Welsh Broadcasting Council (Chairman)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th July 1960.

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8.11 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I beg to move, That this House condemns the action of Her Majesty's Government in appointing to the position of chairman of the Broadcasting Council for Wales and Welsh National Governor on the British Broadcasting Corporation's Board of Governors a person who does not fulfil the requirements of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Charter. In a fairly long experience of public life in Wales I have never before known of an appointment by a Government to a public post in the Principality which aroused such bitter controversy and evoked such deep and widespread resentment and such universal condemnation of those who made the appointment as the appointment which is the subject of this Motion. Other appointments have been made by this Government in recent years and months which have aroused comment in the Principality, some of which have been thought by many to be due more to the need to reward people for services to the party than appropriateness and capacity for the job. But we are a very tolerant people and we have let them go.

I wonder whether we have been too tolerant—I wonder whether we have shown an excess of gallantry, if I may put it in that way to the Prime Minister. I wonder whether we should not have spoken much more firmly about these appointments. When I recall how hon. Members opposite behaved when we were in Government and the continuous smear campaign which went on about "jobs for the boys" then all I can say is that we have yet some way to go before we catch up with the party opposite.

Perhaps because we have been so silent they have come to the conclusion that they can treat us with contempt. They will know now, as this House knows, that this last appointment has caused an explosion of public feeling throughout the whole of the Principality. Protests have come in from people in all walks of life in Wales, from the bishop's palace to the peasant's cottage, from the academic world and from industry, from the English-speaking people in Wales as well as the Welsh-speaking people.

I wish to begin by seeking to explain Why this is so as I understand it. I can do that only if I may be allowed the indulgence of the House to explain how this post comes to have a special importance for Wales and her people. Indeed, in so many respects it is now, and will be even more in the future as the great service develops, a post of unique importance in the Principality.

This takes me back, as it must, to say something about the history which led to the creation of this post. When ten years ago the Beveridge Committee was set up to consider and report on the future of broadcasting in this country a proposal was put before the Committee for the setting up of a separate and independent broadcasting corporation for Wales and Monmouthshire. The proposal was supported by the Welsh Parliamentary Party. I wish to quote the reasons that induced the Welsh Parliamentary Party, representing all hon. Members Who at that time represented constituencies in Wales and Monmouthshire, to urge that there should be set up a separate broadcasting corporation because they are relevant to the issues raised by this appointment. If hon. Members wish to read them in full they will find them published as an Appendix to the Report of the Beveridge Committee.

In its Memorandum, the Welsh Parliamentary Party stated: We make this request for the following reasons: Wales is a separate nation, conscious of its nationality as being distinct from the other nations inhabiting this island. Wales has a living language of its own, with a literature in that language…We regard broadcasting as having a specially potent influence on life—culturally and socially. I ask the House to note the next paragraph in the Memorandum, which states: We are confident that placed in the hands of Welsh men knowing their audience and sympathetic to our Welsh way of life, broadcasting would become a far more powerful influence for good than it is at present. They went on to stress that those who care for the preservation of the Welsh language realise that now we are facing what, perhaps, in many ways is the biggest danger now and in the future. My hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins), who was then and is still the secretary of the Welsh Parliamentary Party, tells me that there was not a single dissentient vote on this proposal. Among others—I mention him because he was a member of the Broadcasting Council—was Sir David Llewellyn who was then the Member for Cardiff, North.

This proposal went before the Beveridge Committee which discussed it in its Report. The Committee reported that the case for devolution had been fully made out. It indicated that the case for devolution rested in part, indeed in a substantial part, on the need to ensure that the cultural characteristics of the nation were preserved on the ether and given their full opportunity. It rejected the proposal for a separate and independent broadcasting corporation, but recommended that, first, a national governor for Wales should be appointed to serve on the Board of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Secondly, it recommended that a Broadcasting Council for Wales should be set up over which a national governor would preside. Perhaps I may be allowed to remind the House that among the members of the Committee making these recommendations was my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) and the present Foreign Secretary. They both supported the recommendations, as did all the other Members.

These recommendations were accepted by the Government and embodied in a charter, and, therefore, for the first time, about ten years ago we had a national governor for Wales appointed to the Board of the British Broadcasting Corporation. We had set up a Broadcasting Council for Wales. Our Motion says that the appointment which has been made fails to fulfil the terms of the Charter. I wish to read again—it has been read before; I quoted it to the Prime Minister—what is said in the Charter. This Government brought that Charter to the House. These are the requirements to which the Government are committed and we are judging them on their own standards. The National Governor for Wales …shall have been selected for appointment as Governor in virtue of his knowledge of the culture, characteristics and affairs of our people in Wales and his close touch with Welsh opinion…". I will return to this, but I am sure that I am speaking for the overwhelming majority of the Welsh people when I say that this appointment does not meet the requirements laid down in the Charter.

This broadcasting council was set up, and in the Charter it is given certain functions and powers. First, the Broadcasting Council for Wales is given the control of policy and the content of programmes provided primarily for the people of Wales. On sound, half the broadcasts provided primarily for the people of Wales are in the Welsh language, and a very large proportion of the programmes now provided on television, which was in its infant stages then, are also in the Welsh language.

In addition to having the control of policy and the content of programmes, the Broadcasting Council for Wales also has the duty and the responsibility, through the Governor who represents Wales on the Corporation, of advising the B.B.C. on all its programmes in so far as they affect the interests, characteristics and culture of the people of Wales. This indicates what an important post this is and what very great responsibilities they are. It seems to me to indicate that very great care should be taken in the appointment, and it is because we are satisfied that this appointment fails to meet those requirements that we are compelled, in the service of our people, to put this Motion on the Order Paper. Our Motion condemns the Government for the reasons that I have given.

We 'have not got too much time left. Some of our time was taken quietly away——

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I was not able to rise to speak in the last debate until twenty minutes to eight.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Anyhow, we lost some time. Let me put it that way. I could quote many protests that have been received from many walks of life in Wales, but for brevity's sake I will content myself with quoting only from the memorandum sent to the Prime Minister by six out of the eight members who serve on the Broadcasting Council for Wales. I am going to rest my case on them, and I shall quote only them this evening, not because I could not quote others but for this reason: surely, they are the people best able to judge whether this is a good appointment or not. They are the people who are engaged in the work. They have had experience of it. They are members of the Broadcasting Council.

They were compelled to take what, in my experience, is an unprecedented step; I do not remember it happening before. After calm deliberation, the members of the Council have felt it their duty to protest to the Prime Minister against the appointement of the person appointed as the Chairman. They have stated their views in the memorandum to the Prime Minister. Let me say to the Prime Minister that one of the things which he has to do is to reply to them, for as yet no adequate reply has been given. No attempt has been made to do so. The only attempt at a reply was made, not by the Prime Minister replying to the Council but by the Prime Minister replying to a former Member of this House, Sir Henry Morris-Jones.

Let me state what their case is. In their memorandum to the Prime Minister they began by citing the terms of the charter which I have already cited to the House. Having done that, they referred to this appointment by asking whether the appointment fulfils the requirements of the Charter. Then they came to this conclusion: We regret that this cannot be said of the present appointee. They gave the reasons, and I want to cite the reasons: We cannot avoid the conclusion that, recalling her scanty knowledge of the Welsh language, her acquaintance with Welsh life and culture is extremely limited. Half the broadcasts for which the Council has the main responsibility are in the Welsh language—which the new Chairman will not be able to understand. No one can imagine this situation in any other bilingual country in the world. It is true that a knowledge of Welsh is not a condition of appointment, as the Prime Minister told us, but they then refer to another qualification, which might have compensated for the disadvantage of not knowing the Welsh language. They say: Active participation in national affairs over a long period of years could no doubt compensate for this grave disadvantage…but the fact that the new Chairman is unknown outside Brecon indicates neither a lively interest in the nation's life nor the close touch with Welsh opinion required by the Charter. For that reason they ask the Prime Minister to consider the matter and to appoint someone else who would match up to the requirements laid down by the Charter. Up to now the Prime Minister has refused.

