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Lord Inglewood: The amendment of my noble friend Lord Northesk would place a duty on the BSC to create a register of interests to which broadcasters would supply details of their consultancies or similar arrangements in return for payment or other reward; any financial interests of broadcasters in businesses providing broadcasting services on behalf of clients; their membership of or affiliation to any political party or organisation; and any other particulars that the BSC considers may affect the public perception as to the way in which broadcasters provide broadcasting services. My noble friend's amendment also requires any person involved in producing current affairs or news programmes or holding a licence under the 1990 Act or Part I or Part II of the Bill to register the same kind of details. The BSC is required to make the necessary arrangements, including those for public inspection of the register.

The BBC and those broadcasters licensed by the ITC are subject to strict requirements as to impartiality. In particular, the ITC is required to do all that it can to secure that every licensed broadcaster applies the requirement that any news given, in whatever form, in its programmes is presented with due accuracy and impartiality and that due impartiality is preserved in respect of matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy. The ITC is required to draw up appropriate codes to give effect to those requirements. In respect

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of services licensed by the ITC, the commission must also satisfy itself that each prospective licensee is a fit and proper person to hold a broadcasting licence. The ITC is further required to ensure that the broadcasting licence holder is not disqualified by a number of criteria set out in Schedule 2 to the 1990 Act including political connections and circumstances where a prospective licensee is open to have influence exerted over him by another body giving financial assistance. The disqualification also extends to advertising agencies and those associated with such agencies.

As I previously said in respect of the BBC, we have made express provision in paragraph 7 of the draft Charter that the governors are under an express obligation to ensure that the corporation, its employees and all its programme-makers comply with codes and guidelines covering programme standards. The draft Charter specifies that all activities of the BBC should be carried out to the highest standards of probity and propriety. The Agreement between the Secretary of State and the BBC being considered in another place this evening contains a clear requirement that the BBC draw up a code relating to due accuracy and impartiality of treatment in paragraph 5.3 referring to paragraph 5.1(c). The BBC is required to do,

    "all it can to ensure that the provisions of the Code are observed".

There are many other activities where these kinds of standards are properly demanded. Yet doctors, lawyers and judges, to name but three, do not have to complete such a declaration. Indeed, it is only in the field of politics where an obligation to complete such registers may be required because politicians take decisions as decision-makers of government.

The general provisions of the 1990 Act applicable to the ITC's duties and the framework set out in the BBC draft Charter and Agreement are, in the Government's view, a sufficient safeguard against breaches of impartiality arising from potential conflicts of interests of broadcasters. It is a matter for the broadcasters themselves to secure that their employees and programme-makers act in accordance with obligations placed on the broadcasters. For example, the BBC's standard contract of employment expressly deals with those matters.

I refer the Committee to paragraph 19 of the monthly standard contract where it is specified that,

    "You [the employee] will devote your whole time ability and attention during your working hours to the BBC and the performance of your duties. You will not allow your outside or private activities to interfere with your BBC work or your ability to carry out your duties effectively or permit any conflict actual or potential to arise between your BBC duties and your outside or private interests. You will not allow any outside or private interests to place the BBC in a position whereby it is brought or is likely to be brought into disrepute or its reputation for impartiality is likely to be affected irrespective of whether or not its reputation is actually affected".

It goes on to say that,

    "in case of doubt you should seek the prior written consent of your manager before entering into or commencing any additional employment or appointment whether voluntary or otherwise".

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It seems to me that an unwillingness to comply with that criterion is more or less a guarantee that the register will be improperly filled in. I am far from convinced that that approach will deliver the benefits that its proposers maintain.

In addition, the amendment would take the work of the BSC into areas considerably beyond its intended remit and into an area which is properly the responsibility of the regulators and the governors. The fact that broadcasting is subject to the regulatory regime of the BBC governors, the Welsh Authority, or in receipt of an ITC licence, should of itself be the guarantee of impartiality. It goes back to a great deal of what we have been talking about this evening. If that is not the case, it is a matter for those who have the job of exercising a regulatory function. It is not a matter which we believe should or could be well done by the BSC whose function, as I have explained, is different.

For those reasons, if my noble friend seeks to press his amendment, we shall oppose it.

The Earl of Northesk: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and to the Minister for his lucid explanation of the situation. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was absolutely right in foreseeing that my noble friend the Minister would not be wholly sympathetic to the amendment.

I am conscious of the lateness of the hour and have no wish to detain the Committee any longer than is necessary. I believe, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, intimated, that there may be room to seek out a more useful airing of the subject when more people are around to discuss it. With that reservation and with the Committee's leave, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 81 [Power of BSC to commission research]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 222A:

Page 68, line 6, at end insert--
("( ) the avoidance of unjust or unfair treatment in programmes to which section 68 applies and of unwarranted infringement of privacy in, or in connection with the obtaining of material included in, such programmes,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 81, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 82 agreed to.

Clause 83 [Duty to publicise BSC]:

Lord Chalfont had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 223:

Page 68, line 26, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: As this will be, to my relief and probably to everyone else's, my last intervention in the Committee stage, I wish to express my appreciation to the Minister, not only for the constructive and helpful way in which he responded to the debate, taking us so carefully and effectively through it, but also for the co-operation that he and his officials have given to us all--certainly to me--

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throughout the preparation of these amendments. I look forward to returning to the fray at Report stage, when I know that the Minister will come with great armfuls of government concessions. The amendment is not moved.

[Amendment No. 223 not moved.]

Clause 83 agreed to.

Clause 84 [Annual reports]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 223A:

Page 68, line 41, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 69.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 223B:

Page 69, line 7, at end insert ("together with a copy of the statement of accounts for the year and of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on that statement").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 84, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 85 agreed to.

Clause 86 [Contributions towards cost of BSC]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 223C:

Page 69, line 27, leave out from ("must") to end of line and insert ("be such that the aggregate of--
(a) that total, and
(b) the amount of any contribution towards the expenses of the BSC for that year which is received, or to be received, by the Secretary of State from the BBC,
represents one half of those expenses.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 86, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 87 agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clause 88 agreed to.

Clause 89 [Interpretation of Part IV]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 224:

Page 70, line 45, at end insert--
("( ) any qualifying service (within the meaning of Part I of this Act) provided by a person other than the Welsh Authority,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 89, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 90 agreed to.

Schedule 5 agreed to.

Clauses 91 to 93 agreed to.

11.45 p.m.

Schedule 6 [Amendments of Broadcasting Act 1990 relating to services provided by BBC companies]:

[Amendments Nos. 225 and 226 not moved.]

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clauses 94 and 95 agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

[Amendments Nos. 227 and 228 not moved.]

Schedule 7 agreed to.

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Schedule 8 [Repeals]:

[Amendment No. 229 not moved.]

Schedule 8 agreed to.

Clause 96 [Commencement and transitional provisions]:

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[Amendments Nos. 230 to 233 not moved.]

Clause 96 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

        House adjourned at thirteen minutes before midnight.

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