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Culture, Media and Sport

Volume 569: debated on Thursday 31 October 2013

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

Broadband (Scotland)

1. What recent discussions she has had with the Scottish Government on broadband coverage in Scotland. (900813)

My Department and the Scotland Office have had regular discussions with the Scottish Government on broadband coverage in Scotland, including on the delivery of two projects for the highlands and islands and for the rest of Scotland. These projects will make superfast broadband available to more than 670,000 homes and businesses.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but approximately 17% of the homes in Argyll and Bute will not receive next generation broadband from the BT contract to lay fibre-optic cables. More innovative solutions are needed to deliver next generation broadband throughout the highlands and islands. Will my hon. Friend work with the Scottish Government to come up with innovative solutions, so that all the homes in Argyll and Bute can have access to next generation broadband?

I will certainly do that. I am sure my hon. Friend will welcome the additional £250 million that has been found to take superfast broadband coverage to 95% by 2017.

Rural Broadband

Forty two local broadband projects have now agreed contracts and are in implementation, and we are now passing approximately 10,000 premises every week. We have made a huge amount of progress.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but what do I say to the local authority and residents in villages such as Pitton who believe they are in the percentage that will not qualify for the imminent roll-out through the BT deal? They want to be free to develop new community-based solutions with alternative providers, as they anticipate they will not get anything from BT for a long time.

I am happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss any issues. The rural community broadband fund is designed to support community broadband projects that the programme is not reaching.

This is not just an issue for rural areas. Semi-rural areas often fall between two stools. It is difficult for people to get broadband to their home, either because they are too far from the final mile or because the bung that has been given to BT to roll this out across the country and make it almost impossible for anybody else to compete has made it difficult for other operators to get into areas such as the Rhondda.

BT has not been given a bung. BT is a partner in the project that is delivering superfast broadband to 90% of the country, and we have found additional money to reach 95% of the country by 2017. The programme is going extremely well.

What will my hon. Friend say to the 5% of those living in the hills, particularly farmers, who will not have access to superfast broadband by 2016? Will he implement the Select Committee report recommendation that they be given advance warning, so they can make alternative arrangements to those on offer from BT?

As I have said repeatedly, it is up to local authorities to publish their local broadband plans and I am delighted, particularly after the Secretary of State wrote to them, that many have now done so. People in Wiltshire and Yorkshire will know where the project is rolling out.

It seems to me that BT is a big company that sometimes does not treat small communities very well. May I draw to the attention of the Minister the village of Rushden in my constituency, where residents are complaining that they are not getting the proper broadband access they deserve, despite their best efforts with BT?

I hear what my hon. Friend says. BT is a big global company that we should be proud of, but from time to time issues will be raised by our constituents. I am happy to meet him to discuss the problem in detail.

Press Regulation

3. What plans she has in place if newspaper proprietors do not sign up to the Privy Council’s royal charter for regulating the press. (900816)

All sides support self-regulation of the press. The royal charter sets out the principles for self-regulators if they wish to be recognised and take advantage of costs and damages incentives. The choice to sign up lies with the industry.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. We are here because Lord Justice Leveson said that he wanted a new voluntary code from the press that had statutory underpinning. The press have come forward with a new draft code that does not have statutory underpinning and the Privy Council has come forward with a code that appears not to have press support. Would it not be helpful if Lord Justice Leveson gave us all a steer on what he thinks should happen now?

I will, of course, leave it to Lord Justice Leveson to speak for himself on whether he wants to contribute further to the debate, but I can say clearly to my hon. Friend that the essence of the Leveson report was self-regulation. I believe that we now have a way forward that will safeguard the freedom of the press and provide a good system of redress when errors are made. It is important to make the royal charter work; it is the best way to stave off the statutory regulation of the press that some are trying to impose.

Regarding the royal charter, one of the more belligerent newspapers is running a piece today under the headline, “Approved behind closed doors, curbs that end three centuries of Press freedom”. For the benefit of that newspaper’s poor readers, would the Secretary of State care to comment on the accuracy of that headline?

We have had a great deal of debate on the self-regulation of the press, through the Leveson inquiry and through the 11 subsequent debates in this House and the other place. The important thing is that we make this work for the industry and for people who are seeking redress.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, the Prime Minister and all those involved in the difficult business of striking the right balance. Given the overwhelming public support for a system of independent regulation, does my right hon. Friend agree that the editors and press barons should now recognise that the will of Parliament has been declared, and that they should support the people, come to terms with this measure and negotiate with her?

