Tom Watson – 2019 Speech on Betting

Below is the text of the statement made by Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, in the House of Commons on 2 July 2019.

The whole House is united in supporting the Lionesses in their game at 8 o’clock tonight. The Opposition believe that we must capture the energy created by women’s football; 10 million people will be watching tonight. That is why we think that the next women’s World cup should be added to the “crown jewels” list of free-to-air sport.

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. Last September, Labour announced that we would introduce a 1% mandatory levy on gambling companies to pay for research, education and treatment of problem gambling. We stand by that commitment today: only a mandatory levy will do.

I am glad that the gambling industry has sat up and listened to what we and other campaigners, on both sides of the House, are saying on this issue. Credit where it is due: the big five companies have shown leadership and responsibility, which are sorely lacking in some other parts of the industry. Gambling addiction costs the economy an estimated £1.2 billion a year, yet the amount that the industry currently contributes to treating addiction is paltry.

The voluntary levy, as it currently operates, asks for 0.1% of gambling yield. That target is never met. The industry turns over £14.5 billion a year, yet contributes less than £10 million a year to GambleAware. Some companies contribute amounts that are, frankly, insulting to the voluntary system. SportPesa, which sponsors Everton, and Fun88, which sponsors Newcastle, gave only £50 each last year. Both are white labels of the company TGP Europe. Best Bets gave £5, while GFM Holdings Ltd gave just £1. Given that there are 430,000 gambling addicts, 55,000 of whom are children, that is completely unacceptable and deliberately insulting to those leading players in the industry who are trying to take responsibility. Will the Secretary of State tell us how he will make such companies take more responsibility if not through a mandatory levy?

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care now supports a mandatory levy; Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, supports a mandatory levy; the Gambling Commission supports a mandatory levy; and Gambling with Lives supports a mandatory levy. However, I cannot quite understand from his statement whether the Secretary of State, who has responsibility for this policy area, supports a mandatory levy—does he or not?​

We in the Opposition believe that a mandatory levy is the only way to provide the structure and consistent funding that a proper system of research, education and treatment needs, and with the NHS at the heart of the process. In the announcement today, the so-called big five have said they will fulfil the 0.1% donation to GambleAware, but where will the rest of the funding go? Who or what will establish the proper clinical models and guidelines for service provision? Can the Secretary of State tell us how the Government will ensure that the money does not just go on the companies’ pet projects?

After today, we will still have inadequate regulation and a Gambling Act that is outdated and not fit for the digital age. Gambling companies licensed in the UK are sponsoring UK football teams yet operating entirely abroad, behaving irresponsibly and fuelling addiction in countries such as Kenya. Companies are allowing customers to lose tens of thousands of pounds on multiple credit cards in a single sitting. There are companies that bombard customers who try to self-exclude with advertising emails and offers of free bets, then make them sign non-disclosure agreements when they settle.

The gambling market is broken, and it is up to the Government to fix it. We do not need a voluntary patch, but a full overhaul of rules and regulations. I fear that the Secretary of State and the Government will fail in that task.

Tom Watson – 2019 Speech on Free TV Licences for Over-75s

Below is the text of the speech made by Tom Watson, the Labour MP for West Bromwich East, on 11 June 2019.

We found out yesterday just how little a Tory manifesto promise is worth. I have read these words in the Chamber before, but I will read them again:

“We will maintain all…pensioner benefits, including free bus passes, eye tests, prescriptions and TV licences, for the duration of this parliament.”

No ifs, no buts, no wavering—a promise made in 2017 to voters by the Conservative party.

Today, 3.7 million over-75s find that promise in tatters. They have been betrayed, and it is shameful. The Government have the breathtaking gall to blame the BBC for this mess, but passing the buck will not work. The BBC is not the Department for Work and Pensions. ​Public broadcasters should never be responsible for social policy. My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) warned in 2015 that this was a “smash and grab raid” by the Government on the BBC. He was right, and now older people are paying the price. There are 1.8 million over-75s who live completely alone, and they will lose their TV licence because of the announcement. How can the Secretary of State justify that? We cannot means-test for loneliness or social inclusion.

What about the very poorest in our nation who are eligible for pension credit but do not claim it? How will the Secretary of State protect them? Two of the Tory leadership candidates—the former Leader of the House and the Home Secretary—have committed to overturning the decision. Perhaps they know how it will look to the rest of the world when we start jailing pensioners who cannot or will not pay the licence fee.

