MPs vote down fresh bid to launch Leveson 2 inquiry into the press after unelected peers try to force the Commons to back the expensive probe
- Commons voted last week not to hold expensive probe into the press’ conduct
- Lords tried to thwart the move by tabling another amendment demanding one
- But the fresh assault on press freedom by peers was blocked by MPs today
MPs today voted down attempts to launch an expensive Leveson 2 inquiry into the press after unelected peers tried to force the costly probe onto them.
The Commons voted last week not to hold another investigation, but the Lords tried to thwart their decision by tabling another amendment calling for one.
But MPs again voted down the fresh assault on press freedom after warnings from ministers they must respect the Government’s manifesto pledge not to hold a probe.
Critics tore into the Lords for trying to ride roughshod over the will of the elected Commons by tweaking an amendment to the Data Protection Act in order to have another go at forcing through the inquiry.
And they warned the Lords risked plunging the country into a constitutional crisis by trying to overturn the Government’s manifesto commitment.
Today MPs voted by 301 to 289 to back the Government and not hold another inquiry.
Theresa May today hailed the decision – and told unelected peers to heed the vote and respect the will of the MPs.
But MPs (pictured in the Leveson debate today) again voted down the fresh assault on press freedom after warnings from ministers they must respect the Government’s manifesto pledge not to hold a probe.
Culture and Media Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured in the Commons today) tabled same concessions to review how the press is working in order to stave off a possible backbench Tory rebellion over Leveson 2
The PM’s official spokesman said: ‘We welcome the vote. MPs have now voted twice rejected a backward looking, disproportionate and costly Leveson 2 Inquiry.
‘We would now urge the House of Lords to respect the wishes of the elected House.’
During the debate, Tory MP and ex minister John Redwood accused peers of being ‘undemocratic’ by trying to impose the inquiry – just as they have tried to thwart Theresa May’s Brexit plans.
It came after ministers moved to kill off a potential Tory backbench rebellion over Leveson 2 by promising five-year reviews of way in which journalists use personal data.
They also promised three year reviews of effectiveness of the press complaints body IPSO in relation to data protection matters.
Opening the debate, Culture and Media Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the Commons had ‘plainly and clearly’ voted against reopening the Leveson inquiry.
He said: ‘Since that comprehensive debate an amendment has been sent back by the other place for us to consider, this amendment would require the Government to establish a statutory inquiry into data protection breaches by national news publishers.
‘It is essentially similar to new clause 18 which was proposed and defeated in this House last week.’
He added: ‘We have gone out of our way to offer concessions at every stage to make sure the system of press regulation is both free and fair.’
Unelected peers (pictured) are trying to reverse the decision by tabling an amendment to the Data Protection Bill demanding a Leveson 2 inquiry
The amendment, tabled by the crossbench peer Baroness Hollins (pictured in the Lords today) was passed – setting the stage for a fresh Commons showdown
Conservative former minister John Redwood warned that the Lords was showing off its ‘undemocratic tendencies’ by trying to thwart last week’s rejection of Leveson 2.
He added: ‘They don’t like results of referendums, they don’t like the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – a manifesto Bill – and now they don’t like this manifesto Bill, and now they want to regulate the press because the press points out the errors of their ways?’
Mr Hancock said he supported the Salisbury Convention, which ensures major Government Bills can pass the Lords when the Government has no majority in the upper chamber.
He said: ‘I support the convention that if something is in the party of government’s manifesto and this Houses passes it then the Lords should be very, very careful about sending it back.’
Mr Hancock added: ‘I hope the vote of this House today is respected because we will then have considered this question twice. We have made concessions in order to take on board legitimate concerns, but ultimately this House will have decided its view having considered the question twice.’
The amendment demanding a Leveson 2 was tabled by Baroness Hollins and passed by the Lords by 252 votes to 213 yesterday.
Unelected peers ignored an earlier plea by Theresa May for the unelected chamber to heed the decision of MPs and abandon their bid to thwart the decision.
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