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Lord Holme of Cheltenham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply, which, in terms of Amendment No. 125, is extremely welcome. I am grateful for the graceful and ready way in which the Government have accepted the inclusion of the words "civic understanding". I am not entirely confident that the way in which the noble Lord chose to define civic understanding as automatically implying the coverage of Parliament which Amendment No. 126 seeks would stand up. However, I shall read his remarks most carefully.

I am most grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Peyton and Lord Fowler, the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, the noble Lord, Lord Norton, the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, and my noble friends Lord Phillips and Lord McNally for their contributions. I believe that the House would care to remember the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe; namely, that young people are keenly interested in issues. All the polling evidence to which I referred earlier shows that they are well informed and concerned about contemporary issues. The total disconnect arises because they do not connect those issues to the Palace of Westminster, and the work that we do at both ends of the palace. There is only a small connection. Broadcasters need to be sensitive to that problem.

The noble Lord, Lord Bridges, voiced interesting dissent. I should not advance these amendments were it not for the fact that we were talking not about broadcasting but about the public service obligations of broadcasters. I can conceive of no more central public good than that people understand their democratic institutions.

We shall study carefully what the Minister said. We welcome the concession on Amendment No. 125. I reserve my position for a later stage. I commend Amendment No. 125.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 126 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 127 and 128:



    Page 231, line 31, after "religion" insert "and other beliefs"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 129:


    Page 231, line 32, at end insert—


"( ) that the programmes included in those services that deal with religion and other beliefs include—
(i) programmes providing news and other information about different religions and other beliefs;
(ii) programmes about the history of different religions and other beliefs; and
(iii) programmes showing acts of worship and other ceremonies and practices (including some showing acts of worship and other ceremonies in their entirety);"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 129A, as an amendment to Amendment No. 129, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 129 agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 130:


    Page 231, line 34, after "quantity" insert "and range"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 131 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 132 and 133:


    Page 232, line 19, leave out from beginning to second "and" and insert "the BBC Charter and Agreement"


    Page 232, line 38, at end insert—


"( ) In this section "belief" means a collective belief in, or other adherence to, a systemised set of ethical or philosophical principles or of mystical or transcendental doctrines."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 261 [Public service remits of licensed providers]:

Lord Phillips of Sudbury moved Amendment No. 133A:


    Page 232, line 40, at beginning insert "In addition to the requirements of section 260,"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I bring before the House another gritty amendment. Again, it deals with the relationship between Clause 260, the public service remit for television, and Clause 261, public service remits of licensed providers. As I understand it, the full public service broadcasting remit is to be found in Clauses 260 and 261. Clause 260 is the overall public service broadcasting remit. Clause 261 is the individual remit for the licensed broadcasters referred to in it.

In Committee, at col. 1174 of the Official Report of 3rd June, I asked this question of the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey:


    "Do I summarise fairly the Minister's proposition by saying that the provisions of Clause 261 are in addition to the provisions of Clause 260; that is, that where one refers to Channel 3, Channel 4 or Channel 5 services, all of the provisions of Clause 260 will apply to those channels notwithstanding the provisions of Clause 261?"

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The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, replied with his usual direct succinctness:


    "That is correct".

It is in pursuance of that that I put forward the amendment, which puts clearly and unequivocally on the face of the Bill for the poor devils hereafter who must construe this gargantuan and Byzantine piece of legislation that the Clause 261 remit is in addition to the general overall remit of Clause 260. It is a helpful amendment. I believe that the two amendments grouped with it are in the same spirit and to the same effect. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I understand the motives that lead the noble Lord again to bring forward the issue. I shall reply but in more than three words because it is important to have on the record the relationship between Clauses 260 and 261.

