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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr JOLLY (Lilley) .- This clause provides that the accounts of the commission shall be subject to inspection and audit by the Auditor-General, and that the Auditor-General shall report to the Minister the result of each inspection and audit; but no provision is made for the submission to Parliament of the accounts of the commission. In evidence before the joint committee I suggested that there should be presented to Parliament annually a comprehensive statement setting out the total revenue from licence-fees and the expenditure. Under existing conditions it is impossible for Parliament to know exactly what has happened to the revenue from licence-fees, without making a thorough examination of the profit and loss accounts of the commission and the profit and loss accounts of the Postmaster-General's Department. The British Broadcasting Corporation presents balance-sheets and statements of revenue and expenditure.

Mr Beasley - The honorable member's suggestion has a great deal of merit. What words does he suggest ought to be inserted in the bill in order to meet his requirements ?

Mr JOLLY - I do not want to embarrass the Minister now. I understood that the joint committee had some definite recommendation to make.

Mr Spooner - If provision were contained in the bill whereby the commission would provide such accounts as were prescribed, the details could be left to regulations.

Mr JOLLY - That suggestion would seem to meet the case.

Sir Charles Marr - Clause 50 covers the point raised by the honorable member.

Mr JOLLY - It does not. That covers the revenue received by the commission, but the commission receives only a part of the licence-fee and the Postmaster-General's Department takes the remainder as payment for the work that it carries out on behalf of the commission. What I want to have presented to Parliament is a statement showing how every penny of the £1 licence-fee is expended. I understood from the joint committee that although it is not in this bill, arrangements were being made with the PostmasterGeneral's Department for the presentation of a statement similar to that for which I am now asking. I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that Parliament will be given an opportunity to review each year a complete statement of broadcasting expenditure incurred by the commission and the Postmaster-General's Department.

Mr Beasley - That would involve two sets of accounts, but, as the PostmasterGeneral administers both sections, it should be possible to meet the honorable member's wishes.

Mr JOLLY - At this stage I shall be satisfied with the Minister's assurance that he will consider my suggestion.

Mr Beasley - I consider that there is merit in it and I approve of it.

Mr JOLLY - I thank the honorable gentleman.

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