John Bercow MP

15 Oct 2009 14:08:55

Angry John Bercow accuses Defence Secretary of "rank discourtesy"

Tough and very welcome words from John Bercow today. The new Speaker rebuked Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth for releasing the 'Gray report' on arms procurement just one hour before the Commons was due to debate it.

Ministers have had the Gray report for a number of months.  It finds average procurement over-runs are costing the Ministry of Defence £2.2bn every year.

Full report in the London Evening Standard.

Tim Montgomerie

4.30pm Update: Here is the full transcript of the exchanges:

Dr. Liam Fox: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. About an hour ago, the Government published the Gray report, the very important report into acquisition which has been suppressed throughout the summer recess. Only this week we were told in an answer that the report is expected to be published in the autumn. Now, an hour—or even less—before a debate on defence, Members are asked to read and digest 296 pages of non-stop damning criticism of Government procedure. This is an insult to the House; it is a despicable and cowardly act and indicative of a Government who care more about their own reputation than informing the House. As the Secretary of State is present, may I ask, Mr. Speaker, that we get a separate statement on this tomorrow? If the Government do not provide a separate statement, the Opposition will certainly ask for an urgent question.

Mr. Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising his point of order. The laying of documents, including the timing of when they are laid, is a matter for Government. However, I have listened very carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has said and in the light of the fact that, as I understand it, the report was completed some time ago, I say to members of the Treasury Bench that, frankly, it can be regarded as a rank discourtesy to the House that it has been published only an hour or so before the next debate. As the Secretary of State for Defence is present, I invite him to respond to the point of order.

Bob Ainsworth: I know what is said, but the report was not completed some time ago. That is why it was not published before the recess, and I think the House would have been damning of me had I published it during the recess. I have published it at the earliest opportunity in the House. I sincerely regret that we were not able to get it to Opposition Members earlier this morning, but it is now available for everyone to examine, and we will be able to do that in the months ahead in the run-up to the Government’s Green Paper, where we will have to address acquisition reform and many of the issues raised by Bernard Gray.

Mr. Speaker: The Secretary of State has heard the point of order and my response to it, and I have listened with interest and respect to his response. I must say to him that publication a matter of an hour before the debate is regarded by Members as a discourtesy, and I confess that I myself also regard it as a discourtesy, and I hope that this will not happen again.

Mr. James Arbuthnot [Chairman of the Defence Select Committee]: Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am surprised at what the Secretary of State has just said. I read this report in July. I have just read it again as fast as I could, and it has changed by a few words but its entire structure and basis are exactly the same, so for the Secretary of State to say that it was not complete before the summer recess surprises me.

27 Sep 2009 10:15:08

John Bercow is spending tens of thousands of pounds in search for expenses whistleblower

6.45pm: The Guardian is reporting that The Speaker has now called off the mole hunt.  Mr Bercow issued this strong and very welcome statement:

"I have never been asked to approve the continuation of any such investigation, which was started before I became Speaker, and am deeply disturbed to discover that more resources may have been devoted to it.  I do not believe that one moment of public time or one penny of public money should be wasted on such a cause. A witch-hunt of this kind is wrong in principle and offers the impression that MPs, not taxpayers, are the victims in this expenses affair, a view that is manifestly mistaken. I will now take every measure within my powers to bring any remaining inquiries here to an end as soon as humanly possible."


John Bercow has continued the search for the mole who leaked details of MPs' expenses to The Telegraph.

The search had been initiated by his predecessor as Speaker, Michael Martin, and without knowing the true cost today's Sunday Telegraph notes that the standard price of the intelligence service being used by the Commons is £5,000 per day.

The newspaper notes how David Cameron concluded that the information leaked to the Telegraph was “without question a positive development for the country”.

The Tory leader was right.  Why, then, is this expensive search for the whistleblower continuing?

We already knew that the Commons staff who oversaw the discredited expenses system have been rewarded with an above inflation salary hike.  This is another sign that the Commons authorities and Mr Speaker, in particular, do not 'get it'.

Tim Montgomerie

24 Sep 2009 19:01:00

Speaker Bercow sets out a "Backbencher's Bill of Rights" to enhance the power of backbench MPs

Speaker Bercow

When I endorsed John Bercow for the Commons Speakership, one of the reasons for my support was that I believed that as a committed parliamentarian he would work to enhance the power of backbench MPs.