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. I would add that the public overwhelmingly support a free press, so it is important that we strike the right balance. I am sure that everyone here today would agree that the new system has to have a free press at its heart, while giving individuals the right level of redress, as I believe it will.

I thank the Secretary of State for the key role that she has played in finally getting the royal charter sealed by the Privy Council yesterday. Clear evidence was presented to Lord Justice Leveson of innocent people suffering as a result of press abuse, and it is almost a year since he produced his report, so a proper complaints system that does not infringe the freedom of the press and that is truly independent of the press and politicians is long overdue. Does the right hon. Lady agree that the press have nothing to fear from an independent complaints system? Will she join me in encouraging the industry to establish a genuinely independent self-regulator and put it forward for recognition?

I thank the right hon. and learned Lady for her kind sentiments. It is also important to place on record the fact that the press are making good progress on setting up a self-regulator. They have already issued papers and are well into the necessary negotiations. Perhaps I could ask her a further question. Will she join me in staving off any form of pressure for statutory regulation of the press, because it is clear that some are still trying to use that as a threat?

We will treat that as a rhetorical question, because questions are put to Ministers, rather than asked by them.

I endorse the view of my colleague on the Select Committee, the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly), that there is no serious justification for saying that the royal charter marks the end of press freedom. Will the Secretary of State accept, however, that the ability of Parliament to have a say on the rules under which the press regulator operates—even with a requirement for a two-thirds majority, which, as she knows, has no constitutional validity—allows that claim to be made? If it is that provision that is preventing some newspapers from joining, will she now, even at this late stage, consider alternative safeguards such as the one in the PressBoF charter?

My hon. Friend is right to say that safeguarding that freedom and ensuring that there is no political interference in the system are absolutely critical. That is why I was keen to make the further change to ensure that any changes would require not only a two-thirds majority here and in the other place but the overwhelming support of the regulatory body.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

The Government have conducted a review of stake and prize limits for all categories of gaming machine, including fixed odds betting terminals. We took advice from the Gambling Commission and the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board as part of our review, which was published earlier this month.

The Minister will be aware that last week, in answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson), the Prime Minister said he would look again at the damaging effects of fixed odds betting terminals. When will this review begin, and what form will it take?

This is, of course, a very serious issue. The future of B2 gaming machines is currently unresolved, but further work has already started.

The Minister will be aware that the Kent Messenger recently reported that gamblers across Kent and the Medway lost £33 million on FOBTs, including £1.6 million in my constituency and £1.9 million in her own constituency. Does she agree, therefore, that we need to look properly at the devastating impact that these high-risk, high-stake machines are having on our constituents?

I remember reading that article in the Kent Messenger. I would emphasise to my hon. Friend that there is certainly no green light for FOBTs; we will be reviewing their existence and functioning very carefully.

13. The stakes taken by these machines are so great that they have become a magnet for money laundering gains. Coral, the bookmakers, has recently been exposed for taking £900,000 of laundered money. The Serious Organised Crime Agency thinks the problem so great that bookmakers should be included in money laundering directives from the EU, which are currently under review. What is the Minister’s view? (900830)

As I keep repeating, my view is that these machines raise serious issues, but we need to take a fair and decent approach to the issue of problem gambling, while not over-regulating bookmakers. We therefore need to do our research and look at the matter in detail so that we can come up with a balanced, sensible and fair way forward.

Does the Minister agree that one effect of allowing B2 gaming machines in bookmakers is that they help to maintain the viability of these offices, providing employment for local people and an environment where those with a gambling problem are more likely to be identified and pointed in the direction of the help they need than if they were to sit at home gambling on the internet, where, incidentally, they could gamble any amount they liked?

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. As I have just explained, we need to take a proper, balanced and decent approach. We do not want to over-regulate bookmakers, but it is a priority for the Government to protect the vulnerable.

Gambling Addiction

5. What steps she is taking to collect evidence on links between gambling addiction and B2 gambling machines. (900819)

We are working with the Gambling Commission, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, the Responsible Gambling Trust and the industry itself to rapidly advance our understanding. Dealing with problem gambling and protecting the vulnerable are priorities for this Government.

A recent study conducted in the London borough of Newham found that 87% of gamblers believed B2 machines to be addictive, and many described them as the crack cocaine of gambling. Will the Minister assure gamblers that the Government will listen to their personal evidence and experiences, and respond to them as a matter of urgency?

I certainly can give that absolute assurance. The Government will examine all relevant research and evidence on these machines. We need to develop a proper understanding before taking action—if we decide to take action—to ensure consumer protection.

