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Lord Inglewood: We are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, for bringing his well-known expertise to bear on the specific points we are discussing. I begin with Amendment No. 197A which proposes that the BSC should draw up guidance specifically to be followed in connection with the avoidance of the unfair or negative portrayal of women, different racial groups and disabled people among listeners and viewers. The Government wholeheartedly believe that such unfair portrayal should be discouraged but do not agree that it is necessary to single out specific groups for explicit consideration in the way proposed.

The predecessor bodies of the new BSC have taken a keen interest in such matters in the past--for example, by responding to complaints about racist jokes and by conducting research into the portrayal of disabled people. On matters of unjust or unfair treatment or unwarranted infringement of privacy, with which Clause 68 deals, I have no doubt that the guidance which the BSC will draw up will be of general application and thus embrace matters covered by the noble Lord's amendment. Similarly, where such portrayal falls into the area of taste, it will generally be dealt with in the code on broadcasting standards to be drawn up under Clause 69. For these reasons, the Government would resist explicit reference to any particular group.

I now move on to Amendment No. 197B. The amendment proposes that, when the BSC draws up guidance relating to the avoidance of unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or interference with their privacy, such guidance explicitly includes the avoidance of unjust or unfair treatment in the representation or portrayal of disabled people. Again, of course the Government wholeheartedly support the principle that

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disabled people should not be unjustly or unfairly portrayed by broadcasters, and in wider terms the Government have demonstrated their commitment to disabled people through the Disability Discrimination Act and the announcement of appointments to the National Disability Council. However, the Government believe that the BSC, in drawing up the guidance about the avoidance of unfair treatment, should do so in general terms which would be inclusive of the interests of disabled people and everyone else.

The research which its predecessor body, the current Broadcasting Standards Council, has conducted into the portrayal of disabled people demonstrates a track record of interest in this area and I have no doubt that the BSC too will pay attention to the portrayal of disabled people when drawing up and reviewing its code relating to broadcasting standards generally. The Government would resist explicit provision for any particular group.

In Amendment No. 200A, the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, proposes that the BSC should be required to draw up a further code giving guidance as to the extent to which understanding and enjoyment of programmes by the deaf and visually impaired might be promoted. The noble Lord's amendment also requires the BSC to do all it can to ensure observance of the provisions of such a further code. While the Government wholeheartedly believe that the interests of the deaf and visually impaired should be taken fully into consideration in matters of portrayal and treatment, they are concerned that the amendment takes the BSC into unexplored waters in two respects; first, in the direction of exercising a regulatory function in requiring the BSC to do all that it can to secure observance; and, secondly, in requiring the BSC to address the function of programmes and, arguably, choice in programming rather than their content, which is where the two predecessor bodies, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Council, built up their expertise.

In so far as the provisions of the amendment might bear on portrayal or unfair treatment, the Government believe that the BSC will take account of a diverse range of interests in drawing up its code on standards and guidance on treatment and do not believe it necessary to make explicit provision for particular groups. For that reason, the Government would oppose this amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Ashley, proposes in Amendment No. 207A to make complaints available to BSC members and staff in forms accessible to sensorily impaired persons whereas the clause in question--Clause 75--currently refers only to complaints having to be in writing. The Government recognise that the consideration of complaints by sensorily impaired members of the BSC would be rendered more difficult if complaints could only be presented in writing, and they are therefore willing to consider the amendment.

Finally, I turn to Amendments Nos. 214A, 214B and 214C. In these amendments the noble Lord proposes an amendment to Clause 79 which would enable the BSC to make provision, either directly or through payment of an allowance, to enable full participation of people with impairments when they are attending the BSC in

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connection with a complaint. The Government recognise this real concern and would like to consider the point with a view to bringing forward an amendment at Report stage.

I have covered all the various amendments to which the noble Lord has spoken and I hope I have adequately responded to each and every one in a way--

Lord Renton: Before my noble friend sits down, I wonder whether I may presume to reinforce his argument by referring to a very important point of drafting and interpretation. It is recognised that, if we express one fact or refer to one group of people, we are excluding others. It is best expressed in the Latin tag, expressio unius est exclusio alterius. The courts interpret statutes very strictly in accordance with that well-established principle.

