Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I rise to speak in the debate with considerable sadness. I am a passionate believer in the freedom of the press, but like other freedoms, that freedom must be exercised within the rule of law. Many of us here were appalled when we discovered, in the course of the expenses scandal, what a small number of Members of the House had done. They were rightly prosecuted and several have now gone to prison, but that scandal tainted all of us. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) referred to the fact that journalists throughout the country are equally appalled at the revelations that have come out about the activities of some members of their profession, and they too feel that they have been tainted by them.

The latest revelations mark a low point in the saga of phone hacking, but I fear they do not mark the end point. There are likely to be further revelations still to come. The matter was first looked at by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in early 2007, following the conviction of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. At that time I asked the chairman of News International, Les Hinton:

“You carried out a full, rigorous internal inquiry, and you are absolutely convinced that Clive Goodman was the only person who knew what was going on?”

Mr Hinton replied:

“Yes, we have and believe he was the only person, but that investigation, under the new editor, continues.”

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Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what his policy is on the future administration of the Public Lending Right. [65210]

Mr Jeremy Hunt: The Government recognise the importance of the Public Lending Right (PLR) to authors. We have made assurances that PLR payments will still be administered by a body operating at arm's length from Government and with the same independence and impartiality currently awarded to the PLR Registrar. We are working to resolve as quickly as possible the issues associated with the transfer of the Public Lending Right's functions to another body.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement, and thank him for consulting me, and my two fellow Select Committee Chairmen, about the terms of reference last night. Although there is no doubt that we need a stronger system of regulation of the press in this country, will the Prime Minister bear in mind that although it was newspapers that were responsible for these wholly unacceptable and often illegal activities, it was also newspapers that exposed them? I hope he will agree that a free press is a fundamental cornerstone of a free society, and that we must do nothing to jeopardise that.

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend speaks very good sense about this matter. Ultimately, we want not just a free press, but a free and vigorous press, which can make our lives miserable a lot of the time. That is absolutely vital. There will be those in the press who will be made nervous of a judge-led inquiry covering all the aspects of this matter, and I stress the importance of the panel in assisting the judge to ensure that the changes proposed are based on evidence of what matters and what works.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend accept that some of the biggest questions during the whole of the phone-hacking saga relate to the failures on the part of the police to investigate as well as to what has been going on in newsrooms, particularly why the police appeared never to interview a single journalist who was named as a client of Steve Whittamore in the Motorman case and why they did nothing to look at the enormous amounts of material seized from Glenn Mulcaire? Does she agree that it would be unsatisfactory if these matters could not be looked at until the beginning of the second part of the judicial review? Will she consider inviting the IPCC to begin examining these questions now?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes an important point. As he says, part of the inquiry that is led by Lord Justice Leveson will involve looking at the first investigation by the Metropolitan police. It is not impossible for it to start doing some work while the current investigation is going on, but that would have to be done carefully in order not to jeopardise the current investigation. I am sure that we all want to see a proper investigation and a proper inquiry with answers about what happened in that first police investigation and about why matters were not taken forward in a way that people now feel they should have been. We also want to ensure that the current investigation is not in any way prejudiced by that work because we want people who have been guilty of criminal offences to be brought to book.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that what people really care about are the appalling revelations of what has been going on in the newsroom of the News of the World and in parts of the Metropolitan police, and that the public anger about that is expressly felt by thousands of hard-working and honest journalists, and by thousands of dedicated and courageous police officers? Does he agree that, for that reason, it is essential that the police investigation should be completed as quickly as possible, that the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation should be completed and that the judicial inquiry should get under way and be completed as quickly as possible? Can he give us an absolute assurance that those investigations will now be given the priority that they should have been given a long time ago?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is entirely right. We have to keep the victims of the hacking scandal at the absolute heart of this. Those are the people who have suffered appallingly already and were made to suffer all over again. The key thing here is the extent and scale of the judicial inquiry. An inquiry such as this, into the media, into malpractice, into the police and, yes, into politicians too, has not been held for many, many years. It has been talked about and debated, but it is now going to get under way and I want it to get on with its work as rapidly as possible.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applications for adverse possession of plots of land were made to the Land Registry in each of the last 10 years; and how many such applications were successful. [70891]

Mr Davey: Applications for registration as the owner of land on the basis of adverse possession can be divided into two types. First, there are those where the land concerned is unregistered and the application is to register the squatter as the first “registered proprietor” (in other words, the first registered owner). Secondly, those where the land has already been registered and the application is to register the squatter as the new registered proprietor.

