THE PHILOSOPHY AND RATIONALE OF THE FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRESS BILL

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/eb024761
Publication Date01 Feb 1992
Pages140-144
AuthorCLIVE SOLEY
SubjectAccounting & finance
THE PHILOSOPHY AND RATIONALE OF THE FREEDOM
AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRESS BILL
CLIVE SOLEY MP
CLIVE SOLEY MP
HAS
BEEN
LABOUR
MEMBER
OF PARLIAMENT
FOR
HAMMERSMITH
SINCE
1983 AND
PREVIOUSLY
HELD
THE HAMMERSMITH
NORTH
SEAT BETWEEN 1979 AND 1983. HE WAS
THE
OPPOSITION
SPOKESMAN ON NORTHERN
IRELAND
1981-81;
ON
HOME
AFFAIRS
1981-87;
AND
HAS
BEEN
OPPOSITION
SPOKESMAN ON
HOUSING
SINCE
1987.
When I drew fourth place in the
ballot for Private Members' Bills I
decided that it was an excellent
opportunity for wide-ranging debate
on the role and structure of the
press in the UK, and for legislation
on the press.
I start from the belief that the
free and accurate dissemination of
news is vital to a healthy democracy.
It is in fact a basic right for citizens
to expect their news to be reported
accurately, and that is particularly
important if the sources and outlets
of news are under monopoly owner-
ship and control.
In the former Soviet Union,
Pravda would either ignore dissent
or present it as criminal behaviour
or the result of mental illness. The
treatment of Alexander Solzhenitsyn
is a classic example; he failed to go
away when he was ignored, so they
portrayed him as mad. Although in
Britain we have not had monolithic
state control we do have concentra-
tion of press ownership by a handful
of people who all too frequently
have indulged' in the same disgrace-
ful tactics.
Lest anyone thinks I am com-
plaining that the press lost the
Labour Party the last general elec-
tion (9th April, 1992), may I make it
clear that, although the press lost us
votes and possibly some seats, it did
not lose the party the election. I do
believe, however, that over a period
of time the press does change atti-
tudes and values, and it would be
useful for some detailed research to
be done in this area. The infamous
'Costa Del Dole' stories that
appeared in the late 1970s and early
1980s were, I believe, responsible for
140

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