I would like to share some figures with the House: 4,240 older people in Uxbridge will lose their TV licence; 5,970 people in West Suffolk will be affected; and 6,730—the number in South West Surrey. The right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) wants to give a tax cut to the very richest, but he will not lift a finger to defend pensioners. The Health Secretary says he cares about social care, but he will not defend pensioners either. The Foreign Secretary tells us that he cares about the chronically lonely, but he will not defend even the loneliest pensioners. Is it therefore any surprise that the country’s pensioners are asking whether the leadership candidates will honour their word and keep their promise, or break it?

This is a test not just of leadership, but of honour, integrity and truthfulness. Does the Secretary of State agree that someone who cannot keep a promise is not fit to be Prime Minister? It is as simple as that.

Tom Watson – 2019 Speech on the WhatsApp Data Breach

Below is the text of the speech made by Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, in the House of Commons on 15 May 2019.

Here we are again: another day, another major data breach from a Mark Zuckerberg company. I am glad that the Secretary of State is with Facebook today, because we can suggest a number of questions for him to put to Facebook.

First, what has happened? Spyware called Pegasus, created by the Israeli security company NSO Group, has been used to hack the phones of lawyers and human rights activists. The news reports read like a nightmare: a dystopian world of tech-enabled total surveillance. The spyware transits malicious code via a WhatsApp call. The target does not even need to answer the call for the phone to be infected. According to ​The New York Times, once the spyware is installed, it can extract everything: messages, contacts, GPS location, email and browser history. It can even use the phone’s camera and microphone to record the user’s surroundings. That is terrifying.

About 1.5 billion people worldwide use WhatsApp and millions are here in the UK. Many of them will have been drawn to the service for its unique selling point: end-to-end encryption that ensures user privacy. Now we find that a gap in WhatsApp’s defences has enabled complete violation of that privacy. What is the Minister doing to work with GCHQ, the National Cyber Security Centre and tech industry players to protect the UK’s digital communications and privacy?

Media reports say that WhatsApp contacted the US Department of Justice earlier this month when it found out about the hack, but when was the Minister notified about it? When was the Information Commissioner informed? How many users in the UK are affected? Have those affected been notified? If the Minister does not know the answers, will she commit to updating the House when she does?

The spyware was licensed for export by the Israeli Government. What assurances can the Minister provide to social media companies that any digital surveillance products that the UK exports will not be misused to track and monitor human rights defenders? The particular vulnerability of WhatsApp was the voice over internet protocol—the process for receiving calls over the internet. As telecoms companies modernise, they are all moving away from calls over copper lines and phasing in calling via the internet. What is the Minister doing to ensure that those companies do not have vulnerabilities such as those we are discussing today?

The attack looks as if it was carried out by malicious actors, possibly other state actors, trying to close down journalists, dissidents, human rights activists and lawyers seeking justice, but exactly that kind of surveillance was given legal basis in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and I fought in the courts and won concessions on. The Government want tech companies to build back doors into their services, but this is an example of what happens if malicious actors find those doors: those who are fighting for justice and what is right come under attack. The Government must not allow that to happen.

Tom Watson – 2018 Speech on Gaming Machines

Below is the text of the speech made by Tom Watson, the Labour MP for West Bromwich East, in the House of Commons on 17 May 2018.

Good morning to you, Mr Speaker. I am grateful to the Minister for advance sight of her statement, and I refer hon. Members to my entry in the register.

At the outset, let me warmly congratulate the Minister on her decision today. I am not going to be mealy-mouthed about it: we are absolutely delighted that the Government have decided to deliver a Labour party manifesto pledge. Today, we have had this on FOBTs and yesterday we had the railways taken back into public ownership—it is just a shame we could not make it three with the Leveson inquiry earlier in the week. I genuinely believe this is a great moment; it is the right decision and I applaud the Minister for making it. Having been in government, I know how tricky it is to reach a consensus on these complex regulatory issues, and she deserves recognition from those in all parts of the House for getting this through. We should also recognise that this is a victory for the many people in this House who have led this campaign, particularly my friend, colleague and fellow deputy leader, my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris), who has fought tirelessly for this, alongside other Members, including the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), whom I also regard as a friend.