So it was interesting to hear how he has developed that principle as he delivered a lecture to the Hansard Society, which I have just attended.

He proceeded to set out what he called a "backbencher's Bill of Rights" relating to enhancing the role of backbenchers in parliamentary inquisition and legislation. Most of the proposals are subject to agreement by various other parties before they can take effect, but they can be summarised as follows:

  1. Introduce cross-cutting questions to ministers from several departments at once in Westminster Hall on subjects which cover the responsibilities of two or more departments.
  2. Give one of the two weekly Ten-Minute Rule Bill slots to another type of back-bench opportunity, for example asking a question of a minister which doesn't meet the criteria for an Urgent Question.
  3. Further reform in the process of scrutinising delegated legislation and European business to allow backbenchers a louder voice, including the possibility of more debates in the Commons chamber on certain EU documents.
  4. Introduce Private Members’ Motions so that individual MPs can put a proposition to the House and have it voted on.
  5. Make Cabinet Ministers in the House of Lords more accountable to MPs. The Speaker (who described Lord Mandelson''s empire as being "of a scale not seen since the death of Alexander the Great") suggested the option of having them answer questions in Westminster Hall and said he would consult further on it. In questions afterwards, I reiterated my proposal (alas already rejected by Ken Clarke) that they should have to come to the Despatch Box in the Commons like ministers who are MPs.  The Speaker said that this was "a possibility" and that just because something has never been done before should not rule it out, but reiterated that he would consult further on the issue.
  6. Supplement the resources of the Public Bill Office to offer additional support to Members who are successful in the Private Members’ Bill Ballot.
  7. Remove the Government's present monopoly of decision as to whether a Private Members Bill can go into a Public Bill Committee.
  8. Find a far better balance between cutting a debate improperly and extending a debate artificially on Private Members Bills.
  9. Consider the option of a Report Committee for Private Members’ Bills.
  10. Look at moving Private Members' Bills from Fridays to, perhaps, Wednesdays, putting them more squarely in the heart of a sitting week.
Several of the proposals are somewhat arcane, but I think all are to welcomed and I hope that the Speaker's detractors will admit that these are sensible ideas which it is good to see being taken forward.

Jonathan Isaby

9 Sep 2009 07:00:00

John Bercow recruits £87,000 "chum" to be special adviser

The BBC revealed yesterday that John Bercow has recruited former Times commentator Tim Hames as his special adviser and spokesman.

Mr Hames - who wrote an excellent Times column - will be paid at least £87,000.

The appointment has raised eyebrows because, says The Telegraph, "the House of Commons already employs a team of press officers and media advisers who work on behalf of the Speaker."  A long-time critic of Mr Bercow, The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts is unimpressed:

"For 'special adviser' we might as easily read 'policy wonk cum spin doctor'. Why on earth does he need one?  No previous Speaker has found it necessary formally to employ such a creature. Most recent occupants of Speaker's House, certainly up to and including Betty Boothroyd, strove to keep the Chair as free as possible from political controversy. They made do with a small handful of clerks led by a punctiliously courteous secretary. Speaker's House in the old days left one in no doubt as to its desire to remain unmottled by the controversies of the day."

At least as big a concern is the closed appointment process. Ben Brogan is on target with these words:

"I’m not sure the route to reform goes via appointing a chum without any apparent open process."

Tim Montgomerie

6 Jul 2009 16:00:31

John Bercow warns frontbenchers against leaking his private discussions with them

Speaker Bercow Last week Simon Burns MP raised a point of order expressing concern that John Bercow's announcement about holding elections for the Deputy Speakers had appeared in the media before the Speaker had made the statement to the House.

Speaker Bercow has just made a stern statement to the Commons in which he insisted that the leak had not come from him or his office - and that the only other people who knew of his announcement were the respective frontbenches with whom he had discussed the matter in advance.

His clear implication being that the leak came from one of the frontbenches, the Speaker said that he would "no longer feel able to hold such consultations" if they were unable to be kept confidential, since such breaches of confidence harm the reputation of the House and are not something he would tolerate.

