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Culture, Media and Sport

Volume 564: debated on Thursday 20 June 2013

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport was asked—

National Museums (2010 Spending Review)

1. What assessment she has made of the effect of the 2010 spending review on national museums outside London. (160603)

The 2010 spending review protected free admission to the permanent collections of our national museums by limiting cuts in resource funding to 15% in real terms. Resource grant funding for national museums will reduce by only 5% in 2015-16, and they will be given flexibility to manage their budgets independently.

With the Science Museum Group’s projected deficit to increase from the current £2 million to £4 million or even £6 million, depending on the outcome of the spending review, what confidence does the Minister have in the future viability of that group, and in it maintaining the historically important collections at Manchester’s Liverpool Road station site, home of the Museum of Science and Industry?

Since the Science Museum Group took over the running of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, visitor numbers have risen by 30%, so the answer is there; the group is running MOSI incredibly effectively, and will continue to run its three or four outposts outside London effectively.

While Government money is, of course, important, will the Minister join me in celebrating the amazing fundraising work of our museums, including the Submarine museum in Gosport, which has raised more than £6.5 million through heritage funding and lots of fundraising in order to restore HMS Alliance?

I am delighted to endorse what my hon. Friend says. There is a huge amount of philanthropy outside London and we have made it far easier to give to the arts. We have invested through the Catalyst Fund in endowments and fundraising capacity.

16. The artefacts in the science museums, including locomotives in the National Railway museum, are expensive to maintain and that museum is concerned it will not have enough money for conservation, preservation, research and dissemination of information about its collections. Will the Minister address specifically that point in his evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee? (160620)

I am sure I will specifically address that point, because I am sure the Committee will ask me about it. The Science Museum Group has aired a lot of its concerns, and we will certainly address them.

Entertainment Industry (Low-paid/Unpaid Jobs)

2. What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on trends in the number of low- paid and unpaid jobs in the entertainment industry. (160604)

The national minimum wage underpins wage levels for those at work and applies equally in the creative sector as elsewhere. The Government support industry in its efforts to provide employment opportunities for young people in the entertainment industry through initiatives such as the creative employment programme, the charity Creative Access, and the forthcoming launch of UK Music’s skills academy.

I thank the Minister for that response, and I particularly welcome what he said yesterday about paid internships in the creative industries. It is still the case, however, that many professional freelancers are expected to work for nothing or for very low pay. Sometimes, everyone involved in a production is being paid except for the musicians and actors who are fronting it up. What will the Minister do about that?

The exploitation of interns is unacceptable, and as I said, the music industry is working hard. In particular, UK Music takes a strong lead on the issue and is setting up the UK music skills academy. The charity Creative Access, with the BPI, will give work experience to 300 individuals who will be paid. I pay tribute to the hon. Lady who continues to campaign on this matter and many other issues in the music industry.

Does my hon. Friend consider that the question seriously underestimates the value of extras and walk-on parts in the theatre and the palace of varieties? One needs walk-on parts to swell a progress, start a scene or two—to be deferential, or glad to be of use. Is not one of the problems with too many theatre troupes that everyone wants to play the role of Hamlet, which is just not possible?

Does the Minister realise that there is such a pool of talent out there, including people with high, graduate qualifications? Surely we could use those people as a resource in our schools, for example, or leading community groups and so on. We must think of new ways and channels to use these young people to give them a start and an income.

The hon. Gentleman makes a very important point, so I hope that he will support the Government, who want to allow people to teach in schools if they have the ability to inspire our young people, rather than shut them out artificially by forcing them to take a teaching degree.

Surely it cannot be right that musicians and entertainers are about the only group of industrial workers still expected to work for nothing in the 21st century. Will the Minister guarantee that no Government or Government-sponsored event will now ever allow musicians to go unpaid?

If the hon. Gentleman wants to give me some examples, I will certainly look into them, but I would not expect the Government to start from that point of view.

Broadband (Rural Areas)

Twenty-six local broadband contracts have now been signed under our rural broadband programme, representing over 70% of funding. Derbyshire supplier bids are expected in July, with installation commencing in 2014, and the first cabinets are expected to be rolled out in advance of the Tour de France cycle race, which is scheduled to visit England in July 2014.

