Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): It is not that long since I spoke in the Chamber on the subject of individuals misleading Parliament, so I am in no doubt about the seriousness of that charge. I do not question the right of the Opposition to table the motion, but I have listened carefully to the Secretary of State and commend him for the way in which he has responded to each individual accusation and for his conduct over the past few months, which cannot have been easy.

Some have suggested that the Secretary of State should not have had a view about the bid by News Corp to acquire all of BSkyB, but one of his first responsibilities is to be the sponsoring Minister for the media industry of this country. It would have been utterly extraordinary if he did not have a view. BSkyB is one of the most important media companies in the country and plays a vital part in the future of the media: of course he would have a view about it.

Not only was the Secretary of State entitled to have a view, but I believe he held the correct view. Had the bid gone through, it would have had good implications for the survival of newspapers in this country. He was not responsible for that matter at the time; it was a quasi-judicial matter for the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

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Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): One of the alternative ways of making faster broadband available is through the roll-out of 4G mobile services, but has the Secretary of State seen the analysis by Freeview that suggests that over 2 million homes may have their digital television service interfered with as a result, and that the funds secured by the Government to counter that interference may not be anything like sufficient? Does he agree with that analysis, and what is he proposing to do about it?

Mr Hunt: I absolutely agree that the roll-out of 4G is another opportunity. One of the options proposed by Ofcom would mean 98% coverage of 4G, which would be extremely important in many of the rural areas about which hon. Friends are concerned. We have an ongoing consultation about the mitigation plans for people whose signals will be affected by these auctions. Ofcom has not told me that it has any concerns about the plans that are in place, but I will listen to it very carefully in that regard.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what further steps he plans to take to extend wi-fi access throughout the parliamentary estate.

John Thurso: A business case to provide a comprehensive wi-fi service across the parliamentary estate was approved in December 2011. A full OJEU tender process was commenced in January. Subject to the successful outcome of the tender, the renewal and extension of wi-fi will begin towards the end of this financial year with plans to complete the implementation in April 2013.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (1) if he will make it his policy to finance the installation costs for filters to allow reception of digital terrestrial television following the adoption of 4G mobile technology in (a) households with amplifiers fitted and (b) multiple dwelling units; [115386]

(2) what estimate he has made of the cost of installing filters to allow reception of digital terrestrial television (DTT) following the adoption of 4G mobile technology in (a) all DTT households, (b) DTT households with amplifiers fitted and (b) multiple dwelling units; [115387]

(3) if he will make it his policy to finance the cost of filters where necessary for second television sets to continue to receive digital terrestrial television following the adoption of 4G mobile technology. [115388]

Mr Vaizey [holding answer 5 July 2012]:As set out in the Government's announcement of 21 February, every home that needs one will be provided with a filter free of charge.

Owners of properties with communal distribution systems will be provided with the filter appropriate to such equipment, free of charge. Ofcom estimate that approximately 20,000 multi dwelling buildings could be affected. Ofcom estimate that the typical cost for a fitting a filter for a communal aerial installation would be around £220, although it could be significantly lower, and that there are an average of 16 dwellings served by each system. For multi-dwelling units similar to a single household property the costs would be similar to those for single occupancy buildings. It is normally the responsibility of each landlord to maintain any TV signal distribution system in the property, and this should extend to the fitting of any filter that is required. In general, we are not proposing to fund the fitting-of filters in these cases.

The one in four homes with residents deemed to be “vulnerable”—that is they meet the eligibility criteria that have been used for the Switchover Help Scheme—will be entitled to. installation of the filter, if needed, free of charge, The cost of fitting these filters should be much less than for an antenna installation. Charges may vary from installer to installer but typically could be as low as £50 + VAT. All these costs will be met from the £180 million funding to be provided by the mobile network operators.

Support specifically for second and subsequent sets will not be provided. This is consistent with the approach we took in TV switchover where help was provided (to those eligible) for one set only. All homes living in the geographical area where they are predicted to experience interference to TV reception will be sent one filter with clear instructions for installation. This includes the 60% of homes whose primary viewing is on satellite or cable platforms who will be able to use the filter on a secondary set connected to an aerial.

The funding provision of £180 million is based on Ofcom estimates of the size of the expected problem and includes a significant margin. A breakdown of how Ofcom arrived at this figure is contained within their recent consultation on coexistence between new services in the 800 MHz band and digital terrestrial television.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): May I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) on securing the debate? She is a formidable ally on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and she is also a strong champion for her constituency. A lot of the issues that she has raised directly affect my constituents, but that is unsurprising since we share the same shoreline management plan.

I represent a rural area of Essex with a long coastline. It will come as a surprise to many people to hear that my area of Essex has one of the longest coastlines in the country. However, that will not come as a surprise to the Minister, who is an extremely distinguished former chairman of the Essex National Farmers Union, so I am pleased that he is responding to the debate. Many of my concerns relate to the protection of agricultural land, and he will understand why coastline management is such an important issue, particularly in my part of the world.

We in Essex are conscious of the fact that shoreline management is extremely important. Many people still remember 1953, when more than 100 people died in Essex as a result of the last major tidal surge and the collapse of sea defences. A map on the Environment Agency website, which is available to anyone who wishes to consult it, shows the extent of the floodplain in my area. It shows that 2,000 houses in Heybridge, in my constituency, would be under water following a one-in-200-year event. It also shows a large amount of agricultural land on the Dengie peninsula, which I represent, being lost to the sea, which is a real concern.

The Environment Agency rightly concentrates on protecting residential dwellings and human life, and that must be the priority. However, there is concern that agricultural land may not get the attention that it deserves. We realise, of course, that the country is under pressure. We have steadily rising sea levels on the east coast, a tilting land mass and the erosion of salt marshes, which constantly increases the pressure on our defences. We are also very much aware of economic considerations.

I do not therefore in any way dispute the necessity of drawing up a shoreline management plan to determine where we should concentrate resources and to work out a sensible strategy for each part of the coastline. Indeed, I was at the meeting at which the plan was first unveiled, and it came as a relief to some extent that it was less drastic-certainly in the first epoch-than we had feared. Nevertheless, in areas where there are proposals to realign the coastline and to give up agricultural land, farmers find it difficult to come to terms with what is happening, particularly at a time when we are increasingly worried about our food security and the need to maintain and increase agricultural production.

What has caused greater concern, however-my hon. Friend rightly touched on this-is the feeling that the plans were drawn up without any proper consultation of affected landowners. There have been public meetings and opportunities for people to come along and look at the proposals, but there has been a lack of moves directly to involve the people who will be affected to give them an opportunity to make representations, to question some of the criteria that have been used or to appeal.

Indeed, there is still a debate about how the plans have been drawn up. There is no agreement, for instance, on matters such as the economic value of the land that would potentially be abandoned or the cost of repairing sea walls. The whole cost-benefit analysis is slightly shrouded in mystery. There have been questions, for instance, over whether sufficient regard has been given to mobile homes and caravan parks, which are obviously not permanent residential dwellings. Those are all issues on which more needs to be done.

I and other Members in Essex have been contacted by the Managing Coastal Change group in Essex and by Andrew St Joseph, who is a former constituent, although he is none the less still a good adviser on these issues, and I suspect that his name will be familiar to the Minister as well. They have raised concerns both about the fact that landowners have not really had a chance to discuss these issues and about the Environment Agency's assurances in the plan. For instance, the Environment Agency said that it had spoken to everyone who owns land in the areas where managed realignment is proposed, but Mr St Joseph points out that a number of landowners had told him that they had had no meaningful contact with the Environment Agency at all about that. When I went to the unveiling of the shoreline management plan, which was attended by landowners from my constituency and the rest of Essex, one of the farmers came up to me and said that on the wall he had seen for the first time that a large part of his farm had been designated for future realignment and loss to the sea. Clearly, that is a matter of concern. There needs to be greater dialogue between landowners and the Environment Agency.

There is an even greater concern about the lack of dialogue with Natural England, which my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal also touched on. There is concern that it has a very powerful influence over the decisions being taken. My hon. Friend referred to some of the frustrations about the extent of protection for wildlife as opposed to human beings. There certainly appears to be greater protection for the habitat of a water vole than there does for that of a human being, which is difficult for people to understand. I am not one to say that the habitat of water voles is not important-it plainly is-but these things need to be kept in perspective. There is a general feeling that the habitats directive is driving this policy too much and that some decisions are being taken in large part to meet the requirements of the directive rather than as a result of proper consideration of the costs and benefits of maintaining sea defences.

Although I get some reassurance about the large amount of sea wall designated as "hold the line", the truth is that if the Environment Agency decides that money is not available to maintain defences, it can come back and say, "Even though it is 'hold the line' that does not necessarily mean that we're going to have the money to maintain it." There is a willingness on the part of landowners to take on that responsibility. In previous debates, I raised the difficulties facing landowners in obtaining the necessary consents to carry out minor maintenance work. Something has been done; the Environment Agency has produced a useful pack to give a simple guide to landowners about how to go about maintaining their defences, but it makes it clear there will be a need to get permission from Natural England in areas with sites of special scientific interest.