Has the Minister read the Association of British Bookmakers’ code for responsible gambling and player protection in licensed betting offices, which has been released recently? If so, does she think it goes any way to allaying the fears of many Members?

I have to be honest with the hon. Gentleman: given that I have been in the job for only about three weeks, I have not read that document page by page, but I am happy to look at it and come back to him on those issues.

I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Is the Minister aware that virtually every new gambling product since the 1970s has been referred to as the crack cocaine of gambling and that to think that this is unique is ridiculous? Given that people can lose an unlimited amount of money within a minute on a five-furlong sprint at Epsom, does she agree that opposition to FOBTs is ridiculous, particularly given that they have a bigger rate of return for the punter—97%—than any other gambling product in any betting shop or casino, or anywhere else for that matter?

My hon. Friend raises some interesting issues, but work has begun and we will look at all the evidence and all the research. In addition, we will put pressure on the industry to develop its own harm mitigation measures. We must ensure that those measures work and that their success is evaluated.

These wicked machines are destroying lives and families in some of the poorest areas of our country. Ireland has banned these machines; should we not simply follow that example?

As I have said repeatedly, the future of these machines is not set in stone, there is no green light for fixed odds betting terminals and their future will be kept carefully under review.

Press Regulation

6. When she expects the Privy Council to consider the political parties’ proposals for a Royal Charter on press regulation; and if she will make a statement (900820)

As the right hon. Member will be aware, the royal charter was granted yesterday. A copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses shortly.

Given the endemic misreporting of this issue by the press itself—including, I am afraid, by the Financial Times, which claimed this week that the right hon. Lady was going to break the all-party consensus and support the non-Leveson-compliant PressBoF charter—will the Secretary of State now explain for all our benefits what she thinks will happen next?

It is a complicated issue, which explains the difficulties in the reporting of it. The royal charter has been put in place. More importantly, as the House should recognise, the press is well down the road of setting up the self-regulatory mechanism that it needs to move forward. That should be applauded, and the whole House should welcome it.

Tourism

The Government place great importance on tourism. It is an excellent part of our growth strategy, which is why we are investing over £130 million, matched between the public and private sectors, in the GREAT and other marketing campaigns, both at home and abroad.

Following a very successful summer in South Thanet, profiling some of my beautiful beaches, I was very much hoping that the Government might reopen the issue of daylight saving, which would deliver £3 billion extra to the economy and 700,000 jobs in the tourism sector.

I know that my hon. Friend is a passionate advocate of tourism in her area, and I have been fortunate in being able to visit her constituency. However, as the Prime Minister made clear quite recently, in the absence of consensus on this matter throughout the UK—including in Scotland and Northern Ireland—it would be inappropriate to consider making changes.

With 8,000 people in Worcestershire—the glorious county that gave birth to Edward Elgar—working in the tourism industry, will the Minister welcome the 13.5% increase in long-haul flights into Birmingham airport? Will she also welcome the news that, in 2014, the runway will be lengthened and even more markets will be able to access tourism in Worcestershire?

I am happy to welcome both pieces of positive news. I know that my hon. Friend’s constituency is very beautiful, so I can well understand why so many people would wish to flock to it.

May I push the Minister on the arts as part of the tourism attraction? People come to this great country for our great artistic endeavours, but we have arts in the regions, and is it not about time that, through the Arts Council and other means, the regions got the support they deserve—rather than just, “London, London, London”?

A total of 70% of funding goes to the regions, which is a very positive story. I have to say that Labour Members did little about this when they had the opportunity to do so.

What specific proposals has the Minister for the promotion of world heritage sites? Ironbridge Gorge is an incredibly important world heritage site, and an engine for the regional economy in the west midlands. We are missing a trick as a nation by not promoting such sites more strongly.

VisitEngland and VisitBritain do very good work, and I am sure they both have comprehensive strategies, but the hon. Gentleman has made a good point. I shall be happy to meet him and hear about any ideas that he may have, and I shall certainly pass them on.

One iconic institution that attracts a lot of tourism into the United Kingdom—and, indeed, within the United Kingdom—is the great British pub, where people can enjoy tremendous real ales, tremendous food and a wonderful welcome, but far too many pubs are still closing every week. Will my hon. Friend discuss with fellow Ministers what more can be done to retain the vitality of this amazing industry, particularly in the realms of rate relief for rural pubs?