Jonathan Isaby

24 Jun 2009 13:13:54

Speaker Bercow intends to clamp down on ministers making announcements to the media

Picture 5 After chairing his first session of PMQs, Speaker Bercow made a short statement in which he made clear that he will take a tough line on ministers making announcements to the media rather than Parliament.

As PoliticsHome records:

Mr Bercow, making a statement to the House of Commons after Prime Minister's Questions, said that key policy statements must be made to the House before being released elsewhere and called for a reduction of noise in the House in order to retain a calm and reasoned atmosphere.

He said: “When Ministers have key policy statements to make the House must be the first to hear them, and they should not be released beforehand.

“In statements I ask that frontbenchers stick to their alloted time...backbenchers confine themselves to one brief supplementary”.

He added that “those speaking in the chamber should be heard, so an atmosphere of calm, reasoned order may be retained”.

Several points of order followed with Conservative MPs highlighting instances of the media over the last 24 hours effectively publishing government announcements before they have been made - of which the Speaker took note.

I look forward to the new Speaker taking guilty ministers to task on the issue: it is an important part of the House of Commons reasserting its power to hold the executive to account.

Jonathan Isaby

23 Jun 2009 07:37:52

David Cameron's congratulatory marks to the new Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow

Picture 5

"Mr. Speaker-Elect, may I join the Prime Minister in offering my congratulations, and in wishing you well, not least in crossing that last hurdle that the Prime Minister referred to: the agreement of the monarch? I would like to thank the Father of the House for the way in which he conducted proceedings. I was not here for the last contested election for Speaker, but I gather that this one was a model of efficiency and good practice, so I thank him for that.

Mr. Speaker-Elect, you know that on the Conservative Benches all colleagues share a view of the importance of the House of Commons, the importance of the role of Speaker and the importance of the practices and procedures in this House, and you should know that, in discharging your responsibilities, it goes without saying that you have the support of those on these Benches, but not just in your work as Speaker, but in the vital work of reforming and renewing this House, which so badly needs to happen.

Mr. Speaker-Elect, I have read a lot about our own relationship. The thing that has never come out is the fact that, of course, briefly for a time we were both together the first pair of the Lords and Commons tennis team. I would also like to put on record a historical first that you have achieved, which is to be the first person of the Jewish faith to occupy the office of Speaker of the House of Commons, and it is a milestone that we should mark. I also noted, as all colleagues did, what you said about casting away your past political views, and I think that on the Conservative Benches we would say, “Let’s hope that includes all of them.”

I listened carefully, as did hon. Members throughout the House, to an excellent debate this afternoon and a series of very strong and powerful speeches. I thought that there was something very powerful in what the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Dhanda) said about our need to demonstrate in this House of Commons that we get it—that we get the need for transparency, that we get the need for the reform of pay and allowances, and that we get the need to understand, and respond properly to, the public’s anger. We share a collective responsibility for what went wrong; we share a collective responsibility for putting it right. Your success will enable all of us to succeed in that; and on that note, I wish you well."

Source: Hansard.

3 Jun 2009 18:01:57

John Bercow sets out his 3,000 word manifesto for a '21st century Speakership'

Speaker's office John Bercow MP - the bookmakers' favourite to be the next Speaker because of strong support from Labour MPs - has written to all MPs, sending them a 3,000 word Reform Prospectus for Parliament.  Here's a PDF of what the Tory MP for Buckingham has called 'The Speakership in the Twenty First Century.'

Pasted below is his letter to colleagues:

