Report (5th Day)

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:07 pm on 18th March 2013.

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Relevant documents: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee.

Amendment 84EA

Moved by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara

84EA:After Clause 78, insert the following new Clause-

"Royal Charters

Royal Charters: requirements for Parliamentary approval

Where a body is established by Royal Charter after 1 March 2013 with functions relating to the carrying on of an industry, no recommendation may be made to Her Majesty in Council to amend the body's Charter or dissolve the body unless any requirements included in the Charter on the date it is granted for Parliament to approve the amendment or dissolution have been met."

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 5:30 pm, 18th March 2013

My Lords, the amendment is jointly in my name and that of the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie.

Although the words are overused almost to the point of lacking any meaning, today is, I believe, a historic one. In signing up to this amendment and agreeing to support its inclusion in the Bill, the Government are joining with the Opposition in putting in place an agreed, all-party, Leveson-compliant solution to the long-standing problem of how to regulate the press.

Taken together with the royal charter, which will recognise and certify an independent regulatory body for the press, this means that we are seeing the conclusion of 70 years of inaction, despite seven major reports. It is now up to the press to make this system work, in the full and certain knowledge that all political parties have agreed the proposals, that the victims are content and that polls continue to show that this is what the people of this country want.

In his report, Lord Justice Leveson proposed a framework that provided for the continuation of self-regulation by the press, but with a legal guarantee that self-regulation would be effective, independent and continue to meet high standards. However, the role of the law, the legal underpinning, was to be limited to setting up a body whose task would be to recognise the self-regulatory system and check it once every three years. Lord Justice Leveson said that that was essential to ensure that, despite all the protestations of a willingness to change and countless expressions of good intentions, the press did not once again slip back into their old ways, as they have done after all the other inquiries and reports.

There is no doubt that some parts of the press are attempting to derail these proposals, despite the fact that they deliver the Leveson principles, ensure that those who are wronged have an effective and cheap route to redress, and ensure a free and vibrant press. However, implementing the Leveson proposals does not censor the press. There is no recommendation for pre-publication regulation. It would not create "a slippery slope" to "a government-controlled press". It would not restrict reporting or investigative journalism in the public interest. Quite the reverse. As Nick Davies, the Guardian investigative reporter who largely uncovered the phone hacking story, wrote after the report was published:

"From a reporter's point of view, there is no obvious problem with the core of Leveson's report, his system of 'independent self-regulation' ... There is a nightmare here, but it is for the old guard of Fleet Street. To lose control of the regulator is to lose their licence to do exactly as they please".

The families who suffered press intrusion and gross violations of their privacy have been pressing for the changes that will in future protect people from what happened to them. The harassment and character assassinations laid bare before the Leveson inquiry were not mere technical breaches of the rules or victimless crimes. For many of the victims, appearing at the inquiry meant reliving the pain and trauma of their abuse by the press, but they did so with enormous courage and determination; and the stories they told made many people feel moved, incredulous, appalled and very, very angry. They included people such as: the McCanns who were falsely accused of murdering their missing child; the parents of Milly Dowler, who were given false hope that their daughter was still alive; John Tulloch, the 7/7 bomb survivor who was tricked into giving an interview; Christopher Jeffries, who was falsely accused of the murder of Joanna Yates; and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, whose daughter Abigail was hounded for stories following her tragic stabbing while out walking with her son.

It is important to remember that the voices heard in the inquiry represented just a small sample of press harassment and misrepresentation that became commonplace, week in and week out, for those struggling with tragedies in their lives who never sought to become the story. We should also remember that the public overwhelmingly support the establishment of an independent regulator, backed by law. That was borne out by a series of polls conducted prior to the publication of the report by the Media Standards Trust, Hacked Off, the Carnegie Trust and the IPPR. YouGov's latest survey for the Sunday Times finds that 90% want a system that forces newspapers to print corrections when they say things that are not true. A smaller but still substantial majority wants to punish newspapers that opt out of a new system of regulation; and 62% want such papers to face damages of up to £1 million when they are found guilty of libel.

The sad fact is that the Leveson inquiry should never have been necessary, and the catalogue of incidents that were described and the many more that they represent should never have been allowed to happen. At the end of the day, we in Parliament have to be able to say to these victims that we have seen them right.

Your Lordship's House has earned a justifiable reputation for keeping the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson in the forefront of political thinking. Indeed, the former Leader of your Lordship's House said on the occasion of the publication of the report in November 2012 that if the central recommendations of the report,

"can be put in place, we truly will have a regulatory system that delivers public confidence, justice for the victims, and a step-change in the way the press is regulated in our country".-[Hansard, 29/11/12; col. 340.]

It has been 20 months since politicians from all parties came together to set up the Leveson inquiry. It is nearly four months since the report was published and all-party talks commenced, and here we are at the brink of introducing the results of that process. The Leveson proposals received near-unanimous approval when we debated the report in your Lordships' House on Friday 11 January, and the House voted by a majority of 131 in favour of similar amendments to those that we are to consider at Report on the Defamation Bill.

This amendment, although it is couched in general terms, ensures that the agreed royal charter on self-regulation of the press may not be amended by Ministers through the Privy Council unless Parliament has given its prior approval to the changes. It is therefore an important entrenching measure, and I very much hope that it will receive support from Members of your Lordships' House.

The royal charter published today creates a new, independent, voluntary system of self-regulation for the press. It is a welcome step, and the amendment ensures that this can be an enduring settlement, as it underpins the royal charter with the minimum amount of legislation needed to guarantee its success and independence over time. It is worth pointing out that while my amendment ensures that Ministers cannot tamper with the new system-for example, by watering it down under pressure from the newspapers-it also ensures that they cannot introduce new measures that would threaten the freedom of the press. There must be comfort in the fact that it works both ways.

Therefore, my amendment completes the virtuous circle of an all-party solution that is Leveson-compliant and is as entrenched in our constitutional arrangements as anything can be, requiring as it does a two-thirds majority in both Houses for change. In so doing, your Lordships' House is fulfilling its proper role in scrutinising legislative proposals and offering the other place a chance to improve on what has been proposed. As the Prime Minister said a few minutes ago in another place:

"We stand here today with cross-party agreement for a new system of press regulation that supports our great traditions of investigative journalism and free speech and protects the rights of the vulnerable and the innocent".

