25/04/2012 Daily Politics


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Good morning, folks, this is Daily Politics. Culture secretary Jeremy


Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith, just as we were coming on air, has


resigned. There was a call for the Culture Secretary himself to resign


over contacts with the Murdoch. Jeremy Hunt is making a Commons


statement at 12:30pm, and we will bring it to you live after PMQs.


Yesterday it was the son and today it is the media mogul himself. He


is under oath at the Royal Courts of Justice and we will bring you


the latest from the Leveson Inquiry. We are in recession, it is the


official. The economy shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of


this year, the second consecutive quarter in which the economy has


contracted. The news could hardly be worse for


the Prime Minister as he faces Ed Miliband in what could be the final


PMQs of this parliamentary session. Joining us for the next 90 minutes


of action packed public service broadcasting at its finest, can I


say more? Double-dip Britain, here we are. We have got the


universities minister of David Willetts and the shadow environment


secretary Mary Creagh go. Welcome to you both on this very busy news


day. In a moment we will bring you more on the resignation of Jeremy


Hunt's special adviser at the latest on the Rupert Murdoch


evidence at the Leveson Inquiry, but first to the Office of National


Statistics. The economy shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of


this year. That is the second consecutive quarter in which the


economy contracted, the technical definition of a recession. It is


just the first estimate of the first quarter from the LMS, but the


City thought we would avoid the double-dip. -- from the Office of


National Statistics. It is a big blow for the Chancellor. It is very


disappointing news and it is a tough economic situation when you


are recovering from these enormous debts that the Government build up


in the good years. That is not made easier by the fact that much of


Europe is in recession or heading into recession. And we have got to


go on dealing with those debts, making our businesses more


competitive so they can create jobs, helping young people get into work,


and making sure we do not deliberately add to borrowing, do


not deliberately spend more and make the difficult situation worse.


I am joined now by the chief UK economist at Capital Economics,


Vicky Redwood. We said that there was an expectation that there might


be a slight inching up of growth and it has gone the other way. Why


do you think that is? Construction output was a key factor pulling


down growth, but in fact that was widely expected. The big


disappointment was that services output was weaker than expected.


Even though consumers were spending on the High Street, they were


cutting back on things like eating out. Perhaps there was more


widespread weavers in the economy than was generally anticipated. --


widespread weakness. The Chancellor was blaming the eurozone. What


impact will this have on the deficit-reduction plans? So far the


deficit-reduction plans have been going broadly to plan. Borrowing


has been coming down as the Chancellor expected but I think


things will get much harder now. The plans to bring down borrowing


depend very crucially on a strong pick-up in economic growth over the


next year. If that is not mad, then borrowing will be harder to bring


down, if it is not brought down at all. -- if that is not met. Will


there be a change of course for the Government? The Chancellor faces a


tricky dilemma. Spending more money to boost the economy and risking an


adverse reaction or sticking to austerity plans and wrapping them


up further if borrowing does not come down as he expects? I think he


will want to remain wedded to the fiscal plans at the moment. We


might see even more spending cuts in the future. This is only a


preliminary estimate. Do you predict that it could change? More


positive the further on we go perhaps? I think it could be


revised up a bit, this estimate. It might be that down the road the UK


did not fall back into recession at all. But I think the underlying


picture will still look very weak and it is very disappointing that


the economy is even stagnating at this stage, and it is certainly


doing worse than in other developed economies. I think even revisions


further ahead will not change the bleak picture. Thank you. We all


thought that Rupert Murdoch's testimony was going to dominate the


news today but the fact that we are in recession is bigger news where


everybody else and matters much more to people around the country.


What is it like to preside over this double-dip, the worst since


the 1970s? We knew when we came into office that we would face a


big challenge, inheriting record levels of borrowing. And also a


deep financial crisis in the banking system. He did not tell us


you would take us back into recession. We did not do that


deliberately. You have done. have done everything to get the


economy going and sort it out. In my area of speciality, science,


when I was with the Prime Minister in Asia, he was taking people into


British businesses. The eurozone is dragging us down, but exports


outside the eurozone are growing well. We should have confidence in


the ability of our economy to perform, even when we have got a


terrible problems in the eurozone holding us back. How can we have


confidence in your macro-economic policy once the size of the British


economy is still 4% smaller than it was in 2007? In 2012, five years on,


this economy is 4% smaller, it under your Government. That is not


true of the American economy or the German economy. It is the British


economy. The American economy had a far smaller financial sector.


Britain had become an unbalanced economy, with not just excessive


levels of Government borrowing. You will see that the banking sector


has shrunk. It is the exporting industries that we are backing,


outside the troubled eurozone. The Government is doing the right thing


to tackle the problems in private and Government debt, that we


inherited. Minister, you are presiding over a shrinking economy.


It is not flat lining. It is not anaemic growth. This country is


shrinking under your policy. Today, this morning, your economic


credibility lies in shreds. Look behind those totals at what is


growing and what is shrinking. Yes, there is a problem of exporting to


the eurozone because of the problems in the eurozone at exports


outside the eurozone are growing. Yes, the banking sector is


shrinking, and that is the part of the process of focusing on what


matters, with manufacturing growing. We are backing industries that will


bring as income in the future. When I look at the sectors that we are


focusing on backing, we have got a success in exporting outside the


eurozone. When you have got the local market in Europe suffering


and when you have inherited an economy with a far bigger banking


sector than the USA, you have a unique set of challenges. If you


knew all that, it would have been nice if you had told us at the time


but he did not. Is it Labour's policy now in result of these


figures, that the deficit reduction programme that the Government has


introduced, not all that different to Alistair Darling's now, should


that be torn up and should you start to borrow more? We have


always said that the Chancellor should change tack and we believe


the figures today emphasise that even more. We set out our


alternative plan for jobs and growth. We talked about a tax on


bank are bonuses to create 25,000 affordable houses. -- bankers's


bonuses. We looked at infrastructure spending which would


not have involved more spending but as bringing it forward. Should


there now be a bigger fiscal stimulus? The Government should


change track to secured jobs and growth in the economy. When we left


office, unemployment was falling and growth was running at 2% a year.


Growth needs to be at 2% a year before unemployment will start


coming down. Let me get this clear. The British Government should now


go into the bond markets and borrow more to increase the fiscal


stimulus? We are saying the Government should bring forward


infrastructure spending... You have said that already. I will repeat my


question. It is a specific question and I think it deserves a specific


answer, so we can understand your economic policy. Because of what


has happened and because of your previous critique, which many


people think you have been vindicated as the result of these


figures, so should the British Government in your view go into the


bond markets and now borrow more to increase the fiscal stimulus?


we are saying is that the Budget has failed to deliver. You are not


going to answer my question, are you? Instead of giving a


corporation tax cut to the shrinking financial services sector,


we should spend within the envelope but... I don't know what spent


within the envelope means. She is not answering my question. With


these figures today, you deficit- reduction plan is in danger of


being shot to hell. We are committed to our plan. You maybe.


We are committed to it because it enables us to key interest rates


down. If interest rates went up, then mortgage prices would go up.


