[1ST ALLOTTED DAY]
Considered in Committee [ Progress, 5th May].
[Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY in the Chair]
Clause 1—(The Independent Tele-Vision Authority)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 15, after "direct," to insert:
I hope that, whatever differences there may be between the two sides of the Committee on the Bill, we may agree on one point, that the Authority to be set up should be a body of prestige and standing, not only for the work it has to do, but also in order that it may attract men of the right type to serve upon it. Under the terms of the Bill,"by notice in writing, a copy of which shall be laid before each House of Parliament."
In our opinion, the position should not be left quite like that. We quite agree that it is necessary for the Postmaster-General to have that power, but my Amendment proposes that if he exercises it Parliament should be informed. That is the meaning of the Amendment which says that Parliament should be informed"The Postmaster-General may at any time direct that any member of the Authority shall cease to hold office."
That does not imply the cumbrous machinery of an Order in Council subject to 40 days during which a Prayer may be moved, but merely that the information shall be laid. Then, if it is thought necessary by any hon. Member, the matter can be raised by Question on the Adjournment, possibly on the Vote of the salary of the Postmaster-General, or in some other way. We feel that Parliament should recognise that this body will be of sufficient importance that none of its members should be arbitrarily dismissed by a Postmaster-General without Parliament having been informed. This Amendment would raise the standing and prestige of the proposed body and would give the impression to anyone invited to serve upon it that Parliament regards that service as service of importance. I hope that this is a matter on which we may take the Opposition with us, because it is designed merely to strengthen the Authority."by notice in writing, a copy of which shall be laid before each House of Parliament."
This Amendment deals with a contingency which is not likely to arise. It has never arisen in the case of the B.B.C. and I hope that it will never arise so far as the Authority is concerned. However, I consider that there is some point in the Amendment although I do not imagine that the Committee would wish to spend much time on it. I am prepared to accept the Amendment.As my hon. Friend has said it will merely mean laying a copy of the notice before the House. I imagine that it will entail laying a copy of the correspondence before the House, but that it would not be subject either to affirmative or negative Resolution; it would merely mean that the House would be fully informed. I consider that it is worth adopting this procedure as it gives a sense of importance to the dismissal of a member of the Authority which might otherwise be lacking.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, to leave out from "hold," to "of," in line 21, and to insert:
"office for such period, not exceeding five years, as may be fixed at the time."
I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if this Amendment were discussed with the next two Amendments on the Order Paper, in page 2, line 22.
I do not think that we need delay the Committee very long in considering this Amendment, which is comparatively simple, and, I hope, will prove to be uncontentious. The Clause as drafted reads:
We feel that these words are rather vague and imprecise. There is no mention in the Bill that members of the Authority shall have any specific term of office. If we are to attract persons of prestige and standing to serve on the Authority we feel that they should have some specific term of office. Apart from the necessity to attract the right people, there are a number of reasons why members of the Authority should have a specified term of office. If one is to visualise the Authority having any sort of continuity of policy and approach to the matters for which it is responsible naturally one would visualise a specified term of office for its members. If programme contractors of the right sort who come forward ask, "What is the Authority like? Has it any degree of permanence in the policies about which it is talking?" If the members of the Authority do not have this security of tenure programme contractors are likely to be put off. They will say, "We are dealing with members of an Authority which may be gone in two or three months' time, when the policy may be quite different." Therefore, to give the programme contractors reasonable security and the Authority a reasonable continuity of policy we feel that this Amendment should be accepted. 3.45 p.m. When we considered the matter originally we put down a very precise Amendment, but, on reflection, we felt that it would be better to leave to the Postmaster-General some latitude. We feel that in appointing the Authority four or five members might be appointed initially for five years and the remainder for three years. When vacancies are filled the term of office could be for five years, which would lead to a rotation in retirement and reappointment and have the effect of strengthening the Authority. I am sure that hon. Members opposite will support this Amendment, as they regard the Authority as the watchdog to keep in order the unruly, mischievous and wicked private enterprise programme contractors."every member of the Authority shall hold and vacate his office in accordance with the terms of his appointment.…"
We support this Amendment which, in effect, is exactly the same as the next Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friends. We are glad to see that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have so carefully followed our ideas in the matter and have abandoned the idea of the earlier Amendment, which was somewhat too rigid.At the same time, I wish to point out that this Amendment does not have the effect of fixing the term of office which the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) seemed to suggest. It merely limits the period to which the Postmaster-General may make an appointment.
I am in sympathy with this Amendment, which I am prepared to accept. The Amendment would mean that the Postmaster-General would have the power to stagger the period of office of members of the Authority. I think it improves the wording of the Bill and I am glad that the Amendment has the support of hon. Members opposite. It is obviously desirable that appointments of this sort should be staggered, and that everyone should not retire at the same time, for, otherwise, it would mean that accumulated experience would not be available to the new Authority. This is the practice which the B.B.C. has always followed. Perhaps I may be permitted to read an extract from the B.B.C.'s Charter:
by Order in Council. There is one other point which my hon. and gallant Friend has not mentioned, that when a man is appointed to the Authority he will be aware of the period for which he is to be appointed, and may make his arrangements accordingly. That is very desirable as most of these appointments will be on a part-time basis."The Governors shall be appointed for such respective periods, not exceeding five years, as may be directed …"
I understand that the Amendment covers both appointment and reappointment. Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that he agrees?
That is the way I read it.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what he has in mind when he says that most of the members of the Authority will be part-time? Can he be a little more precise? How many will be part-time and how many full-time?
No decision has been reached about that. The pattern which we propose to follow is that followed by the B.B.C. A large number of its board of governors are part-time members.
Does my hon. Friend propose also to accept the Amendment to line 22 in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Sir R. Grimston) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr)?
Yes, if it is moved. Amendment agreed to.Further Amendment made: In page 2, line. 22, at end, insert:
(5) If any member of the Authority dies or ceases to hold office before the expiration of the term for which he was appointed, the term of office of his successor shall be so fixed as to expire at the end of the first-mentioned term, but the Postmaster-General may, if he thinks fit so to do, defer the making of an appointment until the expiration of the said first-mentioned term.—[Sir R. Grimston.]
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, at the end, to insert:
Subsection (5) is the disqualifying subsection. Those to be disqualified include:"or an alien within the meaning of the British Nationality Act, 1948."
I and my hon. Friends thought that aliens should be joined with this company indicating our view that the Independent Television Authority should not be dominated by foreign persons or foreign capital. We bring forward the Amendment in order to ascertain the views of the Assistant Postmaster-General upon the point."… a member of the Commons House of Parliament or of either House of the Parliament of Northern Ireland or a Governor of the British Broadcasting Corporation."
I am rather worried about the words:
So far as I understand the Act, it includes citizens of the Irish Republic, and I should have thought that it was desirable to exclude them."… within the meaning of the British Nationality Act, 1948."
An alien is defined as being a person who is not a British subject, a British protected person or a citizen of Ireland.
I support the Amendment. I do not do so because I or any of my right hon. and hon. Friends are in any sense anti-foreign. I am sure that citizens of the Republic of Ireland would not be excluded by this provision; that is not our intention, and they are not foreign in our law. Our reason for supporting the Amendment is that we feel that the regulations on the matter ought to be stronger than they are in regard to the BBC.The situation in the case of the B.B.C. is covered by paragraph 11 of the Licence, which says that subject to conditions which may be prescribed by the Postmaster-General, aliens may be employed by the B.B.C., and we should not want to alter that provision. However, in the case of the B.B.C. we are dealing with a public service, but in this case we are dealing with people broadcasting for profit, and there is, therefore, a completely different state of affairs, which needs control. As the Bill indicates, these are people who cannot be trusted in any way, but the B.B.C. can be trusted. In this case there is a special danger of domination by American interests against which we must guard. We do not want to specify Americans in the Bill, and it is better to include them by merely talking about aliens. It is dangerous that the Authority should be exposed to a great deal of American influence and flooding. My hon. Friends and I are in favour of the Amendment and hope that the Government will accept it.
I hope that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Philip Bell) will not press this Amendment, because I doubt whether he realises all its implications. He says that it would not disqualify people who may be regarded as Commonwealth citizens, British protected citizens or citizens of the Irish Republic. Indeed, they would all be included.The main objection to accepting the Amendment, however, is that it would conflict with the policy of the Government—with that of the previous Government, also, I am sure—which is to oppose all foreign restrictions placed upon the activities of our nationals abroad. Although I cannot imagine the Post- master-General, in a matter of this sort, appointing anybody who was not intimately connected with our way of life, the precedent might be used in treaties with foreign nations in a much more serious context. It might be used in cases where we did not want it to be applied. If we were to impose by law a statutory obligation on the part of the Postmaster-General only to appoint Commonwealth or British citizens, we might find that used against us in a way that we should not desire. Nor do I think it is necessary. As I have said, I cannot imagine any Postmaster-General appointing anyone who was not intimately connected with our way of life. The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) suggested that there was an essential difference between this body and the B.B.C. There are differences, of course, but I do not think that there is any very great difference between the B.B.C. and the Authority. Both are charged with certain definite obligations to this House, and I hope that the Independent Television Authority will exercise its obligations in the spirit in which the B.B.C. has exercised its own. I would remind the Committee that in making the appointments the Postmaster-General is subject to Parliamentary scrutiny, and if he were to appoint someone whom the House thought undesirable, the matter could be raised in the House. For the reasons which I have given, and particularly the undesirable repercussions which it might have upon our foreign relations and upon our negotiations in respect of European Convention on the Reciprocal Treatment of Nations, we cannot accept the Amendment.
The Assistant Postmaster-General seems to be in agreement with the first part of the Amendment, but is not willing to accept it, for what seems to be rather a lame excuse. There is a difference between the B.B.C. and the I.T.A., and in view of the importance of a public authority such as this, there should be a safeguard in the Bill to provide that only British subjects are appointed.As far as reciprocity is concerned, I do not think it comes into the picture at all. I tried to follow the hon. Gentleman's arguments, but I cannot conceive what possible harm can be done to British interests abroad by saying that, on a matter which affects British broadcasting, no one shall be appointed who is not a British subject. I think the hon. Gentleman is making excuses for not doing something which the hon. Gentleman really feels ought to be done. If he can give us an instance of the way in which it might affect British interests abroad, 1 shall be prepared to listen, but I do not think it would, for this further reason. In the case of any foreign authority broadcasting abroad with a national responsibility—whether it be a semi-public or a public corporation—I cannot conceive of them appointing British subjects to carry out that work, and 1 do not see where this reciprocity comes in at all. I am one of those people who believe that, in the case of an important British service such as this, it ought to be carried out by British people, and I do not see that any harm is done by putting it in an Act of Parliament.