May I stress how vital faster broadband is for the vitality and viability of the rural economy? I often refer to it as the fourth utility. Faster internet access will be crucial to rural areas if we are to not only retain our businesses, but attract new ones. Will the Secretary of State reassure my local businesses that the Government remain committed to faster broadband rolled out to rural areas such as the High Peak?

I can say absolutely yes, which is why we have got a £1.2 billion infrastructure programme already under way, meaning that more than 10 million more homes and businesses will get access to superfast broadband by the end of the Parliament. Furthermore, the rural community broadband fund is already further supporting rural communities, having made its first award to Rothbury in Northumberland. My hon. Friend will be aware that many local authorities with large rural communities in areas such as Lancashire, Cheshire and Cambridgeshire are going further with investment. I know that he will be doing all he can to encourage his local authority to do likewise.

The Financial Times reported last week that the National Audit Office was to deliver a very critical report on this exercise, arguing that it failed to deliver a proper bidding process, after only BT bid, saying it lacked competition and describing it as

“a train crash waiting to happen”.

Why did Ministers forget the importance of competition in this exercise?

The right hon. Gentleman will also know that the NAO has said that we have some of the best and most transparent processes for evaluating the work going on in this area, so I would encourage him to read the full report.

Good progress is being made in Gloucestershire on broadband, but does the Secretary of State agree that it is important to work with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in promoting local small businesses in places such as Stroud, Dursley and Nailsworth?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We must ensure that when we have access to superfast broadband in local areas, businesses understand its value, and that is why we have always said that this is not only about investing in the roll-out of this infrastructure, but about ensuring that businesses understand how it can help them.

Last week, I attended the launch of Digital Teesdale. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating Labour Durham county council and the voluntary group Barnard Castle Vision, which are the partners that have delivered it, and will she say why she is signing contracts for delivery in 2016, when her target is for delivery in 2015?

I thank the hon. Lady for raising such an important project as the one in Durham. It is such projects that can make a real difference, filling in the gaps of the national programme. On the delivery of the programmes, we are pushing hard to get roll-out as quickly as possible, and she will of course know that a considerable number of local authorities have already opened their first boxes. That progress will continue apace. As I said earlier, 70% of the funding allocations have already been signed off.


Two thirds of premises in the UK now have superfast broadband available and 100,000 more homes and businesses are getting coverage every week. Average speeds increased by 69% last year.

I do not think that this is going fast enough, and that is not good enough. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the New Economics Foundation, which has published a report this week showing how the country could get much better value for the billions that are about to be spent on HS2 by diverting some of those billions into superfast broadband? Does she agree with Sir Charles Dunstone, the chairman of Talk Talk, who also says that HS2 money would be better spent by investing in high-speed broadband, and will she please stand up for this with her colleagues in Cabinet?

My right hon. Friend clearly has many things to say on high-speed rail, but I will leave that for another Minister. I can tell her that 100,000 more homes and businesses every week are getting access to superfast broadband. We are leading the way in Europe on investment in broadband, and we are in the top three of EU members states on coverage, take-up, usage and choice.

The Government backed north Yorkshire early on and we are about to deliver on having 90% homes with superfast broadband by early next year. We need a little bit more money to get to 95%. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss how much we need?

I am always happy for hon. Friends to meet the Minister responsible, and I am sure he will make that a priority. [Laughter.] In all seriousness, my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Julian Smith) is right: we want even more coverage in the country. I would perhaps ask him to look in detail at how the rollout of 4G will help his community, which, after all, will leave the country with 98% coverage in its access to superfast facilities.

Sport (West Lancashire)

The latest participation figures show that 37% of people in West Lancashire are playing sport once a week, which is above the national average. In addition, Lancashire is hosting both an Ashes test and the rugby league world cup this year, which I am sure will maintain enthusiasm for sport in the county.

Participation rates in the north-west have fallen and Conservative-run West Lancashire borough council has closed Skelmersdale sports centre with no replacement in sight, provided unplayable football pitches due to inadequate drainage, and has made deep cuts in leisure service provision while sitting on tens of millions of pounds in reserves. Does the Minister think that the borough council’s approach is the right one to achieve an increase in participation rates and honour the Olympic legacy?

