Phone-hacking: Parliament recalled as-it-happened
Don't miss a thing in the phone-hacking scandal with politics.co.uk's live blog.
By Ian Dunt Follow @IanDunt
10:21 – Good morning and welcome to another manic day in the phone-hacking scandal. The main event today is David Cameron's statement to MPs and the ensuing Commons debate, where he is likely to face questions about his decision to hire Andy Coulson. In a moment I'll summarise the charges against him which, to my mind, fall far short of a resignation issue but would certainly tarnish his reputation. First though, I'd advise you to watch this little video from last night's Daily Show, where John Stewart ably sums up the scandal and smacks Fox News around a bit:
10:37 – OK, so here's as short a summary as I can muster on the accusations facing Cameron. 1) Just two days after taking responsibility for the BSkyB away from Vince Cable, Cameron and his wife had dinner with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch and their respective partners. Nothing specifically wrong with that, except that it wipes out all that lovingly crafted 'man of the people' work Cameron had dedicated himself to. Also, you'd have to be trusting to the point of naivety if you think the deal didn't come up during that dinner. This is symptomatic of a political class failure, however, allowing Cameron to hide in the undergrowth. 2) Cameron hired Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor, despite knowing he had already resigned due to phone-hacking. This was an error of judgement. 3) During the election campaign, Coulson took "informal advice" on communications strategy from a man called Neil Wallis. Wallis, a former deputy editor at the newspaper, was arrested last week over allegations of phone-hacking, just like Coulson. After leaving NotW he worked in a communications role for the Met, a fact which has now triggered the resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates, two of the most senior coppers in Britain. According to Downing Street, Cameron never knew about Coulson's relationship with Wallis. 4) When Sir Paul wanted to bring the matter of Wallis' employment to Mr Cameron they were unable to do so, because Ed Llewellyn, Cameron's chief of staff, vetoed it with this email: "I don't think it would really be appropriate for the PM, or anyone else at No 10, to discuss this issue with you, and would be grateful if it were not raised please." To be fair to him, Yates' email was somewhat murky and unclear as to what would be discussed. 5) Finally, repeated warnings about Coulson, from the Guardian's deputy editor, Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown were never heeded. These warnings concerned Coulson's decision to hire Jonathan Rees, a private detective then facing charges for conspiracy to murder and previously jailed for conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. The message was passed to Steve Hilton, a close aide, who passed it on to Llewellyn. It never went further than that, according to Downing Street, anyway.
11:15 – There's quite a little storm brewing over allegations from Chris Bryant, who says a senior member of the royal family warned Cameron over Coulson. That's not as odd as it sounds, given that the royal family were the first confirmed cases of phone-hacking. "My understanding is that members of the royal family were very troubled about [the appointment] and that there were certainly attempts to make sure that the prime minister understood that," he told the BBC. So far Downing Street has denied it categorically and the BBC looks to be downplaying it. But Bryant says he heard it from a very senior source and Sky seems to be independent verifying it.
11:18 – I've just heard that Commons Speaker John Bercow is going to make a statement on the foam pie attack just before 11:30.
11:20 – And briefly, before we get started, there's a particularly interesting little attack on Cameron from Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome, a fairly reliable indicator of grassroots Conservative thinking. You can read it here but the summary is that Cameron's reluctant, hesitant response to the scandal is making him look rather average. "David Cameron is proving to be a very average prime minister doing very average things," he writes. "He didn't win an election he should have won and he's now governing without a narrative and without a growth agenda. Up until now this mediocrity has been hidden by the even more significant uselessness of the opposition. I still don't see Ed Miliband as a credible PM-in-waiting but he doesn't look quite as incredible as he did two weeks ago."
11:34 – MPs are just getting settled down. Full house today – PMQs style. Consider this a prolonged PMQs, frankly. Bercow calls order. The PM is about to speak.