Lest it be thought, as it may be, that this agitation is the agitation of a few, of some cranks or narrow, sectarian Welsh partisan people, let me say something about the six men who signed this document. They are a very good cross-section of the Welsh people. They are people whose great service to our country deserves tribute and praise in this House. Amongst them are the Chairman for very many years of the Glamorgan Education Committee—our largest county. Then there is the Chairman of the Radnor Education Committee who is this year the High Sheriff for the county. It includes the conductor of one of our most famous choirs and the son of one of the most gifted families in Wales which has made its contribution to broadcasting not only in Wales but in the kingdom as a whole. It includes the President of the Plaid Cymru, the Welsh National Party, and the Secretary of the Welsh Council of Labour, representative of the trade union, co-operative and Labour parties in Wales, which are not unimportant in the Principality, as hon. Members have discovered to their cost. It includes Mr. Hugh Morris-Jones, a man of great distinction, a son of the cottage who attained academic distinction, and who is one of the ablest men in the University of Wales in these days.

Those are the six men who have protested. Dismiss, if we like, the extravagant protests from everybody else, but this protest, coming from these six men who have had experience of the work, who realise its vital importance to Wales and who have been gravely—I say this advisedly—disappointed at the action of the Government in appointing Mrs. Rachel Jones to this position, and who have asked the Prime Minister to reconsider the appointment, in itself, I think, justifies the vote of condemnation which we have put down this evening.

I said that we have not had any adequate reply. The Prime Minister replied to Sir Henry Morris-Jones who served in this House on the benches opposite for very many years, and who wrote protesting to the Prime Minister accusing '.he Government of many things, including tactlessness, in this appointment. The Prime Minister wrote to him, and I want to refer to what is the relevant part of that reply.

The Prime Minister said that he recommended Mrs. Rachel Jones— only after the most careful consideration of the candidates available. I want to ask the Minister, because this is the reply to Wales, and I think we are entitled to ask, if the Prime Minister tells us that he recommended her— only after the most careful consideration of the candidates available, who prepared the list of available candidates? Can we see the list? I ask the Minister this in all seriousness. He has had many years' experience. Does he say that, of all the men and women in Wales available for consideration for this post—does he dare get up and say—that this is the best one? That is what the Prime Minister said: If the Minister does so, no one in Wales will believe him. I do not think that any hon. Member opposite will dare to get up and say that this is the best person of all those available in Wales. I invite hon. Members opposite to do so. If they do, not even their constituents and supporters will believe them. I will give way if any hon. Member wants to do so.

Hon. Members:

Come on.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

Order. If an hon. Member does not choose to rise, he is under no obligation to do so.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Their silence is more eloquent than anything they can say.

One last word, for I want to give other hon. Members a chance. It is not such a long time ago that we had a General Election. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that an hon. Member says "Hear, hear"; perhaps he will listen to what I have to say. When the General Election took place, the party opposite made many promises and many pledges to Wales and her people. It seemed to be very determined to get more supporters in Wales. It has never been very fortunate in that respect, and so it issued an election broadsheet, entitled "A New Era for Wales", which was circulated in Cardiff, North, in Barry, in Swansea, West and elsewhere. Hon. Members opposite all know this and are very proud of it.

On the back, we have a picture of the Minister, a very good one. He's Your Voice in the Cabinet it says, and then, on page 2, there is an article in Welsh. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] I do not know whether it is the original or a translation. The heading is, "Codi'r Hen Wlad"—"Raising the Old Country". For the benefit of hon. Members in the House and for the benefit of the Minister, I want to make a quotation from it, but I propose to translate it into English. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I could read it in Welsh, but I propose to read it in English, or one paragraph from it. It says: The Conservatives have a special responsibility to preserve the Welsh language"— hon. Members should listen to that— for to preserve is one of the fundamental principles of Conservatism. It goes on to say: The Welsh language has its special friends in the Conservative Government"——

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Cyfeillion arbennig. The quotation goes an: …not only Mr. Henry Brook…ebut also Mr. Butler"— the Prime Minister must be careful. He is not referred to there; he must remember that when he is considering changes during the next few days— who has declared that, as a Cornishman who deeply regrets that his own native Cornish tongue has been destroyed and forgotten, he is determined to see that the Welsh language does not disappear from our midst". Those were the words of last October. I have read the terms of the Charter. I have read the Tory election manifesto. The Government have violated the Charter in this appointment. It is not the first charter that they have violated; indeed, they seem almost to take pride in violating charters.

All my life I have been proud of my language. It was my first language. I was not taught Welsh in the day school I attended. It was not permitted. I learned Welsh in the Sunday school and at home. I want to keep it alive—it is a big struggle—and, at the same time, keep what is very precious, the unity of the English-speaking and the Welsh-speaking people of the Principality. It was my very great privilege, before I came to the House, to be President of the South Wales miners and to have Welsh-speaking and English-speaking colleagues among our members.

One of the great disservices that the Government have done by this appointment, and one of the great disservices which the Prime Minister has done in trying to justify it, has been to try to divide the one-third who speak Welsh from the two-thirds who do not. I resent it when people talk about the one-third who speak Welsh—I am one of them—as if they were the servants in the outer hall. We are entitled to our language, and we are entitled to seek to preserve it. But we want to preserve it with the good will of everyone else.

Both English-speaking and Welsh-speaking people believe that, in this appointment, the Government have flouted the wishes of the people of our country. I ask the Minister to think about it again. There are scores of people better fitted for the post. There are scores of people, even in the Conservative Party, better fitted for it—I do not want to make it a party matter—scores of people who know the language and understand it, or, even if they do not, who could have been appointed. Among those who do not understand the language there are people who could have been appointed without complaint and without such a Motion as this.

We do not believe the Government when they tell us that, having had a list before them of the available candidates in Wales for the post, they have appointed the one best fitted for it. We do not believe it. Wales will not believe it. That is why we shall vote for the Motion this evening and that is why we shall, in doing so, carry with us the good wishes and support of the majority of people in our country.

8.40 p.m.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) presented a case in which he undoubtedly and sincerely believes that he is expressing the united view of all the people of Wales. But I doubt whether that is so. Also, he enjoyed himself to some extent at the expense of the party on this side of the House. Although he made fun of the number of people in Wales who support the Conservative Party, I would remind him that one-third of all the people in Wales voted Conservative at the last General Election. That number is growing.

In considering this Motion, I think that we must pay a little more attention to the wording of the Charter than the right hon. Gentleman devoted to it. As the right hon. Gentleman said, it states that the person should be selected in virtue of his knowledge of the culture, characteristics and affairs of Our People in Wales and his close touch with Welsh opinion. The first important factor to note is that there is no reference to the Welsh language. [Hon. Member: "That is what it says."] I am willing to concede that I would regard a knowledge of the Welsh language as a very valuable asset. I would go further. If some deus ex machina had granted to me the difficult job of selecting this person, it is highly likely that I would have tended to select a person with a considerable knowledge of the Welsh language. I concede all that.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

That is kind of the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

It is clear from this wording that a knowledge of the Welsh language and fluency in Welsh speaking are not essential for this post. What is specified is that the person selected should have a knowledge of the culture, characteristics and affairs of Our People in Wales. I like to think that those who framed this description had in mind a wider description, namely, that the person should have a deep and generous sympathy for Wales and all things Welsh.

