Edward Miliband debates with Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

There have been 6 exchanges between Edward Miliband and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Tue 15th May 2018 Data Protection Bill [Lords] 11 interactions (925 words)
Wed 9th May 2018 Data Protection Bill [Lords] 16 interactions (1,591 words)
Wed 7th March 2018 Blagging: Leveson Inquiry 3 interactions (152 words)
Tue 23rd January 2018 Sky/Fox Update 3 interactions (251 words)
Tue 12th September 2017 Sky/Fox Merger 3 interactions (282 words)
Thu 20th July 2017 Fox-Sky Merger 3 interactions (313 words)

Data Protection Bill [Lords]

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Tuesday 15th May 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Sir Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Mr Duncan Smith - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3 p.m.

I take that correction. Maybe I was going a bit over the top. None the less, that is itself a measure of how far some of our media are sometimes bound to go.

I do not agree that we should go further, although I recognise that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has tabled further amendments. In recognising those, it is also important to recognise that I think that this issue is settled. I shall simply end by saying that freedom is not always perfect and that those who fight for it often need to be held to account because they go too far and abuse that privilege. That notwithstanding, I believe that we are beginning to meet the challenge. It will not be perfect, but I would prefer the mistakes to be made by a free press, knowing full well that they regulate and chase authority, and if for one moment they look over their shoulder and believe that this House has caught them and put them in a statutory bind, that would be worse for our own freedoms.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:01 p.m.

I am glad to follow the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), because I want briefly to address some of the points he has made. What is this amendment from the other place about? It is not about a new system of regulation for the press. It is about one very simple question, which is whether we should go ahead with the Leveson 2 inquiry that was promised when Leveson 1—which was intended to be a two-part inquiry—was set up. The right hon. Gentleman asks what that would achieve. I think that it would achieve three things, and that is what I want to talk about today.

First, it would answer the question, what is the truth about what happened? It is really important to answer the questions that the right hon. Gentleman asked about this. When the inquiry was set up, it was done on the understanding that, pending criminal investigations and trials, Leveson 1 could not look at who did what to whom, as Sir Brian said, and that that would happen in part 2 when the criminal investigations were over. So this second inquiry was envisaged right from the start. There are material questions to which we do not know the answers. For example, how widespread was the hacking and other criminality at News International? How many other papers engaged in such conduct? What was the role of electronic blagging and where did it take place? If we do not have Leveson 2, we will not find out the answers to those questions. So the first reason for having it would be to establish the truth about that.

Secondly, Leveson 2 would tell us why all this was allowed to happen, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) said. There are questions to which we still do not know the answers. What were the failures in, among other things, corporate governance at News International and elsewhere that allowed this wrongdoing to go on? Did the police fail to investigate because of their close relationships with the press? Did the politicians do the same? These are highly material questions that go to the trust in some of our most important institutions. So the second question that I hope this inquiry, if it is set up, will look at is why those things were allowed to happen.

The third, and in a way the most important, question is what lessons we can learn for the future. My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson) read part of a letter from Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, and I urge Members across the House to look at that letter in the 20 minutes or so that we have left before we vote. It is important to say that the majority of the press do not engage in such activities, but that letter shows that a minority of the press engage in the most abusive and intrusive activity, as they did against that mother and her family who had just lost a loved one. Those people do not know where to turn. They do not have faith in IPSO, the regulator, and they are not going to go to the courts. What are they to do? It is for people like them that we need to have this inquiry, so that we can learn the lessons and ensure that there are no more innocent victims.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Mr Duncan Smith - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:04 p.m.

I am listening carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman is saying, and I put this point to him. Does he not agree that such a case as he extols is not the sort of case that should now prove or test the IPSO process? In other words, if the media are as they say they are, such a case will, when evidence is brought, immediately bring opprobrium and retribution down on the heads of those journalists and possibly result in their being banned as journalists. I think that the right hon. Gentleman should test it in that way, rather than looking for another inquiry, which might come up with nothing more.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:05 p.m.