Mr St Joseph pointed out to me that a long time ago farmers were approached and asked whether they would accept SSSI designation on their sea walls, and they accepted it, thinking that it would have little impact or make little difference to the practicality of maintenance. Obviously, they were happy to do it. It was only later that they discovered that it made a huge difference and, as a result, it became much more difficult for them to obtain the necessary permissions to carry out repair work on their sea walls. The willingness is there but more still needs to be done to make it easier for landowners to take on the responsibility and carry out the work if the Environment Agency is unable or unwilling to do it.

I shall end by stressing a point that came out particularly in the opening speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal, which is the feeling that there has been a lack of dialogue. A group of farmers in my constituency approached me and said that they had repeatedly asked to discuss with Natural England how it could be made easier to reach agreement on what was acceptable and welcome work to maintain defences, and on how to obtain the necessary consents. As far as I am aware, that group has not yet had a response from Natural England. I have written to Natural England and I have not yet had a response. Much more needs to be done in that area to increase co-operation and understanding, because the absence of those things leads to resentment, making it much more difficult to achieve what we all want, which is protection wherever possible of land and human habitation within the necessary economic constraints that exist today.



Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the total cost to the public purse was of the case brought against Ejup Ganic; and how much has been so spent on (a) counsel, (b) solicitors, including staff time, (c) all relevant court hearings, (d) the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service,(e) Ejup Gain's costs awarded out of public funds and (f) any other relevant costs to be met from public funds. [30677]

Nick Herbert: With regard to the total costs to the public purse of the extradition request for Dr Ejup Ganic, I refer my hon. Friend to my previous reply of 8 November 2010, Official Report, column 118W.

The following information on costs is available.

The cost to the Home Office of counsel employed on the Ganic case was £1,597.24.

I understand from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that the total cost of administration and in-house advocates relating to the case was £34,511. The cost to the CPS of counsel employed on the case was £76,400.

I understand from HM Courts Service that the cost of the hearings involving Dr Ganic at city of Westminster magistrates court is estimated at £7,630. This is based on the estimated national average daily marginal costs for a district judge sitting in the magistrates court. The cost of the hearings at the High Court are estimated at £2,340, again based on average costs.

Dr Ganic did not receive legal aid; a defence costs order has been made to reimburse his legal costs from central funds. However, records show that no money has been paid to date.


Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what estimate his Department has made of the number of fully-qualified teachers who are unemployed. [29421]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated December 2010:

    As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of the number of fully-qualified teachers who are unemployed. 029421

    Estimates of unemployment are taken from the Labour Force Survey. For the three month period ending September 2010 it is estimated that 49,000 people who hold either a teaching qualification to degree level, a first degree that provides qualified teacher status or a post graduate certificate in education, are unemployed.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment his Department has made of shortages of qualified teachers in each region. [29422]

Tim Loughton: The numbers of qualified and unqualified(1) teachers, by region, are published in table 3 of the School Workforce statistical first release (SFR). Tables 7 and 9 of the SFR provide further information on the vacancy rates, for full-time and part-time teachers separately, in local authority maintained schools by region. The most recent publication, containing this information for January 2010, can be accessed via the following link:


Table 1 provides the proportion of the total regular teachers in each region who are qualified. The north-west of England has the highest proportion of qualified teachers, the north-west and Yorkshire also have high proportions for the nursery and primary and special, PRU and other non-school education sectors respectively.

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Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I very much welcome my right hon. Friend's comments earlier about the Localism Bill. Can he confirm that its provisions will apply to applications for onshore wind farms such as those on the Dengie peninsula in my constituency? One of them has already been described as harmful to the local environment, and it is deeply unpopular with the local community.

The Prime Minister: I can give my hon. Friend a positive answer. The Localism Bill addresses that issue. As well as doing that, it is important that where local communities are affected by things such as onshore wind, they should make sure that they benefit from those developments. The Localism Bill brings a whole new approach that will much better settle this difficult debate than what has been done until now.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I endorse the concerns expressed by the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant). Does my right hon. Friend the Minister agree that we in this House have always recognised that, although freedom of the press is sometimes uncomfortable, it is absolutely vital to a free society? Does he also agree that the treatment of Luke Harding is a matter of some concern, but that it is of even greater concern that half a dozen or more journalists have been killed or have disappeared in Russia in the past few years? Will he make absolutely sure that those coming to this country from Russia are left in no doubt as to how seriously we regard that?

Mr Lidington: My hon. Friend makes good and sensible points. We consistently raise both individual cases and the broader issues to which he rightly ascribes importance with Russian visitors to the United Kingdom, but they are also raised by British Ministers and officials when visiting Russia, and we will continue that practice.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): It is not often, I expect, that I shall sign a motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. On this particular occasion I thought it right to do so. I commend the Leader of the Opposition on his approach, which is that we must tackle these appalling matters on a cross-party basis. I have always tried to do that in the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which I am proud to chair, and I think that we have succeeded. I will merely say that I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition’s predecessor did not choose the same approach this afternoon.

I believe that the atmosphere at present has become so poisoned by the stream of appalling revelations that it would have been quite wrong for the News Corporation bid to acquire the whole of BSkyB to go ahead. We still do not know—we still have not even begun to know—the full extent of what has been going on in the newsroom at the News of the World, in the higher levels of News Corporation or, possibly, outside that, in other organisations, but clearly there were already question marks about the “fit and proper” test for News Corporation’s bid. The important thing is that we should obtain answers to questions very rapidly. There is an ongoing police inquiry, which needs to be concluded as fast as possible; there is the judicial inquiry that the Prime Minister has rightly set, which I fear will take much longer; and then there is my Select Committee, which has asked Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to appear before it next Tuesday. We have not yet received a response. The Select Committee will meet tomorrow morning, and if we have not received a reply by then, we might well wish to return to the House to ask it to use the powers available to it to ensure that witnesses attend.

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Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee received considerable evidence that the massive increase in the cost of libel actions that can result from the use of conditional fee arrangements is having a seriously chilling effect on investigative journalism? Does he accept that the measures he has announced this afternoon are in some ways even more important for sustaining investigative journalism and scientific debate than the measures contained in his draft Defamation Bill?

Mr Clarke: I think that is right. This will have a big impact on defamation cases where people threaten the publisher of something they do not like with enormous costs if they want to defend the action. This is having, to use the jargon phrase, “a chilling effect” not only on scientific and academic work, but on proper investigative journalism. When we put the draft Defamation Bill together with what we are proposing to do in the light of Rupert Jackson’s proposals, the way in which we are setting up no win, no fee generally and the announcements I have made about the jurisdiction of the courts, I think we will make a significant impact on lowering the costs of all this litigation to the advantage of plaintiffs who have a legitimate grievance and of defendants. We are going to stop the whole thing being a high roller’s gamble, which is what it is at the moment, as to whether the other side dare face the risks of the huge costs being piled up the moment a claim is brought.

Mr Whittingdale: Does my hon. Friend recognise that the revelations that have streamed out over the past six months have probably led to a greater loss of confidence in the self-regulation of the press than there has been at any previous time? I strongly support self-regulation, but if the public are to regain confidence in that self-regulation, the PCC will have to be seen to have stronger powers. My Committee strongly recommended that it was not sufficient for the PCC simply to require a newspaper to publish an adjudication. In cases of serious breaches of the code, there should be some sanction available to the PCC to demonstrate that the breach was unacceptable and to ensure that newspapers take seriously the requirement to abide by the code.

Mr Vaizey: I have run out of time, but I would say in conclusion that the PCC and the press will have heard hon. Members’ remarks in the debate. The Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee will be aware that the PCC is conducting its own review following the phone hacking allegations. As well as being a criminal offence, phone hacking is of course a breach of the code. The PCC is reviewing the matter to see whether it can make its recommendations stronger, but it will have heard the important—

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Although I welcome the moves to increase the NAO’s access to the accounts of the BBC, the Secretary of State will be aware that the Comptroller and Auditor General has written to him to say that he will still not have the ability to decide what to do and when to do it. Does he agree that that ability is essential if the NAO is to have the genuinely unfettered access that he has promised?

Mr Hunt: I agree that the NAO should have unfettered access to the BBC accounts. I take heart from the comments that the incoming chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, made to my hon. Friend’s Committee, when he said that he wanted the NAO to have full, unrestricted access and to be able to go where it wished to ensure and scrutinise value for money at the BBC.

Mr Whittingdale: I welcome the report from the committee of the Master of the Rolls, which contains a number of sensible recommendations, and also the Prime Minister’s decision to establish a Committee to examine all the issues surrounding the granting of injunctions and super-injunctions. Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept, however, that matters are developing very rapidly? Does he accept that the revelation on Friday of some of the details of the injunction granted to Sir Fred Goodwin raised important issues of public interest, and that that raises the question of why the injunction was granted in the first place? Does he agree that he would virtually have to live in an igloo not to know the identity of at least one premier league footballer who has obtained an injunction, and that the actions by thousands of people who posted details of it on Twitter are in danger of making the law look an ass?

In the report by the Master of the Rolls, doubt is cast once again on the right of the press to report the proceedings of Parliament. Does that not have worrying implications for the rights of Members of the House of Commons, and for parliamentary privilege?

