I find myself in a difficult position, because I have come into the Chamber still undecided on how I am going to vote. 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, 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.