"Dear Colleague,
As I think you know, I am putting myself forward for the Speakership. I therefore thought it only courteous to set out in some detail my vision for the role if I were fortunate enough to be elected.
Accordingly, I attach what might be termed a “reform prospectus” – if not a manifesto – which addresses the issues under five separate headings. I hope you find this helpful. A copy has also been sent to you in the internal post.
1. The Context
The next Speaker faces an unprecedented challenge – to help clean up politics, to place Parliament at the centre of an effective democracy and to build a relationship of mutual respect with the electorate.
2. My Own Candidature
I have a track record of political independence, pursue unfashionable but important causes on a non-partisan basis, and can demonstrate competence in chairing and communicating alike. 
3. Allowances and Expenses
We must accept external advice on a new allowances’ system, ensure that the majority of MPs who have to live in two places are able to do so and redouble our efforts to make Parliament more representative of the country we serve.
4. Putting Parliament First
We need greater independence for Parliament from the executive; we need enhanced scrutiny both of policy and of legislation; we need better use of time and more opportunities for backbenchers to challenge the government.
5. Speaker as Ambassador
The next Speaker has to be a Speaker and a Listener, explaining the role of the House and the work of individual Members, but also listening to and, as appropriate, assimilating the views of the public.
This is no time for interim measures or party manoeuvring for future advantage. Indeed, the House needs to elect a Speaker who has a mandate to take Parliament forward in the critical years that lie ahead. As a matter of principle, I believe strongly that the post of Speaker should not be a job for life but an opportunity to make a difference within a reasonable period of time. If you do me the honour of electing me, I will serve for no longer than two full Parliaments and, in any event, for no more than 9 years in total. Any Speaker should be able to make a mark in that time and his or her successor should then be elected by experienced MPs in the existing Parliament before a General Election. It should not be done after a General Election, on party political grounds, by newly elected MPs who do not know the candidates.
If you want to discuss any of the issues I have raised, I would be pleased to hear from you. I should be honoured if you would support me in the election on 22nd June.
 With best wishes,
 John Bercow."

28 Apr 2009 10:58:56

When should pupils be expelled from schools?

John Bercow MP Here are the highlights from yesterday's Children, Schools and Families questions.

Buckingham MP John Bercow advocated a more liberal exclusion policy:

"Of course, schools sometimes mistake disability for disobedience. Children with special educational needs are nine times more likely to be permanently excluded from school, and the Government are rightly committed to reducing the incidents of such exclusions. In the light of that, will the Under-Secretary of State consider the merit of amending the law so that a child with SEN or disability may be permanently excluded from school only if a review has taken place of the sufficiency and effectiveness of the reasonable adjustments that have been made under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to seek to accommodate that pupil?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I pay tribute to his expertise in this area of special educational needs, and we certainly share his passion and commitment to promoting improved outcomes for children with SEN and disabilities. I am, of course, aware that he has a private Member’s Bill that is due for its Second Reading on 15 May. I believe that that is one proposal that may be considered in it. We certainly look forward to debating that."

By contrast Shadow Minister for Children Tim Loughton stressed the importance of protecting pupils from violence:

"Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con): Government figures last year revealed that there was a drop of 13 per cent. in permanent exclusions between 2003 and 2007 despite a 50 per cent. increase in the number of children suspended for five times or more— 867 of them excluded for 10 times or more—at a time that saw 4,370 fixed exclusions for serious racist abuse and more than 207,000 serious offences, such as sexual abuse and violence. Yet, in no fewer than 40 per cent. of appeals against permanent exclusions, reinstatement was upheld so that pupils could return to the scene of their offences with impunity, most of them having nothing to do with SEN. Does the Minister think it right that a pupil who has been excluded for violent crime, racist or sexual abuse should be readmitted to schools under any circumstances against the better judgment of the head or the governors?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: We are certainly committed to backing head teachers’ authority when pupils’ behaviour warrants exclusion. Last year, the number of successful appeals was just 1.2 per cent. of all permanent exclusions, so we must get this in balance. We obviously recognise, and we have said in response to Alan Steer's report, that repeated suspension should lead to permanent exclusion. We are certainly giving back head teachers authority in that."

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30 Mar 2009 14:16:30

Thousands of Cubans in prison because they "may cause a crime in the future"

John Bercow MP There are a handful of interesting answers in the latest Hansard.

Buckingham MP John Bercow reminded the useful idiots that Cuba is not Paradise, but rather a dystopian nightmare:

"John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the number of people convicted of the crime of social dangerousness in Cuba in each of the last five years. [265458]

Gillian Merron: We are very concerned about the use of charges of "social dangerousness" in Cuba to arrest those whom the Cuban authorities believe may cause a crime in the future.

During Cuba's review at the Human Rights Council in February 2009, the UK recommended that Cuba refrain from using such laws to restrict the rights of freedom of expression and association.