More than a year ago, the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport called for the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 to be replaced by a clear and comprehensive statute upholding the fundamental rights of the press to report what is said in this place. Will he ensure that that, too, is considered by the Prime Minister’s Committee as a matter of urgency?

The Attorney-General: Let me respond to my hon. Friend’s reference to individual cases by saying that he will not be surprised if I am not drawn into commenting on the matter. What I can say is that widespread public interest and, indeed, disquiet have been expressed about the events of the past few weeks and days, and that—as the report by the Master of the Rolls clearly showed—they raise the question of how a person’s privacy can be balanced against the requirement for the public to be properly informed, and also the question of how injunctions may be enforced. I would add, however, that the courts have power to punish those who breach injunctions, and those who decide flagrantly to do so should bear that in mind when they embark on such a course.

The question of parliamentary privilege is not a new issue. While it is fully recognised that we have complete privilege in this Chamber to say what we like—and the Lord Chief Justice reiterated that in the clearest and most unequivocal terms in his comments last Friday— the question of the extent to which communication between a constituent and a Member of Parliament is covered by parliamentary privilege remains uncertain. What is entirely clear is that—from the judiciary’s point of view as much as those of the Government and Parliament—that is an undesirable state of affairs, which is undoubtedly susceptible to both clarification and rectification if the will is there for that to be done.


John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the key determinants of the success of the creative industries is the strong protection of intellectual property? Is he considering following the example of President Obama and appointing a champion for intellectual property, which would send that signal? Does he agree that what would send precisely the wrong signal is any suggestion from local authorities that the enforcement of actions against pirate or counterfeit goods by trading standards officers should not be seen as a priority?

Mr Vaizey: I met President Obama’s copyright tsar, Victoria Espinel, when she was in this country last week. We had a meeting with the IP crime group, which is very effectively taking forward the enforcement of measures to tackle IP crime. The Minister, Baroness Wilcox, is also an extremely effective champion of the IP industry.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): May I congratulate the Secretary of State on the meticulous care that he has shown in his handling of this matter? Can he confirm that every single concern that has been raised by the regulatory authorities has been addressed? On the wider question of impartiality, does he agree that the value of Sky News is not because it makes money—it does not—but because of the benefit to the overall reputation of BSkyB that comes from the integrity, objectivity and the quality of its news gathering, and that it would therefore be madness for any new owner to seek to change that?

Mr Hunt: I completely agree with what my hon. Friend is saying. The regulatory authorities have both confirmed, both on 3 March and today, that they are satisfied that the undertakings I am putting before the House address the concerns that were raised about media plurality. I have taken that advice very seriously indeed.

My hon. Friend’s second point about Sky News is particularly important today because in the revised undertakings that we have published there are two things that particularly strengthen what the public value about Sky News. First, News Corp undertakes that it will not do anything to cause Sky News to contribute less to media plurality in this country if this deal goes through. Secondly, it agrees that it will continue to cross-promote Sky News on the Sky platform at the same level it currently does. In terms both of financial viability and of that all-important contribution to media plurality I am satisfied that if I proceed with the undertakings as published today, we will continue to have a free and plural media.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I rise to speak in the debate with considerable sadness. I am a passionate believer in the freedom of the press, but like other freedoms, that freedom must be exercised within the rule of law. Many of us here were appalled when we discovered, in the course of the expenses scandal, what a small number of Members of the House had done. They were rightly prosecuted and several have now gone to prison, but that scandal tainted all of us. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) referred to the fact that journalists throughout the country are equally appalled at the revelations that have come out about the activities of some members of their profession, and they too feel that they have been tainted by them.

The latest revelations mark a low point in the saga of phone hacking, but I fear they do not mark the end point. There are likely to be further revelations still to come. The matter was first looked at by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in early 2007, following the conviction of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. At that time I asked the chairman of News International, Les Hinton:

“You carried out a full, rigorous internal inquiry, and you are absolutely convinced that Clive Goodman was the only person who knew what was going on?”

Mr Hinton replied:

“Yes, we have and believe he was the only person, but that investigation, under the new editor, continues.”

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Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what his policy is on the future administration of the Public Lending Right. [65210]

Mr Jeremy Hunt: The Government recognise the importance of the Public Lending Right (PLR) to authors. We have made assurances that PLR payments will still be administered by a body operating at arm's length from Government and with the same independence and impartiality currently awarded to the PLR Registrar. We are working to resolve as quickly as possible the issues associated with the transfer of the Public Lending Right's functions to another body.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement, and thank him for consulting me, and my two fellow Select Committee Chairmen, about the terms of reference last night. Although there is no doubt that we need a stronger system of regulation of the press in this country, will the Prime Minister bear in mind that although it was newspapers that were responsible for these wholly unacceptable and often illegal activities, it was also newspapers that exposed them? I hope he will agree that a free press is a fundamental cornerstone of a free society, and that we must do nothing to jeopardise that.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend speaks very good sense about this matter. Ultimately, we want not just a free press, but a free and vigorous press, which can make our lives miserable a lot of the time. That is absolutely vital. There will be those in the press who will be made nervous of a judge-led inquiry covering all the aspects of this matter, and I stress the importance of the panel in assisting the judge to ensure that the changes proposed are based on evidence of what matters and what works.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend accept that some of the biggest questions during the whole of the phone-hacking saga relate to the failures on the part of the police to investigate as well as to what has been going on in newsrooms, particularly why the police appeared never to interview a single journalist who was named as a client of Steve Whittamore in the Motorman case and why they did nothing to look at the enormous amounts of material seized from Glenn Mulcaire? Does she agree that it would be unsatisfactory if these matters could not be looked at until the beginning of the second part of the judicial review? Will she consider inviting the IPCC to begin examining these questions now?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes an important point. As he says, part of the inquiry that is led by Lord Justice Leveson will involve looking at the first investigation by the Metropolitan police. It is not impossible for it to start doing some work while the current investigation is going on, but that would have to be done carefully in order not to jeopardise the current investigation. I am sure that we all want to see a proper investigation and a proper inquiry with answers about what happened in that first police investigation and about why matters were not taken forward in a way that people now feel they should have been. We also want to ensure that the current investigation is not in any way prejudiced by that work because we want people who have been guilty of criminal offences to be brought to book.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that what people really care about are the appalling revelations of what has been going on in the newsroom of the News of the World and in parts of the Metropolitan police, and that the public anger about that is expressly felt by thousands of hard-working and honest journalists, and by thousands of dedicated and courageous police officers? Does he agree that, for that reason, it is essential that the police investigation should be completed as quickly as possible, that the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation should be completed and that the judicial inquiry should get under way and be completed as quickly as possible? Can he give us an absolute assurance that those investigations will now be given the priority that they should have been given a long time ago?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is entirely right. We have to keep the victims of the hacking scandal at the absolute heart of this. Those are the people who have suffered appallingly already and were made to suffer all over again. The key thing here is the extent and scale of the judicial inquiry. An inquiry such as this, into the media, into malpractice, into the police and, yes, into politicians too, has not been held for many, many years. It has been talked about and debated, but it is now going to get under way and I want it to get on with its work as rapidly as possible.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applications for adverse possession of plots of land were made to the Land Registry in each of the last 10 years; and how many such applications were successful. [70891]

Mr Davey: Applications for registration as the owner of land on the basis of adverse possession can be divided into two types. First, there are those where the land concerned is unregistered and the application is to register the squatter as the first “registered proprietor” (in other words, the first registered owner). Secondly, those where the land has already been registered and the application is to register the squatter as the new registered proprietor.

Land Registry does not have reliable statistics for the first type of application. One of the main reasons for this is that it is not unusual for these “first registration applications” to be made on more than one basis. For example, the title deeds may not be entirely clear, and so, while Land Registry is satisfied that the applicant can properly be registered as proprietor and completes the application, it might not be clear whether he or she has a “documentary title” (the land involved falling within the extent covered by the title deeds) or a “possessory title” (the land falling outside the title deeds but the applicant having acquired title by virtue of adverse possession). Such an application may well not be recorded as being an adverse possession application.

Land Registry does have statistics for the second type of application for the financial years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11: these show that the number of successful applications of this type in these years were 1,111, 1,059 and 868 respectively.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applications for adverse possession of plots of land made to the Land Registry in each of the last 10 years were found to be fraudulent. [70892]

Mr Davey: All applications for adverse possession made to Land Registry are considered on their merits. Applications either succeed or fail. There are no figures kept on why applications fail and we are therefore unable to provide the figures requested.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many prosecutions under the Fraud Act were brought by the Land Registry as a result of dishonest statements being made by applicants for adverse possession in each of the last 10 years. [70893]

Mr Davey: There have been no prosecutions under the Fraud Act made by Land Registry as a result of dishonest statements made by applicants for adverse possession in the last 10 years.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): The Government are right to make clear their deep concern about the legitimacy of the trial and conviction of Mrs Tymoshenko, but does my right hon. Friend agree that it is in the interests of both our countries that we continue to press Ukraine, and that we negotiate for it to join the association agreement and to sign the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement? Does he also agree that although we should register a protest, it would be a grave mistake to break off those talks?