11:35 – Bercow first speaks on the foam pie incident, saying it was particularly regrettable given recent events have boosted the influence and reputation of parliament. He has commissioned an independent investigation. OK, Cameron is up.
11:37 – Cameron summarises the impact of the scandal on British politics. "They want us to act on behalf of the victims," he says of the public. "They want us to work together to sort this problem out because until we do so we won't be able to get back to the issues they care about even more." He summarises the action taken – the various inquiries etc.
11:38 – Rowdy atmosphere in the House. Lots of noise from both benches. Cameron is really trying to show leadership here. Let's see if he can make it. He promises to speak at length about his role and the questions around his staff. He announces the Liberty director will sit on the panel for the inquiry. So will the former political editor of the Daily Telegraph. There are a few more journalists and lawyers mentioned.
11:40 – Here's the list – Shami Chakrabarti, Sir Scott Lee, Eleanor Goodman, George Jones and Sir David Bell. He is putting down the full terms of reference.
11:41 – He brings up the dramatic events at the Met. Give the sudden departure of two senior officers the first concern is to maintain policing in London "seamlessly". The responsibilities of the deputy commissioner will be handed to Bernard Hogan-Howe (probably spelt that wrong), from the HMIC (outside the Met so that he's independent of the ongoing phone-hacking and corruption investigation). George Osborne looks very tense indeed. Remember, he lobbied for Coulson to be hired. Cameron is saying that the police force needs to be shaken up, "opened up". He wants new leadership, basically. He mentions the elected police chiefs idea. Labour get angry. He wants people to be able to enter the Met easily.
11:45 – OK here we go with his staff. He brings up Llewellyn. He says the emails show it was entirely appropriate. It was cleared by his permanent secretary. If the opposite had happened he would have received privileged information. "There would have been quite justified outrage". This doesn't answer the thrust of the attack, because Cameron's decision to hire Coulson basically crippled him in the scandal. On the ministerial code and his meetings with Murdoch et al: He says the Cabinet secretary said it was not broken, because he'd been "entirely excluded" from the decision. On Wallis: Cameron says the Tory party chairman says neither Wallis nor his company have been contracted by the party. However, he "may have provided" Coulson with advice. "I did not know anything about this until Sunday night," he says. "We will be entirely transparent. I want to address my own responsibilities very directly," he adds. If Coulson turns out to have known about hacking at NotW, he will have lied to police and the court as well as the PM. "I have an old-fashioned view about innocent until proven guilty but if it turns out I was lied to that will be an event for a full apology. On that, I will not fall short." Amazing stuff.
11:49 – Cameron repeats it was his decision to hire Coulson. "I am extremely sorry for the furore it was caused. With all that's followed I wouldn't have offered him the job. You don't make decisions in hindsight – you live and you learn and believe me I have learned." Remarkable. "There are accusations of criminal behaviour by parts of the press and the police where rapid action is required," he says. "What the public expects is not petty political point-scoring." He's trying to neuter Miliband. Miliband is up.
11:51 – Miliband thanks Cameron for his statement and for recalling parliament. He welcomes the inquiry, the terms of reference and the panel members. He welcomes the agreement on the Press Complaints Commission, Murdoch's apology and the cancellation of the BSkyB bid. He respects Sir Paul's decision to stand down. "We're beginning to see answers given and responsibility given but the prime minister knows he must do the same if the country is to move forward," Lots of noise from the Tory benches. Bercow is just about keeping control – although it's tenuous. On BSkyB – Cameron said he was excluded from the formal decision making process, but that's not the end of it.
11:53 – Will Cameron tell the House that the bid was never brought up during his meetings with Murdoch etc? Now on Coulson: "The country has the right to expect the PM made every effort to find out about Coulson but the pattern of events suggests the opposite," Miliband says. He says there were five opportunities for the PM or his staff to act on information. "All were declined." Even Rebekah Brooks said the decision was "extraordinary".
