders does not depend upon where they intend their broadcasts to be received, or on such matters as whether, for example, a Swedish ship happens to be in a position where its authorised wireless communications suffer interference from the pirates. This does not mean that this country is ignoring those provisions of the European Agreement which limit its extent to certain categories of stations. As a matter of policy we are legislating against all high seas broadcasts. But if we were asked by another country to take action against a station which was causing offence to it, we should have regard, in particular, to whether that country had itself accepted the obligation of the Agreement and whether the offending station was in one of the categories of stations against which the parties to the European Agreement undertake to protect each other.

There is the further point that, although we are bound to fulfil the minimum obligations which we have accepted by entering into this Agreement, the Council of Europe envisage that signatories may elect to legislate in wider terms by providing, in Article IV that nothing in the Agreement shall be deemed to prevent a contracting party from doing so. In those circumstances, I trust that the noble Lord will withdraw the Amendment.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for the full explanation that he has given. We shall obviously have to study his remarks with some care to see how far they meet our case. I do not intend to press the Amendment any further at this stage, and beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


There is a Manuscript Amendment, at page 2, line 24, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c).


I have to apologise to the Committee. There has been a slight mistake, and it is all my fault. It so happens that the Amendment should be to Clause 5. It is not the fault of my secretary, but I think I have traced it down to this: that I have a collection of antique typewriters, and it may have been typed on the high-stepping Oliver of 1907, because that substitutes a three for a five. I apologise to your Lordships for this error.


I understand that the noble Lord does not wish to move either of the Manuscript Amendments on the Supplementary List, and wishes to replace them by a Manuscript Amendment to Clause 5.


That is correct.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5:

Prohibition of acts relating to matter broadcast from ships, aircraft, &c.

(3) The acts, and, where relevant, the intent and circumstances, referred to in subsection (1) above are the following namely: (b) making a literary, dramatic or musical work with intent that a broadcast of the work may be made as aforesaid; (c) making an artistic work with intent that the work may be included in a television broadcast made as aforesaid; (f) publishing any advertisement relating to a station from which broadcasts are made as aforesaid or are to be so made or the times at which any broadcasts are to be so made.

LORD STRANGE moved a Manuscript Amendment to leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (3). The noble Lord said: This is the Amendment I had intended to move, and I again apologise to your Lordships. It seems to me from these two paragraphs that if one writes a work of art, or a book, or a sermon, or a newscast, as they call it, or a "blurb" for an advertisement, and it is broadcast from one of these pirate radio stations, one is a criminal and liable to criminal punishment. I believe strongly that this is against the freedom and rights of the individual to say what he wants when he wants to. We have fought two hard wars to try to preserve these rights, and it is wrong for us to curtail a writer, who must be free, provided he is not doing anything immoral or unpleasant or causing serious trouble by his writing. I do not think it right that a man who wishes to write a sermon to be broadcast on these radio stations should be penalised and made a criminal for doing so.

I feel very strongly about this. Her Majesty's Government subscribed to the European Commission on Freedom for the Individual. I consider that they are contravening their membership of this Commission by introducing such a clause in the Bill, and I believe that the European Commission will speak very strongly to them—as strongly as a Commission can speak to a Government. It is entirely wrong and against the freedom of the individual, and there must be many writers, even writers to The Times or any other paper, who agree with me.

I shall not press the Amendment, because I have made the mistake I have already referred to—or, rather, the Oliver typewriter has—and because I feel it would be unfair to Her Majesty's Government to do so. They have not had time to do any homework on it. But I shall certainly move it again on the Report stage.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 19, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c).—(Lord Strange.)


I ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD DENHAM moved, in subsection (3)(f), to leave out all words after the second "made". The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment, too, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross. This subsection seems to have caused a great deal of difficulty, and we think it is the Postmaster General's own fault that this difficulty has arisen. His speeches in Committee suggest that publications dealing with pirate stations and containing matter which is normally not thought to be an advertisement are still intended to be caught. Whether or not prosecutions are to be brought only by the Director of Public Prosecutions, we strongly object to creating a new criminal offence not specifically defined.

