Media Bill

Lord Russell of Liverpool Excerpts
Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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Correct: GB News. It allows one Tory MP to interview another Tory MP, which is against the rules, as everyone knows, and yet Ofcom sits on the fence because it does not want to take action. It is not surprising because we are dominated by the Conservatives; the chairman and director-general of the BBC are both Tories; the chairman of Ofcom is a Tory; we are overrun by Tories in every area of the media, and we need to address this because there is no balance. This means that people do not stick to the rules that Parliament has laid down. Ofcom has a lot more to answer for and it needs to address some of the shortfalls that it has now if it is going to take on more responsibility.

Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait Lord Russell of Liverpool (CB)
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My Lords, I will bring the House to the safe harbour of the Cross Benches and take us away from the world of politics—we will have quite enough politics in the next month or so without starting it now.

I spoke in Committee, so I will not say any more, but I endorse everything the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, said. She knows how I feel, the Minister knows how I feel. We were all on an Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme trip to Bahrain over the weekend so, apart from having lots of hummus, he also heard quite a lot about Reithian principles. I will follow up on what the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, said, and I would like to do so, very appropriately with this Minister, on the basis of the alternatives that young children are now exposed to in the online world. The majority of young children will not necessarily benefit from the sort of children’s public sector broadcasting that I suspect most of us are familiar with but have probably not watched a lot of recently, unless we have been babysitting our grandchildren and have nodded off beside them and whatever it is they are listening to.

The reality is that what children are accessing now is very different from what happened before. This is slightly similar to the discussion we had recently about the Government’s new proposed regulations around personal, health and social education in schools. Many children are educated in a way that is pretty much invisible to much of the adult population. I ask the Minister to work very closely with the Department for Education; schools and teachers know very well, having picked it up from them, what their students are exposed to and the degree to which that is good or bad. The Children’s Commissioner should also have a lot of input into trying to understand the firmament of content that children are gaining access to; now is a very important watershed time to do that because every month or year we lose in understanding what children are gaining their knowledge—or lack of knowledge—from, the more time we lose.