Moved by
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, it is a great pleasure to move the Second Reading of this Bill. I do so at a time when the UK’s media landscape faces enormous technological change, but in the face of which I am proud to say it is thriving. British-made programmes are watched and enjoyed by audiences at home and across the globe. Our public service broadcasters not only produce fantastic shows which keep audiences glued to their screens but inform and educate them, and project British values and the best of British creativity around the world.

Similarly, our radio environment is exceptionally rich and diverse—there is a radio station for everyone. UK radio stations provide an incredible service, again not just entertaining their listeners but disseminating local news and information throughout the country. That is something that we want to value and protect.

We should also celebrate the thousands of excellent and exciting job opportunities that the sector creates across the United Kingdom, and the billions of pounds that it adds to the economy. This is a pro-growth Bill. It will not only enable people to continue to watch and listen to the content that they love but help to grow our world-leading creative industries and maintain their status as world leaders.

It has been more than 20 years since the last major piece of broadcasting legislation reached the statute book. The world has changed significantly since then, as have the ways in which we consume media. The growth of the streaming giants, smart televisions and online radio has completely changed consumers’ demand and expectations. Our world-renowned media industry has embraced the challenge, adapting rapidly not just to survive but to thrive.

His Majesty’s Government have heard the passionate support for the Bill from the industry and from Members of both Houses of Parliament. I am delighted that it is now before your Lordships’ House, and I look forward to working with noble Lords from across the House to ensure that it delivers for our brilliant media sector and for viewers and listeners.

The Government are grateful to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in another place for its thorough examination of the Bill during pre-legislative scrutiny last year. We were pleased to accept the majority of the recommendations set out in the committee’s two reports; there is no doubt that those have improved the Bill before us. I also thank the Communications and Digital Committee of your Lordships’ House—under the expert chairmanship of my noble friend Lady Stowell of Beeston and, before her, of my noble friend Lord Gilbert of Panteg—for the work that it has carried out on the many areas relating to the Bill. Its reports on public service broadcasting and on the future of journalism and, most recently, its inquiry into the future of news have helped to shape the Bill and the Government’s wider work in this area.

The Bill has also benefited from extensive engagement with industry and with Members of both Houses. We have heard from public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, the radio and news media, radio and television selection services, on-demand streaming platforms and Ofcom throughout the drafting of the Bill, in its pre-legislative scrutiny and during its passage through another place. Together, that has helped to produce a Bill that incorporates their views and addresses their challenges, and one which we hope will work for everyone. We are very grateful for the time and effort that everyone has gone to while working with us on the Bill.

I thank Ofcom for the work that it has undertaken to get the Bill to this stage. Its research in this area and its close work in supporting the drafting of the Bill have been invaluable. It has already made clear its plans for implementation in the materials that it published earlier this week. The Government look forward to continuing to work with Ofcom on the remaining stages of the Bill and on the implementation of its provisions.

I turn to what the legislation does. The Bill supports our public service broadcasters to ensure that they are able to provide high-quality content to United Kingdom audiences for years to come. As it stands, our public service broadcasters are governed by laws written more than two decades ago. Part 1 of the Bill seeks to modernise the framework for public service television. This will ensure that our public service broadcasters are encouraged to focus on what makes them distinctive, while having the flexibility to serve audiences across the UK with high-quality programmes on a wider range of services.

Many noble Lords, like countless people beyond your Lordships’ House, are passionate sports fans. We want to make sure that fans are able to continue to watch the biggest sporting events that this country has to offer. That is why we are modernising the listed events regime to protect viewers’ access to the major sporting events that define our nation. We are extending the protections that the regime offers for live listed events coverage in line with where audiences choose to watch it. TV-like services providing live content to audiences in the UK via the internet will now need to comply with our rules. We are also making qualification a public service broadcaster benefit, recognising the role that these broadcasters play in delivering national sporting moments, and providing certainty in the future.

Part 2 of the Bill deals with prominence. We know that audiences value public service content. We want to make sure that it is always available and easily accessible for them. As is the case in linear broadcasting, the Bill ensures that public service content is made available and easy to find on modern platforms such as smart televisions, set-top boxes and streaming sticks. Not only will that improve the audience experience but it is a vital reform for the sustainability of our public service broadcasters.