He ended by sending a message to the press. He said that, "we have had the debate" and reached our conclusions, and he added:

"Now it is time to get on and make this new system work".

I beg to move.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, in advance of this debate, it may be for the convenience of the House if I explain the Government's position on the amendment. Following the statement made in the other place today, I want to make it clear that the Government support the amendment. This measure is part of the announcement made by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition today in relation to proposals for a royal charter to recognise and certify an independent regulatory body or bodies for the press.

I am sure that noble Lords will join me in welcoming the successful conclusion to the cross-party talks which the Prime Minister set up following the publication of Lord Justice Leveson's report. The Prime Minister has made it clear that the amendment before us is not statutory underpinning. The Prime Minister said all along that he wanted to avoid a press law which said what the recognition body is and what it does. That has been delivered. This is not statutory underpinning but a safeguard that says that politicians cannot meddle with this.

The clause put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, to which I have added my name, establishes requirements for royal charter bodies established after 1 March 2013 which have functions relating to the carrying on of an industry. It will have the effect that the charter can be amended only if the terms of the charter are met and both Houses of Parliament agree. Let me be clear that this means that any royal charters created to date will be unaffected and that a royal charter created in future will be affected only both if it is a royal charter with functions relating to the carrying on of an industry and if it has requirements set out within it which require the approval of Parliament.

The press royal charter will be the only such charter in existence when it comes into force. It is the Prime Minister's intention to submit the charter to the Privy Council for Her Majesty's approval at the Privy Council's meeting in May. This will deliver a new system of press regulation in this country. It is a system of tough, independent self- regulation that will deliver for victims.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Perhaps I may be allowed to finish; I have just a few lines. It will ensure fines of up to £1 million, suitably prominent apologies, a standards code and a new arbitration service that will be free for victims. I will respond to points made in the normal way at the end of the debate, bearing in mind that this is the Report stage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, but I hope that noble Lords will support this important new provision.

Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour

Can the Minister clarify one point in his statement? He said "this" country. Can he say whether this applies to the whole of the United Kingdom?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I will certainly respond to that point at the end, in my concluding statement.

Photo of Lord Fowler Lord Fowler Conservative

My Lords, I think there is something rather odd about the procedures of this House. It is no criticism of my noble friend at Question Time, but we all remember his rather cautious replies to questions. The first point to make is that all the detail was actually in the Evening Standard, which could be found in the Library. The second point is that it has now been confirmed that the Defamation Bill will be returning to the House and will go through the normal parliamentary processes. That is the point that I wished to establish when I asked about the Defamation Bill. It was totally uncontroversial and, frankly, I think that it could have been confirmed.

I should like to make the same point that was made by the noble Lord who opened for the Opposition. As he said, it is an historic day. This is a compromise solution, but it is a solution to which all three parties have signed up. We have all had to give up something, but that is what happens in compromises. Rather than one party or another making claims that they, and only they, have won, it would be much better to ensure that, by the rules set down, the scandals that have affected some parts of the press never happen again in this country.

This debate is not just about press freedom; it is also about the power of the press and the misuse of that power. That is why the News of the Worldwas closed down, why journalists have been arrested and why dozens of victims of phone hacking have been paid very substantial damages. We now understand that even more victims have been discovered. It is a discreditable episode in the history of the British press, so it is not enough just to say, "I am in favour of the freedom of the press", as dozens of editorials have been doing over the past months. In spite of the newspapers' black propaganda about those of us who support Leveson, we all believe in the freedom of the press-there is no question about that. However, we are also in favour of effective measures to deal with the scandal of press intrusion that has been revealed over the past months.

I see that newspapers keep on quoting-in defence of press freedom-the Sunday Timesstories on thalidomide and Philby. I absolutely and entirely agree with that and I remember those stories only too well. Who was the editor on that occasion? It was Harry Evans, one of the giants of Fleet Street. What does Harry Evans say about Leveson? He says:

"I regard the proposals on statutory underpinning as an opportunity, not as a threat".

Therefore, if we are going to accept Harry Evans's views-and I personally would-I think we might take that into account.

Will the new proposals be effective? I am not going to go into the argument about whether we are or are not seeing statutory underpinning. I simply observe that the Government are putting down amendments to two Bills. First, the Government have put down pages of amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill on damages, costs, multiple claimants and the rest, and I support those amendments because they aim to make the Leveson system work. Secondly, there is an amendment to the Bill before us which applies to royal charters.

As the House may remember, I am not an unreserved supporter of royal charters. As I have noted before, the charter website says:

"New grants of Royal Charters are these days reserved for eminent professional bodies or charities which have a solid record of achievement".

I have never thought that that totally includes the British press, particularly not at this moment, after the scandals that we have had.

I observe also, in passing, that the royal charter is described as the bright idea of Oliver Letwin. In fact, the idea came-as all these good ideas do-from the Times letter column last December. It was suggested by a correspondent from Budleigh Salterton, who also wrote to me. As with so many things in this debate, you could not make it up. He wrote in the Times that a press body could be set up by,

"a royal charter overseen by the Privy Council, an ancient body descended from the 'wise men' who were advisers to the monarch before Britain became a constitutional monarchy".

It is certainly one way of defending a royal charter. It is not entirely my way of looking at it, but I do not wish to be rude in any way to the writer of that letter, Francis Bennion, whom some of us may even remember as a parliamentary counsel here.

It was not the antiquity of the idea that spurred my opposition but my experience in respect of the BBC when I was chairman of the Communications Select Committee. I found there that we all made our proposals. We said that the divided management proposed for the BBC was completely wrong. Everyone now agrees with that and most people agreed with it at the time. Parliament, of course, did not get a look-in; it was simply agreed between the Government and the BBC, and that was it. That was how the royal charter worked, and those were the reservations that I had at that time.

I acknowledge the very great efforts made in these talks to avoid a similar fate overtaking a royal charter on the press. I pay tribute to that but I do not find it perfect. As far as I can see, only the Government can initiate any changes in this area, but the safeguards are there and it is important that they should be there. At the same time, I acknowledge the hard work that has gone in over the months in trying to develop these proposals-not just by the Government and the Opposition but by those outside, including the much-maligned Hacked Off group, which has done a vast amount of work in this area. Moreover-if I may say so in a slightly defensive way, because I know what my Front Bench feels about my role in this-I commend the Tory MPs who stood out against a solution being imposed on them in the other place.