During this process, we have seen how some parts of the gambling industry have stood in defiance of Ministers, civil servants, parliamentarians, clinicians and other professionals, and have sought to delay at every turn common-sense decisions that would have given comfort to those who have been afflicted by these machines. ​There is a lesson in this: if the UK is to retain its reputation for innovative, light-touch regulation and responsible gambling, the wider industry needs to start taking its responsibilities and obligations to players seriously. Any Government, whatever their political hue, will be deeply concerned about the situation we find ourselves in: we have 430,000 gambling addicts; 2 million vulnerable players at risk of developing an addiction; and 25,000 young people who gamble every week. It is incumbent on the industry now to show the Government and Parliament its progress on how it shoulders these responsibilities and uses its £13.8 billion a year yield to deal with harms created by gambling. Across the industry we have global leaders in innovative online gambling products who are seeking solutions to these issues through investment and technology. However, too many household name companies have belligerently denied the facts in front of their noses, so our message today is clear: clean up your act or a future Labour Government will do it for you.

In that spirt of unity and cross-party co-operation, I would like to make a few suggestions to the Minister, if I may—[Interruption.] I say that genuinely; there is no need to laugh. We understand there are concerns about revenue reduction, and the Minister has suggested she will increase remote gaming duty to cover this. Would it not be more appropriate to close the loophole that allows British online gambling companies based in Gibraltar to avoid paying tax? Secondly, the Government have chosen not to implement a statutory levy for research, education and treatment at this point, but there was a significant call for that, including from some gambling industry leaders. So will she think again on it, in order to guarantee that resources are available for treatment? Thirdly, we all want addicts to access the most appropriate treatment, so will the Government please start to collect proper data in that area? I have asked a number of questions to Ministers about how many addicts are receiving treatment on the NHS and how much treatment costs the NHS, but we have been told time and time again that the Departments do not hold or collect that data. I am sure we all agree that if we are to understand and better treat this problem, we need better data.

Fourthly, some of the largest companies affected by this decision have argued for restrictions on betting advertising for football in particular. Given that that is also the No. 1 concerned expressed by parents, it seems to me that the Government have been hasty in ignoring it.

Finally, our view is that the 2005 Act is no longer fit for purpose. We need a new gambling Act that is fit for the digital age. How draconian that new Act might be is dependent on how the industry chooses to engage with Parliament. We call on the innovative and responsible new leaders of the gambling industry to show us that they take their obligations seriously, and to work with us to alleviate problem gambling.

In conclusion, cutting the maximum stake on FOBTs is a big step in the right direction, but it is just one part of the puzzle. In praising Ministers, I urge the Government to use the new spirit of consensus to introduce a new gambling Act, fit for the purposes of the digital age.

Tom Watson – 2017 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, at the Labour Party conference held in Brighton on 26 September 2017.

Conference, thank you for being here. Thanks for your enthusiasm, for your passion, for all your hard work on behalf of the Labour Party, on behalf of our country. I’m grateful to every one of you.

Last week, the Prime Minister made yet another speech to reboot, yet again, her Brexit strategy. She chose to deliver this latest oration in the great city of Florence, though no-one seems to know why. For politicians, Florence, even more than the city of Dante, the Medicis and Michelangelo, is the city of Niccolo Machiavelli.

I can only assume Michael Gove picked the venue. Michael Gove, who undermined his own Tory leadership bid last year, by admitting he doesn’t have the right skills to be Prime Minster. For once in his life, he was right. Trouble is, none of the rest of them do either.

So now he’s back. Machiavelli’s famous advice was that it’s better to be feared than to be loved. This mantra runs as deep in the Tory Party as blue through a stick of Brighton rock. Fear is how they win. Fear is how they govern.

It’s fear of strangers behind this Government’s callous treatment of EU citizens living here. It’s with the peddled fear of economic ruin that they justify their cruelty to our nurses and teachers, our armed forces and our police officers. It’s with fear that they hammer our poorest and most vulnerable, while turning a blind eye to their plutocrat friends.

I’m going to be honest with you, Conference: fear is a powerful force. It won the Conservative Party elections in 2010 and in 2015. But this year, something magical happened. The spell has been broken. Jeremy told this country that we don’t need to be afraid. That another way is possible. That living in fear is not inevitable: we can choose to live in love and hope instead.

And this country, our great country, began to throw off the shackles.

Mrs May, the Tory Party was never loved. But you were happy to be feared. It worked for you. Well not any more. 15 months in, you still seem as dazed as on day one. Caught between your enemies and, even worse, your friends. Caught in the headlights. Living on Boris time.

As Shadow Culture Secretary, I’ve got one of the best jobs there is. When I get invited to the theatre or to the cinema or, yes, to Glastonbury, I get to say I’m only there for work. And one of the most surreal moments of my political life happened to me late at night, in a field, surrounded by people much younger and far more stylish than me.

