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Clause 2—(Powers Of Authority)

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 19 May 1954

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

The Amendments in page 3, lines 27, 32 and 33 in the name of the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) are not selected. The first Amendment which I have selected is that in page 3, line 35, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst). I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if, with that Amendment, we discussed the Government Amendments in page 3, line 35; in page 4, line 5; and in page 4, line 11.

I beg to move, in page 3, line 35, to leave out paragraph (b).

The words proposed to be left out empower the Authority
"to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes;"
I do not disguise that this is a very important and, indeed, a fundamental point and its effect on the Authority is profound. It was because I did not feel that it would be fair that this point should be launched on the Committee and on the Government at, so to speak, the last minute that I spent the greater part of my speech on Second Reading in dealing with this matter.

When the second White Paper, on which the Bill was substantially based, was issued I and many of my hon. Friends hoped that the I.T.A. would be restricted in its functions to the very important matter of ensuring proper standards, and a proper code which would inspire the public confidence which we feel that this Authority deserves. Whatever, or however unlikely, the circumstances that might arise, we did not want the Authority to be a trading organisation in itself.

On a point of order. Is there anything about trading in this Amendment?

I admit that it does not contain the word "trading" but if the right hon. Gentleman will have a little patience I shall come to the point.

Our fear is that with the power which the Bill gives to the I.T.A. to build and provide studios and all the other facilities the Authority may wish, in fact, to deal in programmes itself. In other words—though the word is objected to—that the I.T.A. may trade in the business of television. If the right hon. Gentleman objects to the word "trade" I will not press it. I am not here to have a row with anyone about one word.

The Government have given an assurance that though, in the ordinary way, they do not desire that the I.T.A. itself should produce programmes they feel that in the Bill they should have reserve powers to enable the Authority to perform that function if the Government feel it is necessary. My hon. Friends and I do not feel that that necessity need or should arise; and that if it is necessary for programmes to be found because of any temporary lack of ordinary facilities—

6.45 p.m.

On a point of order. Are we discussing the provision of programmes or, as I thought, the provision of studios?

Presumably the studios are to be there for the purpose of providing programmes in certain circumstances.

Further to that point of order. I hope we shall be able to debate the Amendment moved by the hon. Member. Under the Guillotine we have exactly one hour, and the hon. Member's general remarks over the whole range of the Bill is wrecking our opportunity for debate.

It would be better were the hon. Member to keep as closely as he can to his Amendment.

If one cannot mention programmes it is rather difficult to discuss the necessity to provide studios. With respect, I think that discussion will be difficult, Major Anstruther-Gray, if your Ruling is so tight that we are not able to discuss programmes.

The Amendment is to leave out paragraph (b) which authorises the Authority

"to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes;"
The only thing that one can broadcast is a programme.

Hon. Members' remarks should primarily be directed to the one point, which is the provision and equipment of studios.

I could not agree more. If hon. Members opposite keep interrupting I shall take a very long time. I think it is quite legitimate for me to explain why I want the paragraph removed.

I and my hon. Friends want the paragraph removed because we do not feel that, even as a reserve power, it is necessary to have these studios. They are bound to cost a good deal of money and there will be a natural tendency for the Television Authority to feel that it must make some use of them because, otherwise, the money will be wasted. The danger is that this provision of studios might lead to more extensive operation by the I.T.A. itself, as opposed to the contracting companies, in producing programmes.

This Amendment is one of a number designed to deal with a very important principle. The underlying principle is whether the new Authority should be a supervisory body, incidentally' owning transmitters and masts, to supervise the work of the programme contractors who will put on the programmes, or whether it should become another B.B.C.

The paragraph we seek to delete says that the Authority shall have power
"to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes."
My hon. Friends and I cannot see for what possible purposes the Authority itself should want to equip studios. We fail completely to see what circumstances could possibly arise which would necessitate the Authority's setting up an elaborate fabric of studios.

For what purposes could it possibly require studios? Normally programmes will be put on by the programme contractors. The programme contractor who leases the use of a transmitter from the Authority will obviously set up his own studios from which to put on his programmes. He will provide all his own equipment. There is no need, in normal circumstances, for the Authority itself to own studios.

It has been asked, however, "What about some sorts of programme which the Authority may want to put on that would not necessarily be put on in the normal course by a programme contractor?" In other words, how will the Authority carry out the obligation, in the words of the Clause, of
"securing a proper balance in the subject matter of the programmes"?
What, for instance, about news? Will not the Authority need to have studios to be able to provide news? Will it not have to have equipment to put on news programmes? Personally, I do not see why that necessity should arise. There are two ways in which one could deal with the news services. One would be for the programme contractor who leases the use of the transmitter to be permitted to put on the news himself. I can see no reason why that should not be done.

The right hon. Gentleman has already called the attention of the Committee to what he thought were departures from the Amendment. If I follow his red herring he will accuse me of filibustering.

Not necessarily at all. There is no reason at all why, if a programme contractor provides a news service, he should necessarily want advertisements.

I should find myself in difficulty with the Chair if I developed that point. At a later stage I shall be glad to debate it.

The programme contractor who provides a news service has his own studios and his own equipment already. If, as hon. Members opposite seem to suspect, a programme contractor were partial in some way in the presentation of the news, there could not conceivably be any reason why the Authority should not commission an independent news agency and put that agency in the position of a programme contractor with all its own equipment that it would need to have. There is no reason in the world why, for the presentation of the news, the Authority itself should own studios.

It may be asked, "What about such programmes as "The Week's Good Cause" or educational programmes and other programmes put in to preserve the balance of the programmes as a whole?" If the Authority should decide that a certain amount of time each week should be allocated to educational programmes or to the week's good cause or anything else I can see no reason why the Authority should not put the broadcasting of such a programme upon a programme contractor, as an obligation, as one of the conditions of his contract. Responsible people who are would-be programme contractors would, I am certain, accept such an obligation, accept from the Authority the duty to produce certain programmes; and the programme contractors would produce them from their own studios with their own equipment.

It may be asked, "What about a sudden emergency?" Suppose that for some reason or another a programme contractor falls down on his job and has his contract cancelled, so that an emergency arises. What is to happen then? What is the Authority to do? It is argued that then the Authority would have to put on programmes itself. That seems to me to be an absurd suggestion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—because it would mean that the Authority would have to undertake a vast amount of expense, a vast provision of studios. By the time the studios were built and the equipment bought and installed the emergency would be no longer an emergency. An emergency could not possibly be dealt with on that basis. The only way in which the Authority could deal with an emergency of that sort would be by having a sufficient number of studios and a sufficient amount of equipment in advance in case of emergency.

The provision of the studios and equipment would cost a very great deal. This is the best technical information I can get. To put programmes on the air for about six or seven hours daily the minimum requirements would be three studios and three cameras, two outside broadcasting units, a telecine unit and central control rooms, with the engineers and other staff. The capital cost, I estimate, would be between £350,000 and £500,000. To keep all that going, and to keep the engineers available to put on the programmes, would cost about £25,000 or £35,000 a year. Is it seriously contended that the Authority should have to keep all this paraphernalia at such capital expense and at such running costs to deal with an emergency? The equipment would probably have to be replaced at the end of 10 years.

In view of all his submissions why did the hon. and gallant Gentleman vote for only £750,000 annually for the Authority and a loan of £2 million only?

The hon. Member knows quite well I have dealt with that on other occasions. I am not going to be drawn into discussing that red herring.

There is no need for the Authority to own studios. There is no use in empowering the Authority to own all that equipment only to deal with an emergency. It could not deal with an emergency unless it maintained this large and expensive fabric of studios and broadcasting equipment. If the Authority starts with all these studios and equipment and by laying out all this capital and by undertaking all this cost, what will happen? The Authority will say, "Why have all this and do all this to put on an hour's programme a week? We have all this in case of emergency; let us use it. We ought to use it in the public interest. We have these studios, so we must use them."

Presumably, public funds will have been spent on the studios, and it would be reasonable to argue that in the public interest the studios should not be idle and the equipment should not be left derelict but should be used. In my view and that of my hon. Friends, that would lead to the Authority doing more and more broadcasting itself, until it became something like another B.B.C. and the programme contractors, who should do the broadcasting, were ruled out of it.

That is what hon. Members opposite would like to see. They like these nationalised concerns and they would like the new television to be nationalised. We on this side of the Committee think there should be the greatest possible measure of freedom. That is why we seek to prevent the new Television Authority from being nationalised in advance.

7.0 p.m.

I think I know what prompted my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) to put down the Amendment.

He has been prompted by the fear that the new Authority will tend gradually to become a programme company of its own and, therefore, frustrate the intention of the Bill that programmes shall be provided not by the Authority but by programme contractors.

I cannot accept the Amendment in such rigid terms. It is impossible to do so, for it would place an impossible burden on the Authority by preventing it from owning any studios at all. I do not believe that the Authority will want to use studios as a normal practice, but it is a different thing altogether for us to say that we take power in the Bill to prevent the Authority from ever owning studios. I can foresee circumstances in which it might need studios. My hon. and gallant Friend has given instances—"The Week's Good Cause" and the news. At the moment I cannot say whether the news will be provided by the Authority or by a programme company. If the news is not provided by the Authority, it must at any rate be provided impartially, and we need not worry about that aspect; but I can conceive circumstances in which it will be right for the Authority to own studios, and I am unwilling to prevent that.

Would my hon. Friend be kind enough to give me an idea of the sort of occasion on which the Authority might require studios, or for what use?

I have just given two examples—"The Week's Good Cause" and perhaps the news.

Nevertheless, I can meet what I think is the fear behind the Amendment. That is why I have put down my Amendment. It is being taken with the others, because they all underline the same principle, and if we deal with them together we shall save time for later discussion and possibly for voting, too.

The Committee may wonder what is the difference between "to provide" and
"arrange for the provision and equipment of. …"
Euphemistically, there is no difference, but there is all the difference in the world when it comes to expressing intention, and the object of the Amendment is to make quite clear the Government's intention about the Authority's activities. We have always said, from the very beginning of the scheme, that programmes should be provided not by the Authority but by the programme contractors. My hon. and gallant Friend may feel that without my Amendment the Clause would not be sufficiently clear. That is why I have put it on the Order Paper.

Normally, if the Authority wanted studios it would probably rent them.

The Authority will have power to rent, but supposing the programme contractors refuse to rent the studios; what happens then? What happens in an emergency?

This is an ordinary transaction. I cannot take power in the Bill to compel a man to rent his house or studio to anybody if he does not want to rent it. I will not take power to say, "You shall rent the studios." That would be quite contrary to our ideas in this country—I hope; although I am not sure whether it is.

I cannot accept my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment, not because I differ from him in intention, but simply because I believe that any prohibition which would rule out altogether the Authority's right to own studios would be drawn far too closely and, in the long run, would prove a handicap to the working of the Authority.

The Committee will agree, I am sure, that we have just listened to one of the most heroic speeches ever delivered. The manner in which the Assistant Postmaster-General stood up to his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) and his other hon. Friends, and then proceeded to give them all they wanted, is characteristic of the Government's attitude and their willingness to sell out to the vested interests in this matter.

The Assistant Postmaster-General knows quite well that the facilities for the Authority to put on programmes in an emergency, or the provisions for it to do so, will be quite useless unless the Authority has studios or access to studios, and I should have thought that even hon. Members who support the introduction of commercial television would agree that, even if the service is commercially run, it is part of the public service. It is intended to provide a vital service to the country.

Nevertheless, we may create a situation in which the Authority, obliged under the Bill to provide balanced programmes, to put out Government notices and to do all sorts of things, is not in a position to do so because the Government have backed down on their original undertaking, made in the House and in another place, to ensure that the fixed facilities are available and owned by the new Independent Television Authority.

This is a scandalous sell out. I used those words before and I use them again because the Government know that at the moment there is grave doubt on the part of those vested interests who want to move into this field as to whether it will be worth their while and whether the level of profits will be high enough.

I am worried because these vested interests are being given all they want.

They were frightened on two scores. The first was that the Authority would take a certain amount of the programmes—I shall not develop that too far—and that, therefore, they would not be able to make enough money. That fear is being met in certain respects by the companies owning all the studios, so that if the Authority wants studios in a certain area it has to bargain with the companies to get them. The second thing which the vested interests feared were the sanctions, and the sanctions contained in the Bill are valueless unless it is clearly laid down that the Authority will own studios.

The country will note the Assistant Postmaster-General's speech. It shows the steady fall backwards from the apparently high-minded and high-fallutin' system of safeguards about which we heard. The Government are throwing away those safeguards before the Bill has even left the House.

Another trend to be noted as well as that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton), is the continuing trend towards a monopoly of commercial television. There is not only, as we know, a growing pressure of the commercial interests for a monopoly of commercial television in each of these areas, but also the fact that the same people and organisations, such as the Popular Television Association, which in the name of freedom and competition began its onslaught on the B.B.C., are now in the forefront of the demand for a commercial monopoly in each of these areas.

The Assistant Postmaster-General said in the House that he had been receiving representations for a commercial monopoly of the London area. That is not enough for the Government and for hon. Members opposite. They want to clear the way for commercial interests, not only by abandoning competition between one commercial interest and another, but by wrecking every possibility of competition from the Independent Television Authority itself.

Some of us on this side find it difficult to understand how the hon. Member relates this to the Amendment on the Order Paper. You, Major Anstruther-Gray, have ruled that the discussion is very narrow.

I would point out, Major Anstruther-Gray, that the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), who spoke in this debate, did say that he had the honour of making plain what was in his mind on this Amendment. It raises the peculiar question of the Independent Television Authority being permitted to run programmes itself, and I feel entitled to answer him on those points. I am making the point—and it is a point that the country must understand—that not only is commercialism being introduced but monopoly as well. Monopoly of responsibility by the Authority is one thing, but private interest monopoly is a different thing altogether in this matter of television.

My hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) is right in saying that, for all the splendid display of courage which the Assistant Postmaster-General showed in standing up to the vigorous pressure of his hon. Friends, lie was, in fact, wholly in agreement with the line taken by his hon. Friends. I think that the difference was that his hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) was straightforward and said that he did not want the Authority to produce any programme, whereas the Assistant Postmaster-General said that the Authority could rent studios and make programmes.