It is a compromise and no one should claim anything more, but it gives us the opportunity of a new beginning and an end to the deep misconduct which has affected some newspapers. It deserves support and, above all, I hope that the press will now co-operate in making it a success.

Photo of Lord Soley Lord Soley Labour 5:45 pm, 18th March 2013

I do not wish to delay the House very long but I have a very long history as regards this matter. I want to make only three brief points. First, as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, has said, this is a compromise. It was not the first that I would have come to but the negotiations have led to it being much better. I certainly do not want to make the best the enemy of the good. This is good. That leads me to my second point. It is profoundly important that all Members of both Houses give the agreement as much support as possible in order to convey to the media that this is the will of the people of this country speaking through their Parliament.

As the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, has indicated, it has been the job of the press to hold power to account. But one of the things that have gone wrong over the past 40 or 50 years is that the power of the press has been abused in too many cases. They have done some wonderful work and there are some wonderful journalists but some journalists have betrayed that trust. Some editors and owners have also betrayed it and it became the abuse of power. That abuse of power had to be held to account. I have given evidence to many committees and I produced my own Bill some 20 or so years ago, which tried to draw attention to this issue. Getting to this point has been a long, hard journey and we should all be grateful.

In many respects, my final point is the most important. I would almost plead with the press to recognise that this is an opportunity for a change in the culture of the press. What let the press down was an acceptance of standards, attitudes and values within the press that would not have been tolerated outside the press. They let themselves down in that way and not enough of them-although, very credibly, one or two journalists have been particularly outstanding-challenged it. Now, we need to put that behind us and to say that the culture of the press can change.

The press should recognise that people have rights and that the freedom of the press was an extension of the freedom of speech and the freedom of association, which allowed people to meet together and to put forward their views. That was dangerously undermined when the phrase "press barons" came in somewhere around the end of the 19th century. That was something different from the press freedom for which people had previously fought. The press barons need to be held to account. We have taken a step in the direction that allows that to happen. If the press have the right approach to this, it will be an opportunity for a new start for everyone. I for one would be willing to sign up to that.

Photo of Baroness Hollins Baroness Hollins Crossbench

With freedom comes responsibility and that is what this is all about. It is extraordinary what has happened to this debate in the 100 days since Lord Justice Leveson's rigorous report was published. For a time, the debate descended into what the Guardian last week described as,

"bipartite discussions between Conservative ministers and newspapers".

Then it returned to public debate via the anachronism of the royal charter. But at last an agreement has been reached by all three parties recognising what has been clear to the victims of press abuse from the beginning-this is not party political but a cross-party matter.

I congratulate the leaders of all three parties on reaching an historic agreement to put the building blocks in place to enable the establishment and recognition of an independent and effective press regulator. Before Lord Justice Leveson reported, many people assumed that he would recommend a statutory body to hold the press to the standards they profess to believe in and statutory compulsion for newspapers to join it. However, Lord Justice Leveson did no such thing. Instead, he recommended that the press be given yet another chance to set up their own voluntary self-regulator. Some victims were taken aback but accepted this as the result of careful and diligent public inquiry. The only thing he did ask-perhaps it is the very least he could have asked-was for a body to be set up in law which would from time to time scrutinise whether the industry's new body met certain tests of independence and effectiveness. He said that those news publishers that met those standards should have benefits in law to give newspapers an incentive to join. He carefully set out some recommendations to ensure that any new body was a real regulator and not just a beefed-up version of the Press Complaints Commission-a new body that would be independent of those it regulates and committed to upholding standards for the benefit of the public. These recommendations now seem to be faithfully reflected in the royal charter, as they are in the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and in the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, which may not now be needed. The issue of exemplary damages will also need to be dealt with.

Some editors have argued at every opportunity to weaken these requirements. However, as set out in these amendments, if the industry sets up a regulator that meets Lord Justice Leveson's criteria, the recognition body would recognise it. If it does not meet the criteria, it would not be recognised. It is as simple as that. I have no doubt about the sincerity of those who said that the Press Complaints Commission was effective or of those who say that a new regulator could be established without this mild level of scrutiny. But the time for take-my-word-for-it regulation is over.

Your Lordships know that my family was deeply affected by the unrestrained power of the press to intrude and to distort. The fact is that I have been hesitant about speaking out on this issue for fear of the consequences for my family. This is some proof, if it were needed, that the issue is not about individual free speech but about institutional power-power which is so concentrated in the hands of a few that it can be used to undermine good journalism and good journalists.

I too respect Sir Harold Evans, an editor of high reputation, for having the courage to point out what he called the "amazingly gross distortion" of the Leveson report by his former colleagues in Fleet Street. There has been so much distortion and so little reason to trust. Very senior people appeared to have gone back on their word on this issue, seemingly breaking promises solemnly made to people who have been badly hurt. For all these reasons, it is essential that this amendment and the royal charter succeed. They offer a vital guarantee that Leveson will be implemented in full.

In an earlier debate, the noble Lord, Lord Alli, pointed out that sometimes leadership must come from the Back Benches. Noble Lords on all sides rose to that challenge. Speaking for myself and, I believe, for many others, I am grateful to those on all Benches who saw and acted on the need for reform and I should like to take this opportunity to thank noble Lords for supporting victims of press abuse. I would also like to place on record my thanks to Hacked Off for representing and supporting victims and for its tireless work which has helped to bring truth to power.

While the abuses of power from press companies have saddened and sometimes shaken us, the best journalism makes us all proud. I believe that the royal charter agreed today offers the best chance to ensure much more good journalism in the future.

Photo of Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury Liberal Democrat

I join in supporting this amendment. It actually underpins freedom of the press in that it stops future politicians in the form of privy counsellors interfering in the regulation of the press. I offer my thanks to my noble and learned friend Lord Wallace of Tankerness who I believe first suggested this solution in a letter to the Secretary of State. I commend my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister for maintaining faith in the cross-party process and the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition for responding. We have achieved consensus on this hugely important matter, something both Lord Justice Leveson and the victims of press abuse particularly desired. This process has been a victory for working together and for the continued freedom of the press, as well as for the victims who campaigned so vigorously and courageously.

Photo of Lord Lipsey Lord Lipsey Labour 6:00 pm, 18th March 2013

My Lords, I speak as a former deputy editor of two national newspapers and perhaps I may say, straight at the beginning, that I see in this royal charter, with the backing that it will get in legislation, no threat whatever to the freedom of the press which we all cherish so much.