I realised something as the crowd at Glastonbury’s silent disco began to sing:

“Oh, Jeremy Corbyn….” And as they sang, I realised it’s actually better to be loved than to be feared. And Jeremy has shown us that it’s possible.

Thank you Jeremy.

There are some serious bits to my job, too, though. It’s not all music festivals and opening nights. Digital, culture, media and sport are key battlegrounds in our fight against fear and despair.

And alongside me in those battles I have the best Shadow DCMS team you could want: Kevin Brennan, my deputy, Rosena Allin-Khan, Liam Byrne, Steve Reed, Ruth Smeeth and Wilf Stevenson.

And we’ve recently lost Louise Haigh, the finest mind of her generation, who was rightly promoted to join Diane’s team in the shadow Home Office.

And we have a leader in Jeremy who stamped his leadership on culture policy when the two of us launched our innovative culture manifesto in Hull – deservedly the UK City of Culture.

What a great job they’ve done this year. An early priority for our DCMS team in Government will be to finally confront problem gambling. Of course, gambling isn’t risk free. Even bets you think are absolute certainties can end up costing you a lot. Just ask Theresa May.

That was a joke, by the way, but it’s a serious problem. The damage to the families of gambling addicts can be terrible. Yet some gambling firms, driven by greed, are deliberately targeting our poorest communities. We now know that when vulnerable people try to opt out of online gambling, companies don’t always block their accounts as they should.

Gambling companies are even harvesting data to deliberately target low-income gamblers and people who’ve given up.

As Mike Dixon, boss of mental health charity Addaction says, “gambling addiction tears lives and families apart. It’s outrageous that an industry with a £13bn revenue contributes less than £10m to treatment”.

Well Mike, I can tell you that a Labour Government will introduce a compulsory levy.

Can you imagine the uproar if the drinks industry started targeting Alcoholics Anonymous by selling drink outside AA meetings? We wouldn’t tolerate that – and we shouldn’t tolerate the same kind of behavior by some bookmakers. And addicts must be given the help they need. Gambling addiction is an illness and it’s about time it was taken seriously.

So I can announce today that, together with Jonathan Ashworth, our shadow Health Secretary, I’m launching a thorough review of gambling addiction in this country and current provision for treatment on the NHS. Jon Ashworth, by the way: what a sparkling star of Labour’s front bench. He’s going to be an outstanding Health Secretary in the next Labour Government.

Our review will look at how best to fund NHS treatment and help free problem gamblers from the destructive cycle of addiction. My message to gambling firms today is clear: stop targeting vulnerable people. Start acting properly. And meet your obligation to help those whose lives have been blighted by addiction.

You can do it now, because it’s the right thing to do. Or you can wait for the next Labour Government to do it for you.

Oh and by the way, the same applies to the organisations that run football in this country. If you won’t ban football clubs from signing shirt sponsorship deals with betting companies – Labour will.

Conference, as I said, I know how lucky I am. I love my job. Serving my constituents in West Bromwich, serving the Party, serving each of you as Deputy Leader. There’s no better job – perhaps that’s why so many people want to do it.

But I know not everyone’s as lucky as me. More and more are being left behind by an economy that serves the few, not the many.

And the world’s changing in ways we can’t continue to ignore: the labour market’s polarising. Today’s choice for too many young people is precarious employment or no employment, a zero hours contract or no contract, shabby, dangerous, soul-destroying work, or no work at all.

Income inequality in Britain is amongst the highest in the developed world. Inequality between those with fulfilment and security in work, and those without it is growing too.

This is a stain on our country. But the Tories just shrug their shoulders and say there’s no alternative.

Just like they did on low pay, before our party introduced the minimum wage. Just like they did on maternity rights, before we secured them. Just like they did on healthcare, before we created the NHS to treat the many, not just the few.

And the Tories are still doing it now. Transport for London has told Uber it has to follow the same rules as everyone else. Nothing more. That it can run its mini-cab service, as long as they respect our rules. Treat your customers with respect and keep them safe, like everyone else has to. And then you’ll be welcome to make money in London.

Uber, you’re becoming the perfect picture of how the future gig economy must not look. You may think you’re immune because your friends in the Tory party run Britain and its newspapers. You know the Tories don’t care about level playing fields and orderly markets. They don’t care about consumer protection. They certainly don’t care about workers’ rights. But they don’t run London – and that’s where you make your money.

And, mark my words, they won’t be running Britain for much longer. Conservatives don’t have the imagination to embrace change. They never have. Theresa May summed it up in her now infamous line from the election:

“Nothing has changed.