11:55 – Miliband is slowly, calmly running through the warnings. The Yates offer wasn't taken up "because the PM was compromised by his relationship with Mr Coulson and therefore could not be told anything at all about an investigation into a member of his own staff". Strong arguments from Miliband. Cameron is looking down at his notes. Osborne looks intense. Miliband keeps on citing the warnings. "This can't be put down to gross incompetence. It was a deliberate attempt to hide from the facts of Mr Coulson," Miliband says. Uproar. Bercow tries to restore order. "The PM was caught in a tragic conflict of loyalty", between standards and his allegiance to Coulson. "He made the wrong choice." Miliband says this conflict of interest had real effects – not least Sir Paul's resignation. Sir Paul was trapped between the angry home secretary, incensed by the Wallis appointment, and a PM who couldn't hear about it. He couldn't tell Cameron because his deputy had already been told the PM could be told nothing. Cameron's error of judgement "directly contributed" to Sir Paul's resignation.
12:00 – Miliband says that an apology for the Coulson issue "Isn't good enough". It's not about hindsight, it's not about lies, it's about Cameron ignoring warnings. "So that the country can have the leadership we need why doesn't he do more than a half apology, why doesn't he do a full apology now," Miliband says. Cameron is up: "Stop hunting feeble conspiracy theories and start rising to events". Cameron pauses, collects himself and thanks him for the comments on the inquiry etc. Then he starts answering the question. "The Cabinet secretary said there was no breach of the ministerial code" on BSkyB, Cameron says. He doesn't answer the actual question, which was whether he ever mentioned it in the meetings. He says he wants transparency from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Tory benches in uproar, but the question has not been answered.
12:03 – He says there's no claim against Coulson while he was at No.10. Cameron defends the decision not to show him the information – but again that is not the point. The point is he could not hear it because of the conflict of interest with Coulson. Cameron is very angry. He reminds MPs of Murdoch's quote about being close to Gordon Brown. Cameron is being very evasive here, but the Tory benches are behind him.
12:05 – "Everyone can see what he's trying to do," Cameron says. David Davis is up. He reminds MPs that when Damian Green was arrested the PM was not told and quite right too. Cameron's chief of staff did the right thing. That is currently not under question. The issue is how that situation came about. Alan Johnson gets up. Incredible mood in the Commons. He says Theresa May made a long statement on Monday but didn't mention Wallis. Did Cameron know Wallis was giving advice to the Met? Cameron says no, and he didn't know there was relationship with Coulson either. Simon Hughes says all governments have been far too close to the media giants, which means no more back door visits to No.10.
12:08 – Cameron cites his transparency drive. Jack Straw is up. When the PM read of the New York Times article, what was his reaction? Cameron says he asked himself if there was any more information about Coulson knowing about hacking. There was no new information – a weak argument, if you've read the article. John Whittingdale (of the media committee) is up. He says all people actually care about is the phone-hacking. He wants priority to the police investigation. Every Tory question is on the general scandal, every Labour question is on Coulson.
12:11 – Tom Watson: Cameron said no-one raised Coulson's activity while at No.10. Watson says he did in a letter last year bringing Cameron's attention to his behaviour at NotW. "I'm still waiting for a reply," he says. Cameron replies that the allegations do not surround his actual time in No.10. Charlie Elphicke, (Tory, unimpressive) tries to attack Labour subtly, a skill with which he has no familiarity. This was just tweeted by the editor of the Guardian: "NYT September 2010 – two [NotW] people…said Coulson was present during discussions about phone hacking." Keith Vaz, home affairs committee chair, reminds the PM of his report into police failures over the phone-hacking investigation. He reminds him that it took five minutes to establish illegality and asks Cameron to demand that people give information to Operation Weeting.
12:15 – Andrea Leadsom (Con, appalling taste in jackets) suggests Miliband is being party political and we should be discussing the eurozone crisis. Here's the original New York Times article by the way. Ben Bradshaw tries again to get Cameron to answer whether he brought up the BSkyB bid with the Murdochs. Cameron again avoids it, referring to Brooks' appearance at the select committee yesterday.