These words are not easily capable of precise definition. What is Welsh culture? What indeed is a Welshman? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I like to think that a definition I once framed would be more accurate than many I have heard. My own definition—and it it purely my own—is that he or she is a person who, on hearing the tone of the Welsh hymn "Pa dduw syn maddau fel tydu" would find a shiver going down his or her spine.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

Like that which the hon. Member's speeches give us.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not find a shiver running down his spine.

Under this definition, it is likely that many present Welsh Members would qualify, but if an ability to speak Welsh fluently were the test it is true that many Welsh Members would not qualify.

What is Welsh culture? Is it limited to the art and writing of those familiar with the Welsh language or Welsh-speaking people? While all may admit the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym, would they just as readily accept the poetry of Dylan Thomas, Alun Lewis or Vernon Watkins, or the prose writings of Rhys Davies and Glyn Jones? I submit that our Welsh culture is not easily capable of precise definition.

Nor are the characteristics and affairs of the people of Wales easy to define. The characteristics of a Welsh-speaking hill farmer in Merioneth or Denbigh or a school teacher in Cardigan are somewhat different from those of an English-speaking coal miner in the Rhondda or the Rhymney Valley. I know a railway worker in my constituency who is entirely Welsh by birth who knows only a few words of Welsh and has no knowledge of Welsh literature, and who yet would be easily distinguished as a Welshman.

Then again, let us consider the affairs of Wales. Affairs which concern a hotel keeper in Barmouth are somewhat different from those which concern a tinplate worker in Llanelly. The member of a N.U.M. lodge in Caerphilly has a different outlook from that of the average slate worker of North Wales.

Finally, we turn to the phrase …close touch with Welsh opinion. There are truly wide divergencies of opinion in different parts of the Principality. One simple example was the very great division in the Liberal Party in South and North Wales fifty years ago, when the North supported the idea of Home Rule which was rejected completely in South Wales.

Then we must relate these specified requirements to the personality of the new Chairman, to this lady under discussion. I confess that when I first heard the news of this appointment I shared many of the feelings expressed by critics today. This lady had one or two obvious disadvantages. [Interruption.] I heard the news on the radio when I was shaving one morning. I readily admit that the name was not a familiar one. [Interruption.] She was not one of those stalwarts who served so valiantly on our numerous committees in Wales, nor indeed was she known politically. Here I refer to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly said—this was in no sense a political appointment. [HON. MEMBERS: "How does the hon. Member know?"] The right hon. Gentleman said so himself. He said that there were plenty of political figures, even in the Conservative Party, who could have been appointed with far less criticism. Mrs. Jones has not been identified with the work of any political party in Wales.

I have the highest admiration—as I am sure everybody who knows his work has—for her very distinguished predecessor Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor. He was well qualified and has done an excellent job, but his appointment was undoubtedly a party political appointment of a former Labour Member of Parliament on the recommendation of a Labour Prime Minister.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I am sorry to disabuse the hon. Member. The Broadcasting Council for Wales' National Governor fell to be appointed by his own party.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I readily withdraw. The present appointment is certainly not a political one. If we are not sometimes prepared to look outside the ranks of those active within our political parties we may deprive Wales unnecessarily of much talent.

Then there was the problem of Mrs. Jones not being known widely for her work on various committees or councils. The North American Indians used to carry their qualifications with them in the form of scalps which they had collected. In Wales we have had a tendency sometimes to carry with us our qualifications in the form of the number of committees on which we have served. It may well be an advantage and a useful new departure that this much criticised appointment takes us outside the normal field of selection.

Then there was a feeling which I had when I first heard the news, that Mrs. Jones was not well known. That no longer obtains. Today she is possibly the best-known of any Welsh women since Queen Boadicea. [Laughter.] What is more, she has a far greater opportunity of realising the peccadilloes of our countrymen than Queen Boadicea ever had.

She bears, as somebody observed, the honoured name of Jones, which is as Schmidt in Germany, or Smith in England, and the first name of Rachel reminds us of the readiness of the Welsh people for generations to choose old Biblical Hebrew names.

On 12th July, the Prime Minister wrote a letter, published in The Times, in reply to a former hon. Member, Sir Henry Morris-Jones and said: …the most important part of Mrs. Jones's task will be the advocacy of the Welsh point of view within the corporation. For this purpose Mrs. Jones is admirably suited by her personality, her abilities, and her deep interest in and her devotion to Wales. Her abilities are such that for no party political reasons she has commended herself not only to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, but also to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs. She has commended herself in that way without possessing the trimmings which usually attract attention. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame. Withdraw."] Mrs. Jones is Welsh-born and lives in Wales and has had some experience of broadcasting overseas.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

To the North American Red Indians?

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

In these circumstances, I make no complaint at the form of criticism of hon. Members opposite in the past, but I complain only of their tendency to press their criticisms too far and for too long. Instead of continuing to harry this woman mercilessly, the critics of Mrs. Jones should now give her a chance to get on with her job.

8.54 p.m.

Photo of Miss Megan Lloyd George Miss Megan Lloyd George , Carmarthen

The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) began by saying that had the appointment of a Chairman of the Welsh Broadcasting Council been in his hands he would have chosen a Welsh-speaking person. It therefore seems a pity that the whole of his speech was devoted to explaining why such a qualification was entirely unnecessary. I thought that he did not treat the subject, which to the people of Wales is a matter of great concern, with the seriousness which it deserves.

The hon. Gentleman said that the appointment commended itself to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Welsh Affairs. I think that what the hon. Gentleman really intended to do was to commend himself to the Minister.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The hon. Lady suggests that I am less than serious in my approach to this problem. Can she not appreciate what kind of unruly audience I had on her side of the House?

Photo of Miss Megan Lloyd George Miss Megan Lloyd George , Carmarthen

I think that the hon. Gentleman realises that his speech was bound to provoke the feelings that it did.

I support the views that have been put forward this evening by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). This appointment is totally unacceptable to Welsh people, for several reason's. There are many appointments in Wales for which the Welsh language is not an absolutely essential qualification, but this appointment is not in that category. No one can argue that it is not absolutely essential for the Head of the Department of Welsh Education, or Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, to have a knowledge of the Welsh language. I believe that this appointment is in that same category.

As the one and only Welsh member of the Beveridge Committee on Broadcasting, I should like to say that its Report laid down as a specific function of the Welsh Council the control of policy and content of the programmes of the Welsh Home Service. As 'has already been pointed out many times in this House, 50 per cent. of the programmes are in Welsh, and hon. Members must surely agree that it is a little difficult to control the content of a programme without a knowledge of the language.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly pointed out, very special responsibilities are laid on the Chairman of the Council. He is specially chosen because of his knowledge—not second-hand knowledge with the assistance of an interpreter, but first-hand knowledge—of, the culture of our people in Wales. That qualification, as laid down in the Charter, cannot be quoted too often.

The hon. Member for Barry asked us what was Welsh culture. He became lyrical on this point. I will give him the answer. It cannot be too often stressed that the key, and the only key, to the Welsh culture of centuries is the Welsh language. The hon. Gentleman asked whether Welsh culture extended to modern times. Of course it does, but Welsh culture does not begin and end with Dylan Thomas and Gwyn Thomas.

If, therefore, the qualification about culture, specified in the Charter, is to be fulfilled, with the best will in the world no one can fulfil that requirement without a knowledge of the Welsh language and it is a travesty of the facts to say that anyone can do so.