I have two answers to that. First, this has been tested, and there were no fines, no systematic investigations and no equivalent front-page corrections. Secondly, there is no substitute for a systematic look at these issues and for asking why that culture was allowed to exist and why in certain cases it is still allowed to exist.

Conservative Members rightly express concern about the freedom of the press, and they must vote in the way that they think is right, but this is not about the freedom of the press. The National Union of Journalists, which after all represents journalists, states:

“Not allowing Leveson 2 is bad for journalism and bad for the public”.

The NUJ’s concern is that the ongoing actions of the minority are undermining the brilliant journalism that we have in this country. It therefore believes that it would be better for our trust in the press if this inquiry were to go ahead.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:06 p.m.

But does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the media landscape has been transformed out of all recognition in recent years by social media and the internet, and that further investigation into this history will not illuminate the modern system at all or help us to deal with the difficult questions of fairness between the traditional media and the new media?

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:06 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. This is why social media and fake news are at the heart of the terms of reference recommended by Sir Brian and are included in what has come back from the other place. I hope, on the basis of his intervention, that we might have his support for this process, because I see no other vehicle that could achieve what he has just said he wants to achieve.

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab) Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:07 p.m.

MailOnline —which, through massive investment, has possibly become the English-speaking world’s most successful website—has opted out of IPSO. What does that say about the Mail group’s commitment to responsibility?

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:07 p.m.

What it says is that compulsory arbitration, which is what is being promised as part of the IPSO process, is not compulsory, because it is not universal. That is one of the most important things that should be achieved as part of this process.

Sir George Howarth Portrait Mr George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab) - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:07 p.m.

Going back to the example of the bereaved family and the gross intrusion into their privacy and grief, does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the reasons why such families choose not to use the current system is that it runs the risk of things that have been wrongly said about lost loved ones being repeated in the media as part of the process?

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:08 p.m.

My right hon. Friend makes an important point.

I hope that right hon. and hon. Members across the House will think about our responsibilities to the victims, about the promises we made and about the fact that this inquiry has a clear purpose. Only this inquiry can get to the truth about what happened and enable us to learn lessons for the future. That is why I will be supporting what has come back from the other place.

Mr Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con) - Hansard
15 May 2018, 3:08 p.m.

I find myself in a difficult position, because I have come into the Chamber still undecided on how I am going to vote. The right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) again makes the case for Leveson 2. The Secretary of State has spoken powerfully and made the case that the additional amendments will create more safeguards. The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson), has spoken with great passion, and I agree with a lot of what he said.

My problem is this. We had this debate last week, and, with heavy heart, I voted against my party because I thought that Leveson 2 was right. I still think Leveson 2 is right—it is not about additional regulations, but about finding out what happened in the past and perhaps guidance for the future. Where I struggle is with the wonderful publication called, “Forward Together, Our Plan for a Stronger Britain and a Prosperous Future”, which, in case my colleagues do not know, was our manifesto for the last general election. I am reading it for the first time today. On page 80, it states clearly that

“we will not proceed with the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press.”

That is unfortunately in the manifesto.

I have a dilemma. What has changed since last week? The Lords have removed “local press” and the Minister has taken some of the concerns on board. The House thought about the matter and some of my Conservative colleagues voted for Leveson 2. The Bill went to the other place, which virtually sent it straight back, despite the Government manifesto commitment. The question of the Salisbury convention therefore clearly comes into play.

Data Protection Bill [Lords]

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
(Report stage: House of Commons)
Edward Miliband Excerpts
Wednesday 9th May 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard
9 May 2018, 2:21 p.m.

I would characterise it as a review aligned with new clause 23, which we are bringing in for the whole country, specifically to look at the effects in Northern Ireland. The crucial point is that we will make sure, through the review in new clause 23, that the future of the press is both free and reasonable, that its behaviour is reasonable, and yet that it is not subject to statutory regulation. I want to see a press that is both free and fair.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Hansard
9 May 2018, 2:22 p.m.

