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Summary

  1. MPs met at 9:30am for Culture, Media and Sport questions.
  2. MPs, including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, paid tribute to the Queen on her 90th birthday.
  3. Peers met at 11am, the main business of the day was committee stage on the Northern Ireland Bill.

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel, Patrick Cowling and Alex Partridge

All times stated are UK

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  1. House adjourns

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Best sums up the debate with a few words and the motion is passed without opposition. 

    With the end of the debate the day's business in the House comes to a close and the chamber adjourns.

    That's all from us today - have a good evening!

  2. Licence fee 'should remain government led'

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Baroness Neville-Rolfe

    Culture, Media and Sport Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe responds to the debate for the government and says she agrees with peers that "independence is central to the BBC's future" and says "this administration takes editorial independence extremely seriously".

    Baroness Neville-Rolfe says "we do not agree with the committee's suggestion that the licence fee should be set by an independent regulator", as she argues that the licence fee is "essentially a tax and should therefore be government led".

    The minister assures the House that "today's debate adds richly to deliberations by the government in coming months".

  3. 'Critical friends' of the BBC

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Labour frontbench spokesperson Lord Tunnicliffe is responding to the debate, and begins by saying that the opposition "do not claim the BBC is perfect - we are critical friends".

    "But what we will do is fight hard against a politically motivated attack against the BBC" he says.

    Speaking about research that some young people, those with disabilities and those within the BAME community said that the BBC did not represent them, Lord Tunnicliffe says "this is of concern and should be addressed with vigour" by the BBC.

    Lord Tunnicliffe also says "the BBC is the cornerstone of the creative industries in this country and the creative industries are the powerhouse of our future prosperity". 

    "Only a madman would take an axe to the tallest tree in the forest and not expect to do serious harm to the rest of the forest".

    Lord Tunnicliffe
  4. Updating the licence fee

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Labour's Lord Maxton says that the committee report missed a major opportunity to insist that "the BBC ought to be established by Act of Parliament not by Royal Charter".

    Lord Maxton makes the point that the licence fee in its current form is not sustainable. He says that the fact that he currently has two mobile devices on him at the moment on which he can watch television, yet is still covered by the same licence fee cost of someone with one television or one radio - "makes a nonsense of the idea of a licence fee". 

    The Labour peer also says that the BBC's substantial archive should be made available to everyone.

  5. If not the BBC - who else?

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Crossbench peer Lord Berkeley of Knighton says that the NHS and the BBC are the "envy of the world".

    He says the BBC must continue to "disseminate the riches" of British culture "in areas where there is a dearth of cultural provision".

    Lord Berkeley poses the question - "if the BBC were curtailed still further is there another broadcaster that would or could commission new work from writers and composers, and relay from around the world artistIc experiences that are the right of the many and not just the privileged few?" 

  6. Children's content on the BBC

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Benjamin focuses most of her remarks on the issue of funding for children's services at the BBC.

    Baroness Benjamin says "at the moment there is virtually only one buyer in the market place for UK made children's content - the BBC".  

    She says that investment in original UK children's content has "fallen sharply in the last 10 years", claiming that "spend has fallen by 95% since 2003". Baroness Benjamin says "it might not be long until there is little of our excellent children's production sector left".

    "If this decline is allowed to continue the UK will no longer be the world leader in children's content as it has been for many years," she says. 

    Baroness Benjamin
  7. Guilty of a metropolitan bias?

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury

    Conservative peer Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury joins other peers in the debate in offering praise as well as some points of constructive criticism.

    "The BBC has sometimes been slow to reflect public opinion on controversial subjects" - which he says is partly the blame of a metropolitan bias in news reporting.

    Lord Sherbourne asks "how often have we heard the presenter of the Today programme say 'it's raining over Broadcasting House what's it doing in the rest of the country?'" - earning a few chuckles from his colleagues.

    He goes on to say that visiting Media City in Salford Quays "was very encouraging" as the move had been a "great success" for both the BBC and the region.

    On the wider issues of government involvement in the broadcaster, Lord Sherbourne says it is "important that the BBC remains independent and is seen to be independent".

  8. D-G 'should be editor-in-chief'

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Concerning the proposed new unitary board for governing the BBC, Labour's Lord Macdonald of Tradeston says that political appointees to this board could "exert influence in many sensitive areas", including decision-making and programming.

    To counter this possibility, Lord Macdonald says the Director-General should be editor-in-chief of all programme output.

    The Labour peer also highlights the way that the BBC is "lagging behind" in targets for representing BME (Black or minority ethnic) people when compared to Sky and Channel 4. 

  9. BBC management numbers 'far too high'

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester of Herne Hill joins other peers in praising the BBC, but also has some criticisms of the organisation.

    "Reforms are needed - the number of managers remain far too high" Lord Lester says, going on to warn that "the BBC must not become an ivory tour broadcasting to an intellectual elite".

    He says that without some reforms the BBC will remain "overblown and top heavy", but he goes on to say "these are matters for the board to address and not the government". 

    Lord Lester of Herne Hill
  10. Debate on the BBC continues

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Labour's Baroness Bakewell tells the House about an occasion in 1970 when she came to the House of Lords to interview Lord Reith for the BBC.

