asked the Minister of Education what interval will elapse before a school television service, on an experimental basis, becomes possible.
I am told that a large-scale experiment would involve lengthy preparations, considerable expenditure and heavy demands on studio space and equipment; it is not likely to be practicable, therefore, except in the form of the preliminary trials of a permanent school television service. I understand that at present the B.B.C. cannot say how soon such a service could be started, in the event of its being decided that one should be made available to the schools.
Can the hon. Gentleman confirm or deny that the representatives of the British Broadcasting Corporation informed his right hon. Friend, when they met her, that owing to this shortage of studio space and trained television staff, they would have to concentrate all their efforts in the next year or two on meeting the challenge of commercial television, and that that is the real reason why this very desirable educational television service is being postponed?
I am not sure whether that question is a supplementary to the Question on the Order Paper, but it is not possible for me to give a specific answer to it.
While not wishing to minimise the importance of this programme, may I ask my hon. Friend to bear in mind that there are many parts of the country, particularly East Anglia, where television is not yet receivable at all, and that it would be unsatisfactory for this service to be introduced until it may be done on a nation-wide basis?
As an East Anglian myself I am well aware of that.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it has been widely reported in the Press that the B.B.C. representatives made this point in their discussions with the Minister? Will he confirm or deny it?
I have said that I will not confirm it or deny it. I am not aware of any Press comment on this matter.