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European Television Programme Quotas

3.18 p.m.

Viscount Chelmsford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): My Lords, at the Culture and Audio-visual Council on 20th November last year all member states agreed to retain the text of Articles 4 and 5 of the 1989 television without frontiers directive. These articles require a majority of European programme content and at least 10 per cent. of that to be from independent producers. The Commission has confirmed its support of this agreement and it is not in favour of the proposed European parliamentary amendments relating to quotas.

Viscount Chelmsford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer which, if it holds, is very satisfactory. If, as we heard before the Easter Recess, the Commission is now engaged in conciliation it may not hold. Is not the use of subsidiarity a viable alternative which the Government might like to consider in such circumstances? Does the Minister agree with the comment that has been published by EURIM, the European parliamentary group of which I am a member, suggesting that public service networks provide the means to preserve national cultures with the least market distortion?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, we believe that the Commission is clearly committed to the provisions of the proposed amendments to the television without frontiers directive. It is other provisions of the European Parliament's proposed amendments about which it is considering that it may change its view. It is important to realise that this is a First Reading by the European Parliament. There is still a long way to go in the legislative process before any changes reach the statute book. Lastly, it is the case that in this country, public

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service terrestrial broadcasters are subject to a whole range of positive programming requirements which are in the public interest.

Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, do the Government agree that while it is important to resist the flood of cheap American imports into some of our satellite channels, quotas are not the best way to achieve that? Will the Government ensure that during the further passage of the Broadcasting Bill in another place they will do everything possible to encourage high quality original British programming, not only from the BBC and the independent television companies but also from BSkyB?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, for supporting the Government's position in respect of quotas. Of course, it is the Government's wish that the quality of British television and television productions made in this country should be of the highest quality possible.

Viscount Astor: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that quotas distort competition in the industry and, as it is an industry which must operate in a world market, quotas are bad for the broadcasting industry?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, my noble friend is quite right.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, in giving future consideration to the views expressed by the European Parliament on such matters, will the noble Lord bear in mind that most views expressed in the European Parliament are expressed on behalf of a minority only because only a minority of its members attend? Will the noble Lord give the House an assurance that he will pay due attention to that fact?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am sure that in view of the fact that some noble Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, have been Members of the European Parliament, we can form our own views on the merits and the quality of the opinions which it forms.

Lord Monson: My Lords, does the noble Lord not agree that the British people will not tolerate being told by the French, the Germans, the Greeks and so on what they can and cannot watch on their television screens?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the British people are not being told by those nations what to watch on television. They have a perfectly good on/off button.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, is rather sanguine as to what the British people can be told about what to do and what not to do? They have just been told that they may not export perfectly good British beef to the Continent or elsewhere.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, that is a trifle wide of the Question which I have been answering but of course, on this occasion, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, is absolutely right.

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School Bullying

3.23 p.m.

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the latest steps they have taken to combat school bullying.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): My Lords, The Government continue to give priority to action against bullying. We have commissioned a survey to find out how schools have used the anti-bullying pack which the Department for Education published in 1994 and the effect it has had on reducing the incidence of bullying. In addition, the Home Office published last December the report Preventing School Bullying, which to meet high demand is to be re-issued shortly.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the Government's response is welcome but wholly inadequate? Research has shown that bullying is not only very damaging and distressing to many young people but it is now endemic in Britain. No fewer than 40 per cent. of our schools have no anti-bullying policy. Therefore, my guess is that many schools do not have those packs and have not bothered to obtain them. Is it not the case that the Government's mistake is to rely upon a voluntary policy when they should require all schools to have an anti-bullying policy, to report on it and to publicise locally what they are doing?

Lord Henley: My Lords, I am not sure on which research the noble Lord bases his evidence. If it is research conducted by the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, I accept that that research shows considerable disquiet among parents and that a number of parents are unaware of schools' anti-bullying policies. However, evidence from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector seems to indicate that most schools have an effective anti-bullying policy and most have taken note of the advice given by the Department for Education and Employment in the pack which we issued some two years ago.

Having said that, I very much welcome the advice of the NCPTA. It emphasises that there are no easy solutions to the problem of bullying and recommends that we should be honest and admit that it goes on and that a co-operative approach should be adopted by the Government, the LEAs, the schools, teachers and parents. Through pursuing such a policy, we may be able to eradicate the scourge of bullying.

The noble Lord alleges that we are being complacent. We are evaluating the effectiveness of the pack. I assure him that if the evidence suggests that it would be better to issue the pack compulsorily to all schools, I should be prepared to consider that. At present, 19,000 of the 24,000 or so schools have opted to receive the pack and we have written to all the other schools which have not received it suggesting that it is available and that they might like to acquire it.

Lord Annan: My Lords, is not all this talk of an anti-bullying policy merely a platitude? We are all

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against bullying. All LEA schools are against bullying. It is very easy to talk about a policy but it is surveillance which is required. That means either that extra staff must be employed or that teachers must be required to give up what is sometimes a very well-earned break during the morning's proceedings.

Lord Henley: My Lords, like the NCPTA, I do not believe that there is a single, simple solution to the problem. But the noble Lord is right to say that better surveillance needs to be adopted by the schools and it is for the schools to adopt the right policies to make sure that bullying is dealt with; that people are aware of it; and that there is no fear in relation to reporting incidents of bullying.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, following on the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, is the Minister aware of the great admiration that we have on these Benches for the excellent report issued by the Home Office from the University of Sheffield on this subject? I declare an interest as an honorary doctor and former professor of that great university. Will the Minister inform the House what evidence has been gathered since that report on how teachers are evaluating bullying problems in their schools, because to do so teachers need time? Given the general cutback in education services, have teachers had enough time fully to implement the anti-bullying measures effectively?

Lord Henley: My Lords, as I made clear earlier, we are evaluating the effectiveness of the pack. We shall have to look at how teachers are managing the problem of bullying. I also give an assurance to the noble Lord that for the truancy and disaffected pupils programme, there was made available some £15 million last year and a similar figure will be made available this year. This is certainly something which we take very seriously indeed.

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