Mr John Whittingdale
Does my right hon. Friend agree that recent court judgments appear to have extended privacy law in this country against the provision of section 12 of the existing Human Rights Act and without the debate or approval of Parliament? Can he say whether his reforms will strengthen section 12 to right the balance, and will he stress once again the importance of freedom of expression?
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
(Esher and Walton) (Con)
My right hon. Friend, as ever, hits the nail on the head. We will be looking precisely at that provision. We think it was introduced with a legitimate aim. It is one of those things that we actually support, but that has not delivered the kind of emphasis and protection around freedom of speech. I agree with the point that he made about avoiding the incremental extension of continental-style privacy law into the UK; we have a common law tradition, and tend to have a greater emphasis on free speech and transparency. That is coupled with the EU influence—I do not want to get wholesale into that debate, but he will remember proposals for a right to be forgotten—and the sensitivities that we increasingly see around debate, which, in this Chamber, in our country and in our society, we have to protect, and our proposals will allow us to do just that.