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.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East 12:00 am, 27th February 1958

In the remaining moment, I want to dissociate myself from the views expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill) and to explain that, although she spoke from the Front Bench, her views do not represent Labour Party policy. I agree very strongly with what the Minister has said. Possibly the B.B.C. under-rates the power of television, and that is a problem which the whole community has still to face.

Television is such a tremendous power in the community that all hon. Members and members of the medical and other professions are very worried about its impact. But it would be disastrous if we were to seek to limit the freedom of the broadcasting authorities in matters of this kind, and even more disastrous if we were to limit output of television programmes to the level thought suitable to a mental patient in a mental hospital which had a television set.

I welcome the way in which television has stripped off the mystique that surrounds medicine and stripped off the mystique which surrounds politics and presented to the people the information on which they can reach an independent decision about political, medical and other matters. I hope that one day, before too long, this country will see a commission set up to examine the impact of television on our society. I believe that such a commission will show that the effects of television have been almost entirely beneficial.