This is a tough fiscal policy that is delivering. Excuse me, I want to


ask this question. Your fiscal deficit reduction plan is not


predicated on a return to recession. And it follows that if we return to


recession, as we have, then the deficit will get bigger. If you


want to stick to your deficit reduction targets, you will have to


cut more tax more. Correct? We have got a commitment on public spending.


We have also got a clear commitment to reducing the structural deficit


on... Is it your plane today that even though we are now back in


recession, that you can hit your deficit reduction targets without


either additional tax or additional cuts? It is very hard to make these


judgments on the basis of one- quarter's figures. It is two


quarters. The Office for Budget Responsibility has set out figures


for public borrowing, spending and growth, and it would be wrong two


weeks later to change that Government. -- to change that


judgment. We are committed to our plan. The plan assumed growth and


we have not got any growth, minister. Do they still do O-level


economics? Not in Britain. O-level economics tells you that when the


economy slows down, you lose tax revenue, welfare spending goes up.


You will have to borrow more. have to allow for those effects and


those are allowed for an Office for Budget Responsibility's reports.


Behind that is the structural deficit, the underlying position of


these public finances. That is absolutely the commitment of the


Government. All right. We should move on. Yesterday was James


Murdoch, today his father, Rupert Murdoch. The media mogul himself is


that the Royal Courts of Justice giving evidence before the Leveson


Inquiry into the culture, the practice and the ethics of the


press. It has had a pretty slow start this morning but we will


bring you some in a minute. Yesterday the inquiry looked at the


cash of emails releasing the extent of contact between News Corp


lobbyists and Government over the proposed take-over of BSkyB. Of


course it never happened. Labour have called for the resignation of


the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt. More revelations are expected today


when we eventually get round to that. Here is Jo to say what has


happened so far. Yesterday was a day of dramatic


revelations at the Royal Courts of Justice, because the Leveson


Inquiry heard of the close contact between News Corporation and senior


politicians during the company's failed bid to take over broadcaster


BSkyB. A cache of emails exposed discussions between Murdoch


lobbyist Fred Michel and the office of the culture secretary, Jeremy


Hunt. They appeared to reveal details of a Commons statement


before the minister had delivered it. This has been described by Fred


Michel as absolutely illegal. Others suggested that Jeremy Hunt


was predisposed to backing the BSkyB deal, quoting him saying that


they would get there in the end. Jeremy Hunt insists that he has


acted with propriety at all times. The BSkyB deal was signed off by


top officials. Now it is the turn of Rupert Murdoch to appear before


Lord Leveson, where he is being asked to talk about his


relationships with politicians for decades. They are probing for


evidence that he traded support from his newspapers for the BSkyB


bid. This could make uncomfortable listening for any of the recent


inhabitants of Number 10. Let's get the flavour of what has been


happening so far. Why do you say there is a need for this inquiry,


Mr Murdoch? Well, I think the need is fairly obvious. There have been


some abuses shown. I could say there are many other abuses, but we


can go into that in time. And, you know, the state of the media in


this country is of absolutely vital interest to all its citizens.


Frankly, I welcome the opportunity because I want to put certain myths


You use the term abuses, is it your perception or understanding that


abuses go further than the issue of phone hacking or are they limited


to the issue of phone hacking? they go further. Some recent tweets


of yours betray a hostile approach to right-wingers and toffs. Who


were you referring to? Don't take my tweets too seriously. LAUGHTER.


I think I was really saying that the extremists on both sides were


piling in on me. I never gave instructions to the editor of the


Times or the Sunday Times. I didn't say what are you doing, what are


you saying? Sometimes when I was available on a Saturday I would


call and say what's the news today, idle curiosity perhaps. Other times


I would ring on a Tuesday, in New York, say that was a dam fine paper


you had this week. I probably wouldn't have read the editorial.


Colourful answers there from Rupert Murdoch. We can speak to Adam


Fleming who has been watching developments. What about


information relating to relationships between Rupert


Murdoch and the corporation and politicians over decades? Watching


some of that evidence from Rupert Murdoch was like watching rolling


news from 1981, if it existed, they were going back to historic things.


Things like lunches at Chequers, Rupert Murdoch had with Margaret


Thatcher. They were talking about a dinner on polling day for the


election in 87 which might seem strange to people watching but what


the QC for the inquiry is trying to do is establish a pattern of


influence over politicians by Rupert Murdoch that goes back


several decades. Of course, Rupert Murdoch has denied any of that. He


said he wasn't trying to influence Margaret Thatcher to smooth his


passage of trying to buy the times and Sunday Times in 81. Robert Jay


saying you wouldn't do that blatantly, you would try it more


subtlely. The other line of questioning has been about how much


influence Rupert Murdoch had over his editors of his titles. Rupert


Murdoch says hardly any, I am a guy who has strong opinions and I find


it hard to bite my tongue but never told editor what is decisions to


make. We might have a debate on that later. Let's bring it up to


date with the resignation of the special advisor of Jeremy Hunt,


what more do we know about the statement? While Leveson is looking


at the 1980s, we are up to date with events here. Yesterday we got


all the e-mails released between James Murdoch's public affairs man


and Jeremy Hunt's office. Adam Smith has resigned in the last 15


minutes, we are had a a statement from the department on his behalf.


He says while he was authorised to be the point man with News


International during that merger talks about BSkyB, he said the


content and extent of his contacts were done without the authorisation


of the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt. He says that he doesn't


recognise everything that Fred Michel said in his e-mails,


nevertheless it's given the perception that the department was


too close to News International, that's why he has decided to resign.


That's been welcomed by Downing Street. The Prime Minister's


official spokesman saying it's the right decision but Downing Street


not commenting on the content of the e-mails. Thank you.


Adam Smith, the special advisor to Jeremy Hunt, now knows what the


invisible hand really means. University Minister David Willets


and shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh are here.


There was a lot of communication, including texts between Mr Smith


and the News Corp. Mr Smith on resignation says I appreciate my


activities at times went too far and I have taken together created


the perception that News Corp had too close a relationship with the


department, contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt.


It's right, therefore, for me to step down. Are you still calling


for Jeremy Hunt's resignation? are and this is an attempt by the


Culture Secretary to put distance between himself and his special


advisor. I went and looked through these e-mails. We have all done


that. There's one from the 15th of 11th, just as Jeremy was about to


take over the review of the decision, the BSkyB takeover, it's


very clear, it says: My advice advice don't meet Jeremy today, it


could be counterproductive. I will liaise with the team. We don't know


if that call took place. It could be a game-changer, understand that,


but we don't know if that call took place. It's secondhand reporting.


It's the chief lobbyist who had an incentive to big himself up in the


eyes of James Murdoch, that he was right at the centre of what was


going on. But we heard from Adam Smith, now resigned, he is implying


that he bigged himself up in this process and he thinks - he says: I


firmly believe the process was conducted scrupulously, fairly.


That's what he said. Why are you still call fog for Mr Hunt's --


calling for Mr Hunt's resignation? We have evidence in the e-mails


that the Culture Secretary needs to build political cover on the


process. Who is saying that? wants ammo against the Ofcom report.