12:18 – Chris Bryant refers to that evidence Vaz spoke about, he says it's blindingly obvious evidence. News International still won't allow the legal firm to release it. NI are still refusing to cooperate fully with the investigation, he says. Cameron says that information must go to the police. James Clappison (Con, looks like he owns a manor) makes a tedious point about how quickly victims are informed – that's for the police, not Cameron. Nigel Dodds (DUP, boisterous) wants both main parties to be open about the extent of their relationship with the Murdoch empire.
12:21 – Louise Mensch (Con, irritating but attractive) accuses Miliband of "cheap partisanship" and again tries to turn the spotlight on Miliband's own media adviser (from the Times). Dennis Skinner (Lab, needs no introduction) says Cameron has refused to answer a simple question twice – did he ever discuss the BSkyB bid with her. "I never had one inappropriate conversation," Cameron says. Huge noise. This is as slippery as Cameron has ever been. Very dangerous territory for him. Bercow calls order. "I've answered the question," Cameron says.
12:24 – Paul Farrelly, who performed well on the media committee yesterday, asks for Cameron's message to NI. Cameron says it's simply that they should tell the truth. David Winnick (Lab, just a bit too old to play Alfred in the next Batman movie) asks if Cameron thinks his public performance is inspiring confidence. "How he has acted in the last few years has been pretty sordid," he adds. Cameron defends his record, although he did start with "yes". Think that was an agreement with the earlier part of the question.
12:29 – As Cameron gets more irritated he keeps saying how much better the government's transparency efforts were than Labours, thereby undoing his own request for cross-party consensus. Brian Binley (Con, at the point of explosion) said something but it was so shouty I couldn't comprehend it. Nick Raynsford (Lab, like a bank manager) suggests that when Coulson was head of communications the Cabinet secretary was alerted to phone-hacking of a senior official in the government's service. Silence in the chamber. That was serious. Cameron says he hasn't heard that before, then launches into his "I take responsibility" speech that's been delivered several times now.
12:32 – Another Tory MP wants things to get on to other matters. They smell danger I think, and are encouraged by recent polls showing that public interest is much lower than in Westminster. For a reason I cannot understand no more Labour MPs are pressing on Cameron's conversation with Brooks and Murdoch. It's an obvious vulnerability. Emily Thornberry (Lab, calmly stroppy) asks who brought him the NYT article and who debated it with him? Cameron admits there were questions about Coulson's time at the NotW while in Downing Street. Cameron says his test was there needed to be credible evidence that he knew about hacking while at the newspaper. Mike Hancock (LD, dashing) asks if BSkyB was mentioned in his conversations. Cameron AGAIN evades, saying he had no power over BSkyB. Angry sniping in the Commons at his refusal to answer the question. He attacks the "fevered conspiracy theories".
12:37 – Alun Michael asks: did Cameron really want to be kept in the dark or is he angry with his chief of staff? Nearly, but not quite, the right question. Miliband nailed it. Penny Mordaunt (Con, wonderful posh name) wants reassurance that the government is still working on foreign affairs etc. Cameron says that's one reason he didn't want to cut the Africa trip short. Nadhim Zahawi (Con, dangerous) tries to drag the row to cover the Labour-supporting Mirror newspaper. Former deputy prime minister John Prescott has tweeted saying he also sent Cameron a letter about Coulson in 2009. Might even have been legible.
