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Broadcasting (Committee Of Inquiry)

Volume 464: debated on Thursday 12 May 1949

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46.

asked the Lord President of the Council if he is now able to give the names of the Members who will serve on the Committee of Inquiry which is to advise on the organisation of British broadcasting on the expiry of the present Charter.

I informed the House on 31st January that Sir Cyril Radcliffe had accepted the chairmanship of the Committee. In consultation with the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General and I have appointed the following members of the Committee:

  • Mr. A. L. Binns, C.B.E.;
  • Mr. J. Bowman;
  • Sir William (Henry) Coates;
  • My hon. Friend the Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies);
  • The Earl of Elgin, K.T.;
  • The hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd);
  • The hon. Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George);
  • Mr. W. F. Oakeshott;
  • My hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Reeves);
  • Mrs. J. L. Stocks.
The terms of reference will be as follow:
"To consider the constitution, control, finance and other general aspects of the sound and television broadcasting services of the United Kingdom (excluding those aspects of the overseas services for which the B.B.C. are not responsible) and to advise on the conditions under which these services and wire broadcasting should be conducted after the 31st December, 1951."

Would my right hon. Friend say whether those terms of reference are wide enough to include the relationship of the Corporation with organisations representing their employees?

At first sight there is certainly one, but we never know. Scots have a habit of turning up unexpectedly. There may be others.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the terms of reference are wide enough for the Committee to consider whether or not a separate broadcasting corporation should be set up for Scotland, as is universally wanted in that country? Is he satisfied that the representation of Scotland on that Committee is strong enough?—because I am not.

I am not pronouncing upon the merits of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's idea. It would be competent for evidence to be given on that subject and for the Committee to make any representations they thought fit.

What facilities are to be made available to the Corporation and to the public to lay evidence before the Committee, and what facilities will be given to the Committee to ensure that all relevant information comes before them?

It will be for the Committee to make its own arrangements, but I imagine that it will be competent for members of the public to apply—it certainly will be—to give evidence. No doubt the Committee would give consideration to any application so made. Whether it will meet in public or private is for the Committee to determine, but on the last occasion it met in private.

Is there any special reason why, when the personnel of a committee is read out, I never hear any reference to the hon. Member for West Fife? In view of the necessity for getting some Communist propaganda across the B.B.C., will not the right hon. Gentleman consider putting me upon the Committee?

Is the Earl of Elgin supposed to represent Scotland, or the House of Lords?

The people who are put upon this Committee are there because they are considered to be competent for the post. I do not think that it would be wise to go into the question of what they represent. They are not delegates.