Lord Davies of Brixton Portrait Lord Davies of Brixton (Lab)
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I would like to add something to the constitutional points which were made by my noble friend Lord Lipsey. The appropriateness of dealing with this issue in wash-up is clearly in contention. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, said yesterday that the abolition of Section 40 is a clear commitment of the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto. I am afraid it is not clear: the sentence starts by saying that but it then sets conditions. It provides additional text that confuses the issue, and raises issues which were dealt with in yesterday’s debate. I have read yesterday’s debate and clearly questions have been raised about the accuracy of the information in that particular quote from the manifesto—I see the Minister disagrees. Claiming that it is clear is incorrect.

The second issue arises from the Salisbury convention about manifesto commitments. It is quite clear that this cannot be an essential commitment because the Government have had more than four years to deal with the matter, and they failed to do so. Bringing it up in the wash-up period is an insult to this House and an exploitation of the arrangements which have been made.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I want only to reflect slightly on some of the comments that have been made about the tone of the debate, and in particular the attack against the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. I have been shocked by the tone of the debate against the points of noble Lord, Lord Pannick. The argument seems to be that this is a Tory conspiracy theory, that the Tories are in bed with the press barons, and that there is all sorts of skulduggery going on. I am genuinely shocked that this is being allowed to pass. I want to at least mention that there are some of us who worry about an authorised regulator, and the politicisation of regulation, who are not in bed with press barons. I spend most of my time reading newspapers that write rubbish about me, so I am not keen on press barons—let me put it that way. I also happen to believe in media independence and freedom, which is an important point.

I want the Bill to get on and pass, but, first, there was an earlier discussion about local TV news channels. For the sake of the public and accuracy, one noble Lord sitting close to me said that GM News—he meant GB News—is constantly played on local TV news channels. It is not GB News; it is TalkTV that is played on all those channels, including in Liverpool. I get it and watch it, and that is what is played.

Secondly, the accusation was made that Ofcom, because it is run by evil Tories, is not doing anything about GB News and the way that it presents itself. It is worth reading the papers and the press on this, because then we would all know that Ofcom is in fact accused of overregulating GB News for exactly the things that the noble Lord mentioned it was ignoring—to such an extent that GB News is beginning a formal legal process against Ofcom, which it considers to be overly political in its involvement in the editorial independence of GB News.

I make these statements of factual accuracy because what is at stake is not which political party you are in. We talked about Reithian principles before, but has anyone explored Reith’s politics at any point? He was not a socialist or a Lib Dem, but I agree that Reithian principles matter. I do not care who is arguing for press freedom or who is trying to overturn Section 40. I do not think that it is a conspiracy to establish an independent regulator for the media, which is not a threat to the British public. The threat to the British public is a politicised, misinformed, ill-informed discussion that tries to suggest that the only people who care about press freedom are working with press barons. That is nonsense.