Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:50 am on 27th January 2022.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, Chair, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation 11:50 am, 27th January 2022

I thank the hon. Member for her kind question, but also for her acknowledgment of the ongoing work of the Select Committee, on which she played a fantastic role during her time with us.

The hon. Member references compliance officers, and the key, of course, is to make the regime pre-emptive rather than reactive. I think that actually helps freedom of expression, basically because if we in effect have this baked into the system, there is less chance of take-downs as a result.

When it comes to social media companies and the Government’s interaction with them, there is an idea that the Government have in effect run scared of social media and the huge lobby. These are the new masters of the universe—the new oil companies, the new banking institutions—and they have huge and enormous powers. I think it is therefore beholden on the Government to draw from every part of this House in order to come up with a framework that can best bring them in to be good citizens in our society. I am hopeful of the time when Nick Clegg is not perhaps as welcome in putting his views, but is in that regard perhaps the same as Members in this place. I do concur to some degree with the hon. Member, but every Government in the world is also facing this huge issue.

On publishing legal advice, I do believe wholeheartedly in complete transparency. I think that part of the process of being cross-party and getting this Bill right actually should be absolute transparency when it comes to such matters.