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Future of the BBC — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:58 pm on 14th July 2015.

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Photo of Lord Roberts of Llandudno Lord Roberts of Llandudno Liberal Democrat 7:58 pm, 14th July 2015

My Lords, I would like to say a word about the BBC as it is involved in Wales. Without the BBC’s funding of S4C, there would not be an S4C channel today. Until about four years ago it was a government payment from DCMS that kept S4C going. That involvement with the Government was then withdrawn. We get a little money, about £7 million, but the rest of the burden is borne by the BBC licence fee. Without that, there would be no Welsh-language television. The Assembly could not afford it—I do not see where it could get the money—so we have to protect the BBC, not only because of itself.

For many years, from the time of Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, we in Wales have fought for and achieved radio channels in Welsh and English. We then wanted a television channel, and Gwynfor Evans, who some noble Lords might remember, threatened a fast to the death to get the Government to keep their promise to give us a Welsh-language television service. The result is that we are keeping the Welsh family throughout the world together. I can imagine people in the La Trobe Street chapel in Melbourne saying to each other, “Wasn’t that a great Eisteddfod we saw from Llangollen this year?”, or possibly, in the Dewi Sant church in Toronto they will say, “There was some wonderful hymn-singing tonight from Llanfairpwllgwyngyll”. We are one family, and the BBC makes that possible through its support for S4C. Thank you for what we have had. I hope that the Government will not interfere in any way to make S4C a difficult channel to maintain.