|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Our report and Ofcoms report made it clear that despite this changing world, audiences care about public service content and, interestingly, care more about local content and so-called hyper-local content. They care that it is provided in a format and by providers beyond just the BBC, whereby we have, in the jargon of broadcasting policymakers, competition and plurality beyond the BBC. It is less clear how that should be delivered and what the future platform should be.
Taken together, however, we have significant contribution already in Scotland, which has been mentioned this evening. We have public service content delivered by strong brands across Scotland, enshrined in SMG, the BBC and Alba, with regional variations within the nation. However, as my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Tradeston rightly points out, commercial broadcasters are going through a particularly challenging time, given the huge expansion of digital broadcasting, online access and declining advertising revenues.
Perhaps I may underscore this. The noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, reminds us that advertisers are not flocking to commercial television in either the same volumes or, importantly, at the same prices as they were only four or five years ago. Some providers in the market tell me that they are facing declines of between 20 per cent and 30 per cent, when one looks at comparable year-on-year performances. Indeed, one major player in the market told me only two or three hours ago that it believed that when and if we come out of the cyclical recession facing these providers, we will see a structural repricing of advertising inventory in television which could see the rebased price at between 25 per cent and 30 per cent below what it was before the market hit a recession. This is a profound change in the sources of funding available for quality broadcasting and contenthence the timeliness of these debates.
This Government recognise that there is a need to secure adequate provision of content for the nations and, as we explained in our Digital Britain interim report, we need at least one other provider of scale, as well as the BBC, for the future; noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, underlined that. We will later come back to how we will do that. Ofcom suggests that the current model may be unsustainable for the longer term, so our current review provides us with an ideal opportunity to provide some answers for PSB in Scotland and the UK as a whole.
My noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Steel, asked specifically about the arrangements between ITV plc and SMG plc. These rest on a mixture of contractual arrangements, the undertakings to the Competition Commission given at the time of the Carlton and Granada merger and the networking arrangements between the channel 3 licensees. The undertakings, as well as dealing with the CRR, also require ITV plc to offer airtime sales to SMG plc on
25 Feb 2009 : Column 283
All the parties to the networking arrangements agree that the changes since 2003 require a more fundamental reappraisal of the arrangements. What they do not agree on is how and what the final outcome should be. The Office of Fair Trading has said that while it has not included the undertakings that applied protections to the minority licensees in the CRR remedy review, it proposes to consider these issues separately and it is contact with Ofcom and the other parties concerned. Ofcom has made it clear that it intends to undertake a review of the networking arrangements during this year and is mindful of the need for them to work effectively and of the economic impact of any changes to the arrangements on individual licensees. Therefore, to answer directly the questions of the noble Lords, Lord Steel and Lord Maclennan, we will invite Ofcom in I hope its fullest, robust and independent form, with the Office of Fair Trading, to consider the longer-term implications of the airtime sales provisions alongside Ofcoms review of the networking arrangements.
The Government are clear that there is a priority for investment in UK original content at a scale which can deliver high-quality impartial news at UK and international level for the devolved nations and the English regions. The Government believe that plurality of provision, particularly in news and current affairs, is fundamentally important. Our ambition is to identify not an immediate solution, but the right solution for the medium to long term.
My noble friend refers to Scottish content and production. This is an intriguing question. For a nation with its own devolved institution, I, for one, recognise the importance, having been reared on it, of having news and content that reflects the nations sense of itself. If I am allowed a personal observation, one of the things that we are seeing as a catch-up after the devolution agreements is how critical that is to a nation states sense of itself.
The question that we are trying to answer is how we can achieve this, and that is rightly under scrutiny. We welcome the close attention that the BBC Trust is giving to ensuring that the BBC is playing its full part in meeting audience demand in Scotland for more content on Scottish topics presented from a Scottish perspective. We agree with the trust that the BBC can significantly increase network production in Scotland in a sustainable way, and we welcome the somewhat more stretching targets that it has adopted. The trust has decided that the BBC should source at least 17 per cent of its network television production under the definition set by Ofcom, and reach an interim target of 12 per cent by 2012. The trust has our full support in encouraging the BBC to press forward as rapidly as possible towards these targets.
In terms of coverage, the trust is rightly challenging the BBC to raise its game further in the provision of news in the nations and regions, including considering additional resourcing, and the trust has asked the
25 Feb 2009 : Column 284
My noble friend also asked about the potential for reclassifying the production arm of SMG plc to independent status. This is something on which I have form and conviction, and in which I am interested; we are exploring this through our work around public service broadcasting in the nations, and I am hopeful that we will have something determinative to say on this issue very soon.