There is, after this good day for our democracy, just one question that we should think about. Is there a danger that what we have achieved will be undermined by large sections of the press refusing to join the new regulatory body? From where we sit, the idea that they might not may seem fantastical but-noble Lords have long memories-there was such a case in our legislative history, and in many ways it is analogous. The Industrial Relations Act 1971 was passed by a majority in Parliament but was then scuppered because the trade unions refused to register under it although they had enormous incentives-as there exist for the press in this Bill-to do so. It did not do the unions any good at all because what they got in consequence, a decade later, was Thatcherism. They would have done much better to stick with the Heath proposals. I would say the same to the press now. If they do not join up to this body, they will face something far more draconian than what we have in front of us this afternoon.

There are incentives to join-for example, the relief from exemplary damages. However, there are greater incentives to join than that. I think that newspapers that do not join risk their circulations. Just as Liverpool punished the Sun for its reporting of Hillsborough, so the British public will punish newspapers that fail to sign up to this system. If the public do that, how much more so may advertisers who do not wish to place their advertisements in journals which have placed themselves beyond the pale? The odds are that newspapers will be inclined, when they consider it rationally and coolly, to sign up.

However-and this is the true importance of today-if they do not, they will know that it is the united will of all three national political parties and of both Houses of Parliament that they are trying to thwart. If there is a confrontation between our Parliament-reflecting, as in this case it does, the will of the people-and the press, there must be only one winner.

For all those reasons, plus the fact that a number of newspapers have in recent days evolved to a much more sensible approach to these things-I pay tribute to the editors of the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Independenton this, and I think that others will follow-when they weigh this and see the united will coming from this Parliament, they will understand that they have to take part in a full and open spirit, and our nation's life will be the better for it.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend the Minister for not raising this rather gritty little point before this debate, but of course this is all hot off the press. There could be a lacuna in this amendment. It requires the approval of Parliament for any amendment to the royal charter or dissolution of the recognition body. However, might it be possible-and one is thinking of possibly years hence-that the newspaper industry could decide not to dissolve these arrangements but simply to sidestep them by establishing a parallel and separate body? I would like to have the answer to that question, because I think it is germane.

Photo of Lord Elystan-Morgan Lord Elystan-Morgan Crossbench

My Lords, I wholeheartedly applaud the intentions of those parties that have brought about this compromise and their integrity. I make that observation, however, subject to one factor. If I am indulging in a pettifogging lawyers' argument then I apologise if it has no substance. However, if I happen to be right, it will be something that I can regale my grandchildren about for some time to come. A royal charter is, of course, a sovereign prerogative. How far can that prerogative be circumscribed, if at all, by any decision of either or both Houses of Parliament?

Let me test my doubt in this way. The creation of Peers, as we well know, is the prerogative of Her Majesty the Queen. Any decision taken by either House to circumscribe that authority to the slightest degree would be invalid. If I am correct in that submission, does it not apply to this situation equally so? In other words, any decision by both Houses of Parliament to circumscribe that absolute, sovereign royal authority will be less than valid. It may well be, and probably would be the case, that Her Majesty would graciously surrender her prerogative, but that is a different matter. I am raising this point now as a very narrow, legalistic point, and I would be grateful if I could be told exactly what the constitutional answer to it is, if you please.

Photo of Baroness Deech Baroness Deech Crossbench

My Lords, following on from my noble friend's comments, will the Minister explain how any future Parliament could be stopped from repealing this amendment by a simple majority? There is, as far as I understand it, no such thing as entrenchment in our law because our Parliament is sovereign. Were a future Parliament to become extremely annoyed with excesses of the press in some way or whatever it might be, I cannot see any mechanism for preventing a future Parliament from simply repealing this amendment by a straightforward majority.

Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru

My Lords, I intervene very briefly to indicate that it is not just the three main parties that have taken an interest in this. To the extent that it has been possible for my colleagues in another place to be in communication with the larger parties, we are grateful to have been in on the arguments.

I added my name to the subsequent bank of amendments, which may or may not be necessary now, so perhaps I may raise two questions to the Minister. First, will any new commission or regulatory body be subject to freedom of information applications? Secondly, can we have an assurance that any arbitration service will be free for claimants to use so that ordinary people can have their opportunity to get redress against being abused by the media?

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

My Lords, I am concerned that the words,

"with functions relating to the carrying on of an industry", may introduce a lacuna into this amendment. I am not at all sure that we are dealing with an industry now, and I am certainly not at all sure that what we will have in a few years' time can be described as an industry. The press' function in society is undergoing radical changes and may well emerge in a completely different form. The royal charter, as we have it at the moment, seems to anticipate that. So I wonder why we have those words in there. It merely allows someone to argue that this thing that we are regulating is not actually an industry, it is an activity. I cannot see why those words add anything or are necessary. It seems to me that they make this amendment vulnerable to a Government sidestepping it by just saying that it does not apply because it is not an industry.

I am grateful for the advice of the clerks that I do not need to pursue this by means of a manuscript amendment to a manuscript amendment. This being a subject that has been introduced for the first time at Report, we are allowed to pursue amendments at Third Reading. At the moment, I certainly intend to take that course.

Photo of Lord Morris of Aberavon Lord Morris of Aberavon Labour

My Lords, I add my concerns to those just expressed regarding the requirement of a two-thirds majority in both Houses. I was a little baffled when I read this for the first time. Perhaps we could have an explanation of how it will work in practice. Our understanding, gained from student days, is that no Parliament can bind its successor. If another Parliament, by a simple Act of Parliament-in Churchillian terms, by a majority of one-deletes this provision, then this cannot stand.

I am sure that greater minds than mine have considered the matter and that we can have an explanation, but the House deserves one on this point of how it will work in practice, given past practice that you cannot bind a successor Parliament.

Photo of Lord Low of Dalston Lord Low of Dalston Crossbench

My Lords, I do not wish to delay your Lordships for long, because I imagine that the House will wish to move to a resolution on the amendment fairly speedily. Nor do I wish to sow doubts about the viability of the compromise which has been reached on grounds of high jurisprudential and constitutional matter. Instead, I raise a rather more down to earth and practical question for the Minister to respond to. I imagine that I am not the only person who has not been able to pore over the detail of the proposed royal charter, but I am aware that two of the things that Lord Justice Leveson required of any guarantee of the regulation of the press were that it should be both independent and effective. I wish to address the question of independence.

