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Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1988.

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Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland 12:00 am, 21st January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received regarding the future of community radio in Britain.

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

Many of the responses to our Green Paper "Radio: Choices and Opportunities", published last year, welcomed the prospect of community radio. As my right hon. Friend announced on 19 January, we intend to bring before Parliament legislative proposals based on the Green Paper.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland

I am sure that those with an interest in community radio will be very glad that the Green Paper has given the green light to it. Is the Minister able to announce a time scale in which he hopes the proposals will be implemented? As he is no doubt aware, the Shetland Islands Broadcasting Company has been on the air in my constituency and — judging by representations that I have received — is popular. Can the Minister say how the proposals will affect that company?

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support for the proposals that we are announcing. Assuming that it is possible for a Bill to be brought before Parliament in the next Session, I hope that the proposals will be law by the end of the summer of 1989, and that the radio authority will then be able to consider community radio applications and start issuing licences.

As regards the station in the Shetlands, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not expect me to give my blessing to a pirate radio station. The gentleman concerned will have to make his application to the radio authority. I must say, however, that that seems just the sort of project that could succeed under the new regime that we have announced.