Urgent Question on Channel 4

In April 2022 the Conservative Government intended to privatise Channel 4. The former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this policy to sell Channel 4 after 40 years in public ownership. 

Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Secretary Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP wrote a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying that selling Channel 4 was no longer the “right decision”. Plans to privatise Channel 4 have now been scrapped in a Government U-turn of policy that was announced during the Parliamentary Recess period. 

On 9 January 2023 Mr Speaker granted an Urgent Question on the future of Channel 4 as this decision had not been announced to the House. 

I was called to ask a question: 

‘May I ask the Secretary of State: why did right hon. and hon. Members only hear about this U-turn on “Channel 4 News” and why has she not put the package before the House?’

The Minister responded:

‘We are laying a written ministerial statement today.’

The written statement has now been published on 9 January 2023. There was no opportunity for Members to query the package. The statement should have been published prior to the Urgent Question. It is important in the Ministerial Code that Ministers come to the House first to let the House know of any changes in policy.