Data Protection Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 14th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Wirral Lord Hunt of Wirral Conservative 5:30 pm, 14th May 2018

My Lords, first, I declare former interests as the last chair of the Press Complaints Commission between 2011 and 2014, and then as the first chair of the new Independent Press Standards Organisation, IPSO, together with my other interests as set out in the register.

As the Secretary of State said in his Statement of 1 March this year, repeated here, we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Sir Brian Leveson. His inquiry and subsequent report showed rigour, diligence and a judicious balance between competing interests. When his report was published in December 2012, Lord Justice Leveson recommended a new, tougher form of voluntary self-regulation of the press. As chair of the PCC at the time, I welcomed his proposals and suggested that they should be implemented in full.

The Leveson proposals were largely implemented between 2012 and 2014, but I was not able, at that stage, to persuade the newspaper industry to embrace them in their entirety. Since then, under my successor, Sir Alan Moses, the new arrangements have bedded down and IPSO has gradually become more and more compliant with the Leveson recommendations.

I strongly welcome the introduction of the new arbitration scheme, which was introduced not in a rush, as the noble and learned Lord has just said, but after extensive consultation, and it is a major step forward. I say to a number of other speakers that illegal activity, as distinct from breaches of the editors’ code, is best dealt with by the police and the courts, and that has now largely happened—belatedly, yes, but also comprehensively.

Meanwhile, the printed press continues to decline and the increasingly dominant online media raise all sorts of questions that should trouble us as legislators and as a society. Where is trustworthy news to be found in this brave new world? How is the kind of journalist we all want to see—fearless and bold, driven by a desire to uncover the truth and serve the public good—to be identified, trained and employed on salaries that will pay their bills? How are we to sieve out the fake news from the genuine, the corrupted from the pure, and the worth while from the frivolous and irresponsible? I just do not believe that the kind of inquiry adumbrated in Amendment 62B would address any of those pressing questions, which are so vital to the future well-being of our society.