The Government are considering a spectrum of options for the future of public service broadcasting which fall within four broad categories that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. First is an option whereby plurality is provided through a public service content provider that would draw on Channel 4s strength, but with scale and a recast remit, and specific obligations in relation to the nations, particularly around news provision.
Second is an option whereby existing providers and new entrants provide content through a competitive funding system. Again, there is a question of scale, and this could range from the competitive funding model for current PSB providers or, indeed, as Ofcom raised in its recent review, through a new network model established as a competitive fund offering Scottish-wide television, local television, online provision and radio. The question of whether a competitive fund would have sufficient scale or impact, or could act as a genuine competitor for the BBC, genuinely requires further consideration, not least because of the comparative funding position of the BBC under its current licence-fee settlement and the commercial broadcasters, given their particular commercial position.
The third option is to allow the current PSB system to evolve naturally, without any government intervention, whereby the nations would continue to benefit from the existing obligations on the BBC, ITV and the channel 3 licence holders, as I have already mentioned.
The fourth option is the creation of a wholly new channel or digital network for Scotland. This was also considered by Ofcom in its recent review. While the benefit of having a dedicated channel providing Scottish content would give Scottish viewers news and content that reflected Scottish culture and society, there is no guarantee that such a network would have the reach and access envisaged, given increased audience fragmentation. This option deserves considerably greater work.
Prioritisation of any public funding under any of the options must be carefully considered, especially given the current macroeconomic environment. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, points out, despite the analytical and political consensus on the final report, there was an interesting absence of answer to the question of where the funding comes from. Given the competing priorities in these public service questions, it is not evident that the £75 million number is one that one can support.
The current framework, whilst it has served the UK well to date, may not serve as well in the new digital future. That is the key question I would like to leave noble Lords with. We are particularly keen to hear from business leaders within the Scottish broadcasting industry, and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will be discussing this with them at a Digital Britain broadcasting summit in Glasgow in March, where we hope to discuss these options in greater detail.
I am very grateful to noble Lords for their contributions to this debate, and of course welcome their continued input as we move towards deciding the right public service broadcasting framework. We shall continue our work in earnest, which will culminate in the Governments final report in the summer, where we will have an answer to these and other related questions. I am afraid I cannot answer tonight the questions of the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, specifically on how and what those funding and structural answers will be, as we are in active consultation on those questions, as I have outlined this evening. The key question we all have to have an eye on is how to have a solution for the digital future as well as one that respects our broadcasting past. I thank noble Lords for the debate.
(a) may be liable to arrest by a constable under section 24(1), (2) or (3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (c. 60) or Article 26(1), (2) or (3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (S.I. 1989/1341 (N.I. 12)), or
(b) is subject to a warrant for arrest.
(a) must arrange for a constable to attend as soon as is reasonably practicable,
(b) may search the individual for, and retain, anything that might be used to assist escape or to cause physical injury to the individual or another person,
(c) must retain anything found on a search which the immigration officer thinks may be evidence of the commission of an offence, and
(d) must, when the constable arrives, deliver to the constable the individual and anything retained on a search.
(a) pursue the individual, and
(b) return the individual to the port.
Baroness Hanham: This follows on from our earlier discussion on PACE. Under the UK Borders Act 2007, PACE applies for immigration officers, but also laid out very clearly in the Act is this clause on detention. It seemed to me that this was as important in this legislation as elsewhere, because detention by those who are not police officers and who do not have police powers is onerous not only on them but on the people whom they are detaining.
It seems more than proper that how people are detained and the terms of detention should be laid out on the face of the Bill. That is why we have put this in. We feel that it should be there to be referred to as part of this Bill and subsequently as part of this Act. The amendment would simply designate the powers of a designated immigration officer or designated customs official as to what they cannot do when they are arresting someone and holding them for three hours, because that is all that they are entitled to do before they pass the person to the police for charging or consideration of charging. The measure was important enough for the 2007 Act; it is certainly important enough for this one. I beg to move.