There has been much discussion in the media over the last few days of an intervention by some members of the press who sought to ensure that the press should have a veto over the membership of the regulatory body. I would like to be assured that that requirement on the part of the press has been abandoned, and that the regulatory body will be entirely independent in that sense and not subject to press interference over its membership.

Photo of Lord Jopling Lord Jopling Conservative

My Lords, my old friend, the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, said that he did not want to make a pettifogging lawyer's point. I am no lawyer, but I would like the Minister to look at what may be a pettifogging point. I raise it only because this is a draft charter, and therefore, I imagine, subject, if necessary, to amendment. Schedule 1, paragraph 3.2 of the draft royal charter states:

"a) That every Member shall have:

i. senior board level experience in a public or private sector organisation, including significant leadership responsibility".

I do not argue with that, but it then goes on to state:

"b) That at least one Member shall have:

i. legal qualifications and skills, together with an understanding of the legal framework within which the Board must operate".

That implies that it must be somebody trained in the law who has practised, whether as a solicitor or a barrister. It rules out somebody who has qualified for the Bar but then never practised. It occurs to me that there can be relatively few people of whom one can say that they have senior board-level experience in public and private sector organisations, including leadership responsibility, as well as having practised in the law. Of course there are such people, but I would have thought it must be rather a narrow field. I do not ask the Minister to reply to this now, but I ask whether thought could be given to the possibility of moving the provision for senior board-level experience into the lower category, which requires one person on the board to have that experience. That seems to bring all the benefit, but without having to choose from a very narrow field of probably highly successful people.

Photo of Lord Clinton-Davis Lord Clinton-Davis Labour 6:15 pm, 18th March 2013

My Lords, I follow the remarks of my noble friend Lord Lipsey. In this debate, many important points have of course been made. I am troubled by dissension among certain organs of the press. I am not sure that I can be as optimistic as my noble friend about the consequences of that. I think that there is every possibility that those dissenting organs will decide to ride out the views of Parliament, and I am concerned that they might succeed in that direction. I hope not. I hope that the optimistic views of my noble friend Lord Lipsey will prevail, but what happens if they do not? I hope that the Minister will reply to that.

Photo of Baroness Wheatcroft Baroness Wheatcroft Conservative

My Lords, this compromise is to be welcomed, and I suspect that the majority of newspaper groups will take the differing interpretations being offered to enable them to sign up to it. It makes no difference whether it is underpinned by statute or by a royal charter protected by statute. Whether it is a dab or a little bit of statute, a workable compromise is being offered, and I welcome it. As somebody who spent a long career in newspapers, I have been appalled to learn-and it has been a process of learning-just what terrible things went on. We should remember that many of the worst things that newspaper groups got up to were criminal. What was wrong was not just their behaviour, but the failure of the police to deal with those crimes. What is going on now is far too late. It was the very close relationships between newspapers and some sections of the police which allowed things to fester for far too long.

It may well be that the climate has now changed, but it is not Leveson that will deal with that. Leveson-or the royal charter and the regulatory bodies that will come about as a result of that-will deal with a much greater wariness on the part of the press as to what and what not to write. That is not a bad thing; a degree of care beyond that which has been exercised in the past would be welcome. Although the damages may well be exemplary in some situations, believe me, what will frighten the press more than anything is the prospect of being directed to publish an apology or a correction with exactly the same prominence as they gave the original story. That will really make people think very hard. My question regards the internet, because what goes on in the media now, as Lord McAlpine would vouch, what goes on in the media now is far more online than it was even 10 years ago, and the trend is moving very fast. Can we expect anything to put online publishers in the same category as paper publishers?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

My Lords, this is a defining moment in the future of press self-regulation and the response to Lord Justice Leveson's admirable report. I am most grateful to Members on all sides of this House for their positive and encouraging comments on the conclusion of the cross-party talks. The Prime Minister committed at the outset to a cross-party approach as the best way to identify a strong and durable solution to the question of future press regulation. After many hours of probing and thorough discussion we have reached the conclusion we always hoped for: a tough, new, self-regulatory model that has the support of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition.

A number of noble Lords have expressed concern about the impact of these changes on the freedom of the press, but we have been clear throughout this process that any solution we implement must protect press freedom, a vital pillar of our democratic society. This clause is an additional safeguard against government interference. Its purpose is to ensure that parliamentary approval will be required before a recognition body set up by royal charter may be amended or changed. Of course, Parliament is sovereign and no Government can bind their successors, but this is an additional step. We believe that it is a constructive and workable solution, which protects press freedom.

The charter lock clause applies only to charters that are established after 1 March 2013. Therefore, it will not apply to charters that were established before that date, even if they are amended in the future. It remains the Government's position that a royal charter is the right vehicle for the BBC, which for many good reasons was established at arm's length from politicians. As for the origins of the royal charter, a point raised by my noble friend Lord Fowler, I suppose I am equally happy if it came from a Times letter or a man on the Budleigh Salterton omnibus. The main issue is that we are there with it. Further, it is worth noting that there was extensive parliamentary engagement on the development of the present BBC charter.

I should like to pick up on a number of points made by noble Lords, and I shall commence with those of the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. He asked whether this applies to the whole of the United Kingdom. He may well have said it, but I would hazard a guess that he had Scotland in mind. The Government are currently discussing these issues with the devolved Administrations and we will bring forward provisions to ensure that the territorial extent of this measure is clear.

Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour

My Lords, can the Minister clarify that point? Most of us from Scotland would want it to apply to Scotland, just as it will to the rest of the United Kingdom. Is that the Government's intention?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I think I can best reply by saying that I shall stick to my previous remark, which is that talks are happening at the moment to work out a way forward. We need to come back on that particular question when we can.

Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative

My Lords, is it within the power of the devolved Scottish Government to ignore this or is it not?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

As I say, talks are ongoing, so it is best if I respond to noble Lords on the matter raised initially by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes.

The noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, asked whether arbitration would be free to use for complainants. I can confirm that the charter provides that a self-regulator must provide an arbitration process that is free to use for complainants. The noble Lord also asked whether freedom of information would apply. Shortly we will debate an amendment on freedom of information, but the Government do not intend to extend the Freedom of Information Act to the regulatory body or, indeed, the recognition body.

