Johnston Press - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:47 pm on 19th November 2018.

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Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 6:47 pm, 19th November 2018

The noble Lord makes a number of good points. First, I wholeheartedly agree with him about the need to support, where we possibly can, local newspapers. They have been the lifeblood of communities, and they provide essential and very necessary information for communities, whether on local democracy and local councils, or on births, deaths and marriages or on much more—I could go on—so it is important that we do our best to support them.

On the noble Lord’s question about Johnston Press, I would argue that it is good news that the JPI consortium has been formed—it is good news to the extent that it has pledged to take over Johnston Press. This is just the beginning, and there is much work to be done to settle things down, but it is good news that JPI has said that it wishes to continue business as normal. Obviously, we will have to see how things progress. JPI has also been open and transparent about the pensions issue, and it is fair to say that, as a Government, we will be looking at how the PPF responds to this particular matter.

Finally, on the local democracy issue, the noble Lord may have alluded to a different point but the BBC local democracy reporting scheme is one way forward. So far, 144 journalists have been appointed to that scheme, which enables the very thing that we want to do, which is to support local reporting.