He is saying that. It's the News Corporation lobbyist saying that


sarplt of being briefed by Adam Smith - as a result. A specialist


advisor in a Minister's office. The idea that a special advisor would


have these type of back channels without the knowledge of their


culture secretary is unthinkable. He may have had knowledge that he


was speaking, but what he is saying is that the Minister didn't have


knowledge of what I was saying. I created the perception that I had


too close a relationship. That's what he is saying. He is saying


it's not Mr Hunt's fault, it was my fault. I made too much of it. I


implied too much. We have no evidence whether that's true or not,


but you have no evidence that's not true and yet you are still calling


for Mr Hunt to resign. Absolutely right and he will see what he has


to say at 12.30. David Willets, it's quite clear from everything we


know Jeremy Hunt was a self-styled cheerleader for Rupert Murdoch,


it's on his website. It's pretty clear from what we know he wanted


this to go ahead. It really is incredible that you put it all on


the head of an unknown special advisor. What's clear is that at


every stage Jeremy acted on independent advice and nobody's


been able to provide evidence that he took a decision that was in


conflict with independent outside advice. Second, which gets to the


heart of the reason why we set up the inquiry and indeed which the


Labour Party welcomed, and that is it's for the judge to take an


overall assessment when he has heard everyone's account of what


happened as to what he then thinks we should conclude and he himself,


as I think rightly, warned today that you shouldn't take one set of


e-mails - I think he says you can take one set of documents out of


context and they can bear different interpretations. We have to let the


judge in this inquiry get to the bottom. I understand that, judges


don't have a monopoly of opinion or even judgment in this country. We


are all allowed a say and we are all allowed to make a judgment. If


you take the e-mails Mary has got there, and there are more than that,


you take them in the aggregate, and they do show an unhealthy


relationship between the company that wants to do the biggest


takeover in British media history and the Ministerial office of the


Minister responsible for determining that takeover. It


doesn't look good. Andrew, there are indeed a whole host of opinions


floating around today. The judgment that I will respect is the judgment


that's finally reached by the the judge after he has heard everyone's


account, including Jeremy's and Jeremy is an honourable man. I


believe what Jeremy says. As a minimum, Jeremy has the right to


explain what he did and Jeremy has made it clear throughout he acted


on independent objective advice. understand that and we will hear


this at 12.30 what he has to say. Have you met Adam Smith? I don't


recall. Possibly I have. It's not a trick question. I have no direct


recollection, I probably have at some point. I tended to think of


him as a great 18th century political economist, as you said.


From the University of Glasgow. My point is, I spoke to political


correspondents this this morning, most of them hadn't heard of him.


This is not a special advisor known for going off the reservation, he


was a special advisor who kept it low key, did little briefing,


didn't say things that he couldn't - didn't big himself up as how


important he was. I think given his previous behaviour until these e-


mails came out, there's a kind of credibility test that isn't quite


passed that suddenly he goes completely off the reservation on


this. Some people I suggest to you will be suspicious that he has been


made the fall guy. Andrew, these are your ingenious speculations


about the character of someone that you have never met. I think that


what we should do is let the process agreed go its course. We


have to allow, as as Lord Leveson has said, we are to accept these e-


mails can be interpreted in different ways. All I can say is so


far the one thing we know, nobody's been able to show any decision he


took in conflict with the advice. What about the Ministerial code? It


states the responsibility for the management and conduct of special


advisers, including discipline rests with the Minister who made


the appointment. You stand by that? Absolutely and Jeremy does, too.


It's clear from the statement that's been released that the


special advisor was not... Sorry, we are going to crash PMQs, I


wouldn't as a Labour MP wouldn't want me to do that today. Of all


days! Our weekly guess the year competition might be excluding some


viewers with its complexity. We are concerned about one particular


viewer, Mrs T May of Westminster. We don't want to exclude anybody


here. So Mrs May, here is your own Can I get back to you. Mrs May, to


tenner Guess the -- to enter Guess the Day: Let's see if you can


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quiz e-mail address. You can see the full terms and


conditions on our website. Coming up to midday, a couple of


minutes to go. Let's look at Big Ben.


Soon to be Queen Elizabeth Tower, we are told, we will see about that.


The tkroulgt is going -- drought is going well! Prime Minister's


questions on the way and Nick Robinson is here. A veritable


cornupio of things. Hunt and Murdoch? I would think so. The Adam


Smith resignation. There are more resignations on a Wednesday than


any other day of the week, why? They're to save the Prime


Minister's skin. Midday on a Wednesday is a day people go.


Usually Ministers go to protect the Prime Minister's skin. The advisor


has gone to protect the Minister, to protect the Prime Minister's


skin. The question is simply is it enough? We know the Ministerial


code says the Minister is responsible for his advisor. Jeremy


Hunt, as late as yesterday, was telling colleagues his advisor had


done nothing wrong, that the contact between the advisor and the


Murdoch empire was approved by the permanent Secretary. What has


obviously gone wrong is the content, rather than the contact. What


Jeremy Hunt is going to face in half an hour's time and the Prime


Minister might now, is the question of is he really saying he didn't


know anything about the content of what his advisor was saying to the


Murdoch empire? At no stage his individualser say -- his advisor


say what shall I say? Have you come across Adam Smith? No. He was low


key. There are advisers who are spin doctors and he was policy.


understand that, but the point I was trying to make to the Minister


is that Adam Smith was not well known as some special advisers are


around Westminster for being very gobby when it comes to briefing or


bigging himself up. People I speak to in the BBC and the BBC of course


has to have have its own contacts, say Adam Smith is not the sort of


guy who talks without talking on behalf of his his Secretary of


State. He is not someone who just goes around - doesn't mean that his


choice of phrase is approved by the Secretary of State, e-mails are


read by the Secretary of State, but the decision of a constant traffic


of reassurance and information, it is stretching credibility to say


the Secretary of State knew nothing. And you put your finger on


something that's dawned on me, because you said it, that's why we


have you on the programme, you are brighter than me! Reassuring.


are other reasons. Last night the Secretary of State said that his


special advisor had done nothing wrong. 12 hours later he says


actually I did do a lot wrong and I have had to resign. That doesn't


pass the smell test. possibilities. Three possibilities,


one they woke up and thought we were wrong. Secondly the civil


service pulled the plug that the Secretary said this is intolerable


or the Prime Minister's pulled the plug. Let's go straight to the


Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am sure the whole House will want to join


me in paying tribute to Sapper Connor Ray, who died on 18th April


from wins that he sustained in Afghanistan. He was described by


ordinary servicemen as a superb soldier. His courage will never be


forgotten and we send our condolences to his family and is


loved ones. This morning I had meetings with ministerial


colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I will


have further such meetings later today.


I would like to associate myself with the Prime Minister's tribute


to Sapper Connor Ray, and in doing so ask my right honourable friend


if he will confirm that although British servicemen are due to leave


Afghanistan in 2014, the actual pace of withdrawal will be


determined first and foremost by then need to minimise the risk to


members of the armed forces serving in Afghanistan at that time?


honourable friend makes an important point. I can confirm that


by the end of 2014, we won't have anything like the numbers we have


now and we will not be in a combat role. Post 2014 we do believe in


having a training role with the Afghan army, particularly the


officer training role that Hamid Karzai has personally asked for us


to undertake. The speed of the reductions between now and the end


of 2014 will be done in accordance with the conditions on the ground


and what is right in terms of transition length from Allied


Control to Afghan control. What is paramount in our minds is the


safety and security of our armed forces, who I pay tribute to today.