Lord Inglewood: I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Renton for drawing to the Committee's attention that important drafting consideration.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: Dealing with the serious points raised by the Minister, it is obvious that he and his officials have gone to a great deal of trouble on these amendments and I appreciate that very much indeed. I also appreciate the agreement he has made as regards some of the points that I raised. I am very glad that something is being done about them. As regards the other issues on which he was unable to meet us, unless we protect those vulnerable people in this Bill they will go on having very serious problems. I am hoping that at a later stage of the Bill something can be worked out to help them. I thank the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 197B to 199 not moved.]

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 200:

Page 59, line 39, after ("Authority") insert ("or included in the service referred to in section 57(1A) of the 1990 Act").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Lyell): Amendment No. 195J was wrongly placed on the Marshalled List. It is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue.

[Amendment No. 195J not moved.]

Clause 68, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 200A not moved.]

Clause 69 [Preparation by BSC of code relating to broadcasting standards generally]:

[Amendment No. 201 not moved.]

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 202:

Page 60, line 21, at end insert ("or included in the service referred to in section 57(1A) of the 1990 Act,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 69, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 70 agreed to.

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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 202A:

After Clause 70, insert the following new clause--

Educational programmes: BSC to provide guidance on standards and practice

(". It shall be the duty of the BSC to draw up, and from time to time review, guidance as to standards and practices to be followed in connection with programmes which fulfil the obligation of the BBC to provide--
(a) education; and
(b) educational content.").

The noble Baroness said: I draw to the attention of the Committee that this amendment places a duty on the new BSC to draw up and review guidance on the contents and nature of broadcasting defined as "education" and broadcasting defined as having "educational content". It is a probing amendment which we recognise will require for completion at least the equivalent of Clause 69, subsections (5) and (6).

However, it is desirable that some provision should appear on the face of the Bill. The education broadcasting role was weakened by the decision in the Broadcasting Act 1990 to take away the obligation on ITV companies to include adult education programming.

Because ITV and BBC compete, that increases pressures on the BBC to squeeze one area of education programming, and that is adult education. The need for an amendment of this kind further arises from concern about recent changes during the past year. The BBC is seeking higher ratings by diluting its education mission. Evidence of that dilution is provided by the fact that, however entertaining, the chat-show "Esther" presented by Esther Rantzen and the antiques show "Going for a Song" are now defined as examples of programmes funded from the education budget.

The BBC's ring-fenced budget for adult education is now being transferred into general programming. The controllers of BBC 1 and BBC 2 have effectively been given the power to decide what programmes are educational and who should make them. Seventy per cent. of programmes will be made by independents or other BBC departments. The BBC justifies that by arguing and contending that any factual programme-maker can make education programmes.

Noble Lords on all sides of the Committee support the Government's stated support for the European "Year of Life-Long Learning", which is intended to be not merely the year itself but the beginning of an attempt to tackle the issue of education. Education broadcasting is an important part of attracting adults who may have failed at earlier stages of their educational careers to take advantage of opportunities. Education broadcasting is important.

I understand from listening carefully to the Minister's replies to earlier points that have been raised that it is possible that the Government will look with more favour on guidance as opposed to codes. In that context, I hope that the Minister will give a positive response. I beg to move.

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9.45 p.m.

Lord Inglewood: The noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, proposes an amendment focused entirely on the BBC which would be required to follow guidance to be prepared by the BSC on education or educational content in programmes. The Government are clear that the amendment is well beyond the intended remit of the new BSC and believes that the two predecessor bodies have had limited experience in this area. We are not prepared to accept this amendment because the imposition of such a duty would divert the energies of the new body from its principal functions of dealing with the treatment of individuals in respect of fairness and privacy and standards in relation to taste and decency. The amendment also seeks to treat the BBC on a different footing from that of other public service broadcasters and, in requiring the BBC to follow such guidance, may cut across the governors' own responsibilities for programme content.

It is of course the general object of the BBC in its Charter to provide sound and television programmes of information, education and entertainment. That provides the appropriate statement in law of the BBC's duties in respect of education. I should add that in its new Agreement the corporation will be required to contain in its home service programmes of an educational nature, including specialist factual, religious and social issues programmes as well as formal education and vocational programmes. I hope that what I have said enables the noble Baroness to understand our position and why we feel that we cannot accept the amendment.

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