Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Future of the BBC — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:50 pm on 14th July 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Haskel Lord Haskel Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 7:50 pm, 14th July 2015

My Lords, the BBC should be congratulated, but instead it is under attack. Why? Because some accuse it of reporting the news on the bias. Bias is in the eye of the beholder. It is an impossible task to appear unbiased in this world of political ideology. As the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, said, what really matters is the truth, accuracy and timeliness.

The BBC is under attack by right-wing politicians and the right-wing press. Their ideology says that the market ought to offer better value, but in this case it does not. At £12 a month, the licence fee is about one-third or one-quarter of the cost of a subscription to Sky. Its finances are also under attack, and the cost of the pensions exemption is only the latest example. Some mischievously encourage people not to pay their licence fee because they watch via the internet, and that is wrong. Of course there are things to put right. Of course we need to make changes, but openly, not in the recent shoddy, bullying manner described by the noble Lord.

This Government—any Government—should be careful about attacking the BBC. They would do better to work with it and take pride in its success. Why? Because the BBC is part of our DNA, part of the glue that holds us together. It is perhaps the most important cultural organisation in this country and it is our overseas calling card. By attacking the BBC, the Government are also attacking the 96% of the population who switch on and tune in every week for their news, sport, entertainment, information and culture—giving the people what they want. That cannot be good politics.