I am very fond of my own local pub, the Unicorn in Marden, and I do step in there now and again. I reassure my hon. Friend that we are doing a great deal to assist the business sector, and that includes helping pubs by reducing fuel and beer duties. We are also trying to simplify planning, and are continuing to cut red tape, regulation and bureaucracy.

The Minister will, of course, have noticed that Scotland has been named the third best place to visit in 2014 by the “Lonely Planet” travel guide. The guide cites a

“jam-packed schedule of world class events”,

including the Ryder cup and the Commonwealth games, as well as our

“buzzing cities and stunning scenery”,

much of which is in my constituency. It also notes that the referendum gives Scotland an opportunity to

“shine on the world stage”.

Does the Minister agree that, without even a vote being cast, Scotland has already won?

Scotland is a wonderful place in which to live and work, and I am sure that it will put on an absolutely fantastic Commonwealth games event next year. I look forward to my next trip up there. I grew up in the borders and spent many a time in Dumfriesshire and Gretna Green, so I know what a beautiful place it is.

Horserace Betting Levy

8. What assessment she has made of support given to horse racing by the horserace betting levy. (900822)

I am delighted that an agreement was reached last week on the 53rd levy scheme. The levy provides vital support for horse racing, a sport that is enjoyed by millions, supports thousands of jobs across Britain, and contributes to local economies.

On Tuesday we have Second Reading of the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill, which proposes the introduction of a UK licence for offshore gambling providers but fails to deal with levy avoidance. Will the Minister urgently address that issue and get on with the job of producing a long-term, sustainable funding arrangement to support Redcar race course and the rest of our vital horse racing industry?

The Bill is actually about increasing protection for British customers, and allowing British-based operators to compete on an equal footing with remote operators. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman approves of that. We do not intend to use the Bill to reform the levy.

The Minister may be aware of the existence of remote channels. If British racing is to have any sustainable, long-term future, any betting activity must involve a legally binding contribution, including activity through remote channels.

A suitable replacement would have to be sustainable, enforceable and, as the hon. Gentleman says, legally sound. I will of course seek advice from every quarter.

I am grateful to the Minister for pointing out how many thousands of jobs the horse racing industry creates and sustains each and every year. The levy is largely collected from bookmakers’ shops, the number of which has halved in the last 20 years, falling from a peak of about 17,000 to 8,500. Does the Minister agree that it is important for us to see the debate about machines and gambling in proportion, and for it to be evidence-based, so that we do not lose any more shops and, as a result, jobs in the betting and horse racing industries?

The horse racing industry is a great British success story enjoyed by millions, including me, and I agree with what my hon. Friend says.

The new agreement between the big four bookmakers and many of the race courses is an important breakthrough and it is important that the momentum is maintained, but, worryingly, some of the smaller courses and independent bookmakers may lose out, so may I encourage the Minister to have an early meeting with the all-party group on the racing and bloodstock industries to talk about these issues so that we can keep the pressure on?

The horse racing industry is not just part of British culture; it is also essential to our rural economies. However, we have an offshore betting industry that largely does not contribute anything, through a levy, to the industry. It is therefore important that the Minister reviews the Government legal advice on the betting levy in the light of the European Commission ruling in July of this year that allows a levy to be imposed. Will she review that in time for amendments to be tabled to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman to a certain extent, because the levy was created 50 years ago and does not completely deal with modern betting and racing practices, so, as I have previously said, I will consult. We will take evidence and look at the situation very carefully indeed, and try to find a modern, sustainable and enforceable legal solution.

BBC (Golden Goodbyes)

11. What recent discussions she has had with the BBC Trust on reducing the use of golden goodbye clauses in BBC contracts. (900826)

It is right that licence fee payers expect their money to be spent responsibly, and a part of that is ensuring that these matters are subject to the right level of scrutiny. Under the leadership of Tony Hall, a cap on all future severance payments has already been implemented.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Does she agree that the BBC must comply with the Public Accounts Committee order for disclosure of the 150 senior managers who received pay-offs at taxpayers’ expense? Has she made that clear to the director-general and the chairman of the trust?

I, like my hon. Friend, believe transparency is incredibly important, and in particular for the BBC for the reasons I have just given regarding what licence fee payers expect. Detailed decisions about the disclosure of personnel information are squarely for the management of the BBC, but I understand the point my hon. Friend makes.

Does the Secretary of State agree that senior executives who have resigned rather than been sacked should get no compensation, and that if they were sacked it should not be covered up as though they had resigned?

I think it is fair to say the judgment of senior management on some of these matters has been questionable. I am pleased to see that future deals in excess of £75,000 will need to be approved by the BBC senior management committee, and we should not see severance payments exceeding £150,000. I think that is absolutely right.