To put on the Authority the obligation to rent studios for programmes means that it cannot have any programmes at all at them. No one is going to try to put on a programme unless he knows that he has his studios under his command, and if the Authority is going to be under a state of pressure, and hostility in some cases, towards the programme contractors, how can we put it under an obligation to those same programme contractors before it can put on a programme of its own? That makes no sense whatsoever. The difference between the hon. Member for Shipley and the Government is this: he says that he does not want the Authority to produce any programmes, and the Government say that the Authority may do so.

The matter which we are now discussing goes to the root of the difference between the two sides of the Committee. As the Bill reads. Clause 1 (b),

"to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes;"
would enable the I.T.A. to become a second B.B.C. That is what we fear, and that is what hon. Members opposite want to happen.

If it becomes a second B.B.C. it will join up with the B.B.C., which will get back the very totalitarian monopoly that it wants. That is the cleavage between us. I should have preferred, if my hon. Friend had found it possible to accept the Amendment, to delete paragraph (b)altogether, because I think that it would have been just as well if the I.T.A. which, after all, has all the "stations for wireless telegraphy" and really controls the thing, had not had the power to provide and equip studios as well. There is the danger that it will spend a great deal of money on providing and equipping a studio which will very rarely be used.

As to the point raised by the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) about the £750,000, many of us dislike that, but a great deal of that money will probably be used in commissioning the things that the Authority wants done by the programme companies. That £750,000 was intended for that purpose. It may be used for the provision of wireless telegraphy stations. It may very well be used partly for that, but very likely it will be largely mopped up by the Authority commercialising parts of the programme which it desires.

I would point out that I mentioned not only £750,000 but the £2 million grant, which the hon. Member also voted for.

That will probably be largely used for the provision of transmitters. We are getting far from the point that we believe that the existence of paragraph (b) does leave the door open for the I.T.A. to become another B.B.C. The Government, in putting down the Amendment which we are also discussing, have made it quite clear what is their intention. Indeed, they have put words into the Bill giving the I.T.A. power

"to arrange for the provision and equipment of"
and only, if need be, to provide studios. That is the half-way house. Let us face it; it is a compromise. It goes in a direction which many of us feel is the right direction. My advice to my hon. Friends is that we should accept the compromise, being practical people, on the grounds that the Government are going in the direction that we require.

7.15 p.m.

At some time between 4th and 29th March, the Government, always given to change its mind, changed it on this point. The White Paper was perfectly clear. It said that the Authority would require adequate finance to pay for its stations, studio equipment and running expenses. The Bill is equally clear. The Bill, in terms, provides that the Authority may provide its studios and studio equipment. On the 29th March, on the Financial Resolution, the Assistant Postmaster-General declared that he did not accept the view that studio equipment would be provided by the Authority.

I should very much like to know what happened. Was this a little birthday present to me? My birthday is on 23rd March, and perhaps it was on that day that these gentlemen in shabby overcoats of whom we have heard so much crept in at the back door of the Post Office and had a word with the Assistant Post- master-General. The Government have on this matter simply given way to pressure either from inside or outside, if, indeed, there is any difference between the two types of pressure. One way or another, they have said one thing and got this House to approve a policy on one line. They actually put it into a Bill and went so far as to print the Bill and introduce it into the House; and now they have simply given way.

I call it a most remarkable performance from another point of view. Let us look at the matter from the point of view of the Authority. It is told that it may, if need be, equip or own studios. It takes a little time to equip a studio and to run one of one's own. What is the Authority supposed to do? In the view of this hesitating, shuffling Government the Authority is supposed to provide and equip a studio and to use public money in making other payments to other contractors in order to get a little more public money into their hands.

We have been witnessing a very interesting sham fight on the other side of the Committee which has been played out very nicely. It is a good example too of the process that has been going on right through the Bill—we have almost seen it happening before our eyes tonights—of the way in which a group of interested back benchers bring pressure to bear on the Government and the Government give way to it all along the line in the Bill.

The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) let the cat out of the bag, because it is now quite clear what he and his lot want, and what they will get in the end, because the Government give way to this group all the time. The hon. and gallant Member might want the new Authority to pay programme contractors public money for putting on the programmes that he mentioned—the news, and so on. That would be more public money going to these companies. But in fact the hon. and gallant Member does not want public money in this respect. Therefore, what he wants is the alternative, that we should get all our news and good causes by the grace of some firm or other that sells deodorants or something like that, because there will be no other way of paying for them.

Is it not conceivable that a programme contractor putting on his programme would not necessarily require that every programme should be sponsored or paid for by an advertiser? Would he not make his rates comprehensively to cover a lot of programmes which he would put on to increase the prestige of his station, so that he would attract business of the right sort?

I hope the Home Secretary notices that his hon. and gallant Friend is now openly speaking of sponsoring as being possible under the Amendment, and I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will take an opportunity to repudiate his hon. and gallant Friend.

The hon. and gallant Member always says that a programme contractor would "not necessarily" have to take advertisements. Of course, it is not necessary to do so. There might be a tiny little programme somewhere or other that can be put in. But in general, and the hon. and gallant Member explained how expensive all this was, if programmes are put on, they have to be paid for, and, under the system and the Amendment which the hon. and gallant Member supports, they would have to be paid for by advertisers. That would mean that we should get all our news and all the rest under this system because an advertiser was paying for it—and, of course, he would have to pay fairly heavily.

The right hon. Gentleman says that under the Amendment the news would have to be paid for by advertisers. That is not so. The Amendment's intention is that the Authority should not own studios. But programmes such as, for instance, the news would come out of the subvention payment of £750,000, of which we have heard so much.

I was perhaps misled into talking about the hon. and gallant Member's speech rather than the exact Amendment, but his intentions are clear.

This is also a case of a great Government retreat before this pressure. A lot of show was put on of resisting the Amendment, but those who put it forward have been given 95 per cent, of what they wanted. In effect, they have been given all that they wanted. Originally the Government, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) pointed out, in the prospectus that they put out to attract or to lull people like Lord Halifax, made it quite clear that in the White Paper the Government's intention was that the Authority should have studios. Paragraph 16 says so, in so many words, and so does the Bill.

Now, the Government are retreating, but much more cunningly than the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. The Government are not openly saying what they would like to happen. What they say is that the Authority should "arrange for" studios. "Arrange for" is a very clever expression. With whom will the Authority make these arrangements? Presumably, it must make them with the programme contractors. I understand from what the Assistant Postmaster-General said that the Authority will be paying the programme contractors for studios which it wants to use. That is what the hon. Gentleman imagines will happen.

There are not a lot of studios all over (he country in the way that there are houses there is only a small number of studios. Presumably the Authority will have to pay the programme contractors for the studios that it needs for the special programmes which it might want to put on, paying public money for it. I understand from the hon. Gentleman's failure to dissent that that is what he has in mind. Therefore, the Authority will be tied up with the programme contractors. As my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) asked, what happens if the contractors will not rent these studios to the Authority? There are no other studios that can be rented. Therefore, the apparent intention of the Clause, as amended by the hon. Gentleman, would be completely frustrated.

We were not suggesting that there should be something in the Clause to say that the Authority "shall" rent studios. We were saying that it ought to be given power to be able to rent studios if it decides that it needs them. The Authority is not, in fact, being given facilities to rent the studios that it needs.

The right hon. Gentleman forgets that I am not accepting my hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment.

What the hon. Gentleman is providing for is that normally the Authority should arrange for the provision of studios; not that it should have them, but should arrange for them. How is the Authority to arrange for them without renting them? How can it be done?

The purpose of the Amendment is that normally the Authority shall arrange for the studios, and that only in great need shall it own them. Normally it will rent them; that is what "arrange" means. How else can it arrange for these studios but by renting them?

What happens if the programme companies, who, presumably, share the hon. and gallant Member's views, say that they do not want to rent these studios and that they want to put on the news in the way that the hon. and gallant Member said they ought to do? Is there any provision under the Bill by which the Authority—this great public independent Authority—can do these things, short of suddenly having to build a whole lot of studios at short notice and, presumably, at greater Government expense?

The right hon. Member for Kelvin-grove (Mr. Elliot), in an earlier contribution—when he was present—said that in our Amendments we were trying to draw the net too tight. It is quite clear, however, that the Assistant Postmaster-General and his hon. Friends behind him, whom he is pretending to resist, are making the mesh so large and loose that all the sharks will be let in. That is the real purpose of this play, which has been put on for our benefit this evening, of this sham right by people who want 100 per cent, and pretend they are not content when they get 99 per cent.

I think, too, that the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew)—

I can tell the right hon. Member. He has gone away to make a broadcast, I think, for the B.B.C.

If only he had waited a little while, he would have been able to do so under the auspices of Bovril or Guinness, or something, under the terms of the Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "Scotch whisky."] Yes, it might be Scotch whisky. If any commodity is to be advertised, I suppose that is one of the best.

The general tendency of the movement towards monopoly that was stressed by my hon. Friend is also an important point, because it shows up how very hypocritical the Government are. They always talk about breaking monopoly. In fact, they are creating the worst sort of monopoly that could exist—an uncontrolled, private-profit monopoly, and apparently one which will have a monopoly even against the Authority. That is the intention, I understand, of the Amendment.

The right hon. Member is taking up the cry of his hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. May-hew) about a monopoly. If there is more than one programme contractor, there cannot be a monopoly.

I am glad to know that what I forecast last week has happened: namely that the operation of the Guillotine on an Amendment moved from this side of the

Division No. 106.]

AYES

[7.30 p.m

Aitken, W. T.Boyle, Sir EdwardCrowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)
Alport, C. J. M.Braine, B. R.Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Davidson, Viscountess
Arbuthnot, JohnBrooke, Henry (Hampstead)Deedes, W. F.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Browne, Jack (Govan)Digby, S. Wingfield
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. MBuchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Donaldson, Cmdr. E. McA
Baldwin, A. E.Bullard, D. G.Donner, Sir P. W.
Banks, Col. C.Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Doughty, C. J. A.
Barber, AnthonyBurden, F. F. A.Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm
Barlow, Sir JohnButcher, Sir HerbertDrayson, G. B.
Baxter, A. B.Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Drewe, Sir C.
Beach, Maj. HicksCary, Sir RobertDugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Channon, H.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir WinstonDuthie, W. S.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)
Bennett, William (Woodside)Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Erroll, F. J.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Cole, NormanFinlay, Graeme
Birch, NigelColegate, W. A.Fisher, Nigel
Bishop, F. P.Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertFleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.
Black, C. W.Cooper-Key, E. M.Fort, R.
Boothby, Sir R. J. GCraddook, Beresford (Spelthorne)Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Bossom, Sir A. C.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)
Bowen, E. R.Crouch, R. F.Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell
Bayd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J ACrowder, Sir John (Finchley)Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)

Committee has given the Opposition every opportunity to debate this Amendment.

It is too late now to develop a case against the Amendment, but I should have been grateful if the Government could have looked at this question again. If one examines carefully the words which my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General has on the Order Paper, one sees that they leave the Clause in very much the same position as it is today.

Although I am disappointed with the answer I got from the Government, I have to recognise— It being half past Seven o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question, "That 'to' stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question on an Amendment, moved by a Member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to that part of the Clause to be concluded at Half-past Seven o'Clock.

Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 35, after "to "to insert:

"arrange for the provision and equipment of or, if need be, themselves to."—[Mr. Gammans.]

Question put, "That the Amendment be made."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 233.

Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Llewellyn, D. T.Remnant, Hon. P
Gammans, L. D.Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Renton, D. L. M.
Garner-Evans, E. H.Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. CRidsdale, J. E.
George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydLongden, GilbertRoberts Peter (Heeley)
Glover, D.Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Godber, J. B.Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)Robson Brown, W.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. ALucas-Tooth, Sir HughRoper, Sir Harold
Gough, C. F. H.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Gower, H. R.McAdden, S. J.Russell, R. S.
Graham, Sir FergusMeCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M SRyder, Capt. R. E. D.
Grimond, J.Macdonald, Sir PeterSandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Mackeson, Brig. Sir HarrySavory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Hall, John (Wycombe)McKibbin, A. J.Scott, R. Donald
Harden, J. R. E.Mackie, J. H. (Galloway,Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Maclean, FitzroyShepherd, William
Harris, Reader (Heston)Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Maitland, Comdr, J. F. W. (Horncastle)Snadden, W. McN.
Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMaitland, Patriok (Lanark)Soames, Capt. C.
Hay, JohnManningham-Buller, Sir R. ESpearman, A. C. M.
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.Markham, Major Sir FrankSpeir, R. M.
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelMarlowe, A. A. H.Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)
Heath, EdwardMarples, A. E.Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Higgs, J. M. C.Marshall, Douglas (BodminStevens, G. P.
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Maude, AngusSteward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMaudling, R.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Hirst, GeoffreyMedlicott, Brig. F.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Holland-Martin, C. J.Mellor, Sir JohnStorey, S.
Holt, A. F.Molson, A. H. E.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S)
Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. HenryMoore, Sir ThomasStudholme, H. G.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Morrison, John (Salisbury)Summers, G. S.
Horobin, I. M.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. FlorenceNabarro, G. D. NTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Neave, AireyTeeling, W.
Howard, Hon. Greville (St Ives)Nicholls, HarmarThomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Hudson, Sir- Austin (Lewisham, N.)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.Nield, Basil (Chester)Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Hurd, A. R.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Hutchison, Sir lan Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)Nugent, G. R. H.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)Odey, G. W.Tilney, John
Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N)Touche, Sir Gordon
Hylton-Foster, H. B H.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. DTurner, H. F. L.
Iremonger, T. L.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Turton, R. H.
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Orr-Ewing, Charles lan (Hendon, N)Vane, W. M. F.
Jennings, Sir RolandOsborne, C.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K
Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Page, R. G.Vosper, D F.
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Perkins, sir RobertWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Jones, A. (Hall Green)Peto, Brig. C. H. MWalker-Smith, D. C.
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. WPeyton. J. W. W.Wall, P. H. B.
Kaberry, D.Pickthorn, K. W. MWard, Hon. George (Worcester)
Kerby, Capt. H. BPilkington, Capt. R. AWard, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Kerr, H. W.Pitman, I. J.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C
Lambert, Hon. G.Pitt, Miss E. MWellwood, W.
Lambton, ViscountPowell, J. EnochWilliams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Langford-Holt, J. APrice, Henry (Lewisham, wWilliams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Leather, E H. C.Prior-Palmer, Brig O L.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A HProfumo J. DWilliams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)Raikes, Sir VictorWills, Gerald
Lindsay, MartinRamsden, J. E.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Linstead, Sir H N.Rayner, Brig. R.

TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

Rees-Davies, W. RMajor Conant and Mr. Redmayne.

NOES

Acland, Sir RichardBraddock, Mrs. ElizabethCullen, Mrs. A.
Adams, RichardBrockway, A. F.Daines, P.
Albu, A. H.Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Darling, George (Hillsborough)
Allen, Soholefield (Crewe)Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Brown, Thomas (Ince)Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)
Awbery, S. S.Burke, W. A.Davies, Harold (Leek)
Bacon, Miss AliceButler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)
Baird, J.Carmichael, J.Deer, G.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Castle, Mrs. B. A.Delargy, H. J.
Benn, Hon. WedgwoodChampion, A. J.Dodds, N. N.
Benson, G.Chapman, W. DDugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)
Beswick, F.Clunie, J.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Coldrick, W.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)
Bing, G. H. C.Collick, P. H.Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)
Blackburn, F.Corbet, Mrs. FredaEvans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)
Blenkinsop, A.Cove, W. GEvans, Edward (Lowestoft)
Blyton, W. R.Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)
Bowles, F. G.Crossman, R. H. SFernyhough, E.

Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Lindgren, G. S.Royle, C.
Follick, M.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Shackleton, E. A. A.
Foot, M. M.Logan, D. GShawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Forman, J. C.MacCoH, J. E.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)MoGhee, H. G.Short, E. W.
Freeman, Peter (Newport)MoGovern, J.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Molnnes, J.Silver man, Sydney (Nelson)
Gibson, C. W.McKay, John (Wallsend)Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Glanville, JamesMcLeavy, F.Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Gooch, E. G.Mainwaring, W H.Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Mallelieu, E. L. (Brigg)Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Grey, C. F.Mann, Mrs. JeanSnow, J. W.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Manuel, A. C.Sorensen, R. W.
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Hale, LeslieMason, RoySparks, J. A.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvill (Colne Valley)Mayhew, C. P.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Messer, Sir F.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Hamilton, W WMikardo, IanStrauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Hannan, W.Mitchison, G. R.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Hargreaves, A.Monslow, W.Summerskill, Rt. Hon E.
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Moody, A. S.Sylvester, G. 0.
Hastings, S.Morgan, Dr. H. B. WTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Hayman, F. H.Morley, R.Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Mort, D. L.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Moyle, A.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Herbison, Miss M.Mulley, F. W.Thornton, E.
Hewitson, Capt. M.Murray, J. D.Timmons, J.
Hobson, C. R.Nally, W.Tomney, F.
Holman, P.Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Turner-Samuels, M.
Holmes, HoraceOldfield, W. H.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Houghton, DouglasOliver, G. H.Usborne, H. C.
Hubbard, T. F.Oswald, T.Viant, S. P.
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Padley, W. E.Warbey, W. N.
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Paget, R. T.Watkins, T. E.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Paling, Rt. Hon. W (Dearne Valley)Weitzman, D.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hynd, H. (Accrington)Palmer, A. M. F.Wells, William (Walsall)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Pannell, CharlesWest, D. G.
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Pargiter, G. A.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Parker, J.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Janner, B.Pearson, A.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Plummer, Sir LeslieWigg, George
Jeger, George (Goole)Popp well, E.Wilkins, W. A.
Jeger, Mrs. LenaPorter, G.Willey, F. T.
Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Price, J. T (Westhoughton)Williams, David (Neath)
Jones, David (Hartlepool)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)Proctor, W. T.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Pryde, D. JWilliams, Rt. Hon. Thomas(Don V'll'y)
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)pursey, Cmdr. HWilliams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Keeling, Sir EdwardRankin, JohnWillis, E. G.
Kenyon, C.Reeves, J.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. WReid, Thomas (Swindon)Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
King, Dr. H. M.Reid, William (Camiachie)Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Kinley, JRhodes, H.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Lawson, G. M.Richards, R.Yates, V. F.
Lee, Frederick (Newton)Roberts Albert (Normanton)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Robinson, Kenneth S: Panoras, N)

TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)Mr, James Johnson and
Lewis, ArthurRoss, WilliamMr. John Taylor.

The next Amendment which, I gather, is to be moved is the one in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) to Clause 2, page 4, line 1, to leave out "not." I think it would be convenient to take five others with it, namely, to page 4, line 1, leave out from "Authority," to second "the," in line 3, and insert "and." also in his name. Then the one to page 4, line 5, leave out from beginning to "for," in line 21 in the name of the same right hon. Member. Then the one in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) to page 4, line 13, leave out "lack, or." Then the one in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South to page 4, line 21, leave out from "programmes," to "make," in line 23, and the one to page 4, line 26, at the end to insert a proviso, also in his name.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 1, to leave out "not."

There are really two groups of Amendments here. The purpose of the first group, and the more radical, is to eliminate programme contractors altogether from the Bill. The purpose of the second group is to allow for a future elimination of programme contractors by affirmative Resolution of the House. That second group of Amendments would give power to this Government and, what is perhaps more relevant, to a future Government, to eliminate programme contractors from the entire set-up now before us.

These Amendments put into technical form the point of great importance made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) in the Second Reading debate, and which I should quote because it is of great importance.

As the right hon. Gentleman is quoting his right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), could he tell us where the right hon. Gentleman is?

He is at Strasbourg, representing this House.

The point made by my right hon. Friend is translated into legal terms in these Amendments. I would ask for the attention of the few hon. Gentlemen opposite because this is an important point in relation to these Amendments. My right hon. Friend said that we
"must reserve the right to modify or, indeed, abandon the entire scheme, and this may well include the complete elimination of the proposals for advertising "—
Then he went on to say, and this is the implication of these Amendments and I hope will be listened to outside the House of Commons as well as in this Committee—
"the programme contractors … may well find in due course that they are put out of business."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1954; Vol. 525, c. 1475.]
These Amendments, taken together, would remove what we regard as the worst feature of the Bill, although even then it would still have one or two bad features. What will no doubt appeal to the Home Secretary is that it would remove a great deal of distrust and alarm in the more respectable ranks of his own party. It would certainly please right hon. and noble Friends of his like Lord Halifax, whom I would regard as a respectable member of his party.

7.45 p.m.

He would certainly be pleased by these Amendments, and I am sure he is a member of the Conservative Party whose importance to the Home Secretary is greater than that of the hon. Gentleman.

Our Amendments would not, of course, stop advertising altogether because, although the Assistant Postmaster-General did not seem to realise it, there is provision under this Bill for the Authority to take advertisements, and to be paid for them, under Clause 4. So that amount of advertising would remain even if these Amendments were carried, which would be a slight crumb of comfort to the interested gentleman on the back benches opposite.

However, it would stop what we dislike very much, advertisements with the sole purpose of profit-making by companies who, by definition and by their very nature, would have no sense of the public service at all, and who would do their utmost to build themselves up into monopolies as quickly and as fast as they could—though no doubt they would make a great effort to start in a respectable way as did companies in the United States under sponsored television.

But like those companies, they would rapidly degenerate into the same kind of standard because they would be driven by the same process as were those companies in the United States. All these wonderful ideas and safeguards, about which we are hearing now, were all produced in the United States when commercial television started and it will degenerate here as it did there for the same reason.

These Amendments are really the test of the sincerity of the Government and they meet what are the alleged aims of the Government set out in the original White Paper. Those alleged aims are not to bring in the commercial interests. They are to break the monopoly without bringing in sponsorship. In a phrase—to get competition without sponsorship. That is what the Government said in the original White Paper, which has been so sadly departed from in so many important ways.

If these Amendments were carried the Authority might well be called the Independent Television Authority, and if it alone was responsible for these broadcasts then we would get both the things the Government want: we would get a breach of the monopoly through the two public service authorities in charge of broadcasting and we would avoid sponsorship, which the Government said they wanted to avoid. We would avoid commercialisation of broadcasting. But the Independent Television Authority, plus the programme contractors, will get us to what the Government say they do not want, though we are getting more and more suspicious of their intentions as they move more and more Amendments and retreat more and more from their original position; because the I.T.A. plus the programme contractors is a form of sponsorship, as is becoming more and more apparent.

Therefore, these Amendments are a test of the sincerity of the Government of whether they are really more for breaking a monopoly or more for commercialising television. I hope, therefore, that we shall find some friends on the opposite side of the Committee, because here is the principle which divides those Conservatives who want commercialised television and those other many Conservatives, represented by people like Lord Halifax, who abominate it and do not want it. That is the issue which divides hon. Gentlemen opposite and it is the one raised in these Amendments.

I rise to support the Amendment because I agree with everything that my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) has said, and I think that this is really the acid test of the Government's sincerity. You have indicated, Sir Charles, that we are taking three or four Amendments together and I hope that when the Home Secretary deals with them he will address his mind in particular to the Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) to page 4, line 26, to insert a proviso. It is on that Amendment that I want to make two or three observations which I earnestly hope will appeal to the Home Secretary.

That Amendment is designed to secure that if at some future time the Government's intention breaks down, it should be open to the Postmaster-General, with the approval of the Treasury, to make arrangements which would enable the Authority to take over the responsibilities of the programme companies. I am prepared to assume for the purpose of this argument what I would otherwise deny—that commercial television will work. On that point, I entertain very great doubts.

My own view is that, even assuming the maximum good will and integrity on the part of the programme contractors, with the conditions that are imposed in the Bill and if the safeguards to which the Government pay lip service are all observed, it will be impossible for them to undertake the responsibility of introducing a workable alternative commercial television service. Inevitably, they will find that either they have to disregard the safeguards in the Bill or that they will not be able to make a profit. Sooner or later, that will dawn upon any body or company or group of individuals which undertakes the responsibility of becoming programme contractors

In all sincerity I hope that the Home Secretary will realise that possibility. In that event, and if the Government are determined to have an alternative system of television, it surely must be right that the Authority should be able to step in to supersede the activities of programme contractors and thus undertake the responsibility of providing the alternative programme. Whatever the Government may say about the other Amendments in this series, it seems in logical necessity and in the public interest that this Amendment should be accepted by the Government. This Amendment alone will meet the contingency which not only my hon. and right hon. Friends envisage, but which is envisaged by such a serious newspaper as the "Economist" which, in its columns, has indicated the same point of view as I have just mentioned.

In saying that I do not diminish in any way my support of the arguments which have been addressed to the Committee by my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick. It would be much better and healthier if this whole series of Amendments were accepted by the Government or carried by the Committee. All the proposed deletions in Clause 2 should be made, because if we are to have an alternative television service it would be far more satisfactory to let the Authority from the start be responsible for introducing it and carrying it into effect. We should then be able to eliminate advertising altogether and to place the responsibility on the Authority for producing the programmes and the alternative service.

There are alternative methods. Time is short and the method of financing it does not arise on this Amendment but, as my right hon. Friend has said, it is a crucial Amendment and a test of the Government's sincerity. If what they really want is an alternative service free from any possibility of abuse and of a lowering of public standards of taste and values, this is the way to do it. For these reasons I hope that the Government will accept the Amendment.

As the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) has just said, this series of Amendments is of course crucial, because the Amendments seek to upset the whole intention of the Bill Which is that there should be programme companies operating an alternative service under the control of I.T.A. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite want another State-run broadcasting corporation. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is the whole thesis of their philosophy. They want as much State direction as they possibly can.

The hon. Member for "Lime Grove" must wait one minute.

I am not quarrelling with hon. Members opposite. I am merely saying that they want a State monopoly of broadcasting, and they are using every possible Amendment to ensure that the Bill is made into an instrument to achieve that, rather than what we want it to do.

We on this side of the Committee are very much criticised when we suggest that hon. Members opposite launch attacks on the B.B.C. and that they and the Government are hostile to the B.B.C. Therefore, I ask the hon. Member to withdraw his remark that the B.B.C. is State-run and State-owned. He should either withdraw it or in future accept that his attitude to the B.B.C. is hostile.

The hon. Member really must not try to pervert what I said. I said that the B.B.C. is a State monopoly, and it is.

I said that the B.B.C. is a State monopoly, and it is, if words mean anything at all. Hon. Members opposite cannot get away from it. Hon. Members will find that the Beveridge Committee Report devotes chapters to State monopoly in broadcasting with reference to the B.B.C, and it is no use the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) trying to put words in my mouth which I did not use. Let us have it clearly on the record. It is agreed on both sides of the Committee that at the moment the B.B.C. is a State monopoly. Hon. Members opposite like that system and want to get back to it. We have introduced a Bill to bring about an element of competition, which is all that we can do in the present situation with regard to wavelengths. Hon. Members opposite are seeking every possible opportunity to try to frustrate that intention. This series of Amendments is another example of their attempt. We need not be mealy-mouthed about it; there is that difference between both sides of the Committee and what we are arguing the whole time—

8.0 p.m.

When I was in Canada last year the one thing they begged of me everywhere—every class and every type of person—was, "Keep off commercial television."

I do not know who the hon. Member met in Canada, but if he met other Socialists—

—that is probably what they did tell him.

We have discussed this subject ad nauseam, but I want to say a word or two about the Amendment we are discussing in connection with this series, the Amendment proposed to page 4, line 13 in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot). As the Bill stands, subsection (2, b) of Clause 2 provides that the Authority is empowered to
"provide programmes or parts of programmes so far as may be necessary by reason of any lack, or temporary lack, of suitable persons able and willing to become."
We want to make quite clear that it is the intention that the Authority should not get into the habit of providing programmes through a lack because we do not think a lack should be permitted to continue. But it should have power to provide programmes if there is a temporary lack. Therefore, we seek to remove the words "lack, or" so that the subsection will read:
"by reason of any temporary lack."
I am being perfectly frank with hon. Members opposite. This is another safeguard to prevent the Authority, by any side-wind becoming another B.B.C. That is the intention of the Amendment of my right hon. Friend and it is in line with the whole object of the Bill and the whole philosophy of this side of the Committee. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will be able to accept his Amendment.

