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Mike Wood: The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that it is somehow the tabloid press that is objecting and campaigning against Leveson 2. However, it was The Guardian that said, back in March, that Leveson 2 would be
“like a driver learning to steer by looking in the rear-view mirror at the road behind rather than the one ahead.”
Does the hon. Gentleman not see that that illustrates the fundamental weakness of expecting Leveson 2 to address the question of where the media should go from here to improve behaviour in future?
Tom Watson Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
It is true that The Guardian was very critical of section 40, and, indeed, its pioneering former editor, Alan Rusbridger, spoke out against it, but he has said today that there is no real reason that people could give for opposing Leveson 2. I have spoken to a number of local and regional editors in recent months, and they have privately said that they have great concerns about section 40, but regard Leveson 2 as a problem for national tabloid newspapers—which is why the amendment explicitly rules out local and regional papers.
Mike Wood: The role of the House of Lords is to scrutinise, to inquire and, where possible, to improve. That is not what is happening here. What is happening in this case is the House of Lords is asking this House, which has considered this question in great detail in Committee and on Report, to go back and change its mind, thereby rejecting conventions established by Lord Salisbury and Lord Carrington. Agreeing to the amendment would set a very unfortunate constitutional precedent.
I hope this House will reaffirm the decision it took last week, and previously, and that their lordships will then recognise the democratic legitimacy of this House and the manifesto commitment made by the Conservative party, which is now in government.
Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland)
I believe the other place (House of Lords) has given us a compromise to reassure those who are concerned about section 40 and its impact on local newspapers and those who are concerned about any threat to the freedom of the press, which none of us in this House wants to see undermined in any way.
Please look at this amendment as an effective way of carrying forward and adhering to the promise made to the victims of press intrusion, and of looking for a more constructive future relationship between the press and the public in this country.
One hour having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the Lords message, the debate was interrupted (Programme Order, this day).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83G),
That this House disagrees to Lords Amendment No. 62B proposed instead of the words left out of the Bill by Commons Amendment No. 62 but proposes amendments (za) to (a) to Clause (Review of processing of personal data for the purposes of journalism) inserted by Commons Amendment No. 109 and amendments (c) to (f) to the Bill in lieu of the Lords Amendment.
The House divided:
Ayes 301, Noes 289.