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

BBC Charter White Paper - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:38 pm on 11th May 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Collins of Highbury Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development) 3:38 pm, 11th May 2016

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for repeating the response to the Urgent Question. As we have heard, the White Paper will be published tomorrow. However, the pre-briefing over the last few weeks has, in my opinion, been extremely unhelpful. It makes me wonder whether the strategy is to make it sound so awful that the not-so-bad outcome becomes acceptable.

The Secretary of State reassured my noble friend in the other place that the White Paper would pass the three key tests that many noble Lords in this House have set for the White Paper’s impact on the BBC: financial independence, editorial independence and maintaining programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain. I hope that the noble Baroness will reassure us that proper time will be set aside for a full debate in addition to the Statement tomorrow. But irrespective of the debate, what opportunity will Parliament have to challenge or remedy proposals if it finds that the White Paper fails to reassure noble Lords on independence?

Does the Minister think that government appointments to a new unitary board, which would have responsibility for editorial decision-making, would pass the test for the BBC’s independence? Also, organisations as big and as broad as the BBC need time to implement change and the independence to do so. Therefore, does the Minister really believe that it is in the interests of the viewing public to conduct a review every five years, which will inevitably mean the BBC focusing resources on that rather than on making popular programmes that we all enjoy? Does the Minister believe that the introduction of this five-year review will enhance or diminish the BBC’s independence?