Lindsay Hoyle scolds Nadine Dorries for BBC media leak
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Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries appeared in the House of Commons to tell MPs about the Government’s proposals to freeze the BBC licence fee with reports suggesting it would be scrapped entirely. But Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who has made repeated attempts to ministers to ensure “leaks” are not given to the press beforehand, voiced his anger as the announcement was widely covered by the press over the weekend. Sir Lindsay branded the Government a “colander” as ministers insist their departments have been victims of information leaks in recent weeks.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Dorries began to update the House on new plans to freeze the licence fee for two years and to increase it in line with inflation four years after that.
But as Sir Lindsay introduced the next session, he took his opportunity to voice his concerns that major Government announcements were being sent to the press beforehand.
He told the House: “I would like to point out there were extensive media stories over the weekend about the future of the licence fee and the funding arrangements of the BBC.
“I also understand that the Secretary of State either lost her phone or tweeted about the subject and said the licence fee announcement would be the last.
“I am glad we are having a statement today but it is not enough for this House to come second to the media, especially on subjects like this which are of interest to all.
“When the House is sitting, important policy statements must be made here before they are made to the media as is required by the governmental ministerial code…
“I have great respect for the Secretary of State but please can we make sure that in future it is done here?
“If it was leaked and you felt that you had to respond, please let us do the leak inquiry because we’ve got a major colander across Government that I don’t want to see again.”
BBC licence fee’s future ‘up for discussion’ says Dorries
Ms Dorries apologised and told the House she had refused all media interviews before she made the announcement to the Commons.
The Culture Secretary also told MPs that the fee will remain fixed until April 2024 then rise in line with inflation for the following four years.
This will continue until the end of the current Royal Charter on December 31, 2027.
On Sunday morning, she tweeted: “This licence fee announcement will be the last.”
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Sir Lindsay has repeatedly pulled up ministers after major Government announcements were reported in the press before being presented in Parliament.
Ministers have said the issue is due to leaks with pressure mounting to hold an inquiry into the matter.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove was scolded by Sir Lindsay after details of his cladding plan were reported in the press before his announcement.
Mr Gove called the leak a “considerable regret” and said a senior civil servant was looking into the matter.
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