I welcome the opportunity to participate in the debate, even though it is taking place as dawn is breaking, because what has been said here this morning will perhaps have awakened the Government—I mean the Government as a whole, not the Minister—from their somewhat complacent and somnolent approach to the crisis facing the BBC thanks to the financial difficulties which have been so ably outlined by hon. Members opposite.
The financial crisis facing the BBC is very real. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) used the word "traumatic". I take leave to doubt whether the trauma will be quite as much felt by the public at large as it certainly may be felt by those working within the BBC. Nevertheless, hon. Members on both sides will agree that there is a crisis situation which needs to be debated.
However, I felt as I listened to hon. Members opposite that this debate was taking place as a plea for special treatment for the BBC and perhaps not enough in the context of the national economic situation. The hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) made some references to inflation, but he did not seem to accept that inflation, which is the great leveller for us all, should necessarily level down the BBC at the same rate.