The Cuban government does not publish statistics on the number of people convicted on these grounds, but the non-governmental Cuban commission for human rights and national reconciliation, estimates that there are currently between 3,000 and 5,000 people in prison in Cuba convicted of “pre-criminal social dangerousness.”

Our embassy in Havana has requested these figures from the Cuban authorities and I will write if we receive a reply."

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25 Mar 2009 11:17:54

Andrew Lansley says Government should have intervened over Stafford Hospital

Andrew Lansley MP Health questions were put in the House of Commons yesterday.

The situation at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, which has been slammed by the Healthcare Commission for "appalling" emergency care at Stafford Hospital, stood out. Between 2005 and 2008 about 400 more people died there than would ordinarily have been expected.

Stone MP Bill Cash expressed his profound concern:

"Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Will the Secretary of State take account of the fact that I am repeating my call for an inquiry into this whole matter under the Inquiries Act 2005? Will he also make it clear that all those in that trust who are culpable, as set out in the Healthcare Commission report—that includes other senior management besides the chairman and the chief executive at the time—must be removed and not merely suspended on full pay?

Alan Johnson: As I just said, the investigation will involve everyone who has any position of authority within that trust—the whole board and all the executive directors. It will be a proper investigation and it will be fair, and the action taken will result from that inquiry, not from any knee-jerk reaction by me or anyone else."

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley (above right) went on the same topic:

"On 15 October 2007, after the terrible events at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, the Secretary of State said that

    “we should be spotting these issues much earlier and getting rid of incompetent chief executives or chairpersons who, fortunately, are in the minority, rather than waiting for a report such as this, by which time, frankly, most of the damage has been done.”—[ Official Report, 15 October 2007; Vol. 464, c. 571.]

The Secretary of State knew about the failings at Stafford in May 2008, so why did he not intervene then and there?

Alan Johnson: I ask the hon. Gentleman to look at the Healthcare Commission’s report carefully. The difference between what happened in Stafford and in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, and the fact that the Healthcare Commission took into account those words and what others said at the time, is that as soon as commission staff went into Stafford and saw the problems—in May 2008—they immediately called the chief executive to a meeting, put their concerns to him, and started to see the process of improvement. That is the job of the Healthcare Commission while it carries out its inquiry. The staff cannot say at that stage that they have come to any conclusions, and it would be unfair, one day into an inquiry, to reach conclusions and say that heads must roll and recommendations must be made. We made that specific point to the Healthcare Commission at the time of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, so in Stafford staff immediately introduced measures to put things right, rather than wait for the end of the process and the report to be published—as I said they should do in that quote.

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10 Mar 2009 11:05:18

John Bercow on the importance of tackling bullying

John_bercow_mpQuestions were put to ministers from the Department for Children, Schools and Families department yesterday.

The very last question of the session was from John Bercow, Buckingham MP, and addressed the loathsome phenomenon of bullying:

"Given that approximately 6,000 children a year exclude themselves from school after suffering extreme bullying, approximately 50 per cent. of whom have contemplated or attempted to commit suicide, will the Secretary of State agree to meet me and a delegation of interested parties to consider the case for funding the network of Red Balloon learner centres across the country? They are doing fantastic work in restoring the self-esteem of those damaged children, and getting them back into school, into further education, on to university or into employment. They need a bit of help.

Ed Balls: I had the opportunity two weeks ago to meet a group of young people from Norwich and Harrow who were being given chances to get back into school through the support of Red Balloon. Such decisions are made by local authorities, and I urge all local authorities to support Red Balloon and such new opportunities for children. I would love to meet the hon. Gentleman and a delegation again, so that I can hear further inspiring stories of young people getting back into education because of this important voluntary organisation."

Mark Pritchard, who represents The Wrekin, asked about means testing:

"Does the Minister accept that there needs to be more flexibility in the means-testing criteria? For example, the circumstances of a household on an income of £30,000 with a single child in full-time education are entirely different from those of another household on the same income but with five children in full-time education. Such issues have an impact on whether some children fulfil full-time education.

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The problem is that the more flexibility that we put into the system, the more complex it becomes. I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point, but there will not always be the same number of young people in the 16-to-18 age group. It is that particular age group that we are trying to attract with the education maintenance allowance."