Part 3 contains measures specifically designed to support the sustainability of Channel 4. The Government are clear in our intent to support Channel 4 in continuing to make ground-breaking, unique and distinctively British content for years to come. Some of the means to do that can be found in the Bill, such as the measures to strengthen the broadcaster’s governance arrangements and allowing it to make more of its own programmes. Others can be found in the memorandum of understanding undertaken between the Government and Channel 4 when the Bill was introduced in another place on 8 November last year.

The Government have also worked closely with Sianel Pedwar Cymru—S4C—to make sure that it has the tools it needs to continue to provide Welsh language content. I am pleased to say that the Bill will implement in statute recommendations from Euryn Ogwen Williams’s 2018 independent review into the future of the broadcaster. This includes allowing S4C to broaden its reach and offer its contents on new platforms across the United Kingdom and beyond, and updating its public service remit to include digital and online services. S4C will be able more easily to adapt to market change, maximising the benefits to its audiences, and to continue to deliver high-quality content.

The ways in which we watch television have changed a great deal in recent decades. Watching several episodes of “Coronation Street” back to back was once possible only during an omnibus on Sunday afternoons; now people can do it with a few clicks on ITVX, any day of the week and any time they choose. The growth of video on demand services has been extraordinary, but we know that audiences would like to see these services held to the same standards that are required of normal television services. That is why we are introducing a new video on demand code, drafted by Ofcom, by which the streaming giants will be required to abide. Noble Lords will, I know, be pleased to hear that this code will better protect children and uphold the standards that we see on our linear services. In addition, Ofcom will have a new duty to review and ensure that all on-demand services’ audience protection measures are effective and fit for purpose. We are also making sure that streamers provide greater access to their programmes by increasing the amount of subtitled, audio-described and signed content available on their services.

Turning to the radio industry, I am sure that noble Lords will welcome the provisions for radio in Part 5 of the Bill. These seek to boost the growth of our fantastic radio industry by reducing regulatory burdens and costs on commercial radio stations, and supporting investment by broadcasters in content and the long-term sustainability of the sector, while also strengthening protections for the provision of local news and information. As with television, we have seen a shift in how people enjoy the radio. While traditional broadcast methods remain popular, recent years have seen rapid growth in listening via devices such as smart speakers, too. The Government want to encourage innovation in the growth of new technology, but we also recognise the need for protections for radio and the huge public value that it provides, as noble Lords have often raised in our exchanges in this House. Again, we are grateful to the radio industry and to technology companies for their engagement on these measures.

Finally, in Part 7, and fulfilling a manifesto commitment, the Bill will remove a threat to the freedom of the press by repealing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. That section has not been commenced; if it were, it could force publishers to pay the legal costs of people who sue them, even if they win. Members of your Lordships’ House, along with Members of another place, have taken a strong interest in the practices and culture of our free press over recent years. There now exists a strengthened, independent self-regulatory system for the press. But, as the manifesto on which the Government were elected makes clear, we will make sure that the heavy-handed measures of Section 40 are not able to stifle the independence or threaten the sustainability of the British press.

I am mindful that my noble friend Lord Forsyth of Drumlean has tabled a regret amendment to the Second Reading. I will listen to his reasons for doing so when he rises shortly. Let me pre-empt his comments, if I may, by assuring him that the Government take this issue seriously.

Under the Enterprise Act 2002, the Secretary of State has powers to intervene in media mergers on certain public interest grounds, including where there are concerns about media freedom and freedom of expression. The Government also already have tough powers, including through the National Security and Investment Act 2021, to address foreign interference and to scrutinise—and, if necessary, intervene in— acquisitions on grounds of national security. The Bill before us has only one clause pertaining to the press: the repeal of Section 40, which I have just mentioned. It is concerned with the removal of burdensome obligations on news media outlets and not press ownership, which is beyond the scope of the Bill. As my noble friend will be aware, there are ongoing discussions and amendments to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill on this issue.

I am grateful to noble Lords for their involvement in and support for the Bill as it has made its way to your Lordships’ House. I look forward to the debates ahead and the scrutiny that we will give it, and I beg to move.