This is an extraordinary way to make policy. Will the Secretary of State explain to us why there can be a Leveson for Northern Ireland, but not for the rest of the United Kingdom?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Hansard
9 May 2018, 2:22 p.m.

I have explained that new clause 23, which I hope the right hon. Gentleman supports, will in the future bring in a review of behaviour following the new system that we are putting into place. That is true here, and it is true right across the country.

Break in Debate

Mr John Whittingdale Portrait Mr Whittingdale - Hansard
9 May 2018, 2:57 p.m.

I agree very much with my hon. Friend. Indeed, I would have found it far harder to make the argument that IPSO was basically now compliant with Lord Leveson had it not introduced the scheme that is now in place. That was the biggest difference between the system as designed by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset in the royal charter and IPSO, and that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins) said, has rightly been removed.

What we do in this debate is being watched around the world. This country is seen as a bastion of freedom and liberty, and a free press is an absolutely essential component of that. I say to those who are proposing these amendments: do not just listen to the newspaper industry, which is, as I say, united against this—that includes The Guardian, despite the efforts of Labour Front Benchers to somehow exclude them. Listen to the Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists—campaigning organisations that are fighting oppression of the press around the world. They say that if this House brings in this kind of measure, it would send a terrible signal to those who believe in a free press. I therefore hope that the amendments will be rejected.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 May 2018, 2:58 p.m.

I shall speak in support of new clause 18, which stands in my name and that of the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) and four Members from four other parties across the House. I have tabled the new clause for one overriding reason: to keep a promise that everyone in this House made to the victims of phone hacking and other unlawful conduct.

I well remember the day when I, David Cameron and Nick Clegg went to meet the victims—the McCanns, the Dowlers and all the others. You know what we said to them? We said, “This time it will be different. This time we won’t flinch. We promise you we’ll see this process through.” Painstakingly, with the victims, we designed a two-part Leveson process—let us be under no illusions about that. The first part was to look at the general issues around the culture and ethics of the press and the relationship with politicians, and the second part, promised back then, was to look, after the criminal trials were over, at, in the words of Sir Brian, who did what to whom and why it happened. Who covered it up? Did the police? Did politicians? Did other public servants?

Break in Debate

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:02 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman mentions what David Cameron, Nick Clegg and he did. It seems to have escaped his attention that David Cameron is no longer Prime Minister, that Nick Clegg is no longer Deputy Prime Minister, and that two former MPs and one still-existing MP cannot bind their successors. A new Parliament has the right to consider these matters afresh, and that is what is rightly being done today after countless police investigations and prosecutions, many of which ended in acquittal.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:02 p.m.

I give way to the hon. Gentleman’s constitutional knowledge, but I do not give way to him on morality—and this is a question of morality and of promises we made. Remember the furore about all these events? Remember how people looked at us? Remember how all of us—Labour Governments too—were too close to the press, and how we said we would learn lessons? I take my responsibility too. We should have acted earlier. All Governments should take responsibility. To break this promise would be contemptible.

Anna Soubry Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:03 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is making a powerful case, and he is right about morality and the promises made, most importantly, to victims. I am struggling to support him, however, because while those are powerful arguments, I am actually more interested in the outcome. Is there a genuine purpose that can be achieved other than—and it is a strong argument—keeping a promise to victims? It will be a hollow promise if it is nothing more than a talking shop.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:04 p.m.

Other people have asked, “Why can’t the police just do it?” That suggests that whenever there is a police inquiry there cannot be a public inquiry. My answer is this: there is no substitute for the breadth of a public inquiry and its ability to see what happened. A lot has emerged even since Leveson 1. At that time, people said the hacking and improper behaviour were just at the News of the World. There have now been revelations at The Sun, allegations about The Sunday Times and a decade of blagging by John Ford—a whole range of allegations that we need to get to the bottom of. Crucially, we need to learn lessons for the future. The useful thing that can come out of this is to prevent there being future victims like the McCanns and the Dowlers. That is why so many victims have written to the Prime Minister, saying it is important to get to the truth—not just for them but to prevent it from ever happening again.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:04 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is making a very compelling argument—one that I am not turned off by—but when I read new clause 18 dispassionately, I see that it offers me a consultation process with parties in Northern Ireland and an Assembly that is not functioning. It offers me very little, although it promises me something. In new clause 23, the Government from the Dispatch Box today have offered me an actual inquiry. I ask him, then, to put himself in my shoes: should we take what we have or a promise of what we might get?

