Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): What steps he plans to take to reform the law on copyright; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable): I am taking a number of steps to reform copyright law, in response to the Hargreaves review. Today, I am publishing the Government’s decision on changes to copyright exceptions, which I believe will achieve the right balance between creators, rights holders and users. The document, “Modernising Copyright: A modern, robust and flexible framework”, has been placed in the Library.

Mr Whittingdale: Does the Secretary of State agree that intellectual property rights and copyright underpin the success of our creative industries, which are so important to the economy? Is he concerned that many in those industries feel that the Government, on the back of the Hargreaves report, will dilute their intellectual property rights, not least in the area of exceptions to copyright law?

Vince Cable: The hon. Gentleman is right that the creative industries sector, which is crucial to the economy, depends heavily on intellectual property rights. However, we are dealing with a body of law that is extremely old—I believe that it goes back to Queen Anne. It certainly needs modification in the digital age. He is right that we need to move extremely carefully. That is why, over the last few weeks, we have been in discussions on some of the sensitive issues in relation to copying music and photography. When he studies the report in the Library, he will see that we have got the balance right between rights holders and liberalisation.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): My right hon. Friend will be aware that my Committee—the Culture, Media and Sport Committee—has perhaps tested the boundaries of Select Committee powers more than most. The situation seems unsatisfactory in two areas. First, when we served warrants on Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks to appear before the Committee, it was not at all clear what the consequences would be had they failed to respond to that summons. Secondly, when we reported to this House that we believed we had been lied to by people who had given evidence to the Committee, it was, and remains, extremely unclear what the consequences of that are.

Sir Alan Beith: That is certainly true and I think it is one of the issues that will have to be examined by the Joint Committee, which is about to embark on this work. The problems are difficult to solve and affect only a few inquiries. They certainly affected the work of my hon. Friend’s Committee, which was notably successful in getting some potentially unwilling witnesses to appear before it. I congratulate him on what the Committee achieved.

It should be stressed that, for the vast majority of the time, Committees deal with willing witnesses who are very happy to come and be examined by us, even if, sometimes, they are critically examined. Most of the time, we are gaining information from willing witnesses. I will come in a moment to what happens when we deal with Government. So far as all other bodies and persons are concerned, the instances in which a draconian power might be required are very few. My hon. Friend is right that such powers as the House has in this area are not very easy to use, and we will have to further consider that issue.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (1) if he will make it his policy to finance the installation costs for filters to allow reception of digital terrestrial television following the adoption of 4G mobile technology in (a) households with amplifiers fitted and (b) multiple dwelling units; [115386]

(2) what estimate he has made of the cost of installing filters to allow reception of digital terrestrial television (DTT) following the adoption of 4G mobile technology in (a) all DTT households, (b) DTT households with amplifiers fitted and (b) multiple dwelling units; [115387]

(3) if he will make it his policy to finance the cost of filters where necessary for second television sets to continue to receive digital terrestrial television following the adoption of 4G mobile technology. [115388]

Mr Vaizey [holding answer 5 July 2012]:As set out in the Government's announcement of 21 February, every home that needs one will be provided with a filter free of charge.

Owners of properties with communal distribution systems will be provided with the filter appropriate to such equipment, free of charge. Ofcom estimate that approximately 20,000 multi dwelling buildings could be affected. Ofcom estimate that the typical cost for a fitting a filter for a communal aerial installation would be around £220, although it could be significantly lower, and that there are an average of 16 dwellings served by each system. For multi-dwelling units similar to a single household property the costs would be similar to those for single occupancy buildings. It is normally the responsibility of each landlord to maintain any TV signal distribution system in the property, and this should extend to the fitting of any filter that is required. In general, we are not proposing to fund the fitting-of filters in these cases.

The one in four homes with residents deemed to be “vulnerable”—that is they meet the eligibility criteria that have been used for the Switchover Help Scheme—will be entitled to. installation of the filter, if needed, free of charge, The cost of fitting these filters should be much less than for an antenna installation. Charges may vary from installer to installer but typically could be as low as £50 + VAT. All these costs will be met from the £180 million funding to be provided by the mobile network operators.

Support specifically for second and subsequent sets will not be provided. This is consistent with the approach we took in TV switchover where help was provided (to those eligible) for one set only. All homes living in the geographical area where they are predicted to experience interference to TV reception will be sent one filter with clear instructions for installation. This includes the 60% of homes whose primary viewing is on satellite or cable platforms who will be able to use the filter on a secondary set connected to an aerial.

The funding provision of £180 million is based on Ofcom estimates of the size of the expected problem and includes a significant margin. A breakdown of how Ofcom arrived at this figure is contained within their recent consultation on coexistence between new services in the 800 MHz band and digital terrestrial television.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect on relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan of the release and repatriation of Ramil Safarov from prison in Hungary; and if he will make a statement. [120269]

Mr Lidington: We welcome the statements of the right hon. Baroness Ashton of Upholland and Commissioner Fule, and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairs, with regard to the pardon of Ramil Safarov, following his return from Hungary, and share their concern about the impact this may have on prospects for stability and peace in the region. We regret any action that is contrary to ongoing efforts to reduce regional tensions and promote reconciliation.