Mr Lidington: I do not believe that isolating Ukraine will help us in persuading the Government there to continue to move towards full membership of the European family of nations. I certainly welcome the fact that friends of Ukraine, including my hon. Friend, deliver that message clearly to the Ukrainian authorities.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much Mid Essex Primary Care Trust received per capita in the latest period for which figures are available; [79233]

(2) what the average level of per capita funding for primary care trusts in England was in the latest period for which figures are available; [79234]

(3) which 10 primary care trusts received the (a) highest and (b) lowest level of per capita funding in the latest period for which figures are available. [79235]

Mr Simon Burns: Mid Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) received funding of £1,399 per capita in the 2011-12 PCT revenue allocations compared to the national average of £1,693.

The 10 PCTs with the highest and lowest per capita funding for 2011-12 are shown in the following table.

Read more ...

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what payments the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust made to each general practice in its area in the last year for which figures are available; [79236]

(2) what the total payment per GP made by the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust was to each general practice in its area in the last year for which figures are available; [79237]

(3) what the total payment per patient made by the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust was to each general practice in its area in the last year for which figures are available. [79238]

Mr Simon Burns: The information requested is not collected centrally. My hon. Friend may wish to contact Mid Essex Primary Care Trust directly.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average total payment made to general practices in England was in the last year for which figures are available. [79239]

Mr Simon Burns: Information on the latest total spend of general practitioner practices in England is reported by the Information Centre for health and social care and is contained in their “Investment in General Practice 2006/07 to 2010/11 England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland” report. This publication has been placed in the Library.

In England in 2010-11, total payments to primary medical care contractors (in the main general practice contractors) amounted to £8.349 billion.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average total payment per patient made to general practices in England was in the last year for which figures are available. [79241]

Mr Simon Burns: The total payment per patient made to general practices in England in 2010-11 was £151.75.


Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to maintain low value consignment relief for genuinely indigenous businesses in the Channel Islands; and if he will make a statement. [81357]

Mr Gauke: I see no case for providing businesses based in the Channel Islands with a tax advantage compared to their UK based competitors, particularly given the ease of access to the UK market provided by HMRC's import VAT pre-payment scheme for Channel Island based companies.

2. Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): If he will take steps to reduce congestion at the Dartford crossing. [2711]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): The Department and the Highways Agency are committed to improving the levels of service experienced by users of the Dartford crossing. The Highways Agency and I will consider a package of measures, including better information and traffic management to help reduce the congestion at the Dartford crossing.

Mr Whittingdale: I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but is he aware that, since the tolls increased, the delays when approaching the tolling booths are anything up to 45 minutes and more? That causes enormous frustration to those who use the crossing, which is increased by the fact that the original intention was to scrap the tolls once the bridge was paid for rather than to put them up.

Mike Penning: My hon. Friend knows that I am personally aware of the problems at the Dartford crossing, having used it for many years. The £40 million net that we recover from the crossing is a significant income, but we need to consider technology that is being used in other parts of the world, particularly in Australia, so that we can remove the barriers and increase the speed at which traffic comes through while also picking up the revenue that the country desperately needs.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow my Select Committee colleague, the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly), who played a very substantial role in the Committee's inquiry, both because of his background as an investigative journalist and as a strong proponent of the reform of libel law.

I am extremely pleased to have this opportunity to debate the Select Committee report. It occupied more than a year of our time, and the coming of the general election prevented it from getting the debate that I felt it merited. At the start, it was not the Select Committee's intention particularly to focus on libel law. We realised that it was part of the agenda, but it was not the main issue. We were especially concerned with two things: the behaviour of the press in their reporting of the McCanns case, and what appeared to be the growth of a privacy law in the UK, particularly as a result of the judgment regarding Max Mosley. We devoted a lot of time to both those issues and were then slightly sidetracked into another important matter: the behaviour of the News of the World and one of its journalists in intercepting telephone calls. I do not wish to talk about that this afternoon; we spent a lot of time on it in the Committee. My main concern is to highlight that, in my view, the report's most important recommendations, which did not get the attention they merited because of the distraction caused by those other issues, were on libel, and on the concerns that are now widely felt, both in this country and around the world, about how UK libel laws operate.

I would like to put on record a few words of thanks. My thanks go to the staff of the Committee, who had to work very long hours over a lengthy period-not just the staff of my own Committee under Tracey Garratty our principal Clerk, but Hannah Stewart who was seconded to us from the Justice Committee. We also had the benefit of the advice of Professor Brian Cathcart and Sara John. We also had a lot of help from lawyers. None of the members of the Select Committee were lawyers and we were dealing with very technical and often complicated legal issues, which required several towels around the head on many occasions. We had a lot of advice particularly from people who came and gave up their time: Sir Charles Gray, recently retired from the High Court, Alasdair Pepper of Carter-Ruck, Andrew Caldecott QC, and Desmond Browne. If they had billed us at their normal rates, the House of Commons would probably have been bankrupted. They gave advice as part of a pro bono publico exercise, which was greatly appreciated.

Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab): Members of Parliament who do not have the time to sit on a Select Committee or who are not appointed to one owe a debt of gratitude to those who do serve on one. As a Member of Parliament who is not on a Select Committee, I should like to say that many of us have really valued the very detailed, technical and legalistic work that has been done by this Select Committee. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that makes it all the more important that the Minister, in his response, should recognise that these are not just the recommendations of this particular Committee as a result of the work done by people such as my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly) and others, but that this is the Select Committee speaking on behalf of the whole of Parliament? That is why it is important that the Government respond to the individual detailed recommendations.

Mr Whittingdale: I entirely endorse the hon. Lady's comments. That is exactly the value of Select Committees, and I am pleased to say that they are becoming more widely recognised. When we set off, we did not anticipate that the inquiry would be quite as long and detailed as it was. It was, however, one of the most fascinating and satisfying inquiries in which I have participated. At the same time as we were having the debate in the House, there was a substantial debate and a growing clamour outside the House. I should pay tribute, as my colleague from the Committee has already done, to the work of Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense about Science. As part of their campaign they mounted a petition, which I think received 52,000 signatures, and I imagine that every Member of the House will have received e-mails from constituents expressing their concern about the operation of the libel laws. It is not an immediately obvious subject for generating great concern, but it is becoming such an important issue that a lot of people did feel very strongly about it.

The two principal conclusions that we reached-I will go into a little detail in a minute as to why we reached them-were that, in this country, the way in which the libel laws are balanced and the costs attached to going to court in a libel action, are having a seriously damaging effect on investigative journalism, standards within the press and legitimate scientific debate. As a passionate believer in freedom of speech and in the essential role that a free press must play in a healthy democracy, I believe that that matter should be of concern to every Member of this House.

However, as if that were not enough, the Committee also discovered that Britain is now cited alongside authoritarian countries as a place where the press is being suppressed because of the actions of the state-in this case, the libel laws. Committees are sometimes criticised for going on foreign trips, but, in this case, it was immensely valuable that we were able to go to America and talk to some of the people who were directly affected, including authors and journalists. We also discussed with the American judiciary how they viewed our system, and we spoke to legislators at state and federal levels. I shall deal later with libel tourism, which is very important.

A host of different issues affect the operation of our libel laws. Some of them are being dealt with, or at least addressed, in Lord Lester's Defamation Bill, and I was pleased to hear my hon. Friend the Minister speak about the Government's intention to examine all the issues and, in due course, to produce a draft Bill that we can debate at length. It is reassuring that they have taken on board the necessity of addressing the matter urgently. However, as the hon. Gentleman said, probably the biggest issue affecting the whole libel system in the UK-how much it costs for somebody to defend a libel action-is not actually covered by Lord Lester's Bill. None of us imagines that lawyers are ever cheap, but, in the case of libel, trials are often very long, no legal aid is available, and solicitors and barristers charge, frankly, eye-watering sums.

We had a slightly surreal debate in the Committee between various lawyers as to whether the average was £400, £500 or even £600 an hour. To most people, any of those three figures is extraordinary, and, given the time that can be taken, it is easy to see how the clock ticks quickly and the amount of money increases rapidly, to the extent that it is now said that the cost of a libel case in the UK is some 140 times the European average.

Paul Farrelly: Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the hourly rates actually double in many of the cases that are brought under conditional fee arrangements? The record shows that the so-called no win, no fee scenario is, as one would expect, nearly always a case of always win, double the fee.

Mr Whittingdale: The hon. Gentleman pithily encapsulates the situation, which I shall come on to later. He is absolutely right, and that makes the situation even more damaging for any defendant facing a libel action.

My hon. Friend the Minister referred to the work of Lord Justice Jackson, who gave evidence to the Committee alongside the Master of the Rolls and addressed the broader question of costs in all civil litigation. I know that the Government have listened to his advice, which was that we should not pick out one particular branch of civil law and address that, but address the whole thing together. As my hon. Friend said, that was not the view of the previous Government, and I have some sympathy with their position. The matter is urgent, which is why the then Justice Secretary, the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw), decided to move on defamation cases ahead of the rest of civil litigation. I hear what the Minister says, but I hope that there will not be further delay-we must address the matter quickly. By all means, let us address it in the round and look at all the costs involved in civil litigation, but let us not spend a long time doing so.