Photo of Lord Elystan-Morgan Lord Elystan-Morgan Crossbench

My Lords, the real question I raised is whether the royal prerogative in relation to charters, which is utterly sovereign, can be circumscribed in any way by any decision of Parliament. Has the noble Viscount obtained specific advice and information on that matter?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

No. The noble Lord deserves a full answer to that question. I think that the best thing would be for me to come back to him in writing.

Photo of Lord Wills Lord Wills Labour

Before the Minister leaves this point, can he explain a little more about the Government's thinking on why freedom of information will not be extended to the proceedings of this new body? It seems rather curious, when transparency is such a cardinal virtue, that it should be denied in the case of this body.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I think it would be best to address that question in the next group of amendments. As I mentioned, we have tabled some amendments there and I will address the point then.

I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, raised the issue of dissolution. I think it is best if I quote from the draft charter:

"This Charter, and the Recognition Panel created by it, shall not be dissolved unless information about the proposed dissolution has been presented to Parliament, and that proposal has been approved by a resolution of each House. For this purpose 'approved' means that at least two-thirds of the members of the House in question who vote on the motion do so in support of it".

That is how I read it.

Photo of Baroness Deech Baroness Deech Crossbench

With all due respect to the Minister, what I asked him about was this: what is to prevent the amendment that I imagine we are about to pass in order to bring the royal charter being repealed by a future Parliament of a different nature?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I believe that there are safeguards in place, but I think that the best thing would be for me to respond to the noble Baroness with a succinct answer in writing.

Photo of Lord Morris of Aberavon Lord Morris of Aberavon Labour

The noble Baroness, Lady Deech, made the point, as I did, that surely we are entitled to have the views of the Law Officers on this very important matter. It is a matter of long standing that you cannot bind a successor Parliament. A simple majority can overturn the whole of this mechanism, requiring a two-thirds majority in both Houses. I find it very difficult to understand and I may be wrong, but I should like an explanation. Moreover, I think that the House is entitled to one.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I am certainly not denying that the House deserves an explanation, but I should reiterate that it is better to offer one in writing where the point will be presented thoroughly. I can certainly agree to do that.

The noble Lords, Lord Phillips and Lord Clinton-Davis-

Photo of Lord Clinton-Davis Lord Clinton-Davis Labour

The answer given by the noble Viscount to my noble and learned friend is not adequate. He should be able to reply on this fundamental point immediately, but he has not done so.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I admit that the answer is not here, but I have pledged to write to noble Lords. We should remember that this debate has arisen out of an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill but, having said that, I am happy to answer questions raised today about this very important matter.

Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative

My Lords, I appreciate that it is difficult for my noble friend but the House is being invited to approve this amendment this evening, and therefore letters that arrive subsequent to any vote can have no effect. This Parliament can bind this Parliament; we all understand that. If there is to be any change, it must be made by a two-thirds majority in both Houses, but after 2015 there will be another Parliament. We really must have an absolute assurance from the Law Officers that they are confident that this will hold. I do not believe it will.

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt what is a bit of a spat on this, but perhaps I may make it clear, as the prime mover of the amendment, that it was not my intention in any sense to commit future Parliaments to the amendment that has been tabled today. In other words, I hope that this amendment will be passed by this House today, and then by the House of Commons, by simple majorities. It is therefore open to any future Parliament, if it has the guts or is foolish enough to do so, to bring an amendment to repeal it on a similar basis. The effect of this is simply to safeguard that which is in the royal charter, which is protected. However, of itself, only a simple majority is required.

Photo of Lord Low of Dalston Lord Low of Dalston Crossbench

My Lords, perhaps I may try to offer the noble Viscount a little solace. Doubt is being cast on the viability beyond this Parliament of the compromise set out in the amendment that we are being asked to support. If it is not viable beyond the lifetime of this Parliament, it is difficult to think of a better solution that would be more viable. On that basis, it seems that probably the best course would be to support the amendment and the course of action which is enshrined in the agreement between the parties that we are being invited to endorse. We can move forward in the same spirit of good will and determination to make it work that we are asking of the press in return.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 6:30 pm, 18th March 2013

I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Low, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, for their interventions. All I can say is that I have pledged to write to noble Lords to clarify the position further. The position at present is that Parliament cannot bind its successors. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said, we have confidence that this will be an enduring settlement.

The noble Lords, Lord Phillips and Lord Clinton-Davies, suggested that members of the press could side-step the self-regulatory umbrella. They could do that, but at their peril. To pick up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, those members of the press who chose to do so would be more likely to lose respect and therefore circulation and they would be liable to greater punitive costs.

Several of your Lordships raised the issue of entrenchment-that is the description that is used. Parliament is sovereign, so could this provision be amended in future? As the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, rightly recognised in opening this debate, we cannot bind future Parliaments, but we have every confidence that this will be an enduring settlement, which is just a reiteration of what I said a few moments ago.

The noble Lord, Lord Low of Dalston, asked whether the regulatory body would be subject to interference from the press. As the charter sets out, the recognition panel will be independent of the press and will not be subject to any interference.

Noble lords have raised a number of points about whether this is indeed a statutory underpinning of the regulatory body. We may disagree about whether this clause is statutory underpinning, a "dab of statute" or something that avoids politicians fiddling with the royal charter, but I hope that we can agree that the agreement between the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition is something which we can all support and which will deliver the tough press regulation that we all want to see.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

Before the noble Viscount sits down, may I hope for an answer to the question that I asked? A letter will suffice.

Photo of Lord Reid of Cardowan Lord Reid of Cardowan Labour

Before the Minister sits down, let me just say that I am absolutely sure that the questions that have been asked by noble Lords are predicated on their desire that this will be successful. However, they are also asked in the context, as the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, pointed out, of those who may well decide that they wish to oppose applying the rules of this charter. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that this is thought through in fine detail. If we do not know whether it applies to Scotland-where, incidentally, one of our highest-selling newspapers is printed and published-if we are not sure whether we can bind successive Parliaments and if we are not sure whether constitutionally we can constrain the sovereign through a royal charter, it seems that, although we have absolute agreement on what we want to do, we may not have the nuts and bolts firmly pinned down. The reason why this is important is that, if there is any lacuna or window of opportunity through which people can remove themselves from the process, we should understand that some people will do so. I hope that, before this returns to us, the Minister will make sure that every single dot and comma is bolted down so that we have confidence not only in the will of the people and the will of Parliament, but in the fact that we have produced something that is operationally effective.

