From: EUSTICE, George
Sent: 26 November 2012 13:50
To: EUSTICE, George
Subject: A brief history of “last chances” for the press
Following speculation that the government might be about to offer the press, “one last chance” to make self regulation actually work, I thought colleagues might be interested in the history of previous “last chances” over the past 65 years. Parliament has not always been good at learning from its mistakes, so has condemned journalism to suffer crisis after crisis. Here is the record:
1. 1953. Four years after a Royal Commission told the press to start regulating itself, nothing had been done. Only the threat of legislation forced them to create the General Council of the Press. Withdrawing his Private Member’s Bill, C.J. Simmons MP told the Commons: ‘I give warning here and now that if it fails, some of us again will have to come forward with a measure similar to this bill.’
2. 1962. A second Royal Commission told the press to make self-regulation effective: ‘We think that the Press should be given another opportunity itself voluntarily to establish an authoritative General Council . . . We recommend, however, that the government should specify a time limit after which legislation would be introduced.’
3. 1977. The third Royal Commission on the Press urged radical changes to the Press Council and said that if nothing was done parliament should act. The report said: ‘We recommend that the press should be given one final chance to prove that voluntary self-regulation can be made to work.’
4. 1990. Parliament backed the Calcutt Committee recommendations for radical improvements to self-regulation, including the establishment of an effective Press Complaints Commission. Papers were given a ‘year of grace’ to make this work and the Home Secretary, David Waddingston, told the Commons: ‘This is positively the last chance for the industry to establish an effective non-statutory system of regulation.’
5. 1993. The Calcutt Review concluded that the PCC was ‘not . . . an effective regulator of the press’. It recommended a Press Complaints Tribunal backed by statute. A Major government with a slender majority failed to implement this.
6. 2011. Amid public outrage over the revelation that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, David Cameron told the Commons: ‘I accept we can’t say it is the last chance saloon all over again. We’ve done that.’
If you are interested in doing your bit to try to break this cycle of failure but would like further information or want to discuss the issue more fully, please do not hesitate to make contact.
George Eustice MP
Member of Parliament for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
It’s said he has never forgiven the papers for nicknaming him “Useless Eustice”.