My question in the House of Commons yesterday.
Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): This Government have already forced the licence fee payer to fund broadband roll-out and the failed vanity project of local TV, and now they are making the BBC a branch office of the Department for Work and Pensions. Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept that this represents a significant assault on the BBC’s independence, and that it is to Parliament, not the Government, that the BBC is answerable? Just before the election, he published a report on the future of the BBC in which he said that it was of paramount importance that this House and the other place should be consulted fully on anything to do with charter renewal. He has broken that promise today, and I am extremely disappointed that he has done so.
Mr Whittingdale: On the right hon. Gentleman’s first point, I have already announced that we will be phasing out the broadband ring-fence over a period. I seem to recall that it was his Government who financed the digital switchover from the licence fee. As I have said, the licence fee settlement is a matter that will be considered as part of the charter renewal process, as it will obviously be affected by any decision taken on the purposes and scope of the BBC as a result of the charter review. We have sought to give the BBC the assurances that it has requested, but that has not in any way pre-empted the decisions that may be reached as a result of the charter review.