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:05 p.m.

If the new clause was agreed today, the Secretary of State would within three months have to trigger an inquiry covering Northern Ireland. The point about consultation is precisely to consult with Members of the Assembly, Ministers, if they are in place, and those in Scotland as well. That is simply a point about consultation. I know the hon. Gentleman cares passionately about these issues.

I believe that the case is stronger, not weaker, than it was when a two-part inquiry was envisaged. Sir Brian says we should go ahead. When else do we put a presiding judge in charge of an inquiry and then ignore his advice? Frankly, it is extraordinary. As I said to the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), the wrongdoing turned out to be more widespread than we thought. I urge hon. Members, in the time left before the vote, to look at the Kerslake report on what happened in Manchester, because it is a shocking indictment of what a minority—I emphasise that it is a minority besmirching the good name of the whole press—did. I quote from it briefly:

“One mother, who was herself seriously injured as was her daughter, spoke of the press ringing her on her mobile whilst she was recovering in hospital…The child of one family was given condolences on the doorstep before official notification of the death of her mother.”

This is what some of the relatives of the victims said:

“By far the worst thing was the press”,

“They...are a disgrace, they don’t take no for an answer, they have a lack of standards and ethics,”

“The press were not respectful of grief.”

It is all very well people saying, “Everything’s changed”, but to my mind, I’m afraid, that report is proof that not enough has changed, because the same intrusion into the lives of innocent people is carrying on.

Mr Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:07 p.m.

I remember David Cameron, as I do the right hon. Gentleman, on this subject. It was one of David Cameron’s best moments. I have not yet heard an argument from the Government to explain why we cannot have Leveson 2. If it is money, that argument is ridiculous. Why does he think the Government do not want Leveson 2?

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:07 p.m.

That is a very good point, and I will come to it in a moment, because it is important to answer it.

I want to make another point about the case for carrying on with Leveson 2. I do not believe, I am afraid, that the regulator we have, IPSO, is nearly good enough. It bears too much resemblance to its predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission. Just think about this regulator: it has not imposed a single fine, demanded a single equal-prominence front page correction or launched a single systematic inquiry, as it has the power to do. The Home Affairs Select Committee heard testimony in February on Islamophobia, and I think I am right in saying that under section 12 of the editors code, on discrimination, hate speech and so on, IPSO has received 8,000 complaints and upheld one. The Chair of the Committee and its members seemed rather shocked by that.

I return now to the very pertinent question from the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone). Why might the Government not be going ahead with Leveson 2? Let us look at their issues briefly. They say it is about press freedom. I believe that a free critical press is an essential part of our society, and that includes being critical of politicians, but, as everyone agreed after Milly Dowler, that freedom does not include the ability to barge into the lives of innocent people. The press themselves said that was wrong. On press freedom and Leveson 2, the National Union of Journalists said in March that the decision not to allow Lord Leveson to complete his task was

“bad for politics, bad for journalism and bad for the public.”

The NUJ says it is not an attack on press freedom!

The Government have also said that the inquiry would go over ground already coved by the police, but as I said, it was always understood that Leveson 2 could only start after the police inquiries had been completed, and that there was no substitute for a broad public inquiry. It is claimed that it misses the big important issues of Facebook and fake news, but those are in the terms of reference as recommended by Sir Brian Leveson. It is said that local papers will be affected, but we have specifically written the terms of reference to exclude local papers, so that there can be no question of their being affected. It is said that this is all backward- looking, but in any other area of public life, would the press really be saying that the truth is time-limited, and that we do not need to get to the truth because it was all a few years ago? Lastly, there is the argument about cost, which I think is a terrible argument. Leveson 1 cost £5 million. That is a substantial sum, but I have to say that, given decades of abuse and broken promises in relation to the press, I think that it is worth spending such a sum to get to the truth.

