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Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, will the Minister tell us as regards the amendment whether the reservation of the research and development work of the BBC from the privatisation of the remainder of the transmission network is paralleled by the arrangements made for the IBA following the 1990 Act? If I remember rightly, the main research and development of the IBA engineering division--it was a notable engineering division comparable to that of the BBC--went with the privatisation arrangements. Are the two arrangements in parallel? If not, why not? When the Minister responds, perhaps he can give me some information on that.

In doing so, perhaps he can say what proportion of the BBC's engineering transmission operations is reflected in the separation of the research and development work from the remainder of the transmission. It seems a somewhat odd proposition.

If I remember rightly, in the 1990 Act the IBA--now the Independent Television Commission--was entitled to retain an essential small corps of engineering experts who could look after the engineering transmission interests of the ITV network and deal on equal professional terms with the separately privatised IBA engineering system. If the position is different for the BBC, why is it different?

Lord Donoughue: My Lords, it is getting late. On the issue of transmitters we are in some difficulties. We oppose it but we cannot discover whether the BBC supports it or opposes it.

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The ITV's 600 transmitters have been sold to NTL--an excellent small British technological firm. Can NTL also bid for the BBC's transmitters? If it can, is there any danger of a monopoly emerging in that area?

On the research and development facility, the Minister began to deal with the issue, but it is unclear to me what will occur if the transmitters with which it has been concerned have gone. Has he any views on that?

Does it also mean that the privatised transmitters will have no research and development facility? I do not quite understand. One has transmitters in one place and the research people in another. I am not sure of the logic.

Are there guarantees of employment for those people within the BBC now that the central objective of their work has moved elsewhere? Will their terms and conditions of employment be the same after the transmitters have been sold off?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, a number of significant questions have been posed about the process of the sale of the BBC transmitters, in particular what will happen to those employed as research and development staff at the BBC.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomson, whose knowledge of these matters is of far longer standing than mine and, I suspect, rather deeper in respect of the 1990 Act, referred to the privatisation of the old IBA engineering division at the time that the IBA transmitters were sold. I understand that a significant number of people had positions transferred to the purchaser of the IBA transmitters at that time.

The clause to which we have been speaking was included in the Bill because it was supposed when the Bill was drafted that there might be a number of BBC staff whom one might describe as naturally belonging to the transmission side and who would appropriately be transferred to any possible acquirer of the transmission division of the BBC as and when it was sold. The power is included in order to make quite clear that that could happen if it were appropriate.

The vast bulk of the BBC's research and development deals with matters which I believe are not so inherently tied up with the transmission division that they would transfer with it. I understand that it is likely that few people from the BBC's research and development side would go with the transmitters and that they are to remain with the BBC. It is possible that a few people may leave from choice, but I do not believe we are likely to see any kind of exodus of personnel.

I hope that answers part of the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue. So far as concerns NTL being a possible purchaser of the transmitters, that is a matter for competition policy. If it is deemed to be in breach of competition policy, clearly that company could not. But there is no precondition implicit in the terms of the Bill to stop it at least putting in a bid.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Schedule 6 [Amendments of Broadcasting Act 1990 relating to services provided by BBC companies]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 213:


Page 112, line 45, at end insert--
("(a) by section 42B(2), in relation to a licence to provide a restricted service,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

[Amendment No. 214 not moved.]

Lord Inglewood moved Amendments Nos. 215 and 216:


Page 115, line 15, after ("including") insert ("a restricted service (as defined by section 42A) or").
Page 115, line 19, leave out ("or (c)",") and insert ("(c) or (d)",").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 217 not moved.]

Lord Inglewood moved Amendments Nos. 218 to 220A:


Page 116, line 9, at end insert--
(". In section 2 of the 1990 Act (regulation by Commission of provision of television services), in subsection (4), in the definition of "television programme service", after paragraph (a) there is inserted--
"(aa) a restricted service (as defined by section 42A);").
[Renumbered as Amendment 220A].
Page 116, line 12, at end insert--
(". In section 46 of the 1990 Act (licensable programme services), in subsection (2)(a), after "television broadcasting service" there is inserted ", a restricted service".
. In section 71 of the 1990 Act (interpretation of Part I), after the definition of "regional Channel 3 service" there is inserted--
""restricted service" has the meaning given by section 42A;".
. In section 72 of the 1990 Act (local delivery services), in subsection (2) after paragraph (a) there is inserted--
"(aa) any restricted service (within the meaning of that Part);".").
Page 116, line 12, at end insert--

7 Mar 1996 : Column 538


(". In Schedule 19 to the 1990 Act (the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee: supplementary provisions)--
(a) in paragraph 8--
(i) for "Gaelic Television Fund" there is substituted "Gaelic Broadcasting Fund"; and
(ii) in sub-paragraph (c), after "Commission" there is inserted "and (where the expenses relate to the Commission's functions in connection with sound programmes) the Radio Authority"; and
(b) in paragraph 11(4)--
(i) after "Commission" there is inserted "or the Radio Authority"; and
(ii) for "them", where it first occurs, there is substituted "the Commission or, as the case may be, the Authority"."). On Question, amendments agreed to.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 8 [Repeals]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendments Nos. 221 to 224:


Page 116, line 19, column 3, leave out ("and").
Page 116, line 21, column 3, at end insert--
("and Comataidh Telebhisein Gaidhlig")

Page 116, line 34, column 3, at end insert--
("Section 45 (8) and (9).Section 47 (11) and (12).")

Page 116, line 45, column 3, at end insert--
("Section 45 (8) and (9).Section 47 (11) and (12).")
("In Schedule 19, paragraph 3.")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 101 [Commencement and transitional provisions]:

Lord Inglewood moved Amendment No. 225:


Page 76, line 7, at end insert--
("( ) section (Renewal of licences to provide national radio services),").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

        House adjourned at fourteen minutes before eleven o'clock.


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