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Mr. Yeo: This has been an excellent debate, and I am grateful to all those who have taken part in it.

6 Mar 2002 : Column 368

I should like to reply to the Minister's comments. We have not brought forward the amendment at this stage because it is the last opportunity to do so. The hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) was wrong to claim that I said it was. It clearly is not, as the Minister has explained. There will be an opportunity to do so under the forthcoming communications Bill. However, this seems to be the most appropriate opportunity, not least because this paving Bill lists the regulators whose functions are to be taken over by Ofcom and because it will be much more sensible to have the debate about Ofcom's functions when we know what organisations it will be responsible for. I am afraid that it is those who are resisting the amendment who are in danger of getting the cart and the horse the wrong way round, not those who share our views.

8.30 pm

I am sorry that we seem unlikely to have the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) with us in the Lobby. He is a powerful advocate of the merits of an external regulator, and he was right to question the effectiveness of the present accountability arrangements of the BBC. He made it clear that he does not want the BBC to be ignored by Ofcom—far from it. The difference between the right hon. Gentleman and me is one of means, rather than ends. In due course, perhaps, there will be opportunities to try to reach a shared position.

I am sorry also that we will not have the support of the Liberals this evening. The hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) seemed unable to decide what the party's view should be. He said that that would have to wait until Ofcom had been debated in more detail, but that misses the point. The question is one of principle: whether we believe that the BBC should be regulated in a manner similar to the other organisations operating in the field. The Liberal party clearly does not. It wishes to preserve a privileged position, for whatever reason, for the BBC. The clue to the Liberal position was in the dying phrase of the hon. Gentleman's speech, when he said that putting the BBC within the remit of Ofcom would be throwing it to the wolves. That did not suggest to me that he would approach the future debates in an open-minded manner.

On the contribution of the hon. Member for Milton Keynes, North–East (Brian White), I entirely accept that there are many other issues in the Bill, but this is the one that is before the House. That is why I have been addressing it. There will be a chance to address or return to some of the others later.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) is a powerful advocate of the case that I have tried to advance. When I listened to his views, it made me think that on this issue I had been right to say what I had said earlier.

The hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan), like a number of those who oppose the amendment, seemed to assume that including the BBC within Ofcom would somehow stop the governors carrying out their function of scrutinising how the BBC was meeting or failing to meet its public service obligations. It would do nothing of the sort. The governors would still have that function. They would be the first stop and Ofcom would be the backstop, to use the language that others have adopted.

The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Glenda Jackson) criticised the way the BBC is moving away from a strict public service role, perhaps in pursuit

6 Mar 2002 : Column 369

of higher ratings. I am sure that that is a widely held concern. My only regret is that the hon. Lady does not conclude from it that some change in the present regulatory arrangements is needed, and needed urgently.

As I explained at the outset, amendment No. 7 is the crucial amendment in the group. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw amendment No. 6.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: No. 7, in page 5, line 28, at end insert—

'(aa) the BBC Board of Governors.'.—[Mr. Yeo.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 121, Noes 308.

Division No. 185
[8.33 pm


Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Beggs, Roy
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fox, Dr Liam
Francois, Mark
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Prisk, Mark
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Trend, Michael
Trimble, Rt Hon David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Charles Hendry and
Mr. Desmond Swayne.


Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barrett, John
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cairns, David
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Carmichael, Alistair
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Doughty, Sue
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Ewing, Annabelle
Fisher, Mark
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Francis, Dr Hywel
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Harvey, Nick
Healey, John
Heath, David
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laws, David
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moore, Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Price, Adam
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr John
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
Weir, Michael
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Winnick, David
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Nick Ainger and
Mr. John Heppell.

Question accordingly negatived.

6 Mar 2002 : Column 372


Further Provision About OFCOM

8.45 pm

Miss McIntosh: I beg to move amendment No. 22, in page 11, line 3, at end insert—

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