Photo of Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve Crossbench

My Lords, before the Minister replies, like many other noble Lords I have been trying to clarify where we are. I think that it is the case that the detour through the royal charter, which is where the two-thirds majority is mentioned, means that an ordinary vote in both Houses of Parliament would not be sufficient. This royal charter is an instrument of the Privy Council. We are not voting to create a royal charter, as that is beyond our powers. It is the Privy Council that will create it. We are indicating, as it were, a mechanism of access to that which it is intended the Privy Council will create at a future date.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I am sorry to prolong this, but it seems rather important. The Minister said in answer to my question that the industry could indeed side-step the whole of this mechanism. Therefore, what we have here by way of protection-namely, you cannot amend and you cannot dissolve-could be rendered nugatory by the industry simply saying, "We are going to set up a parallel, separate body". I wonder, therefore, whether some of what has been said is not perhaps misleading in terms of its efficacy.

Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

My Lords, the last few comments made by noble Lords obviously need to be picked up and looked at by the Minister. He has promised several letters, so I will not try and anticipate them, but I think that several of the questions bear on a point that was made earlier, which I would like to endorse. What we are looking at today is, of course, a compromise. It is a compromise in the best interests of the country. Indeed, it led my noble friend Lord Lipsey to say that this was a good day for democracy, not just because this was a step forward in the right way but because it was something in which we could perceive, behind the appurtenances of government and opposition, a real willingness to try to work together to create something that will last and will be substantial in addressing problems that we all know are there and whose solutions have been eluding us for some 70 years.

However, compromises, although they can work, will often leave one or two things unsettled. My noble friend Lord Reid and others have pointed out one or two that we really have to address. That is something that we can do, although time is short. The rationale for attempting to amend this Bill, and hopefully successfully doing so, was such that it was too obvious for us to ignore, but it raises questions of timescale. In order to get the Bill processed and brought into law, so that it underpins the work in the royal charter, we have to adhere to the timetable. I accept the points that have been made. I think that the Minister will take them away and do what he can with them. There are simple answers to a number of the points that were raised, but it will be important for those to be available to us as we see the process of the Bill going forward. There will be opportunities for that to be done.

I would just like to say three things. First, I feel bad at not having thanked a number of people for the work that has been done in bringing forward the arrangements that we are considering today. Primary among these, the noble Lord, Lord Fowler-we should have acknowledged this when he was speaking-has been an inspiration to many of us. I pay tribute to him and the constant work that he has put in to get us to where we are today. We have learnt a lot from him and we hope that he will see us through to the end of the journey.

The noble Lord mentioned-I echo his support-the work done by Hacked Off. The organisation started off as a rather odd collection of people but it found a rationale in that it provided two things that were really important. The first was that it recognised early on that the people who had the most of a lock on this process were the victims, but that they did not have an organisation. Hacked Off has provided that for them in a positive and supportive way, which was not to shut off the words that we wanted to hear from those who had been so badly affected by this whole process but to encourage and empower them to put across their points of view in such an extraordinarily effective way-we heard a small part of that from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, today. Hacked Off should be given a huge amount of support for what it has done.

It is also important to mention that, although this has largely been a creature of the major parties, the minor parties, from which we heard some evidence, were a key part as well. We would not have got to where we are today if they had not registered firmly in the last 48 or so hours that they had strong views and that they needed to be part of the solution and not ignored. I say thank you to all those.

Secondly, as part of the process, we should also acknowledge the work of many journalists. The noble Baroness, Lady Wheatcroft, spoke up for many of them and I salute what she said. She also gave us a helpful insight into possible behaviours by those with whom she used to work and perhaps still does. How sad that we did not hear from or have the benefit of the advice of the noble Lords, Lord Hunt and Lord Black, who I think appeared like ghosts at the Bar and indeed in the Chamber but did not contribute to our debate. We are the worse off for that, although we might speculate a little bit as to why that was the case.

My third point is simply to say that we should recognise that in entering into this compromise arrangement all parties have had to surrender a little bit, but in particular we have committed to two things, which should be on the record. First, during the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, the three main parties will vote together to oppose any Leveson-related amendments unless they are agreed by all three parties. There are some exceptions that have still to be dealt with, one of which was referred to by the Minister. I put it to him that, as I understand it, it has not yet been agreed that the status of the charter body should be such that it would be outwith the responsibilities of the Freedom of Information Act. That is very much a live issue and bears back to the point made by my noble friend Lord Wills that it is rather odd to try to exclude from that process a body that should be concerned with information and information flow. Secondly, in an earlier debate, we in this House imposed some amendments to the Defamation Bill and it has been agreed that the clauses relating to the Leveson report in that Bill will be removed, if necessary by all three parties voting together. That will unblock the Bill, which, sadly, has languished and has not been seen since we passed our amendments some time ago.

I conclude by thanking the Minister for his support on this amendment. I have noticed that Ministers get quite attached to the Bills that they have to deal with. The noble Viscount, Lord Younger, took over from the noble Lord, Lord Marland, half way through the Bill and therefore perhaps has less attachment than he otherwise would have. Nevertheless, he has become a bit ferocious and protective of some things and I was a bit scared that he might take that attitude to this amendment, but he has not done so. He has been more than welcoming; he has been very supportive and has spoken warmly in support of this amendment today and I am very grateful to him for it.

Amendment 84EA agreed.

Amendment 84F

Moved by Lord Skidelsky

84F:After Clause 78, insert the following new Clause-

"The Press

Interpretation: "the media", "news publishers" etc

(1) In this Act "the media" means-

(a) media organisations, and

(b) servants and agents of media organisations in the performance of functions relating to the activities of those organisations.

(2) In this Act "media organisations" means organisations which-

(a) make broadcasts within the meaning of section 95(1) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006;

(b) publish, for circulation anywhere in England or Wales, a newspaper, magazine or periodical (or online content associated with a newspaper, magazine or periodical), a substantial proportion of which consists of news of, or opinion and discussion about, current affairs;

(c) in the course of a business, publish content on a website, a substantial proportion of which consists of news of, or opinion and discussion about, current affairs in England or Wales.