Various solutions have been advocated, and we probably need to adopt a combination of them. The first thing the Committee considered was the suggestion simply to cap costs-to set a limit beyond which one should not be able to go. We accepted the evidence we received that that is a blunt instrument. It is difficult to predict the direction of a case, so capping is probably not a realistic solution. However, various solutions undoubtedly could
be introduced: greater cost budgeting and case management, and a pause every now and again to see how costs are progressing. Those are sensible options, but the real problem, as the hon. Gentleman said, is conditional fee arrangements, which were introduced with wholly good intent. I absolutely accept that the wish to make the legal process available to people who would otherwise struggle to afford it is an entirely worthy objective. The intention was that a legal practice would be allowed to charge a success fee if it won a case, in recognition of its risk in taking on a CFA. If it lost the case, it would not get any money, so the fee was a return for the risk.

The problem we discovered fairly rapidly was that the practices that specialise in CFAs are very thorough and do not actually take any risks. They go through the cases that are put to them for potential CFAs and accept them only if they are almost certain that they will win. We struggled to get the exact figures for the proportion of CFA cases that were won and lost, but it was clear that, overwhelmingly, the cases that were taken on a CFA were a pretty safe bet. On that basis, we found it difficult to understand why firms needed a 100% success fee on top of their costs. As I said, the costs are astronomical to begin with; they then double them, as the hon. Gentleman indicated, by imposing a success fee.

That is not the end of the story. An additional cost is after-the-event insurance, which is a premium taken out by the claimant in case they do not win, and which is chargeable to the defendant in the event that they lose. Such insurance can cost anything up to £65,000 plus tax for every £100,000 worth of cover, so we are now talking about almost 270% of the costs that can be awarded against a defendant in a libel action. The extraordinary thing about after-the-event insurance is that if the defendant loses, obviously he will have to pay the claimant's premium, but if the claimant does not succeed, he does not have to pay the premium. The insurance is marketed on the basis that one can take it out but not have to pay for it at all. It is simply another cost imposed on the defendant, and, because there is really no incentive for a claimant to keep costs down, it is a licence for companies to set their own sums and print money.

The effect of those three things taken together is that now many newspapers will not seek to defend a libel action, even if they are convinced that they have a strong case. They will regard it as quicker and cheaper to settle out of court. Perhaps even more worrying is that often they will not print the story in the first place, simply because of the danger that they might get sued. That chilling effect on press freedom and journalism causes great concern.

Paul Farrelly: The hon. Gentleman mentioned cost-capping and the importance of speedy reform. Does he agree that costs have become so surreal that when capping is mentioned as a measure to try to reduce them, a great number of the legal fraternity argue that actually it could increase costs because of the cost of cost-capping meetings, and that, as a consequence, nothing happens?

Mr Whittingdale: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend-I call him my hon. Friend in the spirit of the Select Committee. What he describes introduces another legal argument, which is, of course, billable. I will not say that this is a racket, but the lawyers do very well out of the process.

The Committee came up with a couple of recommendations to address these problems. The previous Government suggested that a 10% cap be set on success fees, but as my hon. Friend the Minister rightly said, the proposal did not find favour in the House when it was introduced before the election. The Committee's solution was not quite to introduce a straight 10% cap, but to say that the success fee that could be recovered from a defendant should be set at 10%. We did not feel it right to interfere with the arrangement between the claimant and their legal representatives; if the claimant wishes to pay a proportion of their damages in the form of a success fee, that is a matter for them. However, we said that the legal entitlement to recover from the defendant could be capped at 10%. Furthermore, for the reasons that I have set out, I view after-the-event insurance with some scepticism, and the Committee said that it should be made irrecoverable in its totality. I remain of the view that those two measures are sensible and would go a long way to removing the sting that currently exists in conditional fee arrangements. Obviously, that will be a matter of great debate over the coming months, and I leave it to the Minister to ponder those issues.

The issue is not just costs; there is a whole variety of other issues, many of which Lord Lester's Bill addresses. One issue is the multiple publication rule. Libel laws were written at a time when the internet did not really exist, and its advent has changed everything. That is true of the permanence of articles and statements, which can now be found on Google at the press of a button. The old Duke of Brunswick case also becomes much more serious in the age of the internet. Clearly, it is widely recognised that that should be addressed.

There are a couple of defences that must, on the face of it, make sense, but which are slightly unclear in legal terms at the moment. One is the defence of fair comment, and I want to say a quick word about the impact of libel law on proper scientific debate, an issue on which Sense About Science has done a lot of work. I pay particular tribute to Simon Singh, who is a very brave man for deciding not take lying down the legal action brought against him by the British Chiropratic Association after he suggested that there might be some debate about the medical effectiveness of chiropracy in treating certain conditions. He was willing to put up a great deal of money from his own account to appeal the judgment. Several scientific journals now say that they hesitate before carrying perfectly legitimate scientific papers that contribute to debate, because of the potential for organisations, and particularly big corporations, to bring libel actions. Libel is about whether someone is defamed; it should not be used to interfere with scientific discourse, which is important if scientific knowledge is to advance. The fact that Simon Singh was willing to defend himself and proved triumphant in the end was important and drew attention to the fact that the issue needs to be addressed.

The other defence that the Committee looked at, and which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, is the Reynolds defence of responsible journalism. The two landmark cases of Reynolds and then Jameel set out the hurdles that a defendant must demonstrate they have got over before they can use the defence of responsible journalism. There is some debate about the difficulty of meeting each of those tests, with the result that few defendants have used this defence, and that has been a cause of concern to us.

It was drawn to my attention not more than two hours ago that the outcome of the Flood v.Times Newspapers case has been published. This is the first occasion on which the Court of Appeal has overturned a Reynolds defence. Times Newspapers used a Reynolds defence in an action brought against it by a Metropolitan police sergeant. It said that what it had published was in the public interest and that it had met the relevant tests, but the Court of Appeal overturned the initial judgment on appeal. I do not want to say anything about the merits of the individual case, but I imagine that the fact that there is a further constraint on using the Reynolds defence will mean that adopting it becomes even less attractive to serious newspapers. I share the view of the hon. Gentleman that putting these things into statute carries a risk as well and that it might not be the most sensible way of strengthening them. However, it is important that it should be a legitimate defence for journalists investigating stories that are plainly in the public interest-we are talking not about muck-raking, but about serious investigative journalism-to show that they have used their best endeavours to meet all the various tests. We may need to look at that again in the light of certain developments.

Paul Farrelly: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the conclusions of the libel working group also highlighted the danger that a codification in law could become a rigid checklist in itself? It would also be very costly to mount a defence. However, the group was more sympathetic to statutory backing for the principles that underlie a defence of responsible journalism, which have already been developed in common law. That might be a fruitful way of proceeding.

Mr Whittingdale: The degree of flexibility that that might provide is clearly better than having a very detailed set of boxes, each of which has to be ticked. The hon. Gentleman's suggestion is probably a sensible way to develop things.

Taken together, all these issues would go some way not towards weakening our libel laws, but towards restoring people's absolute right to defend their character and reputation. The other side of that coin, however, is the right of the press to investigate and to expose and the right of scientific journals to carry out legitimate debate. I hope that all those things will feature in the Government's draft Bill.

I turn now to the way in which Britain's libel laws are viewed overseas, because that should be of huge concern to the Government. The issue is encapsulated in the case of Rachel Ehrenfeld, whom the Committee met when it went to the States. She wrote a book in which she suggested that a Saudi Arabian business man, who has Irish citizenship, was in some way providing financial support to al-Qaeda and terrorism. An action was brought against her in the UK on the basis that 23 copies of the book had been sold here. Obviously, it was also accessible on the internet, so there was publication in that sense as well. However, the book was not widely available in the UK, and it is fairly clear that the case was brought here not because this was where the damage was done, or because Rachel Ehrenfeld or the Saudi Arabian had British citizenship, which they did not, but because the libel laws here were seen to favour claimants. On the back of that, we discovered that there are now widely shared fears in the United States. The Association of American Publishers submitted a statement to the Committee on the Judiciary of the US House of Representatives, which described libel tourism as

    "the cynical exploitation of plaintiff-friendly foreign libel laws as a weapon to intimidate and silence U.S. authors and publishers."

There is no doubt about which foreign libel jurisdiction it had in mind.

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): I am not an expert in the area in question, although I have more than once had to bring a libel action. I think I am right in saying that in America pretty much anyone in the public eye can falsely be accused of quite serious wrongdoing but will have no recourse to a defamation suit. I acknowledge that the case that my hon. Friend used as an example is a worrying one, but I hope that he will not argue that we should adjust the libel laws in this country to prevent people who are defamed from taking action, just because in America people who are defamed are not allowed to take action. It would be a retrograde step to allow open season on reputations to the extent that that is allowed in the USA.

Mr Whittingdale: My hon. Friend raises an important point, and I agree. My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), who sadly cannot be present this afternoon, thinks that we should move towards the American system, where two things apply. First, the burden of proof is reversed and it is up to the people concerned to prove that they did not do what is alleged, whereas here a newspaper or journal must demonstrate that they did. Secondly, in America the first amendment trumps virtually everything. It is essentially impossible to get a pre-publication injunction. The Committee was told by people in public life that for such people there is essentially no defence against libel other than to make their case in public and try to convince people that what was said was wrong.