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful for the widespread support that has been expressed for the Bill from across your Lordships’ House, and the recognition of the important difference that it will make for our much-valued broadcasters and media organisations. I reassure noble Lords that I do indeed get it, and I share the warm appreciation that they have expressed for our public service broadcasters.

In fact, my very first paid employment, at the tender age of 14, was playing the part of a French ghost named Guillaume, in a children’s television programme which was broadcast on ITV on Halloween in 1997. As well as getting to film that in a château outside Dijon, I was paid £400, a princely sum for a 14 year- old, which I used to buy a television set of my own, for my room. That was the TV set on which, two years later, I watched the seminal Channel 4 drama “Queer as Folk”, the 25th anniversary of which we mark this year, and its ground-breaking importance is still keenly appreciated by so many people.

I share the strong sentiments that noble Lords have expressed about the importance of public service broadcasters, the programmes they produce and the fulfilling jobs they support and sustain. I am grateful to noble Lords for their enthusiasm for the Bill and look forward to working with them in the many areas in which they have set out their interests.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Kidron and Lady Foster, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds, the noble Lord, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, focused on the changes to remit and the question of genres. I reassure noble Lords that the Government recognise the importance of a diverse media sector in the UK, where audiences can select from a wide range of programmes, according to their own tastes and interests, and indeed to have those tastes and interests expanded. Our public service broadcasters have an important and distinctive role to play in helping to achieve that. To ensure that the regulatory framework supports these outcomes, the Bill replaces the 14 overlapping purposes and objectives to which public service broadcasters must contribute with a new, modernised remit. It is intended to provide a much clearer sense of our public service broadcasters’ distinctive role in the sector.

At the same time, it has always been our intention that the revised public service broadcasting framework, including the new remit, should retain the requirement on our public service broadcasters to produce a wide range of programmes. The Government have listened to the views expressed by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in another place; in particular, the committee’s concerns that the remit is not clear enough on this point. As a result, as the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, noted, we have added an explicit requirement that our public service broadcasters should, together, continue to make a range of genres available.

Ofcom will continue to collect and publish data on the prevalence of different genres; we have retained the current requirement under Section 358 of the Communications Act, which, among other things, requires Ofcom to report annually on the availability of principal genres on television and radio services. At present, Ofcom fulfils this duty in its annual communications and markets report, which last year reported on 15 key genres including religion and belief, arts and classical music, and educational content. We expect this reporting to be retained.

Moreover, should Ofcom identify a problem with the spread of genres, including in relation to religious programming—which a number of noble Lords mentioned —then the Bill allows for the remit to be updated, and indeed for the creation of additional quotas for underserved content areas. I am happy to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, that the House does indeed have my ear on this, and I hope that she and others will recognise from the changes that we have already made to the Bill in this area that it also has the ears of my ministerial colleagues.

I agree that the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, made a powerful speech about the importance of children’s television, and I strongly agree on the importance of ensuring that our children continue to have access to the public service content, indeed as does my colleague Julia Lopez, the Minister in another place. She spoke passionately there about the profound and positive impact that high-quality, original British programming can have. As the noble Baroness noted, children now have access to an endless library of global content at their fingertips. While there is some great programming out there for them to access, a lot of it can be generic and lack substance. That is why the Bill includes specific measures to ensure that original British children’s programming, which reflects the world around children here in the UK, remains front and centre of the public service remit.

A number of noble Lords rightly focused on the provisions and the benefits in the Bill for Scotland and the Scottish broadcasting sector and creative economy. The Government are clear about the incredibly valuable contribution that the Gaelic media service MG Alba makes across Scotland and the rest of the UK. Its partnership with the BBC is particularly significant for Gaelic language broadcasting. I assure noble Lords, including the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and my noble friends Lord Dunlop and Lady Fraser of Craigmaddie, that the ongoing provision of Gaelic broadcasting and the future of MG Alba will be key considerations as we take forward the BBC funding review and the forthcoming charter review concluding in 2027. The right time to consider these issues is during the review of the royal charter, given the closeness of the link between the BBC and MG Alba. We will provide further details in due course on our timeline for that important review. The Government certainly—

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab)
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I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. He is making a very important point, and we respect the way it has been expressed, but is it not also the case that the negotiations between the Government and the BBC are limited to those two participants, and therefore the role for Parliament is not clear? Could he perhaps explain what contribution we could make as Parliament?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Through debates such as the one we have had today, and through Questions, which I am always happy to answer from this Dispatch Box on behalf of His Majesty’s Government to set out our thinking. As I say, once we have set out more details on the timetable for that review, I am happy to provide updates to the House on the Government’s thinking as we take those discussions forward.

