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Lord Northbrook: I support Amendment No. 21 which says that Ofcom must have regard in particular, where relevant, to the need to promote good practice in relation to the security of electronic communications networks.

I am aware of the work being carried out by the European Union with its comprehensive strategy on network security, cybercrime and the forthcoming data protection directive on electronic communications. But, as with Amendment No. 16, I am worried about the speed of progress. Can I ask the Minister—

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am sorry to interrupt, but there is nothing that can be done more quickly by this amendment than is already being done in the Bill.

Lord Northbrook: With great respect to the Minister, I wonder if I could carry on with some points.

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What progress has been made in the proposals made in the Council resolution of 28th January 2002 and on the more recent Commission proposal for a Council framework decision on attacks against information systems? In particular, is the cybersecurity taskforce, promised by mid-2003, running to timetable? This force is very important, since it is promised that it will become a centre of competence on security questions—that is, to develop with member states a concept for a European computer attack alert system and to improve cross-border co-operation.

In summary, I believe, as with Amendment No. 16, that this matter should be on the face of the Bill as the whole European process, however well intentioned, could take many years to implement.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: This Bill transposes the framework directive—that is what it does. The third Community requirement specified by Clause 4 is to promote the interests of citizens of the European Union. Clause 4(2) ensures that the Community requirements are to be read in accordance with article 8 of the framework directive. The directive cites the need to ensure that the integrity and security of public communications networks are maintained as one aspect of the objective of promoting the interests of citizens of the Union. Therefore, although the words do not appear on the face of the Bill, the obligation applies to Ofcom just as if they did. This amendment is not necessary.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. Whether my noble friend is as satisfied with it as I am at the present time remains to be seen, but I shall draw it to my noble friend's attention. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 22:

    Page 4, line 12, at end insert—

"( ) the impact of developments in relevant markets upon creators and performers"

The noble Baroness said: Before I speak to Amendment No. 22, I want to spend a couple of minutes in referring to a speech made by the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, to the Westminster Media Forum last Wednesday 30th April. It is only right that Members of the Committee should know what the Secretary of State said in relation to this Bill, as it is entirely relevant.

The speech was about the Communications Bill. I have the text, in which the Secretary of State said:

    "Many provisions don't face any real prospect of major amendment".

Indeed, she went on to say of the Bill that,

    "most of it is now uncontentious".

It is also only right that Members of the Committee should know that, moving away from the specific words of the speech, the Secretary of State said that a consensus had been reached on the Bill. I questioned the Secretary of State as to whether we were wasting our time if it is the Government's opinion and decision

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that whatever happens in this House, we will not be listened to. It is important for Ministers to be aware of what was said in last Wednesday's speech. The Secretary of State responded to me by saying that she felt that a consensus had, in large part, been reached, and that what she had said had a lot to do with the difference between our two Houses.

This is tremendously important, particularly given some of the interventions from noble Lords in the Bill's first day in Committee, when a real concern was raised as to whether the Minister would listen to what we had to say, given that pre-legislative scrutiny had taken place. I made it clear that noble Lords on this side of the House—and I believe I speak for all noble Lords—are not content to substitute pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill for proper scrutiny in this House.

On Amendment No. 22, amid our concern with communications network and service providers, I am anxious that we appreciate the impact of regulatory change on our creative industries and on the music industry in particular. The Bill rightly focuses on the importance of independent producers in other areas, but I feel that we are in danger of overlooking an industry whose fortunes are linked inextricably with those of the communications industry more broadly.

The success of individuals and companies in the music industry is closely dependent on the opportunities for the creation of music for and broadcasting of music by national and regional radio and television services in the United Kingdom. Reform of the regulatory environment for communications directly impacts on the music industry. We recognise that Ofcom is taking on duties of enormous breadth and complexity, and that it will be required to balance a huge range of different interests. We do not seek to add to those duties unnecessarily. I genuinely feel, however, that the inclusion of an additional general duty to secure the best conditions for the creation and supply of new and quality creative content to television and radio services would be a welcome addition to the Bill. The British music industry is a significant economic and cultural asset, and if it is in our power to secure optimal conditions for its development, I feel we should do so. I beg to move.

Viscount Falkland: In supporting the amendment, I remind Members of the Committee that a similar amendment, put before the House of Commons, was judged to be over-specific. The argument was that accepting the amendment would compromise the flexibility of Ofcom on the grounds that it would place in balance the interests of creators in relation to other interests—the general public interest in particular. One could argue, and I would argue on this occasion, that that is not the purpose or thrust of this amendment. Rather, the amendment would provide an assurance that the regulatory body, Ofcom, took into account the interests of the creators, but not that those interests would be in any way pre-eminent.

I imagine the Minister will say that it is the purpose of the content board to ensure that those creative interests are considered. May one suggest that there should be a statutory duty for the regulator to take

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account of those important forces in broadcasting who create the content that we all, by and large, enjoy? That would be preferable to referring the responsibility to a sub-board entirely composed of non-creative people or, to use the word in the amendment, without creators on it.

The House will explore the issue of the content board later in the progress of the Committee. It may be appropriate to suggest that it would be pertinent for Ofcom to consider the establishment of a creator's panel, the chair of which would sit on the content board for relevant purposes. I am sure that positive action in the area to which the amendment indicates that the Government may go would provide a great deal of assurance to the music-creating industry, which the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, mentioned. That industry's concerns about regulation and market developments would be properly considered.

In the meantime, we support the amendment, as it clearly attempts to enshrine the interests of creators in the legislation.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I make a brief contribution as the footnote of a scholiast to what my noble friend Lady Buscombe said at the beginning of her speech.

My experience of audiences addressed by Ministers is that they much enjoy their own textual analysis of what is said. I remember, when I was a Minister, someone who is now a noble Lord in this House saying that he always enjoyed after-dinner speeches by Ministers. He sought to detect the bits written in the department before the Minister set out and those bits that the Minister added during the drive to the dinner to add a personal touch. It is sometimes perfectly clear that the Minister has not actually read the speech at all before delivering it. I have been in the audience when that has happened. One can see him distancing himself from the text as he utters it.

I do not doubt for a moment that the Secretary of State had read whichever speech it was that she read out to the Westminster Media Forum, but it is just possible that she had not read it quite as carefully in advance of delivering it as she would have liked. In the course of the speech, as my noble friend Lady Buscombe said, she chose to distance herself from and to amend the speech orally. She may have realised that the speech had some downside in terms of its potential consequences. If the potential consequence was to give the impression that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had given up on the scrutiny of your Lordships' House and was taking your Lordships' House for granted, I cannot help feeling that the Secretary of State might have been making a mistake.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: Let me straightaway deal with the question of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State's speech. I was not there, so I did not hear what she said, but I can give all Members of the Committee who have raised the question the assurance that my right honourable friend is absolutely clear about the importance of scrutiny in this House.

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My right honourable friend is also fully aware that there are some contentious issues. I believe that she was saying that many of the provisions in the Bill are the subject of general agreement. After all, the Bill has around 450 clauses. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, and the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, would accept that much of what is in the Bill is a matter of agreement throughout the House. That does not mean to say that there should not be very careful scrutiny—

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