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Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I understand the wish of the noble Baroness to ensure that the membership of the BSC is able properly to represent the concerns of the range of different groups of television and radio audiences. That is a wish which the Secretary of State would share. However, as I said in Committee, I do not believe that it is desirable to fetter in this way the Secretary of State's discretion to make the best possible appointments to the commission. That means taking account of a wide range of qualities, including ability, experience, skills and background, and having the flexibility to provide the best possible combination of them at a particular time.

Amendment No. 179 relates to recommendations of the Nolan Committee on standards in public life. I said in Committee that the Government have, for the most part, accepted those recommendations, as my noble friend Lord Burnham pointed out. As the recommendations either have been--or are in the process of being--implemented, we see no need for further statutory controls. However, I am able specifically to reassure the noble Baroness and the House that, first, all new appointees to the BSC will be required to complete a declaration of political activity; secondly, all appointments will continue to be made on the basis of merit, and job specifications will be drawn up in each case; thirdly, from July of this year appointments will be subject to scrutiny by an advisory panel with independent members; and, fourthly, the BSC will fall under the jurisdiction of the new Commissioner for Public Appointments (CPA), who has the power to audit an individual appointment and ensure that the correct procedures have been followed.

As regards the advertising of appointments, all government departments have recently been issued with draft guidance from the Commissioner for Public Appointments which includes provisions on that subject. My department is currently considering those proposals and will report back shortly. The noble Baroness said that she hoped that the public would gain reassurance from my response. I hope that I have achieved that. I also hope that the House is reassured.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for that reply. It is certainly a great reassurance to know that guidelines are being drawn up by the Minister's department. I hope that it will be possible for them to be available at least before the Bill completes its passage through another place.

As regards representation on the BSC, I am grateful to noble Lords who supported the points I wished to make. I must tell the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, that I am most flattered to be confused with my noble friend Lady Dean. I see that the noble Lord wishes to speak. I give way.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. I should point out that I did in fact mean to refer to the noble Baroness, Lady Dean.

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Indeed, I would not have confused her with anyone over the past 20 years. I was actually referring to the noble Baroness, Lady Dean, in the context of the earlier amendment she moved.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, we are grateful for the noble Lord's clarification. Indeed, my noble friend had pointed out to me during the course of the noble Lord's contribution that it was perhaps a scarred experience from earlier days at the Daily Telegraph which had imprinted her so firmly on his mind.

However, as I said, we are most grateful to the Minister for not exactly making concessions but for at least having the inspired idea of taking forward the points we made about the recommendations of the Nolan Committee. I suspect that our anxieties about greater representation on the Broadcasting Standards Commission will be addressed again in another place. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 179 not moved.]

7 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker (Viscount St. Davids): My Lords, before calling Amendment No. 180, I should point out to the House that, if it is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 181.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 180:


After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--

Party political advertisements

(". In section 8(2)(a)(i) and section 92(2)(a)(i) of the 1990 Act, after "wholly or mainly of a" insert "party"").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I tend to call this amendment, by way of shorthand, the Amnesty International amendment although, if passed, its benefits would range across a wider number of organisations than simply AI. At present Amnesty International suffers from a total ban on any form of radio or television advertising. That means that it cannot advertise a fund-raising concert--indeed, it cannot even advertise its Christmas cards on radio or television--yet any commercial organisation is able to do so. That is a serious disadvantage to an organisation like Amnesty International and to others which are caught in that way. My amendment would prevent such a total ban. It would enable Amnesty to advertise fundraising events and to sell Christmas cards and other items to fund its activities. It would also enable Amnesty to put out messages about its work, provided that was not directed towards any specific political end.

The immediate origin of the present difficulties lies in Sections 8 and 92 of the 1990 Act. These are similar sections but one covers radio and the other television. Section 8(2)(a) and Section 92(2)(a) state:


    "a licensed service must not include--


    (i) any advertisement which is inserted by or on behalf of any body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature,


    (ii) any advertisement which is directed towards any political end, or


    (iii) any advertisement which has any relation to any industrial dispute".

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Amnesty is deemed to be a body which is wholly or mainly of a political nature. By inserting the word "party" before the word "political" so that the provision would state,


    "mainly of a party political nature",

I am advised that the amendment would enable Amnesty and other organisations to achieve some, but not all, of the things they wish to achieve. There would still be limitations.

Let me illustrate this by way of a few examples. I am advised that if this amendment were passed, Amnesty would be able to advertise its Christmas cards. It would also be able to advertise the fact that the organisation is against the use of torture because that is not a controversial point. It is totally accepted in this country that we as a country are against torture and unlawful killings by governments. Amnesty would be able to make those points in its advertising. However, under my amendment Amnesty would not be able to oppose capital punishment in advertisements because that would come under the heading of something that is intended to achieve a political end. Political ends in advertising are not accepted, and my amendment does not seek to alter that.

It seems to me that although these distinctions have to be clearly understood, my amendment will enable Amnesty and other organisations to achieve some of their aims but would not open the door to organisations seeking to use advertising to achieve specific political ends. It would therefore put Amnesty on an even footing with commercial organisations that wish to advertise their products. I do not intend my next point as a threat, but I understand that if this amendment is not accepted, Amnesty might seek recourse to the European Court of Human Rights. My advice is that, on the narrow point I have illustrated, Amnesty would probably win its case.

It is embarrassing that we as a country lose so many cases in the European Court of Human Rights. I am sure the Government would not wish to lose another one. However, I do not say that as a threat. It is a fact of life that when constraints of this sort exist, they are quite likely to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Be that as it may, my proposition here is simple. It is clear and it states what organisations such as Amnesty would be allowed to do. It prevents them from trying to pursue political ends through advertising. I commend this amendment to the House. I beg to move.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, suggested in moving this amendment that the advertising codes of the ITC and the Radio Authority are too restrictive in preventing advertising by bodies which are political campaigners but are not party political. I recognise the intentions behind the proposed amendment. I was grateful to the noble Lord for permitting me yesterday to see the legal opinion about the effect of the amendment.

The provisions restricting political advertising go back to the start of commercial television in 1954 and have remained substantially the same. They have served well for over 30 years. We have avoided broadcast advertising becoming part of the political process in the way it has, for example, in the United States--much to

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the relief, I suspect, of most of the public. There is much to be said for seeking to retain that benefit while removing restrictions on non-political broadcast advertising by humanitarian or philanthropic bodies. It is, however, important to ensure that controversial campaigning, which of course goes much wider than party politics, cannot be unexpectedly and unwelcomely injected into unsuspecting households via broadcasting. In the circumstances therefore we propose to consider the amendment further and consult more widely, in particular with the regulatory authorities responsible for enforcing the prohibitions. However, I must make it clear that I am giving absolutely no commitment to any change.


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