Moving forward, it is important that both sides exercise restraint—in actions and public statements—to prevent any escalation of the situation. Together with our EU and OSCE partners, we will continue to follow the situation closely and we stand together with the international community in supporting the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in their efforts to reduce tension and find a negotiated way forward to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I echo what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading East (Mr Wilson) and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The revelations of recent weeks raise serious questions, not just about the culture that existed in the BBC some years ago—and in other organisations—but about the way in which the BBC has handled the matter, and in particular the very damaging suggestion that the “Newsnight” investigation was suppressed. The director-general of the BBC has offered to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee next week, and I am sure that my colleagues will wish to take up that offer.

Maria Miller: I thank my hon. Friend for what he has said. I look forward to his Committee’s input, and the role that it will play in ensuring that these matters are handled transparently.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): We do not have a lot of time, and I do not want to detain the House unduly. However, although it is recognised that this matter forms only a small part of the Bill, the importance of the creative industries to our national economy, and the contribution that they are making to growth, is so essential that we need to look very carefully at anything that affects the livelihoods of those working there—and the creative industries rest on the protection of intellectual property rights.

On Second Reading, I suggested to the Secretary of State that clause 57—then clause 56—could be used to make substantial changes to copyright law through statutory instruments. I am grateful to him for meeting representatives of a wide range of creative industries to discuss those concerns. That has led, to some extent, to the amendment that the Government have tabled. As the Minister said, several representatives of the creative industries, such as UK Music, the British Copyright Council, the Publishers Association and the Premier League have said that they are now satisfied.

However, as the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr Wright) said, that is not a unanimous view across the industry. The Minister has assured us that this is about enforcing penalties but, despite the Government’s amendment, the clause does not mention penalties. I am therefore still not clear as to why the Government did not accept the suggestion that they make it absolutely explicit in the Bill that it is all about penalties. Instead, it talks about exceptions, and it still allows changes to be made to copyright law by statutory instrument. Following the Hargreaves report, there is still great suspicion on the part of many of those in the creative industries that there is an intention to try to dilute intellectual property rights. They fear that the clause could be used—perhaps not by this Government but by a future Government—to bring forward changes to copyright law.

Those fears have been expressed, as the hon. Member for Hartlepool said, by a wide range of organisations, including Associated Press, ITN, Getty Images, the Press Association, British Pathé, Agence France Presse and Deutsche Presse-Agentur. I will quote one sentence from the letter they have sent that sums up the problem that the Government face:

“It therefore remains our concern that…the true purpose of Clause 57…as drafted”

is that

“it will be used as a vehicle to push through a number of changes to copyright exceptions recommended by the Hargreaves Review, which we discussed with you at our meeting because of the detrimental impact to business and the creative industries as well as…ultimately…to the UK’s future economic growth.”

I welcome the Minister’s assurance that that is not the Government’s intention, but it must be of concern that a number of organisations that are important to this country retain that suspicion. Anything that the Government can say or do now to allay that suspicion and make it clear that they do not intend to implement the Hargreaves recommendations in a bundle, via a statutory instrument, would be extremely welcome and would reinforce the point that the provision is not about that, but about criminal penalties.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con):

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I am grateful for the opportunity to debate an issue that has so far received little attention, but one that will affect large numbers of people in this country quite soon. It is appropriate that we should be debating it today. This is the day on which 4G services have become widely available in a number of cities as a result of Everything Everywhere making use of the 1,800 MHz spectrum.

Understandably, the competitors to Everything Everywhere have been concerned that it should be given a lead and so have been pressing to be able to go ahead with the provision of their own 4G services, and to do that they require access to the 800 MHz band. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which I am proud to chair, also shared the view that we needed to get on with the allocation of spectrum for 4G, because 4G carries real benefit to the economy, and we did not wish to get left behind.

I am pleased that Ofcom is now pressing ahead with the auction. However, the use of 800 MHz for mobile telephony will have consequences. It will result in interference with the provision of services currently using that band, particularly digital terrestrial television.

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Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is now almost universal agreement that we must have a strong new regulator, that it must be seen to be independent and that it must be established as quickly as possible? I strongly welcome his statement, however, that the question of whether the regulator should have statutory underpinning is something that Parliament needs to consider carefully, perhaps through a regular assessment of its effectiveness by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and that we should proceed to legislate only if it becomes absolutely clear that it will not function properly without it.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes an important point. He has probably spent more time looking at this issue than almost any other Member of the House of Commons. As he said, what matters is the enormous consensus about what independent regulation should consist of, including the powers that are necessary. We all know we need million-pound fines, proper investigations, editors held to account and prominent apologies. That is what victims deserve and what we must put in place, but he is right that we need to think carefully before we pass legislation in the House.

Over the past five years, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which I chair, has examined the issue of the standards and ethics of the press three times. Each time, what we have uncovered has caused us serious concern about the way in which the press operates in this country; we have revealed information that we all found truly shocking.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con):

It is important that we remember the people who have suffered at the hands of the press, including the McCann family, the Dowler family and Christopher Jefferies. However, it is also important to note that all in those cases suffered as a result of breaches of the law. Breaches of the Data Protection Act, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the contempt of court laws and the libel laws were all involved in the suffering of those people.

That is one of the reasons that I agree strongly with the earlier remarks of the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz). There are still big questions to be answered about how serial breaches of the law could take place in newsrooms and how the police appeared to do absolutely nothing about it, despite having the necessary evidence for a number of years. I very much hope that we will see the establishment of part 2 of the Leveson inquiry—whether it takes place under Lord Leveson or not is not the most important point—because we need answers to those questions once the criminal prosecutions have been exhausted.

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