I understand that in no Act is there an adequate definition of "advertisement" for these purposes. We have concocted one, which we hope is specific enough for proof of an offence but equally covers the wider principle which Her Majesty's Government wish to have covered. It is, as near as we can make it, a form of words which fulfils the Postmaster General's words on Report (in col. 340 of the Commons Hansard). If we do not amend this clause, the point about benefiting the station cannot be discerned simply from the word "advertisement" and it will require Case Law, with great uncertainty meanwhile, to establish the limits of this offence. The drafting must therefore be bad.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 34, leave out from ("made") to end of line 35.—(Lord Denham.)


I want to express warm appreciation of the constructive efforts of the noble Lord in this matter. May I, in advance, assure him that this matter has given great concern to the Postmaster General. He is not quite satisfied that the wording so kindly proposed by the noble Lord is the appropriate one, but if the noble Lord will withdraw the Amendment for a while and allow us to ponder on it, at a later stage, on Report, we may come to an agreement precisely on the issue which the noble Lord has raised.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord, and with very great pleasure I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.25 p.m.

LORD ARCHIBALD moved, after subsection (3), to insert: ( ) selling or offering or exposing for sale any article or substance knowing the same to have been advertised by means of a broadcast made as aforesaid within the period of three months preceding the date of such sale or offer or exposure for sale.

The noble Lord said: I must make my apologies to the Committee for not being in my place when my previous Amendment was called. I did not expect the business to be dealt with so early, and I had other business. The two Amendments are linked. As your Lordships will see, they are very simple Amendments, although perhaps expressed in rather technical language. The first Amendment, which I suppose I should not now refer to, is intended merely to cover the possibility that a British company might be controlled by a company in France, Belgium, or somewhere else, and might not be responsible for what the parent company did.

The Amendment which I am now moving is in effect a corollary to that. If the advertising has been done by a company which is outside British control, British operators selling the product should not be penalised unless the sale has been done within three months of the advertisement of the particular product. The intention of the two Amendments was entirely that of closing what appeared to be certain loopholes in the Bill. It is really a matter for the Government to determine whether these loopholes exist and whether these Amendments are necessary, and I offer this Amendment entirely subject to the Government's attitude to it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 35, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Archibald.)


I am sure the noble Lord will appreciate that I must reply to the Amendment which he has just been moving, and not to the previous Amendment, though in fact, as he rightly said, the principle is allied. Her Majesty's Government appreciate the purpose of the noble Lord; namely, that the Amendment is an attempt to strengthen the Bill, and it is taken in that spirit. Unfortunately, however, I have to ask the noble Lord to withdraw this Amendment because its effect would be rather far-reaching.

Many of the advertisements put out by the pirate radio stations are for products which are in very common use: for example, a particular brand of cigarette. This Amendment would mean that if the advertising agents of a tobacco company placed an advertisement for one of their products with a pirate radio station, every tobacconist throughout the country would be committing an offence by selling that brand. No doubt there would be many cases where the shopkeeper was not aware even that the product had been advertised. Also, he would in some cases have large stocks of the advertised product which had suddenly become worthless, and it would be a great temptation to disregard the law and continue to sell the products. It would be difficult to convince the public and magistrates that selling a product, in itself a perfectly harmless thing, was something that merited legal proceedings and the penalties set out in this Bill. I hope that the noble Lord will accept this explanation given on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, and agree to withdraw his Amendment.


