I recognise the hon. Lady’s concerns. When she has a chance to look in detail at the undertakings, she will find that many of them have to be delivered before the purchase of the Sky shares is allowed to go ahead. We have been very strict on the timelines and want to ensure that as much of it as possible is delivered as quickly as possible. As for who should be the final decision maker, all I will say is that because I have been so conscious of the public’s worries about the motivations of politicians in these kinds of decisions, I have sought independent advice at every stage before taking the decisions in this process, and if I am required to make any similar decisions I will continue to seek independent advice in the future.
— from debate entitled “BSkyB”
The three speeches/headings immediately before
- 1 earlier: Sheila Gilmore
The deal that Mr Murdoch really wants—the buy-out that gives him control of BSkyB—might well have happened by the time that the circumstances described have taken place, so where is the real sanction? Might it not be better from the public point of view if it were not the Secretary of State but an independent person who had any say on further buy-out shares?
- 2 earlier: Jeremy Hunt
My hon. Friend makes an important point. It is written in black and white that they are not allowed to purchase any additional shares in the new company without the consent of the Secretary of State. Were they to be in breach of that, they would threaten the entire deal that, if it goes ahead, will allow them to purchase the remaining shares in the rest of Sky. So the sanctions are very considerable indeed, and we will monitor the deal very carefully to ensure that there is compliance. My hon. Friend will see, when he looks at the undertakings, that they contain a number of explicit provisions to ensure compliance. Those provisions have satisfied the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom, and that is why I have confidence in them as well.
- 3 earlier: Bob Blackman
Having spent 12 years of my life before being elected to the House working in regulatory compliance, I know that the monitoring arrangements are critical in cases such as these. Will my right hon. Friend tell me who will be responsible for the monitoring of these undertakings and, specifically, who will monitor the share dealings for the new Sky News company to ensure that neither Rupert Murdoch nor his nominees purchase shares in the company in order to acquire a monopoly within the 10-year period?
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