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Lord Puttnam: For the sake of clarity, the Minister is right in one sense. The words "around the world" are included under programming described as news and current affairs. They have been omitted, or removed, I should say, from,

I would be completely happy if the words "and from around the world" could be added to paragraph (h); I would be a very content person.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Let us think about that. We have already debated Clause 260, but that does not mean that further improvements at the margin are not possible at later stages of the Bill. It is a legitimate point. I do not want to dismiss it without thinking about it.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Do I summarise fairly the Minister's proposition by saying that the provisions of Clause 261 are in addition to the provisions of Clause 260; that is, that where one refers to Channel 3, Channel 4 or Channel 5 services, all of the provisions of Clause 260 will apply to those channels notwithstanding the provisions of Clause 261?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: That is correct. Clause 260 is the overall remit for all public service broadcasters. Clause 261 defines the remit, deliberately in summarised form, because we do not want to repeat everything for Channels 3, 4 and 5.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Does the Minister concede that Clause 261 summarises what is in Clause 260 and does not repeat everything, the phrase, I think, that was used? I understand what the Minister says. Is there not a danger that others—as I did—will read Clause 261 as being a more specific requirement for Channels 3, 4 and 5, set out separately in Clause 261, and that therefore there could hereafter be deemed to be a clash between the two? Put another way, everything in Clause 261 is in Clause 260 "with knobs on". One therefore wonders what on earth is the point of Clause 261.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The point about Clause 260, as I hope I made clear, is that it is enforceable. It is an obligation on the programmers to put programme policies to Ofcom. It is an obligation on Ofcom to review those programme policies, to report on them and to see that what has been promised is adequate in terms of the detailed requirements of Clause 260 and is carried out.

Clause 260 specifies the difference between Channels 3 and 5. One does not need to repeat everything; one just refers to high quality and diverse programming, which summarises but will not replace

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the obligations in Clause 260. However, it has to be distinguished from Channel 4 where we have made a deliberate decision, which I hope is welcome, to repeat the successful remit established when Channel 4 was first set up. Because of the enforcement powers leading from Clause 260 there is no possibility of lower standards driving out higher standards.

Viscount Falkland: I am grateful to the Minister for his full and interesting reply. I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, for his amplification to the content of the amendment, which I moved in his name. The debate has been lively and fascinating. We have reached a subject central to the changes which are taking place or are envisaged in the Bill. I am grateful also to my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury who, in his usual articulate way, has analysed a problem. The House will be in his debt and that of the Minister for having to some extent resolved the difficulties of bringing together Clauses 260 and 261.

The remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, with her experience, were apposite. I took seriously what she said. One can be over-prescriptive and over-regulate. It is possible that there is a tendency with our tradition to do that. Nevertheless, I hope that our public service remit, unique as it is, will remain in the way we have envisaged it even though we may not have expressed it in a way entirely suitable for the Bill. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 190 not moved.]

Clause 261 agreed to.

Clause 262 agreed to.

Clause 263 [Changes of programme policy]:

[Amendment No. 191 not moved.]

Clause 263 agreed to.

Clauses 264 and 265 agreed to.

Clause 266 [Enforcement of public service remits]:

Lord Holme of Cheltenham moved Amendment No. 192:

    Page 237, line 22, at end insert—

( ) Such failure shall include, without exclusion of other public service responsibilities, a failure to provide such coverage of the proceedings of Parliament, and other elected legislatures within the United Kingdom, as is appropriate and necessary for civic understanding of their purpose and practices."

The noble Lord said: The purpose of Amendment No. 192 is to ensure that whatever other criteria may be used to define a failure to meet public service requirements, they shall include a failure to ensure proper coverage of Parliament and its proceedings and, indeed, of other democratic parliaments or assemblies within the UK. Put more positively, the aim is to ensure that coverage of Parliament is a core element of public service obligations in broadcasting.

There are some—I include myself—who believe that accountability, transparency and governance of the BBC, which after all is the gold standard of public service broadcasting, would be greatly improved with a clear definition of "public service". I am not in

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favour of the British vagueness of which the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, spoke so warmly. I am rather in favour on an important issue such as this of precision.

However, the amendment is not about that larger question; it deals with the very specific issue of parliamentary coverage, on the basis that public service in a parliamentary democracy must mean as an irreducible minimum the promotion of proper understanding by the citizens of the way in which they are represented and governed.

I should declare an interest here, as chairman of the Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government, which coincidentally tonight is launching a report entitled A Tale of Two Houses, which examines how Parliament and parliamentarians are viewed by those who are not traditionally involved in Westminster, drawn in this case from regular viewers of "Big Brother". I can assure the Committee that it makes extremely interesting reading—and very depressing reading in many ways.

It is not the purpose of the amendment to say that much good work is not done by broadcasters. "Yesterday in Parliament" on the radio is a fine example of what can be done. The recent reform of using Central Lobby to get immediacy after debates is a great step forward. But we cannot be entirely confident that the management of broadcasters who have public service obligations will always be sensitive and will always treat this issue with the importance that it deserves. In our society, particularly now that the press relies increasingly on sketches and dramatic political controversy, the broadcasters are one of the main means by which citizens understand what their representatives are doing and why.

No doubt we could do a great deal more on our side of the fence to make the proceedings of Parliament more accessible and comprehensible, as the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons has indicated, and as the former Leader of the House, Robin Cook, also intimated. But I believe that broadcasters have a bottom-line responsibility, and they must not be allowed to evade it.

In 1999 MORI carried out an opinion poll for the Hansard Society which showed that 75 per cent of the general public agreed that it was important to have live extracts from Parliament, showing what MPs actually say. Of those who had seen such live extracts, 85 per cent agreed that it was very important to have that, rather than simply intermediation of political reporting. Interestingly, the public are far more likely to recall live coverage of parliamentarians speaking than they are political commentators reporting on what was said in Parliament.

In particular, I do not think it is desirable for Parliament to be treated wholly and solely as a prop in the adversarial drama of partisan politics. It is a sort of tabloid agenda: very high on stimulating sensation, but very low on creating understanding. The amendment is addressed as much as anything to what we might call the populist tendency, which is represented at very senior levels in the BBC and other broadcasters, and the populist tendency is to believe

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that Parliament is simply a subset of politics, and that politics is simply a subset of showbiz. That tendency must be discouraged, which is the intention of the amendment. I hope that it will be taken as encouragement by all those in the BBC—there are many of them—and in the other public service broadcasters, who, often in the face of internal pressures to trivialise, keep the mission of clear communication of Parliament's work alive and kicking.

Baroness Buscombe: I rise to support the amendment, to which my name has been added.

As the noble Lord, Lord Holme, said, the clause seeks to ensure that if Ofcom is of the opinion that a public service channel or teletext provider has not fulfilled its public service remit, Ofcom may exercise its powers under the clause. The amendment ensures that the public service obligation will not be deemed to have been satisfied if there is a failure to provide coverage of the proceedings of Parliament or other elected legislatures. It provides a necessary democratic safeguard by offering members of society the opportunity to remain informed about parliamentary work and procedure. Whilst we appreciate the importance of choice, we believe that providing the freedom to choose can be effected only if the information is supplied by the appropriate institutions.

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