The hon. Lady needs to be careful with her figures. If she is arguing that the participation rates have fallen, that is only for the winter. I was told that rugby league, which is big in her part of the world, had a week in which 96% of all its fixtures were cancelled. That explains the drop-off in participation. [Interruption.] Well yes; because when there is snow on the ground you can’t play rugby league. I would have thought that as the shadow Secretary of State, the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) could have probably worked that out. The fact is that participation rates are above the national average in the part of the world the hon. Member for West Lancashire (Rosie Cooper) represents. I encourage local authorities to make use of both the Olympic effect and the many sports fixtures coming to her part of the world this year to drive up rates.

At best, the active people figure for West Lancashire has flatlined, and participation rates in the north-west have gone down. Overall, the country has seen a reduction of 200,000. It is less than a year since the Olympic games and what have we got? Some 68% of school sports organisers tell us that fewer children are doing sport and that they are spending less time doing it. While the rest of us looked forward to an Olympic legacy, the Government were wrecking school sports partnerships. Now they are blaming the weather for adult figures going down. Rather than riding on the back of fluctuations in the climate, will the Minister get to the Dispatch Box and tell us what he is going to do to deliver a sustainable Olympic legacy?

The first thing is that the hon. Gentleman has got his figures wrong. The second is that anybody with an iota of common sense would accept that if there is snow on the ground rugby league cannot be played, and that if there is ice on the road people are unlikely take their bicycles out. In the period since 2005 when we won the bid, up to the moment when, across two Governments, we delivered the games, London was the first host city to deliver a sustained increase—of 1.4 million—in participation. I pay tribute to the policy devised by James Purnell and carried through by the right hon. Members for Leigh (Andy Burnham) and for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) when they were Secretaries of State. We should celebrate the fact that this country has achieved what no other country in the history of the Olympic games has ever achieved. Ranting and carping is pretty stupid.


In the 12 months to April 2013, tourism spend by international visitors in the UK was up 13% to a record £19.9 billion. This result highlights the importance of tourism in this country, which contributes £115 billion on average to the UK economy each year.

That is very encouraging, but looking forward a decade, what projection has my right hon. Friend made of demand for passenger arrivals capacity and beds? Is she confident that the industry can meet that demand to maximise the export earnings opportunity?

My hon. Friend is right that we should always keep these sorts of things under close review, which is exactly what we do. He will be aware that Sir Howard Davies is undertaking an independent review of airport capacity and how we can better use existing capacity. He is due to report in 2015. As for accommodation, the figures for the UK overall show that we have a one-third capacity available in hotel accommodation across the country. There are particular issues in London, which is why I very much welcome this week’s announcement of £700 million of investment in luxury hotel accommodation at Nine Elms, which we should applaud the Mayor for securing.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the launch of Chester Civil War Tours, a new small company showing people the sights of the siege of Chester in the civil war, including the battlefields and also the pubs. What role does my right hon. Friend think heritage and culture have in promoting tourism in our towns and cities?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the importance of culture in supporting the tourism industry. That is why I was so pleased that the Treasury was able to understand the arguments we put forward and that we have secured such a strong deal for the culture sector in this country.

The situation facing the tourism industry in the north-east is unfortunately less positive. We have seen a reduction of 60,000 in the last year. What action will the Secretary of State take to ensure that the north-east is not left behind?

The hon. Lady is right to say that we want every corner of the country to have a strong tourism industry. That is why our “Holidays at Home are GREAT” campaign is the biggest ever domestic tourism campaign aimed at exactly what she is looking for, which is to boost tourism throughout the UK.

Few city regions have seen as much growth in the visitor economy as Merseyside over recent years. This has been underpinned by the work that the local authorities have done in the boroughs. What conversations has the Secretary of State had with Communities and Local Government Ministers about ensuring that the spending review does not put that investment at risk?

Through the work we do on the GREAT campaign, we bring together Ministers from many different Departments to ensure a co-ordinated approach to how we market Britain abroad. The hon. Lady’s part of England has a strong story to tell when it comes to marketing Britain, which is something I hope she would work with me on.

