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Broadcasting (Committee Of Inquiry)

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1949

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45.

asked the Lord President of the Council what are the qualifications of the members of the Radcliffe Committee which caused them to be appointed to investigate the affairs of the British Broadcasting Corporation, other than those who are Members of Parliament.

What was needed for this purpose was a committee not of specialists, but rather of persons of broad approach and a capacity for balanced judgment. All the members were chosen because of experience and personal qualities which fitted them to serve on this important inquiry.

In view of the recently disclosed food irregularities which the B.B.C. is now investigating at several of its 52 canteens, which automatically call into question the system of internal auditing and accounting, will my right hon. Friend consider adding to the Committee a qualified accountant so that these matters may be considered by an independent expert in accountancy on the Committee?

I do not think so. It would be a legitimate subject for inquiry by the Committee, but I should think that if they consider that they need accountancy assistance some arrangement could be made to that end.

Is there a panel of people who are permanent "sitters-in" to Government Committees?

No, Sir. But if there was such a panel my hon. Friend would, of course, be eligible to make application to be included in it.

In view of the fact that the Committee has been elected because of qualifications, may I ask the Lord President if he will consider the appointment of some additional member from Scotland, other than the Earl of Elgin, because in my view the people of Scotland cannot be properly represented by the Earl of Elgin.

Scotland is not represented as such. I sought to get a committee which was broadly representative of the general life of the nation. If I may say so, I deprecate these over-localisations in relation to the personal criticism of individuals.