Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Can the Secretary of State confirm that the Saudi business man almost certainly exists? The Rachel Ehrenfeld case was heard in this country when there was no connection other than the 23 copies of her book that were sold, yet it resulted in the passage of the Libel Terrorism Protection Act in New York. It is a mark of shame against this country that New York state thought it necessary to pass an Act specifically aimed against this country.

Mr Clarke: I made my remark about the case being hypothetical to avoid being drawn into arguments about that case, which is rather familiar to people who know this subject. There are arguments about how far the plaintiff had connections with this country and a reputation here, but as it happens I was producing the example of a Saudi and an American purely hypothetically and I do not think I should get drawn into the merits of a past case. My hon. Friend, who is an expert in this field, rapidly understood why those particular nationalities had leapt to my mind when I gave the example.

Alongside these adjustments in the law to help support freedom of expression, I want to ensure that effective remedies are available for those defamed. Often what most concerns claimants is not financial compensation, but meaningful public clarification that a story was wrong. We have therefore included provisions in clause 12 extending existing powers to enable the court to order publication of a summary of its judgment. Parties will be encouraged to reach agreement, where possible, on the contents of the summary and issues such as where, when and how it is to be published. However, in the absence of agreement, the court will be empowered to settle the wording of the summary and give directions on those other matters.

In addition to protecting freedom of expression and reputation, the Bill seeks to modernise the law. Our biggest difficulty has been in relation to the web, the internet and so on. Currently, website operators are in principle liable as publishers for everything that appears on their site, even though the content is often determined by their users, but most operators are not in a position to know whether the material posted by their users is defamatory or not, and very often, faced with a complaint, they will immediately remove material. The Government want a libel regime for the internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively, but which ensures that information online cannot be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): It is not that long since I spoke in the Chamber on the subject of individuals misleading Parliament, so I am in no doubt about the seriousness of that charge. I do not question the right of the Opposition to table the motion, but I have listened carefully to the Secretary of State and commend him for the way in which he has responded to each individual accusation and for his conduct over the past few months, which cannot have been easy.

Some have suggested that the Secretary of State should not have had a view about the bid by News Corp to acquire all of BSkyB, but one of his first responsibilities is to be the sponsoring Minister for the media industry of this country. It would have been utterly extraordinary if he did not have a view. BSkyB is one of the most important media companies in the country and plays a vital part in the future of the media: of course he would have a view about it.

Not only was the Secretary of State entitled to have a view, but I believe he held the correct view. Had the bid gone through, it would have had good implications for the survival of newspapers in this country. He was not responsible for that matter at the time; it was a quasi-judicial matter for the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

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Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): One of the alternative ways of making faster broadband available is through the roll-out of 4G mobile services, but has the Secretary of State seen the analysis by Freeview that suggests that over 2 million homes may have their digital television service interfered with as a result, and that the funds secured by the Government to counter that interference may not be anything like sufficient? Does he agree with that analysis, and what is he proposing to do about it?

Mr Hunt: I absolutely agree that the roll-out of 4G is another opportunity. One of the options proposed by Ofcom would mean 98% coverage of 4G, which would be extremely important in many of the rural areas about which hon. Friends are concerned. We have an ongoing consultation about the mitigation plans for people whose signals will be affected by these auctions. Ofcom has not told me that it has any concerns about the plans that are in place, but I will listen to it very carefully in that regard.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what further steps he plans to take to extend wi-fi access throughout the parliamentary estate.

John Thurso: A business case to provide a comprehensive wi-fi service across the parliamentary estate was approved in December 2011. A full OJEU tender process was commenced in January. Subject to the successful outcome of the tender, the renewal and extension of wi-fi will begin towards the end of this financial year with plans to complete the implementation in April 2013.

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 John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): May I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) on securing the debate? She is a formidable ally on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and she is also a strong champion for her constituency. A lot of the issues that she has raised directly affect my constituents, but that is unsurprising since we share the same shoreline management plan.

