Investigatory Powers Bill - Commons Reasons

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:37 pm on 2nd November 2016.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 3:37 pm, 2nd November 2016

My Lords, it will not be that soon. My understanding is that it will not be until after the mini-Recess that we would come to debate these matters again, should the House support the noble Baroness.

Many honourable and right honourable Members in the other place spoke of how this vital Bill was not the place to consider the important, but unrelated, matter of the regulation of the press. They were right to do so. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, that the issues she has raised are of critical importance. She herself was treated terribly by rogue elements of the media. As the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport acknowledged yesterday in the other place, we know that in the past some elements of the press abused their position and ignored not only their own code of practice but the law. It was clear to all that there needed to be change.

However, a free press is also an essential component of a fully functioning democracy. The press should be able to tell the truth without fear or favour and to hold the powerful to account. A number of those who spoke in the debate in the other place yesterday made the point that the press self-regulatory landscape has changed significantly over the past four years, since the Leveson inquiry reported. It is therefore surely right that the Government now take stock, look at the changes which have already taken place and seek the views of all interested parties on the most effective way to ensure that the inexcusable practices which led to the Leveson inquiry being established in the first place can never happen again. I hope that noble Lords who have spoken so passionately on this issue will take the opportunity to contribute to the consultation in order that we get a broad range of evidence on which to make decisions.

I am the first to acknowledge that the issue of press regulation is a vitally important one. It deserves the fullest consideration, consultation and debate, but the Bill is vitally important as well. It will provide our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies with the powers that they need to keep us all safe. I contend strongly that this Bill is simply not the place to try to regulate the press. Given the events of yesterday and the new consultation, which is the right way to approach the issue of press self-regulation, I invite noble Lords not to insist on the amendments that have been tabled and not to delay further the passage of this vital and world-leading legislation, which is essential to the safety and security of us all. I beg to move.