It has been suggested that an injustice might conceivably be done to our non-Welsh speaking countrymen, but it is not we who are asking for a monoglot chairman. On the contrary, we are asking for a bilingual chairman. We are doing this because we believe that only by having a bilingual chairman will justice be done to all the people in Wales, both Welsh speaking and non-Welsh speaking. If anyone is trying to create a rift between the Welsh-speaking and non-Welsh speaking people—something which I deplore with all my heart—it is the Government, by this provocative act.

It is also laid down in the Charter that the Welsh governor should be appointed because of his close touch with Welsh public opinion. The mere fact that this lady did not realise that her appointment would rouse a storm of protest proves more conclusively than almost anything else could do that she is completely out of touch with Welsh public opinion. She is almost as much out of touch with it as is the Minister for Welsh Affairs himself. Not since his earlier blunder over Tryweryn has there been such a universal condemnation of Government action in Wales. It has cut across party alignments and party loyalties.

All sections of the community have been affected—principals of colleges, professors of the university, men and women distinguished in science, the arts and literature, social workers, local councillors, county councillors, the Council of Free Churches in Wales, and the Church of Wales, through its official organ and through a most remarkable diocesan letter from the Bishop of Bangor. That is a formidable array. Finally, there is the protest of the Broadcasting Council itself—the body over which Mrs. Jones has been elected to preside. They are distinguished men, who have some knowledge and practical experience of the work that the Council will be undertaking. They, too, say in emphatic terms, that she is totally unsuited for the task.

All this—the real voice of Wales—the Prime Minister has brushed aside and dismissed with contempt. In fairness, I would add that it is* probable that most of the blame for this rests upon the shoulders of the Minister for Welsh Affairs. Presumably it is he who bears the main responsibility with the very active assistance of his noble Friend the Minister of State for Welsh Affairs, who no doubt had a lot to do with the names on the list. It is rumoured that the right hon. Gentleman may be involved in impending Cabinet changes. Hon. Members on this side of the House hope that that rumour is well founded.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

But they might make him Secretary of State for Scotland.

Photo of Miss Megan Lloyd George Miss Megan Lloyd George , Carmarthen

We have far too great a respect for our Scottish colleagues than to wish them such But we will give him to them gladly as a free gift if only they will accept him.

But the sooner the Prime Minister changes his adviser on Welsh Affairs the better it will be for Wales—although the worse it may be for other parts of Britain. We are not alone in our disapproval of the right hon. Gentleman. He is net everyone's choice, even among hon. Members opposite. The SundayExpress last week, discussing and assessing the right hon. Member's future prospects, said: A despondent sigh greets every mention of Mr. Henry Brooke's name. I can assure him that it will not be a sigh that will greet his parting from Wales. It will be Gorfoledd a Mawl. I will interpret that as well as I can for the right hon. Gentleman, and say to him that when he leaves the bells will ring and the flags will fly in the consciousness of Wales.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly when he said that we in Wales do not regard this appointment as an isolated instance. We believe it to be part of a concerted attempt to bring back what I would call the old hierarchy, which was completely out of touch with the real life of Wales and of its people. We think that the hon. Member for Barry confirmed that in his speech. He said, "We want to go outside the ordinary, usual circles in Wales." I tell the right hon. Gentleman that any attempt to bring back the old Establishment in Wales will fail, as it failed fifty and sixty years ago—and as it will fail every time that it is attempted.

Tonight, we can be voted down. We probably shall be voted down, but we shall be voted down by Conservative Members of Parliament representing English constituencies. If they do that, I would ask hon. Members to realise that they will be voting down the great majority of the elected representatives of Wales in this House, and the declared view of the majority of the people of Wales.

9.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr Donald Box Mr Donald Box , Cardiff North

Complaining about appointments in Wales has for so long been the national pastime that any appointment that does not arouse some controversy is 'always slightly suspect. It therefore comes as no surprise to the people of Wales that the Opposition have signified their disapproval of the appointment of Mrs. Rachel Jones as National Governor of the B.B.C. in Wales.

What is surprising, though, is the decision of the Opposition to use such valuable Parliamentary time, on the only day allotted here for the discussion of Welsh affairs, for this Motion of censure tonight. The only conclusion to be drawn from that must be that other matters of importance such as employment, industry, agriculture, research, housing and local government, roads and bridges, water and welfare are all in such a happy state in Wales that it is not thought appropriate to debate them in priority to this B.B.C. appointment.

It is true, of course, that the Government's remarkable success in the conduct of Welsh affairs narrows the field for criticism considerably. What is revealing, however, is to find that the Opposition apparently consider this appointment more important, for example, than discussion of employment in Mid-Wales and North Wales; more important than the provision of water for industry; more important than the Severn Bridge, and more important even than a second television channel for Wales.

While all this is very assuring for hon. Members on this side, it can bring no comfort to the lady who so unwittingly and undeservedly has become the subject of this debate, but she can take heart from the fact that the Opposition have an uncanny knack of invariably attacking at the outset those appointments that in the end turn out to be the biggest successes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Such as?"] Frustrated by the fact that it was a Conservative Government which first created a Minister for Welsh Affairs, they have consistently, yet somewhat unwisely, attacked those privileged to take responsibility for these matters.

Then, when the Government created the office of Minister of State for Welsh Affairs, a position which it is commonly agreed has been most ably filled by my noble Friend, Lord Brecon, they could find nothing but criticism and abuse to help him on his way. Here are some of the things which hon. Members opposite said about that appointment: Wales has turned sour on this appointment.The whole shoddy business is a piece of window-dressing to deceive the Welsh people.It is a confidence trick, but we see through it.This is surely unacceptable to Wales. It fails to stir or warm a single heart. It has had a very unfavourable reception in Wales. Perhaps the best one of them all was: The new Minister, we understand, is to spend his time in Wales, presumably opening bazaars and closing factories. I wonder if they have heard of Llanwern, Rover, Pressed Steel and B.M.C. How sickeningly familiar these words have sounded in recent weeks, yet these were the sort of impetuous and ill-conceived remarks made upon this appointment, so impetuous and ill-conceived that if they were repeated by their originators today, they would be greeted by a rumble of Welsh mirth that would echo from Cardiff to Conway. It seems, therefore, that the greater the outcry from the Opposition at an appointment in Wales the more likely the success of the appointee. I am certain that this will be no exception to that rule.

The Motion of censure before us is based on the contention that Mrs. Jones has insufficient knowledge of Wales and Welsh affairs. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the Welsh language."] I shall not repeat all that for we have heard it so often, but in my submission Mrs. Jones fulfils the requirements of the Charter in all these respects. As we know, she was born and bred in Wales, is the wife of the Dean of Brecon and has a grown-up family. She has travelled extensively and broadcast regularly to Australia. She is a co-opted member of the Brecon Education Committee. As there is another member of that Committee among hon. Members opposite, I hope that he will give us the benefit of his knowledge of her. She has had a long connection with the National Association of Mixed Clubs, has given distinguished service to the Swansea and Brecon Mothers' Union, and has served on the Council of Wales since last year.

All this adds up to wide experience which, coupled with Mrs. Jones's Welsh upbringing and Welsh background, will be invaluable in interpreting and expounding the characteristics and affairs of the Welsh people.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris , Aberavon

I wonder if the hon. Member could enlighten the House as to whether Mrs. Jones has had any experience whatsoever of Welsh affairs outside the County of Brecon and the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon?

Photo of Mr Donald Box Mr Donald Box , Cardiff North

I shall leave that to my right hon. Friend [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Members delay me so much I shall not be able to leave so much time for the winding-up speeches. Great play has been made of the fact that Mrs. Jones does not claim to speak Welsh. With a Welsh-speaking husband and a Welsh-speaking father, I dare say that her knowledge and understanding of the Welsh language is as good, if not better, than that of some of her critics in and outside this House.