Amendment No. 133A would add to Clause 261 a statement that the conditions imposing individual public service remits for Channels 3, 4 and 5 set out in that clause apply "in addition" to the overall public service remit in Clause 260. Amendments Nos. 133C and 133D would add to the public service remit for Channels 3, 4 and 5 by providing that the requirements to provide high quality and diverse programming would be applied,


    "in accordance with the standards as set out in Clause 260"—

in other words, the requirements of the overall public service broadcasting remit.

The issue underlying all three amendments is the relationship between the overall public service broadcasting remit in Clause 260 and the individual remits applying to the licensed public service broadcasters under Clause 261. That is what the noble Lord has just said in effect. There is concern that the effect of the overall remit is weakened by what appear to be less stringent obligations under the terms of Clause 261. Again, that is what the noble Lord has just said. I hope that I reassure him that that concern is misplaced.

Clause 260 defines the overall remit for public service television broadcasting and applies to the BBC, the Welsh Authority, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and the public teletext provider. It defines the purposes of public service broadcasting and will be used by Ofcom as the basis for its review and reporting function, which we have just been debating.

Clause 261 specifies public service remits for each of the individual licensed public service channel providers and for the public teletext provider. These remits constitute the programme quality obligations that broadcasters individually must satisfy, according to the terms of their individual remits, within the self-regulatory framework provided at tier 3.

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord to raise a point that has been puzzling me. In the debate on 3rd June, in referring to Clause 260 and the questions that had been posed, he said:

1 Jul 2003 : Column 802


    "it is not an obligation on broadcasters; it is a very detailed set of standards set out for Ofcom".

In the next column he said:


    "Clause 260 is not just a set of words but standards that have to be adhered to, and if they are not adhered to Ofcom has a duty to take enforcement action".—[Official Report, 3/6/03; cols. 1172-3.]

What I am left uncertain about—and perhaps he can clarify—is which clause imposes obligations on Ofcom and which clauses impose obligations on the broadcasters. There is a contradiction between his two statements.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, will allow me to develop the argument. I agree that it is a complex relationship, but I shall read out the rest of my text and I hope it will become clear. If not, a note from the Box will enable me to answer the noble Lord's question.

A licensed broadcaster cannot ignore Clause 260 just because it is a matter for self-regulation rather than a licence condition. Indeed, I think I have answered the noble Lord's question already. The fact that a matter mentioned in Clause 260 is not mentioned in Clause 261 does not mean that it is unenforceable. It is clear from Clause 266 that licensed broadcasters must each contribute to fulfilment of the overall remit or face Ofcom enforcement action under Clause 266. Ofcom can of course also take enforcement action under Clause 266 in the event of a licensed broadcaster failing to fulfil its own individual remit under Clause 261.

I would further emphasise that the full remit for each public service broadcaster comprises not only the tier 3 programme quality obligations but also the specific, objectively measurable tier 2 requirements; that is, when we are talking about percentages and regional obligations and so on. The combined effect of the tier 2 and tier 3 remits is to establish a spectrum of obligations across the public service sector, ranging from the BBC at one end to Channel 5 at the other. The BBC's remit is set out in the agreement and that of the Welsh Authority services in Schedule 12 to the Bill.

I hope that demonstrates why we cannot accept the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. It does not reflect the careful balance we have constructed between the overall public service remit in Clause 260 and the individual public service remit of each licensed broadcaster. That is because it implies that the overall public service remit falls to be treated as though it formed part of the licence conditions of each individual broadcaster. The same applies to Amendments Nos. 133C and 133D. That is not our intention; but, as I have explained, it does not mean either that the overall public service remit is unenforceable.

The relevant measure for each licensed broadcaster will be whether it has made an adequate contribution towards fulfilment of the public service broadcasting purposes and not whether broadcasters have individually satisfied those purposes.

I return to the point of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell. Clause 260 provides the requirement for the public service broadcasting sector

1 Jul 2003 : Column 803

as a whole; it does not apply directly to individual broadcasters. But the enforcement action can be taken against a broadcaster that fails to contribute to the fulfilment by the broadcasting sector as a whole of the Clause 260 remit.


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