Televised Election Debates — [Mr Virendra Sharma in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 7th January 2019.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 4:30 pm, 7th January 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered e-petition 228572 relating to an independent commission on televised election debates.

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Sharma. I start by thanking the petitioner, Jonathan Levy from Sky News, who began this petition as part of the Sky News “Make Debates Happen” campaign, and also the more than 130,000 members of the public who have signed the petition since September 2018, which has led to this debate today. The e-petition states:

“Genuine leaders’ debates took place in 2010, but in the next two elections didn’t happen.”

It calls for the electoral laws to be amended to make it mandatory for party leaders to take part in televised debates, and also proposes establishing an independent debates commission to set the rules and format of such debates, which the petition states

“would take decision making out of the politicians and broadcasters’
hands and ensure TV debates become a regular fixture of UK elections.”

It is worth noting that the Sky News “Make Debates Happen” campaign has received a fair amount of cross-party support from some prominent Members of the House, and I want to acknowledge the work that my hon. Friend Mr Bone has been carrying out on his private Member’s Bill, which will be shortly coming before the House, to make general election leaders’ debates take place. I am sure we all look forward to hearing his contribution to this debate in due course.