12:42 – Lee Scott (Con, too excited) wants people to remember that the police are ultimately wonderful. Richard Burden (Lab, forgettable) asks what Cameron did when he got the Watson letter. Cameron tries to ignore the question. "Because there were so many allegations he left, the second chance I gave him didn't work," Cameron says. Seriously – he's never plain-speaking but this is the most evasive, slippery performance we've ever seen from the PM. There's some really dangerous trapdoors for Cameron here, if not on detail then on reputation. Chuka Umunna (Lab, future Labour leader) goes back to the BSkyB bid conversation. When did he talk about it, with who, and in what way. Cameron says the meetings are published. He then again argues that Miliband's transparency records don't go far enough back. The record Cameron refers to, by the way, contain details of meetings, not what was said, so the question remains unanswered. That's a fifth attempt he's dodged. Cameron is reminded that Osborne hired Coulson. Cameron says the decision was his. "The buck stops here," he says. Osborne smiles nervously.
12:47 – Cameron is now making a party political attack every time he answers a question. Jeremy Corbyn (Lab, bit of a legend) asks the BSkyB question again. "The discussion I had was to make sure I wasn't involved in this decision," Cameron says. That's six. This gets worse and worse. What were the warnings given to the PM not to appoint Coulson and why did he ignore them? Cameron goes back to the "innocent until proven guilty" line. Nick Morgan (Con, reminds me of curtains) makes another attack on Labour. The only thing cross-party today is the daggers. "I'm determined to sort it out," Cameron says. "We didn't hire Andy Coulson," Cameron says. "You hired Damian McBride," Cameron says. "You had Alistair Campbell falsifying documents in government." Ohhhhhhh. That was a pretty substantial accusation. We'll get a tweet from him in a moment, I imagine. Cameron is again being evasive. He is asked to name the company which did a background check on Coulson and refuses to answer.
12:54 – Claire Perry (Con, just too much in every way) wants to ask about rules in Chequers but MPs make too much noise. Barry Sheerman (Lab, often competent) asks if he's been briefed about the phone-hacking of a senior public servant. Cameron says he won't discuss that sort of briefing but he'll talk in private. This is the Raynsford question, by the way, and it's potentially quite serious. Kerry McCarthy (Lab, active limbs) is asked again about Watson's letter. He promises a "robust reply". Barry Gardiner (Lab, like a harmless Bond villain) asks again about BSkyB. "All my conversations are appropriate," Cameron says. That's seven.
13:00 – Interesting isn't it, that it was only on that last question that Cameron actually admitted seeing the Watson letter? Alistair Campbell just tweeted: "Have asked No 10 for evidence to substantiate claim re falsifying government documents."
13:03 – Sky News are reporting that News International have decided to stop paying Glenn Mulcaire's legal fees. Remarkable development. James and Rupert Murdoch were brought to book on this yesterday – he is, after all, a convicted criminal who dragged the name of their company into the mud in 2006. And yet it took half a decade to stop paying for him to use one of the most expensive lawyers in London.
13:05 – What did Clegg tell Cameron about Coulson? Just if it was right to hire Coulson, Cameron says. Cameron is batting away allegations that elected police chiefs would have made it worse. Graham Stuart (Con, oddly Swedish) wants the inquiry to look into Tom Baldwin, Miliband's adviser. About the 12th time a Tory tried that. This was just tweeted by Tim Montgomerie: "Consensus seems to be Cameron had his best day for some time." I don't know if I'm off the beat on this – haven't had time to break from the debate, but I find that the most astonishing error of judgement imaginable. In that regard, Cameron just admitted he doesn't know if Neil Wallis advised Coulson while he was working for him at Downing Street.
13:12 – Independent on Sunday political correspondent John Rentoul also thinks Cameron has done well. I think several commentators may have seen the statement (which was good) and missed the questions (which have been potentially disastrous). Cameron is told it's unusual for a senior official to the PM to not be properly vetted. Cameron says Coulson was cleared to secret and not sent papers above this level. "Some hon members are looking for a secret behind a curtain that simply isn't there," Cameron says.
13:17 – Mike Gapes (Lab, should be called Grapes) asks if Wallis ever had work with bodies associated with the Conservative party if not the party itself. Question ignored. We're getting on for two-hours now. Sarah Newton (Con, impersonating passion) is angry at Labour and at the fact she is still in the chamber. Cameron says Labour's attempt to promote "conspiracy theories" have been "a complete and utter failure".