I do not go that far. Some of the criticism of the UK's libel laws in America is based simply on the fact that they disagree with our stance and think that we should adopt their system. That is not the reason I am concerned. I am concerned about the use of the UK courts by people who have no connection with the UK; it is the tourism aspect. That is a much narrower, but nevertheless very important, issue. As an example of the consequences I want to quote a joint submission to the Select Committee by Advance Publications Inc., the Association of American Publishers, Associated Press, Bloomberg, CBS television, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, the Los Angeles Times, Macmillan, NBC, The New York Times and others. Perhaps the most important passage reads:

    "Leading US newspapers are actively considering abandoning the supply of the 200 odd copies they make available for sale in London-mainly to Americans who want full details of their local news and sport. They do not make profits out of these minimal and casual sales and they can no longer risk losing millions of dollars in a libel action which they would never face under US law. Does the UK really want to be seen as the only country in Europe-indeed in the world-where important US papers cannot be obtained in print form?"

Paul Farrelly: I do not want this to become a conversation between members of the Select Committee, but does the hon. Gentleman agree that in the internet age matters go rather further than that? We received evidence that aggressive firms in the field of so-called reputation management-the two names that came up most frequently were Schillings and Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners-were finding so-called defamatory articles on the internet and scouring the world for potential plaintiffs on whose behalf they could act, simply because the article was accessible from the UK. They could point out to such people that they might well win under Britain's libel laws and say, "So bring an action."

Mr Whittingdale: I think that there is evidence of that. I hesitate before accusing the two firms that the hon. Gentleman named, although they happened to crop up time and again in evidence. Concerns have been expressed about the way CFAs are used in ambulance-chasing cases-with ads on television saying, "Have you fallen over? Ring up this lawyer, because you can win thousands of pounds." This is basically the same thing, so there is a legitimate concern.

I think that what should really make the Government concerned, in relation to attitudes towards the British system, is the fact that it is not only publishers and newspapers who are making such comments. The UN Committee on Human Rights, members of which we met, has been very critical of the UK system. In addition, the US Government, at state and federal level, is taking action in response. We went to Albany, where New York state has passed what is called the Libel Terrorism Protection Act. The title is intended to suggest that we have been giving active succour to terrorism through our libel laws. The Ehrenfeld case was actually the cause of it; indeed, Rachel Ehrenfeld went to the New York state legislature to press for action to be taken.

The Act allows a judgment against an American citizen to be ignored or overturned in America if it is shown to be a breach of his or her first amendment rights. However, that has happened not only in New York state; such legislation is appearing in other states and has also passed into Congress. I have the report of 13 July-two days ago-stating that the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting authors and journalists from libel law suits filed abroad. Essentially, the New York Bill has now been taken up, and it looks as though it will pass into federal law.

When the previous Lord Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Blackburn, gave evidence to the Select Committee, he said first that he was not convinced that the situation was a great problem. Secondly, he did not seem terribly fussed even if foreign Governments were taking the attitude I have described. He said that we had learned that there had been no representations from the British Embassy to defend our system; those concerned had sat by and let these things go on. I find it profoundly worrying that Britain's closest ally-the country that, whatever one thinks of America, is regarded as a bastion of free speech-should regard us as so restrictive and hostile to the principle of free speech that it feels it necessary to pass an Act such as I have outlined. Although that Act does not specifically refer to the UK, it is perfectly clear that it is directed at this country. I hope that, given that the Bill is now actively passing through the Senate and Congress, the Minister will start to talk to American legislators as a matter of urgency, and perhaps reassure them that the Government intend to deal with the issue.

Paul Farrelly: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, very soon after making those statements to the Select Committee, the previous Lord Chancellor was open-minded enough to change his mind completely? He added the issue of libel tourism firmly to the remit of the libel working group, and one of the four main areas on which it reported at the end of March was libel tourism and reforms to court procedures to stop abuse of process and abuse of forum.

Mr Whittingdale: Indeed, that is right, and the hon. Gentleman is correct to draw attention to it. I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman came round to our view that the matter was a serious one, which needed to be addressed.

One or two other matters occurred to the Committee, one of which was referred to in passing by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, although, perhaps out of modesty, he did not devote as much time to it as it deserves. That is the issue of this place and the reporting of our proceedings. It is well known that the hon. Gentleman uncovered the existence of a super-injunction taken out on behalf of Trafigura and tabled parliamentary questions about it, which led to a spat between Carter-Ruck and The Guardian about whether it was legitimate to report the fact that those questions had been tabled. There is no question about where parliamentary privilege lies: the hon. Gentleman is completely protected under parliamentary privilege in tabling those questions.

The situation becomes a lot less clear-this was news to me-in respect of a newspaper's right to report the fact that the hon. Gentleman had tabled the questions. Previously, I had the impression that the reporting of responsible activity was allowed, under the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840, but Carter-Ruck argued vigorously with The Guardian that the super-injunction prevented the newspaper from reporting the questions. The Guardian's in-house lawyer confirmed that that was her view as well. It later became apparent that the House authorities probably shared Carter-Ruck's view. In my view, that is a profound threat to this place.

In a way, there is no point in our being able to say things in Parliament or table questions if nobody is allowed to report them. In the Select Committee's view, any uncertainty about reporting parliamentary proceedings and the extent to which privilege allows Members of Parliament to raise matters with a degree of protection against libel action, needs to be addressed quickly and removed. Lord Lester has included this in his Bill.

The two last things that I will mention are not principally about libel, but touch on it. We Committee members spent a lot of time considering privacy, and the balance between articles 8 and 10 of the European convention on human rights, which has been used to bring in a privacy law in this country. That matter touches on libel because some people now choose to use privacy legislation rather than libel legislation. Those two kinds of legislation are not separate. Under privacy legislation, people do not necessarily have to say whether the story is even true-they can just use such legislation to prevent it from being published. That needs to be borne in mind if we are going to have the thorough overhaul that I hope the Minister intends.

The last area that I should like to mention, which is complementary to libel law, is the self-regulatory mechanism adopted by the press-the Press Complaints Commission-which the Committee supports. There is a lot of debate about the effectiveness of the PCC, but it offers an alternative. If people choose to go to court and mount a libel action, it can take a long time and cost a lot of money, but at the end they might get a definitive statement that they have been defamed-and they may get a lot of money as a result. The PCC can take action quickly and is free, but people do not get any money: the most that they can hope for is a judgment by the PCC that the newspaper was wrong to carry a story. Each option has alternative attractions; each mechanism is useful, and one cannot substitute for the other.

The Committee was concerned about the most serious serial libel that has taken place in the past 50 years-perhaps within memory-which is that suffered by the McCanns, who were subjected to libel not once, but day after day, and not just in one newspaper, but in newspapers across the whole range of Fleet street. That was eventually recognised and a lot of apologies were made, and payments were also made, but that cannot have made up for what they suffered at what was already a terribly distressing time for them. We were concerned that the self-regulatory mechanism of the press appeared to have failed in that instance, and we made a number of recommendations about how it should be strengthened. The role of the PCC needs to be borne in mind when looking at libel, because it and the courts deal with similar problems, but perhaps from different ends.

I think that I have spoken for long enough, but I have spoken for so long because we in the Committee spent a great deal of time on this serious issue. I am pleased that statements in the manifestos of all three parties, and in the programme of the coalition Government, are now being progressed and that the Government have made it clear that they are determined to take action in this area. I hope that we, as a Committee, have helped that process and that we will continue to do so in the debate on the draft Bill when it appears.

3.35 pm

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does the Secretary of State agree that the relatively low price for which Richard Desmond has acquired Channel 5 is a further indication of the continuing difficulties affecting all traditional television companies, and that it also shows that successful companies are likely to have to operate across several different media in future? Given that, does he have any plans to look again at the current rules that govern cross-media ownership and cross-promotion?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for a thoughtful question, as ever, on the topic. He is absolutely right that media companies of the future will have to operate on different platforms. That is why one of my first decisions was to accept a recommendation by Ofcom to remove the regulations on cross-media ownership locally to allow local media operators to develop new business models that let them take product from newspapers to radio to TV to iPods to iPads and so on.

We do not currently have any plans to relax the rules on cross-promotion. Indeed, the regulations on taste, decency and political impartiality on Five remain extremely tight, but we are aware of the need to lighten regulations in general because, if we are to have a competitive broadcasting sector, we must have one in which independent players can also make a profit.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what the responsibilities of the UK Film Council are; and how he intends such responsibilities to be discharged in the future. [12102]

Mr Jeremy Hunt: The UK Film Council works alongside various partners to support the British film industry, including funding, training and promoting the UK as an international filming location and raising the profile of British films abroad.

