HL Deb 29 November 1994 vol 559 cc543-5
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham)

My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the Select Committee on Broadcasting—

  • L. Allen of Abbeydale,
  • E. Arran,
  • L. Graham of Edmonton,
  • L. Mancroft,
  • L. Merlyn-Rees,
  • L. Morris of Castle Morris,
  • B. Seccombe,
  • L. Thomson of Monifieth (Chairman),
  • E. Winchilsea and Nottingham;
That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place and to report from time to time;

That two be the quorum of the Committee;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers.—(The Chairman of Committees.)

Lord Renton

My Lords, it is with great reluctance that I raise this point because I have a high regard, as have all your Lordships, for the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth. It may be that in this Session nothing can now be done about the situation if the Motion is passed.

However, I should have thought that the independence of the chairman of the Broadcasting Select Committee was absolutely vital. Although the noble Lord would he a very good chairman in all other ways, I wonder whether it is fair on him in view of his long and valuable experience in broadcasting, that he should be chairman of that committee, having to guide it in the way that he would. If that committee, in a spirit of minor controversy, came out in favour of broadcasting companies and the BBC, a decision which others considered that it should not have reached, that decision might be attributed to the chairman's previous history. With great respect to the noble Lord, it might be better to have a purely independent chairman.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I am not sure that the points made by my noble friend have a bearing on the duties to be carried out by those noble Lords who will serve on the committee if the Motion is passed this afternoon. But I can assure my noble friend that the customary consultations took place before the recommendations were placed before your Lordships' House. First, such consultations are matters for the usual channels. Secondly, recommendations are a matter for the Committee of Selection. Finally, it is a matter for your Lordships' House. Your Lordships have heard what the noble Lord has said. If noble Lords feel that, on reflection, those are matters that ought to be taken into account, they can be taken into account in the future.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that some of us were very surprised and sorry that the name of the Member of your Lordships' House with most experience of broadcasting, my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing, does not appear on the list?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, if I may say so with respect, a number of Members of your Lordships' House would be well qualified to serve on this and other committees of the House. I am sure that that suggestion will be borne in mind in the future, as no doubt will all other suggestions, which are most welcome.

Lord Aberdare

My Lords, am I not right that the functions of the committee are purely to oversee the broadcasting of proceedings of the House? They have nothing to do with the broader implications of the world of broadcasting in general and the differences between the BBC and commercial television. For that purpose, I consider that the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, will be a most admirable chairman.

Lord Renton

My Lords, if I may have the leave of the House to speak again, I am greatly influenced by what the noble Lord has just said.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I am grateful for the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. I do not wish to take up your Lordships' time unnecessarily this afternoon, but in support of what he said perhaps I may refer to page 174 of the Companion to the Standing Orders. It gives the terms of reference of the Broadcasting Select Committee and states: This committee has responsibility for supervising the arrangements for, and dealing with any problems or complaints arising out of, the televising and sound broadcasting of the proceedings of the House and its committees". Then there is a further passage. It was with that thought in mind that I made my first response to the noble Lord who raised the matter. The points which he raised do not have a direct bearing on consideration of the working of this committee of your Lordships' House. I commend the Motion to your Lordships.

On Question, Motion agreed to.