Previous Section Index Home Page

6.4 pm

Mr. Rob Wilson (Reading, East) (Con): I am a supporter of the BBC and value its history. I had intended to spend some time talking about the great contribution that the BBC has made to this country and the world over many years. That was until I heard Sir Michael Lyons this morning on the radio, so I will take all that good stuff as read. On Radio 4 he suggested that if Parliament stopped the rise in the licence fee, it was a recipe for curbing the independence of the BBC. What absolute nonsense. It strays dangerously into politics. My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) was right about that, and Sir Michael should have stayed well away from the issue, because the public no longer
20 May 2009 : Column 1598
trust the BBC rigorously to enforce balance as it once did and was once famous for. The latest reported indiscretions involve the complaints that the BBC Trust upheld about the accuracy and bias of Jeremy Bowen in an article that he published marking the 40th anniversary of the six-day war. The trust said that Bowen

That breach of impartiality guidelines underlines the BBC’s failure in recent years to stop its innate liberal bias from turning into unbalanced reporting. The BBC’s pro-metropolitan, liberal attitude is well documented. Some of the most significant work on the topic was compiled by ex-BBC producer Antony Jay for the Centre for Policy Studies. In his pamphlet entitled, “Confessions of a Reformed BBC Producer”, he describes the tribal-like mentality of BBC employees. Jay claims that BBC staff worked and socialised with people who have the same experiences and believe in the same principles, naturally reinforcing their pre-existing prejudices. Jay confessed:

More recently, Andrew Marr famously described the BBC as not “impartial or neutral”, arguing that it had a “cultural liberal bias” due to the type of people who were attracted to work there.

The European elections in June represent a particularly difficult challenge for the BBC: licence fee payers expect the BBC not only to give a fair hearing for the major political parties, but to report impartially on the debate between European integrationists and Eurosceptics. So far, it has been a challenge too far. An internal report for the BBC in 2005 found that its news suffered from an “institutional mindset” that led to a

It said that the BBC journalists are ignorant of how the EU works and have failed to show how much of British policy originates in Brussels, and it criticised managers who

The report concluded that

Unfortunately, urgent action has not been forthcoming. Another internal investigation in 2007 accused the BBC of trendy left-wing bias and stated that it was guilty of omitting opinions that were

The report noted that the BBC had come late to several important issues, including Euroscepticism and immigration.

The BBC’s liberal obsession with multiculturalism means that it has become completely out of touch with large swathes of the country. The corporation has effectively censured the topics that people care about, because of its culture of uber-political correctness. That is also why the BBC gives a fairer hearing to trendy left-wing organisations such as Amnesty International and Liberty yet treats spokespeople for the Countryside Alliance and Migrationwatch UK as eccentric bores.

Mr. David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): Hear, hear!

Mr. Wilson: Thank you very much.

20 May 2009 : Column 1599

The BBC continues to demonstrate scant regard for balance and decency. At the heart of the issue, I fear, is the lack of willpower on the part of BBC senior executives to stand up to its high-profile broadcasters and performers. The BBC cares more about its high-profile and well-paid employees than about the people who actually pay their wages. That is why my constituents, like my colleagues, will not accept willingly an increase in this TV tax.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. I have a difficulty, because the Secretary of State would like to make a short reply and the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) is entitled to have the last word; perhaps, though, he is not interested in having it.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): May I have two minutes?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Mr. Davies can have one minute, and I will allow the balance to the Secretary of State.

6.9 pm

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): I am sure that one minute is about as much as people will be able to stomach from me anyway; your judgment is wise, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The issue before us is whether the BBC needs an increase in funding. I have been prompted to speak because of the appalling mathematics that have been on show in the House, particularly from the hon. Members for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) and for Bath (Mr. Foster). The issue is not about making a cut to the BBC’s income, but about not giving the BBC an increase. When somebody’s pay is frozen, it is frozen, not cut—they have just not been given an increase. The BBC’s problem is that it sees no increase as a cut, because it has become so feather-bedded by the licence fee and the taxpayer. It has become totally out of touch with the economic reality faced by everybody else.

I should like to make a particular point before I conclude. The BBC is supposed to be for the whole country, but recently, for example, it made a decision about horse racing, which is a sport that cuts across the social divide like nothing else. The BBC is trying to abandon such projects to go for the high-profile stuff; it completely lacks a good sense of priorities. It should concentrate on things that the British people as a whole want. The issue is about priorities. The BBC does not need all this increase, and that is why I will support the motion.

6.11 pm

Andy Burnham: With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to make a few brief comments in conclusion. It has been an excellent debate. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) made an excellent speech, and said two things with which I profoundly agree. He said that the BBC does not always get things right; he was right to say that, and it is right for it to be acknowledged. He also said that the BBC was not safe in Tory hands, and some of the views emanating from the Conservative
20 May 2009 : Column 1600
Benches this afternoon made that point abundantly clear to anybody who cared to pay attention. The argument from those Members was that the rest of the media industry was under pressure, so the BBC should be under pressure—the quality of all the media must go down. That is an awful argument.

There was a revealing moment when the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) was asked where the money would be found. The hon. Gentleman went over the line that we should never cross. He started saying that he would make cuts to the number of imported programmes; he said that he might offer up “The Wire”. That was a very revealing moment about Tory meddling in the BBC.

My hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan), chair of the all-party BBC group, said that Tory policy on broadcasting is about scrapping impartiality in non-public service broadcasting news. It is also about allowing product placement. That strategy would see the quality of TV news and broadcasting go right downhill, and the public do not want that. The Tories’ real policy is to cut the licence fee and top-slice—

6.13 pm

One and a half hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the motion, the Deputy Speaker put the Question (Standing Orders No s . 16(1) and 17(2) and Order, 18 May) .

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the Aye Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 156, Noes 334.
Division No. 140]
[6.13 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Bercow, John
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burt, Alistair
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver

Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Maples, Mr. John
Mason, John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rosindell, Andrew
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Stephen Crabb and
Bill Wiggin

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Baker, Norman
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Featherstone, Lynne
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kennedy, rh Jane
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok

Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Pearson, Ian
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Rogerson, Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Mark

Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Barbara Keeley and
Mr. Bob Blizzard
Question accordingly negatived.
20 May 2009 : Column 1601

20 May 2009 : Column 1602

20 May 2009 : Column 1603

20 May 2009 : Column 1604
6.30 pm

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There are now at least 25 flags of a proscribed terrorist organisation flying over Parliament square. You will have heard numerous points of order about the obstruction, expense and conduct of the Tamil demonstration. Although I understand that decisions about the conduct of public order are an operational matter for the police, the message being sent out about our tolerance of terrorism is a wider policy matter of importance to us all. I would invite you, as a matter of urgency, to communicate to the relevant authorities the view that the unimpeded and open support of a terrorist organisation in front of Parliament sends the most unhelpful wider message about the conduct of our counter-terrorist strategy.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he was going to raise that point of order, which I am sure will be of concern to the whole House. Mr. Speaker has expressed his own concerns about what is happening in Parliament square and all its implications, but as the hon. Gentleman knows, we do not have the full scope of authority to deal with the situation. However, I am grateful to him for putting the latest situation on the record, and I am sure that the relevant authorities will take note.

Next Section Index Home Page