The key mechanisms which support the UK film industry will be retained, including the system of film tax relief and lottery funding. We are considering options for some functions to be transferred to other existing bodies, with a view to reducing administrative costs.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what the responsibilities of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council are; and how he intends such responsibilities to be discharged in the future. [12103]

Mr Jeremy Hunt: The Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) Council has a range of responsibilities as the strategic and expert body for the museums, libraries and archives sectors. In particular it is responsible for administering and funding the 'Renaissance in the Regions' programme for regional museums, carries out improvement and best practice work with library authorities and has a non-statutory function to advise Government on library policy. It also has responsibility for the provision of services in relation to cultural objects on behalf of the Secretary of State.

The key functions of the MLA will be transferred to other existing organisations within the next Government spending period although no arrangements have been finalised. Officials will work with the MLA ahead of its closure to ensure the smooth transfer of key functions.

The MLA website gives further information about current programmes and activities and more details on the Renaissance programme, library advisory, improvement and best practice work and the provision of services for cultural property:

Corporate records, including annual reviews, business plans and funding agreements can be found at the following link:

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (1) if he will (a) publish the findings of and (b) respond to the previous administration's consultation on an exemption to the Licensing Act 2003 for small venues with a capacity of 100 hosting live performances; [12173]

(2) what recent discussions he has had on the operation of the Licensing Act 2003 with trade unions representing performers; [12174]

(3) what plans he has to review the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 affecting venues hosting live music performances; and if he will make a statement; [12175]

(4) what assessment he has made of the merits of reviewing the Licensing Act 2003 with a view to creating a portable licence for travelling performers; and if he will make a statement. [12176]

Mr Jeremy Hunt: The Government are committed to moving quickly to reduce red tape around live music and other forms of live performances, including those by travelling performers. However we want to get this right, so I have been talking to people from the sector and from local government to get their views. I hope to bring forward proposals as soon as possible.

Responses to the live music consultation were published on 26 June 2010 and can be accessed at:

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): As the Home Secretary indicated, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee spent a considerable time examining this matter in the previous Parliament. We reported our conclusions to the House and we stand by them. We certainly found it very difficult to believe that Clive Goodman was the only member of the News of the World newsroom who was aware that phone hacking had been carried out by Glenn Mulcaire, but we found no evidence to suggest that the then editor knew of it. If there is credible new evidence, that would obviously be a matter for the police, but perhaps the Home Secretary could give an assurance that the Select Committee will be informed of the outcome of any investigation.

Mrs May: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. It is helpful of him to put before the House what happened in the Select Committee inquiry on the matter. As I have said, it is for the Metropolitan police to consider fresh evidence, if any comes forward, and I am sure that the Select Committee will be kept informed of any developments.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effect of the provisions of the Digital Economy Act 2010 on public intermediaries, with particular reference to libraries and universities; and if he will make a statement. [12101]

Mr Vaizey [holding answer 6 September 2010]: We considered carefully the position of public intermediaries, including libraries and universities, under the Act. Libraries and universities have taken the opportunity to contribute to the Initial Obligations Code discussions-the subject of a formal consultation by Ofcom, which closed on 30 July 2010. Ofcom is now in the process of reviewing the responses it has received from all stakeholders and will publish a formal statement when the review is complete.

It is in everyone's interest to ensure that their connection or network is not misused. Intermediaries will need to continue to play their role by taking precautions and taking measures to tackle infringement in order to ensure that their connections are not used by individuals to copy material and avoid any repercussions.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what guidance his Department issues on the classification of businesses in the hospitality industry offering free wi-fi access to the internet as (a) communications providers and (b) internet service providers under the terms of the Digital Economy Act 2010. [12099]

Mr Vaizey [holding answer 6 September 2010]: The Department has not yet offered guidance on classification under the Digital Economy Act 2010 to those providing free wi-fi accesses to the internet. The relevant requirements of the Digital Economy Act will not have any effect until a code has been approved by Ofcom and Parliament. Ofcom is reviewing the responses to its consultation on its draft obligations code. It will issue a statement when this review is completed with a view to approving a code by the end of the year.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to prevent illegal file-sharing by those accessing the internet through free wi-fi hot spots; and if he will make a statement. [12100]

Mr Vaizey [holding answer 6 September 2010] : The relevant provisions in the Digital Economy Act are intended to address the online infringement of copyright irrespective of whether such activity is undertaken via a personal internet connection or through a commercially-or publicly-provided wi-fi network.

Many providers of public wi-fi networks, such as universities, already take measures to prevent infringement which go far beyond what the Act requires, but the Act brings regulatory certainty and consistency.

However, the Government recognise that more clarification is needed. The Initial Obligations Code, on which Ofcom has recently consulted, will set out how this will work in practice.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I am mindful of your instruction that this is a narrow debate about referring the matter to the Standards and Privileges Committee, Mr Deputy Speaker, but it might help if I clarified one or two aspects regarding the two examinations of the matter that have been carried out by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

We first looked at the issue in 2007. It is important to distinguish between two different episodes, both of which potentially affect hon. Members. The first episode was the arrest and conviction of Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, specifically for phone hacking. The second was Operation Motorman, carried out by the police, which identified a private investigator who had been employed by a large number of journalists from many different newspapers, usually to undertake what is called blagging rather than hacking.

While hacking is an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, blagging is a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. Both are criminal offences, but in the second case, there is a public interest defence. No journalists were ever prosecuted in the Motorman case, so we do not know whether a public interest defence might have been used. However, the sheer number of blags or attempts to seek information in breach of the 1998 Act led us to believe that what was happening was, in large part, fishing by journalists and did not involve the pursuit of specific public interest matters. We revisited the matter in July 2009, after the publication of a story in The Guardian providing new evidence that led us to question the evidence that we had received in the first inquiry that Clive Goodman was the only journalist who had any knowledge of, or involvement in, phone hacking at the News of the World.

As I have suggested, there is evidence from both inquiries that hon. Members were affected. Specifically in relation to the first episode, the hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes) was named in the indictment of Mr Mulcaire as one of those who had suffered from hacking. When it came to Motorman, there were literally thousands of names. We know, for instance, that Peter Kilfoyle was one of them, although he did not know that until it was subsequently uncovered. In both cases there was concern that the victims were not informed, either by the police in relation to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, or by the Information Commissioner in relation to Motorman.

As the House knows, the Select Committee took considerable evidence from a number of journalists-principally from the News of the World in relation to Clive Goodman, but from other newspapers too concerning Operation Motorman. At that time-it is important to remember that we are talking about events from some time ago-we found that there appeared to be a culture across Fleet street in which such practices were routine, and that law breaking was taking place in many news rooms. We were also assured that things had changed. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) was a little unfair to suggest that the Press Complaints Commission did nothing. I have been critical of the Press Complaints Commission in the past, but it certainly did do something: it made it absolutely plain that such practices were unacceptable and required editors to tighten their rules, and we received assurances that such practices had stopped.

We now know that there is one journalist under investigation by the News of the World potentially for hacking, but it was the News of the World who acted on that and then notified the Press Complaints Commission that it was doing so. I very much hope that the events that we are discussing today relate to some time ago and that such practices have ceased right across Fleet street.

I understand the frustration felt by hon. Members during our inquiry-indeed, I shared it. We did make use of some of the powers that the hon. Member for Rhondda referred to, particularly in obtaining documents that various witnesses were, at first, unwilling to provide. We certainly had some arguments over which witnesses would give evidence. For example, we were unable to get evidence from either Clive Goodman or Glenn Mulcaire-or, indeed from Mr Ross Hall, who was in Peru at the time, although I understand that he has now returned to this country.

I recognise that new evidence might well have emerged. Some of the information that has entered the public domain in the past few days certainly appears to contradict some of the evidence that we received. The Standards and Privileges Committee has slightly more powers available to it than the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and I in no way oppose the motion. I agree with the hon. Member for Rhondda that this is an extremely serious matter, and it is not just about MPs. The illegal obtaining of information about any individual is to be deplored. I therefore strongly welcome the moves that have taken place to ensure that it does not continue.

I have one small concern, although I am not in any way accusing the hon. Member for Rhondda. This issue is mired in politics, and the Standards and Privileges Committee needs to be very careful to ensure that it is not used as a vehicle for political ends. I am sure that that will not be the case under its new Chairman, whom I congratulate on his election.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who attended the meeting relating to Dr Ejup Ganic held at his Department on 27 February 2010; and what (a) matters were discussed and (b) decisions were made at that meeting. [16004]

Mr Lidington: No meeting was held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Saturday 27 February 2010.

Before Dr Ganic's provisional arrest, however, the Metropolitan police held a meeting on 1 March 2010 at New Scotland Yard. Officials from the FCO and Home Office attended the meeting which was to discuss Serbia's request for Dr Ganic's provisional arrest and the issue of possible immunity from arrest and detention. Pursuant to a warrant issued by a district judge at City of Westminster magistrates court, the Metropolitan police later arrested Dr Ganic.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government has had with the government of Serbia on the judgement given by Mr Tim Workman, Senior District Judge at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 27 July 2010 in the case of the Government of the Republic of Serbia v. Ejup Ganic. [16005]

Mr Lidington: The Government have had no discussions with the Government of Serbia on the judgment given in the case of the Government of the Republic of Serbia v. Ejup Ganic.

22. Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has for the future of the prison building programme; and if he will make a statement. [17833]

Mr Blunt: The Ministry of Justice is committed to publishing a Green Paper on Rehabilitation and Sentencing, consulting on our longer term plans for offender management. As a consequence the Ministry will re-evaluate its strategy for prison capacity.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reports she received on the steps taken by Interpol between the issue of a diffusion notice relating to Dr Ejup Ganic in May 2009 and the arrest of Dr Ganic on 1 March 2010; and whether there is an outstanding red notice against Dr Ejup Ganic further to his discharge from proceedings in the UK. [16006]

Nick Herbert: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary received no reports concerning the steps taken by Interpol between the issuing of a red notice and Dr Ganic's provisional arrest, pending receipt of an extradition request, on 1 March 2010.  Interpol London can neither confirm nor deny whether the diffusion notice in respect of Dr Ganic is still extant.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) on how many occasions and for what periods the website of the Intellectual Property Office has been unresponsive as a result of denial of service attacks in the last three years; [18672]

(2) what reports he has received on the denial of service attacks on the Intellectual Property Office's website on 16 October 2010; and if he will make a statement; [18673]

(3) what reports he has received on denial of service attacks undertaken on websites carried out under the banner of Operation Payback; and if he will make a statement. [18674]

Mr Vaizey: This Department was approached by one private sector company that was suffering a denial of service attack attributed to Operation Payback. Officials advised that company where to seek advice and to report the attack to the police. In the past week this Department has been working with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on the similar attack on their website. This is the first time in the last three years that the Intellectual Property Office website has been unresponsive as a result of denial of service attacks. The IPO have taken advice from experts within Government and their service has now been restored. The Government clearly abhor this sort of direct action and the impact it has on businesses consumers and citizens who rely on access to Government websites for the delivery of important services; and call on those taking part to behave responsibly. The question as to whether this can be regarded as a criminal act is a matter for the appropriate authorities.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that at a time when the amount of public money available for the arts has inevitably had to be reduced, it is all the more important that we should try to increase business sponsorship and philanthropy? Does he agree that Arts and Business has an exceptionally good record in that area, and that it would therefore be rather strange to cut the amount of money going to it at this time?

Mr Hunt: I thank my hon. Friend for his well-informed question. He is absolutely right that at a time like this, boosting philanthropy and other sources of income for the arts is extremely important. Arts and Business has done some valuable work. Obviously its funding is a matter for the Arts Council, which operates at arm's length. However, I am pleased to be able to tell him that before the end of the year, we will be announcing a package of measures designed to boost philanthropy and help to strengthen the fundraising capacity of arts organisations-something that will be helpful to them in difficult times.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the House of Commons Commission, which posts in the House of Commons Service entitle the holder to accommodation (a) in the gift of the House Service and (b) paid for from the public purse; and what the address is of each property owned by the House Service which is put at the disposal of such staff. [20072] [Official Report, 12 November 2010, Vol. 518, c. 3MC.]

Sir Stuart Bell: The following positions in the House entitle the holder to accommodation: Clerk of the House, Serjeant at Arms, Speaker's Secretary, Head Office Keeper and two Senior Office Keepers. Sleeping facilities are provided for the Deputy Serjeant at Arms, Assistant Serjeant at Arms, Clerk Assistant, Clerk of Committees and Clerk of Legislation, reflecting their particular need to be available on the parliamentary estate over prolonged periods and at unpredictable times. The addresses of the accommodation are: 2 Parliament street, 3 Parliament street, 2a Canon row, 2b Canon row, 4 Canon row, 102 Rochester row and 22 John Islip street. The sleeping facilities are also used by other staff when there is a need to do so.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost to the public purse was of the extradition case The Government of the Republic of Serbia v. Dr Ejup Ganic concluded by the judgment of 27 July 2010. [14291]

Nick Herbert [holding answer 9 September 2010]: It is not possible to provide a complete or accurate breakdown of costs incurred in this or any other individual extradition case. A number of Departments and agencies are involved in extradition cases including the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and HM Courts Service; and the cost of each case is (which differs) dealt with as part of the overall and larger case load.

Mr. Whittingdale: I welcome the Government's statement this morning, which appears to address a number of the recommendations made by the Select Committee on reform of the libel system. However, on the specific issue of libel tourism, is the Secretary of State aware that only last month the Senate Judiciary Committee voiced support for federal legislation in America to allow US courts to negate the judgments of UK courts in libel actions, on the basis that UK courts do not give sufficient recognition to the need for freedom of expression? Does he accept that that is a matter of profound concern that we need to address as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Straw: Yes. The hon. Gentleman properly draws attention to the fact that our defamation laws have developed in rather an unbalanced way. They are now, for example, having a chilling effect on legitimate and important scientific research. We therefore have to bring them back, not into direct symmetry with those of other jurisdictions, but into a better balance.

Mr. John Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford) (Con): Notwithstanding that, does the Secretary of State accept that our success in a number of sports in recent years, particularly cricket and golf, has been largely due to the huge amount of money that has gone into those games as a result of the sale of broadcasting rights? The ECB has estimated that listing the Ashes tests will cost it £100 million. Will the Secretary of State think about that very carefully when he considers the Davies report? If he proceeds with the listing, huge damage will be done to grass-roots sports throughout the country.

Mr. Bradshaw: We will consider all representations very carefully. The hon. Gentleman has made an important point about the potential impact on some of the sporting organisations, although some of the figures that are being bandied about may be open to challenge. There is a balance to be struck between the understandable desire of sporting organisations to make a lot of money by selling television rights and the right of the public to have access to some of the big sporting occasions that the nation enjoys.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent assessment he has made of the risks of the recreational use of methadone; [314415]

(2) what recent representations he has received on the classification of methadone; and if he will make a statement. [314416]

Mr. Alan Campbell: Based on the hon. Member's subsequent clarification, this answer addresses mephedrone, not methadone.

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is a stimulant drug which is structurally related to cathinone and methcathinone, both of which are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), whom we are required by statute to consult before bringing forward legislation under the 1971 Act to Parliament, is currently considering the harms of mephedrone and related cathinone compounds as a priority. The ACMD's latest letter on its consideration of these drugs is available at:

In addition to the ACMD's letter, representations have been received from Members of Parliament and the public.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what arrangements are in place for the provision of footage obtained from the broadcast pool camera at the Iraq Inquiry to news agencies and news providers; [314411] [Official Report, 1 March 2010, Vol. 506, c. 12MC.]

(2) if she will make it her policy to ensure that all video news agencies providers have access to low-resolution footage from the broadcast pool camera at the Iraq Inquiry.

9 Feb 2010 : Column 895W

Tessa Jowell: The Cabinet Office is not responsible for the broadcast footage of the Iraq Inquiry. The UK Broadcasting Pool, a partnership between the BBC, Sky News and ITN, is responsible for distributing footage from their cameras in the Inquiry's hearing room. Other broadcasters would need to make arrangements with the pool, not the Government or the Inquiry. There is already an agreement to provide footage to all Iraqi broadcasters at no cost.

The Cabinet Office, as the sponsoring department for the Inquiry, has a contract with the Pool to receive footage for use on the Iraq Inquiry website, which is made available to the public for free.

19. Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what progress has been made in establishing the UK Council for Child Internet Safety; and if he will make a statement. [320694]

Dawn Primarolo: The UK Council for Child Internet Safety was established on 29 September 2008 and now has over 160 members from Government, law enforcement, the third sector and industry.

In December last year, UKCCIS launched its first child internet safety strategy 'Click Clever, Click Safe'. We believe this is the first such strategy of its kind anywhere in the world and represents a real step forward in the development of work to keep children safe online.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what discussions his Department has had with (a) the National Lottery Commission and (b) Camelot on Camelot's application to operate certain commercial services in addition to the National Lottery; and if he will make a statement; [320293]

(2) what steps his Department is taking to ensure the National Lottery Commission consults stakeholders and other interested parties on the implications for its core National Lottery business and brand of Camelot's application to operate certain commercial services; and if he will make a statement. [320294]

Mr. Sutcliffe: My officials and I have regular meetings with both the National Lottery Commission and Camelot about the full range of National Lottery regulation issues, and the possibility of Camelot providing commercial services which are ancillary to the operation of the National Lottery has been discussed in that context.

The approval of the National Lottery Commission is required before the National Lottery operator can undertake any ancillary activity and the commission is currently considering a proposal from Camelot to offer commercial services using National Lottery terminals. The commission will consider the proposal in light of its statutory duties and therefore will take into account issues such as the implications for the core National Lottery business and brand.

The commission is currently consulting on the EU/competition law considerations which may arise from the proposal, as these are issues on which those already offering such services have a direct interest. The commission considers that it will have sufficient information to exercise its discretion properly, without consulting on the implications for the core National Lottery business and brand.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much was spent (a) in total and (b) per head of population on road improvements in (a) England, (b) the East of England and (c) Essex in each of the last 10 years. [323332]

Mr. Khan: A table containing the information requested has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The table includes estimated expenditure on motorways and trunk roads in the East of England, but expenditure on the strategic road network is not available by local authority boundary. The table also excludes shadow tolls for design, build, finance and operate contracts on the strategic road network.

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