The former Assistant Postmaster-General really ought to know better. When he was referring to the B.B.C. and talking about a State-run monopoly—

The hon. Member also said "State-directed," but he did use the term "State-run monopoly." He knows it is not State-run, but is independent.

As the hon. Member is on that point again, may I remind him that we agreed on both sides of the Committee that the B.B.C. is a State monopoly?

If I said "State-run monopoly" I should perhaps have said "run by a monopoly chosen by the State." I want to get agreement on this; I do not want to quibble about words. What I want to get established is that the B.B.C. is a State monopoly and no one can deny that. We are all agreed on that.

Quite clearly, the hon. Member is trying to wriggle out of what he said. There is no question of what he said. It is in HANSARD. He really ought to know better as to the organisation and manner in which the B.B.C. is run at present.

The B.B.C. is a monopoly and the Governors of the B.B.C. are appointed by Order in Council of Her Majesty. There is no question of that, but it is not operated as a State monopoly. It is operated as an independent authority in precisely the same way as the right hon. and learned Gentleman hopes the Independent Television Authority will operate. I do not think the hon. Member will suggest that the I.T.A. is to be a State-run monopoly, yet we have had the Home Secretary frequently telling us that it will be as independent as and similar to the B.B.C.

I do not want to get into an argument with the hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) because we are trying to keep our speeches very short this evening in view of the operation of the Guillotine. In my view, the Amendments now before the Committee crystallise the difference between the Government benches, particularly the back benches, and the Opposition. The hon. Member said that he did not want the Authority to make a habit of producing programmes. On this side of the Committee we argue, I think quite rightly, that if we leave it to the programme contracting companies to produce the programmes and give the main authority to them to put on the service we shall have competitive television, admittedly but we shall not have an alternative service.

The danger will be that we shall not have two services, one from the B.B.C. and one from the I.T.A., which are complementary and supplementary, but the B.B.C. service on one hand and, on the other hand, the competitive service of the I.T.A., provided by the programme companies, which quite definitely will lead to a deterioration of the services.

There will be no balance of the programmes. There is to be no planning of the programmes because the programme contractors, as both sides of the Committee admit, will put on programmes which will command the largest mass audience with a view to getting the greatest number of viewers to see and hear about the products they are trying to sell. The more power given to the Authority to put on programmes, the greater chance there is of having a balanced programme than a competitive, deteriorating service. That is the difference between the two sides of the Committee.

The purpose of these Amendments is to give more authority to the Authority itself and to give more power and responsibility to it in regard to putting on programmes. Only in that way shall we be able to protect the service and to provide an alternative service for the community. The more power and authority given to the programme contractors the worse the service will be and the greater danger there is of deterioration in the service of the B.B.C.

It is quite clear in our view that from the point of view of giving the greatest coverage to the alternative service and at the same time providing the best service the more the Authority does the better. There is the question of available equipment. There will be competition for apparatus, and so forth, and, if we have a large number of programme contractors having their own studios and seeking their own equipment there will be competition for it and a struggle for it. I notice that the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing) admits that.

Yes, I support the idea. There will be more camera channels and much more equipment in the studios and that provides the basic home market on which we are likely to build a thriving export trade.

But there is a limit to the amount of equipment available. It is expensive and there will be duplicating and overlapping. The hon. Member knows that full well; maybe he will benefit. The more that is sold the more he will benefit because we know of his personal interest in the matter.

Would the hon. Member define that a little more closely? He said that I have a personal interest. He may get a tip from the hon. Member for "Lime Grove" sitting behind him.

The hon. Member used to have an interest. Maybe he has dispensed with it now.

I am sorry to interrupt again, but the hon. Member has accused me of having personal interest. Both sides have agreed that there should be an alternative programme; therefore, any person with a vague interest in television receivers has no financial interest in whether the second programme comes from the B.B.C. or the I.T.A. That will not make the slightest difference. I wonder whether the hon. Member will now withdraw. I never had, or have had, any interest.

That may well be, but the fact remains that the more competition there is for equipment and the more equipment is in demand and sold, the better for those people interested in the production and disposal of equipment—I am not accusing the hon. Gentleman of anything—

The hon. Gentleman has suggested that I am associated with a company that makes equipment for transmitting and camera equipment. That is absolutely and fundamentally untrue and I hope he will withdraw it. He said equipment for stations. I have no interest and I have had no interest. That is part of a smear campaign by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It was carried on by "The Times" for two years as part of a campaign to uphold the monopoly.

I regret that the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing) is so sensitive about this matter.

I was not accusing the hon. Gentleman of anything. I was making the statement that the more equipment sold the better for people concerned with the manufacture of it. Why the hon. Member should be so sensitive about the manufacture of this equipment I do not understand. If the hon. Member will allow me to develop my point I shall be grateful, as we axe endeavouring to keep our speeches short.

What I was about to say was that there was not only a shortage of equipment, but also a shortage of technicians. If we canalise programmes through the independent Authority rather than distribute them over a large number of programme contractors there would be less of a scramble between the B.B.C., the Authority and the programme contractors for the use of the services of the available technicians.

After all, the Authority will be receiving taxpayers' money and it is far better that it should provide the best service possible for the community. Hon. Members on this side of the Committee are agreed that this public corporation, the I.T.A., should be provided with a loan out of taxpayers' money and an annual income. The more authority and responsibility it has the better. It is far better that the Authority itself should produce programmes than that they should be produced by programme contractors whose only interest is in producing programmes in order to make money out of them.

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he knows quite well that a programme contractor does not produce a programme for any other reason than to make a profit for the advertiser for whom he is putting on the programme. That is the whole purpose of programme contracting companies. We suggest that it would be better if the Authority had greater responsibility for putting on programmes.

I should have thought that one thing was clear about these proposals, that no sane person could possibly maintain that we should have the B.B.C. doing television and another authority doing exactly the same under another name. That would be a most wasteful arrangement, unless we were getting some fonm of competition.

Because there would be double staffs and it could be done under one arrangement. There would be no future for that arrangement; it would be one corporation against another and the competition would be permanently fixed into two sorts of schools.

I should have thought that all hon. Members would agree that that sort of competition was not the sort for which it was worth while setting up a whole organisation. Although hon. Members opposite do not think so, there may be a good deal to be said and a great deal of criticism to be voiced about what is called—according to the state of one's liver—"commercial," "sponsored" or "free" television.

Free in the sense that any ordinary person can use it. The words are used according to the state of one's bile.

At any rate, there is this to be said, that if what one might like to call commercial television gets going no one knows where it will stop. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not know how many transmitters there will be or what competition will come from the Continent. They do not know how popular it will be and that is what they are afraid of.

The time of this Parliament is running out. How nervous hon. Gentlemen opposite are. They cannot even give one little commercial television station a chance to become popular with the public. If I had my way I would have started with one transmitter in one town and impose no regulations or restrictions upon it at all. I would have given it a free run, and if it had taken advantage of that position I would have broken it. That is the way to test how people will use their freedom.

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman have given the station a monopoly in that town?

Yes, because it was one transmitter. But the right hon. Gentleman knows quite well that we are at the beginning of an invention. It does not seem possible for hon. Gentlemen opposite to think further than the last municipal election or the next one. This business is starting with a few transmitters, but it has great possibilities.

By these Amendments it is intended to stop any possibility of a future of any sort for television. They wish to put up two associations who will get all their money through Government control. That is considered to be progress by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to be a good thing to do. They wish to have two static corporations and allow them to look after television for ever.

8.15 p.m.

The obvious answer is that however much they like to keep back the sea they cannot do it by just saying, "Go away sea." The Pas de Calais will remain and there will be other stations on the Continent. These Amendments by which it is proposed to make the whole thing static are out of touch with reality. Whether hon. Gentlemen opposite want it or not they will get television from the Continent if they do not make provision for it in this country. The Amendments are not constructive. They are designed to cut the throat of the Bill and hon. Members on this side of the Committee will resist them.

It is no real test between restricted and free competition when we get grandmotherly or auntie-like provided competition. That will not test anything. No one would know if the Authority was a good or bad experiment if we left it to such an emasculated corporation suddenly to take on the job which the B.B.C. can do more efficiently. For these reasons the Amendments must be opposed. They are not designed to improve the Bill, but to wreck it.

The hon. and learned Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bell) referred to Lord Halifax in such a way as to lead people to believe that the noble Lord was insane, a matter which no doubt will be taken up at a Conservative party private meeting as the best way to deal with that sort of thing. The hon. and learned Gentleman also gave us the impression that the B.B.C. does not stand up to any examination at all. We are given a wonderful idea of a free commercial set-up leading us to new developments. The hon. and learned Member spoke of the B.B.C. as if it was a sort of grandmother which was never really capable of making any progress at all. Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman has forgotten that the first television programme in the world was broadcast by the B.B.C., that organisation which started with little stations like 2 LO—

The hon. and learned Member asks where it has got to. There have been delays in television since the war because of the shortage of equipment and the restriction on capital development—a sort of national self-discipline which no one who has enjoyed other benefits since the war would regret. In any case, that is another argument.

I am merely saying that the B.B.C., starting from a very small beginning, developed into an enormous broadcasting outfit, including regional programmes, overseas programmes in 50 or 60 languages, and 40 or 50 news bulletins in the 24 hours. It has done more to raise the prestige of this country than any other single thing that I can think of. During the war the Resistance movements thought of the B.B.C. as the voice of truth.

If anyone goes to a radio station in the United States, as I have done, and says that he once worked for the B.B.C, he immediately gets a friendly welcome, because the name of the B.B.C. stands high. To suggest that this is just a State-run monopoly on the lines of say the State tobacco monopoly in Italy is to denigrate the B.B.C. and do less than justice to the organisation which we now have.

My hon. Friends are getting very disappointed about the reaction of the Home Secretary to Amendments of this sort. I yield to no one in my admiration for the Home Secretary. He is a man of immense sincerity. If I were passing a Committee room and heard a shot and found inside the Home Secretary with a smoking revolver in his hand and a dead woman at his feet, my first reaction would be that he had attempted to prevent a suicide and failed. That is the measure of my faith in him. At the same time, we put to him Amendments of this sort which maintain, as this one does, the principle of competition, and we find him resisting them.

It is worth while considering for a moment why he is unable to accept our Amendments. It is simply that he believes—I do not doubt his sincerity—that competition is desirable, and he has talked himself into believing, or has been talked into believing, that we can only obtain competition by commercial means. He says that he cannot accept Amendments of the type we put to him because they would not work commercially. He says that he is not ashamed to say that because he believes that commercial television is the only effective competitive television which we can obtain.

Other hon. Members have talked themselves into believing that private interest is equivalent to national interest so far as television is concerned. It is a dangerous state of affairs. It is not true that in broadcasting the private interest of programme sponsors is the same as the national interest. If I were to declare an interest it would be in the programmes which are to come from commercial television and the fact that public money is to be put into commercial television, and that, as far as one knows, there will not be adequate safeguards of the interests of the public in regard to their requirements for good programmes.

Various Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), have said that our Amendments divide hon. Members opposite between those who are interested in the commercial aspect and those who believe in a competitive system. It is not really the purpose of the Amendments to divide hon. Members opposite; the purpose is to provide a basis for co-operation between both sides of the Committee.

The Postmaster-General, in another place, in accordance with the tradition of that place which always decries anything which savours of party politics, brought tears to the eyes of archbishops and others by saying that it would be a great pity if party politics ever entered into television. If our Amendments were accepted, they would form the basis of a workable agreement by means of which there would be competition but no commercial television. I do not know whether I can convince my hon. Friends about this. This is my private view. I hope they will not misunderstand me if I express it in an open and friendly way in this Chamber.

I believe that many hon. Members opposite share my view about monopoly, think it would be better to have competition and do not like the commercial principle. The right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) said the other day that I had been half-converted to Conservatism. Little does he know that he is a victim of Fabian recommendations to the Beveridge Committee.

The matter of the right hon. Gentleman meeting himself coming back is not really in order on this Amendment.

The fact that our Amendments, which would provide a basis for agreement between the two sides of the House, are being turned down throughout the Committee stage is proof of the fact that the Government have not really made an effort to get the Bill through on an agreed basis.

I have often said that I should like to see the B.B.C. having to face a little competition. However, the trouble about the B.B.C. or a similar monopoly is that its serious programmes will not be contested by any competitive organisation. We have dons discussing all sorts of dangerous ideas from their rooms in Oxford or Cambridge and other provincial universities. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) is allowed to go on the air. It is this type of serious programme which constitutes a danger in monopoly.

Monopoly of entertainment is not a menace. Nobody is perverted by too much entertainment if it is within the bounds of decency. What is dangerous is a programme like "Taking Stock," when people are allowed to discuss matters of current controversy on the air. The hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) believes that the Jazz Club is a part of Communist infiltration of British society, but that view is not general.

We have to consider how we are to provide really effective competition to the serious output of the B.B.C. It is because serious programmes do not sell toothpaste and laxatives that we shall not get serious programmes on a commercial station. Some programmes in the United States which are financed by trade unions deal with serious matters, but, in general, if one wants to sell a foundation cream for women one does not put on the air my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East. It is my contention that the new Authority will not provide competition where the B.B.C. needs it most. It is for that reason that we propose that the Authority should be allowed to do more broadcasts of that nature. The hon. Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) said that a temporary lack of a certain type of programme, but not a permanent lack, should justify the Authority in giving other programmes. However, a succession of temporary lacks constitutes a permanent lack. We believe that there will be a serious lack of the competition which the B.B.C. needs.

8.30 p.m.

I am not saying that the Home Secretary should accept all our Amendments, for some may be contradictory, but I wish he would give the Committee an assurance to look at the matter again. There are many persons on both sides of the Committee and in another place who would be willing to have another look at the whole matter in an attempt to get an agreement about effective competition, without advertising. I do assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the sort of competition which I propose, and which my hon. Friends would wish to see, would be much more effective than what we should get from commercial television. It will stick to Ted Ray, Danny Kaye and all the other entertainers of this country and America, because that is the stuff that sells the goods.