I cannot understand why the Assistant Postmaster-General has rejected this Amendment. After all, this is entirely a British institution which is to be concerned only with television within the United Kingdom. It is not concerned at all with foreign broadcasts, and surely the Assistant Postmaster-General does not envisage the possibility of a foreign national being appointed as a member of the Authority. If he does not envisage that, why cannot he accept the Amendment?The point about which some of us are rather worried concerns commercial television, which is an American institution, and we fear that pressure will be brought in order to include American programmes in the programmes broadcast by the Authority. It may be that, at a certain stage, to assist in the finances of the Authority, it might be considered desirable by those who have commercial interests at heart to include an American type of programme. We are opposed to that, and we think that the Committee should insert in the Bill the terms of this Amendment so that there may not be included on the Authority anybody who is not of British nationality. Cannot the Assistant Postmaster-General give us any convincing reason for rejecting the Amendment? He said that it is not necessary. Does he suggest that there is no likelihood that it will be done? If that is so, why will he not accept the Amendment?
I am very anxious that we should not occupy unnecessary time on this matter; I want to play the game, and place as much time as possible at the disposal of the Opposition.I should like to say quite frankly that there is no arrière pensée in the present wording of the Bill. It does not hide any concealed desire that any people of any nationality should be appointed to the Authority. There is substance in the point made by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) that there has been a general desire that the Authority should be composed of people of British nationality, and, therefore, that we should say so in the Bill. I fully recognise that, and I think it is the general feeling, but I should like to emphasise the point which my hon. Friend made, and which, I know, will appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) and also the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies), because of the part which they have taken in foreign affairs in the past. The Committee will remember that my hon. Friend mentioned the negotiations on the European Convention on the Reciprocal Treatment of Nations. That is one point which it is desired should not be prejudiced by action in this way. The other point which I should like to put to the Committee is that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been Ministers will be fully aware that, when a point like this arises—and it arises as the Committee will appreciate, in regard to a subsequent Clause which we shall be discussing later—there is always a fear on the part of the Department concerned with overseas matters, first, whether it might be infringing certain existing treaties, and, secondly, whether it may infringe other treaties that are in prospect. I think that the Committee is entitled to have greater details than we have prepared at the moment, and, in that respect, I put myself on the mercy of the Committee. I had not anticipated that there would be such general feeling on this Amendment, and, therefore, I should like to fortify myself by having more information on the way in which it would affect the overseas Departments, and I apologise to the Committee for not having it now. We have had general consultations and have been given their point of view, but I have not got the details. I therefore suggest—and I hope it will meet the view of the Committee—that I should ask my hon. Friend not to press this Amendment at the moment, and also ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite not to refuse him leave to withdraw it. Meanwhile, I shall get the detailed information for which I have been asked, in the hope that this may not go unnoticed and that the matter may be dealt with quite shortly on Report. If required, I will communicate to the right hon. Gentleman the further information which I obtain so that he can consider it before the Report stage. I hope that meets the spirit of the matter, and that it will prevent the Committee being delayed too long on this point.
I trust that the information will also be conveyed to my hon. and learned Friend, because my right hon. and learned Friend mentioned only the right hon. Gentleman opposite?
Of course, I will certainly write to my hon. and learned Friend also.
Although my right hon. and learned Friend has not given an absolute undertaking, it is still an undertaking that he will give sympathetic consideration to the arguments which have been advanced, and that, if they do not conflict with treaty obligations he will see whether some words can be included at a later stage. On that understanding, we should be very willing to see the Amendment withdrawn, and I think that my hon. and learned Friend will be willing to accept that view.
I am very grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for being so very much more forthcoming than the Assistant Post- master-General on this matter. We take it that some means will be provided by which the matter can be discussed again on Report stage, whatever the right hon. and learned Gentleman's conclusions may be after his inquiries; otherwise, we lose our right to express our view on the matter. Subject to that, and thanking him very much for the way in which he has dealt with the point, we would not object to the withdrawal of the Amendment.
In view of the assurance of my right hon. and learned Friend, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move, in page 2 line 31, to leave out "such."I understand from the Chair that we should discuss with this Amendment the related Amendments in lines 31, 37 and 46, adding a new paragraph (b). The purpose of the group of Amendments is to prevent the Authority from becoming a coterie of advertisers, advertising agents and programme companies. We seek to exclude from the Authority people who have an interest in programme companies, advertising agencies or advertising. From time to time the Assistant Postmaster-General and the Home Secretary have informed us that the Government do not want any kind of sponsorship, and they have, therefore, drawn a very tight line between the advertisers and the programme companies so that the latter shall not be in the hands of the advertisers. What the Government have apparently not decided is that those interested in advertising and programme making shall not sit as members of the Independent Television Authority. I thought it was the general view of the Committee that the Authority should be completely independent. That is the point that we are stressing in this group of Amendments. One can imagine that if the Assistant Postmaster-General puts the advertising agents and programme companies on the railway train, so to speak, they might soon get charge of the engine. It is desirable to bar any undue influence upon the Authority from any representative of the interests I have mentioned. Advertisers will be spending substantial sums of money, and if an advertiser were appointed as a member of the Authority he would be open to the suspicion that he was seeking preferential treatment for his own product. The same kind of thing is true of a person interested in an advertising agency. One can easily see that it will be inappropriate for a director of a programme company to be a member of the Independent Television Authority. 4.15 p.m. That is our case for these four Amendments and I should think they would appeal to the sense of fairness of public decency of hon. Members. The Assistant Postmaster-General and the Home Secretary have been very forthcoming so far, in regard to the Amendments already considered by the Committee. I hope they will respond in the same way to the group of which I am moving the first Amendment. We are putting forward a reasonable case, and we hope that it will meet with the sweet reasonableness already shown. The Independent Television Authority should start on the right basis, untrammelled and independent. It must have no strings, financial or otherwise.
I am sure that the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) has the best intentions, but I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not be able to accept the Amendments. I want to be reasonable about this, but the Amendments are far-fetched, quite apart from any consideration of how we are to apply them.Let us think it out. A man is to be appointed to the Independent Television Authority, and he is a first-class fellow. We must not approve of him too readily, however, because although he has no financial interests, according to the Amendments he has not to be interested in any product whatsoever that has ever been advertised or might be advertised in a programme. He cannot even be a distant, small shareholder in some business, even though he has no idea that it is likely to come into a programme. Although the intention behind these Amendments may be good, these are about the silliest Amendments I have ever seen on the Order Paper.
I do not say that the intentions of the Amendment are not good. I am surprised at the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) shouting out like that. I should have thought he would have been one of the first to realise how absurd these Amendments are. Their fault is that the words are so strong. If appointed, a member must have no interest whatsoever:
I suggest that the House should not spend much time on these Amendments, and I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will reject them."…. in any business, corporate body, partnership or organisation advertising or advertised in any programme broadcast by the Authority."
We have just been told that we are irresponsible people who have put down some silly Amendments. I propose to take up that challenge.
The hon. and learned Member must not put words into my mouth. I did not accuse any hon. Member of being irresponsible. I expressed the persona] opinion that the Amendments are silly. That is not the same thing.
I gladly accept the hon. Member's correction, but 1 think that he would be wise if he thought again before expressing such a wholly untenable personal opinion.In these three Amendments we are really suggesting two quite separate matters, and I hope to put them quite separately. One of our troubles with the Home Secretary is that we put before him a number of attractive propositions, and whether it is that he cannot always decide between so many attractive things the fact remains that he is extraordinarily apt to turn down the whole lot. I hope that that will not be the case here. The first proposition is that certain interests which, in the Bill itself, are recognised as possibly undesirable and possibly disqualifying interests should be made absolutely so and that the question should not be left to the discretion of the Postmaster-General. Quite frankly, the history of this business does not induce us particularly to trust the Postmaster-General in matters of this sort, but I do not put it merely on those grounds. Let us assume that in this matter the Postmaster-General had no faintly discreditable past and was someone in whom we had complete confidence. Even then I regard it as quite obviously undesirable that a person having a financial or other interest of any kind in an advertising agency should also be a member of the Authority whose main purpose is to control advertising agencies—and, I may add, advertising agents. I find it quite impossible to conceive of any circumstances in which a person having a financial or other interest in an advertising agency could properly be nominated as a member of the Authority. From the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) we had what I shall not call by its current colloquial name, but the not uncommon excuse that the interest is or might be only a small one. The hon. Member should have remembered that there are similar obligations in other spheres. Company directors, for instance, are under an absolute obligation to disclose interests, however small, which they may have in other companies. In the same way, as we were told the other day by the hon. Baronet the Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), we may at present have the case where a man may be disqualified from sitting in this House—I think very properly—because he is a contractor with the Government. In relation both to the duties of company directors and the duties of hon. Members one does not look at the size of the contract. One simply says that there shall be no conflict whatever between a man's financial or other interests and his duties as a responsible person, whether as a Member of this House or as a company director. Why should a different standard be adopted for the Authority? Why should the very people with whom the Authority will have to deal be allowed in, on the one hand, as the persons to be judged and, on the other, as the judges? If someone has an interest in an advertising agency we should say—without looking at the amount—that any interest should disqualify. It may be said that in other nationalisation Measures the matter has been left to the discretion of the responsible Minister. I suggest that what we are here considering is essentially different. The whole purpose of the Authority is to exercise, on behalf of the community, the Government—and Parliament itself, which is passing or is about to pass this Measure—control over advertising, advertising agencies and advertisers. In this Bill the question of whether or not a man can be in both camps at the same time is to be left to the discretion of the Postmaster-General. What 1 have said I shall not repeat in regard to the category shown in brackets in subsection (6) of Clause 1, but it is perfectly clear that the same principle applies with equal force to the type of manufacturer and the type of contractors there mentioned. The point is exactly the same. Secondly, why have advertisers been completely omitted? As the Bill stands a man, even though he has a very large, perhaps a controlling, interest in some advertiser, may be appointed, and the Postmaster-General is not bound to satisfy himself that an interest of that sort would not conflict with the performance of that person's duties as a member of the Authority. Indeed, the Bill indicates the contrary, because it does specify other cases in which the Postmaster-General must so satisfy himself. I cannot understand what reason there can be for this omission. I think I am not out of order in pointing out that one of the duties of the Authority is to see that the rules with regard to advertisements are carried out. Nevertheless, at the same time an advertiser whose conduct may be called into question with regard to those rules can be considered a fit person to sit on the Authority and to decide whether or not there has been a breach of the rules. Then, again, there are the programme contracts. It is true that they are made with the programme contractors, but behind the programme contractors are the advertisers and the advertising interests. It is the Authority which is charged with the duty and the responsibility of making those contracts. In those contracts it has its sole method of enforcing obligations on the programme contractors. It is upon that Authority that, apparently, we propose to allow advertisers to sit. I can conceive of nothing more monstrous. To suggest that the Amendment is silly gives me the impression that the hon. Member for Shipley must be so particularly interested in advertising in some form or another that he is unable to see the plain duty—
I think that is a very improper statement to make. No matter whether anyone happens to be interested, I am not.