Broadband

12. What recent estimate she has made of the number of households in (a) Wiltshire and (b) the UK that will have superfast internet access on the 4G spectrum but not through fixed-line broadband by January 2015. (900829)

The four mobile network operators are aiming to roll out 4G mobile broadband services to 98% of the population. EE is aiming to reach that by the end of 2014, and the others by the end of 2015.

I thank the Minister for his reply, but he has not been able to share with me the number of households that will not have access to fixed-line solutions by that time: in communities in a large part of my constituency, from Hilperton and Semington to Whitley, fixed-line fibre installations will not even have begun. Will he issue guidance to local authorities on how they can use mobile spectrum-based solutions in their broadband programme?

We are taking a technology-neutral approach to our roll-out of superfast broadband, but we have set aside another £250 million to increase coverage, which will, of course, include Wiltshire.

Online Music Streaming Services

14. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on payment to artists by online music streaming services. (900832)

My colleague the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and I are keen to ensure that artists are appropriately rewarded for their creative content, including in the online world. Where music-streaming sites are legitimate, the payment of royalties is a commercial arrangement between the rights-holder and the online service provider.

I thank the Minister for that response. A number of musicians have recently pulled their music from Spotify because the amounts that such online services pay is so minuscule that the emergence of new artists and the financial sustainability of new music are being threatened. Does he think that the larger labels should follow the example of some indie labels and give a 50:50 split to their artists?

As we are talking about new or emerging artists, may I use this opportunity to congratulate James Blake on winning the Mercury award last night? He is a classically trained pianist who won for his album of ambient music. I would hesitate to interfere in the commercial arrangements of either the big labels or the indie labels, but I am sure that each can learn from the other.

I am grateful to the Minister for explaining the greatness of that particular James Blake, because I had in mind a very distinguished black American tennis player of the same name. I am obliged to the Minister for educating me.

Topical Questions

T1. Perhaps you should write a book on tennis, Mr Speaker. Numero uno: if she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities. (900803)

I should also say happy Halloween, if that is indeed appropriate, Mr Speaker.

We recently announced a £10 million fund dedicated to celebrating some of our nation’s most important anniversaries. Visits to museums and galleries are at their highest ever levels. The merger of the Gambling Commission and the National Lottery Commission has now been completed, saving the taxpayer £1 million a year.

I was going to say that the Secretary of State is an absolutely wonderful woman, and then she went all American by referring to Halloween—I would prefer us to stick with a British institution. May I say to her that she did a wonderful thing yesterday, I am very proud of her and I hope she will stand firm on these issues? The hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) was right earlier when he said that it is now for the industry to come to terms with what the public want in this country, which is a fair system of redress—nothing more, nothing less. Will the Secretary of State tell us when the body that will be able to regulate the body that is going to be doing the regulating will be set up?

I will resist saying, “With friends like the hon. Gentleman, who needs enemies.” I thank him for his kind words and, I am sure, the sentiment in which they were meant. Obviously, he is right to say that we have made very good progress, and I hope he will join me in now resisting all calls for any form of statutory regulation of the press, which some others have been trying to impose. He asks me about the timing, and I can tell him that the panel will be set up in the next six to 12 months.

T4. A small business in my constituency has had its telephone “slammed”: taken out of its hands and given to a local resident. We have been trying to get redress from Tesco, which has been reallocating these telephones lines. It is affecting the advertising and business costs of this small business; it is losing business and the resident is regularly receiving inquiries about tattoos. (900806)

Slamming is against the Ofcom regulations, and I am appalled to hear about what my hon. Friend’s constituent has gone through. I will certainly do everything I can to assist her, as this is an appalling practice.

Will Ministers join me in congratulating the National Theatre on 50 years at the very heart of our cultural and artistic life? It is a great reminder of the sheer quality of the excellence of our national arts institutions, many of which are based in the capital. Outside London, however, the picture is now very different. I pay tribute to those who have produced a report today showing the massive disparity in Government and lottery support for the arts. What the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant) said earlier is wholly wrong: whereas Londoners get £70 per head each year the rest of the country gets only £4.60 per head. So what are the Government going to do to rebalance our cultural economy?

The hon. Lady raises a point that we are trying to address, after her Administration did so little to address it. We are trying to make sure that our great national institutions do work regionally and to throw a spotlight on the excellent work they do. Only a month ago, I was at an exhibition in my constituency that had been put on by the Victoria and Albert museum. We should be applauding the work that our national institutions are doing in the regions.

