A motion has been put down in the commands signed by all available current
members of the committee rejecting claims by the broadcaster that it would lead
to interference in its programming.
The motion was put down by the most senior Labour member of the committee,
Williams, who is the ‘father’ – the longest-serving member – of the Commons,
and PAC chairman, Tory MP Edward Leigh.
The development came as the government finds itself embroiled in negotiations
over the BBC’s licence fee, which is claimed in the motion to be ‘a mandatory
tax on virtually every household in the UK’.
The new BBC Charter, signed and sealed a month ago, provides for comptroller
and auditor general Sir John Bourn to have limited access to carry out a
programme of value-for-money inquiries that have to be agreed with the
The motion ‘dismisses BBC allegations that it would lead to interference in
programming’, pointing to the fact that the NAO and PAC have examined the
accounts of BBC Overseas Service for many years without claims of interference.
Former Tory minister David Curry, a committee member, pointed out that the
BBC’s ambition is to be ‘a global player in the media world’ and added: ‘This
makes it all the more important to scrutinise that the public duty role of the
BBC is being delivered and to scrutinise some of the “edges” where it brushes
against commercial businesses.’
He said the sensible course now the charter has been concluded would be for
the BBC to come to a voluntary ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to allow the NAO in
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