I gladly accept from the hon. Member that he has no financial interest in any advertising agency. I did not mean to convey that he had. What I intended to say, and what I repeat, is that in this matter he is looking at the interests of the advertisers—
—and if I said more than that I gladly withdraw it. The hon. Gentleman is looking at the interests of the advertisers with a complete disregard of the duties of the Authority and the duties that we In this Committee have to safeguard the public in a matter of this sort. I should have thought it was quite indefensible to allow advertisers to sit on the Authority.I should have thought that the objections to the Bill were well known by now to hon. and right hon. Members apposite. They may agree with them or they may disagree, but they must recognise that there is the gravest public anxiety and disquiet about the role that the advertising agencies will play in this matter. We are not merely talking about irresponsible people. I am talking about people concerned with education, with children's programmes, with the provision of news, with some impartiality in our affairs, and the thing that is troubling them is that behind this screen of programme contractors and the rest they see an opportunity open to the advertising men who are to pay for a considerable part of this form of television. In these circumstances, to allow one of the people prominently concerned to sit on the Authority and have part in the responsible duties of the Authority seems to me a most flagrant and shameless disregard of public opinion in a matter that primarily concerns the public. I therefore say that these Amendments, so far from being silly, are obviously a sensible method of trying to protect to some extent, in a Bill which is in itself sadly defective, the requirements and reasonable interests of the public.
Are we not in danger of getting somewhat far from the matter under discussion and of indulging in merely fanciful suggestions? The problem before us is simply this. We wish to select good people for the Authority. We do not wish, in trying to obtain excellent people, to exclude everybody from the Authority, but as far as I can gather from the effect of the Amendments I cannot think of anybody who would not be excluded. I am sure that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite did not intend this, but that is the effect.I have been going over it in my mind. I really cannot think of anybody anywhere who would not be excluded. Lawyers would be excluded if they did anything except law—if they washed their faces, for instance, because it would be said that they had an interest in a soap business that might very properly be advertised. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am reinforced by the expressions of dissent coming from the benches opposite. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have drawn their net too tightly. It would be difficult to defend against a skilled lawyer such as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and several other hon. Gentlemen opposite a case like that. I should not like to defend my position on this Authority, for instance, as a traveller by B.O.A.C. against such hon. and learned Gentlemen, for I should fear that I should find myself disqualified for the position. A member of the Cooperative Society might, or even a reader of the "Listener," a prominent advertiser, that spends a good deal of money, quite rightly, in advertising its eminent virtues. I cannot imagine stronger words of exclusion:
in any of these programmes. I am thinking of the simple things that we daily consume."… that person will have … no financial or other interest whatsoever in any advertising … or in any business …"
I hope I can reassure the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that the Home Secretary will reassure him, that he can wash his face and read the ''Listener" with impunity. I do not think that by doing either of those things he will acquire an interest in the firm that provides the soap or in the "Listener."
The word is "whatsoever." I certainly should not like to defend that position against the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). He has drawn analogies far finer than that and succeeded with them, and drawn them against the advice of eminent lawyers on his own side who have counselled the House of Commons and, indeed, the Government, and who declared that the hon. and learned Gentleman was wrong, only to find that, subsequently learned judges held that the hon. and learned Gentleman was right.I may be allowed to wash my face, but I should not be allowed to tell anybody I washed it, or tell anybody the name of the soap with which I washed my face, for that would certainly be regarded as giving me an interest in it. I can imagine how the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch would play with a consideration like that.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not arguing against the words already in the Clause? The subsection already says:
Is the right hon. Gentleman arguing against the Clause or the Amendments?"… that person will have no such financial or other interest.…"
The right hon. Gentleman cannot have read the subsection or the Amendments. The subsection says:
The Amendment will bring in the word "whatsoever." The subsection would read:"… financial or other interest … as is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge by him of his functions.…"
Presumably the word "whatsoever" is intended to stiffen up, and very greatly to stiffen up, the subsection."… financial or other interest whatsoever.…"
Even if the word "whatsoever" is inserted the words "likely to affect prejudicially" will still be there and will limit even the word "whatsoever."
Is the hon. Member then pretending that the words he and his hon. and right hon. Friends wish to insert have no meaning whatsoever? Do they wish the whole thing to be left entirely to the discretion of the Postmaster-General? That is not the argument that has been put forward from those benches. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite have said that too much discretion is left to him and that this discretion must be limited and fettered. If the argument is that they do not intend in any way to limit and fetter the discretion of the Postmaster-General we are converging, and can rapidly come to a conclusion on this point.I was dealing with the case presented, which, in the recollection of the Committee, was certainly that a considerable further limitation upon the discretion of the Postmaster-General was desirable, and words were suggested to effect the limitation. I am suggesting only, without any attempt to put words into the mouths of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, that, quite unwittingly, they have drawn their net too tightly, and that if the Amendments are accepted there will be a great danger of exactly what we do not desire to see brought about, namely, a limitation so stiff that it will exclude not merely the persons we all wish excluded but those we desire to include. We desire to exclude from a controlling interest those who are likely to be substantially affected in their judgments by their businesses or their way of life, or even by their immediate interests. I fully agree. I think those people should be excluded, and if the Clause does not exclude them, let us have words that will, but there is a danger, in seeking to get rid of those people, of getting rid of all sorts of other people hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee would be most willing should be included. I suggest that we should look at these words again, because I cannot help feeling that they have been drawn too tightly. They would expose persons appointed to the Authority to a risk. We have just seen my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) temporarily excluded from Parliament, so that we have had to pass an indemnity Bill to clear him from fines and penalties because of a shadowy, tenuous connection with Crown patronage that none of us could reasonably have anticipated would have brought him within the mischief of the Act. It would have been a sad thing for us all if he had been permanently excluded from Parliament, and we should all have sympathised with him if he had been subjected to fines and penalties. But that is the sort of thing which will make people chary of going on bodies such as this. The danger is that we may draw the provisions so tightly that people who are desirous of serving, and who are desirable in every way, will say to the Postmaster-General, "This is so finely drawn that I have far distant connections which might possibly bring me within the mischief of the section. Consequently, I cannot accept your invitation." I hope right hon. and hon. Members will consider whether these words are not far too tight.
One of the differences between the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) and ourselves is to be seen in the use of the word "substantial." I am referring now to his speech and not to the Amendment or the Bill. He said that he would like to exclude people who are substantially interested or affected by commercial television. We would omit the word "substantially." and say that anybody who is affected by the business side of television should not be on the Authority.
Would the hon. Gentleman address himself to my particular argument—that there is almost nobody who is not affected in some way or another by the prohibition that he must not have an interest in anything being advertised?
"Financial or other interest."
That is what the Bill says.
Perhaps I may be allowed to make my speech now.What we are concerned about—and the views of the right hon. Gentleman do not lead me to think that we have not made our point clearly, either in the Amendment or in our speeches—is to balance in the Authority the business interests which will be looking after the programme companies or the advertising agents for the businesses which will come into the programmes, either in advertising their products or, in the case of the agency, making arrangements for the advertisers. We want to see all those interests kept out of the membership of the Authority. We think it is desirable in the public interests that they should be kept out, and to do that we have to draw the Clause very closely. We do not want to see any escape holes at all. The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) seemed to be under the impression that the only people who can serve in the public interest on an Authority of this kind are those drawn from the narrow business circle with which we are concerned. In fact, there are other people—lawyers, teachers, people who play a part in local government, trade union officials, housewives, workers in industry, people who play a part in public life, ordinary people—who might be on the Authority.
But surely most of those whom the hon. Member mentions as possible candidates could easily come within the terms of the Amendment. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvin-grove (Mr. Elliot) pointed out, they have an interest in the goods advertised.
They certainly have no financial interest in the goods advertised.
The hon. Member has mentioned a trade unionist. A trade unionist could easily be a member of the Co-operative Society, and the Co-operative Society could easily be one of the advertisers. He would, therefore, be excluded by this narrow definition.
If this Clause is passed as we seek to amend it, obviously nobody associated in any way with the Cooperative movement could serve on this Authority. We accept that position.
Or customers of the Co-op.
I think I have given way enough.Obviously, customers will not be referred to in the Clause as amended. It would read, in effect, "no persons having financial or other interests whatsoever whose interests are likely to affect prejudicially the discharge of their functions." A customer of the Co-operative Society will not be affected in that way. Hon. Members opposite are making far too much of the Amendment. We put it down to try to ensure that there shall be no loophole, and I think it is perfectly clear. Our purpose is to make sure that the business interests on one side of this affair will be balanced in the Authority by having no business interest there whatever. There are two important points which I want to put to the Minister, and I hope I shall be supported in them by the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. J. Rodgers). The small and medium-sized advertising agencies in this country are becoming rather worried about what is to happen to them and to their clients under commercial television if the Bill is passed, the Authority is set up and the second programme becomes a commercial television programme. They are already beginning to lose clients to the larger agencies—clients who want their goods advertised on television—because the smaller and medium-sized agencies are not big enough and have not enough capital to arrange for television programmes to be provided. I am quite sure that if we do not make it clear that advertising interests may not serve on the Authority, the smaller agencies will feel that they are being rather shabbily treated, not only by losing clients to the larger agencies but also by seeing representatives of, or people associated with, the larger agencies serving on the Authority. I am sure that no one would like that to happen.
Anybody who is interested in an advertising agency is excluded by the Bill.
I meant an indirect interest. As the hon. and gallant Member knows, large clients of agencies, who use the same agencies for many years, begin to have perhaps not a financial interest but nevertheless an interest in the success of the agency. They like to be associated with its progress.I think we should also always bear in mind that at least half-a-dozen of the larger advertising agencies in this country, which are keenly concerned about the development of commercial television, are, in effect, British branches of American agencies. I do not want to pursue an anti-American line, but I think it is necessary that we should keep that point of view in mind, and the best way to deal with it is to make certain in the terms of the Bill that nobody directly or indirectly associated with an advertising agency or the products which are advertised by the agency shall sit on the Authority. For those very good reasons, I sincerely hope that the Government will accept the Amendment.
I intervene because I think we should try to get clear the differences between us on the Amendment and deal with them. That is the spirit in which I intervene.There is some difficulty about the wording of the Amendment—the words "such" and "whatsoever" in the subsection—and about whether they achieve the purpose which the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) had in mind, namely, to make it an absolute disqualification and not a disqualification only where the Postmaster-General thinks that the interest is prejudicial. That is as I read the legal effect of the Amendment. On the other hand, I will deal with the substance of the point, although I think the hon. and learned Member would be disposed to agree with me, if he considers the point, that even if the words "no (interest whatsoever" were inserted, in that context they might still be qualified by the subsequent words. I do not know what is the hon. and learned Member's experience of cases concerned with the word "interest." My experience is that it is one of the most difficult words to delimit. If I may give one personal experience, it was certainly applied to voting rights in a company, although the existing share structure of the company brought no dividends to a certain individual. I think I am right in saying that this word has always been considered one of the widest that are known to the law. The phrase "financial or other interest" would clearly contemplate an interest in the share structure of a company. I am now meeting the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering, who desires that the holding of a small number of shares would be an absolute bar. I do not think that, on reflection, anyone would agree with that. If one happened to inherit or acquire in some way, in the chancy way that these things happen, 50 shares in a company, I should have thought that that would be a case in which a safety valve or some escape method would be required. The method that is suggested here is that of the Postmaster-General being satisfied. I will deal with the origin of that method in a moment. The hon. and learned Gentleman has been quite frank about the matter, and I will point out quite clearly the ancestry of the words. There may be a small income from some preference or fixed dividend shares which legally give an interest, and yet which clearly mean very little.
