Office of Communications Bill [Lords]

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The Chairman: Order. I have been listening carefully to the hon. Lady's comments. I understand that she wishes to illustrate her point and I do not want to prevent her from so doing. However, I am obliged to remind her that she has named a Member of Parliament. The noble Lady is a Member of another House. If an hon. Member intends to refer to another Member in that way, the courtesy is always to notify

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that Member first. I should like to reassure myself that the hon. Lady has done so.

Miss McIntosh: On that basis, I withdraw the reference and apologise for any discourtesy.

Paul Farrelly: I repeat my previous question. Is this now official Conservative party policy, extending to all similar public appointments, even perhaps the panel that appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury, or is it an ad hoc proposal for the Bill?

Miss McIntosh: I assure the Committee that the amendment relates only to this Bill. Depending on its success, we may wish to extend its principle at a subsequent stage. I take your cautionary remarks seriously, Mr. Gale, and thank you for them. Similar concerns have been raised about an appointment to the BBC. For that reason, without going any further, it is incumbent on us to ensure that the strictest interpretation of the Nolan rules will be read into the Bill. That is the purpose of amendments Nos. 28 and 31.

I have referred to amendments Nos. 37 and 38, and concern has been expressed in several representations to us that while Members of both Houses of Parliament are increasingly subjected, rightly, to the most detailed disclosures of our financial interests, the

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Bill may enter us into a situation in which an ordinary member, executive member, chairman, deputy chairman or chief executive of Ofcom who did not have to make such a disclosure on a public register enters into a potential conflict of interests. That would be regrettable, and that is the background to these amendments.

Michael Fabricant: I notice that amendment No. 38 talks about the register of interests being publicly accessible. Does my hon. Friend mean that in the old sense-in that a book will be made available for so many hours each day-or does she see the list being published on the internet? Would that in itself be controlled by Ofcom?

Miss McIntosh: I am open to suggestions on that point, and the Committee may want to consider that. I hope that hon. Members can see the general thrust and purpose of the amendments. One would make the Nolan rules as open and written into the Bill as possible; the other would include a register whereby any pecuniary interests would be open to reference.

Debate adjourned.-[Mr. Pearson.]

Adjourned accordingly at three minutes to Five o'clock till Tuesday 29 January at half-past Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Gale, Mr. Roger (Chairman)
Allan, Mr.
Bailey, Mr.
Bryant, Mr.
Fabricant, Mr.
Farrelly, Mr.
Grogan, Mr.
Howells, Dr.
Jackson, Glenda
Kemp, Mr.
Linton, Martin
McIntosh, Miss
Miller, Mr.
Pearson, Mr.
Picking, Anne
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Thomas, Mr. Simon
Watkinson, Angela
White, Brian

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