It is excellent news that visitor numbers and visitor spend rose last year to record levels, but my right hon. Friend will also be aware that the UK still slipped by one place, from seventh to eighth, in the list of top 10 destinations. Can she say what is being done to attract more visitors to the UK, particularly from China, many of whom are still being deterred by the cost and difficulty of obtaining visas?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that we always need to be actively marketing Britain abroad. That is where our GREAT campaign, with £37 million already invested, comes into its own. It is a campaign that this country can be proud of. As for visas, we have made significant improvements to the situation that we inherited. We have now seen an increase of, I believe, around 30% in visas from that country.

The tourism economy in Wales is worth £5 billion a year and employs 8% of the population, including many in my constituency. This week the Welsh Government announced a new target to increase that figure by 10%, including by increasing inward tourists from Ireland and the United States in particular. Does the Secretary of State welcome that and will she commit to meet and work with the Welsh Government to promote Wales, as well as England and the UK?

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question. We work closely with the Welsh Government through VisitBritain. This is a shared objective. VisitBritain has a clear target of increasing international tourism by 33% by 2015, and that will mean some 200,000 extra jobs in this country. Tourism is an important sector, and we have some excellent support plans in place.

My constituency is particularly dependent on tourism. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Treasury about the capacity for reducing VAT in line with some of the countries on the continent? That might help the sector to grow, and would be particularly helpful to the tourism business in Somerset.

I understand the point that my hon. Friend is making, but there would clearly be a significant cost associated with any such change to VAT. I prefer to invest positively in our country as a place to visit. At the moment, the Treasury is not convinced that there is a correlation between a cut in VAT and any benefit in terms of figures.

Arts/Creative Industries

8. What assessment she has made of the contribution of the arts and creative industries to the economy. (160611)

The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that arts and culture had a turnover of £12.4 billion and a gross value added of £5.9 billion in 2011. The creative industries contribute £36.3 billion in gross value added, accounting for almost 3% of gross value added in the UK in 2009.

Copyright theft costs our writers, artists and musicians billions of pounds a year. Three years ago, this House legislated on action to tackle that. When is the Secretary of State going to show that she is not in the pocket of Google and the other internet service providers by doing something to enforce the will of the House and enforce the law?

The right hon. Gentleman will know, given that he had my job in the previous Government, that the detail of that legislation requires a great deal of working through. That is a huge priority for this Government and I can assure him that we are working closely to ensure that copyright support is put in place as soon as possible.

Does the Secretary of State agree that creative business incubators such as the workshop that is opening in Tontine street in Folkestone this month, along with the Government’s seed enterprise investment scheme, will give a real boost to start-up businesses in the creative sector?

Absolutely. The Government’s investment in culture and the arts will ensure that those start-up firms have the necessary stimulus to enable them to thrive.

A key element of any strategy for the arts and the creative industries must include support for all regions of the country. In these challenging economic circumstances, the Government should be working with local authorities to make the case for culture and to explain its social and economic benefits. Will the Secretary of State tell us what she is doing to help councils to support the arts and the creative industries in their local communities?

I am not doing what the hon. Gentleman is doing in supporting a council such as Newcastle, which wanted to cut its arts budget by 100%. I hope, given his question, that he now realises that that was a big mistake. I am glad that the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) intervened and overruled the decision that he had made. I could give him many examples of the work that we are doing to support the regions in this way, and I draw his attention in particular to our comments yesterday on the Arts Council, which is investing £174.5 million this year in national portfolio organisations outside London. It is of course the Arts Council that has the role of supporting regional culture and arts, and I think it is doing a good job.


9. What recent discussions she has had with her counterpart in the Scottish Government on the development of swimming in the UK. (160612)

I meet Scottish Ministers regularly to discuss a range of sports policy issues. Chief among those are the Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014 and the Youth Olympic games bid for 2018, both of which include swimming competitions.

I commend the Government in England for making it compulsory at key stages 1 and 2 to teach children to swim. However, that entitlement does not exist in Scotland. There has been a call from the Amateur Swimming Association not only to train swimmers for the Commonwealth and Olympic games but for better swimming safety. It wants a national entitlement to swimming teaching. In 2011, six children died by accidental drowning in Scotland and 47 in the UK; the figure for adults in the UK in that year was 407. Surely it is a human right for people to learn to swim so that they do not drown if they fall into the water.