I wrote to Radio Luxembourg the other day and asked them to send me some information which they provide for the people wanting to sponsor programmes. Quoting from memory, what they said was that they urged their advertisers not to look upon the programme as an unpleasant necessity to sell goods, but to try to make their programmes worth something in themselves. That is really the whole point of advertising—to shift the goods—

Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that a State radio in America would have competed with Senator McCarthy better than the sponsored programme of the Columbia Broadcasting Company?

Although the right hon. Gentleman is a man gifted with great imagination, I hope that he will not ask me to go through all the mental gymnastics of imagining how it would be now if, 30 years ago, American broadcasting had started off in a different way. We cannot conceive of 30 years' development culminating in a great State repudiation of Senator McCarthy.

We shall not get anything like genuine variety. To use an Americanism, if one "spins the dial" in the morning one goes from one "soap opera" to another and, in the evening, one gets cowboy shows, and a succession of disc jockeys. The thing that we are worried about is that we are not going to get real variety, but mass entertainment programmes. Of course, we shall see how matters develop, but, where things go wrong, we want the Authority to have the opportunity to put them right.

The Home Secretary, at this stage, has the opportunity of bringing together all the good will that exists in all parties, and then of trying to get a measure of competition. Then, we shall give it all the encouragement we can, and I am sure it will meet with a very great response from all my hon. and right hon. Friends.

It should be made clear that we on this side of the Committee are not in any way opposed to the B.B.C, though the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) has accused us of being anti-B.B.C. What we have said all through our debates, and particularly on this Clause, is that we wish to leave the British Broadcasting Corporation as it is, in receipt of its licence revenue, and to set up alongside it another organisation of a slightly different character which might stimulate it, and which, at the same time, will give a freedom of choice to listeners and a freedom of employment to those people who want to work for it.

It would be most undesirable if it were to go out from this Chamber that one side of the Committee was for the B.B.C. and the other side was against it. The B.B.C. deserves all the credit that is given to it, and we say that it should be left as it is.

Of course, the hon. Gentleman says that, but, a few minutes ago, one of his hon. Friends was criticising the B.B.C, and, since the B.B.C. started a television service, there has been an attitude of growing hostility towards the B.B.C, not only on the part of back benchers opposite, but also on the part of the Government itself.

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman, who does so much good work for the B.B.C, which we all appre- ciate, should seek to break up opinion on this matter in this House in this way and to divide the parties here into pro- and anti-B.B.C. I did not make that interjection, but some hon. Member made it—

There is no doubt about it; I made it. If criticising the B.B.C. is thought to be against the B.B.C., then I am against the B.B.C. Nothing is sacred from my criticism.

We have given the B.B.C. 20 years' start with television; it has actually got the best waveband for television, and that is a pretty good start. If this Bill goes through in its present form, although it is essentially a compromise, it might do something to improve the B.B.C.

These Amendments are wrecking Amendments. They will change the entire form of the Bill. We believe that the programme companies, in fact, will add more diversity to the programmes. The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East is, I think, in agreement with us, and he wants to see more competition in the creation of programmes. This is one way of doing it. There may be many other ways. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite in all sincerity to believe that we are sincere in wanting to decentralise and to give other people a chance of creating programmes.

I am trying to follow the argument of the hon. Gentleman, who has said that this was a compromise. Would he tell us between what and what is it a compromise?

I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman was here during our earlier debates, or he would realise that this is a compromise between a complete, sponsored commercial television system—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes. I have always been opposed to a sponsored television system. I have written letters to "The Times" on the subject, but unfortunately they have not been published. I think they might have shot "The Times'" fox. The leader writers of that newspaper have habitually stated that Conservative back benchers were out to commercialise the whole of broadcasting. This is untrue. That was never the intention of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the Committee, who wished to leave the B.B.C. as it is, and to introduce some competition.

This is a compromise between out-and- out commercial television as seen in America, and a State broadcasting sys tem which we, alone among the demo cracies, have—

A compromise between the hon. Member's views and those of the Lord Chancellor?

I am very glad that I am coupled with so famous a man. Hon. Gentlemen are wrong in thinking that the programme companies, which would be done away with if their Amendment was accepted, will be always out to make money. They will at first be out to make a reputation. That is essentially true of any company in business. Some of their programmes will make money, of course; otherwise they would not be able to pay their staff. Other programmes will be of a sustaining nature. I see hon. Gentlemen shaking their heads at that. They will find that what I say is true wherever they study broadcasting in the world.

The suggestion has been made that people will work for the programme companies with their eye on the profit motive. I suggest in all humility that that is an attempt to drag the creative arts too far into the political arena. I do not believe that artists only work for money. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh again at that point. An awful lot of people—writers, painters, film makers, broadcasters—work for the joy of doing a good job in their own particular medium. I have worked for 10 years in the B.B.C. and I have come away with the very distinct impression that there are many people in this community of ours—and all praise to them—who work for the sheer joy of being creative in their own medium.

I believe that the programme contractors will attract a proportion of these people. It is significant that Mr. Norman Collins, whose name was mentioned earlier, has had several hundred applications from people who are anxious to work in this new television experiment. Many of them come from the B.B.C. Hon. Gentlemen opposite think that the whole of this nation is only out in a mad scramble to make money. The truth is that many artistic people want to work for the sake of producing something.

I hope that my hon. Friend will not accept the Amendment. By creating these programme companies we have met the point which was brought out forcefully in the Beveridge Report, that it is important to decentralise. Every piece of evidence which came before that Committee showed the need to decentralise this monopoly. We are doing it in two ways. We have allowed the B.B.C. to remain, and we are allowing programme companies to come in. We have produced decentralisation and devolution. I hope that the Amendment will be resisted.

I think that I must now intervene. I wanted to let everyone speak who wished, but if I do not now make my remarks with great celerity I shall not leave any time for any hon. or right hon. Member opposite to abuse me for what I have said.

As I think everyone in the Committee will realise, I cannot accept either of the variations—and this time I make no complaint about any difference between them—that are proposed by the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who opened this discussion, said the purpose of the Opposition was either to eradicate the programme companies now or to forge the machinery by which they could be eradicated rapidly at a future date I must reject both the proposal for immediate murder and the suggestion of a conspiracy to murder at a future time.

I think it is important that we should take the basis on which the right hon. Gentleman fairly and frankly argued his case. His case on this Amendment was not for the elimination of advertising, but for the use of advertising directly by a public corporation. That is an interesting new approach. I am glad that the Opposition have been able to contemplate that as an approach—

I am sorry. I did not mean to give that impression. I merely said that for technical reasons that would be the effect of the Amendment. I am not advocating the Authority having to advertise.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I do not deliberately make niggling points. If he assures me that it was not the intention to give a run to that approach I shall not take the matter further. It would be a new approach, and perhaps we may hear more of it later, when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) develops still further his views on competition.

We have made abundantly clear from the beginning our belief that to make the fullest possible use of the resources, initiative and flexibility of private enterprise there must be a system of programme contractors together with the supervision which we think is right and will be effective. That is the difference between us. On this point the two sides of the Committee disagree. The Opposition desire that there should be a second B.B.C. We think that there should be this machinery by which private enterprise will be given its chance, and that advertising will make its contribution.

I think one ought to remember the practical difficulty that the scheme which we have put forward, of which the programme companies are an integral part, only makes the calls on Government finance which are set out in the Bill, and which at various stages right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have said are too small. It would require a recasting of the financial scheme and a much greater contribution from the State to meet the initial cost and, it may be, the revenue costs during the earlier period which the proposal implicit in these Amendments would involve.

8.45 p.m.

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us on what calculation he bases his remarks?

I have not the figures by me, although I have had various figures put before me. I do not think that in the discussion of an Amendment of this sort it would be right to call on my memory. I have no doubt that the point I am making is a true and substantial one.

The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) put his argument on a slightly different basis. The right hon. Member for Smethwick dangled in front of me the attractive bait of the Members of my own party whom I should please. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington, East dangled quite a different bait. He said that it would prevent the programme contractors from failing to make profits and also the breakdown of the safeguards.

The mantle of Elijah is proverbially a garment difficult to don, and hon. Gentlemen who seek to don it in this Committee very often find that they assume a likeness to Cassandra. I would remind them that Cassandra, one of the other better known exponents of prophecy, had a very sticky end indeed.

Exactly, but the end was sticky, and this attempt to imitate Cassandra, which I was dealing with, is really, in my view, not very impressive unless there are premises on which the prophesy is based.

I cannot see, especially in view of the powerful speeches we have had at other stages about the people who are obviously prepared to spend large sums on advertising, why the hon. Gentleman should have put forward this gloomy prophesy. Equally, I cannot see where he gets his conclusion that if the programme contractors are to be successful they will have to break the rules of supervision which we have put down. I think that we have, after a great deal of examination, found a via mediawhich will provide the opportunity for giving play to the forces I have described, and which will be accompanied by supervision that will make itself felt.

The right hon. Member for Smethwick mentioned the purpose of the other Amendment, but I do not think I am doing him an injustice when I say that he did not develop it at any length. None of those behind him has done so either.

I refer to the Amendment for abolishing the programme companies by Statutry Instrument. It has not formed a great part of our discussion, and, therefore, I shall deal with it quite shortly.

I did say that it would be more relevant to give powers to a future Government than to the present one.

The right hon. Gentleman did, but I think he will agree with me that to accept an Amendment of that kind would not only show a complete lack of faith in the set-up in which I have expressed my own belief but would also be singularly discouraging to those who will come into the set-up we propose. I shall, therefore, advise the Committee against accepting that Amendment, too.

I am sorry that I cannot follow the hon. Member for Bristol, Soutfa-East into Ms charming speech in favour of inter-party co-operation, because there are so many implications, and he would have to shed so many further loyalties—personal, political, and ideological—before he could attain his desideratum that I think it would occupy more time than we can spend on this Amendment tonight.

We believe that the Independent Television Authority must operate through programme companies, for the reason which I have given. As I said on Second Reading, and as my hon. Friend has repeated, we envisage the Authority coming in only in the case of the temporary lack of a programme from the programme companies. I am quite ready to accept the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), which makes that point quite clear, because it is consistent with what we have said and what we desire.

In that event would the right hon. and learned Gentleman put into the Bill a definition of "temporary," because, otherwise, we shall not know what the Clause, as amended, means?

I do not think there are the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman sees, but he is quite right to make the point and I will certainly consider it. I cannot give any undertaking, but I will certainly consider that point.

I said I would provide time for hon. Members to have a few moments in which to abuse me for what I have said, and I hope the Committee will not take it as discourtesy if, having stated our views on the Amendment, I now sit down.

I have listened to the Home Secretary with great interest. Knowing him as I do, I had hoped that he would be more forthcoming this evening. I cannot help but feel that he is very uncomfortable when he is defending this Bill.

There is not the slightest doubt that the proposals which are included in our Amendments will in no way lessen the importance of the Authority. Indeed, they will give the Authority a good deal more control over programmes than they can ever have under the Bill as it stands, and they will provide the public with all the safeguards to which they are entitled.

It is proposed to establish the Authority, but the Authority will be dependent upon a variety of programme companies who will have to provide the fare which it is to put out to the public. It is a strange situation which has arisen in this country. After leading the world in radio and television, we are now starting where America is leaving off. We are beginning a system which is becoming more and more discredited throughout the whole of the United States.

One has only to read the American newspapers to realise how significant this is. If hon. Members talk to Americans and Canadians they will be told, "Whatever you do in Great Britain, never start a radio or television system like that which we have been running." Some time ago I was in Chicago, and I was speaking to the radio board of the university there which runs a series of programmes. Educational institutions and public institutions that want to provide programmes either on the radio or on television have nowadays to license their own stations for this purpose because they cannot get any time worth talking about on the commercial radio and television systems.

When I visited America, some years ago, in connection with my work on the Beveridge Committee, I wrote these significant words in a report:
"Television in America, if anything, is worse than radio because of the high cost of the programmes. Comedians perform behind displays of goods they are expected to sell and their gags must have reference to the article paying their fee. Demonstrations in methods of using publicised goods monopolise programmes, and even news commentators slide from news items into praise of an article or service."
It has become almost a disgrace to run this great commercial system in America. Only yesterday, in the "New York Times," I read an extract from a report which had been given about the commercial system in America. This is what the American journal "Variety" has to say:
"Perhaps for the first time in a decade not a single symphony orchestra has succeeded in snaring a bank-roller this season."
The bank-roller is the chap who pays. in other words, this is the kind of fare for which the advertiser is not prepared to pay in any circumstances. So far as America is concerned, the system goes from bad to worse. Now America has to do something about it. The result is that all over the States today, public corporations are asking for and receiving licences to go on the air to provide television programmes of an educational and cultural character.

I have figures here which are really astonishing. Even in Washington they have established non-commercial television stations, and an organisation known as Educational Television is issuing a weekly film at cost price to the noncommercial stations. The non-commercial stations in Houston, Los Angeles, Madison and East Lancing are joining together so that they can put over alternative programmes of an educational and cultural character to those which are being sponsored by the great networks. It is a most interesting story. This is because America has adopted the system that we are now proposing.

We do not want that system here. We want the Authority to be responsible to the public and to have supervision of the programmes. We want programmes which we shall never get under this system. Look at the kind of programmes which are to be expected in these circum stances— It being Nine o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, "That 'not' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 256; Noes, 232.

Division No. 107.]

AYES

[9.0 p.m.

