Inquiry into complaints alleging corrupt relationships between police and newspaper organisations

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 10th January 2017.

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Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Chair, Committee of Selection 6:15 pm, 10th January 2017

It is still independent because it does not choose who and what is the regulator; it determines only that the regulator is independent. It is perfectly acceptable. I know my hon. Friend is very keen to defend the press, but this whole instrument does exactly that.

My hon. Friend Sir Gerald Howarth emphasised the point that the local press in particular would be very vulnerable if it was not regulated—[Interruption.] Yes, it would. The regulator will protect it from having to pay the costs. This is why colleagues should really study what my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset has put together. It is much, much better than they might originally have thought.

The claims from the Hillsborough victims for Lords amendment 24 are deeply touching, and I wish the wording of the amendment was easier to support. This was touched on by Chris Bryant. My instinct is to support the victims of Hillsborough, but the wording of the amendment is not adequate. It proposes giving the Government a month to commission an inquiry, for example. My hon. Friend the Minister did a superb job in answering some of these points. The amendment is not good enough, but that does not mean that this matter ends here. I implore the Government to keep on with the good work that they are doing to ensure that we protect the freedoms of the press—the local press in particular—and, most of all, that we have a low-cost arbitration system, which will ultimately benefit everybody.