T6. I am extremely grateful to the Minister for the detailed correspondence that he has had with me on the technical issue of radio spectrum use for DAB, but on my constituents’ advice I remain concerned that successive Governments may have wasted some radio spectrum. Would he please arrange a meeting between me and my constituents and the relevant technical staff to try to lay this issue to rest? (900808)

T2. I hesitate to make a party political point, but I must pick up the Secretary of State on what she has just said. There are real problems with arts funding outside London, as we heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman). It is not the case that the previous Government did nothing. My own city, Liverpool, saw a renaissance in the cultural sector. Will the Government now play their part and commit to a report on proper cultural funding for cities that do not happen to be our capital? (900804)

The hon. Lady is right to say that there is a problem. What I was saying is that we are trying to resolve a problem that we inherited. She will know that Liverpool receives £89 million a year, the highest funding outside London. I agree that we should try to make sure that the great regional culture that we have in this country receives the support it requires.

T7. With reference to the growing rural economy, what reassurance can my hon. Friend give my constituents that we will have 90% rural broadband roll-out across Stroud by 2015? (900810)

I am delighted to update the House on the significant progress we are making. We are connecting more than 10,000 homes a week. Half the projects that are under way are already ahead of schedule and we are bringing in 4G two years ahead of schedule. This is a triumphant programme.

T3. On Monday I asked the Minister for Universities and Science why the UK is the only country in the EU that will introduce a private copying exception without a levy on copying devices to compensate UK artists, and he said that other countries had introduced far wider exceptions, which is not the case: only two of them have. Will the Minister talk to his counterpart in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to ensure that our artists are not left worse off than those in the rest of the EU? (900805)

I am seeing my counterpart in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills this afternoon to talk about this very issue, so the hon. Lady’s question is well put.

T8. Today has seen the launch of the all-party group report on nuisance calls. It contains 16 excellent recommendations which, if implemented, would significantly increase protection for vulnerable consumers, improve the effectiveness of the regulators, and renew confidence in the telecoms and direct marketing industries. Will my hon. Friend therefore support my private Member’s Bill tomorrow to implement some of those recommendations as soon as possible? (900811)

As my hon. Friend knows, he and I have been discussing this issue for many months. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the fantastic work he has done to make progress on the issue. He knows that I support many of the points that he makes in his private Member’s Bill.

T5. A change to the royal charter on the press requires a two-thirds majority, so some hon. Members’ votes will have twice the weight of those of other hon. Members. Will the Secretary of State put this constitutional innovation to a vote in this House? (900807)

The hon. Gentleman must have missed the 11 debates we have had on that. There is all-party support for the way we are going forward. May I correct him slightly? It is not just a two thirds majority of both Houses, but unanimous agreement of the regulatory body that is required.

T9. Does the Secretary of State agree that Britain, where many of the world’s sports originated, ought to have a national sports museum, including a permanent display for the London 2012 Olympic legacy? (900812)

That is an interesting idea. There is no current plan for a national sports museum, but I know that the National Football Museum in Manchester is very popular. It is free and it receives about 100,000 visitors every year.

MPs from both sides of the House had an excellent meeting with the FA last week on the future of women’s football. Unfortunately, the commission that the FA set up was initially all white and is still all male. What does the Minister think about that, and can we remind the FA that the future of women’s football is important, too?

Women do a remarkable job in football, and men do a remarkable job in football too. It is important that commissions and bodies reflect the make-up of the society they seek to represent and I have made that point very clear to all parties concerned.

The Minister will be aware that North Yorkshire has taken great strides in rolling out superfast broadband across the county. The project is near completion. Will the Minister consider early release of the phase 2 funding for areas such as North Yorkshire to help bridge the digital divide in those areas?

May I use this opportunity to congratulate North Yorkshire on forging ahead with the superfast broadband programme, which has made astonishing progress? I hear what my hon. Friend says. We are working out the details of how to allocate the next tranche of funding to take superfast broadband to 95% and I will keep him informed.

What progress has the Secretary of State made to prevent tickets for the 2015 rugby union world cup from being bought up and resold with a great mark-up on the secondary market? There is clearly a great desire that something should be done to crack down on that, so will she confirm that she will introduce the necessary legislation, as we had for the Olympics, and kick the touts into touch?

The hon. Lady brings up an important issue about the supply of tickets. We have it well in hand and we are ensuring that the tickets are released in a way that means we will not fall into the problems she has outlined.