Secretary of State to be reported to House of Commons Authorities over misleading parliament

Jonathan Edwards MP has today confirmed that he will be reporting Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, to the House of Commons Authorities following concerns that he mislead parliament over the issue of funding cuts to S4C. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have consistently stated that S4C volunteered a £2m cut to its budget, a charge that the channel have denied. However, through a Freedom of Information Request by Mr Edwards’ constituency colleague, Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM, details have emerged that show the Secretary of State had been informed on more than one occasion that not only would S4C not be volunteering for funding cuts, but it would be unlawful for them to do so.

These letters to the Secretary of State, from S4C’s chairman were sent on May 21st and May 25th. Yet in a parliamentary response to Jonathan Edwards MP on June 8th Mr Hunt once again claimed the decision to cut S4C’s budget was “mutally agreed”. The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP is calling on Jeremy Hunt MP to apologies to the people of Wales and S4C for misleading them on this matter.

Jonathan Edwards MP said:

“The details of the FOI uncovered by Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM show that S4C made it perfectly clear that they were not volunteering for cuts, and, more so, that they were never in a position to agree to them.

I am very concerned that the DCMS have and continue to make public statements that suggest otherwise.

In response to my parliamentary question of 8th June, the Secretary of State for Culture told me that these cuts had been agreed by S4C, when letters sent to him by the channel’s chairman clearly stated the opposite.

I will be reporting this to the House of Commons authorities when the House sits again in October, and am calling on Jeremy Hunt MP not just to make an apology to the House of Commons for giving misleading information, but also to the Welsh people and to S4C for his misrepresentation of events.

It is a very serious matter for a Minister and his Department to be factually wrong when responding to MPs, to be briefing the media incorrectly and to be so far out of step with public opinion in Wales on the issue.

They must accept immediately that they are totally wrong and have compromised their department’s neutrality on this issue.”

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