§ LORD ORR-EWING
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will refer the firm of Bagenal Harvey to the Monopolies Commission as it would appear that this agency now acts for the majority of commentators used by the B.B.C. and I.T.A. companies.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (THE EARL OF LIMERICK)
My Lords, on the evidence before me I do not consider that a reference to the Monopolies Commission would be justified.
§ LORD ORR-EWING
My Lords, I think that the House would wish to congratulate my noble friend on his first reply to a Parliamentary Question. I 275 hope that his subsequent replies may be even more helpful. Is my noble friend aware that this firm handles commentators' contracts and that at present far more than the one-third figure laid down in Section 2(3) of the Monopolies Act are under contract to this firm? Is he further aware that David Coleman, who is probably their best known sports commentator, has secured a five-year contract with the B.B.C.? Is my noble friend also aware that because of their power the firm are in a position to dictate to the B.B.C. which commentators shall and which shall not appear on the programmes? Is not this state of affairs rather undesirable for a public service?
§ THE EARL OF LIMERICK
My Lords, I am aware of my noble friend's concern that a high proportion of the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. commentators are currently engaged through this one agency. There are, however, many other commentators to choose from, and both the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. are free to exercise that choice to avoid undue or undesirable dependence on any one agency.