Orders of the Day — B.B.C. Television (Medical Programmes)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th February 1958.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Kenneth Thompson Mr Kenneth Thompson , Liverpool, Walton 12:00 am, 27th February 1958

The time left to me is short, and I must therefore abbreviate what I had intended to say. I want to preface my remarks with a few words about the degree of freedom accorded to the B.B.C. in forming its programmes, which is the basis of these discussions. The House is on record many times as wishing to leave the B.B.C. as untrammelled as possible by interference in or supervision over the subjects or treatment of broadcast programmes. I need not detain the House with quotations; they are liberally besprinkled through the pages of HANSARD. That is not surprising, for this House is the repository of all our freedoms—freedom for ourselves and freedom for those over whose lives and affairs we have some influence. That is entirely right. It is a claim of which the House is right to be proud.

What is perhaps more surprising is that although in our corporate entity we leap to the defence of this freedom. particularly for the B.B.C., there are sporadic, reactionary sorties every now and then from some hon. Members who wish to chip away a little of this freedom. now here, now there, because the exercise of it offends some susceptibility, perhaps personal or specialist, but for which it is seemingly thought worth sacrificing an important principle.

My own view—and I know that my right hon. Friend subscribes to it—is that this freedom, perhaps more than any other, is indivisible. Except so far as the ordinary decencies and accepted habits of our society demand self-restraint, it must be complete or it is a mockery, a sham freedom. Taste is the arbiter of the limits beyond which it must not trespass.