I do not know about a basic human right; it is a matter of common sense and safety. There is no doubt that there is a straightforward correlation between young people learning to swim and curbing deaths by drowning. I would encourage anybody to ensure that every single one of our young children is able to swim.

UK City of Culture Status

10. What assessment her Department has made of the potential benefits to a city of achieving UK city of culture status. (160613)

The potential benefits of becoming the UK city of culture will be increased investment in cultural activities, a great deal of media coverage and a huge increase in visitor numbers.

I am sure the Minister will be aware of early-day motion 156, tabled in my name, which supports Dundee’s bid to be UK city of culture in 2017. I realise that it would be difficult for him to say that he supports one city, but is he aware that not one single SNP Member has signed that early-day motion? Is that because they would prefer Dundee not to be part of the UK in 2017?

I think we will give that one a miss, because the Minister has no responsibility for the policies of the Scottish National party. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) is chuntering from a sedentary position that he has signed it, but I am not concerned with who has or has not signed it; I am concerned with the matter of ministerial responsibility. The hon. Member for Dundee West (Jim McGovern) has made his point; it is on the record, so we will move on.

Cultural Relations (Australia)

12. What her policy is on the repatriation of indigenous Australian human remains from UK cultural institutions. (160615)

The Government continue to endorse the joint declaration signed by the Governments of the UK and Australia in 2000, which states that human remains in UK collections that come from Australia should be returned wherever possible. Decisions on individual claims are a matter for museum trustees or the governing authorities of the institutions involved.

I thank the Minister for his reply, but he will of course understand the importance not only to the Australian people but to the Aboriginal community in particular of returning these human remains based in UK institutions. What will Her Majesty’s Government do this year to ensure that the process of returning those remains takes place as quickly as possible?

I met the high commissioner a couple of years ago to discuss this issue, and it is certainly the case that the Natural History museum, for example, has already agreed the return of 138 sets of remains to the Torres Strait islands. I was pleased that the museum was able to host a Torres Strait islander to work with it on scientific and museum skills. I will certainly continue to keep an open door to the high commissioner, should he wish to raise the issue with me again.

Science Museum Group

14. What assessment she has made of the potential effect on the Science Museum Group of further budget reductions. (160618)

The Department receives evidence from sponsored bodies as part of the spending review. The Science Museum Group has projected an operating deficit from 2014 and it is assessing a range of options to address this. As I said earlier, the national museums will see a resource grant funding reduction of only 5% in 2015-16 and a great deal of new freedoms.

I congratulate the Minister and the Secretary of State on securing a great deal from the Treasury to secure the future of museums in Manchester, Bradford and York. Does the Minister agree with me that, rather than consider charging an entry fee, the Science Museum Group should be looking at other ways of generating additional revenue from its visitors, not least as 5 million people have visited the four museums in the last 12 months?

Yes I do. It is this Government’s policy to maintain free admission to our national museums’ permanent collections, but museums can, of course, raise revenue in other ways. People who visit them using the free entry spend money while they are there. We have also, of course, made great strides in helping to increase philanthropy.


Working with VisitEngland, the Government are investing £60 million between 2011 and 2015 to promote domestic tourism, which I believe is a key driver for economic growth.

The Hoseasons group, based in Earby in my constituency, helps millions of holidaymakers to choose self-catering accommodation or short breaks in tens of thousands of properties across the UK every year. What is my right hon. Friend doing to work with companies such as Hoseasons in boosting domestic tourism?

Companies such as the one my hon. Friend has identified are working actively with us on the campaigns that we run and are often partners investing cash in these campaigns as well. With 104 million overnight trips in England made by British residents, their work is successful—and that success is clear to see.

Draft Communications Data Bill (Media Ownership)

Lord Justice Leveson's report made a number of recommendations on plurality and media ownership. This summer, the Government will explain how they plan to seek views on the issue and implement Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations. The Communications Data Bill is being led by the Home Office, and will not include provisions on media ownership because media plurality does not form part of communications data policy.

