Defamation Bill — Commons Reasons

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 23rd April 2013.

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Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 4:45 pm, 23rd April 2013

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for making reference to my noble friend Lord Browne of Ladyton, who has just talked about surrogate parentage. Perhaps we can all claim a little of that. However, the contributions of the noble Lords, Lord May of Oxford, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Lord Bew, Lord Faulks and Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, actually reflected what was going on in Committee and on Report. The Minister used the tactful words, "development of thinking"; we are therefore not going to talk about new terms, but simply welcome the development of thinking behind the new government clause.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bew. It sounds as if Northern Ireland in itself is a bad example, let alone the suggestion that this House or Parliament should make our laws on the basis of something decided in that Province. No matter how important that Province is, that is not the right way to make our laws here.

As regards two further issues, the first was on whether permission should be sought by corporates before they start an action. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, made a slip of the tongue, for which he is not renowned, when he said that in order to bring an action, companies would have to show serious financial loss. Of course, that is not right with the Bill at the moment. Corporates do not have to show financial loss in order to bring an action, but only to succeed in one. That is the crux of the matter in terms of whether permission should be given before they are able to start an action.