I and the Government certainly agree with noble Lords on the importance of Gaelic language broadcasting. The Bill will help to ensure that audiences are able to access content in languages other than English, as well as content which is so culturally important to people across the UK, for decades to come, by including it in the new public service remit for television for the first time.

Not wanting the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, to feel outgunned—and I point to my noble friend Lord Harlech on the Government Front Bench for this Bill—I also highlight that the Media Bill will implement legislative reforms following the independent review of S4C, which took place in 2018, to reform S4C’s remit, governance structures, commercial powers and audit arrangements. It also provides for changes to the statutory content arrangements set out between the BBC and S4C, to add greater flexibility. These changes will help to deliver the Government’s manifesto commitments to support Welsh institutions such as S4C and to support the Welsh Government’s ambition for a million people in Wales to be able to speak Welsh by 2050.

A number of noble Lords focused on the issue of “significant” or “appropriate” prominence, which was extensively debated in another place. One point that has been lost in the debate so far is that the test under the existing linear prominence regime is already one of appropriateness and not significance. The overwhelming evidence that we have received is that that test has worked well, so I suggest that the question is not why “appropriate” is better than “significant” but why the Bill should move away from terminology that is widely understood and has delivered for audiences.

The Government agree on the importance of ensuring that public service content is prominent and easily accessible on major TV platforms. As is already the case in the linear sphere, public service broadcasters’ applications, and the content they provide, should be among the most prominent on the platform, whether that is on the home page, in search results or through the recommendations, such as those that currently confound the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton.

In addition to that core aim of securing prominence for public service broadcasters’ services and content online, the regime must also be operable and proportionate to allow for innovation and consumer choice. For example, it must account for the differing requirements of audiences in different parts of the UK. While it remains important that designated STV services receive prominence in Scotland and designated S4C services are prominent in Wales, it would not, for instance, be appropriate to require those services to be given the same degree of prominence outside Scotland and Wales.

As the Government set out in our response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s final report on the Bill, we have looked carefully at whether requiring “significant” prominence would be preferable to requiring “appropriate” prominence, and we concluded that the descriptor “significant” would not be sufficiently flexible or operable. For instance, it would not address the question of regional prominence that I have just outlined. As any visitors to their local department store can attest, there is now a huge range of potential user interfaces and routes to content available from modern televisions. As a result, there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to delivering prominence, and we believe that “appropriate” prominence—as determined by Ofcom in its code of practice, and with flexibility built in—is fundamentally the right choice.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, asked whether we would the keep the list of regulated television selection services under review, and I am very happy to say that we will indeed do so.

The noble Lord also asked about how the Government intend to measure the sustainability of Channel 4. As part of the reform package agreed with Channel 4 last year, both it and the Government agreed to updates to the financial reporting information that Channel 4 provides to my department and UK Government Investments, the Government’s corporate finance specialists, on a quarterly basis. While there is no perfect way to measure an organisation’s sustainability, that information will help to support our work in considering how best to enable Channel 4 to remain at the centre of British broadcasting for many years to come.

Although I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that there is more to life than sport, I am also grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond, the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and others for underlining its importance to very many viewers across the country. I assure the noble Baroness that there is no intention to weaken the public service broadcasters’ hand in negotiations; rather, we will ensure that partnerships between them and commercial broadcasters can function effectively to deliver the best outcomes for audiences and rights holders. Ofcom will have the ability to bring forward regulations, including on adequacy. We recognise that it is vital that broadcasters maintain complete editorial control of live broadcasts when they enter into partnerships, so that they have the freedom to make decisions about what events to screen for the British public.

