New Clause 6 - Police directions stopping the harassment etc of a person in his home

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 6th March 2001.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 12:30 pm, 6th March 2001

I accept that formal description of the Minister's attitude, but I think that he is skating over a great deal of more acrimonious debate that occurred at the Programming Sub-Committee. However, the one matter on which we agree is that it was the Opposition's initiative to which the Government agreed.

A matter that emerged from the debate, arising from the helpful intervention by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green, the Minister's response and the contribution of the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey, concerned the possible application of the Bill and the new clauses to the media. I strongly agree with the Minister's response to the various points that were put to him. We feel that there are undoubtedly occasions when individuals and groups in the media go too far.

The Minister might, on winding up, want to refer to comments made by the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush (Mr. Soley), who I believe is the chairman of the parliamentary Labour party, when he was trying, by means of a private Member's Bill, to improve the law in this context. As a Back Bencher I supported that Bill and I wish that it had become law. However, it ran out of time. It would have been a useful cross-party attempt, early in the previous Parliament, to control excesses.

I agree with the Minister that there are occasions, now, when those in the media think that everyone, whether Ministers, shadow Ministers, Back Benchers or anyone else, owes them a living. I am not engaging in a wholesale attack on the media but supporting the Minister's view that sometimes those who work in the media go too far. Those of them who are tempted to excessive intrusion and harassment must learn that they are not above the law.

Mr. Clarke indicated assent.