BBC Diversity Debate
On Thursday I led a debate in the House of Commons on the issue of BBC Diversity.
Ahead of the debate, I wrote an opinion piece for The Spectator, and the debate was also reported on by BBC News, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, The Daily Mirror, The Sun, Broadcast, The Voice, The Stage and The Herald. The debate was dominated by a range of fantastic speeches from my Labour colleagues, including Chi Onwurah, Chuka Umunna, Gareth Thomas, Rupa Huq, Clive Lewis, Julie Elliott, Dawn Butler, and Liz McInnes.
The debate was co-sponsored by Conservative MP Helen Grant and Scottish National Party MP Kirsten Oswald. Conservative and Scottish National Party speakers included Drew Hendry, John Nicholson, Andrew Turner and Kwasi Kwarteng. Responding for the Government, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey, confirmed that "diversity will be prominent in the White Paper, of which I have seen an early draft. We are going to publish it in May".
In wrapping up the debate, I said:
"The bottom line is—I think that this is felt across the House—that we have to see a step change. We will see a strategy at the end of the month, and we will all look at it in detail. The overwhelming thrust of the debate has been that we love and treasure the BBC, and we are proud of our public service broadcaster. That is the spirit in which I have secured the debate. But we need to do considerably better, and that cannot just be rhetoric; it needs action. Money is a key part of that action, and we need to see more of that in the coming weeks.
It is important that diversity is centre stage in relation to charter renewal. Until those in charge look like the people of this country—that means women, people with northern voices, black people, brown people, Chinese people and lesbian and gay people who can make it and become the DG of the BBC—we cannot say that we have arrived. We are a long way from that point, and more skills training will not deliver it."