My noble friend Lord Holmes touched on digital rights for listed events. Legislating to include digital rights is a very complex issue; not only is it technical in nature but a balance needs to be struck between securing the right access for audiences and the commercial freedoms that allow rights holders to reinvest in sport at all levels. The Government believe that it would be more appropriate to evaluate that issue through the digital rights review before considering any potential legislation that would enact any particular conclusion. I hope that he and other noble Lords will be reassured that the issue remains under careful consideration; I am sure that we will debate it in Committee.

Baroness Thornton Portrait Baroness Thornton (Lab)
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Why do we need to wait for that review? It seems that we know enough about this and what the problems are, so why not deal with it now? We cannot wait for another 10 years, or however long it takes.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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We have set up the review because there are important questions to consider, and it is worth considering them properly. As I say, there is a complexity here in striking the right balance. The review is looking into that and more, and from it may flow some suggestions for necessary changes in the law. It is right that we complete the review and look at that picture in the round. As I say, I am sure we will touch on this in Committee, and there are emerging areas which noble Lords will want to press, but we think it is right to complete the review, which is a logical consequence of setting it up.

The Government are also keen to ensure that sporting events are made available for the public as widely as possible. That is why we have the listed events regime. We acknowledge the interest that fans have in watching our sporting teams compete. It is important, again, that that regime continues to strike the right balance between accessibility and the ability of sporting organisations to generate revenues, so that they can invest in sports at all levels. We believe that the current list of events works well to deliver the right outcome and that it strikes an appropriate balance, so we have no plans to review the list at this time.

My noble friend Lord Bethell spoke about the importance of age ratings for television content, and we are in complete agreement on the need to protect children and other vulnerable audiences from harmful and inappropriate video-on-demand content to which they might be exposed. As people move to a digital world, so must our regulation change. That is why, for the first time, we are bringing mainstream TV-like on-demand services in scope of the new video-on-demand code. That will be drafted and enforced by Ofcom, which has a long track record of regulating broadcast television to ensure that it is age appropriate, and protects those who may be more deeply affected by what they see or hear. In addition to creating this new code, the Bill gives Ofcom new powers through its audience protection review duty, so that it can provide guidance and report on and deal with any providers it considers are not providing adequate protections.

Taken together, these changes mean that the on-demand streamers will no longer be marking their own homework; that, rightly, will be for Ofcom to assess and do. The British Board of Film Classification, which my noble friend mentioned, does a fine job and the Government encourage all services to consider using it when reaching decisions. However, it is not the only source of effective child protection. Many streamers, including our public service broadcasters, for example, have very effective child protection measures in place and do not use BBFC age ratings. We do not want inadvertently to discourage services from investing in, developing and using the most effective child protection technology that is available and becomes available, which includes but is not limited to age ratings. The Government’s overriding goal here is to ensure that effective protection is in place as the outcome, rather than specifying from the top down how that should be done.

The measures in the Bill will ensure that all streamers are given the incentive to place child protection at the heart of their product development, rather than just relying on the regulator to tell them what the bare minimum is they can get away with. For example, protections such as parental controls and warnings, in addition to age ratings, can be more effective than any individual age-rating system. However, we are listening to what my noble friend and others are saying and have been listening to the debate in another place as well, and we look forward to continuing to debate these issues as the Bill progresses.

My noble friend Lord Black of Brentwood raised concerns about the risk of complaints tourism arising as a result of Ofcom’s regulation of video-on-demand services. As with existing broadcasting regulation, how these rules are implemented would be for Ofcom to set out. However, to be clear, Ofcom will be regulating only on-demand providers’ UK libraries. In addition, following feedback from providers during pre-legislative scrutiny, we have already considered the issue of complaints tourism. The Bill now ensures that Ofcom will be able to consider the length of time that content has been available when considering complaints, which will reduce mischievous accusations. However, this is not new territory. Ofcom has a long history as an international regulator, and we have full confidence that it has the expertise and powers to deal appropriately with complaints of this nature.

More broadly, noble Lords rightly asked about the additional responsibilities Ofcom has taken on in recent years. As they know from our exchanges on the Online Safety Act, the Government are invested in Ofcom, which has taken on many more staff to cover its additional responsibilities. We are confident that it has the capability and resources it needs. Like others, I am very grateful that the noble Lord, Lord Grade of Yarmouth, attended our debate on the Bill today. Ofcom will continue to be accountable to Parliament. The Bill extends its powers in areas it has much experience in regulating. My department has worked closely with Ofcom throughout the drafting process. As I said in my opening speech, we are very grateful for the contribution it has made.