Although I am ashamed to confess that I am a heavy smoker myself, I cannot find any tears for the tobacconists for whom the noble Lady has made such an eloquent plea. I should not very much care if they did come undone as a result of some restriction. Nevertheless, I accept her argument, and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Penalties and legal proceedings]:

LORD DENHAM: moved, in subsection (3), to leave out "Proceedings for an offence under this Act" and insert: In the case of an offence under this Act which is not committed—

  1. (a) in the United Kingdom; or
  2. (b) in external waters; or
  3. (c) in a ship or aircraft registered in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands,

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross. Subsection (3) enables an offence under this Bill to be prosecuted anywhere in the United Kingdom, regardless of where it was committed. The precedent, we understand, is the Continental Shelf Act 1964. This is, however, no real precedent. Under this Bill, offences may be committed in three sorts of places, and I will deal with them separately.

First, they may be committed on the land of the United Kingdom. There seems to us to be no reason why the ordinary jurisdiction of Her Majesty's sheriffs in the superior courts should not be used. Why is there any greater difficulty in providing a venue for offences under this Bill than for, say, a complicated commercial fraud? Secondly, offences may be committed in territorial waters. So far as we can see, the jurisdiction here is technically in the Admiralty, but under the Admiralty Offences Act 1844, the Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Act 1878, and the Administration of Justice Act 1964, Schedule 1, paragraph 5, there is machinery for the ordinary courts to deal with offences in England and Scotland. The Act of 1878 applies to Scotland, but we are not sure what else applies.

I think there is a technical flaw in the Amendment on this point, in that we can find no jurisdiction to deal with summary offences, as opposed to indictable, offences in territorial waters. We should be grateful if Her Majesty's Government would explain the situation and consider whether they ought to have some general legislation in regard to summary offences, rather than make special provision under this Bill. Meanwhile, since all offences under the Bill may be dealt with on indictment (that is under Clause 6(1)(b), the existing jurisdiction, should be annulled. Thirdly, there are offences committed on the high seas. This Amendment leaves offences committed here to be dealt with as under the Bill at present, and to this extent the Continental Shelf Act is a good precedent and we do not object to following it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 21, leave out ("Proceedings for an offence under this Act") and insert the said new words.—(Lord Denham.)


I think Members of your Lordships' House will recall that the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, made this point on Second Reading. He said then that we have a complicated system of law and he referred to the various Acts, to some of which the noble Lord has just referred. The noble Viscount mentioned the Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Act 1878. the Merchant Shipping Act and the Magistrates' Courts Act. He described the position that we should all like to see when he was referring to these particular Acts, but I would venture to say that the state of the law relating to territorial waters, and to other waters around our shores, was found on examination to be vague, and the draftsmen of the Bill had a difficult task in producing wording which would ensure that all waters around our shores were effectively covered, without at the same time casting doubt on the interpretation, for the purposes of other Acts, of such expressions as "in the United Kingdom" and "in territorial waters adjacent to the United Kingdom".

I can give your Lordships an assurance that an offence under this Bill committed on land in Peebles (and we chose to refer to Peebles, because it was assumed that the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, would move this Amendment and would probably make some reference to Scotland) would not be prosecuted outside Scotland. I picked on Peebles as an example because it is unmistakably inland in Scotland. If I were to give the same assurance about an offence committed in Edinburgh I should have to choose my words rather carefully. An offence committed in an office in Prince's Street, Edinburgh, would not be prosecuted outside Scotland. Indeed, it is most unlikely that an offence committed anywhere in Edinburgh would be prosecuted outside Scotland, but when I say "anywhere in Edinburgh" I am referring to an area the boundaries of which I do not know precisely.

All this may seem to be mere pedantry. but the Government have been firmly advised that any well-meant attempt to adapt Clause 6(3) to reflect the intention that Scottish cases shall be dealt with in Scotland, English cases in England, and so on, would result in wording which. if it had any legal effect at all, would merely open up loopholes for the pirates to exploit. What the Government seek to do in the present clause is to present something which is unobjectionable but which is nevertheless an effective safeguard against the possibility that any prosecution which was clearly appropriate to one part of the kingdom might be brought in another part. The legal authorities in England and Wales, in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland are entirely content, having regard to the existence of Clause 6(5), that Clause 6(3) cannot be used to divert into one part of the kingdom proceedings which are clearly appropriate to another part. In the circumstances, I hope that the noble Lord will accept this and will withdraw the amendment.