I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this phrase occurs in other nationalisation Acts, but a judge in court, for instance, would regard 10 shares or 10 million shares in a company as equally a matter which would disqualify him from deciding that case without consent from both sides.
Certainly, he would feel that he ought to tell the counsel in the case that he had such an interest, and equally clearly, as the hon. Gentleman knows, in every case counsel would say, "That is a matter of no importance at all; please go on hearing the case." That is what happens in fact, and in my experience it has always happened. Therefore, I do not think that the point takes the hon. and learned Gentlemen a great deal further, and I think that the point to which he and his hon. Friends must address their minds—it is a serious point—is whether they really want the holding of a number of shares which any reasonable person would suppose had no prejudicial effect, to be a disqualification. I do not think they would.Actually, the words as they are at present drawn would cover a legal interest as opposed to a beneficial interest, and would cover a trustee. I do not want to take niggling points, because it would be quite easy to put in "beneficial interest" and deal with that matter. The substantial point that I make is that the holding of shares ought to be subject to some reasonable decision as to whether they are prejudicial or not. As the hon. and learned Gentleman indicated, the ancestry of the words is in the nationalisation Measures, and we had particularly in mind the Iron and Steel Act which the Labour Government brought in and for which they were responsible. The words there are:
Therefore, the test that has been propounded is the test of the Minister concerned. I do not intend any offence when I say that I am sure that when hon. Members opposite consider the real question on which we are engaged, they will say, as they have said in the past, that the person who should apply the test is the Minister concerned, as is proposed in the Bill. When their feelings are assuaged towards those Ministers concerned—my noble Friend the Postmaster-General, the Assistant Postmaster-General and myself —I cannot help feeling, and I would be prepared to wager a modest sum, that the right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) who has held the office of Postmaster-General and the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) who has held the office of Assistant Postmaster-General, would not really relish this duty to be taken away from the office that they have adorned."Before appointing a person to be a member of the Corporation, the Minister shall satisfy himself that that person will have no such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially the exercise or performance by him of his functions as a member of the Corporation.…"
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way once more. We do want to get this point clear. The Iron and Steel Act does not specify any particular kind of interest as an absolute disqualification. What we are seeking to do is to leave the generality of interests to the discretion of the Postmaster-General, but to give to him a direction that in certain cases he should regard any interest as a disqualifying one.
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I am trying to answer his argument. Whether I satisfy him, of course, is a different matter.The Bill says that the Postmaster-General shall satisfy himself in the same way with regard to these classes: advertising agencies, any business concerned with the manufacture or sale of apparatus for wireless telegraphy or other telegraphic equipment, or any business concerned in running the programmes. In these businesses I think it is unreasonable to leave it to the Postmaster-General to decide whether the interest is one that is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge of his functions. Again, I put the point that the acquisition in one way or another of a small number of shares really does not affect the position, and I think that that is the difference between us on the first point. I say that it should be left to the Minister to decide whether the shareholding is likely to affect prejudicially. After all, in the Iron and Steel Act the words are
Therefore, I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that if those words were translated into practical terms, what is really meant is a shareholding in a company that would affect him prejudicially. In that case, the only difference is that that has to be general, whereas here—and I thought this would really be welcomed by hon. and right hon. Members opposite—we have said quite clearly that the Postmaster-General must look at any shareholding in companies doing that and decide whether it is sufficient possibly to adversely affect the person. That is the first point, and I think that is the difference between us there, but I do not think that this is a very great difference. 5.0 p.m. The second point is, I think, a great difference. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want any member of the Authority to hold any shares in the company which does or might advertise on television. I think there is a difference between us and that it is a fundamental difference."such financial or other interest."
I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that "does." of course, states the present position, but if companies are not advertising at the moment they might be advertising in a short time and the mischief would be the same. As I have said in a different context, this would really rule out anyone who had shares in the vast majority of industrial companies. As I see it, if we do not allow on the Authority anyone who is connected with an advertiser, that is a company that advertises, then we prevent ourselves from recruiting for the Authority from anyone who has shares in the vast majority of industrial companies. That, I think, is ridiculous.
Surely within the terms of the Bill only in so far
their duty. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's arguments which related to the first point do, in fact, answer him on the second point."as is likely to affect prejudicially …"
I kept them distinct, because I do not think that they do. I want to put it quite frankly. That is why I said I did not think there was very much between us on the first point, but I thought that there was a great deal between us on the second point.For example—I do not want to quote actual companies, because that may introduce a person—suppose we had a company that made bicycles and wanted to advertise bicycles. I am taking something which is not connected with the actual equipment of television. We might have someone who owns a very great number of shares in that bicycle company. I should have thought that the fact that that bicycle company was going to advertise on television, as they advertise in the Press or in any other means of advertising open to them, was not in any way a bar to his being a member of the Authority. That is the difference between us. I fully agree with the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) when he said that, of course, there would have to be a variety of people on the Authority. As I have said in our discussions, I entirely approve, and I cannot imagine there not being a trade unionist on this Authority. There are a number of categories which, obviously, have to be considered when we are discussing this. I do not think that we ought to rule out the successful business man because he has a holding or his money is invested in industry. I do not think that for that reason he ought to be prevented from being a member of the Authority. The Postmaster-General will, of course, look into any special position and is bound to consider, if he does his duty as I am sure he will, whether the person is suitable. It may be that he has taken, or is taking, a very active part in the work of the company which would make him unsuitable, but I do not think that in this case a large holding or the holding of certain investments should be a bar, because this is twice removed. This is not a programme company; this is a person who is to carry out an ordinary commercial function, that is placing his advertisement in the places where he will get the best return.
Might it not be the duty of the Authority to decide that a particular advertisement put in a programme by a programme company was good, bad or improper? It might be an advertisement put in by the very firm in which the man had interests. Is not that something that ought to be avoided?
That is a point provided for in the running of every company. It is provided in every company's articles and provided for by the man taking no part in that in which he has a commercial interest. That is a point which ever since the joint stock companies have been in existence has been dealt with.
This is not a joint stock company. It is a great public Authority.
I am not putting this point with any irritation; I am merely answering the right hon. Gentleman, that this occurs in every public authority, and in all the public authorities set up under the nationalised industries. We get people on these authorities who have their interests. If the interests conflict, they follow the usual course adopted in dealing with it. The fundamental difference between us on this point is that we think that to exclude advertisers would be to exclude those who have been successful in business and industry and who, therefore, hold investments, and we think that the Authority would be much poorer if we were to make that exclusion.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke just now about the articles of companies. Has he noticed that the First Schedule of the Bill does provide for certain cases where a member of the Authority must disclose the nature of his interest at a meeting of the Authority? But that is not this case. That is the case of programme contractors. When it comes to the case of enforcing the rules against an advertiser, there is no such provision in the First Schedule. On the point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made just now, that provision ought to have been put in the First Schedule.
I think that anyone in those circumstances would not act and that the chairman would see that he would not act.
I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman must look at this argument again. It seems to me that if we concede him his objections to the first two Amendments which we are discussing—and I am not saying that we are prepared to do so—there can be no possible objection on his part to accepting the third one. Indeed, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's arguments tended towards that point. It seems that, like the Government generally, he is still unaware of some of the implications of commercial television. One of our great objections is the possibility of direct influence by the advertiser on the programmes. The advertiser is just as likely to have a special interest in these matters as the programme contractor.Let me take a particular point. I assure the Committee that I intend nothing personal about the very distinguished gentleman to whom I refer. Take, for instance, somebody like Sir Geoffrey Heyworth, of Levers, a man of high public esteem, the type of individual who, we could all say, could safely be put on any body. But Levers are one of the biggest advertisers. So, in looking for suitable people to put on the I.T.A., there is quite a likelihood that one might have under consideration people whose companies were advertising in a big way. Quite apart from the personalities concerned, would the Home Secretary think it desirable that such a person should serve on the Authority? If he thinks it is not desirable, why should we not put into the Bill a broad direction in relation to advertisers along the same lines as the broad direction which is already included in relation to programme contractors and advertising agencies? I am not arguing the first two points. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not accuse us on this occasion of introducing contradictory Amendments. If the matter was considered, the Government could make a real concession and one that would give to the public mind rather more confidence in the Authority.
I am glad that my right hon. and learned Friend has emphasised that there is complete unanimity on both sides of the Committee as to the desired aim that the people who are appointed to the Authority should conduct themselves without any prejudice. It is only in respect of the means of achieving what both sides want to do that there is any problem. To my mind there are two elements of difficulty. First, there is the objective definition of what is an interest, and then there is the subjective determinant of the interpretation of who comes within that objective definition. If we make the first half too restrictive, we shall be excluding virtually everybody from serving.Consider the case of the mutual insurance companies, with their vast industrial business. A mutual insurance company may have a share in, say, Levers, to whom reference has been made. If the first half of the test were too restrictive in its objective definition, anybody with a policy in the company would be forced to surrender it before accepting nomination by the Postmaster-General. That would similarly apply in the case of building societies and the Co-operative movement, and in the case of every shareholder in every large-scale company. Probably 90 per cent, of the population would be potentially excluded. Moreover, what about wives? Suppose that an extremely successful woman is managing director of an advertising agency. As I understand it, her husband would not vitiate the first part of the test in accordance with the interpretation given by some hon. Members opposite, but under the Bill as it stands he could properly be excluded on the subjective side. I would think that that would apply equally to Sir Geoffrey Heyworth, and that he would not allow his name to go forward because of his interest in that way. What we want is a means of excluding those people who would be prejudicially affected and a means of interpreting the objective side so that the subjective side of the Clause may work effectively.
The hon. Member is quite reasonable. I should like to ask him a question. I understand his objections to the first two Amendments; they are really a separate matter, as my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Shackleton) has pointed out. Do I gather that the hon. Member would agree that the same duty might be put upon the Postmaster-General with regard to advertisers as the Bill imposes on him with regard to advertising agencies?
I see no objection whatever to the Amendment in line 30—after "interest," to insert "direct or indirect"—which seems to come in a quite different category.
It seems to me that hon. Members opposite, including the Home Secretary, have been making heavy weather of our Amendments. We are not wedded to any particular form of words but we are concerned with the principles which are involved. The Home Secretary deployed some convincing forensic arguments in the first part of his speech but later seemed to get involved in a little verbal quibble. All we are concerned about is that the Authority shall be a public corporation. It is a so-called Independent Television Authority.It has been stressed throughout these debates that it will be a public corporation that will operate in the interests of the community, the public service, and the rest. Therefore, we on this side of the Committee are concerned that it should follow those principles which are scrupulously followed in the case of all public corporations which have been set up by various Governments within the last 20 years. That is to say, that the members of the Authority shall be chosen, first, for their qualifications which they hold for the job that they undertake; that they shall be absolutely disinterested in respect of the operations of the Authority; that they shall bring to the task which is entrusted to them and shall carry out their responsibilities with complete objective judgment; and that, in regard to all matters of policy, all matters of management and day to day details, they shall be completely objective and completely disinterested. We think that they can only do that if they are personally disinterested and have no financial interest whatever in the programme contract company, in the products which are advertised, or in any other way whatever. We do not carry the objection nearly so far as the Home Secretary tried to suggest. Nobody suggests that if a member of the Authority happens to have 10, 20 or 100 shares in Unilever he is thereby to be disqualified from being a member of the Authority, because there are the qualifying words in subsection (6):
It is unfair, therefore, to reject the Amendments on the ground that because a person has a financial interest—a small shareholding—in a concern, he is thereby disqualified from being a member of the Authority. None of us suggests that, because there are these qualifying words."as is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge by him of his functions.…"
I want to see that I understand the argument correctly. As I understand it, if a person had the smallest number of shares in an advertising agency which happened to be a limited company, he would be right out.