I am grateful to some—not all—noble Lords for expressing support for the repeal of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act. Views differ on this across your Lordships’ House but, as I said, this is a government manifesto commitment. We worry that commencing Section 40 would risk creating a chilling effect on freedom of speech, undermining high quality journalism and causing serious damage to local newspapers. The Government consulted on repeal in 2016. A huge majority of respondents, some 79%, including press freedom organisations such as Reporters Without Borders, backed repealing Section 40, many arguing that it could have stopped publishers undertaking valuable investigative journalism or publishing stories critical of individuals, for fear of being taken to court and having to pay for both sides. However, I look forward to the further debates that I am sure we will have.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked about the Press Regulation Panel. As he knows, that was established through a royal charter on the self-regulation of the press in 2013, which is separate from the Crime and Courts Act 2013. The repeal of Section 40 will not affect the Press Regulation Panel. Any press regulator can apply to be recognised by the panel. The panel will continue to recognise, review and report on Impress. It can also recognise other press regulators, should they choose to apply.

My noble friend Lord Astor asked how we can prevent strategic lawsuits against public participation if we repeal Section 40. If enacted, Section 40 would protect only news publishers which are members of an approved regulator. SLAPPs typically target individuals instead of their employers and can target people other than journalists, including consumers, tenants or victims of sexual assault. Many SLAPPs never reach court as their intention is to silence people before the case is pursued. As I hope my noble friend knows, the Government are taking broad action against SLAPPs to create a changed culture and raise awareness of them, alongside legislative change. The task force on SLAPPs that we established published its workplan in December, outlining action from government as well as from media and legal organisations to tackle SLAPPs. The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act, which received Royal Assent in October, includes measures to tackle economic crime-related SLAPPs, which we believe represent up to 70% of all these lawsuits. The Government are also supporting a Private Member’s Bill introduced in another place by Wayne David MP, Second Reading of which was last Friday. It has cross-party support, and we will update the measures in the 2023 Act to cover a broader scope, blocking SLAPPs across all types of litigation.

I am conscious that I am reaching the end of my time, so I will turn finally to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, asked whether a meeting with the Secretary of State might be possible. As he will appreciate, at the moment she is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity in relation to this matter, so she is very restricted in what she can say. A meeting would not therefore be helpful. However, I and other Ministers have kept your Lordships’ House and the other place updated as much as we are able to while that legal process unfurls. I pointed in—

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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Does the Minister have a sense of the timetable for this review to be completed?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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If I may, I will point the noble Lord to the answers we have given which set out some of the timelines; there are different timelines under the different Acts and the work that Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority do. I will set them out, rather than try to give them off the top of my head, but I have answered questions from this Dispatch Box before and will continue to do that and through Written Questions where possible.

I pointed my noble friend Lord Forsyth to the Enterprise Act and the National Security and Investment Act, which cover the actions available to the Secretary of State, including where she has concerns about media freedom and freedom of expression. As my noble friend indicated, his lively discussions with the Public Bill Office and his resorting to this regret amendment reflect that this is not a matter for this Bill, but, as the contribution from our noble friend Lady Stowell of Beeston showed, she has had more success with tabling an amendment to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. I would certainly encourage them both to continue their conversations with my noble friends Lord Camrose and Lord Offord of Garvel.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston Portrait Baroness Stowell of Beeston (Con)
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I am grateful for what my noble friend has just said, but am I to take it from what he said to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, that the DCMS is not going to engage in this matter at all? Am I to direct my questions to the noble Lords who are responsible for the DMCC Bill?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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As it falls to my noble friends Lord Camrose and Lord Offord to take that Bill through, it will be more fruitful to have the discussions with them—they will be having them on behalf of the whole Government. But, as my noble friend will appreciate, because my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has a quasi-judicial role, she is limited in what she can say, and so it limits what we can say. I am very happy to continue to answer questions on the process while my noble friends continue their discussions with my noble friends who are answering for the Government on the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. I look forward to the discussions with my noble friend Lord Forsyth, who I hope will not press his regret amendment this evening. With that, I beg to move.