Parliamentary Blog

Oral Contribution: 9th January, 2019

George Orwell said:

“Freedom of the press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticise and oppose.”

I will offer three reflections on that statement in three minutes, but before I do so, I congratulate Mr Whittingdale on his exposition, which demonstrated his typical clarity and brevity. Whatever our political differences, he and I have always shared an enthusiasm—a love, even—for freedom of the press.

That is my first point: the decisions we make in this House matter. In our nation we are lucky to live among only 13% of humanity who enjoy freedom of the press. The vast bulk of the world does not. When we make decisions, as we did last year about whether there should be punitive damages on news organisations that did not sign up to a state-approved regulator, those decisions matter, because dictators around the world look at what we are doing. I am proud that our party changed its policy and our deputy leader said that never again would we advocate that...