In any event, the terms of the Charter do not require that the Chairman should necessarily speak Welsh, and for good reason. The business of the National Broadcasting Council is conducted in English and the minutes are circulated in English, together with a Welsh translation. In any event, I submit that one of the most important duties of the Chairman is to be a good and strong advocate for Wales when sitting with the other members of the Board of Governors in London.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

And the Mothers' Union.

Photo of Mr Donald Box Mr Donald Box , Cardiff North

I am convinced that she will be an admirable champion for Wales in this respect. As the Chairman of a Council of seven other members it is reasonable to expect that she will receive the help and advice of her Welsh-speaking colleagues on the more detailed aspects of the Welsh language broadcasts and then convey the policy recommendations of her Council to the Board of National Governors in London.

While it is true that the majority of the Council have signified their disapproval of this appointment, to put the matter in its true perspective it must be appreciated that nearly half of them, one would assume, are definitely biassed. One is the President of the Welsh Nationalist Movement, a second is the professional organiser of the Socialist Party in Wales and a third is a Socialist alderman, chairman of one of the Socialist county councils. It wild be interesting to see bow many of these members of the Council decide to continue service under Mrs. Jones' chairmanship, as she has already commenced 'her duties.

It has been suggested in some quarters that Mrs. Jones is unsuitable for this position because she has lived a good part of her life outside Wales, and that the latter part of her education was completed outside Wales. All I can say on this is that if such considerations bad been of importance in the past, then it is fair to point out that we should not have enjoyed the chairmanship of the noble Lord who has been in charge for the past nine years. He was born and bred in England, he went to school in England, he represented an English constituency in Parliament and he has spent a very considerable portion of his lifetime outside Wales. We now know that even during the period of his chairmanship he lived most of the time in London, which is outside the reception area of the Welsh Home Service. Even though the noble Lord speaks Welsh fluently, one can be forgiven for wondering how many Welsh Home Service programmes he listened to during the period of his chairmanship.

Photo of Reverend Llywelyn Williams Reverend Llywelyn Williams , Abertillery

I happen to be able to speak with some authority on this matter. May I submit that the hon. Member is wrong on both counts. In the first instance, Lord Macdonald was in Wales when he was appointed to this post and always lived in Wales during his tenure of the post. Secondly, very few people in Wales listened more often to Welsh programmes than did Lord Macdonald in the last few years.

Hon. Members:

Withdraw.

Photo of Mr Donald Box Mr Donald Box , Cardiff North

I must defer to the hon. Member's statement and take it that he must be accurate.

In view of this exceptional background, I wonder why the same outcry from hon. Members opposite was not made when he was appointed. I am sorry to mention these matters, but I must do so to show the obvious inconsistency and partisan approach to these matters by hon. Members opposite. They have lately become so concerned about qualifications or the lack of them that they must surely also be alarmed at the decision to appoint the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) as Chairman of the National Coal Board. Here is an appointment which has a direct bearing on the future livelihood of 94,000 Welsh miners and their families. Their complaint——

Photo of Mr Gordon Touche Mr Gordon Touche , Dorking

Order. I cannot connect that with this Motion.

Photo of Mr Donald Box Mr Donald Box , Cardiff North

I was merely trying to point out, Sir Gordon, the inconsistency of picking on one appointment and not criticising another appointment which has a great bearing on Wales.

Photo of Mrs Eirene White Mrs Eirene White , Flintshire East

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that this post has in its very essence the spoken word, which can hardly be said of coal mining? Does not he realise that many of us who have criticised the appointment are not ourselves adequate Weigh speakers? If the job had been offered to me, I would have realised that it was not one that I could have fulfilled, because I have an inadequate knowledge of the language. Our complaint is that the lady has not realised that fact.

Photo of Mr Donald Box Mr Donald Box , Cardiff North

If it is fair to criticise one appointment, which has such a great bearing on Wales and the Welsh people, in fairness one must criticise other appointments.

I hope that hon. Members opposite, having made their point and registered their protest, will now give this lady a fair opportunity to prove her worth. She deserves it, and the majority of the Welsh people, jealous of their reputation for fair play, now want her to have it.

9.21 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Jones Mr Thomas Jones , Merionethshire

This is a debate in which all the people of Wales are taking a profound interest. For weeks this appointment has been the subject of discussion and criticism throughout the Principality. I do not know of any appointment in recent years which has created such widespread criticism.

The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) told us that he heard of the appointment when in the bathroom. That is the naked truth. I heard of the appointment in the street. I was accosted by a man who said, "What about Mrs. Rachel Jones?" I said, "Who is she? What has she done?" He said, "We are not concerned with what she has done. We are concerned with what she is going to do." When I got home I consulted "Who's Who for Wales" I went carefully through all the Joneses, and it has been a deuce of a job keeping up with the Joneses during the last six months. Her name was conspicuous by its absence.

Then I discovered that she is the wife of a church dignitary in Wales. She is the wife of a dean. I thought that I would consult the official weekly newspaper of the Church in Wales, Y Llan. I expected to see at least a few words of commendation there. To my great surprise, I saw nothing but unadulterated criticism. Indeed, it was a most daring article. It was as daring as if the Catholic Herald had criticised the appointment of a Pope.

I have translated the passage I want to quote from Y Llan, because I do know a little English. I would not be here representing Merioneth if I could not speak Welsh as well. This is what the weekly paper of the Church, in which this lady's husband is a highlight, said: The star of Brecon is very high in the firmament. Some time ago Mr. Lewis, as he then was, was rocketed from comparative security"——

Hon. Members:

"Obscurity".

Mr. Jones:

Being an ardent Nonconformist, I am not used to reading the Established Church pronouncements. The quotation continues: …from comparative obscurity to become Minister of State for Wales with the title of Lord Brecon. Now we see the same process repeated. Mrs. Rachel Marianne Jones. the wife of the Dean of Brecon, has been appointed Chairman of the Welsh Committee of the B.B C. The first time that Wales heard of her was last autumn when she was elected a member of the Council of Wales. Nothing was heard of her afterwards until her appointment as Chairman of the B.B.C. Committee was announced. She was rocketed to prominence, like her friend Lord Brecon. The result, of course, was a storm in Parliament and we have not yet heard the end of it. The manner in which the appointment was announced is interesting. It was announced the day after a meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee, so that the Welsh Grand Committee had no voice in the matter. It was announced, not in Parliament where the Prime Minister could have been questioned, but from 10, Downing Street, and it was announced the day before the Whitson Recess.This is a subject for a storm in itself. But the chief subject for a storm will be the appointment itself. A woman has been appointed of whom Wales has but little knowledge. It may be that her qualifications for many an administrative post are brilliant. But for this particular post, that of Chairman of the Welsh Committee of the B.B.C., the appointment can be regarded as neither wise nor responsible In the first place, Mrs. Jones knows but little Welsh, even if any. Who in the world can discuss the Welsh policy of the B.B.C. without knowledge of Welsh? It had been suspected that an irresponsible appointment would be made and apart from what has appeared from time to time in the Press, many Questions were asked in Parliament. So that the Government were not short of being reminded of the needs of Wales. Yet White hall showed that they knew better. If this is an example of the way in which the British Government acts in other countries, it is no wonder that we have turmoils. We cannot forget, also, that Mrs. Jones is the wife of a Dean This will resurrect old prejudices in relation to the Tory non-Welsh Church in Wales. I have quoted from the official organ of the Church in Wales. I cannot think of a more devastating criticism.