13:21 – Cameron brings up Damian McBride and the Mirror. Both pretty weak. George Freeman (Con, scholarly) wants the death of David Kelly to be brought into the inquiry. My god, where will it end? Cameron wisely says no. Jeremy Hunt looks tense. Bill Esterson (Lab, tall and slim) asks what an appropriate discussion about BSkyB would be. Cameron defines it, along with Brooks, as one you might have in front of a select committee.
13:31 – Cameron was against a wall today. He has persistently said that Coulson must be considered innocent until proven guilty, so he couldn't go back on that. His promise to offer a full apology if it turns out he was lied to will kill the speculation around him for a while. But be cautious of anyone telling you he's out of trouble. His refusal to answer the questions on discussing BSkyB shows that there is a specific vulnerability there. Most importantly, nothing that happened today explains why Cameron would not have wondered about Coulson having read the NYT article (which said everyone knew about phone-hacking, including, obviously, the newspaper's editor). This persistent and conscious attempt to ignore the evidence – from Guardian warnings to letters from Tom Watson – could seriously damage the prime minister as the inquiries and the criminal investigation goes on. Cameron is again asked which company vetted Coulson. He won't reply. He is asked if he is willing to put the name down in the House library. He won't reply.
13:36 – Wayne David (Lab, well meaning) reads out sections of the NYT article. How can Cameron know they had nothing to them? Cameron says they had nothing behind them. This is the sort of answer that will come to haunt him if it's shown that there was something behind them. If Cameron won't name the company that vetted Coulson, will he confirm it never donated to the Conservative party? Cameron says he'll write to the honourable gentlemen.
13:38 – Bercow reminds MPs that when they stand to get his eye they shouldn't be "fiddling with their electronic devices". Toby Perkins (Lab, constructed features) makes an excellent point. If the decision to hire Coulson was wise, how come it resulted in the prime minister being barred from hearing anything on a major issue. Cameron evades. Another MP (didn't catch the name) asks exactly what was said during that meeting with Brooks in December. Cameron evades. Another MP tries. Has Cameron ever uttered the word BSkyB in the presence of the Murdochs? Cameron just sighs and sits down. The Conservatives love it.
13:42 – Andrew Miller (Lab, cautious) asks if Cameron feels let down he doesn't know about the advise Coulson got from Wallis. Cameron says he's trying to get to the bottom of it. Eleanor Laing (Con, gestures like an anorexic Mussolini) makes the old point that we should all be talking about something else. Gavin Shuker (Lab, babyface) wants an apology now. That actually seemed to impact on Cameron. "I'm telling what I feel about this," Cameron says, pushing his hands into his chest.
13:46 – Starting to lose the will to live now. It just goes on and on. Any MP who has been there since the start can ask a question and the House was as full as PMQs. Cameron insists "I'm enjoying this," in an echo of Maggie. He doesn't look quite convinced. Therese Coffey (Con, one of yesterday's media committee's worst performers) says something flattering about the local press.
13:51 – Bob Stewart (Con, looks like a Kennedy) urges more action for transparency. Margaret Curran (Lab, very angry right now) wants the comments about political capital retracted. She points her finger at Osborne. Will the PM disassociate himself from the comments? "I don't question her motives but the point about this place is people can watch what takes place and come to their own judgement," Cameron replies, very well.
13:55 – After Daniel Kawczynski's final question, the statement draws to a close. Before the main debate, we're taking a few points of order. Mark Reckless, on the home affairs committee, is fed up that Ken Macdonald didn't tell him how much News International was paying him. Bercow isn't very helpful, predictably. There's a couple of others, too. "Members should not make defamatory statements," Bercow says, wisely, in response to one. Finally, Robert Halfon is worried by rights to attend select committees. Bercow says he's worried by it, for sure.
