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Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I asked her a specific and important question about the inquiry of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. I asked whether it was in limbo because the terms of reference refer to cessation of terrorism and to a lasting peace. I thought

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she was going to say--I hope she will say--that it is not in limbo at all but is proceeding. I think we need that on the record.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I apologise. I was trying to avoid going back to some bitty points--not unimportant points but I did not want to go on repeating myself. I apologise most profusely for not referring to that point. I am able to say that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, will indeed take into account as part of the review the possibility of not only a lasting peace, for which we all hope, but also the awful possibility that a ceasefire is not secured and the need for continuing legislation. That will form part of the review.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Prevention of Terrorism (Exclusion Orders) Regulations 1996

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 22nd February be approved [11th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Broadcasting Bill [H.L.]

8.31 p.m.

Proceedings after Third Reading resumed on Clause 101.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth moved Amendment No. 36:

Page 80, line 37, leave out from ("programme") to end of line 38 and insert ("does not include an advertisement but includes a teletext transmission (apart from any advertisement on such a transmission) and, in relation to a service, includes any item included in that service, except an advertisement;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will notice that the amendment is accompanied by a star. It is in fact the only amendment on the Marshalled List that is accompanied by a star. The star indicates that it was tabled only yesterday. I apologise to the Minister and to the House that there has not been adequate notice but I was given notice of the matter only a few days ago. I thought it worth while to try to get some clarity on the issue the amendment raises. At this stage of our proceedings it should not take long.

The amendment deals with what I regard as an oddity of the 1990 Act. The Act included for the first time in the remit of what was then the newly-established Broadcasting Standards Council in terms of its statutory position advertisements as well as television programmes. The simple issue I am raising is that there are differences between television advertisements and television programmes and that they need to be dealt with in quite different ways.

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Television advertisements are tightly regulated quite separately from the Broadcasting Standards Council. They are much more tightly regulated than programmes. Television advertisements are subject to a pre-vetting arrangement. They cannot go out on the screen unless they have first been approved by the machinery set up by the ITC and the Radio Authority, which both have statutory codes covering advertisement content. Both those bodies have substantial powers of sanction which the Broadcasting Standards Council does not have. They have the right to prevent an advertisement going out; they have the right to stop an advertisement continuing to go out once a complaint has been established; and their ultimate sanction is of much greater severity for those who hold broadcasting licences.

Against that background it seems totally anomalous and undesirable that the Broadcasting Standards Council, which does a relevant job in terms of programme standards in relation to violence, good taste and so on, should have its remit extended to include advertisements. That will produce a good deal of confusion. There have been recent cases where the Broadcasting Standards Council has dealt with a complaint about an advertisement in a way that was totally at odds with what I would call the more serious and substantial regulatory authorities which I have just described.

The way the Broadcasting Standards Council has been dealing with advertisement complaints is in some ways not a matter relating to advertising standards as such but to problems of political correctness. That is an odd thing coming as a form of regulation from this deregulatory government which the Minister quite often recommends to us. I shall not bore him with the details--he has perhaps had details of it--but the Automobile Association recently got into trouble for what was called a sexist advertisement because of the way the woman in an advertisement was portrayed. There are other issues of similar political correctness which seem to excite the Broadcasting Standards Council greatly. I think it is an inappropriate way to deal with this matter.

I am bound to say that if the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, were here, as a new and effective chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, and it was suggested to him that he was to have responsibility for the standard of advertisements as well as the standard of what goes into the press, he would think it a very curious concept indeed. It is such an odd concept that I hope the Government will consider whether they might use this Broadcasting Bill to remove it from the otherwise worthy work of the Broadcasting Standards Council. I beg to move.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for the way in which he has explained the amendment and I am pleased to provide some clarification. Even if it does not satisfy him I hope that it will explain the Government's position. We believe that it is natural and reasonable that the BSC considers advertisements as an aspect of broadcasting just as capable of causing offence as programmes and that it should therefore be able to entertain complaints on

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advertising, while it is equally appropriate that the commission's other functions--its code drawing, research and monitoring--should extend to advertising.

In 1994-95 the Broadcasting Standards Council received a total of 331 complaints which referred to specific advertisements as opposed to 225 in the previous year. In the context of what appears to be growing public concern at the content of television and radio advertising, we believe that it is right that there should be an independent body to which the public may complain about advertising standards just as they may about television and radio programmes. That is why we cannot support the proposed amendment.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, I am conscious that the amendment was tabled only yesterday. With the greatest respect to the Minister, perhaps I may say that he is reading the standard brief that is somewhere in the files of the Department of National Heritage. I hope that when the matter is considered a little more thoroughly the Government may feel that the arguments I have put forward may have some substance.

