Amendment 67

Part of Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords am 4:30 pm ar 13 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Kamall Lord Kamall Ceidwadwyr 4:30, 13 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, a number of principles have been spoken about. I believe firmly in the principle that no Government, British or foreign, should be allowed to own a UK media outlet. When my noble friend Lady Stowell asked me whether I would support her amendment I initially declined, because I told her it did not go far enough. I apologise for that, because, as my noble friend said, the UK Government do not own any media outlet; why, therefore, should any foreign Government be allowed to do so?

We should also be absolutely clear that this is not anti-foreigner sentiment. I and, I am sure, many other noble Lords have no objection to foreign private companies owning UK news media outlets. Indeed, in my years in the European Parliament we used to refer to the Financial Times as the in-house paper of the European Commission, only to find that it was owned by a Japanese company.

There are clearly some tricky issues here in drafting the relevant law that the clever lawyers will have to navigate. For example, it is well known that Chinese non-state-owned enterprises often have strong links to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Indeed, some China analysts claim that there is little difference between the Chinese Government’s influence over state-owned and non-state-owned companies, so were a non-state-owned Chinese company to bid for a UK media outlet there would also be a number of questions. That is possibly a debate for another day.

In short, like many noble Lords, I am against any government ownership of UK media organisations, whether it be the UK Government or a foreign Government. For these reasons, I support Amendments 67 and 158 in the name of my noble friend Lady Stowell.