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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 6:59 pm on 7th January 2019.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 6:59 pm, 7th January 2019

I thank all Members who have participated in this debate. It has been a good debate with a good number of thoughtful and well-presented contributions. I again thank Sky for its role in bringing forward the petition, which has enabled us to have this debate. It is right that we have had the debate; the issue needs careful consideration, and I hope the debate has made a useful contribution. I thank the Minister for her response laying out the Government’s position. Although many of us will be disappointed that we have not managed to persuade her to our way of thinking, I appreciate the way in which she presented the Government’s position.

The matter needs to be dealt with through consensus in Parliament. It goes wider than the Government’s decisions on general elections and our democratic process, so I very much welcome the private Member’s Bill promoted by my hon. Friend Mr Bone, which will give Parliament another opportunity in the relatively near future to consider the matter again. I hope that will enable Parliament to express its view. If that view is that we should formalise leaders’ debates, the Bill will give us the opportunity to do so.

In winding up, I simply make the point that it is important that we embrace all methods of engaging the public in politics, particularly at the time of elections. I was thankful that the Minister made clear that she welcomes TV debates. It is not that anyone is against TV debates; the issue is how we facilitate them. I continue to be of the view that the current system does not really work. The horse-trading and the to-ing and fro-ing reflect badly on this place and the political parties. Formalising things and taking them out of the hands of politicians would be a positive way forward. I hope today has been a useful contribution to the debate, which I am sure will continue in the coming months and years. We look forward to discussing the issue again in the very near future. I once again thank everyone for their contributions.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

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

Sitting adjourned.