Western Isles

Oral Answers to Questions — Wireless and Television – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar 12:00 am, 18th December 1957

asked the Postmaster-General when he intends to make a full statement, covering the technical, financial and social aspects of the problems involved, regarding the repeated rejection of requests for television service for South Uist and the rest of the Western Isles.

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

I can only inform the hon. Member that owing to the technical difficulties and the consequent high cost involved, the British Broadcasting Corporation can hold out no early hope of providing service to these islands.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

In view of the fact that those who ought to know, the technical experts in certain Departments, felt that it was practicable and, indeed, absolutely necessary to provide a television service from Northern Ireland to a few hundred troops stationed temporarily in South Uist for the purpose of the rocket range, how can the right hon. Gentleman reasonably justify his refusal to provide it for a permanent population of over 40,000 people?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

One of the main difficulties in the Highlands is the technical difficulty arising from the mountainous nature of the area. Not only that, but there is the financial expenditure involved. The B.B.C. has an annual budget and it decides how to spend that money to the best of its ability.

Photo of Mr Charles Hobson Mr Charles Hobson , Keighley

Would not the Postmaster-General regard the provision of a television service for these islands as a social service? Further, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are cables from the mainland to all these islands and that it would be easy, as these cables have to be renewed now and then, to lay one to provide a television service?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

The difficulty is not only that of a cable. It involves the line of sight between the aerial which transmits and the aerial which receives.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a direct line with no interference between Northern Ireland and the Western Islands—not the Highlands—with no mountain or contour difficulties? How can the right hon. Gentleman manage to produce all these technical difficulties out of a hat? Is it not the case that, when the rocket range was contemplated, it was intended to provide a full television service from Londonderry under the umbrella of defence expenditure?

Photo of Mr Ernest Marples Mr Ernest Marples , Wallasey

The B.B.C. has an annual allocation of money and it has to decide how to use it to the best advantage.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory and appalling nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.