Alport, C. J. M.Graham, Sir FergusMonekton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Grimond, J.Moore, Sir Thomas
Arbuthnot, JohnGrimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Hall, John (Wycombe)Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Harden, J. R. E.Nabarro, G. D. N.
Baldwin, A. E.Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Neave, Airey
Banks, Col. C.Harris, Reader (Heston)Nicholls, Harmar
Barber, AnthonyHarrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Barlow, Sir JohnHarvey, Rir Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Baxter, A. B.Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Nield, Basil (Chester)
Beach, Maj. HicksHarvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeNoble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Hay, JohnNugent, G. R. H.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelOrmsby-Gore, Hon. W. D
Bennett, William (Woodside)Heath, EdwardOrr, Capt. L. P. S.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Higgs, J. M. C.Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Birch, NigelHM, Mrs. E. (Wynthenshawe)Osborne, C.
Bishop, F. P.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPage, R. G.
Black, C. W.Hirst, GeoffreyPerkins, Sir Robert
Boothby, Sir R. J. GHolland-Martin, C. J.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Bossom, Sir A. C.Holt, A. F.Peyton, J. W. W.
Bowen, E. R.Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Horobin, I. M.Pilkington, Capt. R. A
Boyle, Sir EdwardHorsbrugh, Rt. Hon. FlorencePitman, I. J.
Braine, B. R.Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Pitt, Miss E. M.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Howard, Hon. Greville (St. lves)Powell, J. Enoch
Bromley-Davenport, Ll.-Col. W. H.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0. L.
Browne, Jack (Govan)Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.Profumo, J. D.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. THurd, A. R.Raikes, Sir Victor
Billiard, D. G.Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)Ramsden, J. E.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)Rayner, Brig. R.
Burden, F. F. A.Hyde, Ll.-Col. H. M.Redmayne, M.
Butcher, Sir HerbertHylton-Foster, H. B. H.Rees-Davies, W. R.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Iremonger, T. L.Renton, D. L. M.
Care, RobertJenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Ridsdale, J. E.
Cary, Sir RobertJennings, Sir RolandRoberts, Peter (Heeley)
Channon, H.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Robson-Brown, W.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Jones, A. (Hall Green)Roper, Sir Harold
Cole, NormanJoynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Colegate, W. A.Kaberry, D.Russell, R. S.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertKerby, Capt. H. B.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Kerr, H. W.Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Lambert, Hon. G.Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. CLambton, ViscountScott, R. Donald
Crouch, R. F.Langford-Holt, J. A.Scott-Mitler, Cmdr. R.
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Leather, E. H. C.Shepherd, William
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HSimon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Lindsay, MartinSmithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Davidson, ViscountessLinstead, Sir H. N.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Deedes, W. F.Llewellyn, D. T.Snadden, W. McN.
Digby, s. WingfieldLloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Soames, Capt. C.
Donadson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Lookwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Spearman, A. C. M
Donner, Sir P. W.Longden, GilbertSpeir, R. M.
Doughty, C. J. A.Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Spans, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)
Douglas-Hamilton, lord MalcolmLucas, P. B. (Brentford)Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Drayson, G. B.Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughStevens, G. P.
Drewe, Sir C.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. 0.Steward, w. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)McAdden, S. J.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Duthie, W. S.Macdonald, Sir PeterStorey, S.
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Mackeson, Brig Sir HarryStrauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.McKibbm, A. J.Studholme, H. G.
Erroll, F. J.Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)Summers, G. S.
Finlay, GraemeMaclean, FitzroySutcliffe, Sir Harold
Fisher, NigelMacleod, Rt. Hon lain (Enfield, W.)Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Macmillon, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Teeling, W.
Fort, Ft.Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David MaxwellManningham-Buller, Sir R. EThompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Markham, Major Sir FrankTnorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Marlowe, A. A. H.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N
Gammans, L. D.Marples, A. E.Tilney, John
Garner-Evans, E. H.Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Touche, Sir Gordon
Glover, D.Maude, AngusTurner, H. F. L.
Godber, J. B.Maudling, R.Turton, R. H.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Medlicott, Brig. F.Vane, W. M. F.
Gough, C. F. H.Mellor, Sir JohnVaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Gower, H. R.Molson, A. H. E.Vosper, D. F.

Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hen. C.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Walker-Smith, D. C.Wellwood, W.WilIs, G.
Wall, P. H. B.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)Major Conant and Mr. Legh.

NOES

Acland, Sir RichardHargreaves, A.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Adams, RichardHarrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Palmer, A. M. F.
Albu, A. H.Hastings, S.Pannell, Charles
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Hayman, F. H.Pargiter, G. A.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Parker, J.
Awbery, S. S.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bacon, Miss AliceHerbison, Miss M.Popplewell, E.
Baird, J.Hobson, C. R.Porter, G.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. JHolman, p.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Benn, Hon. WedgwoodHolmes, HoracePrice, Philips (Gloucestershire, W)
Benson, G.Houghton, DouglasProctor, W. T.
Beswick, F.Hubbard, T. F.Pryde, D. J.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Pursey, Cmdr. H
Bing, G. H. C.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Rankin, John
Blackburn, F.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Reeves, J.
Blenkinsop, A.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Blyton, W. R.Hynd, H. (Aocrington)Reid, William (Camlachie)
Bowles, F. G.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Rhodes, H.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethIrvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Richards, R.
Brockway, A. F.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Roberts, Albert '(Normanton)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Janner, B.Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Ross, William
Burke, W. A.Jeger, George (Goole)Royle, C.
Buffer, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Jeger, Mrs. LenaShackleton, E. A. A.
Carmichael, J.Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Johnson, James (Rugby)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Champion, A. J.Jones, David (Hartlepool)Short, E. W.
Chapman, W. D.Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S)Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Clunie, J.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Coldrick, W.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Collick, P. H.Keenan, W.Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Corbet, Mrs. FredaKenyon, C.Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
Cove, W. G.Key, Rt. Hon. C. WSmith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)King, Dr. H. MSmith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Cropland, C. A. R.Kinley, J.Snow, J. W.
Crossman, R. H. S.Lawson, G. M.Sorensen, R. W.
Cullen, Mrs. A.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Soskics, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Daines, P.Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannook)Sparks, J. A.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Steele, T.
Darling, George (Hillsborough)Lewis, ArthurStewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Lindgren, G. S.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Davies, Harold (Leek)Logan, D. G.Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)MacColl, J. E.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Deer, GMcGhee, H. G.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Delargy, H. J.McGovern, J.Sylvester, G. 0.
Dodds, N. N.Mclnnes, J.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Donnelly, D. L.McKay, John (Wall-send)Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)McLeavy, F.Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Mainwaring, W. H.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Thornton, E.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Mann, Mrs. JeanTimmons, J.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Manuel, A. C.Tomney, F.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Marquand, Rt. Hon H. ATurner-Samuels, M.
Fernyhough, E.Mason, RoyUngoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Mayhew, C. P.Usborne, H. C.
Follick, M.Messer, Sir F.Viant, S. P.
Foot, M. M.Mikardo, IanWarbey, W. N.
Forman, J. C.Mitchison, G. R.Watkins, T. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Monslow, W.Weitzman, D.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Moody, A. S.Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Gibson, C. W.Morley, R.Wells, William (Walsall)
Gooch, E. G.Mort, D. L.West, D. G.
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Moyle, A.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Mulley, F. W.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Grey, C. F.Murray, J. D.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W-
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Nally, W.Wigg, George
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Wilkins, W. A.
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Oldfield, W. H.Willey, F. T.
Hale, LeslieOliver, G. H.Williams, David (Neath)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvile (Colne Valley)Oswald, T.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Hall, John T. (Gatethead, W.)Padley, W. E.Williams, Ronald (Wigan;
Hamilton, W. W.Paget, R. T.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Hannan, W.Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Williams, w. T. (Hammersmith, S.)

Willis, E. G.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)Yates, V. F.
Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)Wyatt, W. L.Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question on an Amendment, moved by a Member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to that part of the Clause to be concluded at Nine o'Clock.

Amendment proposed: In page 4, line 3, to leave out from beginning, to "but," and insert:

Division No. 108.]

AYES

[9.10 pan

Alport, C. J. M.Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Lambert, Hon. G.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)ENiot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Lambton Viscount
Arbuthnot, JohnErroll, F. J.Langford-Holt, J. A.
Assheton, Rt Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Finlay, GraemeLeather, E. H. C.
Baldodk, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Fisher, NigelLegge-Bourke, Mai. E. A. H.
Baldwin, A. E.Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Lindsay, Martin
Banks, Col. C.Fort, R.Linstead, Sir H. N
Barlow, Sir JohnFraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Llewellyn, D. T.
Baxter, A. B.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Lloyd, Mai. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Beach, Mat. HicksFyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David MaxwellLockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Longden, Gilbert
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Lucas, Sir Jocclyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Gammans, L. D.Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Bennett, William (Woodside)Garner-Evans, E. HLucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Glover, D.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O
Birch, NigelGodber, J. B.McAdden, S. J.
Bishop, F. P.Gomme-Dunean, Col. AMeCerquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S
Black, C. W.Gough, C. F. H.Macdonald, Sir Peter
Boothby, Sir R. J. G.Gower, H. R.Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry
Bottom, Sir A. CGraham, Sir FergusMcKibbin, A. J.
Bowen, E. R.Grimond, J.Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Maclean, Fitzroy
Boyle, Sir EdwardHall, John (Wycombe)Macleod, Rt Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Braine, B. R.Harden, J. R. E.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W)Harm, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Harris, Reader (Heston)Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Hoeneastle)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Browne, Jack (Govan)Harvey, Air Cars, A. V. (Macclesfield)Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. THarvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Markham, Major Sir Frank
Bullard, D. G.Hay, JohnMarlowe, A. A. H.
Bullus, Wine Commander E. E.Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.Marples, A. E.
Burden, F. F. A.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelMarshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Butcher, Sir HerbertHeath, EdwardMaude, Angus
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Higgs, J. M. C.Maudling, R.
Carr, RobertHill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Medlicott, Brig. F.
Gary, Sir RobertHinchingbrooke, ViscountMellor, Sir John
(Shannon, H.Hirst, GeoffreyMolson, A. H. E.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Holland-Martin, C. J.Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Holt, A. F.Moore, Sir Thomas
Cote, NormanHornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Colegate, W. A.Horobin, I. M.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. FlorenceNabarro, G. D. N.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHoward, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Neave, Airey
Cooper-Key, E. M.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)Nicholls, Harmar
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemout, E.)
Crouch, R. F.Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.Nield, Basil (Chester)
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Hurd, A. R.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)Nugent, G. R. H.
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Davidson, ViscountessHyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Deedes, W. F.Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Digby, S. WingfieldIremonger, T. L.Orr-Ewing, Chariot Ian (Hendon, N.)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Osborne, C.
Donner, Sir P. W.Jennings, Sir RolandPage, R. G.
Doughty, C. J. A.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Perkins, Sir Robert
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord MalcolmJohnson, Howard (Kemptown)Peto, Brig. C. H. M
Drayson, G. B.Jones, A. (Hall Green)Peyton, J. W. W.
Orewe, Sir C.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)Kaberry, D.Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Kerby, Capt. H. B.Pitman, I. J.
Duthie, W. S.Kerr, H. W.Pitt, Miss E. M.

"who, under contracts with the Authority, have, in consideration of payments to the Authority and subject to the provisions of this Act, the right and the duty to provide programmes or parts of programmes to be broadcast toy the Authority, which may include Advertisements."—[Mr. Gammans.]

Question put, "That the Amendment be made."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 254: Noes, 228.

Powell, J. EnochSmithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N
Pries, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Tilney, John
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Snadden, W. McN.Touche, Sir Gordon
Profumo, J. D.Soames, Capt. C.Turner, H. F. L.
Raikes, Sir VictorSpearman, A. C. M.Turton, R. H.
Ramsden, J. E.Speir, R. M.Vane, W. M. F.
Rayner, Brig. R.Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K
Redmayne, M.Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardVosper, D. F.
Rees-Davies, W. R.Stevens, G. P.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Renton, D. L. M.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Walker-Smith, D. C.
Ridsdale, J. E.Stewart, Henderson (Fife E.)Wall, P. H. B.
Roberts, Peter (Heeley)Stoddart-Scott Col. M.Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Storey, S.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Robson~Brown, W.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Roper, Sir HaroldStudholme, H. G.Wellwood, W.
Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardSummers, G. S.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Russell, R. S.Suteliffe, Sir HaroldWilliams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E t
Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.Teeling, W.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Savory, Prof. Sir DouglasThomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Scott, R. DonaldThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Shepherd, WilliamThompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)Mr. Wills and Mr. Legh.
Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)

NOES

Acland, Sir RichardFoot, M. M.Logan, D. G.
Adams, RichardForman, J. C.MacColl, J. E.
Albu, A. Hi.Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)McGhee, H. G.
Alten, Scholefield (Crewe)Gaiteskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. NMcGovern, J
Awbery, S. S.Gibson, C. W.Mclnnes, J.
Bacon, Miss AliceGooch, E. G.McKay, John (Wallsend)
Baird, J.Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.McLeavy, F.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Mainwaring, W. H.
Benn, Hon. WedgwoodGrey, C. F.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brlgg)
Benson, G.Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Beswick, FGriffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Mann, Mrs. Jean
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Griffiths, William (Exchange)Manuel, A. C.
Bint, G. H. C.Hale, LeslieMarquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Blackburn, F.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Come Valley)Mason, Roy
Blenkinsop, A.Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Mayhew, C. P.
Blyton, W. R.Hamilton, W. W.Messer, Sir F.
Bowles, F. G.Kantian, W.Mikardo, Ian
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethHargreaves, A.Mitchison, G. R-
Brackway, A. F.Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Monslow, W.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Hastings, S.Moody, A. S.
Broughton, Dr. A. O. D.Hayman, F. H.Morley, R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Mort, D. L.
Burke, W. A.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Moyle, A.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Herbison, Miss M.Mulley, F. W.
Carmichael, J.Hobson C R.Murray, J. D.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Holman, P.Nally, W.
Champion, A. JHolmes, HoraceNeal, Harold (Bolsover)
Chapman, W. DHoughton, DouglasOldfield, W. H.
Clunie, J.Hubbard, T. F.Oliver, G. H.
Coldrick, W.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Oswald, T.
Collick, P. H.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Padley, W. E.
Corbel, Mrs. FredaHughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Paget, R. T.
Cove, W. G.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Hynd, H. (Accrington)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Crosland, C. A. R.Hynd, J. B. (AttercliffePalmer, A. M. F.
Crossman, R. H. S.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Pannell, Charles
Clifton, Mrs. A.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Pargiter, G. A.
Daines, P.Janner, B.Parker, J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Plummer, Sir Leslie
Darling, George (Hillsborough)Jeger, Mrs LenaPopplewetl, E.
Dairies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Porter, G.
Davies, Harold (Leek)Johnson, James (Rugby)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Jones, David (Hartlepool)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Deer, G.Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)Prootor, W. T.
Delargy, H. J.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Pryde, D. J.
Dodds, N. N.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Donnelly, D. L.Keenan, W.Rankin, John
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Kenyan, CReeves, J.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)King, Dr. H. M.Reid, William (Camlachie)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Kinley, J.Rhodes, H.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Lawson, G. M.Richards, R.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Lee, Frederick (Newton)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Fernybough, E.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Lewis, ArthurRoss, William
Follick, M.Lindgren, G. S.Royle, C.