In the other three categories mentioned in the subsection, the shareholding would have to be such as is prejudicial; that is the second point. The third point that hon. and right hon. Members opposite want is that if the man has a number of shares in a company that advertises with the programme company, that should be a disqualification if the Postmaster-General thinks that that number of shares is prejudicial. That is as I understand it.
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He has got the point perfectly correctly. It is only a disqualification if a person's holdings are so great that they would definitely prejudice his judgment in carrying out his responsibilities. That, I think, is perfectly reasonable. That is the intention of the Amendment, and now that the Home Secretary has grasped the intention and obviously supports it, there does not seem to be any reason why he should not accept it.
I disagree with the first point because I do not think that 10 or 15 shares matter one way or the other. As to the second category, we are on common ground; it is in the Bill. As to the third, I say that there is a fundamental cleavage between us because if a man happens to hold a large number of shares in an industrial company it should not be regarded as prejudicial. It seems irrelevant to me.
It is a matter of degree, but the fact remains—and I am sure the Home Secretary will agree with this—that the duty which is imposed on this Authority is to protect the standards for the community, and there could well be a conflict if a person who is interested in advertising is a member of the Authority, because he should only be concerned with putting on a balanced programme and giving the best service possible to the community. If he is personally interested in a company which is concerned with advertising a product in which he is interested over the network through a programme, he may be influenced in regard to the time which is given to that company and the place on the programme which is allocated as well as in other ways.He could be influenced, and we do not wish any influence to be exercised on a member of the Authority by his particular interest. As we have already pointed out on this subject, it is only a matter of degree. If the person's interest is so great that it is likely to influence his judgment in serving the community, then it is too great, but if it is too small so to influence him it is not going to put him in that position, and we need not worry. However, it is for the Postmaster-General to make the decision. None of us disputes that. I do not see why the Home Secretary cannot accept the Amendments we have put down, and I would ask him to reconsider the matter. I am convinced that he does not wish the programmes which are going to be put on the air to be influenced by members of the Authority because of their personal interest. If he agrees with that, then he can accept these Amendments.
My reservations on this Bill are well-known, and there are a number of things in the Amendments put down by the Opposition which I shall wish to support, but I am bound to say, on these Amendments, that far from my right hon. and learned Friend making heavy weather of them it is the Opposition which is making the heavy weather. First I want to say that in a recent debate I attributed to the hon. Member for Dept-ford (Sir L. Plummer) some words which subsequently I found were not strictly accurate. I have apologised to him privately, and I wish to take this opportunity of doing so publicly.The Amendments we are discussing are ill-thought out, and the Opposition is trying to create the impression that everybody connected with the advertising profession or industry in any form are unmitigated blackguards and are likely to conduct themselves in such a way, if put in public office, that Parliament must legislate in order to protect the public against them. I do not believe that to be so at all.
This is the second time during the Committee stage that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has attributed to the Opposition statements which were never made. He does not know apparently what we are seeking. He has already apologised once for an inaccurate statement, and he may well have to apologise a second time.
I think it is the hon. Gentleman who will have to apologise because this is the first time that I have spoken during the Committee stage.
I withdraw my remark and apologise to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I should have said that his remarks made during the consideration of the Guillotine Motion.
If the hon. Member will read the speeches made in the last hour or so he will find that I am not guilty of any exaggeration whatever. The right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards), in moving this Amendment, referred to the "gravy train," as he euphemistically put it, which the Government are creating under this Bill, but I should like to point out to him that when the Labour Party was in power it created the biggest gravy train of all time in the nationalised industries, and there was never any provision to prevent members of the Labour Party from riding on those gravy trains as first-class passengers.It seems to me that the Opposition is seeking so to limit the qualifications for members of this Authority that very few people will have the right to serve on it. I do not believe that that was the intention of hon. Members opposite, but one could, for example, imagine that any member of the Labour Party, the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party would be prohibited from becoming a member of the Authority. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If hon. Members will allow me, I will develop my argument. It is highly probable that the political parties will seek to advertise on the air. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh‡"] Certainly, there are such things as political broadcasts.
That is not in this Clause.
Is that the hon. and learned Gentleman's intention, under certain other Amendments?
There are Amendments on the Order Paper which may or may not be accepted. I do not know the intention of the Government, but I would say that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that at some future time political parties may engage in political broadcasts on commercial television.
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Tory Party would break the law, but if it keeps to the law it cannot advertise under this Bill.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has really jumped too far ahead. There is no law on this matter at all, and all I said was that it was within the bounds of possibility that there would be political broadcasts by the main political parties. If that is not advertising then I do not know what is. After all, what is a political broadcast but an attempt by a political party to sell its goods to the country? The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot get away from that fact.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not suggesting that the political party would pay for the broadcast, because under this Bill advertising is something which is paid for, and it would only be an advertisement if it were paid for?
I cannot see any possible objection to the Conservative Party, the Labour Party or the Liberal Party buying time on the air if they wanted to, any more than I can see any possible objection to any religious sect doing precisely the same thing.
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is going a little wide of the Amendment, and he should now return to it.
I was simply seeking to demonstrate how wide these Amendments are drawn, and just what is their full implication. I should also like to point out that a national organisation such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which does very fine work, may wish to buy time on the air to appeal for funds. It may be that one of the patrons or vice-presidents of the organisation was a member of the Authority, and would thereby be debarred under this Bill.
No, read line 37—"prejudicially."
The hon. Gentleman always trots out the word "prejudicially" and puts a great deal of emphasis on it. He seems to think that that is all that matters. I want to point out that people do do things from altruistic motives, and that those who may have a large shareholding in an organisation are just as likely to do things properly as somebody who has only a small or no shareholding. I wish the hon. Gentleman would get it out of his head that because people have a considerable shareholding their actions will be governed solely by the consideration of seeing that their own company is the only one that thrives.There are hon. Gentlemen opposite, the hon. Member for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling) and others, who represent the Co-operative societies, who have their election expenses paid by the Co-operative societies, and so on. No one would suggest that those hon. Gentlemen come here and put forward the policy of the Co-operative societies; they are actuated by motives far greater than that. What the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) is prepared to accept for his own side of the Committee, he should be willing to accept for hon. Gentlemen on this side of the Committee.
Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that this is precisely why we have been suggesting this phrase. It is for the Postmaster-General himself to decide. We do not say that everybody has bad motives if they happen to have a few shares in a company. We say that if they have too many, they should be out. We also say that the Postmaster-General should judge according to this qualifying phrase, which is very important.
We then come back to the question of what is the size of the shareholding which prejudices judgment. If the hon. Gentleman is able to make such a differentiation, he is much more clever than hon. Gentlemen in this Committee give him credit for being.We may create an Authority in the initial stages which has the full support of both sides of the Committee, and the members appointed to it will certainly have interests of one kind or another. Then subsequently we may suddenly find that one company, which in the initial stages had no desire to advertise or to take part in commercial television, wishes to buy space, and that one of its directors who has a big shareholding in his company, is a member of the Authority. What is to happen then? Is he to retire from the Authority forthwith? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I ask hon. Gentlemen who now say "Yes" to consider the implications. In those circumstances we are likely to have an Authority which is changing its composition almost weekly, and in such conditions its work would be impossible. It may be that that is what hon. Gentlemen opposite want.
I shall not say much about the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper). He was not only misinformed but was setting up his own Aunt Sally by implying that we had said that people with business interests were a collection of unmitigated scoundrels. There was nothing in any speech made by an hon. Member on this side of the Committee to justify such an implication. Again I would call the attention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the words, in page 2, line 37:
It seems to me that most hon. Gentlemen opposite have overlooked those two lines. It is a hard life, Sir Charles, because here we are trying to help the Government, who have spent a lot of time resisting our Amendment to Clause 1, line 1, where we wanted to change the name of the Authority to the "Commercial Television Authority," but the Government insisted that it must be called the "Independent Television Authority." In view of that, I am certain that the Government would not want the Authority to be dependent in the slightest degree upon the advertising interests, and these Amendments are designed to make quite certain that that will not come about. If the Government do not like the first two Amendments, the fact remains that I have not heard a great deal said, either by the Assistant Postmaster-General or by the Home Secretary, against the third Amendment. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that there is not much dividing the two sides of the Committee, my reply is that this Amendment is within the spirit of what both sides want. If the actual form of words does not meet with the wishes of the Government, I should like the Government to suggest another form. It is important that this Authority should be independent, not only in the name which the Government have given it, but also in fact. What we are trying to do here is to make certain that the Authority is independent of the advertising agencies."as is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge toy him of his functions as member of the Authority, …"
I am wondering whether the hon. Members really under- stand what is at stake. When we put down these first two Amendments of the group of three I thought there were was some substance in them, despite the charge that they were irresponsible. After all, the Government have said that persons with interests in programme companies shall not sit on the Independent Television Authority. They say equally that people in advertising agencies who have an interest, financial or some other, shall not sit upon the Authority.That brings me to the third Amendment, about which the Home Secretary was helpful, and which I thought he would accept. This provides that the third category, say the chairman of a big brewing company which spends a quarter of a million pounds a year on advertising, shall not be on the I.T.A. I should have thought that all hon. Members here would agree that the chairman of a large company which was spending a huge sum on advertising—whether pools, dogs, beer, detergents or deodorants—he would be too financially interested to be a member of the Authority. I thought the Home Secretary, speaking for the Government, accepted that point of view. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman was concerned about was the size of the share. We leave that question to the discretion of the Postmaster-General, who has to decide whether the size of it is such as prejudicially to affect the person in his function as a member of the I.T.A. Why is it wrong to apply the same reasoning to the advertiser, because, in the last analysis, it is he who will provide the money? He is the man who will be the master of the situation, the man with the money. As things now stand, he can be a member of the I.T.A. We say that is wrong, and I press the Assistant Postmaster-General to accept the Amendment to Clause 1, page 2, line 37, and I ask him at the same time to repudiate the suggestion that political parties are to be allowed to buy time under this Bill. I hope that the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper), who referred to political parties buying time, will take note that I am asking the Assistant Postmaster-General to repudiate the possibility of that coming within the provi- sions of this Bill. We do not propose to press the Committee to a Division on the Amendment to leave out "such," or the one to insert "whatsoever," but I ask the Assistant Postmaster-General to give serious consideration to the Amendment in page 2, line 37, dealing with advertisers.
