Fri. May 24th, 2019

Date set for MPs’ discussion on Make Debates Happen

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A date has been set for MPs to discuss Sky News’ campaign for an independent commission to organise televised leaders’ debates at elections.

A Westminster Hall debate will take place on Monday 7 January, after more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for the issue to be officially considered in parliament.

Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, will open the debate, the petitions committee announced.

Stephen Barclay MP, the new Brexit Secretary, told Sky News that he was sure Sky News' push for leaders debates 'would be heard'. 0:18
Video: Brexit secretary ‘hears’ calls for TV debates

Many senior politicians have backed the campaign – including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservatives’ Amber Rudd, Liberal democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, as well as the SNP and the Green Party.

But Prime Minister Theresa May has not.

A government spokesperson, forced to respond when the petition reached 10,000 signatures, said the issue was “a matter for political parties” and should be considered “closer to any general election”.

A television crew work in front of the British Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London on May 7, 2010
Image: The debate will be opened by Steve Double MP in Westminster Hall

Sky News’ editor-at-large Adam Boulton has said a “respected debates commission is needed to ensure fairness for all sides when debates involving the prime minister take place”.

He said the row over a televised debate between Mrs May and Mr Corbyn on the final Brexit deal had “turbocharged” the campaign.

“The general election debates commission we are proposing would not necessarily be called in outside elections and, probably, for referendums,” he said last week.

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“But we believe it would quickly prove itself as a trusty authority to lean on.”

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