14:00 – David Cameron is now opening the main debate. He says he'll be brief because he's already been going for ages. Let us very sincerely hope so. He praises the Commons' "vigorous" debates which led to News International abandoning their bid to buy BSkyB – skimming over the fact that it was pressure from the opposition which proved decisive here. He sets out four "vital questions" to set the terms of the debate. The first of which is: how to secure a free and vibrant media? The second: "how we can secure strong, well-led independent yet accountable police forces".
14:04 – The first intervention is about Andy Coulson's second resignation, from Downing Street. Cameron quickly brushes over it. The third question is about the relationship between journalists and the press – and issues about regulation of the media. Next, another intervention from Penny Mordaunt. Cameron praises her for asking a "cracker" of a question about the "cosy relationship" between the press and politicians. The fourth and final challenge, he says, is "how we address the vexed issue of media power". He doesn't want any one organisation to take power – not the BBC, not anyone.
14:06 – An intervention from former home secretary Alan Johnson is met with uproar, when he says he's about to quote from a letter sent to him by Met ex-assistant commissioner John Yates which is "private and confidential". Not so private and confidential now, that's for sure. Cameron, talking about Coulson's resignation, says his thinking was "I have to resign, let's just make sure we get on with it and do it in an orderly way." He mentions "conspiracy theories" once again. When they start talking about conspiracy theories it's a clear sign a politician feels like they're under the cosh.
14:08 – Returning to his speech, Cameron says "we need to recognise some home truths". None of the questions are new questions, he points out, mentioning Beaverbrook. He's then interrupted by Chris Bryant, who says News International "directly lied to parliament". He's upset that Lord Leveson can't decide whether parliament was lied to. Only parliament can. So will it? The PM says he wants to take away the issue of parliamentary privilege and offer a "considered response".
14:11 – Cameron asks how we can make a "clean break with the past". First, we need cross-party consensus or it'll be a race to the bottom. No good signs on that so far today. David Winnick says self-regulation has been a total farce. Cameron agrees (Ed Miliband wouldn't – unless he has recently changed his mind). Someone tries an intervention but Cameron wants to make progress. He says we need restraint. The media fears a stitch up, especially if it is cross party. There are MPs who are victims of the media but politicians need to keep calm and speak in moderation. An incredibly foolish question suggests the BBC should lose out because lots of people watch it online or on TV. One wonders how they can win that battle. If no-one watches they shouldn't have the licence fee. If everyone does, it's a monopoly. Interesting little nugget there – Cameron admits he had a role in changing the time of the News at Ten while at ITV. That always really annoyed me, i'm glad to discover I can blame the prime minister for it. Cameron says he regrets doing it.
14:19 – Cameron ends with another appeal for cross-party cooperation. Miliband is up.
14:20 – Miliband says he welcomes the debate. It's the courage of the Dowlers that has spurred so many of the developments on. He says people's anger over phone-hacking is real, but people will ask why we debate this when there are so many other issues. This issue concerns something incredibly important and that is the fabric of our country. Miliband gives way to a question on politicians' relationship with the media. Very calm, controlled tone in the Commons, amazing how easily the same humans who were screaming each other down a moment ago can revert to normality. Miliband says the debate goes to the kind of country we are, it's not just a Westminster obsession. He says there's so much said of the responsibility of the poor – benefit cheats etc. But we never hear about the responsibilities of the rich and the powerful. Just like expenses ruined the relationship of the good, decent majority, so does this scandal do the same to the vast majority of journalists and police. "It's in their interest too that we sort this out. When people say this doesn't matter, they're saying… cynicism about the country we live in is almost inevitable. If we fall prey to this, no-one will trust established institutions in this country."
14:26 – Miliband is asked about Tom Baldwin, his media aide who used to work at the Times. Miliband ably turns it around by pointing out that he's looked into the allegations against him and found that his line manager was none other than…. Michael Gove, education secretary. Classy stuff. He also reminds MPs that Ashcroft's claims about his tax status were shown to be false. Clearly enjoying himself, Miliband takes another intervention.