First, on the point made about political parties and religious bodies buying time, I would refer the Committee to paragraph 6 of the Second Schedule, which deals clearly with that matter. If that paragraph remains in the Bill at the end of our debates the buying of time by such parties and bodies will not be allowed.The right hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) has put very clearly the difference between the two sides of the Committee on the Amendment to line 37. The upshot of that difference is that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends feel that anybody who advertises in any programme broadcast by the Authority should be excluded from membership of the Authority. I think that the Opposition would admit at once that if we were to accept that Amendment we should limit our choice very much. We should debar people who have been successful in business, and if we applied the limitation literally there would be a very narrow range of selection left. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] There is no question about it. We should be debarring many people whose judgment and experience and knowledge in these matters would be of great value to the Authority.
There are two separate points here, one of which arises on the first two Amendments which we shall not press to a Division. In the case of the third Amendment, the point is whether the Postmaster-General should be directed to see whether advertisers have such an interest as prejudicially to affect their discharge of the duty.
If we were to exclude from membership of this Authority anybody whose products might be, or were, advertised on the programmes we should be very much restricted in the type of person we could appoint. I do not think that that is necessary. Anyone who puts forward that point of view cannot have considered sufficiently carefully the relationship between the Authority and the advertisers. After all, the advertisers will not normally be in contractual relations with the Authority but with the programme contractors.
The Authority could be responsible for advertising.
Only in exceptional and very temporary circumstances. 5.45 p.m.The main bulk of the advertising business will be between advertising agents and programme contractors. Members of the Authority will not create programmes or accept advertisements. That will be done by the programme companies. The Authority will have to decide upon the type of advertising. The right hon. Member for Caerphilly spoke about a firm of rich brewers. They will be in no contractual relationship whatsoever with members of the Authority.
Has the hon. Gentleman not overlooked the duty of the Authority to see that the rules relating to advertisements are complied with? That is not a general question. As the hon. Gentleman will see from the rules themselves, that involves a detailed supervision of the advertisers.
I would agree with that, but my point is that normally there would be no contractual relationship between the Authority and the advertising agencies. Therefore, the belief that, because these men have a particular interest in a product, they would press the advertising of that product by some means or another, is a belief that is entirely unfounded.I was asked about the powers of the Postmaster-General in this matter. Under
Division No. 104.]
|Acland, Sir Richard||Blyton, W. R||Cove, W. G.|
|Adams, Richard||Bowen, E. R.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S)|
|Albu, A. H.||Bowles, F. G.||Crosland, C. A. R.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Crossman, R. H S|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Brockway, A. F.||Cullen, Mrs. A.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Daines, P.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Darling, George (Hillsborough)|
|Bacon, Mils Alice||Brown, Thomas (lnce)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)|
|Baird, J.||Burks, W. A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Butler, Herbert (HacKney, S.)||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Bence, C. R||Carmichael, J.||Deer, G.|
|Bonn, Hon. Wedgwood||Cattle, Mrs. B. A.||Delargy, H. J|
|Benson, G.||Champion, A. J.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Beswick, F.||Chapman, W. D||Donnelly, D, L.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Clunie, J.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)|
|Bing, G. H. C||Coldrick, W.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Blackburn, F.||Colllck, P. H.||Edelman, M.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighousa)|
the provisions of Clause 1 (6) he must satisfy himself that any person, that is someone who is about to be appointed,
"… will have no such financial or other interest … as is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge by him of his functions as member of the Authority,…"
That will apply to everybody appointed by the Postmaster-General, and not merely to people connected with industry. I believe that the Clause goes far beyond what appears in existing nationalisation Acts, and in it the Committee have every conceivable safeguard that hon. Members could require.
If we went further than that, we should be debarring quite unnecessarily people who, we hope, will be of great value to the Authority, and we should be excluding a great range of knowledge and experience. It seems to me that by the provisions of the Clause the Postmaster-General is not only responsible to Parliament but has certain specifications laid down for him which severely limit the type of person who can be appointed. Unless I am to change the whole nature and type of the persons who can be appointed, I must resist the Amendment.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 37, after "programmes)," to insert:
"or in any business, corporate body, partnership or organisation advertising or advertised in any programme broadcast by the Authority."—[Mr. Ness Edwards.]
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 241; Noes, 265.
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Nets (Caerphilly)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Royle, C.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Lewis, Arthur||Short, E. W.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Lindgren, G. S.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Finch, H. J.||Logan, D. G.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||MacColl, J. E.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Follick, M.||McGhee, H. G.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Foot, M. M.||McGovern, J.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgfield)|
|Forman, J. C||Mclnnes, j.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||MoLeavy, F.||Snow, J. W.|
|Gaitskell, Rt, Hon. H. T- N.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gibson, C. W||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Glanville, james||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Sparks, J. A.|
|Gooch, E G||Manuel, A. C.||Steele, T.|
|Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Mason, Roy||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mayhew, C. P.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (VauxhaN)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Messer, Sir F.||Stross, Dr. Bamett|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mikardo, Ian||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Hale, Leslie||Mitchison, G. R.||Sylvester, G. 0.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Monslow, W.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Moody, A. S.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hannan, W.||Morley, R.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hargreaves, A.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Thornton, E.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mort, D. L.||Timmons, J.|
|Hastings, S.||Moyle, A.||Tomney, F.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mulley, F. W.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Murray, J. D.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Nally, W.||Usborne, H. C|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Nea), Harold (Bolsover)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Oldfield, W. H.||Warbey, W. N|
|Hobson, C. R.||Oliver, G. H.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Holman, P.||Oswald, T.||Weitzman, D.|
|Holmes, Horace||Padley, W. E.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Holt, A. F.||Paget, R. T.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Hough-ton, Douglas||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Deame Valley)||West, D. G.|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pannell, Charles||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Parkin, B. T.||Wigg, George|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, A.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Willey, F. T.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Popplewell, E.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Porter, G.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertitlery)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Janner, B.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'H'y)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Proctor, W. T.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Pryde, D. J.||Wills, E. G.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Rankin, John||Winterbotton, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Reeves, J.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Woodburn, Rt- Hon. A.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Keenan, W.||Rhodes, H.||Yates, V. F.|
|Kenyon, C.||Richards, R.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Paneras, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Kinley, J.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Mr. James Johnson and|
|Lawson, G. M.||Ross, William||Mr. John Taylor.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A||Colegate, W. A.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Boyle, Sir Edward||Jonant, Maj. R. J. E.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Braine, B. R.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert|
|Arbuthnot, John||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Craddock, Beresford (Speltorne)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Crouch, R. F|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt Hon. P G T||Crowder, Petre (Ruitlip—North wood)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bullard, D. G.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Burden, F. F. A.||Deedes, W. F.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Carr, Robert||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Cary, Sir Robert||Donner, Sir P. W.|
|Birch, Nigel||Channon, H.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Churchill, Rt Hen. Sir Winston||Drayson, G. B.|
|Black, C. W.||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinsttead)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Cole, Norman||Duthie, W. S.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Redmayne, M.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lindsay, Martin||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Llewellyn, D. T.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Fort, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugn (Stone)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Longden, Gilbert||Rot son-Brown, W-|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Lucas, Sir Jooetyn (Portsmouth, s>||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. O. (Pollok)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Gammans, L. D.||Lyltelton, Rt. Hon. 0.||Russell, R. S.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H||McAdden, S. J.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|George, Rt. Hon Maj G. Lloyd||McCorqiiodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Glover, D.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Godber, J. B.||Maokesen, Brig. Sir Harry||Scott, R. Donald|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col A||McKibbin, A. J.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Gough, C F H||Maekie, J. H. (Galloway)||Shepherd, William|
|Gower, H. H.||Maolean, Fitzroy||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maoleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Entield, W.)||Smrthets, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Macmiltan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Hotncastle)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Speir, R. M.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Speire, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Marples, A. E.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodrdin)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Maude, Angus||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hay, John||Maudling, R.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Maydon, Ll.-Comdr. S. L C||Storey, S.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Modliootl, Brig. F.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Heath, Edward||Mellor, Sir John||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Molson, A. H. E.||Studhofme, H. G.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Monekton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Summers, G. S.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythtnihawe)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Mott-Radtlyfle, C. E.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Teeling, W.|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Neava, Airey||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P||Nicholls, Harmar||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nicolsoii, Nisei (Bournemouth, E.)||Thompson, LI.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nirid, Basil (Chester)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmoutli)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. lvas)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewishant, N.)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tilney, John|
|Hudson, W. R. A- (Hull, N.)||Odey, G. W.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N i||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hutchison, James (Scotsloun)||Orr-Ewtng, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weslotl-super-Mare)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Olborne, C.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Page, R. G.||Wakefield, Sir Waved (St. Marylebom)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Perkins, Sir Robert||WaHcer-Smrth, D. C|
|Jennings, Sir Roland||Peto, Brig. C H. M||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Ward, Hon. George (Woroetter)|
|Johnton, Howard (Kemptown)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Ward, Mist I. (Tyirnnouth)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Water house, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Pitman, I. J.||Welrwood, W.|
|Kaberry, D.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Powell, J. Enoch||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Price, Henry (Lewitham, W.)||Williams, Paul (Sundorland, S.)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0. L.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Profumo, J. D.||Wills, G.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A||Raiket, Sir Victor||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Ramtden, J. E.|
TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
|Legge-Bourke, Mai. E. A. H.||Raynet, Brig. R.||Sir Cedric Drcwe and Mr. Vosper.|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 43, after "shall," to insert:
It would be convenient, Sir Charles, if, with this Amendment, we could discuss the following two Amendments in page 2, line 44 and in line 46. The present position is that the Bill obliges anyone to furnish information about disqualification. The object of these three Amendments is to make certain that a person who has any interest which may disqualify him shall inform the Postmaster-General and, if he fails, the net effect would be that he would be sacked. We have arrived at a stage where it is possible for an advertiser to be a member of the I.T.A.—indeed, an American advertiser, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Sir L. Plummer) said. It is significant to note that subsection (6) says:"whenever he acquires any such financial or other interest as aforesaid (whether or not in his opinion that interest is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge by him of his said functions) or."
It is realised that there have to be safeguards in order that those with vested interests cannot become members of the Authority. One thing which has transpired, from the two White Papers right up to the Second Reading of the Bill, is that there has been an attempt by vested interests to secure certain powers within commercial television. The Government, quite rightly, placed in the Bill safeguards, but in our opinion those safeguards are not sufficient, and these Amendments are an attempt to tighten them up. We think that the onus should be on the individuals themselves to declare their interests and we state further that the Postmaster-General should be in a position to review these appointments. It could be argued that in this respect the Postmaster-General is a reviewing authority. I hope, therefore, that the Assistant Postmaster-General will feel able to accept this Amendment. We all know that there are certain interests which we on this side of the Committee are bound to suspect. There are other Amendments on the Order Paper which, if accepted, would set up a monopoly in advertising. 6.0 p.m. There is a gentleman about whom my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) may have something to say, a Mr. Norman Collins, who has had the temerity to say that he has a monopoly. In circumstances such as those it seems to me that the importance of these Amendments is doubled, that it is a public duty on the part of the Assistant Postmaster-General to accept them. I cannot see that any argument can be raised against them. If I commit a motoring offence it is no excuse for me to plead ignorance of the law. If these Amendments are accepted it would be no use for a person appointed to the I.T.A. to say that he did not know. The onus is put upon him and it also gives the Postmaster-General the power to sack such a person within 14 days. We consider that these Amendments are highly desirable and will have the effect of tightening up the Bill. From statements made during our debates in Committee and on Second Reading—in particular by the Home Secretary—there is no doubt that the Government realise that it is necessary to watch the interests which seek to gain control of this commercial television.Before appointing a person to be a member of the Authority, the Postmaster-General shall satisfy himself that that person will have no such financial or other interest (and, in particular, no such financial or other interest in any advertising agency or in any business concerned with the manufacture or sale of apparatus for wireless telegraphy.…
To be fair to Mr. Norman Collins, would the hon. Member make clear to what he was referring? What is Mr. Norman Collins said to have claimed about a monopoly?
