Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 11:50 am, 27th January 2022

Let me start by putting on record my thanks and the Government’s thanks for the work that the Select Committee has done. We are grateful for the time and attention that its members have given to this important issue.

There is no question but that large social media firms have not been prioritising safety and preventing harm, even in relation to children. They have been prioritising profit instead of people, and the time has come for Parliament to act. The legislation we have tabled is groundbreaking; we will be one of the first countries, if not the first country, in the world to take such a step. The measures in the Bill, even as drafted, are very strong, with fines of up to 10% of global revenue capable of being levied, and personal liability for some senior executives in certain circumstances.

I thank the Select Committee Chairman for his comments about freedom of expression, which are of course important. There are duties in the Bill as drafted requiring social media firms to have regard to freedom of expression and, particularly, to protect journalistic and democratic content. We are interested in exploring with the Select Committee how we can go further in those areas, and I look forward to appearing before it in a week or two.

Let me finish by saying that we are very much in listening mode; we have been digesting the reports of the Select Committee and the Joint Committee very carefully. It is our intention to bring forward an updated Bill in this Session so that it can have its Second Reading. In preparing that updated Bill, we will continue to work closely with the Committees and to listen carefully to the views of Members of this House, including those expressed in the session today and in the debate we had a week or two ago. There is a great deal of wisdom on both sides of the House that we can learn from, and it is our intention to do that as we bring forward this groundbreaking piece of legislation designed to protect our fellow citizens but particularly children.