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Broadcasting

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th May 1965.

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Photo of Mr Peter Rawlinson Mr Peter Rawlinson , Epsom 12:00 am, 13th May 1965

I must have been particularly confusing in my arguments to the Committee, especially to the hon. Members who have just intervened.

I was saying that Radio Caroline shows that there is a liking for this kind of music and an audience for it which should not be written off and ignored and not tolerated. My proposal for sound broadcasting is that there should be low-power transmissions of a local nature which should not be a burden on the licence holders and, therefore, not a burden on the licence payers. I believe that there is a demand for such local stations which can be met, perhaps not wholly, but certainly to a great extent.

There are many other things to discuss in this very wide subject and you have told us, Dr. King, as we probably knew, that there are many hon. Members who wish to catch your eye during the course of the debate. The time is now ripe for a change in the fixed pattern which we now have. The first thing for which we should call is greater competition in commercial television, the extra choice of viewing which should be provided by the fourth and commercial channel. That is our proposal and I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government accept that proposition and what their proposals are. Secondly, there should be a wider choice in sound broadcasting by local stations and without an increase in the licence fee.

This is a matter which deals with the extension of the choice of the people at the receiving ends of the radio and television sets. The time has probably come for a completely new look at this position and perhaps for a Minister of communications with a duty to consider wavelengths and the general discipline of services. The field is ripe for this further development.

I hope that we shall not hear—and I am sure that we will not be put off by—talk of having yet one more of the Government's interminable committees. The picture of the groups and committees of Ministers which has been painted by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite is becoming alarming. This is not the pose of dynamic government of which we heard so much in the halcyon days of October, 1964, when the Government said that they were poised to swing their plans into instant operation or, in the more recent elegant phrase of the Prime Minister, "Knock the hell out of them". I do not know who "them" is, or what "the hell" is to be, but perhaps we have been suffering it a little already.

What were the views of the Labour Party in October, 1964, and what are the Government's proposals now, and how instant is to be the operation in which they are to swing their plans into orbit? The time has come when we shall hear from the right hon. Gentleman in his own inimitable fashion. I hope that that we shall be told that the people are entitled to have an extensive choice of that to which they listen and what they see, and that is what we expect to hear from the right hon. Gentleman.