Shaekleton, E. A. A.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. EWhite, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir HartleySylvester, G. O.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Shinwell, Rt, Hon. E.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)Wigg, George
Short, E. W.Taylor, John (West Lothian)Wilkins. w. A.
Silverman, Julius (Erdington)Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpelh)Willey, F. T.
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Thomas, George (Cardiff)Williams, David (Neath)
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)Thornton, E.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)Timmons, J.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Tomney, F.Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)Turner-Samuels, M.Willis, E. G.
Snow, J. W.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir LynnWilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Sorensen, R. W.Usborne, H. C.Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankViant, S. P.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Sparks, J. A.Warbey, W. N.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Steele, T.Watkins, T. E.Wyatt, W. L.
Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Weitzman, D.Yates, V. F.
Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.Wells, William (Walsall)
Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)West, D. G.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Stross, Dr. BarnettWhite, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen

I beg to move, in page 4, line 3, at the end, to insert:

"shall
(a) themselves provide in the programmes all items of current news, and."
The purpose of this Amendment is quite clear. It is to ensure that the broadcasting of news shall be the sole responsibility of the Independent Television Authority, and shall not be permitted either to the programme contractors or the advertisers. This is the first chance we have had tonight to discuss anything but the technicalities of this Bill, and our first opportunity to consider the impact which commercial television will have on the minds of viewers. It will be necessary for me to make some comparisons between what will result from the Bill as it stands and the current practice of newspapers in this country. I do that because this is the only comparison we can make at this stage.

Broadly speaking, I think the whole Committee will agree that what is utterly vital, if we are to retain an intelligent and educated democracy in this country, is that news shall be untrammelled and shall be free. It is, of course, the claim of the Press of this country that in being free it undertakes a duty to its readers, which it fulfils, of seeing that the news is not contaminated from any source. That is to say, the news which appears in the newspapers today is not influenced by the advertiser and, in fact, is not influenced by anything except the judgment of the editor and sub-editors. There are, of course, exceptions to that. Proprietors have been known to influence the course of events in their newspapers and on occasion have permitted their zeal for politics to allow opinions to creep into the news columns, but those are temporary aberrations with which I am sure the proprietors are not particularly concerned.

Apart from that—and it is not a very major consideration at this moment—the advertiser is not permitted to influence or control the news columns of the newspaper. Indeed, so rigid is this rule that the proprietors of newspapers see to it that advertisers are not permitted even to use advertisements which simulate news. If they do in the limited fashion in which that is permitted—known in the trade as "reader advertisement"—they have to carry a clear headline indicating that it is an advertisement, or at the end to carry the letters "ADVT."

In small letters, but large enough to show that the matter is not an editorial.

All the blandishments of the advertisers to obtain permission from the owners or managers of the newspapers to enable them to produce what looks like news features but which, in fact, are advertisements have failed. That is to the credit of the newspapers because, temporarily, they could have made quite a lot of money out of selling news-space to advertisers. But they did not do so because, in the long run, the whole thing would recoil on them. The reader would begin to lose confidence in the newspaper. That is something which the newspapers know does not pay.

Here, if the Bill remains in its present form, we shall get the reverse of that situation. We shall get news, not free and untrammelled, but news controlled and directed—and at times distorted— and put out for one purpose only, to sell the advertiser's goods. The experts who are over here at the moment, training the luckless advertising agents who know nothing about television advertising into the ways of the United States, are saying that the essential thing to remember is that the programme must create the right kind of climate for the "commercial," that is to say that at all times the programme must be subordinate to the interests of the "commercial." In fact, the programme has to be designed for the purpose of selling the goods.

What will happen when the commercial advertiser, who under this Bill is to be permitted at some time or other to broadcast news—either directly through a roving camera or by means of a newsreel—comes to consider, with his advertising agent and programme contractor, the form of presentation. First, he will not present news in the form in which it is presented by the B.B.C. There will not be the flat, unmodulated calm voice, for the advertiser will not attract listeners from the B.B.C. if he merely copies the B.B.C. "Me too-ism" will not do it.

What we shall have in this country, what the advertiser will want, is not the calm objective voice telling about a thing as it happened, but the excited, strident voice—the voice which is familiar to the American advertising agents now in this country—using the technique familiar to the American advertising agent, and putting over news in a way in which he is accustomed to having the news put over. We shall be faced with the Walter Winch ells and the Westbrook Peglers—the people who do not read the news but comment on it, who distort the news and who insert into the news comment which ought to be kept out. In that way objectivity goes completely.

Consider the position if an hon. Gentleman in this House was responsible for a cigarette half-hour appearing two or three times a week, or every day, on commercial television. Suppose he wanted a newsreel or a "spot" in the programme for news production. Would he organise a programme announcing or discussing whether cigarette smoking has any direct relation to cancer of the lung? Of course not. He would not produce a programme which did not create a climate for the "commercial."

Will any patent medicine advertiser in the same position produce a programme discussing the effect of the announcement by the Minister of Health that certain patent medicines—a great number—are to be struck off the list, either because they are worthless or because they are too expensive? That does not create a climate for the "commercial." What is to happen where a man wants a happy and contented and jolly audience? Does he doctor the news? Does he fake the news?

I see an hon. Gentleman opposite is smiling. But it was not so very long ago that advertising agents in this country—one in particular—wrote to the newspapers of this country saying, "If you forecast danger and destruction and war next year I shall not recommend your newspaper for inclusion in my client's programme, because you cannot sell goods to worried people." That is what a partner in a well-known advertising agency was saying. That is the sort of pressure he was trying to put on the newspapers.

9.30 p.m.

The nature of the advertiser does not change. He is emboldened and encouraged by the success of this form of presentation in the United States. There are right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who have said that we do not do things that way in Britain and that the American way of doing things will not succeed in this country. I wish it were true, but the example of the motion picture industry of Hollywood, and the success that it has had in this country, show that one can alter tastes, acclimatise people's ears to different tongues and get people to accept an entirely different standard of values, if only one can persist for a sufficiently long period.

The success of the American film in this country makes it clear that, given time, the American style of commercial television programme will succeed. The American television experts over here know no other way of presenting programmes and news than the way it is done in the United States.

Over the last seven years the B.B.C. has succeeded in producing a news service which is really first-class. I have heard many people say, "I never believe what I read in the newspapers," but I have not heard people say, "I do not believe what I hear on the B.B.C." The B.B.C has a reputation second to none in the world for telling the truth and reporting the news as the news takes place. Our people are unprotected from the virus which may be introduced into television in this country. It is like a man living on an island where the common cold has never been known, and then he comes to this country and catches a cold right away.

The population of this country, having learnt by experience that all they hear on the radio or the television news broadcasts is absolutely true, are in no condition to resist the blandishments of an advertiser who is in a position to distort news for his own purpose in order to create the climate for an advertisement. The Bill means that millions of listeners who have been conditioned to the truth will be put in a position in which they will be unable to distinguish between the truth and the distortion, stridency and exaggeration which the advertiser must use if he is to compete with the B.B.C.

For these reasons, and as I am certain that many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, if not all of them, are concerned to maintain in this country the principle that news is sacred and comment free, I hope that I and my hon. Friends will be supported tonight in attempting to ensure that those who will be responsible for the dissemination of news by commercial television will, in turn, be responsible to Parliament, and will be people who are issuing programmes entirely disinterestedly in the interests of the nation and not in the interests of some nostrum, and will take care that we do not descend to the vulgarity which passes for news on American television.

We might have supported the Amendment if it had not been for the speech of the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) in advocating it. I could not have believed that an hon. Member would try to commend the Amendment to the Committee on the basis that the B.B.C. had so hypnotised the people that they took everything which they heard on the B.B.C. as gospel. If that were right, it would be high time that we provided an alternative source of information for them.

Does the right hon. Gentleman really suggest that the B.B.C. fakes the news? Is he seriously saying that the people of this country should not believe that the B.B.C. news is authentic?

Every time he speaks, the hon. Member puts his foot further into it. He is now bringing out this deifying of the B.B.C., which is one of the greatest dangers to the B.B.C. There is not much difficulty in answering the question, but, as I did not interrupt the hon. Gentleman in his speech, I beg him not to interrupt me now. I am giving the answer to his question.

I say that the B.B.C., like all human institutions, is fallible, and is not to be taken as absolute gospel—the Ten Commandments brought down from Mount Sinai. Whenever we wish to ascertain the truth in all the most difficult relationships in human life, and particularly in the courts, where we have two advocates, one on one side and one on the other, nobody suggests that they are faking the truth; it is because we get different opinions that we get at where the truth really lies. That is the only way in which our determinations are arrived at.

If one uses a scientific instrument, one does not just take one reading, but one reads above and below and comes to a determination between the two. Similarly, a man shooting at a target does not attempt to hit it with the first shot, but overshoots and undershoots and eventually makes the correct shot. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Really, the ignorance of hon. Members opposite is startling. Do they deny it? Does anybody with any technical knowledge on the other side suggest that that is not the way in which the determinations of gunners are arrived at.

As an ex-gunner, may I say that one does not exaggerate in one direction and then exaggerate in the other. One goes for the truth first. I think that is the whole object of gunnery.

Speaking also as an ex-gunner, I say that the object of the gunner is to lay the bracket and close the bracket. The theory of the gunner in laying the bracket is that which is adopted in every delicate relationship in the whole world, and the suggestion that one can with a first shot hit the middle of the target is an utterly unscientific conception in any form of human relations. It is not borne out in the law courts, and everybody knows it.

The dangerous attitude is that which has been exposed by the hon. Member who commended this Amendment to us—this idea that news can be presented as the absolute truth and in such a form that people are thereafter incapable of determining or deciding between truth and error. If it were true, that would be the worst disservice to the people of this country.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the difference between a statement of fact and deductions made from the facts?

This theory that it is given to mortal man absolutely and accurately to determine statements of fact in conditions in which it is impossible for anyone else to quarrel with them is not the line upon which we go in this Committee. We state our different points of view, and the hon. Member opposite has just given his view, and hon. Members then decide for themselves. It would be very odd if the Government ever came to the Committee and said, "We are always right. We have determined the absolute fact. What need is there for a debate in Parliament?"

That is what the hon. Member is commending to the Committee. There Ides the serious danger to the British people in making it impossible for them to make any ascertainment or determination of anything which is put before them, and the hon. Member himself is commending the abolition of the process of Parliamentary debates. He has been demanding the abolition of the Opposition. We know those arguments well. They are the arguments of the dictators, "Why should there be any other source of information? The Duce is always right. Stalin is always right." That is what the Opposition are clamouring for tonight.

We say that that is not so. I do not think that the public or the Committee will believe the arguments that have been put before us. The suggestion that only from official sources can facts be ascertained is not borne out in history or in fact; but that is the contention which has been advanced by hon. Gentlemen oppo- site. They say, "Only from official sources can the facts be secured. When we have a statement from official sources we must not let anybody else have any other source of information because it might throw doubt upon the sources from which the official news has been produced." Can anybody conceive of such an argument being brought forward in Parliament, of all places? That is the argument which has been brought forward. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like it, and when they see it and have it exposed it shocks them. It certainly shocks everybody else.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the B.B.C. has been a reliable and objective disseminator of news in this country for more than a quarter of a century?

I do not deny it, but I deny that it should be the only collector and disseminator of news. That is the argument which has been put forward by the Opposition. They say, "Only the official news should be heard." We have all heard of the island where nobody had ever had a cold. When the cold did come, then all the islanders took the cold. The argument brought forward is for the insulation of the British people, this great nation which has fought for and ascertained truth all over the world and has made itself unpopular with many of the world's rulers by denying the accuracy of the official sources of information. Now, we are told, it has been reduced to such a state that if any piece of fallacious information is given by the B.B.C. or down the microphone it will swallow it, because it cannot distinguish truth from error. Those are the very words of hon. Gentlemen opposite.

I assume, of course, that the right hon. Gentleman believes what he is saying. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] On that assumption, I wonder whether he would indicate anything in which he could not believe.

On a point of order. Is it in order for my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) to insult the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) by suggesting that he believes that nonsense?

If the Opposition Members believe what they have been saying recently they will believe anything. They are telling us that they are so afraid of having any alternative source of information that they wish all other sources of information to be closed up, because if they are shown an error now they will infallibly believe it. That is denied by the plain facts of the case. The hon. Member opposite cited America. We have already given examples from the other side, and are willing to give them again, in which two opposite sides of a case have been presented in America, to the great benefit of the people of America.

It is a commercial broadcasting system which has presented, and is presenting, the case against McCarthy. If there were only a Government system dominated by McCarthy that case could not have been, and would not have been, presented. The American Government machine would be too frightened of McCarthy and too apprehensive to bring forward a case against him. It was left to the Columbia Broadcasting System to put forward a case against McCarthy.

The hon. Gentleman said that news will be distorted and twisted. That is McCarthy's argument, that anything against him is distorted and twisted news. It was left to the Columbia Broadcasting System to present an opposite system of facts, to the great advantage of America. It is not true that American news is constantly twisted and turned against the real facts of the case. We in this country have every reason to be grateful to Ed. Murrow. When Ed. Murrow was broadcasting here from London during the war, was it the opinion of. the hon. Gentleman that he was twisting, distorting and falsifying the news? Not a bit. The people in this country were very glad indeed to have the honest, decent straightforward reporting of Ed. Murrow.

9.45 p.m.

I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman is not aware that Mr. Walter Winchell was banned by the Federal Communications Commission for telling lies in his news broadcast over a commercial network, and that the Federal Communications Commission has constantly to check the tendency of American news commentators to distort the truth?