    She says that at that time he was "very disapproving of television, he deplored the fact they broadcast jazz, which he regarded as the music of the devil".

    Lord Bragg, who mentions his interest as a BBC Radio 4 presenter, draws attention to the "constant" feeling that the BBC is in crisis, and calls it a "national treasure and a national dartboard".

  11. What is the BBC Charter?

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    The BBC's New Broadcasting House HQ
    Image caption: The BBC's New Broadcasting House HQ

    The BBC Charter is the constitutional basis for the BBC. According to the BBC Trust, the charter "sets out the public purposes of the BBC, guarantees its independence, and outlines the duties of the Trust and the Executive Board".

    The current charter expires on 31 December 2016.

    Each review of the charter can make significant changes to the way the BBC is structured and governed. The last charter created the BBC Trust as the broadcaster's governing body in charge of regulation and the "strategic direction" of the organisation and the BBC Executive Board, responsible for day-to-day management.

    Last month, an independent review of the governance of the BBC by Sir David Clementi recommended replacing the Trust and the Executive Board with a single board, and passing responsibility for regulation to Ofcom.

  12. Government must 'strengthen' BBC

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Puttnam, Labour peer and film producer, says he hopes the government's coming white paper will commit to strengthening the BBC, rather than undermining it.

    Lord Puttnam says that "in a world running short on trust, the BBC remains a significantly more credible organisation than any who for political or commercial reasons seek to undermine it".

  13. The boss is listening...

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Fowler, with Lord Hall sat behind him

    As Conservative Lord Fowler makes his speech, Lord Hall of Birkenhead can be seen on the backbenches, listening to the debate.

    Lord Hall is the Director General of the BBC and sits as a crossbench peer, but he will not be speaking this afternoon.

    Lord Fowler tells the House that he's "passionately in favour of an independent BBC free from government interference". He says he fears a BBC board made up of "government placemen of one sort or another".

  14. Public 'strongly in favour of BBC'

    BBC Charter Review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Best begins his contribution by saying that as a committee "we put our faith in a BBC that respects and appreciates its founding principles and we reject calls for radical or fundamental change in the underlying purpose of the BBC or its scale and scope".

    He says that calls to cut and commercialise the BBC "were coming from the Westminster village - not from the world outside".

    "Broadly we discovered that the public at large were strongly in favour of their BBC and would be greatly opposed to radical change," he tells peers.

    Lord Best says the committee supports additional government funding for the World Service, saying "we endorse the crucial role the BBC plays in the UK's cultural influence and soft power on the world stage".

    On the BBC's scale and scope, Lord Best says "we heard no convincing case for a significant reduction in the scale or scope of the BBC nor did we accept the argument that the BBC should be restricted to remedying gaps that the commercial market does not provide".

    Lord Best
  15. BBC charter review debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    The amendment is withdrawn and that bring to a close committee stage consideration of the Northern Ireland (Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan) Bill.

    We now move on a debate on the report of the Lords Communications Committee on the BBC charter review.

    The committee's chair, crossbench peer Lord Best, is introducing the debate.

  16. Enforcing a pledge of office

    Northern Ireland Bill

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Murphy of Torfaen

    Lord Trimble says that he knows that the legislation needs to pass quickly so understands if the government will not address this issue now, but warns that "if the Assembly fails to take action then the government will have to consider what it does".

    Lord Murphy of Torfaen again rises to say he supports the issue raised in the amendment.

    "If you have a pledge of office - there is not much point of having one if you can't enforce it," he says, and argues that it is "a point of public confidence".

    Lord Murphy does also say "we know the bill needs to go through quickly" and asks the government to bear in mind the need to address this issue.

    Minister Lord Dunlop says the government will seek to ensure that the issues raised are addressed in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and asks for the amendment to be withdrawn.

  17. 'The undertaking' of MLAs

    Northern Ireland Bill

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    The Northern Ireland (Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan) Bill contains provisions to introduce an undertaking for members of the legislative assembly of Northern Ireland.

    The undertaking reads as follows:

    —to support the rule of law unequivocally in word and deed and to support all efforts to uphold it; 

    —to work collectively with the other members of the Assembly to achieve a society free of paramilitarism; 

    —to challenge all paramilitary activity and associated criminality; 

    —to call for, and to work together with the other members of the Assembly to achieve, the disbandment of all paramilitary organisations and their structures; 

    —to challenge paramilitary attempts to control communities; 

    —to support those who are determined to make the transition away from paramilitarism; 

    —to accept no authority, direction or control on my political activities other than my democratic mandate alongside my own personal and party judgment.

  18. Sanctions for breaches of 'the undertaking'

    Northern Ireland Bill

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Empey responds to the debate on his amendments saying that the current proposals "do not distinguish between perpetrators and victims - in fact it makes them equal".

    "We cannot run away from this issue forever," the UUP peer says and indicated that his party will continue to push for this issue at every stage - but agrees to withdraw the amendment for now.

    Debate now turns to his amendment 4, which would introduce sanctions for Northern Ireland Assembly members who breach the assembly members' "undertaking" as defined in the bill.