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by Ray Fleming

O N the assumption that the House of Commons yesterday approved proposals for a new kind of regulation for the British press (the debate is still in progress as I write) it will be a success for the elusive spirit of cross-party co-operation.

There will be attempts to score political points but each of the leaders has been careful to avoid that. Mr Cameron has given way on his opposition for statutory underpinning for the proposed Royal Charter; Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg have also compromised on their positions on two very important provisions -- that editors should not be able to veto the choice of members of the regulatory body and that any future attempt by Parliament to amend the Royal Charter would require a two-thirds majority in the Commons and the Lords.

Mr Miliband was more specific than the others when he said: “I do not want to live in a country where the press is free to treat people like the parents of Millie Dowler and others were treated.” There will be many people who will be dissatisfied with the anticipated outcome -- from the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph to the Index on Censorship -- and it is true that this new independent regulator will be a major departure from past practice. But the replacement of the discredited self-regulating Press Complaints Commission was absolutely essential.