He did not say there was a monopoly, but that he had a con tract for the London area. He said at a luncheon recently—
Can the hon. Member substantiate that?
I could. I have not the details with me, but I can furnish them. Of course, we have other examples given during the debates on Second Reading—
This is rather important. I take it that the hon. Member will be in a position to substantiate his statement before the end of the debate and, if possible, before the end of our discussion on this Amendment—
All right, we shall do the same every time with you.
That may well be, but at the moment I am discussing a matter with another hon. Member. It is a serious matter and it would be to the advantage of the Committee if that statement could be substantiated before we come to a Division.
This statement has been made before in the House. It was made during the Committee stage—
It was inaccurate.
The statement was made at a luncheon—
All I wish to say further is that we have had to watch these interests. During the Second Reading debate I myself quoted an instance that as a result of the intervention of two gentlemen on the Television Advisory Committee, there were certain recommendations made with regard lo wavelengths, and it is because of these tendencies that we are moving this Amendment.
This is a rather narrower point. I take it that the hon. Member, having made this statement, has offered to substantiate it? I hope he will be in a position to substantiate it within a reasonable time, say within half-an-hour or three-quarters of an hour, or before the end of this discussion.
I assure the right hon. Gentleman that these statements have been made—
In this House—
They were wrong.
Mr. Collins said he had the rights for the purpose of commercial television in London, and because of these statements which have been made we feel it necessary to tighten up the Bill by inserting these Amendments. I hope they will be accepted by the Assistant Postmaster-General.
I am sure that hon. Members opposite who support these Amendments do so with the desire, which is shared by all of us, that we shall have the best possible authority. But I do not think that the case for these Amendments is greatly strengthened by what might be described as rather wild statements, such as the one to which we have just listened. It is that sort of wild, or, shall we say, extravagant, statement which might be blown up by the words of these Amendments if they were actually added to the Bill. I do not think that the danger is as great as is suggested by hon. Members opposite.Already, there is a great amount of safeguarding in the Bill. We have convinced right hon. and hon. Members opposite that their earlier Amendments were exaggerated and they dropped Amendments referring to "such" and "whatsoever," feeling that that was going rather far.
The right hon. Member will no doubt recollect that we are working under a Guillotine. We cannot afford to have a Division on every Amendment, whatever we may think of it.
I am willing to take it that way, but from the clear and eloquent speech of the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) I understood that he was concentrating rather on the second part of his argument—the second prong of his fork—the one about advertising agents, rather more than the general argument which he had put forward.
But it is still a fork and not a stiletto.
On the whole, I find a fork less dangerous than a stiletto. If the hon. and learned Gentleman chooses to advance on me with a fork I am less likely to be disquieted than if he advances on me with a stiletto.This is really a rather narrow point. It is true that a special kind of guard is necessary against people for whom hon. Members opposite feel very great uneasiness. But I think they are pressing this matter too far. I ask them to consider whether what they are seeking to achieve will be completely obviated by the dangers they are introducing with this network of restrictions which they are trying to throw about the matter. It is true that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. But here we have already safeguards and restrictions which go to an unprecedented length and I think we shall find it difficult, in practice, to administer all these meticulous regulations which we are putting into the Bill. If we tighten up this still further we may destroy the purpose which we all have in mind, which is to get a good Authority. The danger it is hoped to remedy by these Amendments is so slight that the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) had to buttress his argument with the suggestion that Mr. Norman Collins had made some statement which, when challenged the hon. Member could only say was a statement which had already been made in this House. We are challenging that now. We are now actually discussing the position. If the chief buttress of the hon. Member's argument for the Amendments is a statement about a man who has held office under the Government in an important Department—and whose opinions and statements must be weighed with the greatest care both inside and outside this House—he ought to have prepared himself with chapter and verse before he made it. We are willing to suspend judgment for a short while, but it is not unreasonable to claim that at an early hour the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) should be able to confirm the very damaging and wounding assertion which he has made.
In the debate on the Guillotine Motion last week I mentioned Mr. Norman Collins and asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether Mr. Collins was right in telling both advertisers and applicants for jobs that he would have a monopoly of the London station. I asked if it was true that those remarks were made by Mr. Collins on the occasion of a private lunch held by the Script Writers' Guild and also to a gathering of advertisers and advertising agents, as has been reported. The Assistant Postmaster-General did not reply. My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) is surely entitled to believe that Mr. Collins is getting a monopoly of the London station when the Assistant Postmaster-General will not reply to a direct question like that.Nobody is suggesting that Mr. Collins is wrong in having a monopoly of the London station. We are merely asking whether he has been given it. It is reported that he has said that he has been given it. I do not know why hon. Members opposite get so angry when one of their friends and associates happily announces that he will have a monopoly of television in London.
The purpose of the Amendment is clear—
Does the hon. Gentleman refuse to give way?
It is that the onus shall be on the person who acquires or possesses an interest to disclose it to the Postmaster-General rather than that the responsibility should be on the Postmaster-General to ascertain whether the person is acquiring or possesses an interest. That is reasonable, decent behaviour. A man who puts himself in peril in a situation like this should at once go to the Postmaster-General and disclose the position in which he finds himself.A lot of heat is being engendered because we suggest that the advertiser has certain responsibilities and should face up to them and that certain limitations should be put on him. A little while ago the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper) suggested that we were putting forth the idea that the advertiser is ipso facto a scoundrel. That is ridiculous. Hon. Members opposite should not get so angry when the advertiser is mentioned. They should face the fact that in the newspaper industry certain limitations are placed upon the advertiser. For instance, no advertiser may have any interest in an advertising agency. The Newspaper Society and the Newspaper Proprietors' Association recently announced that they would call for an annual return to make sure that no advertiser had any interest in an advertising agency. It seems to me that we are entitled to insist on similar conditions being imposed upon the advertiser in this respect. It is nothing new to the advertiser. He is not going round saying, "This is absolutely terrible. A Member of the House of Commons has called me a scoundrel." He feels no more anger about that than when the secretary of the Newspaper Proprietors' Association asks him whether he has any money invested in an advertising agency. Let us not waste too much time on the advertiser; the advertiser is not worrying. Let the Committee accept the Amendment which provides that a person acquiring or possessing an interest must come forward in a perfectly normal manner and declare it to the Postmaster-General.
Let me first deal with the point about Mr. Norman Collins having stated that he has been given a monopoly of the London television station. Whether he has made that statement or not, I do not know. I remember an hon. Member opposite referring to this earlier, but I did not reply because I thought it was a wholly irresponsible remark, and if I replied to all such remarks I should do nothing else. No decision has been reached as to who shall have the London station, or about whether it shall be run as a monopoly or whether it shall not be run as a monopoly. It is not a matter to be decided by the Postmaster-General; it will be decided by the Authority.As to whether or not Mr. Norman Collins will get it or whether he even wants it, I have no means of knowing. I do not even know whether that remark was made. I should like to dissociate myself from any statement that Mr. Collins has been promised or guaranteed a monopoly of the London station. If we were to accept the Amendment, I do not believe that we should find any responsible person willing to serve on the Authority. We may like the Bill or dislike the Bill, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) said, surely we are all interested in getting the right sort of person on the Authority. If we were to subject persons to this sort of scrutiny or to place this responsibility upon them, I do not believe that anyone would serve on the Authority. I should not, and I do not believe that any hon. Member in the House would, if the Amendment were embodied in the Bill.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us which aspect of the Amendment would prevent him from accepting office? Does he object to responsibility being laid upon himself or anyone else to declare his interest?
I shall come to that.The Committee may like to know where we got the present provisions from. We did not get them from the B.B.C., because all that is provided in the case of the B.B.C. is section 8 (3) of the Charter which says:
We got these provisions from the Iron and Steel Act, which says:"A Governor …shall cease to be a Governor … if he shall hold any office or place in which his interests may in the opinion of Our Postmaster-General conflict with any interest of the Corporation."
I do not know whether, when that provision was being considered, hon. Members opposite were as anxious about the Corporation under that Act as they were about the Authority in this instance."Before appointing a person to be a member of the Corporation, the Minister shall satisfy himself that that person will have no such financial or other interests … and any person who is, or whom the Minister proposes to appoint and who has consented to be, a member of the Corporation shall, whenever requested by the Minister so to do, furnish to him such information as the Minister considers necessary for the performance by the Minister of his duties. …"
The Iron and Steel Act was designed to keep private interests out of a public service. The Bill is designed to put private interests into what has hitherto been a public service. Surely different considerations should now apply.
I do not think so. The whole object of this body is to control private interests in relation to television. That is the whole point of the Authority. As the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) said, the Amendment would transfer the onus in relation to information about interests from the Postmaster-General to the member of the Authority concerned.I think the chief objection to this Amendment is in that part of it which is in brackets, which reads:
To repeat, after that, that such a member, on acquiring such an interest—whether or not in his opinion that interest is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge of his duties—must disclose it, is to credit that member with far less intelligence than one would expect in the type of man which we want to have on this Authority. What is more, it is virtually an insult to say to such a man that he must go along to the Postmaster-General every time when, in his opinion, he thinks his interests might affect the discharge of his functions. The effect of such a provision would be that we should not get first-class men on the Authority. Of that, I have no doubt whatever."(whether or not in his opinion that interest is likely to affect prejudicially the discharge by him of his said functions)"
Surely the hon. Gentleman is completely mistaken. The point is that, if a man acquires such an interest, it is not up to him to decide whether or not it will affect prejudicially the discharge of his functions. He must go to the Postmaster-General. In the Bill it is up to the Postmaster-General to find out, but, instead of leaving it to the Postmaster-General to satisfy himself on the matter, we are trying to save the hon. Gentleman and his noble Friend some trouble; that is all.
If that is a valid point now, it was equally valid in the case of the Iron and Steel Bill. I am quite sure that, had this been included in the Iron and Steel Bill, we should not have been able to persuade first-class men to accept that responsibility.I think we are becoming muddled as between the work of the Authority and the work of the programme contractors. The Authority will not be, nor is it likely to be, in a contractual relationship with advertising agents, and I cannot see how this particular difficulty arises. I do not know what virtue the word "declaration" has, or why failure to make a "declaration" should disqualify a man automatically from being a member of the Authority. Whether the word "declaration" is more solemn than the word "statement" I do not know.
May I tell the hon. Gentleman?