Land Registry does not have reliable statistics for the first type of application. One of the main reasons for this is that it is not unusual for these “first registration applications” to be made on more than one basis. For example, the title deeds may not be entirely clear, and so, while Land Registry is satisfied that the applicant can properly be registered as proprietor and completes the application, it might not be clear whether he or she has a “documentary title” (the land involved falling within the extent covered by the title deeds) or a “possessory title” (the land falling outside the title deeds but the applicant having acquired title by virtue of adverse possession). Such an application may well not be recorded as being an adverse possession application.

Land Registry does have statistics for the second type of application for the financial years 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11: these show that the number of successful applications of this type in these years were 1,111, 1,059 and 868 respectively.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many applications for adverse possession of plots of land made to the Land Registry in each of the last 10 years were found to be fraudulent. [70892]

Mr Davey: All applications for adverse possession made to Land Registry are considered on their merits. Applications either succeed or fail. There are no figures kept on why applications fail and we are therefore unable to provide the figures requested.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills how many prosecutions under the Fraud Act were brought by the Land Registry as a result of dishonest statements being made by applicants for adverse possession in each of the last 10 years. [70893]

Mr Davey: There have been no prosecutions under the Fraud Act made by Land Registry as a result of dishonest statements made by applicants for adverse possession in the last 10 years.

Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): The Government are right to make clear their deep concern about the legitimacy of the trial and conviction of Mrs Tymoshenko, but does my right hon. Friend agree that it is in the interests of both our countries that we continue to press Ukraine, and that we negotiate for it to join the association agreement and to sign the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement? Does he also agree that although we should register a protest, it would be a grave mistake to break off those talks?

Mr Lidington: I do not believe that isolating Ukraine will help us in persuading the Government there to continue to move towards full membership of the European family of nations. I certainly welcome the fact that friends of Ukraine, including my hon. Friend, deliver that message clearly to the Ukrainian authorities.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much Mid Essex Primary Care Trust received per capita in the latest period for which figures are available; [79233]

(2) what the average level of per capita funding for primary care trusts in England was in the latest period for which figures are available; [79234]

(3) which 10 primary care trusts received the (a) highest and (b) lowest level of per capita funding in the latest period for which figures are available. [79235]

Mr Simon Burns: Mid Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) received funding of £1,399 per capita in the 2011-12 PCT revenue allocations compared to the national average of £1,693.

The 10 PCTs with the highest and lowest per capita funding for 2011-12 are shown in the following table.

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Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what payments the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust made to each general practice in its area in the last year for which figures are available; [79236]

(2) what the total payment per GP made by the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust was to each general practice in its area in the last year for which figures are available; [79237]

(3) what the total payment per patient made by the Mid Essex Primary Care Trust was to each general practice in its area in the last year for which figures are available. [79238]

Mr Simon Burns: The information requested is not collected centrally. My hon. Friend may wish to contact Mid Essex Primary Care Trust directly.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average total payment made to general practices in England was in the last year for which figures are available. [79239]

Mr Simon Burns: Information on the latest total spend of general practitioner practices in England is reported by the Information Centre for health and social care and is contained in their “Investment in General Practice 2006/07 to 2010/11 England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland” report. This publication has been placed in the Library.

In England in 2010-11, total payments to primary medical care contractors (in the main general practice contractors) amounted to £8.349 billion.

Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average total payment per patient made to general practices in England was in the last year for which figures are available. [79241]

Mr Simon Burns: The total payment per patient made to general practices in England in 2010-11 was £151.75.