Now I will answer the question asked by the hon. Member for Wellingborough. I set out the reasons adduced by the press and, indeed, the Government for the cancellation of this inquiry, but let us be absolutely honest: there is one overriding reason for the Government’s decision to abandon it, and that needs to be discussed. It is quite simple. It is fear: fear about the wrath of the press. That is why the Government have made this decision. The press do not want the inquiry to go ahead, and the Government fear attacks on them by the press. That is why the last Labour Government did not take action against the press: they too feared the consequences. But what did we also say after 2011? We said, “Never again will we succumb to fear and make the wrong decisions, which are not in the public interest.”

Fear of the powerful is not a good reason to allow them to trample on the powerless when we have it in our hands to do something about it. It goes against everything that we promised in 2011. It goes against everything that we said to the victims and everything that we told the public. We should remember the words of the current Prime Minister—the current Prime Minister—who said on the steps of Downing Street:

“When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you.”

I say, “Think of the public, not the powerful, today.” There is still a chance that this time it will be different. We can learn the lessons of failed reform and no change. We can keep our promises to the victims and make change happen, and the way to do that is by voting for new clause 18.

Lord Clarke of Nottingham Portrait Mr Kenneth Clarke - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 May 2018, 3:11 p.m.

I rise to support new clause 18, and I shall try to do so as briefly as possible as we are running out of time. I have also put my name to amendment 14, which I hope the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) will press to a Division if she catches your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker. However, new clause 18 and Leveson 2 are my main concern because, as the then Justice Secretary, I was personally involved in setting up the Leveson inquiry.

I have the highest regard for Sir Brian Leveson, and I share his indignation that the House is going back on previous commitments about the completion of that inquiry. Sir Brian is now the president of the Queen’s Bench division. He is the head of criminal justice in this country. He does not think that his inquiry completed its work or inquired into all the matters into which it was supposed to be inquiring. He said in his public letter that he “fundamentally” disagreed with the proposal to cancel the inquiry now and prevent it from going any further. I share his views, and I do not think that the House should lightly set them aside.

It was always clear when the inquiry was established that there would have to be a second part. In his statement when the inquiry was first announced, the then Prime Minister said:

“The second part of the inquiry will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed it to happen. That part of the inquiry will also look into the original police investigation and the issue of corrupt payments to police officers, and will consider the implications for the relationships between newspapers and the police.”—[Official Report, 13 July 2011; Vol. 531, c. 312.]

Those are the things that we are saying that we perhaps do not want to inquire into any further, for what seem to me—with great respect to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who made a valiant effort to put forward the case on behalf of the Government— to be quite inadequate reasons.

When the first part of Leveson was completed, the then Government recommitted to holding the second part. I cannot recall anyone in the House objecting to the idea that we were waiting for the inquiry to be completed once the police inquiries were over. On 29 November 2012, the then Prime Minister said:

“When I set up the inquiry, I also said that there would be a second part to investigate wrongdoing in the press and the police, including the conduct of the first police investigation. That second stage cannot go ahead until the current criminal proceedings have concluded, but we remain committed to the inquiry as it was first established.”

That was the commitment of the Government of which I was a member, of which my right hon. Friend was a member, and of which half the present Government were members. No one objected to that in the House. Indeed, I think that my right hon. Friend took pride in rebutting what was eloquently described by the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) as the fear—the craven fear—that most Governments have felt of Her Majesty’s press during much of the time that I have been in Parliament.

Blagging: Leveson Inquiry

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Wednesday 7th March 2018

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Mar 2018, 11:59 a.m.

Yes, of course. We have a good working relationship with the Information Commissioner. Her powers are being strengthened by the Data Protection Bill, and I am sure that the level to which and the ways in which they are strengthened will be properly scrutinised as the Bill goes through Committee and further stages.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Mar 2018, 11:59 a.m.