Mr Ed Miliband. Mr Speaker, can I join the Prime Minister in paying


tribute to Sapper Connor Ray? He carried out his duties with the


utmost courage, saving many Afghan and British lives by what he did,


and our deepest condolences go to his family and friends. Today we


had the catastrophic news that Britain is back in recession. I am


sure the Prime Minister has spent the last 24 hours thinking of an


excuse as to why this has nothing to do with them. What is his excuse


this time? These are very, very disappointing figures. I don't seek


to excuse them. I don't seek to try and explain them away. Let me be


absolutely clear, there is no complacency at all in this


Government in dealing with what is a very tough situation that frankly


has just got tougher. I believe that the truth is this. It is very


difficult recovering from the deepest recession in living memory,


accompanied as it was by the debt crisis. Our banks had too much debt.


Our households had too much debt. Our Government had too much debt.


We have got to rebalance our economy. We need a bigger private


sector, more exports, more investment. This is painstaking,


difficult work, but we will stick with our plans, stick with the


lower interest rates and do everything we can to boost growth


competitiveness and jobs in our country. Mr Speaker, typical of


this arrogant Prime Minister, he tries to blame everyone else. The


reality is this is a recession made by him and the Chancellor in


Downing Street. Over the last 18 months since his catastrophic


spending review, our economy has shrunk. And this is now a slow


recovery from recession event than the 1930s. -- even compared to the


1930s. It is families and businesses paying the prices for


his arrogance and complacency. Why doesn't he admits that it is his


catastrophic economic policy and his plan for austerity, cutting too


far and too fast, that has landed us back in recession? There is not


a single business organisation or serious commentator or


international body that thinks these problems emerged in the last


24 months. The debt crisis has been long in the making, the failure to


regulate our banks has been long in the making, the Government


overspending has been long in the making. This is a tough and


difficult situation that the economy is in. But the one thing


that we must not do is to abandon public spending and deficit-


reduction plans because the solution to a debt crisis cannot be


more debt. We must not put at risk the low interest rates that are


absolutely essential to our recovery. That would be absolute


folly and that is why there is no business organisation, their


international economic organisation, that suggests that we follow that


course. -- no international economic organisation. It is all


bluster. His plan has failed. That is the reality. They are the people


but said that Britain is a safe haven, the Chancellor even said it


on Monday, and we are back in recession. He was the person who


said we are out of the danger zone and this is what has happened. Even


his own backbenchers are saying that the complacent, arrogant posh


boys just don't get it. Now let's turn from the economic disaster of


this Government to the political disaster that is the culture


secretary. We now know that throughout the time the culture


secretary was supposed to be acting in an impartial manner, he and his


office were providing a constant flow of confidential information to


News Corporation about statements to be made in this House in advance,


his private discussions with the regulators, and his discussions


with the opposing parties. Having seen a 163 pages published


yesterday, is the Prime Minister seriously trying to tell us that


the Secretary of State was acting as he should have done in a


transparent, impartial and fair manner? Let me just finish off on


the economy, which he has moved off. Order. Let's hear what the Prime


Minister has to say on the economy and anything else. The Prime


Minister. We will not let anyone forget who got us into this mess in


More spending, more borrowing, more debt. That is what caused these


problems. It cannot be the solution to these problems. Now let me turn,


Mr Speaker, to the Leveson Inquiry. I set up the Leveson Inquiry, the


terms of reference of the inquiry were agreed by the leader of the


Liberal Democrat Party, and the leader of the Labour Party. And I


believe that to step in and try and prejudge that inquiry would be


And let me be clear, let me be clear. Lord Justice Leveson has


made that precise point this morning. Let me read to the House


what he has said. Perhaps the House would like to listen? Let's hear


what the Prime Minister has to say, and then the questioning will


continue. The Prime Minister. Justice Leveson said this this


morning. It is very important to hear every side of the story before


drawing conclusions. And then he said this. Although I have seen


requests for other inquiries and investigations, and of course I do


not seek to constrain Parliament, but it seems to me that the better


course is to allow this inquiry to proceed. Having set up this inquiry,


having agreed with this inquiry, he should listen to the inquiry.


Speaker, Lord Justice Leveson is responsible for a lot of things,


but he is not responsible for the integrity of the Prime Minister's


Government. In case he had forgotten, that is his


responsibility, Mr Prime Minister. It beggars belief that the Prime


Minister can defend the culture secretary, because he was not


urging this bid. He was helping the bid by News Corporation. -- not


judging this bid. On 25th January, the culture secretary's office was


colluding with the score to provide them information in advance and


they were hatching a plant to ensure, and I quote, that would be


game over for the opposition to the bid. Does the Prime Minister really


believe that that is how a judge and his advisers should act?


Leader of the Opposition clearly does not think that what Lord


Leveson said this morning matters. Let me remind him what he said


yesterday about the Leveson Inquiry. He said this. I think that it is


right that the Leveson Inquiry takes its course. He went on, the


most important thing is that the Leveson Inquiry gets to the bottom


of what happened, of what Labour did, for the Conservatives did, and


we reach a judgement about that. Isn't it typical of the right


honourable gentleman? In the morning he said that his very clear


position but in the afternoon he cannot resist the passing political


Total... Totally, totally... Order. I said the Prime Minister must be


heard. The Leader of the Opposition must be heard. Both will be heard,


however long it takes. It is very clear. Mr Speaker, totally pathetic


answers. He is the Prime Minister! If he can't defend the conduct of


his own ministers, his ministers should be out the door. He should


fire them. He does not even try and defend the Secretary of State on


what he did. The Secretary of State told this House on 3rd March this


year, in answer to a question from the honourable member for Banbury,


and I quote, today we are publishing all the consultation


documents, all the submissions we receive, all the exchanges between


my department and News Corporation. But he did not. 163 pages have now


emerged. The Prime Minister does not defend her in over giving


controversial information to one party in the case. -- defend him.


He does not offend him over collusion so is he really going to


defend him about not being straight with the House of Commons? That may


be absolutely clear about the culture secretary, who has my full


support for the excellent job that he does. -- let me be absolutely


clear. The culture secretary will be giving a full account of himself


in this House of Commons this afternoon and in front of the


Leveson Inquiry. And he will give a very good account of himself for


this very simple reason, that in judging this important bit, the


culture secretary sought independent advice from independent


regulators at every stage, although he did not need to, and the culture


secretary took that independent advice at every stage, although he


did not need to. The way that the culture secretary has dealt with


this issue is in stark contrast to the Government of which he was a


member. I do so this to the Prime Minister. While his culture


secretary remains in place, one who refuses to come clean on his


meetings with Rupert Murdoch, the shadow of sleaze will hang over


this Government. Mr Speaker, Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and another


culture secretary. When is he going to realise it is time to stop


putting his cronies before the interest of the country? I have to


say to the right honourable gentleman, he called for an


independent judicial inquiry and that is the inquiry I have set up.


