Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker; I will be relatively brief. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles (Rebecca Long Bailey), I am a member of the National Union of Journalists’ parliamentary group—in fact, I am its secretary. It is really pleasing that there have been so many references to the issues around journalism and publishing from the hon. Members for Warrington South (Andy Carter), for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins) and for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney), as well as my hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles.

The NUJ welcomes the Bill wholeheartedly; Members who may not have been interested in the journalistic or publishing side of this issue will want to understand why. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles has described the way in which there has been erosion of local media and local press, as well as national cutbacks. While journalists have been losing their jobs, what has infuriated them is that where they are producing work—quality, reliable, regular news—that news is then being effectively ripped off on to other platforms and used to attract customers to advertising, and they get no recompense whatever. Members can understand why there is a depth of anger that has built up, and why the NUJ welcomes the Bill. We have been working with the News Media Association as well, which also welcomes it, because we see it as restoring some elements of the balance of power between the big tech giants and the journalists and publishers themselves.

To a certain extent, I agree with the hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami) about the importance of the accountability of regulators and ensuring that they can play their role effectively. Part of the problem on regulation at the moment is the forest of regulators that we have and their accountability. About five years ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles and I commissioned a report from Lord Prem Sikka. I will send the hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden a copy, because it identified something like 50 different regulators in the finance sector stumbling over each other, not being held particularly to account by this place. I see the solution as being more about shifting the balance of power not to regulators, although they should be held accountable, but to the journalists and publishers themselves. That is why part 3 of the Bill is key for us. It demonstrates a firmness of purpose by the Government in ensuring proper regulation and the restoration of the balance of power, but the devil will be in the detail of the implementation of these regulations and clauses in particular.

I am anxious, like others, about clause 29. It just looks like a gaping loophole that could emerge in the coming period. The NUJ stands ready to engage in any discussions and consultations on the implementation of all the clauses in part 3, particularly in regard to guidelines, the final offer mechanism, the issues around timescales of the implementation and, if necessary, the sanctions that could be brought forward for any individual organisation that is dragging its feet and delaying an agreement on the final offer so that people are properly rewarded.

The hon. Member for Richmond Park raised the issue of intellectual property. That is an issue not only for journalists and others, but for performers. It has been raised with Equity, and Equity stands willing to engage in the discussions with the Government on these matters.

Overall, the significance of this legislation, for us and for the NUJ in particular, is that it could be another brick in the wall of restoring some of the infrastructure and architecture that we had for quality journalism in this country. In that sense, that is why we welcome it. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles that it is one part and much more needs to be done, including investment in the BBC and elsewhere, such as local radio services. Instead, we have this dispute.

We also need to ensure proper investment in local journalism. There have been some developments under this Government to support local journalism. Money has been hived into particular support for community journalism, but there is a lot more to do, and that is why the union wishes to engage in a full consultation with the Government about the long-time future of quality journalism in this country. With those few remarks, I welcome the legislation. We will work on the detail. As I say, we and the unions stand ready to involve ourselves in the consultation on the guidelines for implementation.

Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search