In the light of the response to the discussion document, we have been reviewing the possibility of introducing a service on a lower frequency, in addition to one around 930 MHz. We hope to be able to announce our conclusions shortly.
I welcome my hon. Friend's willingness to support my belief that everyone should be able to communicate freely in a free society. May I ask what is his best estimate of when he will authorise CB radio in order to give British industry the best chance of getting into the market and remove the stamp of illegality that is now upon tens of thousands of people who wish to communicate with one another?
I am well aware that there is a strong body of opinion in favour of legalising CB radio, but there is also widespread concern about interference, especially with television. We are giving the matter careful attention. I repeat my assurance that we shall make an announcement as soon as possible. May I add that my hon. Friend has misinterpreted the role of King Canute.
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the paper which I sent him and which he kindly commented on represents my views? Will he remember that he has to strike a balance between making CB radio too cheap and easy so that any Tom, Dick or Harry can use it and interfere with other services and not making it too expensive so that it cannot be used by people who will use it responsibly?
I believe that there would be argument about the hon. Gentleman's comment about whether particular types of equipment could be manufactured here. However, one consideration is the capability of the radio industry.
Will my hon. Friend acknowledge that there are a large number of illegal users of the CB frequencies that he says will be considered? Will he immediately announce an amnesty, or at least say that there will be no further investigation and waste of Post Office engineers' time in seeking out illegal users until he has made his statement?
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that his statement gives some hope to over 70,000 users of illegal sets? From what the hon. Gentleman has said, in addition to a lower frequency, there will be a frequency of about 930 MHz. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that will be welcomed by those illegally operating who might otherwise persist in defying the Government and continue to use the 27 MHz frequency against their wishes?