asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will ask his Department's working party on local radio to give special consideration to the phasing of local radio development with cuts in the British Broadcasting Corporation's regional radio news bulletins.
The Home Office local radio working party prepares proposals for the consideration of the Secretary of State for the Home Department for the further development of local radio by stages, over the United Kingdom as a whole. The working party has no responsibility for regional radio as such but is aware of the BBC's intention to withdraw its regional services in England and to extend its local radio services as resources permit, and will, therefore, obviously be working in that context.
I thank the Minister for that reply. Will he do his best to ensure that the withdrawal of regional radio services is matched by an attempt to develop local radio not on a duplicated basis, but on one that brings local radio to as much of the country as possible? Will he facilitate the attempts made by the BBC to extend local radio into north Northumberland?
As regards north Northumberland, the BBC has recently put forward proposals to provide alternative arrangements for extending the VHF coverage of BBC Radio Newcastle northwards, to include the hon. Gentleman's constituency.
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there is great support in Leicestershire for Radio Leicester and that it is widely listened to? Does not he accept that if cuts have to be made, many people would prefer them to be made on regional programmes, which are more widely spread and less relevant than local programmes?
I am aware of my hon. Friend's concern and of local support for that station. It is in accordance with the BBC's general policy to move from regional to local coverage.