Lord Avebury: As I understand it, this amendment repeats the powers of detention that UKBA officials already have under the UK Borders Act 2007 to detain a person for as long as is reasonably necessary while a search is being carried out. HMRC officials already have this power and they can detain a person who does not agree to a search and can make an arrest if necessary. Designated UKBA officials will inherit these powers, as it were. However, the differences between their powers of arrest and search when acting in their two different capacities may well cause problems. I can see the argument for aligning the powers between the two roles and I would like to know why there is a need for designated immigration officers to act under different statutory provisions regarding detention and search according to whether they are acting in one role or the other. Will it always be clear to both the designated immigration officer and the individual being searched or detained under which set of powers they are operating? Will the person who is effecting the detention serve notice on the individual to be detained or searched under which set of powers he is acting?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): I thank the noble Lords for those two points. They have raised a couple of issues that I was not quite clear on, so I would very much like to take this away and think about it, as there
25 Feb 2009 : Column 287
Baroness Hanham: I am always very happy to have enlightenment on these matters. I am happy to withdraw the amendment, but perhaps the Minister can let us have whatever he is looking at in good time so that we can come back to this matter on Report, if we think that that is required. I shall wait for illumination and, for today, beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
(a) omit solely, and
(b) at the end insert (whether or not it is also used for the detention of other persons for any period).
Lord West of Spithead: I am taking government Amendments 34 and 125 together, as they are related. They are linked to the provision that we are making elsewhere in Part 1 to ensure the effective application of PACE and the related codes of practice to the UK Border Agency. The amendments will provide the agency and Her Majestys Revenue and Customs with the flexibility in the future to use short-term holding facilities to detain persons other than those who are detained under the administrative provisions of the immigration legislation.
The new clause achieves that by amending the definition of a short-term holding facility in Section 147 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. A consequential amendment is also made to the schedule to this Bill. As a result of the amendment, the definition of a short-term holding facility will be,
I should stress that these amendments do not impact in any way on the treatment of administrative immigration detainees. The treatment of such persons will continue to be governed by existing arrangements, and the period for which their detention in a short-term holding facility is permitted will be unaffected.
The amendment will simply allow the UK Border Agency and HMRC to use short-term holding facilities to detain persons following arrest where this is in accordance with the provisions that we are making in relation to the application of PACE and the associated codes of practice. I hope that the Committee will agree to it.
Baroness Hanham: This takes us back very smartly to considering the need for the previous amendment, which is to be looked at, as that will of course govern what happens in short-term holding facilities. The Minister was silent on what a short-term holding facility is. If it is a facility for seven days, surely it cannot be a police cell. Perhaps when the Minister responds he will be kind enough to tell us what is meant by a short-term holding facility, as well as who is in charge of it and what facilities are available to those being detained. Under the Immigration and Asylum Act, the detainees should not be there for longer than three hours if an immigration officer or customs official is in charge. If it is for longer, they should be held by the police. What is the facility that we are talking about? Perhaps the Minister will let us know. Will he also tell us who is in charge of these holding facilities? Is it the police or the agents of the UK Border Agency? May we hear a bit more about it?
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: The Minister has answered one of my questions, which is how short term is short term. Some of the other so-called short-term detentions run into months and years, but I understand that we are not talking about those facilities here. The questions raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, concern matters that we, too, want to know about, but I should also like to know the extent of what we are talking about in relation to these facilities. Are we talking about detention centres outside the UKfor example, at Sangatte near Calais? I echo the questions of the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, about who is in charge and particularly whether this provision applies to places outwith the UK. If it does apply to holding centres in other countries, will they be staffed by UK border staff or will that work be subcontracted to in-country people? Those are my initial questions, although I may want to come back when the Minister has had a chance to answer some of them.
Lord Hylton: One can understand that there might be a need for a short-term holding facility for a few hours where some queries or problems arise or where there is a lack of the right person to deal with the case, but it makes one a little suspicious when this new type of facility is introduced as a government amendment in Committee, previously unannounced. Does it mean that there will be many places in such short-term holding facilities, on top of the existing and considerable number for long-term detention? Is it envisaged, or could there be cases, in which people are transferred from short-term holding to indefinite detention places? The whole thing is obscure and may not be entirely satisfactory.
Lord Avebury: I supposed that there would be some explanation of a short-term holding facility in Part 8 of the Immigration and Asylum Act, but I know of cases where persons have been arrested and taken into police custody for short periods. Those are the sort of places where the seven-day limit applies. Presumably, if the police hold people in cells for a short time before transferring them to immigration removal centres, they are required to operate under the PACE codes of practice. That makes it all the more incongruous that somebody held in that manner can be given the protection
25 Feb 2009 : Column 289
This relates to something that happened to come up this morning in the Home Affairs Sub-Committee, of which I am a member. There is a directive coming down the track from Europe under which unaccompanied minors should not be detained at all. What will the arrangements be in future for them? Have the Government anticipated the legislation coming into force from Europe, with which I believe we are likely to line up? If so, what arrangements will they have for holding unaccompanied minors who are thought to be illegal entrants but cannot be held either in immigration removal centres or short-term holding facilities under this clause?
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|