He agreed the terms of reference. Now he is flip-flopping all over


the place on it. The fact is that the problem of closeness between


politicians and media proprietors had been going on for years and it


is this Government that is going to sort it out. Whether it is the


proper regulation of the press, or whether it is cleaning up our


financial system, whether it is dealing with our debt, I don't dock


my responsibilities. What a pity he Order. Order. Mr Carl McCartney.


Thank you. Is my right honourable friend aware of recent good news in


the manufacturing and engineering sectors in Lincoln, an increase in


turnover over 20%, and investments in a new tooling press and a new


engineering school in our country for 20 years. Would my honourable


friend accept my personal invitation to see for himself the


excellent process our city is enjoying. I am grateful to my


honourable friend's invitation and I will try and take it up. As I


said earlier, what's happening in our economy with the disappointing


news today, but underneath that there is a rebalancing that needs


to take place and that is taking place in terms of manufacturing and


investment and in terms of exports and in terms of the Government


getting behind that with more investment in apprenticeships, more


investments in technical hubs at our universities, like the one at


the University of Lincoln, and cutting business taxes so we get


Britain working and making things again.


Mr Speaker, on Monday the Prime Minister said that an economic


rescue mission, is it not fair to say that mission has failed


spectacularly in light of the figures released today?


The point I would make is if you look at the recession that we


suffered, a 7% contraction of our GDP, that was much bigger even than


what happened in America. It is worth remembering the biggest bank


bail-out anywhere in the world, it wasn't in America, it was here in


Britain, getting out of the recession, the financial crisis and


the debt crisis is difficult pain- staking work but this Government is


committed to doing just that. week I met the chief executive of


the fourth largest manufacturing group in the UK, who have a


substantial factory in Burnley, He has been instructed by his US board


to increase the turnover of his UK operations, so as to take advantage


of the Government's industrial strategy. He is concerned about the


lack of skills. Can my right honourable friend assure me that


the Government investment in apprenticeships and technical


colleges will increase over the coming years?


What is interesting, Mr Speaker, is that if any member of parliament


wants to talk about manufacturing success or business success in


their constituency, they are shouted down by the opposition.


Because all they want to hear is bad news and to talk our economy


down. We are investing in skills. We are putting more money into the


apprenticeship schemes. We are putting money into the university


technical colleges. I was at Airbus in Filton this week seeing


expansion and growth plans there and it's good to hear what's


happening in his constituency. the Prime Minister agree with his


Chancellor who said in 2008 that once you have a downturn you cannot


possibly slash public expenditure, will he stick to his complacent


plan of cutting too far and too fast which is's delivered a double-


dip recession? Well, well read. The point is we


inherited from the party opposite a budget deficit of 11%. The budget


deficit we inherited was bigger than Greece, than Spain, bigger


than Portugal. If you don't deal with your debts and your deficit,


you will never keep interest rates low and it is low interest rates


that offer us the best prospects of getting out of this difficult


economic situation we are in. you, Mr Speaker.


Order. At least half a million children


died from malaria last year. On world malaria day may I thank the


Prime Minister for his personal commitment to combating this


disease and will he join me in recognising the international


leadership which British scientists, aid workers and volunteers,


including in my constituency, show in combating malaria.


I am very grateful to join the honourable gentleman and to wish


the people well. He did rather better in convincing the people to


vote for him than I did in 1997. He is absolutely right to raise the


issue of malaria, 15,000 children die every week from what is a


preventable illness. That's why I am proud of the fact that Britain


is leading on this issue, is putting money into our aid budget,


putting money into malaria bed nets and to the scientific advances that


he refers to. This is a vital agenda and even in difficult


economic times I think we are right to pursue it.


Does this out of touch Prime Minister still believe that the


British economy is out of the danger zone?


One of the biggest problems we faced on taking office was the


danger that financial markets would take a view of Britain like they


had taken a view of Greece or Spain or Portugal where interest rates


were rising. The fact that we have such low interest rates in Britain


demonstrates that we have credibility. These are difficult


decisions to get on top of debt and deficit and to deal with public


spending, but they're the right decisions, not least because the


Shadow Chancellor once said that low interest rates are the mark of


economic credibility. The head teachers have within


calleder valley both very much welcome the educational reforms.


Two schools who never qualified from the previous Government


because they abstained too highly. Can the Prime Minister tell the


pupils of those schools when they can expect an announcement on the


priority school buildings project to which they both applied?


What I can tell him is that compared with the first two


parliaments of the party opposite ran, we are investing more in


school building than they did. I think the figure now is something


along the lines of �17 billion during this spending review period,


so there are opportunities for new classrooms and new buildings and I


am sure the Secretary of State for education is listening carefully to


my honourable friend and will be in touch with him about the prospects.


Does the Prime Minister agree with the member from mid-Bedfordshire


when she said that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor...


Order. Order. Let's hear the question. Posh boys showing no


compassion or understanding for the lives of others and will he admit


admit further evidence of being out of touch and why we are in a


double-dip recession? I agree with my honourable friend


about many, many things. Over the last two years UK exports


have grown by 23%, with faster growth to the - with my friend join


me in congratting the 150 winners of the Queen he is award for


enterprise this week for success in international trade, particularly


in my constituency. I certainly join him on congratulating this


business. When we look at some of the fastest growing markets in the


world, whether India or China our export performance compared with


2009 in some of those markets is up by as much as 60%. As well as those


markets, we also have to remember our old friends as it were, and the


fact that we still export more to the Republic of Ireland than to


Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. So expanding our existing


markets but much more work to get into the fast growing markets in


the world. Recently the Prime Minister conceded that the


Government had made an important mistake in the handling of the fuel


crisis. Can I ask him wouldn't it be a positive step in correcting


that mistake if the Government were to scrap the 3p increase in August,


in order to help motorists, haulage companies, and hard-pressed


families in the United Kingdom? First of all, the Government has


actually used around �4 billion of budget money to keep petrol prices


down and petrol prices are about 6p lower than they would be under the


plans of the party opposite. Let me update the honourable gentleman and


the House on the issue of the fuel strike. It now looks as if there is


a longer period of time before any potential strike could take place.


I am determined that we use that time to make sure there is every


piece of resilience in place. The plans we inherited would have


allowed the military to provide maybe 10% of our fuel needs. We


have now managed to lift that to something like 60 or 70 %. We are


in much better place now because of the proper emergency planning that


this Government has done, rather than the party opposite that just


crossed their fingers and hoped the best from the trade unions. Next


Wednesday my mother will celebrate her 100th birthday. Living as she


does five minutes from the Olympic stadium, she has agreed to be Usain


Bolt's pace-maker in order to give the other athletes a chance. Will


my right honourable friend now call on the indomitable spirit of former


land army girls such as my mother, and encourage our Olympic athletes


to go for gold? I will certainly do that. I have


written to Maude to congratulate her on this fantastic milestone. I


am sure that as she speeds past Usain Bolt she will just turn round


and reflect that indeed the only way is Essex.


I am delighted the Prime Minister has written to her, that makes two


of us. Thank you. The Prime Minister has spent plenty of time


cosying up to News Corporation, in return for political support. I can


wait. I can wait. So he is well qualified to answer this question,


when Alex Salmond agreed to to act as a lobbyist for News Corp was he


acting in self-interest or in the interests of Scotland?