I am again most grateful to the noble Baroness for her explanation. I shall have to study it and consult with my noble friend about it, but for the moment I beg leave to withdrawn the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Short title and commencement]:

3.35 p.m.

LORD DENHAM moved, to leave out subsection (2), and to insert: (2) This Act shall not come into operation before the expiry of one month beginning with the day on which it is passed, but subject thereto it shall come into operation on a day to be appointed by Her Majesty in Council. The noble Lord said: In the Daily Mail on Friday last there was a news item which stated that the Amendment which I am now moving would, if carried, destroy the purpose of the Bill. But I can assure your Lordships that this is not a wrecking Amendment: on the contrary, it is designed to strengthen the Bill and to make it work. Without it, the Bill would not achieve its purpose.

As I told your Lordships on Second Reading, Her Majesty's Government could, and should, have introduced this Bill as soon as the European Agreement was signed on January 22, 1965—over two years ago. Had they done so then, the Bill would have achieved its object of sinking the pirate ships without trace. But they did not do so, and, whatever their reasons for the period of inaction, they have by their delay allowed a situation to develop under which this Bill, by itself, will not now be effective. Let me explain my reasons for saying this.

The first pirate ship to come on the air was Radio Caroline, which started broadcasting in May, 1964. This was followed quickly by Radio Atlanta, and both ships were anchored outside the three-mile limit off Frinton. Shortly afterwards, a gentleman who up to then had sung "pop" (rather unsuccessfully), under the name of "Screaming Lord Sutch", occupied a disused Fort on Shivering Sands and started broadcasting from there. In September, Mr. Sutch (one must assume that the noble and screaming Lord renounced his title at the time that it was fashionable to do so), as he stood in the 1964 General Election, handed over his station to another company, and Radio Sutch became Radio City.

Radio Caroline then merged with Radio Atlanta. As a result of this agreement, Radio Caroline became Caroline North and moved round the coast to a new anchorage off the Isle of Man, and Radio Atlanta became Caroline South, and remained off Frinton, where it was joined in December, 1964, by another ship, controlled by a new company, which started broadcasting as Radio London. The net result of this piratical general post was that when the European Agreement was signed, on January 22, 1965, there were three ships and one fort broadcasting: Caroline North, off the Isle of Man; Caroline South and Radio London, off Frinton; and Radio City, on Shivering Sands. None of the other pirates had yet started.

Throughout 1964 my noble and right honourable friends who then spoke for the Government said they would bring in legislation to stop pirate radio when the European Treaty had been signed, and it was assumed that the Labour Government would do the same. Already the pirates had built up a considerable audience. Radio Caroline claimed that their listeners had by then reached about 8 million Radio London, which had been going only a month, between 2 and 3 million. But, so far as the listeners were concerned, this Bill, if introduced then, might have been unpopular but would have been expected. People enjoyed "pop" while it was being broadcast, but they knew then that it was only a matter of time before the Government would stop unlicensed broadcasting.

So far as the pirate broadcasters themselves were concerned, they were not then in anything like as strong a position as they are now. They had taken a gamble, and it had paid off. Radio Caroline would, I think, have shown a profit over the whole venture; Radio London would probably have achieved a working profit by that time, but would not have shown a profit over their capital investment, I am not sure about Radio City, but they have now ceased broadcasting after being prosecuted in February this year. This Bill would have put all the pirates out of business had it been passed then. Now, two years later, there is a very different state of affairs. According to public opinion polls the number of listeners to pirate radio stations has swelled to 20 million, and over the months of Government inaction they began to assume that nothing would be done, and they came to look on "pop" programmes as a permanent part of their lives. There are over twice as many pirate stations, and the individual pirate companies themselves have built up their strength by vastly increasing their audience and consequently their advertising revenue.