I represent a rural area of Essex with a long coastline. It will come as a surprise to many people to hear that my area of Essex has one of the longest coastlines in the country. However, that will not come as a surprise to the Minister, who is an extremely distinguished former chairman of the Essex National Farmers Union, so I am pleased that he is responding to the debate. Many of my concerns relate to the protection of agricultural land, and he will understand why coastline management is such an important issue, particularly in my part of the world.

We in Essex are conscious of the fact that shoreline management is extremely important. Many people still remember 1953, when more than 100 people died in Essex as a result of the last major tidal surge and the collapse of sea defences. A map on the Environment Agency website, which is available to anyone who wishes to consult it, shows the extent of the floodplain in my area. It shows that 2,000 houses in Heybridge, in my constituency, would be under water following a one-in-200-year event. It also shows a large amount of agricultural land on the Dengie peninsula, which I represent, being lost to the sea, which is a real concern.

The Environment Agency rightly concentrates on protecting residential dwellings and human life, and that must be the priority. However, there is concern that agricultural land may not get the attention that it deserves. We realise, of course, that the country is under pressure. We have steadily rising sea levels on the east coast, a tilting land mass and the erosion of salt marshes, which constantly increases the pressure on our defences. We are also very much aware of economic considerations.

I do not therefore in any way dispute the necessity of drawing up a shoreline management plan to determine where we should concentrate resources and to work out a sensible strategy for each part of the coastline. Indeed, I was at the meeting at which the plan was first unveiled, and it came as a relief to some extent that it was less drastic-certainly in the first epoch-than we had feared. Nevertheless, in areas where there are proposals to realign the coastline and to give up agricultural land, farmers find it difficult to come to terms with what is happening, particularly at a time when we are increasingly worried about our food security and the need to maintain and increase agricultural production.

What has caused greater concern, however-my hon. Friend rightly touched on this-is the feeling that the plans were drawn up without any proper consultation of affected landowners. There have been public meetings and opportunities for people to come along and look at the proposals, but there has been a lack of moves directly to involve the people who will be affected to give them an opportunity to make representations, to question some of the criteria that have been used or to appeal.

Indeed, there is still a debate about how the plans have been drawn up. There is no agreement, for instance, on matters such as the economic value of the land that would potentially be abandoned or the cost of repairing sea walls. The whole cost-benefit analysis is slightly shrouded in mystery. There have been questions, for instance, over whether sufficient regard has been given to mobile homes and caravan parks, which are obviously not permanent residential dwellings. Those are all issues on which more needs to be done.

I and other Members in Essex have been contacted by the Managing Coastal Change group in Essex and by Andrew St Joseph, who is a former constituent, although he is none the less still a good adviser on these issues, and I suspect that his name will be familiar to the Minister as well. They have raised concerns both about the fact that landowners have not really had a chance to discuss these issues and about the Environment Agency's assurances in the plan. For instance, the Environment Agency said that it had spoken to everyone who owns land in the areas where managed realignment is proposed, but Mr St Joseph points out that a number of landowners had told him that they had had no meaningful contact with the Environment Agency at all about that. When I went to the unveiling of the shoreline management plan, which was attended by landowners from my constituency and the rest of Essex, one of the farmers came up to me and said that on the wall he had seen for the first time that a large part of his farm had been designated for future realignment and loss to the sea. Clearly, that is a matter of concern. There needs to be greater dialogue between landowners and the Environment Agency.

There is an even greater concern about the lack of dialogue with Natural England, which my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal also touched on. There is concern that it has a very powerful influence over the decisions being taken. My hon. Friend referred to some of the frustrations about the extent of protection for wildlife as opposed to human beings. There certainly appears to be greater protection for the habitat of a water vole than there does for that of a human being, which is difficult for people to understand. I am not one to say that the habitat of water voles is not important-it plainly is-but these things need to be kept in perspective. There is a general feeling that the habitats directive is driving this policy too much and that some decisions are being taken in large part to meet the requirements of the directive rather than as a result of proper consideration of the costs and benefits of maintaining sea defences.

