§ 9. Mr. Simon Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he expects to publish his White Paper on the future of the BBC.
§ Mr. Coombs
I thank my right hon. Friend for his pre-emptive strike on Wednesday against my question. I warmly welcome the White Paper, as I believe that most people have done since it was published. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the BBC will have an increasingly difficult position to maintain as a broadcasting corporation in an increasingly narrow casting world? What does he see as his Department's role in encouraging and helping the BBC to maintain its pre-eminent position in world television and radio?
§ Mr. Brooke
The White Paper was certainly a response to the world in which the BBC will find itself, domestically as well as internationally. The best contribution that any Government can make to the BBC is to reinforce its self-confidence, and that is what we did last Wednesday.
§ Mr. Sheldon
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on what he did last Wednesday. Will he pay tribute to Maramaduke Hussey and Lord Barnett, who, over a long period, resisted the attempts by the then Prime Minister to disband the real and essential work of the BBC and who, by playing the role of Sheherazade as they did, kept the conversation and discussion going until such time as the right hon. Gentleman was able to produce the results that he did last Wednesday?
§ Mr. Brooke
Some of what the right hon. Gentleman said probably belongs more to the historians than either to him or to me. I pay tribute to the present chairman and the former deputy chairman for the manner in which they managed the changes that have occurred in the BBC. While, perfectly properly, compliments have been paid to the director-general in the aftermath of the White Paper, I think that similar compliments might be paid to the govenors.