As I said on Second Reading, two questions arise from the state of affairs that has been allowed to develop. Have Her Majesty's Government a responsibility to fill the void left in the lives of their listeners by the planned demise of the pirate ships with a satisfactory alternative; and, secondly, if they do not fill that void will someone else do it for them? That Her Majesty's Government recognise their responsibility is shown by their plans for a new B.B.C. programme to be broadcast in the autumn on 247 metres. But is there any need for the time lag between this Bill coming into effect (if your Lordships do not amend it, it may well receive the Royal Assent before the Spring Recess and therefore become effective by mid-June) and the start of the new Radio 247 in the autumn, and will the new B.B.C. programme, when it does come, be what this particular public want?

In his Second Reading speech in another place on February 15, the Postmaster General said: My colleagues and I are in no doubt that there is a wide demand for continuous light music and that it would be right to meet this demand. If there is a considerable demand of this kind it should be met. So far, so good. But the right honourable gentleman went on: I do not think that it is a demand for non-stop 'pop'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 15/2/67, col. 638.] My Lords, three out of the four main pirates play non-stop "pop". Most of the minor pirates play non-stop "pop". At the time that the European Treaty and this Bill were conceived, the only pirates then in existence all played nothing but non-stop "pop". If there were not this demand the listeners would not listen, the advertisers would therefore not advertise, being a pirate would cease to be financially attractive, and there would be no need for this Bill.

My first reason, therefore, for asking your Lordships to accept this Amendment is to enable the Postmaster General to delay the operation of the Act until he has provided his alternative programme, and to impress on him the fact that his present ideas as to what constitutes an alternative programme are founded on a misconception. This is an important reason for the Amendment, but it is not the main one. Were it to be so, I should be inclined to listen to the plea of the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, on Second Reading, when she suggested that we should pass this Bill first and debate the question of an adequate alternative later.

But there is another, more pressing, reason for this Amendment. In the Second Reading debate I told your Lordships of the current talk and rumours as to what would happen when the provision of this Bill came into effect. They fell roughly into two categories. First, that other organisations are planning to take advantage of the possible demise of the pirates and, by providing the programmes their present listeners want, to cash in on the advertising revenue. Secondly, that the present pirate companies, or more accurately the foreign interests behind the present pirates, are seeking. and probably finding, ways to get round this Bill and continue broadcasting. I mentioned Radio Andorra on Second Reading. I understand that they have begun broadcasting to this country on an experimental basis once or twice a month. if they are successful others will follow, and indeed the present pirates may well take to the land and evade this Bill completely. If they did this, they could still keep their offices in London, their English staff, their English companies, advertise English goods, and broadcast on the same wavelengths. But I understand that they still feel, after taking legal advice, that they can keep their ships, manned by foreign crews, supplied from abroad, financed by foreign advertisers and organised from offices abroad.

I have talked to several of the pirates about this. Somewhat naturally, they will not tell me how they plan to evade the provisions of the Bill. But they have convinced me that, whether or not they will be successful in evading it, they themselves are confident that they will succeed. Contracts with foreign companies for advertising after the Bill has been passed have already been signed. My guess is that both methods of evading this Bill will be tried, and that it is no longer a question of whether unlicensed broadcasting will survive, but of who will win the inevitable battle for listeners and revenue.

On March 7, when this Bill was before a Standing Committee in another place, the Postmaster General gave four justifications for it. He said (col. 104): One is the honouring of international obligations. The second is that pirate radio interferes with the legitimate broadcasting of our European neighbours. The third is that it interferes with ship to shore radio, and the fourth is that it ignores the interests of copyright holders. The Bill as it stands will honour the international Agreements; but if, as seems very probable, the pirates are able to continue in one form or another, the Bill will do nothing to stop interference with European broadcasting, interference with ship to shore radio, nor the ignoring of the interests of copyright holders. One objective out of four will have been achieved. Cannot we do a little better than that? But even this one objective means nothing without the other three. The Copenhagen Agreement and the European Agreement are not an end in themselves but only a means to an end. If we comply with the letter of these agreements but do not achieve the purpose behind them, which is the stopping of anarchy on the air, we can hardly be said to be fulfilling our international obligations.

