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I turn to Amendment No. 105. These are matters of great importance, which is why I am spending a little time on each distinct aspect. This is the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne, relating to the order made by the Secretary of State designating the code of practice being obliged to contain the full text. I have set out the general regime of exemption in Clause 31 and therefore do not repeat my observations.
The amendment requires that the order designating would have to publish the full text. We do not believe it is necessary because a code of practice may be quite a detailed and lengthy document. Any code of practice designated as suitable will be a public document, open to scrutiny by interested parties. I do not see any benefit in requiring the designating order to contain on its face the full terms of the code.
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: Will the noble Lord not agree that there is a difference between the other two branches of the media, radio and television, which have a contract with Parliament, and the code of practice to which the Minister refers now, which concerns the print media? The latter is merely a code of practice between the print media and the Secretary of State himself. There is no contract between the print media and Parliament at all. That is quite different from radio and television.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I do not believe that to be a correct construction of the legal position. As has been indicated, the broadcast media are subject to statutory controls and they are subject to that for perfectly good historic and, indeed, technical reasons. One is not looking at contract or not contract; one is looking at designation or not designation. Even were the position contractual, it would not assist to have all the details of a code on the face of a designation order. It is a public document, it is freely available to everyone who wants to look at it and there is no virtue in it. I do not see these matters as contractual; they are matters of designation, yes or no.
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: While I fully accept the point the Minister makes, that this a public document--it is fairly recent but readily available in any library--nonetheless it is not accountable to Parliament in the way that the broadcast media are to Acts of Parliament. Unless I am wrong, there is no similar legislation which refers to the print media, and it is the print media that I wish the Minister to look at in terms
Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is a difference between the print and the broadcast media, but that is a structural difference, because the broadcast media have a statutory basis for their existence, with the sanction as originally specified ultimately of removal of licence, and newspapers do not. They are all susceptible to be designated by order.
The basis of designation will be the Secretary of State saying, rather more elegantly than I, "This is the order which I propose to designate", but that will require parliamentary approval, and there is no suggestion that anything can be shuffled through under the carpet because these are public documents. The PCC code of November last year is not the only code there has ever been. There are other codes as well. There are the NUJ codes, for instance, which might or might not become relevant if application were made.
I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne, that there is a difference between the way the broadcast media are established and continue to be regulated (largely historical and technical) and the way that the press operates on a self-regulatory basis. The Government's policy is quite plain: we prefer self-regulation in this delicate area of press freedom, and the better the press regulates itself, as the Lord Chancellor has said on many occasions recently, the happier the Government would be.
Ultimately the sanction is here. The Secretary of State can designate or not designate. If the Secretary of State does not designate, the press would not, of course, have the protections that have been deliberately written, after a good deal of thought and consultation, into Clause 31.
Baroness Turner of Camden: Before the Minister sits down, I wonder whether he would accept that, as far as my amendment is concerned, it does not seek in any way to interfere with the freedom of the press. I am in the amendment simply seeking redress for individuals who in the course of the exercise of that freedom can claim that they have been damaged. This is a somewhat different issue from attempting to hamper the freedom of the press in any way.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: It is. This is why I have been careful--I was not going to sit down, I merely paused for breath!--in dealing with the amendments sequentially, and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, is the last on the list. I shall say a word or two about that, if I may.
I understand that this is quite a different point--and I summarise again--because it is the requirement for a code to provide redress, including compensation for an individual claiming and establishing personal damage. I shall review briefly once more: in the present PCC code there is no provision for compensation. It should be
Should the Press Complaints Commission wish to include a compensatory scheme on a voluntary basis, that would be a matter for that body. Clause 11 provides an entitlement to compensation for any individual who suffers as a result of any contravention by a data controller of any of the Bill's requirements. The statutory regime provided in Clause 11 is what should be done. I repeat: should the PCC wish to go further, it would be a matter for the PCC and in appropriate circumstances it might well be welcomed by the Government.
Within this group also, I am reminded, lies Government Amendment No. 96, which it might be convenient for me to deal with. This is to delete the words "as seen" and to insert further words. Clause 31, as I have now stated a number of times, provides the exemptions which we have deliberately considered. This amendment, suggested by the broadcast media, emphasises that the protection of freedom of expression is itself a matter of public interest. We believe that fundamentally to be so. It does not alter the intended effect of the Bill, but we have thought it appropriate to propose this amendment in response to particular concerns by the broadcast media.
Briefly, I should like to thank him for what he said on codes and broadcasters, which has explained the issues and deals ably with the concerns that some broadcasters have put to me on the subject. Again, on my two amendments, Nos. 97B and 103B, I accept what he has said; they had rather a scatter-gun approach and probably did not all link together.
There is one particular thing with which I shall come away from this brief debate. That is when the Minister said that Clause 11 could apply to an individual who suffers damage. Reading Clause 11, I see that it could apply to data controllers, which therefore includes broadcasters and journalists. We shall need to look at the issue quite closely. I must admit that I had not focused on how Clause 11 would apply to data controllers who might work in some part of the media.
With regard to the amendment that I moved, Amendment No. 95B, I accept what the noble Lord said. However, elsewhere in the Bill there is much mention of privacy and the rights of the individual. The problem is that journalists and the media have only read Clause 31; that is what they believe the Bill is all about. They have never got round to reading the rest of the Bill. They regard the rest of the Bill as verbiage for data controllers, insurance companies and such things. They look at Clause 31 and say, "Ah, this is what the media
We seem to be having a debate merely on the merits of a privacy law, and I personally have always been somewhat in favour of one. However, the Government of whom I was a Member did not come forward with any proposals, and did not even accept the Calcutt recommendations; and the Government of whom the noble Lord is a Member do not seem to be very keen on it either.
I am delighted with what the noble Lord said about the freedom of the press. If I take his words literally, I find it impossible to understand why he and his Front Bench team did not support my amendment on predatory pricing during the recent proceedings on the Competition Bill. However, that is as may be. I am grateful for the Minister's comprehensive reply. There are serious issues that have been discussed today and no doubt we shall have to discuss them further on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.