On the day that the Leveson Report was published the Welsh Affairs Select Committee debated a report in Westminster Hall on Inward investment.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): The Government’s response to recommendation after recommendation in the Committee’s report is:
“This is a matter for the Welsh Government, who may wish to respond.”
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that his report has been weakened by the Committee’s trespassing beyond its own responsibilities? The Welsh Assembly Government are likely to respond negatively. The report would have been far better and more incisive if it had concentrated on matters that are the responsibility of this Parliament.
David T. C. Davies: The Welsh Affairs Committee is perfectly entitled to have an interest in anything affecting Wales. Although some in the Welsh Assembly might take the view that they are not willing to talk to the UK Government about things that they consider to be their own prerogative, it is noticeable that our Committee has considered such issues as defence, which the Ministry of Defence could say was its responsibility. We have also considered broadband, which is cross-cutting and affected by both UK Government and Welsh Assembly Government policy. We consider anything. I am proud to be Welsh and proud to be British, as hon. Members can see from my cufflinks. I make no apology for the fact that the Welsh Affairs Committee would be perfectly happy to consider anything affecting Wales.
Paul Flynn: Throughout the long history of Denbighshire county council, its longest ever meeting, which went on beyond midnight, was to decide the council’s policy on the war in Vietnam. That might have seemed to be a sensible thing to do, but I do not think that it had a great effect on world opinion or the conduct of the United States at that time. Does the hon. Gentleman think that his Committee is likely to end up in a position where it takes up any subject, whether or not it has any influence on or knowledge of it?
David T. C. Davies: First, although I was a mere boy at the time, I seem to remember that the hon. Gentleman was either a member of, or involved in, Newport council at the time when I lived there, and that he used to help with discussions of whether Wales should be a nuclear-free zone, so perhaps he has experience of long discussions about things over which he is likely to have little influence. Secondly, inward investment is clearly a cross-cutting issue that is affected by both Welsh Assembly and UK Government policy. I do not want this sitting to go on for as long as that meeting of Denbighshire county council—it is not a record that I am hoping to beat—so I would like to continue my speech.
Paul Flynn: The hon. Gentleman is being very generous. The nuclear-free Wales policy was a remarkable united expression by every county council in Wales—there were eight in 1981. “Nuclear-free” was about nuclear power, not nuclear weapons. Every county council passed an identical resolution saying that it did not want nuclear power stations in Wales but, sadly, the then Government defied that call.
I admire the skill of the Select Committee in choosing a day for this debate when there is no other subject to distract the media. One abiding impression of the report is that it is part of the begging bowl psychology in which we have one dominant partner in a relationship with another subservient partner, and we know which one is which. As it has come from the party, would not a more accurate title for this report have been, “One Hundred Shades of Blue”?
As always, the hon. Gentleman makes a fantastic contribution.
Lord Leveson says that he regrets that former Deputy Commissioner John Yates did not reflect on his close friendship with the deputy editor of the News of the World before he decided in 2009-10 not to reopen the hacking inquiries. Is not the great shock of this report the revelations of the very close relationships between press, police and politicians? What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do, personally and as a Prime Minister, to ensure that the corrosive effects of cronyism are reduced?
On the relationship between the press and politicians, this Government have taken unprecedented action to publicise and make transparent all the meetings between politicians and editors, and politicians and proprietors. All that is now declared on a quarterly basis and that is how it should be. That did not happen in the past. The report recommends that that should also apply between senior officers and members of the press and that, to try to end excessively close relationships, there should be a cooling-off period before police officers go and work for newspapers. Lord Leveson does address those issues. We have not waited for the report; we have gone on and put those things in place.