The Prime Minister is the guilty man—by the way, where is the right hon. Gentleman? Is he in the bathroom, too? He may like to console himself by believing that this rumpus has been created by a few hotheads in Wales. Let me remind the Prime Minister that here in the City of London there are 500,000 Welsh people and that they produce their own magazine. It is called the London Welshman. I have a copy here. The colour should please hon. Members opposite; it is true blue. But when I open it, they will find themselves "in the red".

This is what The London Welshman says—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh, yes, there are a quarter of a million of them and they have as much right to be heard as any hon. Member opposite. They were here before any of the ancestors of those hon. Members came here—it was only the charitable spirit of the Welsh that allowed them to be where they are. This is what the London Welshman said: Only someone of singularly obtuse judgment could have supposed that the appointment of Mrs. Rachel Jones as Chairman of the Broadcasting Council for Wales would go through without bitter protest and a damaging dispute. The Government and Lord Brecon may have genuinely believed that it would be a good thing to bring a fresh voice into Welsh public life and that is certainly a worthy intention. They may also have reckoned that Mrs. Jones may well have remedied her limited grasp of the Welsh language to a sufficient degree to fulfil her duties. Surely if there was one person who should not have been appointed unless she were manifestly acceptable to all, it was Mrs. Rachel Jones. To have made her a member of the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire may not have been unreasonable and, in fact, it went unchallenged. But this lady's elevation cannot fail to evoke suspicions of such thorough paced patronage as to be an anathema to public conscience long suffering though that is in the Principality. There is now a new "Establishment" in Wales. Must we in future be members of the Tory Party and of the Church in Wales before we can be appointed to any position of trust?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris , Aberavon

And live in Brecon-shire.

Photo of Mr Thomas Jones Mr Thomas Jones , Merionethshire

Oh, yes, that is an important point.

Are we coming to that? As a matter of fact a Tory M.P. in Wales is a novelty. When we want to open a bazaar we bring him there because curiosity will draw the crowd together. We have a guaranteed audience because they want to see the animal. I wish to warn the Minister that we shall look very closely into this new establishment.

Whatever may be the merits or demerits of the appointee, public opinion in Wales is almost universally against the appointment. The question is: are the Government so indifferent, so cynically indifferent, as to treat this opinion with contempt. During this debate we have heard arguments for and against the new Chairman and perhaps I may be allowed to recapitulate, leaving apart what we heard from the hon. Member for Barry. One should study HANSARD to understand that speech.

What are the terms of the Charter? I want the House to know and I want my Scots friends around me to hear.

Photo of Mr Thomas Jones Mr Thomas Jones , Merionethshire

The functions of the Councils are …the functions of controlling the policy and content of programmes in the Scottish and Welsh home services, respectively, and exercising such control with full regard to the distinctive cultural interests and tastes of the people concerned. Is this lady a person who has knowledge of the cultural interests and tastes of the people of Wales? Is she in close touch with Welsh opinion? I know that the Welsh people do not know her and it is rather strange that she should know and understand the Welsh people whereas they are in absolute ignorance of her identity.

This is a vital post and people have a right to ask these questions. All this business about chivalry and gallantry because she is a female is pure nonsense; otherwise, let us have a woman for Prime Minister and then the Leader of the Opposition would be out of a job because we should not be able to question anything the Prime Minister did, if the Prime Minister were a lady. So let us forget all that. As a matter of fact, we hold nothing against this lady, nothing at all. Indeed, I am told that she is a very charming woman.

But the Charter does not ask for charm. It asks explicitly for a knowledge of the culture, interests and tastes of the people of Wales. Has she ever been connected with cultural movements? [An HON. MEMBER: "The Tory Party?"] Someone mentions the Tory Party. I have never seen culture of any kind there. Has she, for instance, been connected with the Eisteddfodau, one of the greatest cultural movements in Wales and, indeed, in the whole of Britain? I very much doubt it.

Does she know the characteristics of the steel workers of Shotton, of the agricultural workers of Anglesey, of the quarry workers of Merioneth and Caernarvon, of the coal workers of the Rhondda Valley? That is what the Charter demands—not charm, nor magic. Knowledge of this kind is not garnered in a week or a month or a year, but by a lifetime of experience among the people. One has to live with the people to know and understand them.

I have mentioned the terms of the Charter. Let me ask this question: what is the overriding qualification which the Chairman of the Broadcasting Council for Wales ought to have if she is to succeed? The answer is obvious—the confidence of the people. She has not got it—not even the confidence of the majority of the Council of which she is a member. Those of us who criticise the appointment of Mrs. Marianne Jones have been called by Lady Brecon "yapping, untrained corgis." At least, some of us are thoroughbred; we can yap like corgis and not like French poodles.

I should like to remind the House that according to the Charter, five of the eight members must be appointed after consultation. There has been no consultation here. "Ah", says the Prime Minister, "you do not want consultation here. She is the Chairman. She is in an exalted position." May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that before he was put in his exalted position there was great consultation. The list was brought down to two, and they did not know, as a result of the consultation, whether the better choice was made. That was their look out. But there was great consultation because of the exalted position in which the right hon. Gentleman was to be placed. The more exalted the position, the more the need for consultation.

I should like to remind the House that the Government cannot ignore Welsh feeling in this matter. I will now say something which might cheer the Minister. I believe—and I shall give my reason afterwards—that this woman will succeed in her office, and for this simple reason. The Prime Minister, in his awn interests, will be prepared to bend over backwards to make her a success, but when he reminds us of that we shall say "I told you so." Of course, he will make her a success, but she will have what no other chairman probably will have. There is no doubt about that. She must be a very dull woman indeed if she has not, but all this will have been the result of the criticism and the protests, and even of this debate.

It has been suggested that Mrs. Jones should resign. I do not know whether she will resign. I doubt whether she should resign, but there is no doubt in my mind about one person who should resign, and that is the Prime Minister.

9.41 p.m.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

Some people warned me that this was likely to become a bitter and sour debate, but it has turned out to be a more hilarious debate than I have ever heard on any Welsh day in the past. Whether the appointment is successful or not—I will tell the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones)—will depend on Mrs. Jones's own qualities. She is, in fact, a highly gifted woman, and I feel sure that the whole House will accept that. I believe that the people in Wales believe it now. She is a highly gifted woman of Welsh blood. There is no question about her not being a thoroughbred, whose dignified silence under bitter attacks by a section of her own country men and women has won the admiration of all Wales.

The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) alleged that her experience of Welsh life and culture is extrernely limited. I can only say that that proves that he knows very little about her. Those who have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting her would unquestionably say precisely the opposite. Whether this appointment, on which I certainly take responsibility for having advised my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, is successful or not will be determined by experience—by the experience of the people of Wales. Mrs. Jones is appointed for a period of two years. If the appointment does not turn out a success, she will not be reappointed, but if the people of Wales believe that her appointment has helped towards further progress with the Welsh Home Service, which is not free from its critics at present, then I believe it will be the ultimate test that the Government were right in recommending this appointment. It will be submitted, in the last resort, to the test of Welsh public opinion—[HON. MEMBERS: "How?"]—and not to debate in this House or to votes in this House.

I think everyone must have been impressed by the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) when he reminded the House that we have been through this before. These were exactly the same kind of charges as were levelled against my noble Friend Lord Brecon. I was told, and I was in the House at the time of the previous Welsh debate, that this was an arbitrary and irresponsible appointment, and that it was the missing of a great opportunity. As far as hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies are concerned, I doubt whether anyone would come out in his constituency and attack Lord Brecon. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I certainly know that there have been attacks upon him in the Welsh language newspapers, because of his supposed association with this appointment, and I know that these attacks have caused disgust among countless people who read the Welsh language newspapers and who know from their personal experience the service which my noble Friend has done for the people of Wales.