Advertising control in particular is very rigorous. I speak with some personal authority in the matter because I was chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority in the days when it was in control of television advertising and I was previously chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority. These are important matters. I am totally in favour of a rigorous control of advertising standards, but they are well and properly controlled in a logical and consistent manner with proper sanctions. In this case the Broadcasting Standards Council is a fifth wheel to the coach. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde moved Amendment No. 37:

After Clause 102, insert the following new clause--

Transfer schemes: BBC undertakings

(" . Where, in consequence of any transfer made in accordance with a transfer scheme, all the property, rights and liabilities comprised in a particular part of the BBC's undertaking are transferred to a relevant transferee--
(a) the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 shall apply to the transfer, whether or not they would otherwise so apply, and
(b) that undertaking shall accordingly (whether or not it would otherwise be so regarded) be regarded for the purposes of those Regulations as an undertaking in the nature of a commercial venture.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 38. Both relate to the BBC's transmission services. This is a new amendment but it is not the first time that this issue has been referred to in the course of proceedings on the Bill. It was referred to at Second Reading and at the very end of Report stage, late one evening, we discussed it briefly as well.

Under the Broadcasting Act 1990 IBA transmission services were privatised. At that time there were discussions about whether the BBC transmission

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services should also be privatised. It did not happen in the event but I am told that an indication was given that when the BBC Charter came up for review it would be looked at then.

In 1993 an independent report was commissioned from Coopers & Lybrand about the privatisation of BBC transmission services. The result of that review was that, first, privatisation would not really reduce costs and, secondly, it would not increase competition either. We agree with that view and would prefer to see the BBC transmission services remain within the control of the BBC, even if they were with a wholly separate company to the BBC structure itself.

These two amendments take on board the fact that there has been no indication that the Government wish to change their view that the BBC transmission services be privatised. First, in the event that they are, when this Bill has completed its passage through another place, we seek through these amendments to ensure that the approximately 750 employees of the BBC transmission services are treated in no less favourable a way than the IBA employees when its transmission services were privatised.

As regards the application of TUPE--here I must declare very strong reservations about its effect and what protection it gives to employees--at the time of the 1990 Act, it had not been established and accepted as it is today. We feel that because we do not know to whom these services will be sold off, this clause needs to be on the face of the Bill.

The second aspect of the amendments deals with the BBC staff pension scheme. It is a contributory scheme. I gather that employees pay 4.5 per cent. It is a defined benefit scheme with a proper trustee structure not only under the Pensions Act, but before that when there were employee representatives on the scheme. As we know from experience in the past few years, pensions are an absolutely crucial part of overall income.

Equally, one has to bear in mind that a number of employees work in far-flung places throughout the world--places with wonderful-sounding names such as the Ascension Island. I believe that there are also postings to Antigua. There are quite a number of exotic-sounding places. The problem is that the employees are out there and the employment contracts are based in the United Kingdom together with the pension rights. We believe it absolutely necessary for BBC employees, under the Bill, which will eventually become an Act, to have exactly the same kind of provision that exists in the 1990 Act for IBA employees.

I am told that when the 1990 Act saw its passage through this House the view of the employees of the IBA transmission services was, not to put too fine a point on it, that "the Lords did a good job for us". BBC employees are seeking the same kind of attention and concern, and hope that this House does a good job for them too. I beg to move.

8.45 p.m.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Baroness has raised important matters concerning the rights of the staff of the BBC's transmission services which need to

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be considered in the context of the transfer of those services to another body. BBC transmission staff have built up a successful and efficient organisation and one of the BBC's priorities in handling the sale will be to ensure that the interests of staff are properly reflected in the arrangements made.

Like Schedule 5 to the Bill as introduced, the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness are drawn from Schedule 9 to the 1990 Broadcasting Act which set out the scheme providing for the division of assets of the IBA including the transfer of its transmission services. That relating to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981, known as TUPE, is based on paragraph 4(4) and that concerning pensions on paragraph 9 of Schedule 9.

We believe that the amendment applying TUPE provisions is unnecessary. At the time of the 1990 Act it was unclear whether a transfer of this nature was the transfer of a commercial undertaking and so the provision was taken for the avoidance of doubt. It is now clear that TUPE will apply to the transfer contemplated by the Bill and there is therefore no need for the provision.

The position in relation to pensions is more complex. The provisions in the 1990 Act were required because the whole of the IBA's business was to be divided between the ITC, the Radio Authority and the transmission business. The last formed a significant part of the IBA's work. But transmission is a small part of the BBC's overall activities and involves about 750 out of a total of some 22,000 staff. The BBC pension scheme will continue in existence and those staff transferring to the new transmission business will have the same options as other BBC employees moving employment; that is, to leave their accrued benefits in the BBC scheme where they will be guaranteed to increase each year in line with the retail price index up to 10 per cent., or to take a transfer value payment (TVP) to their new employer's scheme, or to take a TVP to a personal pension arrangement.

I understand that the BBC will be offering independent financial advice to all those affected and that the TVP will be a full and fair valuation of the employees' pension rights built up during their period of employment with the BBC.

I also understand that the BBC believes that the provisions of the Broadcasting Bill, as currently drafted, are sufficiently wide for the transfer scheme to include the transfer of pension commitments. But I recognise that this is a matter of critical concern to the staff of BBC transmission and the Government therefore agree to consider the issue further so that we can reach a definitive and satisfactory agreement with the BBC as to the position on pensions. If necessary, the Government will bring forward an amendment for the avoidance of doubt along the lines of what is provided for the BSC at paragraph 4 of Schedule 4 to the Bill. I hope that that gives the noble Baroness reassurance as to the position as regards the two amendments.

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