First of all, I think Alex Salmond can answer for himself. Secondly,


think-tank this is another issue that -- I think that is another


issue the Leveson inquiry properly set up, that's going to interview


all the politicians, including all sorts of people who cosied up to


News International over the years, and I think on all sides of the


House there is a need for a hand on heart, we all did too much cosying


up to Rupert Murdoch, I think we would agree, on that basis I am


sure that Lord Leveson will make some important recommendations.


the Prime Minister seen the research published today by the


Taxpayers' Alliance which shows that there are 3,097 town hall


employees earning more than �100,000 and 52 earning more than


�250,000. My conconstituteents can't understand the salaries. What


can we do about it? I think he is entirely right to


raise this issue. The important thing that we have done is made


completely transparent the pay in our town halls and in local


Government. Sadly, I believe there is still one local council, a


Labour-controlled council in Nottinghamshire, that's not making


this information available. Every council should be transparent about


how they spend council taxpayers money.


to those people warning him that cutting too far and too fast would


cause a double-dip recession should apologise. Now he's delivered a


double-dip recession, shouldn't he appoll apologise? The point I make


is this, we faced a very difficult situation with an 11% budget


deficit. If we had listened to the plans of the party opposite and


spent more, borrowed more and increased our debt, that would have


only made the debt crisis worse. How can the answer to a debt crisis


be more borrowing? That is the question the party opposite can


never answer. After weeks of ducking and diving, Ken Livingstone


has given a partial publication of his tax affairs. Sadly, he refuses


to publish the tax affairs of the company he set up to avoid paying


his fair share of tax. Does my right honourable friend agree that


Ken Livingstone has ceased to be the old pretender and now become


the artful tkopbler -- dodger? think my friend speaks for all of


London when he makes this point, Ken Livingstone owes the people of


London some proper transparency about this company and about his


tax bill. There are still several days to go before this key election.


He should make that information available. I have to say, Mr


Speaker, I had something of a shock this week when I hardly ever agreed


with anything Alan Sugar has ever said, but in saying Londoners


shouldn't back Ken, he was spot on. Now that the Prime Minister's


admitted that he's created the economic mess the country's in, can


I be helpful to the Prime Minister? Drop his ridiculous proposals for


regional pay cuts and accelerate the capital programme for schools


in the West Midlands. We are spending more on capital on schools


in this parliament than either of the first two Labour parliaments. I


am happy again for Education Ministers to look specifically at


the case in his constituency and see what can be done. I also hope


that he will be joining me and inviting people in Coventry on the


3rd May to vote yes to a mayor for Coventry. Every year millions of


British people donate money to charities. They do it for the


simple reason they want to help the cause and help others worse worse


off than themselves. Wye call these actions by members of the public as


being honourable, kind and selfless. We have all heard recently that


some, not all, but some of our wealthy citizens only want to


donate money to charity if they can tb to trb trb continue to reduce


their tax bill. Does the Prime Minister think their motives are


honourable and selfless? We should support in our country people who


give money to charity. And that's why this Government has expanded


Gift Aid in a generous way and made available a change to help people


with inheritance tax if they leave quests to charity. There were set


out in the Budget a number of limits to relieves, we specifically


identified the potential problem for charities and my friend the


Chancellor is going to consult widely about how we can make sure


we encourage charities and encourage what they do in our


country. The Prime Minister's dismissive response to the fact the


UK is back in recession suggests that his mind is on other things.


Shouldn't he just sack his Culture Secretary and concentrate properly


on the job of sorting out the British economy? I think the


honourable lady would recognise there is absolutely nothing


dismissive about either my reply on the economy, or indeed what I think


we need to do. We are in a difficult economic situation in


Britain. Just as you see now recessions in Denmark, in Holland,


Italy, in Spain, that's what is happening across the continent that


we trade with. What is absolutely essential is we take every step we


can to help our economy out of recession. Investing in


apprenticeships, setting up enterprise zones, cutting business


taxes, prioritising investment in our Africa, we are -- in our our


infrastructure, we are doing all of these things to help get our


economy out of the mess the last Government left in.


Far from being dismissive, the Prime Minister acknowledged that


the figures were disappointing. But would he agree with me that getting


out of a debt crisis you don't spend more money and there is no


international organisations suggesting this country changes its


force and spend more money to get out of a debt crisis?


My honourable friend is right, it's not just there is no international


body body that's making that case, there is no business organisation


making that case. Indeed, the IOD and the CBI are both saying that


while these figures are disappointing, we must not give up


the low interest rates and the credible fiscal policy we have,


that would be the way to land our economy in the problems that they


left it in. It's a sorry state of affairs, in two years the economy


is in deep recession and now the Government is deep in sleaze. Same


old Tories? I think Russell Brand got it about


right yesterday. Order. STUDIO: We are going to stay


in the Commons now. We are going to stay because Jeremy


Hunt, the culture secretary, whose special advisor resigned this


morning, just as we were coming on air, because of revelations in the


Leveson inquiry yesterday, over his communications with the chief


lobbyist for News Corp as they were trying to buy BSkyB, he has fallen


hpb oeus sword this morning. Here is Jeremy Hunt.


With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement


following yesterday's developments in the Leveson inquiry. Although I


intend to respond fully to allegations about my conduct and my


department when I present my evidence to Lord Justice Leveson,


it's important to update the House on actions that have been taken as


a result of evidence released yesterday. We are 273 days into a


process that's first stage will last until October. This is not the


time to jump on a political bandwagon. What the public want to


hear is not the right hopb honourable gentleman's views, not


my views, but the views of Lord Justice Leveson when he has


considered all the evidence. I do, however, think it is right to set


the record straight on a number of issues in the light of evidence


heard yesterday at the inquiry. Specifically, on the merger of News


Corp with BSkyB, I would like to remind the House of the process I


followed. Throughout I have strictly followed due process.


Seeking the advice of independent regulators, something I didn't have


to do, and after careful consideration acting on their


advice. I have published all advice that I have received from Ofcom and


the OFT, together with core respondence with myself including


details of all meetings I have heard in relation to this process.


As part of this process, my officials and I have engaged with


News Corporation and its representatives as well as other


interested parties, both supporters Messages have been alleged to


indicate that there was a back channel through which News


Corporation were able to influence my decisions. This is categorically


not the case. Order. The House must calm down a bit. The statement must


be heard. There will be a full opportunity for questioning of the


Secretary of State, which he would expect, and whether he expected or


not that is what will happen and that is right and proper. But it is


also right and proper that the state and be heard with courtesy.


However, the volume and tone of those communications were clearly


not appropriate in a quasar judicial process, and today Adam


Smith has resigned as my special adviser. -- quasi-judicial process.


Although Adam Smith accepts that he overstepped the mark on this


occasion, I want to set on record that I believe he did so


unintentionally. I did not believe that he was doing anything more


than giving advice on process. I believe in to be someone of


integrity and decency, and it is a matter of huge regret to me that


this has happened. Mr Speaker, I only saw the transcripts of these


communications yesterday. They did not influence my decisions in any


way at all. Not least because I insisted on hearing the advice of


independent regulators at every stage of the process. I will give


my full record of events when I give evidence to Lord Justice


Leveson. However, I would like to resolve this issue as soon as


possible, which is why I have written to Lord Justice Leveson,


asking if my appearance can be brought forward. I am totally


confident that when I present my evidence, the public will see that


I conducted this process with scrupulous fairness throughout.