Although I get some reassurance about the large amount of sea wall designated as "hold the line", the truth is that if the Environment Agency decides that money is not available to maintain defences, it can come back and say, "Even though it is 'hold the line' that does not necessarily mean that we're going to have the money to maintain it." There is a willingness on the part of landowners to take on that responsibility. In previous debates, I raised the difficulties facing landowners in obtaining the necessary consents to carry out minor maintenance work. Something has been done; the Environment Agency has produced a useful pack to give a simple guide to landowners about how to go about maintaining their defences, but it makes it clear there will be a need to get permission from Natural England in areas with sites of special scientific interest.

Mr St Joseph pointed out to me that a long time ago farmers were approached and asked whether they would accept SSSI designation on their sea walls, and they accepted it, thinking that it would have little impact or make little difference to the practicality of maintenance. Obviously, they were happy to do it. It was only later that they discovered that it made a huge difference and, as a result, it became much more difficult for them to obtain the necessary permissions to carry out repair work on their sea walls. The willingness is there but more still needs to be done to make it easier for landowners to take on the responsibility and carry out the work if the Environment Agency is unable or unwilling to do it.

I shall end by stressing a point that came out particularly in the opening speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal, which is the feeling that there has been a lack of dialogue. A group of farmers in my constituency approached me and said that they had repeatedly asked to discuss with Natural England how it could be made easier to reach agreement on what was acceptable and welcome work to maintain defences, and on how to obtain the necessary consents. As far as I am aware, that group has not yet had a response from Natural England. I have written to Natural England and I have not yet had a response. Much more needs to be done in that area to increase co-operation and understanding, because the absence of those things leads to resentment, making it much more difficult to achieve what we all want, which is protection wherever possible of land and human habitation within the necessary economic constraints that exist today.



Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the total cost to the public purse was of the case brought against Ejup Ganic; and how much has been so spent on (a) counsel, (b) solicitors, including staff time, (c) all relevant court hearings, (d) the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service,(e) Ejup Gain's costs awarded out of public funds and (f) any other relevant costs to be met from public funds. [30677]

Nick Herbert: With regard to the total costs to the public purse of the extradition request for Dr Ejup Ganic, I refer my hon. Friend to my previous reply of 8 November 2010, Official Report, column 118W.

The following information on costs is available.

The cost to the Home Office of counsel employed on the Ganic case was £1,597.24.

I understand from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that the total cost of administration and in-house advocates relating to the case was £34,511. The cost to the CPS of counsel employed on the case was £76,400.

I understand from HM Courts Service that the cost of the hearings involving Dr Ganic at city of Westminster magistrates court is estimated at £7,630. This is based on the estimated national average daily marginal costs for a district judge sitting in the magistrates court. The cost of the hearings at the High Court are estimated at £2,340, again based on average costs.

Dr Ganic did not receive legal aid; a defence costs order has been made to reimburse his legal costs from central funds. However, records show that no money has been paid to date.


Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what estimate his Department has made of the number of fully-qualified teachers who are unemployed. [29421]

Mr Hurd: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated December 2010:

    As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what estimate has been made of the number of fully-qualified teachers who are unemployed. 029421

    Estimates of unemployment are taken from the Labour Force Survey. For the three month period ending September 2010 it is estimated that 49,000 people who hold either a teaching qualification to degree level, a first degree that provides qualified teacher status or a post graduate certificate in education, are unemployed.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment his Department has made of shortages of qualified teachers in each region. [29422]

Tim Loughton: The numbers of qualified and unqualified(1) teachers, by region, are published in table 3 of the School Workforce statistical first release (SFR). Tables 7 and 9 of the SFR provide further information on the vacancy rates, for full-time and part-time teachers separately, in local authority maintained schools by region. The most recent publication, containing this information for January 2010, can be accessed via the following link:


Table 1 provides the proportion of the total regular teachers in each region who are qualified. The north-west of England has the highest proportion of qualified teachers, the north-west and Yorkshire also have high proportions for the nursery and primary and special, PRU and other non-school education sectors respectively.

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