I come now to the terms and conditions of the appointment, setting personalities aside. The task before a Government who have to fill the post of National Governor is to find someone who will be able to give something like half of his time to the work, part of it in Cardiff and part of it in London. It is relatively easy to find people who are prepared to take on a part-time job if it means attendance for one or two half days a month. It is relatively easy, if the job is attractive enough, to find someone who will accept appointment to a full-time post and give up the full-time post he has held hitherto. But it is a very different matter, because the field is so much smaller, to find someone who has available or who can make available half of his time.

This narrows the range of candidates, and many people whose names have been mentioned and who might have made admirable National Governors had they been free were tied up in full-time posts from which it would not have been conceivable that they would retire in order to take on a half-time appointment.

Photo of Mr Leo Abse Mr Leo Abse , Pontypool

Were they asked?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris , Aberavon

Will the right hon. Gentleman enlighten us about how many people were approached?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I did not say that they were approached. I said that they were considered. All of us who have any acquaintance with Wales can think of people who, had they had half of their time uncommitted, would have filled this post admirably. It is an extremely difficult task. I invite hon. Members to make up a list in their own minds and go over it. If one is seeking somebody who is required to give half of his time, it is difficult to find anyone suitable outside the ranks of those who have retired. Rightly or wrongly, the Government thought that it would be advisable in this instance to appoint somebody younger. The vacancy occurred because the noble Lord,. Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor was 72—I think he was 64 when he was appointed—and he was retiring on grounds of age and age alone. It seemed to the Government, rightly or wrongly, that it would be wise in this case to find someone rather younger.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

The Prime Minister, in his reply to Sir Henry Morris-Jones, said that Mrs. Jones was appointed after careful consideration of the candidates available. Can the Minister tell us who were the candidates available?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

A long list of people was considered, a great many of whom could not have been appointed because of the reason I have mentioned. [Hon. Members: "They were never asked."] After very careful consideration, it was decided that Mrs. Rachel Jones would do better in the job than anyone else who was likely to be available.

I wish now to address myself to the words of the Motion, because it alleges that Mrs. Jones does not fulfil the requirements of the Charter. The Charter requires that the National Governor shall be selected in virtue of his knowledge of the culture, characteristics and affairs of Our People in Wales and his close touch with Welsh opinion. The hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) said that Mrs. Jones did not pass this test, because her knowledge of the Welsh language and Welsh culture that depended on the Welsh language could be no more than second hand. I ask the hon. Lady to realise that by those words she rules out of consideration for the post in the future the great majority of past and present Members representing Welsh constituencies. In looking round among our friends on both sides of the House who represent Welsh constituencies and casting one's mind back over Welsh Members who are no longer with us, I certainly would not dare to say that every one of those who was not Welsh-speaking was unfitted to be a National Governor for Wales. The hon. Lady said that anyone who had not a knowledge of the Welsh language had only a second-hand knowledge of the culture, characteristics and affairs of Our People in Wales. That is what I cannot accept. If one applies the test which I think the hon. Lady would wish to apply—certainly the test by which those who have criticised this appointment have condemned it—one rules out of consideration between two-thirds and three-quarters of all the people in Wales. When one is making an appointment to a position of such importance as this, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said it was, I do not believe that it can be right that one should start by ruling out of consideration between two-thirds and three-quarters of all people who have full right to call themselves Welsh.

The task of the National Governor is, first and foremost, to stand up for Wales and the interests of Wales in the counsels of the B.B.C. Some critics have spoken as if the National Governor should be listening all his life to the Welsh Home Service. That is not so. Even the appointment that he carries as Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council for Wales is less important to Wales than what he can achieve in arguing for Wales as a Governor of the B.B.C. within the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Above all, it was necessary to find someone who would be an effective advocate. All of us can think of people who are splendid Welshmen, but it is not necessarily the case that every one of them would have been well chosen to influence the other Governors of the B.B.C. in paying proper regard to Welsh interests. This I believe to be fundamental.

There are great questions ahead concerning the amount of Welsh language broadcasting in the Home Service. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was half of all the programmes emanating from Wales, but it is only a very small proportion of the programmes going out on the Welsh Home Service. Many people think that there should be a larger proportion. Others think that there should not be any Welsh language broadcasting at all. There are ahead very important questions about Welsh television. In all this, it is essential to have someone who will carry conviction to the other Governors of the B.B.C. with whom she will have to co-operate.

A section of opinion in Wales has turned against Mrs. Jones on a basis of ignorance without pausing to find out whether it was attacking someone who would be a valuable friend to the Welsh culture which it rightly wants to see defended. It is no use talking, as the right hon. Gentleman did, about unity between the English-speaking and Welsh-speaking peoples in Wales and then instantly leaping to the false conclusion that anyone who does not speak Welsh is not a friend of the Welsh language. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who said that?"] That is exactly the charge brought against Mrs. Jones by most of the critics in Wales.

I have seen all the resolutions of protest and the letters in the newspapers. I have seen the letters sent to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and myself. I have also seen the letters of support. I have noticed that, despite what the right hon. Gentleman said, quite as many letters of support for Mrs. Jones' appointment have appeared in, for instance, the Western Mail and the South Wales News as letters of protest. That is true all the way through. We who have been concerned with this appointment have been getting a stream of letters from people in Wales saying that they thoroughly agree with the appointment and that they think that it is a far-sighted and imaginative appointment and hope that we will not listen to or be confused by the small section of opinion in Wales which holds that only Welsh-speaking people can be accepted as having a true knowledge of Welsh culture.

It will be noted as significant by the House that practically all Mrs. Jones's critics are people who do not know her personally. It is equally significant that, almost without exception, the people who know her are strongly in favour of her appointment. There is, of course, one hon. Member here who must know her well, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins). It seems strange to me that he did not seek the opportunity of catching your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

Photo of Mr Tudor Watkins Mr Tudor Watkins , Breconshire and Radnorshire

I take it that the right hon. Gentleman has not read that my name is attached to the Motion.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

It would have been valuable, nevertheless, if one of Mrs. Jones's critics in this debate had been somebody who had personal knowledge of her. As far as I am aware, all the others who spoke knew her not at all. I speak with confidence in saying that, almost without exception, those who do know her are convinced that she will fulfil this task admirably. Frankly, I should be ashamed of attacking anybody as she has been attacked if I had never met the person concerned. The testimony of those who know a person is far more weighty than the testimony of those who do not.

The right hon. Member for Llanelly said that he was speaking for the overwhelming majority of the Welsh nation. That is not true. The hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen said that this appointment was totally unacceptable to Welsh opinion. That is flatly contradicted by the large measure of support that has been expressed in all parts of Wales for this appointment. It is not considered that an appointment of this important character should necessarily be confined to that portion of the people who speak Welsh but that it should be thrown open and that the best person available should be selected for the job.

I come back to what I said at the beginning. The experience of the future broadcasting service in Wales will prove

that this appointment is justified. Never from this Box have I spoken with greater conviction—[Interruption.]—never—because I deeply believe that Wales will immensely gain by the fact that the Government have had the courage to appoint Mrs. Rachel Jones. I suggest that now the House should follow the example of the Socialist-controlled Rhondda Borough Council and reject the Motion of censure overwhelmingly.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 171, Noes 240.