(3) In this Act "news publishers" means media organisations referred to in subsection (2)(b) and (c).

(4) In this Act "regulated publisher" means a news publisher which subscribes to a recognised regulator.

(5) In this Act a reference to "conduct" includes a reference to omissions; and a reference to a person's conduct can include a reference to a person's conduct after the events giving rise to a claim."

Photo of Lord Skidelsky Lord Skidelsky Crossbench

My Lords, this group of amendments stands in my name and those of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield and the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy.

Like the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, I welcome the royal charter proposed by the Prime Minister with all-party support. Noble Lords have asked what is to happen to retrenchment if Parliament chooses to overturn it by a simple majority. That is a valid question. My answer is that this is the best we can do with the constitution we have. As the noble Lord, Lord Low, said, it ought not to obstruct the progress of the royal charter. I pay tribute to the vital part that our House has played in keeping pressure on the Government to act. It has shown resolution and dignity in playing this vital constitutional role.

I am speaking to this group of amendments solely for the purpose of keeping open the possibility that further amendments may be required if the very good solution that we have all agreed on unravels. I am not going to speak any further to them and beg leave to withdraw Amendment 84F.

Amendment 84FA (to Amendment 84F)

Tabled by Lord Whitty

84FA:After Clause 78, line 25, at end insert-

"(6) Within eight months of the Royal Assent to this Act the Secretary of State shall lay before each House of Parliament an Order setting out the specific scope and terms of operation in relation to competition, mergers and plurality of ownership of the media and news publishers under the provisions of Part 4 of this Act and relevant provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Competition Act 1998 and that Order shall amongst other things specify-

(a) a requirement that the CMA shall carry out periodic assessments of the ownership and diversity of the news media;

(b) a specific threshold of ownership or potential ownership within a specific news media sector or cross ownership between media sectors beyond which competition or merger concerns can lead to an investigation;

(c) procedures under which the CMA is to conduct investigations into market situations or merger proposals within news media sectors;

(d) procedures as to how the Secretary of State shall deal with recommendations from the CMA relating to issues of plurality within the news media sectors;

(e) procedures whereby the Secretary of State can invoke public interest criteria in relation to issues of plurality of ownership within the news media.

An Order under this section and any subsequent Orders amending this section, or Orders under this section, shall be subject to a vote of each House of Parliament."

Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Labour

My Lords, I put down this amendment to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, simply to draw to the attention of the House, and particularly to the Government, that the royal charter-like everybody else, I greatly welcome it-does not include one major dimension of Leveson, relating to the plurality of ownership of the media. At every stage of this Bill, I and others have asked whether we were going to act on the plurality dimension as well. The noble Lord, Lord Stoneham, asked about this only the other week. He was told, as I have been told, that the Government are still thinking about it.

In view of the nature of the debate this afternoon and the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, is going to withdraw his amendment, I will not debate this tonight. But I would be interested-and would be grateful if the Minister could take note of this-to understand what the intentions of the Government, and indeed of other parties, are in relation to the final eight recommendations of Leveson, which deal with an equally important aspect: the plurality of ownership. In the circumstances, I will not move my amendment.

Amendment 84FA (to Amendment 84F) not moved.

Amendment 84F withdrawn.

Amendments 84G to 84M not moved.

Clause 82 : Extent

Amendment 85

Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie

85:Clause 82, page 81, line 1, leave out "and 64(1) and (2)" and insert ", 64(1) and (2) and (Abolition of Agricultural Wages Board and related English bodies)(1) to (3)"

Amendment 85A (to Amendment 85) not moved.

Amendment 85 agreed.

Amendment 86

Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie

86:Clause 82, page 81, line 4, at end insert ", and

(e) an amendment, repeal or revocation made by Schedule (Abolition of Agricultural Wages Board and related English bodies: consequential provision) has the same extent as the provision amended, repealed or revoked, subject to subsection (5A).

(5A) The repeals of the following provisions in Schedule (Abolition of Agricultural Wages Board and related English bodies: consequential provision) extend to England and Wales only-

(a) section 67 of the Agriculture Act 1967,

(b) paragraph 32 of Schedule 2 to the Social Security (Consequential Provisions) Act 1975,

(c) paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 to the Social Security Pensions Act 1975,

(d) paragraph 12 of Schedule 17 to the Employment Protection Act 1975, and

(e) paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 to the Social Security (Consequential Provisions) Act 1992."

Amendment 86A (to Amendment 86) not moved.

Amendment 86 agreed.

Amendments 86B and 86C

Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie

86B:Clause 82, page 81, line 9, leave out "section 78 extends" and insert "-

( ) sections (Power to add to supplies protected under Insolvency Act 1986), (Corporate insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies), (Sections (Corporate insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies) and (Individual insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies): supplemental) and 78 extend"

86C:Clause 82, page 81, line 9, at end insert-

"( ) section (Individual insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies) extends only to England and Wales."

Amendments 86B and 86C agreed.

Amendment 86D not moved.

Clause 83 : Commencement

Amendments 87 to 92

Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie

87:Clause 83, page 81, line 12, at end insert-

"( ) section (ACAS: prohibition on disclosure of information);"

88:Clause 83, page 81, line 13, at end insert-

"( ) section (Transitional provision: consultation);"

89:Clause 83, page 81, line 14, leave out "section 46" and insert "sections 46 and (Orders under section 46: procedural requirements)"

89A:Clause 83, page 81, line 16, at end insert-

"( ) sections (Power to add to supplies protected under Insolvency Act 1986), (Corporate insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies), (Individual insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies) and (Sections (Corporate insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies) and (Individual insolvency: power to give further protection to essential supplies): supplemental;"

90:Clause 83, page 81, line 20, after "regulations" insert ", rules"

91:Clause 83, page 81, line 26, after "11," insert "(Dismissal for political opinions etc: no qualifying period of employment),"

92:Clause 83, page 81, line 26, leave out "15" and insert "(Disclosures not protected unless believed to be made in the public interest), (Power to reduce compensation where disclosure not made in good faith), (Extension of meaning of "worker")"

Amendments 87 to 92 agreed.

Amendment 92A not moved.

In the Title

Amendment 93

Moved by Viscount Younger of Leckie

93:In the Title, line 8, after "data;" insert "to make provision for the protection of essential supplies in cases of insolvency;"

Amendment 93 agreed.