TOPICAL QUESTION – PR, THE BNP & THE MEDIA – 8 June 2009

Dr Julian Lewis: Now that the appalling system of proportional representation has, predictably, led to the election of two neo-Nazis from the British National party to the European Parliament, does the Secretary of State agree that this raises serious issues for the concept of due impartiality on the part of the BBC and independent television when reporting political matters? What conversations does he propose to have with the broadcasting authorities to ensure that appropriate fairness does not mean a platform to spout racist and other unacceptable views?

[The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr Ben Bradshaw): Although we agree on many things, the hon. Gentleman and I do not agree on a fairer voting system. I point out to him that in Germany, Italy and a number of other countries that have a more proportional system, that has not resulted in extreme right-wing parties being elected to the Bundestag or the Italian Parliament. I am sure the broadcasters will take their duties under the impartiality rules extremely seriously, but the hon. Gentleman is right to say that what happened yesterday poses a dilemma for them. My own view is that usually, when one gives those people a platform, they condemn themselves out of their own mouths.]