Nothing. Has. Changed.”

So: no lessons learned. No message received. It’s the same old Tories. No end to austerity. No change for public servants who deserve a pay rise. No change for the millions who desperately need something different. The truth is, the Tories don’t really want to change things.

But Labour does. And when Jeremy forms the next Government, Labour will. A time for change is upon us. The old fear is gone. We’re ready for bold, transformative reform, hungry for it.

That’s what Labour’s campaign showed – as hundreds of thousands knocked on doors, went to rallies, got out the vote and delivered stunning Labour victories in Tory strongholds like Canterbury. Like Kensington.

This year’s election showed that real change is possible. We can and we will form a radical Government which does things differently.

We have the imagination; we have the drive; we have the momentum. The fight is so important. Not just because we need to undo the damage of all these years of Tory rule. But because fresh challenges lie ahead.

On the horizon – in sight, in the next few years – automation and artificial intelligence threatening jobs and wages on a scale the world has never seen. Digital platforms making access to work much more direct and immediate. But the quality of that work, the safeguards, the wages, the pensions – too often these are cast aside, disguised as innovation.

Whereas Labour believes that secure, high-quality work should be available to every adult who wants it. And in order to get it, in the digital age, the successful worker will need to be a creative worker. It’s the job of Government to make that happen. And that starts with education.

In an age when every child has access to all the knowledge that has ever existed on a device that fits in the palm of their hand, just teaching them to memorise thousands of facts is missing the point. Michael Gove’s curriculum reforms were a useless return to the past – obsessed by what children can remember, instead of how they use the knowledge they have.

We don’t yet know what the jobs of the future will be, so we’ve got to teach children not just what to learn but how to learn. And how to be. Self-awareness, emotional intelligence, social skills, creativity and collaborative learning. Transferable skills they can adapt as the new world swirls around them.

Great schools are places of imagination, inspiration, love.They help our young people become great humans, constantly adjusting in a continually changing world. Such schools are as powerful as the creative imaginations they nurture. They’re fabulous places. And, let’s be clear, they do exist.

But let’s be equally clear that they exist in spite of Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan and Justine Greening, and all the other names of Tory shame. If it was left up to them, our children would be totally ill equipped for the economy of now – let alone the economy of the future.

Whereas Angela Rayner, our fantastic Shadow Education Secretary, will lead an education system that prepares our young people for a world we can’t yet see.

Angie’s talked about how a Labour Government helped her grow from teenage mom into Shadow Minister. Our education system failed her at first, but when she’s running it, she won’t let it fail the next generation. We’re all so proud of her. So proud of what she’s going to do.

The next Labour Government will educate and train a nation of workers that are the most creative and adaptive on the planet. We’ll give working people the tools to use technology to enhance their lives, rather than restricting them to a digital elite.

The digital economy succeeds only when it gives each of us the means to realise our true potential. Which doesn’t stop in our schools. It must be threaded throughout our economy, throughout our lives.

So let’s extend employment rights to all workers in the gig economy – the self-employed, agency workers and contractors as well as the traditionally employed. Let’s stop dancing on the head of a legalistic pin about when is a job not a job and when is self-employed not really self-employed. It’s a fake fight which big business always wins and Tory governments love to hide behind.

So let’s put an end to all that and just give rights to people. Yes, in one of the richest countries in the world in the 21st century, let’s just make basic employment rights non-negotiable in all circumstances and give them to everybody.

Anybody tells you it can’t be done, it’s because they don’t want to do it. They said it about the minimum wage. They said it about maternity rights. They said it about the NHS. Don’t let them frighten you out of the rights you deserve.

We need to revolutionise our trade unions for the digital age, finding new ways to build solidarity and collectivism.

And let’s not forget social enterprises: community-focused, people-oriented companies, that have thrived since the recession and will be vital to unlocking the future.

At last year’s Conference, I announced an independent commission to look at the future of work. It will be reporting shortly, having done a tremendous job, and I’d like to thank the chair, Helen Mountfield, and all the Commissioners.

This year, Conference, together, we rewrote the rules of politics. We overcame fear and we took the country with us. Using new digital platforms, instead of our biased media, we talked straight to the people and they heard our message.

In contrast, last September Theresa May had a secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch in New York. Nine months later, at the election, Murdoch’s papers did their best to start a Tory landslide. They threw the kitchen sink at Jeremy. But this time the dirty tricks didn’t work. This time it was not the Sun wot won it.

And let me tell you, Conference: it never will be the Sun wot won it again.

