Press regulation deal 'practical and deliverable', says Cameron

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Prime Minister David Cameron has hailed the cross-party agreement on press regulation as a "practical, workable, deliverable solution".

Opening an emergency debate granted to him by the Speaker on 18 March 2013, Mr Cameron said: "What happened to the Dowlers, to the McCanns, to Christopher Jefferies and to many other innocent people who have never sought the limelight was utterly despicable.

"It is right that we put in place a new system of press regulation to ensure that such appalling acts can never happen again. We should do this without any further delay."

The Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats have agreed that an independent regular, which would consider whether self-regulation of newspaper journalism is working properly in future, should be established by royal charter.

They have also agreed to back legislation so that newspapers not signing up to the new regulatory system could face exemplary damages.

A further legislative change aims to make it harder for future governments to change the royal charter, by requiring a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament in favour of change.

These were "two very important but relatively small legislative changes" and did not amount to "statutory regulation", the PM insisted.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "Today we break the pattern of decades and decades, where politicians promised to act on wrongdoings by the press and failed to do so.

"Some people will ask why we are here today at all when there are so many pressing issues that the country has to deal with. My answer is simple: because I don't want to live in a country where sections of the press can abuse their power to wreak havoc on the lives of innocent people.

"And equally, I want to live in a country that upholds the right of a fearless, angry and controversial press that holds the powerful to account, including in this House.

"Today's agreement protects the victims and upholds a free press. It is true to the principle of Lord Justice Leveson's report."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg argued that the deal "strikes the right balance between the freedom of the press and the rights of individuals".

He concluded: "Today we turn a page on the mistakes of the past... Today we establish, finally, a proper, independent watchdog to serve the British people while protecting our free press."

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