It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Fovargue. I congratulate my hon. Friend Dame Angela Eagle on her outstanding introduction. I thank all hon. Members who have contributed today, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Birkenhead (Mick Whitley) and for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) and my right hon. Friend John McDonnell. I was expecting my good friend Jim Shannon to mention “Derry Girls” in his speech, so passionate is he about Northern Ireland. I am sure at some point he will.
British television is renowned and envied around the world, and Channel 4 is no exception. For nearly four decades, Channel 4 has given us an endless list of brilliant, progressive and world-leading programmes. It is a British success story which gives small British independent companies with a drive of entrepreneurship and innovation an opportunity to take on the world.
Channel 4 was established to provide distinctive and challenging output to complement the then three main channels and to drive forward growth in the independent TV production sector. By any measure, and as hon. Members have suggested, it has far exceeded those goals. Channel 4’s remit remains clear and its output sharp, challenging, diverse and entertaining. It is there to appeal to a wider and younger audience and, according to Ofcom, it is doing very well to fulfil that purpose.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West, I do not often praise Margaret Thatcher, but I cannot deny that her changes to the broadcasting landscape gave us Channel 4. However, although the channel was launched under a Conservative Government, successive Conservative Governments have threatened to sell it off and privatise it; I believe that this is the sixth attempt to do so. “Yet again” was the phrase used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington. This time, the Government seem more determined than ever to succeed, despite completely—