I urge the Secretary of State to stop trying to hide behind the Leveson inquiry, because the man who was responsible for that inquiry says he fundamentally disagrees with him. In the remarkable letter he wrote to the Secretary of State, he said:

“I have no doubt that there is still a legitimate expectation on behalf of the public and, in particular, the alleged victims of phone hacking and other unlawful conduct, that there will be a full public examination of the circumstances that allowed that behaviour to develop and clear reassurances that nothing of the same scale could occur again”.

That is the point. Of course the police can look into specific instances, but the question Sir Brian is posing is: what was the culture that allowed those practices to happen, and how can we have reassurance that that culture has changed? How can we have that reassurance without a Leveson 2 inquiry?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Mar 2018, 11:59 a.m.

Not only has there already been a Leveson inquiry into those areas, but the culture has clearly changed, and the fact that these practices ended in 2010 underlines the fact that they are historical. What we now have to address is how we ensure that there is high-quality journalism in the years to come, rather than revisiting the time when the right hon. Gentleman was at the height of his powers.

Sky/Fox Update

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2018

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 1:40 p.m.

Both those points are covered in the CMA report that was published today. If my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State wishes to make to the CMA any further comments like those he just made, he has three weeks in which to do so, after which I will consider the final report in full.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 1:40 p.m.

I warmly welcome the CMA’s strong set of findings on plurality. The CMA says explicitly that the deal would give the Murdoch family trust

“too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda.”

I pay warm tribute to the Secretary of State’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), because we would not be here had she not had the guts to stand up and say that this matter should be referred to the CMA. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for having done that.

I very much hope that the new Secretary of State, whom I welcome to his place, follows his predecessor’s lead. He can do that by doing two things. First, it is important that he and the CMA should not allow a back-door attempt by the Murdochs to get control of Sky through the so-called remedies process. The simple way to stop the deal going ahead is to prohibit it, not to have some carve out or complicated process. Secondly, it is relevant to the context, so I think the Secretary of State was wrong to attack the other place for what it did on Leveson 2, which was promised by David Cameron, by me and by people from all parts of this House to the victims of phone hacking. If the Secretary of State is to stand up to the Murdochs, he has to allow Leveson 2 to go ahead to get at the truth, because that is what the victims were promised.

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Jan 2018, 1:42 p.m.

It was enjoyable to hear a rendition of the right hon. Gentleman’s greatest hit on Leveson, but on the points relevant to today’s statement and the decision on this deal, I intend fully to exercise my quasi-judicial decision-making role by taking into account all relevant considerations, based on the CMA’s final report. It is in that straightforward and reasonable way that I intend to proceed.

Sky/Fox Merger

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Tuesday 12th September 2017

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Karen Bradley Portrait Karen Bradley - Hansard
12 Sep 2017, 1:43 p.m.

My hon. Friend is right that this process has taken a significant period of time. It was always known that this would be a lengthy process. I remind the House that the proposed merger was set out in December last year, but no official notification of the merger was made to the authorities until February. We have been determined to deal with it as promptly as possible. The small matter of purdah also got in the way earlier in the year, I am afraid to say. I am mindful that I have to act as promptly as is reasonably practicable. I am aware that there are those who are keen to see this matter progress. I want to get the CMA working on it as soon as possible, and that will be the final part of the official process set out in the Enterprise Act, although there are always opportunities for discussion at that point.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Hansard
12 Sep 2017, 1:43 p.m.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s decision on plurality and her “minded to” decision on broadcasting standards. I join my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson) in praising the Secretary of State. She has made a brave decision—or is minded to make a brave decision—but it is the right decision and one that the Murdochs will not like. I have my own experience of the Murdochs, and she is absolutely to be commended for that.

The Secretary of State is ignoring what is, in my view, the unreliable and flawed advice of Ofcom. She knows that I and a number of colleagues believe that its view on “fit and proper” is also flawed and unreliable. If its advice on broadcasting standards is flawed, I think we can draw some conclusions about its position on “fit and proper”, although I know she will not comment on that.

