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Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for allowing me to intervene again. Is the noble Lord saying that the Government will go further than the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam? There is no reference in that amendment to the "high quality" mentioned by the Minister. The only requirement in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, is for balanced and impartial presentation of news and balanced presentation of comment. There is nothing about sufficiency of news or comment. It then goes on to refer to a wide range of voices. It mentions nothing about quality.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, my Lords. I am saying that we are going further than the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam. I am saying that I have done my best in my contribution to the previous debate to set out the basis on which we will uphold the principles of plurality, with which we agree. I am saying that that is directly relevant to the issue of foreign ownership. A very much better argument needs to be brought forward for the paradoxical wish to retain national restrictions when these restrictions have to be shown to be damaging to the national interest.

I am saying to the House that it is in this country's national interest to have free trade. I am saying that it is in our interest to have investment to and from this country. I am saying that there is protection not only in the content regulations which are already part of the Bill, but there is additional protection in the amendments on plurality which will be introduced at Third Reading.

Lord McNally: My Lords, I appreciate the Minister's indignation, but the basic facts are that any of the American groups that will come calling—for example, Disney—would walk past the plurality test. If the Government tried to stop them, I suggest that the Prime Minister would be hauled over to Camp David and any objections would be removed.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, it is a good rhetorical trick to intervene into someone's peroration, is it not? A very good rhetorical trick.

I am saying that if Disney or Viacom or any such organisations want to enter this market they will have to meet the conditions we will set down in a plurality test, which will include the quality conditions and the commitment to a code of standards conditions. On that basis, I would argue that the House should not

2 Jul 2003 : Column 939

approve the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, but should sustain the principle we unanimously supported in the previous debate on plurality.

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, I can be relatively brief because I am in the happy position that the Minister, for understandable reasons, prepared his speech before he heard mine. Virtually every point he made I had specifically dealt with in the course of my speech, except, perhaps, the last. On the last point, I can only say that I still do not believe it really makes a difference. If and when the company has passed the test and acquired, the question is whether regulation will be an effective weapon with which to defend one of the jewels in our broadcasting system.

I do not often find myself dealing with remarks made from my own Front Bench, but they are relatively easy here, too. My noble friend Lady Buscombe has simplified my task. She advanced only a single argument—one that she advanced at Second Reading—she did not speak in the Committee stage and she repeated her words from Second Reading this afternoon. I am not being difficult; they are useful words. I shall repeat them again so that we are all clear about them—

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I am sorry to intervene, but I did speak in Committee. I confirmed and reaffirmed what I had said at Second Reading.

Lord Crickhowell: Exactly, my Lords—my noble friend repeated what she had said at Second Reading. She said, in essence, that content is driven by consumer demand, not by ownership, and that because domestic programming is popular, it will be produced.

The noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, whose experience is probably second to none in this House, said something rather different in Committee:


    "In the television world, the whole point of acquiring another company is distribution. If it increases distribution, it increases profits, as my noble friend Lady Jay of Paddington pointed out. If American companies bought English companies, we would get not greater inward investment but the sale of American programmes in this country".—[Official Report, 5/6/03; col. 1467.]

I share that view.

One sometimes wonders what to do when the Whips on both sides, and the principal opposition party, decide to march their troops into the Lobby with the Government. Should those who disagree with them press the issue to a vote? Perhaps it is inevitable that, in the face of those great forces, one will go down to defeat. I believe that I should press the amendment to a vote because I believe, for the reasons I have set out, that one of the greatest jewels of our broadcasting system is being put at risk. I think it is right that I should at least give those who, like me, feel that that is not something that we should support, the opportunity to express themselves. Therefore, I propose to press the amendment to a Division.

6.23 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 193) shall be agreed to?

2 Jul 2003 : Column 940

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 116; Not-Contents, 127.

Division No. 2

CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridges, L.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chadlington, L.
Chan, L.
Chorley, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Colwyn, L.
Cooke of Thorndon, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L. [Teller]
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Dholakia, L.
Elton, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Fowler, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Greaves, L.
Greenway, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Haskins, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Hooper, B.
Hooson, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hylton, L.
Jacobs, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Laird, L.
Laming, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
McNally, L. [Teller]
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar, C.
Methuen, L.
Michie of Gallanach, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Monson, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Newby, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Patten, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Rix, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sandwich, E.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Selborne, E.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stern, B.
Stewartby, L.
Strange, B.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Truro, Bp.
Tugendhat, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Weatherill, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blatch, B.
Borrie, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Cox, B.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falkender, B.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fitt, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Glentoran, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Higgins, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Luke, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Manchester, Bp.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Moynihan, L.
Noakes, B.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rawlings, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Saatchi, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Seccombe, B.
Simon, V.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stallard, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Swinfen, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thornton, B.
Turnberg, L.
Uddin, B.
Ullswater, V.
Vivian, L.
Wakeham, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord President of the Council)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

2 Jul 2003 : Column 941

6.34 p.m.

Clause 340 [Modification of disqualification provisions]:


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