Lobby and Media Briefings: Journalists' Access

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:12 pm on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip 1:12 pm, 4th February 2020

I am more than willing to repeat the points I made, which were that this briefing was additional to normal lobby handlings. Those lobby handlings are entirely normal, standard and routine, and have been so over successive Governments. I am not taking any further lectures from the Labour party, which needs to look in the mirror a little on this. The hon. Lady is part of a shadow Government who wish to regulate and introduce Soviet-style licensing of newspapers; and whose leader and shadow Chancellor take money from media organisations, such as Press TV, which are owned by foreign, hostile Governments. Under that culture, a BBC editor had to have protection at the Labour party conference, and the shadow Chancellor encourages direct action against journalists who do not write what he likes. Conservative Members strongly support the free press. I have set out the ways in which we do that. In addition to the briefings and the very normal routine operation of the lobby, the Prime Minister has a huge amount of further appointments and engagements on a range of channels. For example, he did more than 120 media engagements during the election. Senior members of the Government come to this House to answer those questions again, and we intend to continue doing those things. That choice is absolutely clear, and we on this side of the House stand up for a free and vibrant press. The hon. Lady needs to ask herself and her colleagues the same questions.