14:30 – Miliband says we need a new system of regulation – whether self or independent. It must have investigatory powers, people on the board from outside the industry, and power to enforce compensation and prominent redress. The BBC is reporting that Murdoch's plane is about to take off from Luton airport, while MPs debate. Charlie Elphicke brings up Mirror hacking and the prominence of the BBC. There's a real trend of people attacking politically unsupportive outlets. Miliband says the BBC is in a different category. Another Tory intervention is on Brooks' relationship with Gordon Brown. "I don't think that was the most helpful for the prime minister," Miliband responds. The reason she hasn't been coming to Downing Street is because she's been meeting him in his constituency and elsewhere." Miliband doing well out there.
14:37 – Jonnie Marbles (really got to love that name) has written a comment piece for the Guardian. I must admit he comes across pretty well. Check this out: "I was filled with hope as Tom Watson questioned Murdoch Sr relentlessly with the passion and vigour we might expect to be the norm when our elected representatives face down the perpetrators of a modern Watergate. For a few bright moments I thought I might see justice done, keep the pie in my bag and spare myself a night in jail. Those moments were short lived: as committee member after committee member feebly prodded around the issues and Murdoch Jr began to dominate, I knew I was going to have to make a massive tit of myself. To be honest, I had not expected to get so far, but parliamentary security, with its machine-gun toting cops and scatter X-rays, is apparently no match for a man with some shaving-foam covered plates in his bag."
14:40 – Rather quietly, given that I propose most people will have drifted off or burnt out their eyes by now, Miliband is having a storming Commons session. He just laughed off the accusations that his transparency hasn't gone far enough, saying his one dinner with NI didn't work, as must be evident by the Sun's coverage of him. Miliband decides to read the NYT article, which shows, as I mentioned earlier, that there was plenty there to make Cameron scratch his head. "This goes to a very important issue," Miliband says. There was lots of information available, he says. He says he'll give way if the PM wants to accept it. "The prime minister seems otherwise engaged," he says, after Cameron stays stuck to his seat.
14:43 – "These issues are not going to go away," Miliband tells the PM. With that, he sits down.
14:45 – Bercow imposes an eight minute limit on backbench speeches. He starts with John Whittingdale, chairman of the culture, media and sport committee. Paul Farrelly, in an unusual move, intervenes on his own committee chairman, to mention the NI decision to stop paying the Mulcaire legal fees. That's their joint victory on the committee. Whittingdale says the Murdochs seemed honest. Speaking of the media mogul, he just left the country. Whittingdale says the law firm still can't give police the evidence because the NI is still refusing to let the correspondence become public – although that decision was probably made before the select committee hearing. "It boils down to whether you believe the evidence given to us," he adds, basically summarising the problem with Commons committees. Chris Bryant isn't having it, he says the media committee chair is failing to recognise corporate governance. It's not enough to just say you know nothing. Whittingdale says there was "undoubtedly a failure of corporate governance and that's something" that might upset shareholders or even American authorities.
14:52 – Interesting interchange between Jack Straw and Whittingdale. The former says there are provisions for custodial sentences in data protection on the statute book ready to become law. The latter points out that never happened. A little later Keith Vaz, chair of the home affairs committee, stands up.
14:56 – Vaz says yesterday was a good day for parliament. He suggests the police didn't stop the foam pie quickly enough because most of them were being interrogated by his committee. Here's my colleague Alex Stevenson's sketch of the Cameron statement.
15:12 – Ok, well nothing particularly exciting being said and little chance of that changing in the next seven hours or so of this debate. I think we'll leave it there for now. If there's any other breaking news we will of course be bringing it to you as quickly as young(ish) hands can type. In the meantime, that's it for another parliamentary term. We'll be here throughout the summer bringing you all the latest news and maybe even, you never know, some phone-hacking developments. Enjoy the rest of your week.