No, I cannot give way.I think the idea of a penal Clause of 14 days in which to provide the information, to which the hon. Gentleman did not really refer, is not a very good one. It would surely create a tremendous feeling of uncertainty on the part of members of the Authority, who would have to declare their interest within 14 days, or else all that they may have done before or subsequently might be ultra vires. Personally, I should not like to be a member of an Authority with such a Clause in the Bill, and, for that reason, I cannot accept it.
We have heard a good many speeches on this Amendment, and we have had a very heavy and pontifical interjection by the right hon. Gentleman for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) who called it extravagant and later on went on to call it narrow. I do not know which he really had in mind.The position is a very simple one. The Government have laid down that anyone who is a member of an advertising agency shall not be a member of the Independent Television Authority. The Government have also said that no one who is a member of a programme company shall be a member of the I.T.A. The third category of persons who shall not be members of the Authority are persons who are engaged in the business of manufacture. Having appointed members of the I.T.A. who are not in any of these three categories, surely, it is right that, if one of them later comes into one of these three categories, he should disclose that fact? It is a simple point, and I should have thought that there was nothing insulting about it. The Assistant Postmaster-General has said that we should leave it to the Postmaster-General to find out. All that is done here is to provide that a person who is appointed to the Authority shall be told "If you do become a member of an advertising agency, a programme company or a manufacturing company, you must tell me within 14 days." That is all, and that is the first obligation upon a person who acquires this new interest. He must disclose it. I am trying to find out what is objectionable in disclosing an interest which is in conflict with a position which one already holds. The hon. Gentleman says it is an insult; I cannot understand the use of that word.
Surely the point which the hon. Gentleman is making applies with regard to the Governors of the B.B.C. The B.B.C. advertise in the "Radio Times" and elsewhere to the amount of £1 million a year, and the Governors do not have to say when they have a small shareholding in a company which advertises with the Corporation. I am not quite clear why the Governors of the I.T.A. should be placed in this position.
This is the position. Here is a commercial undertaking which is to be run in order to enable certain private companies to make profit. [Interruption.] Certainly, it is a commercial undertaking, intended to operate on a commercial basis. We are saying that members of the Authority ought not to be in a position of being a party to a contract with the Authority itself. After all, it is for the Postmaster-General to decide whether the interest of a member is such as to prejudice the discharge of his function.That is not a matter to be left to the individual. In the initial appointment, although the person may have a small interest in any one of these three things, the Postmaster-General can still say that that interest is not large enough to prejudice that person in the discharge of his function. It is he, and not the members of the Authority, who decides that question. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the fact that these words are taken from the Iron and Steel Act, but, surely, that is utterly irrelevant, because the words explaining the three types of person are the words imposed by the hon. Gentleman himself. If he had wanted to take the Iron and Steel Act as an example, one would have thought that he would have taken it in its entirety. He distrusts advertisers, manufacturers of wireless sets and programme companies and provides for their exclusion, but he will not provide that, if a member of the I.T.A. becomes one of those things, he shall be obliged to declare his new interest. I cannot understand why the Assistant Postmaster-General does not accept the Amendment. When Amendments were moved from his own side of the Committee this afternoon he blandly accepted them. Here is something to safeguard
Division No. 105.‡
|Acland, Sir Richard||Broughto-n, Dr. A. D. D.||Deer, G.|
|Adams, Richard||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Delargy, H. J.|
|Albu, A. H.||Brown, Thomas (Inee)||Dodds, N. N.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Burke, W. A.||Dugdale, Rt, Hon. John (W. Bromwich)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Carmiohael, J.||Edelman, M.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Champion, A. J.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphitly)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Chapman, W- O.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)|
|Baird, J.||Clunie, J.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Coldrick, W.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Bence, C. R.||Collick, p. H.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fernyhough, E.|
|Benson, G.||Cove, W. G.||Finch, H. J.|
|Beswtck, F.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Crotland, C. A. R.||Follick, M.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Foot, M. M.|
|Blackburn, F.||CuHen, Mrs. A.||Formaa, J. C-|
|Blenfcinsop, A.||Daniel, P.||Frawr, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Gailskell, Ri. Hon. H. T. N|
|Bowles, F. G.||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Glanville, James|
|Brockway, A. F.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gooch, E. G.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P C|
the Postmaster-General, who is accountable to this House, yet the hon. Gentleman says that the Minister must find out for himself whether or not one of his I.T.A. members has acquired such an interest. Surely it is in the interests of good government and of the House of Commons, as well as of the Postmaster-General himself, that a member of the I.T.A. should disclose the acquisition of an interest which is in conflict with his function as a member of that body.
That is the line we take, and we shall press this group of Amendments to a Division. One Amendment deals with acquisition, the next with declaration to the Postmaster-General, and the last with declaration within 14 days. The hon. Gentleman said that 14 days was a long period of grace, but we must give a person time to see what his position is and to convey the information within—
Am I guillotined?
Shame.It being Half-past Six o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 249; Noes, 267.
|Grenfell, Rt. Hen. D. R.||McLeavy, F.||Short, E. W.|
|Grey, C. F.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Griffiths, David (Rather Valley)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Grimcnd, J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddsrsfield, E.)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Hare, Leslie||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Come Valley)||Manuel, A. C.||Slater, J. (Durham, SedgefieldQ|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Mason, Roy||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Harnian, W.||May hew, C. P.||Snow, J. W.|
|Hargreaves, A.||Messer, Sir F.||Sorensen, R. W|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mikardo, Ian||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Hastings, S.||Mrlchrson, G. R||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Monstow, W.||Steele, T.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Moody, A. S.||Stewart Michael (Fulham E.)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Morley, R.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Hobson, C. R.||Mort, D. L.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|iHotman, P.||Moyfo, A.||Sylvester, G. 0.|
|Holmes, Horace||MuHey, F. W.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hoh, A. F.||Murray, J. D.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Nalry, W.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Neal, Harold (Bolwver)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hudson, James (Eating, N.)||Oldfield, W. H.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.||Thornton, E.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oswald, T.||Timmons, J|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Padley, W. E.||Tommy, F.|
|Hynd, H. (Acoringion)||Paget, R. T.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Paling, will T. (Dewsbury)||Usborne, H. C|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Palmer, A. M. F||Viant, s. P.|
|Jarmer, B.||Panned, Charles||Warbey, W. N|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T||Pargiter, G. A||Watkins, T. E|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Parker, J.||Weitzman, D..|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Parkin, B. T.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Pearson, A.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Jones, Oavid (Hartlepool)||Phjmmer, Sir Les'it i||West, D. G.|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S)||Popplewell, E.||While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Porter, G.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Price, J. T. (Wes houghton*||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Keenan, W.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Wigg, George|
|Kenyon, C.||Proctor, W. T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C- A. B.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Pryde, D. J.||Willey, F. T.|
|King, Dr. H. M||Parley, Cmdr. H||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Kinky, J.||Rmkin, John||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Lawson, G. M.||Reeves, J.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Reid, Tnomas (Swinaon)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannocfc)||Reid, William (Carrriachie)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwiek)||Rhodes, H.||Willis, E. G.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Richards, R.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Upton, Lt.-Coi. M||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Panoras, N.)||Winterbottom, Riohard (Brightside)|
|Logan, D. G-||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|MaoCoil, J. E.||Ross, William||Wyatt, W. L.|
|MoGhee, H. G||Royle, C.||Yates, V. F.|
|MoGovern, J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Mclnnes, J.||Shawtross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
|McKay, John (Wallscnd)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Mr. James Johnson and Mr. Wilkins|
|Aitken, W. T.||Braine, B. R.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.|
|Aiport, C. J. M.||Braitnwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Crouch, R. F.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Crowder, Sir John (Finohley)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Nortnwood)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Buchan-Hepburm, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Bullard, D. G.||Deedes, W. F.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Bullus, Wing Commander E, E.||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Barber, Anthony||Burden, F. F. A.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Donner, Sir P. W.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Butter, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Warden)||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Beaoh, Maj. Hicks||Carr, Robert||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcoim|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cary, Sir Robert||Drayson, G. B.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Channon, H.||Drewe, Sir C.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmend)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Biroh, Nigel||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Duthie, W. S.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cole, Norman||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Black, C. W.||Colegate, W. A.||Erroll, F. J|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fisher, Nigel|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Craddock, Beresford (Speithorne)||Fort, R.|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Llewellyn, D. T||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Moreeambe &'Lonsdale)||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E)||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Lookwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Roberts, Peter (Healey)|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Longden, Gilbert||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S)||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Roper, Sir Harold|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. 0.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Glover, D.||McAdden, S. J.||Russell, R. S.|
|Godber, J. B.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Gower, H. R.||McKibbin, A. J.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maclean, Fitzroy||Shepherd, William|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||MacmilIan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Homcastle)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Harvey, Air Cdre A. V. (Macclesfield)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Speir, R. M.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Marples, A. E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hay, John||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Maude, Angus||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maudling, R.||Stewart Henderson (Fife E.)|
|Heath, Edward||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Stoddart-Scott Col. M.|
|Higgs, J. M. C||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Storey, S.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Mellor, Sir John||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Molson, A. H. E.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Monokton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Summers, G. S.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Moore, Sir Thomas||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nabarro, G. D. N||Teeling, W.|
|Horobin, I. M.||Neave, Airey||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nicholls, Harmar||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. lves)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tilney, John|
|Hurd, A. R.||Odey, G. W.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W)||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N,)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Osborne, C.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Page. R. G.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Jennings, Sir Roland||Perkins, Sir Robert||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Wakefield, Sir Waved (St. Marylebone)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Pickthom, K. W. M.||Wall, P. H. B.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Ward, Hon. George (Worceeter)|
|Kaberry, D.||Pitman, I. J||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Kerby, Capt. H B||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Kerr, H. W.||Powell, J. Enoch||Wellwood, W.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Price, Henry (Lewisham. W)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0 L.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A||Profumo, J. D.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Legge-Bourke, Mai. E. A. H.||Ramsden, J. E.||Wills, G.|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Redmayne, M.|
TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
|Lindsay, Martin||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Mr. Studbolme and|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Remnant, Hon. P.||Mr. Robert Allan.|
The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at Half-past Six o'Clock.
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
First Schedule—(Provisions As To The Independent Television Authority)
Question, "That this Schedule be the First Schedule to the Bill," put, and agreed to.
Clause 2—(Powers Of Authority)
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
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."to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes;"
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—
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.
That comes in other Amendments and can be fully discussed then.
The Amendment is to leave out paragraph (b) which authorises the Authority
The only thing that one can broadcast is a programme."to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes;"
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
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"to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes."
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."securing a proper balance in the subject matter of the programmes"?
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.
Yes or no?
Not necessarily at all. There is no reason at all why, if a programme contractor provides a news service, he should necessarily want advertisements.
Who would pay for it?
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.
I think I know what prompted my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) to put down the Amendment.
So do we.
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
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."arrange for the provision and equipment of. …"
From anyone who wants to 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.
Then what is the hon. Member worried about?
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),
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."to provide and equip studios and other premises for television broadcasting purposes;"
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
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."to arrange for the provision and equipment of"
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.
I quite agree. That is the pretence.
It is a fact.
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?