Harriet Harman. Thank you, Mr Speaker.


We are going to leave the Commons now, but worry not, we will listen


to what Harriet Harman has to say at she responds to Jeremy Hunt and


we will bring you what the shadow culture secretary says in response


to that statement. He said that he followed to process throughout in


the Murdoch bid for all of BSkyB. Murdoch owned 40% of it and he


wanted to buy the 60% who did not have. He acted on independent


advice, he said from Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading, two of the


regulators in media takeovers. He said that the emails and texts


published in the Leveson Inquiry yesterday showed a close


relationship between his special adviser and the chief lobbyist at


News Corp, but he claimed that did not amount to a back channel. He


said that the special adviser Adam Smith had resigned this morning,


but he believed that if Adam Smith had acted in appropriately, he had


not done so intentionally. He said there was a huge regret and he now


wants his day in court in front of Leveson. Our panellists is still


here, and Nick Robinson has also stayed with us. What happened, do


you think, between the minister saying last night that he had


complete faith in Adam Smith and that he had done nothing wrong, and


Adam Smith resigning this morning? Presumably just a review of exactly


what happened, the messages and e- mails, and the decision that they


had gone too far. It was suggested last night that the civil servant


in charge of Culture, Media and Sport had designated Adam Smith to


be the point of contact with News Corporation, and you would expect


such contacts in a high-profile media bit. Jeremy Hunt said that he


had contacts with opponents of the bid as well. These were minuted


meetings with civil servants present. Yes, indeed. The adviser


accepts that he went too far and he resigned. But it is a mark of


Jeremy Hunt's character that he defended him in the Commons today.


Is it credible when you read the substance of these emails and text


messages, in which to details all sorts of things that are going to


happen, all of which did then happen, he was a particularly well-


informed special adviser, and that he also in a number of text


messages which are more interesting than the emails said that things


are going well, fine, things are in a good place, is it credible that


he did all of that unintentionally? Yes, I think so. He was a point of


contact from the department with News Corporation but he probably


went too far. For that reason he has quite properly offered his


resignation but I am certain that Jeremy Hunt is right that he did


not intend to do that. It is your contention that the special adviser


had this extensive correspondence digitally with the head of lobbying


at News Corp and that Jeremy Hunt knew nothing about that? I do not


intend that at all. The special adviser was authorised to be the


point of contact with News Corporation, as you would expect


there to be content with News Corporation over the bird and other


interested parties, but he went too far. -- the bid. I have no doubt


that Jeremy Hunt did not authorise him to reveal special information


and did not expecting to do so and there is no doubt in my mind about


that. At a point in this whole process, when things have gone well


for BSkyB, at this point, I know they did not in the end, but at


this point they did, the chief lobbyist texted Mr Smith and said,


we are in a good place tonight, I think. Mr Smith replied, yes, I


think we are. But let's see what the press says tomorrow. This is


complicit in BSkyB's bid. It is the fact that he gave the impression


that the Government was too close to BSkyB that prompted his


resignation. You are right, that cannot be defended and that is why


he had to resign in the end. would he do so? A key overstepped


the remit that he was given by the Secretary of State. -- he


overstepped the remit. But why would he do that since we know that


without his master's voice giving him support, when we know from


Jeremy Hunt's previous statements, that he is a cheerleader for Rupert


Murdoch, that he wanted the BSkyB bid to go ahead, that he was in


favour of that sort of thing? You must only have thought he was doing


his master's bidding. I don't think so. Jeremy Hunt took extreme care.


He took independent advice when that was not compulsory. In order


to seek the proper form, he had proper advice given to him at every


stage when he did not have to. That is how seriously he took his quasi-


judicial responsibility and it is important that he would have an


opinion on this when Vince Cable said that he would go to war on


Rupert Murdoch. But he sought independent advice. What do you say


to that? It beggars belief that when Jeremy Hunt was publishing a


cache of emails and meetings between himself and Murdoch over


the BSkyB bid, that Adam Smith sat in the office, next door to the


culture secretary, I did not say, hold on, boss, there is something


that I have to tell you. That is extraordinary. These emails were


carried on on his private account. The idea that Jeremy Hunt had


absolutely no idea about this simply beggars belief. I think that


is exactly the question that will now be pursued by the Labour Party


in the state bed and potentially by end of the inquiry. What did Jeremy


Hunt know? -- in a statement. It is perfectly possible that there could


be some point of contact between the department and an interested


party. Why make that party political contact and not official?


Why make it as special adviser rather than a civil servant who


would take notes? They think that his question number one. If you are


News Corp with an �8 billion bid and you are an important company


for Britain, the Government will keep you informed about the dates


of processes and give you copies of statements, all sort of background


information, provided that we are not giving you things that you


should not have before Parliament, before the markets and before the


public. That his Test No. 1, so why did he do it? The impression


created here is that the department wanted to give the impression that


it was acting in a semi- judicial way, while simultaneously giving


news got the impression that it was on its side. -- News Corp. The next


question is whether Jeremy Hunt new about this duality. He is based in


this way and his minister, his adviser, a party political


appointment, is facing the other way. Just to boil it down, what is


critical is whether he is the Minister for Murdoch or the


minister for public interest and the only way of establishing that


is if we find the e-mail traffic with officials about what he knew


with his special adviser. Let me bring in the minister among us, who


knows how things operate in Government. If there was a


necessity to create a link between the Department and the interested


parties, why was that Labour given to a political adviser and not his


civil servant? -- that link. We know that these meetings are toxic.


The meetings with Margaret Thatcher have been a running problem since


1981. Why was it not given to the civil servant? Why was it to only


one side of the argument? Why was the information only given to BSkyB


and not to the coalition of media companies that were against BSkyB?


The judgment would have had to have been taken within the department,


including by somebody who was best able to advise a News International


on the process that was being followed. That should be a civil


servant. Special advisers are subject to most of the regulation,


remember. They have special status. But special advisers cannot run


amok. They are also bound by large obligations on how they should


behave. I think the answer to Nick Robinson's challenge of how they


are behaving, we actually know the answer because we know the


decisions that were taken. The decisions at each stage that were


taken by that department followed objective, independent, external


advice. Something that was not suggested yesterday by James


Murdoch or anything else, is that Jeremy was looking after the


interest of News International. Jeremy Hunt was following the due


process to the frustration of News International sometimes. Why was


the flow of information only to the BSkyB side and not of the coalition


of interest against BSkyB? I don't know. Well, I can tell you because


I have spoken to those opposing the BSkyB bid, and they got nothing.


Nothing like the information that Adam Smith was passing to the News


Corp lobbyists. They have won rather stilted meeting that was


called wooden and that was the end of it. -- they had one meeting.


is the end of speculation... That is not speculation, it is factual.


