§ 3.16 p.m.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what telecommunication trade associations were 331 consulted before the Department of the Environment issued planning orders laying down that dishes for receiving satellite broadcasts had to be less than 90 centimetres in diameter while terrestrial dishes could, without including the size of the mounting, be up to 130 centimetres.
§ The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Elton)
My Lords, I understand that the telecommunications trade associations included in the consultations were: the Association of Telecommunications Services; the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association; the Cable Television Association; the Computing Services Association; the Confederation of Aerial Industries; the Independent Television Companies' Association; the National Television Rental Association; and the Society of British Aerospace Companies.
§ Lord Orr-Ewing
My Lords, while listening with interest to my noble friend's views, perhaps I may point out that this morning I have been in touch with the most important of the trade associations in the electronic industry; namely, the Electronic Engineering Association. That body was not consulted. This is a very technical matter. The Cable Television Association are deeply concerned because the whole growth of this new technology and the jobs which go with it depend on fair and equitable judgments as well as imaginative judgments being made. They tell me that whereas they were consulted some two years ago, they have not been consulted since. Therefore, will my noble friend deal with this consultation matter and recognise that, when matters of this complexity arise, it is desperately important to put the sponsoring Ministers in the DTI in the picture and to make sure that they have up-to-date consultations with the people who are most sorely affected?
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I am concerned to hear that my noble friend has been told that an important association has not been consulted. I ought to add to what I said that, in addition to the eight trade associations to which I have referred, we wrote to 37 telecommunication companies; 20 environmental bodies; the four local authority associations; the BBC; the IBA; and 94 other associations and organisations, and we made a press release. I am very sorry if the matter did not come to the notice of the organisation in question.
§ Lord Orr-Ewing
My Lords, will my noble friend do anything about the situation to make sure that there is fair and equitable treatment as between those trying to develop the use of satellites and those concerned with terrestrial communications?
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, I shall certainly take care to see that nothing has been done that is unfair. My noble friend will realise that the requirement for a planning consent does not stop these things being put up; it merely means that they cannot be put up without permission. The 90-centimetre limit enables not only high-power but allows medium-power transmissions to be received. Therefore, the difficulty may not be as great as my noble friend believes it to be; but I shall look into the matter.