HC Deb 16 February 1998 vol 306 cc754-5
20. Mr. Chope

When he plans to meet the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission to discuss its code of practice. [27604]

Mr. Chris Smith

On 25 September 1997, I welcomed Lord Wakeham's proposals for strengthening the newspaper industry's code of practice, and added that I intended to discuss further with him protection for people in all walks of life. I propose to do so in due course.

Mr. Chope

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered discussing with the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission the possibility of extending his code of practice to cover the conduct of the Lord Chancellor? Has he considered telling the chairman that the Government are absolutely in favour of self-regulation of the press and that they do not intend to make it subject to control by the courts, as proposed in the Human Rights Bill?

Mr. Smith

Of course that is not what is proposed in that Bill and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary may have something to say about that subject in a few moments when he introduces its Second Reading. The code of practice for the press should apply to everyone no matter how high or how mighty and no matter what office of state that person might hold.

Mr. Maude

Does the Secretary of State agree with the Lord Chancellor that the Human Rights Bill introduces a privacy law, or with the Prime Minister, who believes that it does not?

Mr. Smith

The Government believe in the self-regulation of the press. We have no intention of introducing any privacy law, by the front door or the back door.

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