British Broadcasting Corporation

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th June 1976.

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Photo of Mr George Thompson Mr George Thompson , Galloway

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he next intends to meet the Chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

While I am always happy to meet the Chairman or the Director-General of the BBC, I have no immediate plans to do so.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

At their next meeting, will my right hon. Friend suggest to the Chairman of the BBC that he should reject the advice of Mrs. Mary Whitehouse, who is now swinging from porn to patriotism and has recently said that television coverage of the horrors of modern war, particularly in Vietnam, weakened the will for national freedom? Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this kind of censorship would suppress the truth, whereas honest reporting on television and in the Press will help the will for peace and disarmament?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I do not believe in censorship, and I certainly believe in honest reporting, but I shall not suggest to the Chairman of the BBC that he should reject Mrs. Whitehouse's advice, because I might be put under pressure on a future occasion to suggest that he accepts her advice. It is much better, in accordance with our normal practice, that the chairman should make up his own mind about advice he receives.

Photo of Mr Gwynfor Evans Mr Gwynfor Evans , Carmarthen

When the Home Secretary meets the Chairman of the BBC, will he discuss the early implementation of the decision made by the Government in November 1974 to establish the fourth television channel in Wales as a national Welsh channel on which Welsh language programmes will be given time at peak viewing hours? Is he aware of the incalculable damage being done to the Welsh language and culture among children and young people by the present situation? Is he aware that an ancient culture is in danger of mortal injury?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

I am aware of the nature of the reports we have had which command broad support from the Government, subject to the overwhelming pressure on resources at present. I am prepared to discuss this matter with the chairman, subject to the resources which the Government are able to make available. It is an appropriate subject of discussion with the chairman because it is a matter of resources and not of programme content.

Photo of Mr John Ovenden Mr John Ovenden , Gravesend

When my right hon. Friend has the opportunity of meeting the Chairman or Director-General of the BBC, will he make it abundantly plain to either of those gentlemen that the Government have no intention of approving any increase in licence fees this or next year, and that when the British people are being asked to accept wage restraint they feel affronted by the rumours and stories being put about concerning the BBC's claims for increased licence fees?

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

The BBC has not put in any application. I am not sure that I can go quite as far as my hon. Friend, but when I announced the increases on 29th January 1975 I made it clear that the level of licence fees was intended to last for at least two years. That remains the position. The BBC has not yet made any application for an increase.

Photo of Mr Jerry Wiggin Mr Jerry Wiggin , Weston-Super-Mare

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Chairman of the BBC if he will direct his attention to the problem of my constituents, who do not like receiving their television programmes in Welsh, which they find totally unintelligible, the Welsh programmes frequently interrupting national English programmes? This is a scandal and should be put right.

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

Yes, I am aware that there is a certain cross-Bristol Channel problem that operates both ways as regards Welsh and English television.