The coalition did not get any of the updates or briefings on process


that the BSkyB people got. Why? Jeremy Hunt, the Prime Minister,


all of us in the Government, a trust Lord leathers and to reach an


overall judgment on the conduct of what was done. -- trust law Leveson


to reach an overall judgment. is not what I was asking. You can


go to the Daily Mail, the BBC, the other newspapers. I will ask Louise


Mensch if I cannot get an answer from you. If it was important that


the interested parties had a man, but decide whether that should have


been a civil servant or not, why was the flow of information to only


First of all, Jeremy will publish his contact. It was the permanent


Secretary who decided that Adam Smith should be the point of


contact. Why was it all one-way. if Adam Smith had contact with


those opposing the bid. Should Adam Smith now publish the unauthorised


corerespondence with the anti-BSkyB people? Jeremy Hunt has said that


he is going to publish details of all his meet stphaogs and all his


contacts with. Every interested party pro and kropb. Let's hear


what the shadow Culture Secretary had to say in response to Jeremy


Hunt's statement a few minutes ago. Here is Harriet Harareman. Everyone


-- Harman. Everyone recognises the bid was of huge commercial


importance and had profound implications for newspapers and for


all of broadcasting, including the BBC. The Business Secretary had


been stripped of his responsibility for deciding on the bid because he


had already made up his mind against the bid. But the Culture


Secretary too had made up his mind, in favour of the bid. So how could


he have thought it proper for him to take on that decision? Of course


he could take advice, but the decision as to whether he should do


it and could do it fairly was a matter for him and him alone. The


Secretary of State took on responsibility and assured this


House that he would be acting in a quasi-judicial role, like a judge


and be transparent, impartial and fair. But, Mr Speaker, isn't it the


case that James Murdoch was receiving information in advance


about what the Secretary of State was going to do and what he was


going to say. Information which was given only to one side, which had


not been given to those opposed to the bid and before it was given to


this House. Does he think it's acceptable that Murdoch knew not


only about what he was going to do and say, but crucially, what the


regulator Ofcom had said to the Secretary of State on 10th January


2011 and what the bid's owe opponents had said on 20th March


and 31st March, 2011? Is he really going to to suggest to this House


that James Murdoch's advisor, Fred Miclel, knowing all this was just a


coincidence? Can the Secretary of State explain to the House how Fred


Michel in a series of e-mails beginning on 23rd January was in a


position to tell Murdoch the full detail of a statement the Secretary


of State was not going to give to this House until two days later?


Whatever interpretation is put on e-mails, there can be no doubt that


Michel's e-mail accurately and in detail described meetings that the


Secretary of State had had and accurately foretold what the


Secretary of State was going to do. Either Michel was Mystic Meg, or he


had been told. When it comes to the transparency the Secretary of State


promised, there appear to be a great deal of transparency for


Murdoch, but precious little for opponents of this bid or for this


House. If, has been suggested on his behalf in the media, he was


negotiating with Murdoch, why didn't he tell the opponents to the


bid and why didn't he tell the House? Will he tell the House now


whether he believed himself to be negotiating, is that what he says


is going on? On 3rd March he told this House that he had published


details of all the exchanges between his department and News


Corporation. In the light of all the information that we now know


that Fred Michel had, does he still maintain that's the case? His


special advisor has admitted that his activities at times went too


far and he has resigned. But will the Secretary of State confirm that


under paragraph 33 of the Ministerial code, it is the


Secretary of State himself who is responsible for the conduct of his


special advisor? Mr Speaker, this was a controversial bid. He could


have refused to take it on, but he didn't. He could have referred it


to the Competition Commission, but he didn't. His role was to be


impartial, but he wasn't. His conduct should have been quasi-


judicial, but it fell far, far short of that. And fell short of


the standards required by his office. The reality is that he


wasn't judging this bid, he was backing this bid and so should


resign. Harriet Harman asking questions off


Jeremy Hunt after he made his statement. This morning, it's like


waiting for a bus, nothing happens and three come at once. While we


have been broadcasting all of that, Rupert Murdoch has continued to to


testify to the Leveson Inquiry. We are going to keep our panel for a


few moments. Jo, give us an update. We are going to find out more on


what Rupert Murdoch has been saying, that had been going on just before


Prime Minister's questions. He was giving evidence to the Leveson


Inquiry and they had actually focused at the Royal Courts of


Justice on relations between Rupert Murdoch and previous Prime


Ministers over the decades. We left it when he was talking about


relationships with Margaret Thatcher. Our correspondent Adam


Fleming has been watching and I believe they've moved on to to


relations between Rupert Murdoch and the former Labour leader Tony


Blair. Yes, in the last hour, Rupert Murdoch's been talking about


that period running up to the 97 election where the News


International titles decided to swing their support behind Tony


Blair. It's resembled a book club at times, they've been quoting from


books, diaries, books by Lance Price as well, and one by someone


called Andrew Neil who used to work for Rupert Murdoch. Who is he!


They've been talking about why Rupert Murdoch changed his mind. He


said he got to know Tony Blair and decided to make the endorsement of


Tony Blair when Mr Blair wrote a eurosceptic editorial piece for the


Sun and that was when the Sun decided to support Mr Blair. He


denied there was any deal done with Mr Blair in return for that support,


he said if there had Tony Blair chucked it out the window by


creatinging Ofcom which had powers to interfere with BSkyB and they've


moved from the Blair era to the Brown era in the last few minutes.


Interesting, I have to say. But not exactly surprising. I am not quite


sure of the relevance of going through all this questioning of


past relations with Prime Ministers. I think they're trying to establish


a pattern as to what the relationship was between press


proprietors and politicians from the left and right. What is the


reply to the Harriet Harman point that under the Ministerial code


Ministers are responsible for the behaviour of their special advisers.


That's absolutely true but Ministers are responsible for the


terms of of reference they set hout how special advisers should act. A


Minister cannot know at all times if he employs a special advisor and


they're doing nothing wrong, that would be ridiculous. Jeremy Hunt


would be at fault if it were to be shown he had instructed Adam myth


to act inappropriately. I am certain he has not done so. Last


night Jeremy Hunt was telling colleagues his special advisor had


done nothing wrong. That was my first question. I think there is


something important here, if on the publication of these e-mails there


had been a look of shock and horror, my goodness what has been done in


our name, in my office, out you go, that's one thing. But if the


message coming from Whitehall all day is actually there's nothing


incriminating, lots embarrassing, that doesn't look great, but


nothing wrong. And then hours later you say the following morning,


after perhaps a little intervention from someone in Whitehall or indeed


from treat, no, no, the special advisor has to go. Some explanation


is required as to how you move from position one to two. A lot of


unravelling to go yet. Mary Creagh, you need to pick the Guess the Year


winner. I want to know whether David Cameron had a chat with James


Murdoch. There we go. 1952.


The year there. Graham Sowter from Blackburn.


Could be Bradford if you are George Galloway, I think it's Blackburn.


He is the one who has won. A couple of seconds. The final 30 seconds on


this whole business, on the Jeremy Hunt situation. It's clear from the


e-mails Jeremy Hunt had to build political cover on the process.


When he talks about the process he carried out he was building his own


cover. The tide of scandal is lapping at his feet and the


question is also about David Cameron. What was he he doing


discussing the bid in the fringes of the dinner party at Rebekah


Brooks house? I would like an answer, I would have like to be


there actually! Thank you all of you for doing here today. 1 o'clock


news is starting on BBC1 now. We will be back tomorrow at noon with


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