Division No. 141.]AYES[9.58 p.m.
Abse, LeoHolman, PercyProctor, W. T.
Ainsley, WilliamHoughton, DouglasPursey, Cmdr. Harry
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Howell, Charles A.Rankin, John
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Redhead, E. C.
Awbery, StanHughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Reid, William
Bacon, Miss AliceHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Rhodes, H.
Beaney, AlanHunter, A. E.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Blackburn, F.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Ross, William
Blyton, WilliamJanner, BarnettShort, Edward
Boyden, JamesJay, Rt. Hon. DouglasSilverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Braddock, Mrs, E. M.Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)Skeffington, Arthur
Brockway, A. FennerJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Broughton, Dr. A, D. D.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)Small, William
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Jones, Dan (Burnley)Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Snow, Julian
Callaghan, JamesJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Sorensen, R. W.
Cliffe, MichaelJones, T. W. (Merioneth)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Corbet, Mrs. FredaKenyon, CliffordSpriggs, Leslie
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Steele, Thomas
Crossman, R. H. S.King, Dr. HoraceStewart, Michael (Fulham)
Cullen, Mrs. AliceLawson, GeorgeStorehouse, John
Darling, GeorgeLee, Frederick (Newton)Stones, William
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Swingler, Stephen
Deer, GeorgeMcCann, JohnSylvester, George
de Freltas, GeoffreyMacColl, JamesSymonds, J. B.
Delargy, HughMcInnes, JamesTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Dempsey, JamesMcKay, John (Wallsend)Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Diamond, JohnMcLeavy, FrankThomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Donnelly, DesmondMahon, SimonThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. JohnMallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield. E.)Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. ChuterManuel, A. C.Thornton, Ernest
Edelman, MauriceMapp, CharlesThorpe, Jeremy
Edward, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)
Edward, Robert (Bilston)Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Timmons, John
Edwards, Walter (Stepney)Marsh, RichardWade, Donald
Evans, AlbertMason, RoyWainwright, Edwin
Fernyhough, E.Mendelson, J. J.Warbey, William
Finch, HaroldMillan, BruceWatkins, Tudor
Foot, DingleMitchison, G. R.Weitzman, David
Forman, J. C.Monslow, WalterWells, Percy (Faversham)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Moody, A. S.Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Galpern, Sir MyerMorris, JohnWhite, Mrs. Eirene
George, Lady Megan LloydMort, D. L.Whitlock, William
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Moyle, ArthurWilkins, W. A.
Gourlay. HarryNeal, HaroldWilley, Frederick
Grey, CharlesOswald, ThomasWilliams, D. J. (Neath)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Owen, WillWilliams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)
Griffiths, W. (Exchange)Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)Wilson, Rt. Hon,. Harold (Huyton)
Hannan, WilliamPaton, JohnWinterbottom, R. E.
Hart, Mrs. JudithPavitt, LaurenceWoodbum, Rt. Hon. A.
Hayman, F. H.Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)Woof, Robert
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur(Rwly Regis)Peart, Frederick
Herbison, Miss MargaretPopplewell, ErnestTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hill, J. (Midlothian)Prentice, R. E.Mr. Bowden and Mr. Probert.
Hilton, A. V.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
NOES
Agnew, Sir PeterGalbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Mills, Stratton
Aitken, W. T.Gardner, EdwardMott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)George, J. C. (Pollok)Nabarro, Gerald
Allason, JamesGibson-Watt, DavidNeave, Airey
Alport, Rt. Hon. C. J. M.Glover, Sir DouglasNicholson, Sir Godfrey
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)Noble, Michael
Arbuthnot, JohnGodber, J. B.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Ashton, Sir HubertGough, FrederickOsborn, John (Hallam)
Balniel, LordGower, RaymondOsborne, Cyril (Louth)
Barlow, Sir JohnGrant, Rt. Hn. William (Woodside)Page, John (Harrow, West)
Barter, JohnGreen, AlanPage, Graham
Batsford, BrianGresham Cooke, R.Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Partridge, E.
Beamish, Col. TuftonHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Peel, John
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Harvie Anderson, MissPercival, Ian
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)Hay, JohnPickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Berkeley, HumphryHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelPilkington, Capt. Richard
Biggs-Davison, JohnHenderson, John (Cathcart)Pitt, Miss Edith
Bingham, R. M.Hiley, JosephPott, Percivall
Birch, Rt. Hon. NigelHill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)Powell, J. Enoch
Bishop, F. P.Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)
Black, Sir CyrilHinchingbrooke, ViscountPrior-Palmer, Brig Sir Otho
Bossom, CliveHocking, Philip N.Proudfoot, Wilfred
Bourne-Arton, A.Holland, PhilipRamsden, James
Box, DonaldHope, Rt. Hon. Lord JohnRedmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. JohnHopkins, AlanRees, Hugh
Boyle, Sir EdwardHornby, R. P.Renton, David
Braine, BernardHoward, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Rippon, Geoffrey
Brewis, JohnHughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral JohnRoberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Hughes-Young, MichaelRobinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Brooke, Rt. Hon. HenryHulbert, Sir NormanRodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Brooman-White, R.Hutchison, Michael ClarkRoots, William
Browne, Percy (Torrington)Iremonger, T. L.Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Bryan, PaulIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Russell, Ronald
Bullard, DenysJenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Scott-Hopkins, James
Bullus, Wing Commander EricJennings, J. C.Sharples, Richard
Burden, F. A.Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Shaw, M.
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Shepherd, William
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Johnson Smith, GeoffreySmith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Joseph, Sir KeithSmithers, Peter
Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Kaberry, Sir DonaldSmyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Channon, H. P. G.Kerans, Cdr. J. S.Spearman, Sir Alexander
Chataway, ChristopherKerby, Capt. HenrySpeir, Rupert
Chichester-Clark, R.Kerr, Sir HamiltonStanley, Hon. Richard
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Kershaw, AnthonySteward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Lambton, ViscountStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Cole, NormanLangford-Holt, J.Studholme, Sir Henry
Collard, RichardLeather, E. H. C.Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Cooke, RobertLeavey, J. A.Tapsell, Peter
Cooper, A. E.Leburn, GilmourTeeling, William
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryTemple, John M.
Corfield, F. V.Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Costain, A. P.Lindsay, MartinThomas, Peter (Conway)
Coulson, J. M.Linstead, Sir HughThompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyLitchfield, Capt. JohnThorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
Craddock, Sir BeresfordLloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Critchley, JulianLongbottom, CharlesTurner, Colin
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Longden, GilbertTurton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Cunningham, KnoxLoveys, Walter H.van Straubenzee, W. R.
Curran, CharlesLow, Rt. Hon. Sir TobyVaughan-Morgan, Sir John
Currie, G. B. H.Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughVickers, Miss Joan
Dalkeith, Earl ofMcAdden, StephenVosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Dance, JamesMacArthur, IanWakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryMcLaren, MartinWall, Patriok
Deedes, W. F.McLaughlin, Mrs. PatriciaWard, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)
de Ferranti, BasilMaclay, Rt. Hon. JohnWebster, David
Digby, Simon WingfieldMaclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)Wells, John (Maidstone)
Doughty, CharlesMacleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)Whitelaw, William
du Cann, EdwardMacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Duncan, Sir JamesMcMaster, Stanley R.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Duthie, Sir WilliamMacmillan, Maurice (Halifax)Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliott, R. W.Maitland, Cdr. Sir JohnWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynManningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Wise, A. R.
Errington, Sir EricMarkham, Major Sir FrankWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Farey-Jones, F. W.Marlowe, AnthonyWoodhouse, C. M.
Farr, JohnMarshall, DouglasWoodnutt, Mark
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMarten, NeilWorsley, Marcus
Foster, JohnMatthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Mawby, RayTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Freeth, DenzilMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Mr. Edward Wakefield and
Colonel J. H. Harrison.