I have one specific thing that I want to ask the Secretary of State. Can she reassure us that if the CMA holds the inquiry she is minded to have, it will be a comprehensive look—the first time this has happened, I think—at the Murdochs’ disgraceful record in news and, indeed, broadcasting—from the News of the World to Fox News to Sky News Australia? Crucially, will she confirm that it will look at the issue of corporate governance, which was something that she flagged up in her letter to Ofcom, although I do not think it looked at that properly? That needs to be looked at, as it relates to broadcasting standards.

I end by saying that the Secretary of State has done her job today; it is now for the CMA to do theirs.

Karen Bradley Portrait Karen Bradley - Hansard
12 Sep 2017, 1:44 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question. Together with the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), he contributed one of the 30 substantive representations that I received. He referred to the “fit and proper” test. One question that he raised in his representation was the level of the threshold. What has become clear from the conversations we have had and our work is that the threshold for referral to the CMA is a different threshold from the “fit and proper” test. The “fit and proper” test is, quite rightly, something for Ofcom.

If the right hon. Gentleman looks at my statement, he will see the reasons I have set out for referral to the CMA. As and when the “minded to” decision becomes a final decision, I will set out those reasons in full.

Fox-Sky Merger

Edward Miliband Excerpts
Thursday 20th July 2017

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Karen Bradley Portrait Karen Bradley - Hansard
20 Jul 2017, 11:23 a.m.

Of course I will join you, Mr Speaker, in congratulating Roger Federer. I was lucky enough to see him play on Friday, and I know you were there as well. I should also congratulate Lewis Hamilton. I was, unfortunately, not able to be at the Wimbledon final because I was at the grand prix, where I was able to congratulate Mr Hamilton personally on his great success. Four British grands prix in a row is a fantastic achievement. I am sure the whole House will join me in celebrating what is turning into the most incredible summer of sport for Britain and British athletes—and Roger Federer. I think he is almost an honorary Brit at this stage.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mims Davies); I think Wimbledon is one of the places that have equal pay for men and women. I want to see gender disparity removed from all employers, and I was as surprised as she was by yesterday’s annual report.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab) - Hansard
20 Jul 2017, 11:25 a.m.

The Culture Secretary has just shown us why she has an enviable job in Government. She is the Minister for tickets, as well as for many other things. May I wish you—and your staff, as seems to be the fashion—a happy summer, Mr Speaker?

I welcome what the Secretary of State said about plurality and the fact that she is minded to refer on plurality grounds. I welcome what she said to Ofcom about meeting me and colleagues regarding the fit and proper issue. She needs to make the decision on broadcasting standards in a timely way, but she needs to look at some detailed issues. When she invited representations, she said in her statement to the House that she wanted new evidence, or evidence on Ofcom’s approach. My argument, and that of my right hon. and hon. colleagues, is that Ofcom’s approach is flawed and that she needs to do what it did not, which is to look at the evidence—including the evidence about Fox and the News of the World—on the basis of the right legal threshold; look at the evidence about James Murdoch, which she asked it to do and it failed to do; and, indeed, look at the wider concerns about Sky News becoming like Fox News. I think that that will take a bit of time.

On those grounds, as well as those of parliamentary accountability—she has shown a desire all along to be accountable and open to Parliament on this issue—the Secretary of State can come back at the beginning of September, after having a good summer and scrutinising these issues, and tell us her decision. That is the right thing to do, and she should not, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East has said, give in to the old tricks of the Murdochs, which are to bully people into making wrong and rushed decisions.

Karen Bradley Portrait Karen Bradley - Hansard
20 Jul 2017, 11:25 a.m.

I should wish you a happy summer, Mr Speaker, as it appears that that is the order of the day. [Interruption.] And Roger, of course.

I have been as transparent as possible. As I said in my statement, I may make a decision over the course of the summer recess, but it may take longer. I am taking the time to consider all representations, including the right hon. Gentleman’s, those of the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable) and those of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), who is not in his place. I will look at the evidence and make a decision on that basis.