Does the Secretary of State agree that ownership of newspapers and other media is too concentrated in the hands of too few, and that we need a cap on ownership in the different sectors of the media?

As I have said, Lord Justice Leveson dealt with that issue in his report—albeit not in a detailed manner—and we have agreed that some issues need to be considered further, in particular the lack of clarity in regard to how plurality should be measured and what constitutes a sufficient level of plurality. I hope that the hon. Lady will join me in seeking answers to questions of that kind in the coming months.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that any media ownership regime must strike the right balance between allowing plurality and allowing growth in the industry?

Absolutely. We do not want companies to become unwilling to invest in the United Kingdom for fear of running into an unnecessary cap on their expansion.

Topical Questions

What a week it has been for British sport! Yesterday England romped home in the cricket match against South Africa, Andy Murray won at Queen’s Club, and Hampshire’s own—indeed, Basingstoke’s own—Justin Rose became the first Englishman to win the United States Open since 1970. I am sure that the whole House will join me in wishing our cricketers good luck in the weekend’s Champions Trophy final and in this summer’s Ashes. I wish Andy Murray good luck at Wimbledon, and I wish all the British golfers—whether they are from Hampshire or not—good luck in next month’s Open.

I might just add that Greg Rusedski, a former US Open finalist, and other coaches came to New Palace Yard yesterday to help to teach state school children how to play tennis.

May I turn my right hon. Friend to the issue of equalities, which is also part of her portfolio? Can she tell me what progress has been made in the removal of the spousal veto from the gender recognition certification process?

I pay tribute to all the work that my hon. Friend has done in this regard. As he will know, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is currently being debated in the other place. We are continuing to discuss the issue that he has raised with transgender groups, but I gently remind him that it is actually an issue for the Ministry of Justice. Perhaps he could raise it with my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor.

May I take up the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark)?

I hope the Secretary of State agrees that, despite our political differences and the occasional blip, and despite the fact that we are by no means out of the woods yet, we worked well together on the basis of trust and good faith, and worked well with the Liberal Democrats, in trying to sort out the question of press complaints following the Leveson report. However, as she has just said, we have yet to deal with the important issue of monopoly media ownership, which prevents the market from operating by preventing new entrants to it, as well as being bad for democracy.

May I ask the Secretary of State to do what the Government did before, namely set up and lead cross-party talks on the question of media ownership? We—and, I am sure, the Liberal Democrats—would be very willing to work with the Government to deal with that aspect of the Leveson inquiry, which is important and has not yet been tackled.

I observed no blips in our working together; I thought that it went very well indeed.

We have already agreed on how to deal with the issue raised by the right hon. and learned Lady. We will seek views on it in the summer. Lord Justice Leveson himself said that he was not able to devote enough time to considering media plurality matters in detail, and I think that we need to do so now. I think that if we are to provide the sort of broad policy framework that we need, we should seek views on those matters rather than engaging in further political discussion.

T3. What assessment have the Government made of the impact of TV advertising on online gambling? What is the cumulative effect on the nation of a surfeit of Ray Winstone? (160624)

T2. Will the Minister inform the House on when a decision will be made on the future location of the Arts Council collection, and if northern towns like Halifax will be considered as a home for the collection? (160623)

I had a meeting with the hon. Lady and a delegation some time ago, and she put a very compelling case for Halifax. We will continue discussions with the Arts Council about the future location of the Arts Council collection. Should we start to make progress, I will keep the hon. Lady informed.

T4. It is the Britten centenary, and the Aldeburgh festival has been another rip-roaring success. Will my right hon. Friend join me in celebrating arts outside the metropolis, including the fantastic performances of “Grimes on the Beach” that we have greatly enjoyed in Aldeburgh in the last week? (160626)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I had the privilege of attending the Aldeburgh festival a week and a half ago. It is an amazing event, celebrating also the life of one of Britain’s greatest artists, Benjamin Britten.

T7. Does the Secretary of State agree with me that the BBC should be open and accountable, and does she share my concern that the director of diversity will give me any details I want about ethnicity but will not give me any answer about education—about how many privately educated people work in the BBC and how many state-school people work in the BBC? Many people suspect it is stuffed full of people from private schools. Is that right? (160631)

I can understand the hon. Gentleman’s desire for transparency and accountability from all public bodies, and that is something I would join him in supporting. Issues to do with personnel are very much matters for the BBC, however.

