OFFICIAL     THUGGERY

Official Thuggery
On Wednesday 25th July 1990, the House of Lords, debated the section of the Broadcast Bill dealing with proposed changes to the 1967 Marine Offences Act. Lord Monson, said "It is an open secret that the purpose is to smash Radio Caroline. This is a so-called pirate radio station which has been harmlessly operating for 26 years. The material it broadcasts may not be my cup of tea nor that of most Members of the Committee. However it is perfectly innocuous and gives enormous pleasure to a large number of people in London and South East England". Lord Monson was seriously concerned about the implications both for international law and for civil liberties, with the Government seeking much greater powers than they had against hijackers, smugglers and drug traffickers, and also giving immunity to those carrying out action against offshore broadcasters. Lord Annan agreed with Lord Monson, about the immunity clause, saying "If I come home, find a burglar in the house, pick up a poker and bash his brains in, I shall be guilty of manslaughter. I want to apply that case to what could happen on a vessel boarded in the way now to be permitted under this section. A member of the crew resists and is knocked overboard and drowns. His family will have no case in damages; there will be no case of manslaughter brought against the officer who did this. It is a licence for official thuggery".

Not Illegal
The Minister of State for the Home Office, Earl Ferrers. ... "The noble Lord, Lord Monson said that what pirate stations do is innocuous. I totally disagree. I do not think that it is innocuous. The reality is quite different. The radio spectrum is a valuable natural resource. Its use has to be carefully planned and regulated, especially with the explosive growth in the use of radio for communications and for broadcasting. The noble Lord, Lord Annan, said that this provision will offend against international comity. I say to the noble Lord that pirate radio stations offend against and infringe the law of the country. Why do they position themselves just outside territorial waters and use British frequencies if it is not to avoid British law?"

Old Excuses
The House of Lords continued to debate the Broadcast Bill on Thursday 26th July 1990 Lord Orr-Ewing "I am sorry that I have to speak slightly in criticism. I well remember that same excuse of putting at risk ships at sea and aircraft in the air having been used before. In 1922 a Dame Nellie Melba concert was broadcast by Marconi on the 2ET (Emma Tock) call sign from Writtle. Mr.P.P. Eckersley, who later became chief engineer of the BBC, was an excellent engineer and had a good sense of drama. He hired Dame Nellie Melba to sing on the first experimental broadcast. There was a statement in the House saying that it was outrageous that the wireless waves should be used for such trivial matters as entertainment while putting at risk ships at sea and aircraft in the air. The same phraseology has come out of the same pigeon hole at the Home Office some 68 years later. When I first came to the House in 1950, the same row was going on."

Lord Monson

Lord Monson

Earl Ferrers

Earl Ferrers

Lord Orr-Ewing

Lord Orr-Ewing

Chimney

 

icon         icon

icon         icon

 

Ross Revenge - June 1990

ArrowLeft ArrowRight