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19 Jan 2009 10:51:36

Written answers round-up

There are a number of intriguing written answers in the latest edition of Hansard.

Shoreham & East Worthing MP (and Shadow Minister for Children) Tim Loughton uncovered some diplomatic buckpassing by the Government, through a question to the Olympics Minister:

"To ask the Minister for the Olympics if she will invite the Dalai Lama to attend the London 2012 Olympics. [245235]

Tessa Jowell: Guests and dignitaries are invited to attend the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee and participating National Olympic Committees, and the Paralympic Games by the International Paralympic Committee and participating National Paralympic Committees."

Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries asked about fishing quotas:

"To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has to make changes to the fishing quota system; and if he will make a statement. [247636]

Huw Irranca-Davies: At present, I have no proposals to change the current quota management system.

The UK is actively engaged with the European Commission's current activities to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which will include consideration of the quota and fisheries access management systems. I have publicly signalled my intention that the UK should play a leading role in shaping this reform and the future of the CFP."

Entering a negotiation with no ideas whatsoever is a novel tactic.

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18 Dec 2008 17:50:50

Tory MPs join Speaker's Conference on minority representation in Commons

A few days ago we reported that the special Speaker's Conference would, under the chairmanship of Speaker Michael Martin:

"Consider, and make recommendations for rectifying, the disparity between the representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons and their representation in the UK population at large". 

We now have details of its membership:

Anne Begg (Vice-Chairman, Labour), Diane Abbott (Labour), John Bercow (Conservative), David Blunkett (Labour), Angela Browning (Conservative), Ronnie Campbell (Labour), Ann Cryer (Labour), Parmjit Dhanda (Labour), Andrew George (Liberal Democrat), Julie Kirkbride (Conservative), William McCrea (DUP), David Maclean (Conservative), Fiona Mactaggart (Labour), Anne Main (Conservative), Jo Swinson (Liberal Democrat) and Betty Williams (Labour).

17 Nov 2008 13:00:20

John Whittingdale calls for tougher controls on the Internet

John_whittingdaleThere are a number of issues on which sincere Conservatives sincerely disagree. One of them is media content, and the extent to which the Government should intervene on matters of decency and to protect the vulnerable.

On Thursday, Westminster Hall hosted a debate on the Internet and video games. It was chaired by Buckingham MP (and former Shadow Cabinet member) John Bercow. What price Mr Bercow will one day be a candidate for Speaker?

John Whittingdale chairs the Culture, Media and Sport select committee (and is a former Shadow Culture Secretary). His committee undertook a "a major inquiry into the whole question of harmful content on the internet and in video games". Mr Whittingdale said that although extremely violent and sexually explicit material was an obvious concern, as was the use of the Internet to harm children, these were not the only matters that the committee considered. The encouragement of suicide, the glorification of guns and gangs, the encouragement of anorexics not to eat, terrorist networks and cyberbullying were all of interest.

Mr Whittingdale made clear that he was a fan of the Internet but that it can be misused:

"I want to preface everything that I say by making it clear that in my view, and in the view of the Committee, the internet is an extraordinary development that is overwhelmingly a force for good. ... It has revolutionised life, and there is no going back. We cannot disinvent it; nor would anyone want to. It has rapidly become a research tool, a source of information and knowledge, a means of communication and a convenient method of purchase. We do not wish to give the impression that we think that the internet is a bad thing that has to be controlled, even if it were possible to do so. None the less, the truth is that it can be abused. The purpose of our inquiry was to focus on those areas in which abuse can take place and to consider ways in which it can be tackled."

Mr Whittingdale supported what can be described as a low standard of proof for tackling potentially harmful material:

"Much of our conclusion was based on the fact that evidence of harm does not necessarily exist. If one looks for empirical, hard, factual evidence that viewing a particular video or playing a video game has led someone to go out and commit a crime such as a rape or an act of violence, there is very little. Our view was therefore not that we should necessarily say “In that case, we cannot act,” but that we should act on the probability of risk. Where there is a probable risk that someone would be influenced by exposure to such material, that is sufficient cause for intervention to protect that person from being exposed to it."

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