If this Bill had been passed early in 1965 it would have been effective by itself. Now it will not be. The new factors that have grown up during these past two years are a vast audience who have grown accustomed to a certain type of programme, and a large number of advertisers who have discovered the advantages of a certain medium. These two hang very much together. If the pirates lose the audience, they will lose the advertising. If they lose the advertising, they will no longer be able to, or indeed wish to, keep their listeners.

There are, therefore, two alternatives before the Government now if they want to stop unlicensed broadcasting altogether, as they have a duty to do. The first is to attract listeners away from the pirates. This will be hard, as the listening public have grown accustomed and attached, not only to the sort of programmes that the pirates present, but also to the method of presentation and the personalities of the disc jockeys behind that presentation. To win the audience away from a programme that they like, you must not only provide that audience with what they want when they want it, but you must do it better than it is being done at the moment. The second alternative is to attract the advertisers away from the pirates. This is very much easier, because not only would a commercial programme authorised by the Government, and land-based in this country, be able to offer very much better financial terms, but also advertisers would prefer to use a medium that is free from the taint of evading the law.

Her Majesty's Government have chosen the 'first and more difficult alternative. But apart from the difficulties I have already mentioned, they have burdened themselves with some quite unnecessary obstacles to success. The first is to allow a time lag between this Bill coming into effect and the start of the alternative programme, Radio 247. When the provisions of the Bill start biting, the pirates admit that they are in for a sticky six months. An immediate substitute programme might prove just too much for them. But the delay from June until the Autumn will enable the pirates to get over the worst of their new difficulties, and be in a far stronger position to fight the new B.B.C. programme.

The second obstacle is that Her Majesty's Government have not solved the difficult problem of needle time with the Musicians' Union. If Radio 247 is limited to 20 per cent., or even 40 per cent., of gramophone records, they are going to be in no position to compete against a pirate programme that suffers from no limits at all. The third is their own failure to realise the sort of programme that is now enjoyed and will be wanted by the listeners they are trying to attract. The new Radio 247 is to be a balanced programme, with "something for everybody"—a sort of aural nursery dinner. "You eat up your nice Palm Court Orchestra, and if you are a good boy you shall have some 'pop' to finish up with". That sort of attitude is all very well for a monopoly, but for a programme that is fighting for listeners it is doomed to failure. Ideally there should be at least two new programmes, one for "pop" and one for what is called "sweet" music. But "pop" is wanted by at least two-thirds of the pirate audiences, probably more, and if there is only to be one new programme, it must be "pop". It may seem unfair to devote a whole programme to the devotees of only one type of music, but not only is the "pop" audience a vast one, but also they probably listen to their wirelesses for longer hours than any other section of listeners. And as the object of this new programme is solely to defeat the pirates, and to compensate their listeners, this can only be done with "pop".

This Amendment will enable the Postmaster General to delay the operation of the Bill until he is in a position to achieve its objectives. He may need until the autumn to make Radio 247 into a really competitive programme. He may be able to bring it in sooner. In that case, he can bring this Bill into effect sooner. He may need even more time. In that case, under this Amendment, he can take it. He can also use the intervening time to look into the possibilities of commercial radio. If his new programme is unsuccessful, he will have to fall back on that. I hold no brief for the pirates—I do not want to see them continue a day longer than necessary—but with this Amendment I am asking your Lordships to put flexibility into the Bill, and if the Postmaster General does not have this flexibility or, if, having got it, he does not make use of it, his aims, the aims of the European Agreement and the aims of this Bill are beaten before they start. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 43, leave out subsection (2) and insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Denham.)


I do not intend to reply to the noble Lord's Amendment just now, but, for the purpose of hearing a Statement made, on behalf of the Government I beg to move that the House be resumed.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.