T5. When News International was allowed to buy The Times newspaper, the condition was set that the editor could not be changed without the explicit approval of the non-executive directors. In the event that such a convention was broken, what would the Secretary of State’s powers of intervention be? (160629)

My right hon. Friend will know that John Witherow has been appointed as acting editor of The Times. Appointing a new editor of The Times is a matter for the independent national directors and shareholders. There would be an opportunity to intervene to enforce the requirement for separate publications to be maintained; that is really where my powers come into play.

The international festival for business is a national event, which next year will take place in Liverpool in June and July. A quarter of a million visitors are expected. It is supported by the Prime Minister, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is providing significant financial resource. What support will DCMS provide to ensure that the cultural offer that supports the conference and the other events is significant and promotes all that the top arts and creative industries have to provide?

The hon. Lady raised this point in yesterday’s Opposition day debate. She also extolled the many cultural virtues of Liverpool, and I heartily endorse her comments. I am sorry that I did not answer her question then. As I understand it, the Arts Council is talking to Liverpool about the cultural support it can give around the international festival, and I will talk to the Arts Council about its plans, and write to the hon. Lady.

T6. The England football team is a valuable national asset, yet of the millions of pounds raised, over 50% goes to the professional game, not the impoverished grass roots; I speak as a director of Warrington Town football club, an example of the impoverished grass roots. Does the Minister intend to follow the Select Committee recommendation and make it Government policy to make a switch in regard to that funding? (160630)

The Government can clearly direct funding only when they provide that funding, which they do through the whole sport plans and the football foundations. However, the Football Association is a signatory to the new code we set up in 2010 at the last review of the list, whereby it is pledged to give 30% of its UK broadcast income to grass-roots sport.

I am sure the Minister will agree that the advice from Derry/Londonderry to the shortlisted cities for the second UK city of culture would be that inclusion, integrity and imagination are key to any successful bid in a given year. Will he encourage the BBC to be as well engaged with the second city of culture as it has been with the first?

I did not get the chance during the earlier exchange to congratulate Dundee, as well as Hull, Leicester and Swansea bay, on making the shortlist, and I thoroughly endorse what the hon. Gentleman says. I do hope the BBC will support the next UK capital of culture, as it supported Derry/Londonderry.

What support is the Department giving to the Tour de France next year in the Yorkshire stages and the stage from my Cambridge constituency down to London?

I think, in the nicest possible way, that the hon. Gentleman may wish he had not asked me that question. The Government have provided a considerable amount of underwriting. They have underwritten the whole event and provided the balance to make up a budget of £21 million. Unfortunately, Cambridge has yet to contribute at all, and that is one of the issues we will address in the weeks ahead.

Newcastle United football club is also a national asset. Does the Minister share my utter bewilderment and that of tens of thousands of Newcastle United supporters at the arrival of Joe Kinnear on Tyneside?

One of the things for which I am eternally grateful is that my job’s remit does not extend to the appointment of managers or sorting out the weekly round of scraps on a Saturday afternoon. I think I will leave that to the hon. Gentleman, if that is all right.

May I congratulate the Secretary of State on at long last ensuring that all 21 flags of the British overseas territories and Crown dependencies were flown from Parliament square last week for the Trooping of the Colour? However, will she explain to the House why, for the state opening of Parliament, there were 21 empty flagpoles with no Union flags flying for the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen?

This is something of great importance, and we will look into it and write to my hon. Friend with an answer.

A full three months ago, this House debated a royal charter on the independent self-regulation of the press. It was supposed to go to the Privy Council. It did not. Meanwhile, certain recalcitrant elements of the press put their own royal charter in. Can the Secretary of State please explain to the nation what on earth is going on, and when she expects the Privy Council to consider the royal charter that was debated democratically in this House?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government are working to take forward Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations in light of the cross-party agreements. A process is very much under way to consider the “PressBoF” charter, while making sure that the Government’s charter will be subject to full consideration at the appropriate time.