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Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I add my voice as one who is fervently pro-nuclear power stations? There should be clarification; this is an important issue.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): May I tell both hon. Gentlemen that the occupant of the Chair is not responsible for ministerial statements? The point made by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) is, in a sense, a continuation of yesterday's debate. The principal point is that the occupant of the Chair is not responsible for Ministers' statements on such matters.
Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would it be appropriate for the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to come to the House to explain why he chose to disregard London Transport's advice not to publish the Ernst and Young report on value for money at London Underground because that would undermine the only competitive leverage left in negotiations? Would it be appropriate for him to come here to set out what assessment he has made of the commercial damage caused by his actions?
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of which I have given the Chair notice. Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from the BBC signed by Michael Hastings CBE, who is described as head of political and parliamentary affairs. He has previously been brought to the attention of the Chair for his activities in the House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The Chair has no control over communications of that kind made by people outside the House. I have no doubt, however, that the BBC will have noted the right hon. Gentleman's comments. I am sure that the House, too, will bear them in mind when it debates the amendments.
'OFCOM shall establish an office in Wales and an office in Scotland in order to ensure that Welsh and Scottish needs are considered.'.[Mr. Simon Thomas.]
'(3A) The Secretary of State shall
(a) ensure that the membership of OFCOM includes a member to represent Welsh and Scottish matters, and
(b) in appointing this member, shall consult the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament.'.
'(4A) In appointing members of OFCOM, the Secretary of State shall consult with the National Assembly of Wales and the Scottish Parliament in order to ensure that Welsh and Scottish needs are considered.'.
'(4) As soon as possible after the end of each financial year, OFCOM shall also prepare and send to the National Assembly of Wales and the Scottish Parliament a report of how OFCOM is ensuring that Welsh and Scottish interests are being adequately met.'.
'(1A) OFCOM shall establish
(a) a Welsh Advisory Committee which shall advise OFCOM on the carrying out of its functions in Wales, and
(b) a Scottish Advisory Committee which shall advise OFCOM on the carrying out of its functions in Scotland;
and in appointing these committees, OFCOM shall consult the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament.'.
'(5) The membership of every committee established by OFCOM must contain at least one representative for Wales and one representative for Scotland; and in appointing these representatives, OFCOM shall consult with the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament.'.
Mr. Thomas: We debated the Office of Communications in Wales and Scotland in Committee and the new clause gives hon. Members an opportunity to revisit the issue, no doubt to the great joy of Ministers. Hon. Members have had the chance to think about the import of the new clause and the amendments and how they would assist the work of Ofcom. I hope that the Minister has also thought about the wonderful job that he can do for Welsh and Scottish broadcasting and communications, which no doubt he does every day, by accepting them.
Mr. Thomas: I concur with that powerful point, although it takes me away from my argument. In light of the earlier point of order, I add that amendments tabled by Conservative Members seek to extend to the BBC board of governors some of Ofcom's powers. Of course, the BBC itself has representation for Wales and Scotland. There is a national governor for Wales on the board, and there is a broadcasting council for Wales. Much of the industry that we seek to regulate through Ofcom has a distinct representation for Wales and Scotland. That will be lost under the Bill, unless my amendments are carried and the Bill says more about how the content of communications will be regulated in Wales and Scotland.
If it is intended that Ofcom should have offices in Wales and Scotlandof course, this may also be an issue for Northern IrelandI do not see why that should not be firmly stated in the Bill so that people in Wales and Scotland who are interested in these matters know that it will happen. We have a promise from the previous Secretary of State, but not from the present one, so it would be useful if she repeated that promise in today's debate. The new clause would ensure not only that the offices were established but that they were not ersatz or virtual offices that open only every other Wednesday when there is an R in the month. We need a real office dedicated to the needs of communications in Wales.
Amendment No. 15 seeks to ensure that the membership of Ofcom includes a member to represent Welsh and Scottish matters and that in appointing that member the Secretary of State consults the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament. We debated in Committee whether that member should be a representative directly elected or selected by the Assembly and the Parliament. I have not tabled such an amendment on Report. The Government were very dismissive of the proposal in Committee, which is unfortunate because it is the request of the Assembly.