Inaccurate information may have been given on the American radio system. It has not been unknown elsewhere on more than one occasion when people have had quasi-Government enterprises to defend. This country is greatly indebted to many commercial enterprises which have revealed about Government enterprises the grim facts which were not being given to the world by Government sources. I am willing to leave it at that.

There are no infallible sources of truth anywhere in the world. I do not claim that everything in the American commercial system is true. I do say that, given the choice between truth and error, the American people are not incapable of detecting the difference for themselves. It is a gross libel on our people to say that they are less capable of detecting that difference than are the people of the United States, but that is what is being said on the other side.

Is the right hon. Gentleman trying to assert that at any time I have tried to suppress information which should have been the property of the Government? Is he making that accusation?

Not at all. As the hon. Member said earlier about hon. Members on this side, he is too sensitive.

Order. We are getting just a little far from the Amendment, and I would be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would confine his arguments to that Amendment.

I will do my utmost to obey, but I have, if possible, to give way to hon. Members opposite. I am unwilling to traduce them or to smear them, although they are not always as willing to refrain from smearing us.

I shall come narrowly and closely to the point. The suggestion that only from official sources can accurate news be collected and delivered is in fiat contradiction to historical and present-day facts. Without alternative sources, which, thank goodness, we have, in the Press we should be sadly ignorant of the facts. There is no reason to suppose that an absolute and accurate determination of facts can be secured from one source in the air any more than that it can be secured by one source in print. Those who argue for one source in the air would argue for one source in print. That is the way to dictatorship.

We all revere and enjoy the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot). I think that possibly we particularly enjoy the paradoxes which occasionally, like the gaily-coloured balls in the hands of the a conjuror, he balances on his eloquence. Like him, I am a great supporter of competition, but I think he went a little far. He said that in a law suit both sides of the case are presented, which is true, but surely one does not later have reports saying, on the one hand, that the defendant was found guilty and, on the other, that he was found not guilty. It is an established fact that the Government won the last Division with my assistance—they may have been right or wrong—but I cannot believe that we want competition to prove or alter the fact that they won.

The hon. Gentleman has surely heard of the Court of Appeal and knows that a verdict in one court may be reversed by another?

That does not carry the argument any further. The fact that the verdict is reversed does not alter the fact that in the lower court the verdict was one of guilty.

To do justice to the right hon. Gentleman's position, it is, as I understand it, that he wishes the result of the Division to be reported as being a 28 majority, then as a 24 majority, and finally as a 26 majority.

I am not quite sure whether we are doing the right hon. Gentleman more or less than justice or just justice. However, the right hon. Gentleman has had a scientific training, and there has been laboriously built up a corpus of scientific knowledge which a great many people accept, rightly or wrongly, and no doubt will continue to accept. There are, however, many types and shades of news in which it is difficult to distinguish between what is fact, as we understand it, and opinion.

I am a supporter of competition, and I do not believe that the British people have such a weak mentality that they will be debauched by a certain amount of competition on the air from sponsored or commercial television. However, when we come to the news, to say that its presentation should be supported by commercial interests is possibly carrying the argument for the Bill to rather doctrinaire lengths.

The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that if the Amendment was accepted the B.B.C. would hold the monopoly. That is not the purpose of the Amendment. There will still be two sources of news, the B.B.C. and the Authority.

Yes, to provide competition. That is what I understand. There will also be the newspapers. I very much enjoy the newspapers and a good many other hon. Members enjoy not only the rather more serious newspapers but the less serious newspapers. For instance, it is rather difficult to find the "Daily Mirror" in the House because it is in such demand. Whatever one may say about it, it fulfils a need. The British people want it; the British people get it. Why should they not have it?

But I think no one will deny that in selecting the news the newspapers show different characteristics. Some tend to select the sensational news, news that is attractive to the public, and for good reason, but not news that is always the more important in the long run. Sometimes news about the cosh boys and crime receives an undue share of attention in some newspapers, judged from the standpoint of what is important. That is perfectly all right in the newspapers. I am not so sure that we want to carry that on to the air.

I am not so sure we want to weight the news on the air as it is weighted in the newspapers. If one does not like one newspaper and the way it presents the news one can choose another newspaper, but on the air there can be at the most only two or three programmes from which to choose. There is a strong case for keeping the news on the air reasonably colourless, reasonably unsensational. It may be argued that if an alternative programme puts out sensational news those who do not like it can still listen to the B.B.C., but I am afraid that if a broadcast programme of news is objectionable—I am not saying that it will be—it will tend to degrade the reputation of broadcast news generally in Britain for listeners will not always distinguish between the news broadcast by the B.B.C. and by anyone else.

I am afraid people will say, "In the old days we used to be able to believe what came over the air from Britain. Now we are not so sure." That would be a great pity, and would harm our prestige abroad. We have to remember that in this country there is a terrifying belief—

But surely people abroad have no difficulty in distinguishing between "The Times," which is taken by every foreign Chancellory in the world, and the "Daily Mirror."

I think that is so.

I am not sure, however, that it would be equally easy for them to distinguish between the B.B.C. and an alternative programme. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] If hon. Members look at the "Daily Mirror" and then at "The Times," they will notice, even at first sight, some startling differences. On the other hand, when listening to the wireless I have to listen for a few moments before I know which station it is. One turns a knob and sometimes one gets an unidentified station—that is, with a set like mine which is laid out on the pre-war pattern. I think the difficulty is much greater. I believe there will be a danger that the whole standard will be reduced if we have commercial competition in presenting the news.

People have great belief in what is written in the newspapers and what goes over the air. It is sometimes taken for gospel truth if it has been seen in print or heard over the air, yet anyone who knows a subject intimately realises that nearly all reports on it are a little inaccurate. I do not think that is anybody's fault; it is inevitable because of the speed at which news moves, but that is nevertheless true. We have a strong duty to safeguard accuracy as far as we can, and I believe that this Amendment might well do that.

When we come to consider comment on the news, that is an entirely different matter. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that comment should be as free as possible—much freer than it is now. By all means let people discuss and comment on the news and have the greatest freedom in that direction. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, who wants to present different sides of matters on which we can take different views. I think that is clearly understood as being desirable and as being a different matter from the presentation of news.

There is one point I would make on it, however; I hope that the B.B.C. will be freed from some of the conventions under which it labours. For instance, there is a convention, agreed upon by all parties, that items which are to be discussed in the House shall not be discussed by the B.B.C. immediately beforehand. Occasionally that is unfair and certainly unnecessary. I hope there will be greater freedom in the expression of views but, ardent supporter as I am of competition, I do not think it is essential to have news programmes in this country—which at the moment are purely factual and ought to remain so—promoted by commercial interests.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and I are agreed in as far as he considers that competition is desirable. Where we seem to differ is on the degree of competition. He argued that it might affect our prestige abroad. I would remind him that in discussing the provision of a news service we are talking about television, and there is no question of our television news service being sent abroad, at least not in the direct way which he was suggesting. Undoubtedly, he had the analogy of sound broadcasting in mind.

I will not enter into the general argument of whether or not competition in the presentation of news is desirable, except to say that there is a distinct difference between truth and fact. When the adjutant of a regiment with which I had some connection reported to the brigade headquarters that 50 per cent, of the teetotallers in his regiment had died, that was a fact; and if such an item of news had been announced on the B.B.C, it would have been factual and objective. But to arrive at the truth it was necessary to be given another item of news, namely, that there were only two teetotallers in the regiment and that one of them had died.

When we turn to the precise effect of the Amendment, if it were carried—

10.0 p.m.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman has told us an interesting story. Would he think that that fact would be properly presented by an advertising agency acting for the brewers?

I should say that there is no reason to assume that an advertising agency acting for the brewers would not give both sides of the question. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to develop my ideas a little further on how a news service might possibly be presented that may become clearer.

The Amendment, if carried, simply means that instead of the news being provided by someone else it should, in fact, be provided by the Authority itself. I do not think that it is desirable that the Authority should provide the news. In the first place, it should not necessarily be mandatory upon the Authority at all to see that any news is provided. If it is felt that we should have news and that the Authority should insist upon a news service being provided, then the Authority should do it in a way otherwise than providing it itself.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is telling the Committee that so far as he is concerned he does not believe that there ought or need be any competition in the news at all.

I do not think that the hon. Member is correctly stating what I said. I said that it should not, in my view, necessarily be mandatory upon the Authority to provide a news service or to see that a news service is provided, but that is not the real point which I want to make.

If a news service is to be provided, then it should not be provided by the Authority. My reasons for saying that are simple. If we permit the Authority to put on a news service, the Authority will have to take unto itself studios, equipment and a large staff. If it is going to have those studios, equipment and staff merely for the purpose of providing news, there will be a considerable amount of time when that staff and equipment will be idle. Presumably, for a reasonable presentation of news there needs to be an outside broadcasting unit, at least one and probably others, and it is necessary to have the staff to go round with them. It may be that they will be idle quite a lot of the time when they could be used for some other purpose.

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman will find if he goes into this, that the part of the B.B.C. equipment most constantly in use is that for producing the B.B.C. home unit and outside broadcasts—all the stuff that today we generically call news. That is the side of B.B.C. equipment most fully used.

The hon. Member is, I believe, confusing outside broadcasting and news. I would not necessarily regard the televising of a sporting event as a presentation of news. If the B.B.C. put on a newsreel recording some outside event several days late that is not necessarily news. We have not yet seen in this country what television news should be. Therefore, I suggest that it is wrong at this stage that a provision of that kind should be in the hands of the Authority.

In my view, the Authority would not be a competent body to present the television news. I suggest the Authority should be told, "Now, you have to see that news is provided." The Authority would then go to the person who leases the transmitters and say to one of the programme contractors, or to several programme contractors, "We want you to put on some sort of news service." The Authority might give some kind of general indication, and would then leave it (to the programme contractors.

I believe that it should be left entirely to the programme contractor. I do not believe that the Authority should com mission news at all. I have never liked the idea of the Authority commissioning anything, but it might conceivably be possible—

Does this mean that the hon. and gallant Member now completely deserts his right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) and does not care whether there is competition in news or not?

It would be very odd if an Ulsterman were ever to desert a Scotsman; we have a good deal of kinship. At any rate, I think that that is probably the best method of approaching the business of news.

If a responsible programme contractor takes on the job of providing a full-time television service for several hours a day, for every day of the week, obviously he would be a person with considerable experience and ideas at his disposal. He is obviously the right person to put on the news. If, however, it is felt that that is undesirable, some sort of special agency should be set up rather on the lines of being in the same position as a programme contractor—a news agency, with the Authority commissioning the news from it. [An HON. MEMBER: "And paying for it?"] Yes, paying. I do not like that alternative anything like as much as the first one

Yes. I admit that this possibly concedes the argument which was advanced against my earlier argument about the Authority. But I should prefer studios and equipment owned by a private enterprise concern in contract with the Authority rather than the creation of another system of nationalised broadcasting—because that is what it would lead to.

We had some discussion earlier about State monopolies, but what we have now is nationalised broadcasting. That is what we are trying to defeat. I believe that the Amendment should be rejected, and I hope that my hon. Friend will see fit to advise us accordingly.

It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I now indicate the Government's attitude towards the Amendment. What we are discussing is the way in which the news shall be presented. The Opposition, I gather, feel that the only body who can be trusted to present the news with accuracy and impartiality is the Authority.

If the Authority did the news, we should run straightaway into the physical difficulty, although I do not base my case on that, which was put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr). It would mean that if the Authority presented the news itself, it would have to maintain an outside broadcasting organisation, editorial staff, and so on. I do not want to use that argument except to point out that this was not mentioned when the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) moved the Amendment. It is, however, a point to be considered.

In our earlier debates, was it not stated from the Government side that the £750,000 a year was not only for other purposes, but was for this purpose also? The hon. Gentleman is retracting.

I am not retracting. I am coming to that in a moment. The right hon. Gentleman must not race on to arguments that are two ahead of the one with which I am dealing.

The hon. Member for Deptford used the Press as an analogy. I am not quite sure whether he felt that the British Press was objective. I thought he got close to suggesting that sometimes it was not. He clearly thought that news presented through television by any way other than the Authority—I think I can quote his words—"would be distorted to suit the advertisers."

I thought the hon. Gentleman made out a very strong case for a single newspaper—and a Government one at that—because he was getting very near the idea that there could not be only one source of true news and that source must be under some sort of Government control. I am sure that that is not an idea which he with his experience would advance or one which he would care to put forward to a Press audience.

Under this Bill we are setting up an organisation which has certain definite obligations. One of the obligations is to present the news—and here I quote—
"with due accuracy and impartiality."
That is its responsibility. Why do we doubt its ability to do that, or do we mistrust its honesty to do it?

That is its responsibility. We have laid upon it an obligation which has not been laid upon the B.B.C.

So far as I know the B.B.C. has never been told to present the news with either accuracy or impartiality.

The right hon. Gentleman reduces everything to that argument. We are to set up this Authority, which is a body to which this House votes money.

Yes, public money, and the B.B.C. was set up in the same way. Why should we think there would be any difference with this Authority? Why should we distrust the men put on one authority and hold up the men on the other authority as misguided? It is plain what is behind the whole of this Amendment. One body of men are to be trusted and the other body of men are not. Both organisations are set up in the same way and they are both dependent on the Government helping them.

How can the hon. Gentleman say that when we say the Authority should be required to put on the news themselves, that that could possibly mean we are not prepared to trust the Authority? What we want is that it should do the job and not be compelled to sell it away.

We have set up the Authority on whom we have laid a definite obligation which is to see that the news is presented with accuracy and impartiality. We have never laid that obligation on the B.B.C.; we are laying it on the Authority and I think rightly so, but why should we start off by thinking it will not do it? Why do we mistrust it? Is it that we think that the wrong sort of men are to be appointed? What is the point of it all?

Surely the point is a technical one. How can the members of the Authority look at each item of news before it goes out? It is technically impossible.

The hon. Gentleman will agree that we have laid a definite obligation on the Authority to see the news goes out with accuracy and impartiality. We have given it stringent powers to enforce that. Where does the B.B.C. get its news from? To hear some hon. Gentleman talk one would think they manufactured it. But they get it from Reuter and from the Press Association.

10.15 p.m.