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Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde: I thank the Minister for responding to all the amendments. I only moved Amendment No. 203A, but spoke to the others. The noble Lord gave me quite an interesting invitation as regards our bringing forward some further words on direct interest. If the Government would see their way to funding the Front Bench of the Opposition with researchers and secretarial support even to a minimal degree compared to that enjoyed by them, we would have some further words available in time for the Report stage. If the Minister would like to take up that counter invitation, we would be delighted to comply.

I accept that it is difficult to define the concept of direct interest. I also take the point about not representing an organisation. I believe that the Minister has been somewhat misled on the matter as regards the "Panorama" programme. I chaired that complaint, but I left the commission before the court case took place. There were two young women who actually went to the National Council for One Parent Families with their complaints. It is indeed a difficult area, and we will consider the Minister's response. Perhaps we could hire a lawyer who does not charge the normal fees and ask him to look into the matter. I invite the Government to do likewise. If it is just the question of words that is keeping us apart, I am sure that we can find a way to resolve the matter.

As regards pressure groups, my experience in life has been that those who get away with pressurising are those who are pretty well looked after; indeed, it is those in the vulnerable, small groups who do not know where to go, and do not even know that the system exists, who need help. Therefore, I was disappointed with that reply.

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As regards Amendments Nos. 216A and 216B, clearly I am pleased with that response. We await to hear the Minister's further comments on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 72 agreed to.

Clause 73 agreed to.

Clause 74 [Complaints relating to taste and decency, etc.]:

[Amendments Nos. 204 to 207 not moved.]

Clause 74 agreed to.

Clause 75 [Supplementary provisions as to making of complaints of either kind]:

[Amendments Nos. 207A and 208 not moved.]

Clause 75 agreed to.

Clause 76 [Consideration of fairness complaints]:

[Amendment No. 208A not moved.]

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 208B:

Page 65, line 17, at end insert--
("( ) Where the BSC have adjudicated on a fairness complaint, they shall send a statement of their findings to the complainant.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 76, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 208C not moved.]

Clause 77 [Consideration of standards complaints]:

[Amendments Nos. 209 to 211 not moved.]

Lord Chalfont had given notice of his intention to move Amendments Nos. 212 to 214:

Page 66, line 6, after ("BSC") insert (" and the complainant").
Page 66, line 9, after ("BSC") insert (" and the complainant").
Page 66, line 12, after ("BSC") insert (" and the complainant").

The noble Lord said: The above amendments do in fact contain a new element which is not entirely consequential to the original amendment. However, as I shall be returning to the whole matter on Report, I do not propose to move the amendments tonight.

[Amendments Nos. 212 to 214 not moved.]

Clause 77 agreed to.

Clause 78 agreed to.

Clause 79 [Power to pay allowances to persons attending hearings]:

11.15 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 214A to 214C not moved.]

Clause 79 agreed to.

Clause 80 [Publication of BSC's findings]:

[Amendments Nos. 215 to 217 not moved.]

Viscount Caldecote moved Amendment No. 217A:

Page 67, line 9, at end insert--
("(d) a correction or an apology (or both).").

The noble Viscount said: The noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, has asked me to apologise to the Committee on his behalf as he has had to leave. He asked me to move this simple amendment on his behalf.

15 Feb 1996 : Column 844

It seems a sensible and logical proposal that if a complaint is upheld it is reasonable that a correction or apology should be made. I beg to move.

Lord Inglewood: This amendment requires the Broadcasting Standards Commission to publish an apology or correction that it has directed the broadcaster or regulatory body to make, after a complaint has been upheld. The Broadcasting Standards Commission, however, can only direct a broadcaster or regulatory body to publish a summary of its findings. It cannot direct them to make an apology or correction.

The mechanism for the broadcasting of apologies is contained in Section 40 of the 1990 Act in respect of licensed services, and in Section 109 in respect of licensed radio services. In the case of the BBC it would be incumbent upon the governors to determine where an apology or correction is appropriate. It is right that the responsibility for these matters should rest with the broadcasting or regulatory bodies. Where an apology or correction has been made, however, this would be reported to the BSC and included in the BSC's report through the requirement contained in government Amendment No. 221A. The Government will therefore resist this amendment.

Viscount Caldecote: I am not quite clear why. My noble friend says that the BSC could not have the power to do this, but surely the whole of Clause 80 gives the BSC power to issue directions, and this is simply an additional direction that it could issue if it so wished. Perhaps my noble friend will consider that point.

Lord Inglewood: Were there a power to compel a form of apology, the apology itself would ring entirely hollow. A self-regulating way of determining how a broadcaster responds to a finding of the BSC is to see whether or not he apologises, because the mechanisms we have put in place are intended to draw clearly to the wider public's attention whether or not any response has been given by the broadcaster. We believe that that is the best way to ensure that broadcasters will take seriously the findings of the BSC, because it will be made apparent to the wider world when a description of the upheld complaint is made public that the broadcaster has done nothing about it. That will lead to pressure from the press, the public and politicians. If, however, the broadcaster were simply compelled to issue a form of words which carried none of his sentiments, we believe that would provide the broadcaster with a way out.

Viscount Caldecote: My noble friend has made a logical case although I cannot commit the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, to it, as he may want to raise the matter again on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Chalfont moved Amendment No. 218:

Page 67, line 11, at end insert--
("provided that in the case of a summary as provided for in subsection (3)(b) above a clear statement is included as to whether each separate part of a complaint has been upheld or not upheld").

15 Feb 1996 : Column 845

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 220. These are simple amendments which I hope will commend themselves to the Government. They are merely designed to correct a situation where at the moment an adjudication can be made on a complaint without telling the complainant whether or not any part of his complaint has been upheld. Sometimes this can cause confusion and indeed dismay to the complainant if he has made a complaint in several parts and it is not made absolutely clear to him in the adjudication whether or not each part has been upheld. It is a simple amendment and I hope that the Government can accept it. I beg to move.

Lord Inglewood: The purpose of Amendments Nos. 218, 220 and 221 is to require the BSC to state for each part of a complaint that has been considered whether it has been upheld. In the case of complaints about fairness, Clause 80(11) as it stands already requires the Broadcasting Standards Commission to do just that. The BSC is required to make findings which state whether a fairness complaint is upheld, and those findings are to be made on each part of the complaint.

With respect to complaints about standards, we feel it is inappropriate to expect the BSC to consider and give findings on each part of a complaint. There are proper reasons why part of a complaint may not be considered. Those are laid out in Clause 75. Last year the Broadcasting Standards Council received a total of 2,838 complaints, of which it gave findings on 1,492. Those numbers can be expected to grow considerably with the advent of the merger. It would be a considerable drain on the resources of the BSC if it were required to state its findings on every part of each complaint.

I hope that the noble Lord will understand why I say that the Government consider that the amendments as drafted would place unnecessary burdens on the BSC and will resist them.

Lord Chalfont: The purpose of Amendment No. 221 is to remove a clause which would have become unnecessary if the other two amendments had been accepted.

This is largely a matter of wording. I was not entirely happy that the existing wording made it clear that an adjudication had to be made on each part. If that is the intention of the current wording in the Bill, and if it has the effect which I sought to achieve in Amendments Nos. 218 and 220, I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment and to examine the position between now and Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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