Winding up my speech last year, I predicted an early election. In which, I also said, we’re going to give the Tories the surprise of their lives. Well conference, we did it.

Jeremy, you did it. So this year I’m going to go out on another limb.

Yes, there’s hard work to do and no, we mustn’t be complacent, but Jeremy Corbyn has broken the spell of fear the Tories sought to cast on this country. He has helped us all to remember that politics should be about inspiring hope, not peddling despair. He has shown us again what a real alternative to Toryism looks like and what it can achieve.

And because of that, I tell you, Conference, Jeremy Corbyn will be our next Prime Minister.

And in ten or twelve years’ time, this Conference will be celebrating the achievements of two transformative terms of Labour government:

Abolishing tuition fees and reintroducing the education maintenance allowance;

Taking back our utilities into social ownership;

Re-nationalising our railways;

A £10/hour real living wage, and rising;

Hundreds of thousands of new council houses;

Waiting lists down by at least a million and A&E waiting times back to 4 hours;

No more Tory hospital closures;

Freezing the state pension age;

Free school meals for all primary school children and smaller class sizes;

Banning zero hours contracts and giving all workers full and equal rights from day one.

That’s what a Labour Government looks like. That’s what we do. That’s who we are.

Politics now is a fight between those who want to be feared and those who’re not frightened to love. Britain’s run out of patience with the tin-pot Machiavellis. Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and the rest of you: your time is up.

This country is ready for change. Ready to throw off the shackles, to turn back the tide; ready to do the right thing and to do the thing right. In place of fear, love.

Conference, Britain is ready for Labour.

Love wins and so will we.

Thank you.

Tom Watson – 2017 Response to Government Statement on Sky/Fox Merger

Below is the text of the speech made by Tom Watson, the Labour MP for West Bromwich East, in the House of Commons on 12 September 2017.

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of her statement.

The Secretary of State has taken her responsibilities seriously, and I give her credit for that. I give her credit, too, for listening to the evidence before her, including new evidence submitted after she had announced her initial decision, and for changing her mind. I also want to praise my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband), who has run a very effective campaign in this area. Dare I say it, but I think he leads the race for Back Bencher of the year for his campaign?

I welcome the Secretary of State’s decision—or, I should say, the fact that she says she is minded to make such a decision—to refer the bid on broadcasting standards grounds, as well as on media plurality grounds. This is the first time that a Minister in the current Government has ever stood in the way of what the Murdochs want—and, frankly, not before time. So well done, and as they say in the Black country, “She’s a good ’un.”

The Secretary of State has done everything we asked her to do—or almost everything. Her statement does in my view, however, reflect a failure on the part of Ofcom. In its first report, as she said, Ofcom said that there were

“no broadcasting standards concerns that may justify a reference”.

It has now admitted that there are, as she said, “non-fanciful concerns”. On that basis, she had to refer the bid, and she has done so. It should have been obvious to Ofcom, as it certainly was to all Labour Members, that concerns about the Murdochs were more than fanciful.

After all, the Murdochs have a long history of regulatory non-compliance and of corporate governance failure. Just last week, Fox recognised its own failure to comply with broadcasting standards when it pulled Fox News, which has breached Ofcom’s rules again and again, from the UK. Ofcom could have gone further, too, on the “fit and proper” test. It decided that a post-merger Sky would pass, despite clear evidence of impropriety and failure of corporate governance both at 21st Century Fox and at News Corporation.

Such failures include the phone hacking scandal, which still has loose ends that are yet to be tied up. Just last week, News Group settled 17 cases related to allegations of criminality at The Sun newspaper, ensuring that James Murdoch will not have to appear in court later this year. Those 17 cases are just the first tranche of 91 new claims of phone hacking and illegality in obtaining information against The Sun and News of the World. This story is far from over, even if we will read little about it in the pages of the Murdochs’ newspapers, and ​all these cases are claims against a company that claimed for over a decade that there was no problem and that tried to move heaven and earth to prevent abuses from being uncovered. This is alongside the ongoing sexual and racial harassment scandal at Fox News, which is part of 21st Century Fox’s empire.

As I have said, the Secretary of State has done almost everything we asked her to do. The one thing we still want, and we have said this time and again, is that we need to get properly to the bottom of the scandals at the Murdoch empire—part 2 of the Leveson inquiry. She has now shot her fox with the Murdochs. She has burned her boats, and they already do not like her—I know what that is like—but that liberates her. Go on, Secretary of State, do the right thing: go ahead with Leveson 2.