Can I thank the Prime Minister for calling this debate.
Can I also thank him for setting up the Leveson inquiry 20 months ago with cross party support.
We would not be here today without that inquiry following the appalling revelations about the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone and what her family endured.
it was the bravery of her family in speaking out and all the other victims of abuse – the McCann’s, the Watsons, and many others- that brought us here today.
They were failed at every turn.
They were failed by the press, who treated them like commodities simply to sell newspapers.
And they were failed by politicians of all parties, who have failed, who have failed to stand up for them because of fear.
Today we break the pattern of decades and decades where politicians promised to act on wrongdoing by the press, and failed to do so.
Some people will ask we are here today at all, when there are so many pressing issues that our country has to deal with.
My answer is simple: because I don’t want to live in a country where sections of the press can abuse their own power to wreak havoc on the lives of innocent people.
Equally, I want to live in a country that upholds the right of a fearless, angry, controversial press that holds the powerful to account.
Today’s agreement protects the victims and upholds a free press. And is true to the principles of Lord Justice Leveson’s report.
He said there needed to be:
“A genuinely independent regulator, with effective powers to protect and provide redress for the victims of abuse”
That is what we achieve today.
First, in its appointments and the way it works, the regulator will be independent of the press.
Second, it is a regulator with teeth, with the powers to direct apologies and corrections with equal prominence.
This protects the system from being tampered with by ministers or water down.
it is important that this underpinning has been endorsed by the Prime Minister and indeed a member of newspapers.
Nor is it direct regulation of the press: but, as Leveson recommended, independent regulation with membership voluntary on the basis of incentives.
I urge all members of the press now to join this new system:
Because doing so will mean we can all move forward.
They will be joining a system that commands the confidence of the victims, and allows the press to hold the powerful to account without abusing its own power.
Today represents a huge moment for the House.
We are doing the right thing.
Politics has failed to grasp this issue for decades.
But today politicians have come together to put the victims first.
I want to thank the Prime Minister.
I want to thank the Minister for the Cabinet Office in his role in the cross party talks.
I want to thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his determination to do the right thing.
And I also want to thank the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party for her important role in making this happen.
I also want to acknowledge the vast majority of decent, law – abiding journalists who want to get back to doing their job.
But let me end by saying this: I want to pay tribute to the victims, who have had the courage to stand up and make their voice heard.
The McCann’s, the Dowlers, The Watsons, and their representatives.
Today is the day we stand up for them. Today is above all their today.