UK Advertising in a Digital Age (Communications Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:50 pm on 25th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Gilbert of Panteg Lord Gilbert of Panteg Chair, Communications Committee 1:50 pm, 25th April 2019

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate, especially the Minister, who responded to all the points made, and the Front Benches, from which there were interesting contributions. It was a pleasure to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, who spoke with great wisdom and a little bit of poetry. He was quite right to point out that a lot has happened in the 12 months since this report was published, including the publication of a wider-ranging report from the committee on the regulation of the digital economy, a subject that was touched on in the debate.

I particularly thank the members of the committee, who are extremely experienced and expert in a range of areas relating to the creative industries. The debate drove home to me the centrality of the advertising industry to those industries, both in bringing in skills and in funding so many important areas of them. This is why it is important for public policy-making to have a strong focus on the future of the industry.

On future regulation—given that it may be 12 months until this House discusses the committee’s next report—it is worth reflecting, as the noble Lord, Lord McNally, did, on the sort of 18th-century institutions that we have for regulating in the digital world. This reinforces one of the findings of our most recent inquiry: we need to find ways of regulating in the digital era, not just regulating the digital economy. That means much faster-moving regulation and a different sort of role for Parliament. In our latest inquiry, we recommended a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, working with a body which looks forward to issues that are going to arise in the future so that policymakers are not constantly reacting to the latest newspaper headlines but are creating public policy which addresses future problems. To some extent, that answers the right reverend Prelate’s concerns about the balance between statutory and non-statutory regulation. If you are looking forward and identifying issues, you can come up with a menu of options for assuring societal values are asserted and dealt with. This may often mean that less regulation is appropriate.

Finally, it is important to recognise that, as the Minister said, we have first-rate regulators in this country. The CMA, Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office are highly respected around the world. In a post-Brexit environment, they will have an important role in asserting our soft power around the world, ensuring that they engage globally with other regulators and continuing to offer leadership in the areas that they regulate. A strong relationship between Parliament and their forward-looking work will be very important. I thank all noble Lords who have contributed to this useful and fascinating debate.

Motion agreed.