BUSINESS QUESTION – BBC MONITORING SERVICE – 15 September 2016
Dr Julian Lewis: Since the Second World War, the BBC Monitoring Service at Caversham Park has performed a vital service in providing open source intelligence, and the Secretary of State for Defence confirmed at Defence Questions on Monday that it is of vital interest to his Department. Today, an important letter [in The Times] on the same subject from Lord Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, comes to the same conclusion. May we therefore have a statement or a debate as soon as Parliament returns on the swingeing cuts that the BBC is proposing to make to the service? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be disgraceful if any irrevocable steps were taken before the House returns, given that the BBC has been informed that at least one and probably two Select Committees want to hold inquiries into this matter urgently?
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr David Lidington): I appreciate my right hon. Friend’s concern. He has taken a close interest in these issues for many years. I note that there will be a statement from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport about the BBC later today, and my right hon. Friend might be able to contrive to ask her a question that is in order at that point.
Mr Speaker: The right hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) would certainly be able to do that, but whether that would meet the needs of his case is a matter for him to judge.]
[NOTE: As Julian could not be present for the BBC Statement, his parliamentary neighbour from New Forest West kindly pursued the issue:
Sir Desmond Swayne: Will the Secretary of State ensure that no decisions are taken about the monitoring service at Caversham Park before important Select Committee inquiries are held next month? …
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Rt Hon Karen Bradley): I will write to my right hon. Friend on that matter.]