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Topical Questions

Volume 574: debated on Thursday 30 January 2014

There is clear evidence of the huge value of the UK’s creative industries in the updated figures we released earlier this month, which revealed that they are now worth more than £70 billion each year to our economy. British creativity can be seen all around the world; so, too, can British sporting success, and next week I will be travelling to Sochi to support Team GB. I am sure the whole House will want to join me in wishing them good luck.

Given that tourism is vital to north Norfolk coastal communities and given that recent tidal surges have done substantial damage, will my right hon. Friend ensure that her Department liaises and works with the relevant local authorities?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Tourism is a vital part of our economy. We have invested £137 million in our international GREAT campaign, but we also need to ensure that constituencies such as his, which have been hit by the recent problematic weather, receive support so that they can continue to be attractive tourist destinations.

T2. Will the Minister join me in congratulating Manchester on attracting a world-class game developer to the UK? PlaygroundSquad will train 60 young people a year—some of them from Oldham, I hope—to work in the creative gaming industry. Does he agree that Manchester’s vision to be a digital production hub is helping to establish UK plc as the creative capital of Europe, and that these developments and industries will sustain our economic recovery, not a return to growth based on consumer debt? (902304)

The Government are extremely grateful for the hon. Lady’s support for our policies. We are looking forward to an announcement shortly on the video games tax credits to go alongside the television, animation and film tax credits, which have done so much to support our creative industries, with the support of Manchester city council, which plays a key role in helping to support creative industries in that part of the world.

T3. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the creative industries are now worth more than £70 billion to the UK economy, and would she care to comment on the success of the creative industries and what support the Government can provide so that they can continue that success? (902305)

I am delighted to say that, as we have already announced, the creative industries are now worth £70 billion to this country. It is one of the fastest-growing sectors. It is a little surprising that the Opposition are launching their second review into the creative industries—industries they said were at risk from global pressures—but I am delighted that the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) only last week endorsed our policies when she said that our creative industries were a huge success story. Perhaps that is the result of four years of a Conservative-led Government. We should not return to the idea of—

T6. Violent attacks on betting shop workers are on the rise and single-staffing policies mean that many have minimal protection from harm. Yet in many shops operators have not installed protective screens for their staff until after an incident has occurred. Will the Minister look at requiring all betting shops to install screens for the safety and benefit of the staff? (902308)

Local authorities that are concerned about any betting shop can use their licensing conditions, which were used very successfully by Newham when it had concerns about crime, antisocial behaviour and under-age gambling. With regard to the number of staff in shops, licensing conditions can again be used.

T4. In the last four years, over 600 businesses have advertised on Brighton’s excellent Juice FM. Will the Minister join me and the Advertising Association in encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to use our diverse local media to publicise their businesses? (902306)

The Advertising Association has today issued a report showing how important advertising is for small and medium-sized businesses. My hon. Friend graphically illustrates that with the example from his constituency, particularly using the excellent local radio station Juice FM.

T7. Arts funding in London is £70 per head. In the rest of the country, it is £4.60 a head. In the north-west, that has led to reductions in funding for organisations as diverse as North West Playwrights, the Manchester Camerata and even the Wordsworth Trust. What is the Secretary of State going to do to address these anomalies and to make it clear to the arts funding organisations that culture does not stop at the M25? (902309)

Statistics can be used in many ways. If one looks at the funding per visitor to visitor attractions, one sees that the funding for London is very low. Manchester and the north-west have many thriving cultural institutions including the Manchester Camerata, which is ably led by its chairman Bob Riley. He is doing so much to promote philanthropy and is getting the Manchester Camerata to work with schools and health services, which I am sure the hon. Lady knows about.

T5. One of my favourite bands is Muse. When I recently Googled “Muse MP3 download”, nine of the 10 sites listed were illegal. Is there something more that my right hon. Friend can do to encourage companies such as Google and Yahoo to remove those illegal sites from their listings? (902307)

I share my hon. Friend’s concern about sites that contain illegal material, and I raised that directly with Google when I visited it last year. The Government are acting decisively, particularly with the police IP crime unit, to remove payment facilities from illegal sites and to prevent advertising from appearing. We think more can be done and we will continue to press Google to play a full role.

T8. Will the Secretary of State confirm that one third of the superfast broadband is now happening in Wales not, contrary to his assertions, due to the Secretary of State for Wales, but due to Ken Skates the Labour Minister there? (902310)

I would gently remind the right hon. Gentleman that funding for these projects is distributed using the Barnett formula to make sure that Wales gets the share that it really needs. Of course we continue to work with the Welsh Government to make sure that that is done correctly.

T9. Does my hon. Friend agree that London is the premier tourist attraction for the whole world and, with a massive 63% of visitors to the UK coming to London, that that contributes directly to the UK economy? What more can she do to ensure that that is protected and enhanced for the good of the economy overall? (902311)

I welcome London’s incredible success in attracting so many visitors. It is important for that success to continue. The Government promote the UK, including London, through the GREAT campaign, which has just received a 49% increase in funding from the Chancellor.

A family contacted me recently about their mother who had become addicted to online bingo and had gambled away tens of thousands of pounds. They asked me to highlight to Ministers not only the issue of daily limits, but just how hard it was, with the mother’s permission, to close these accounts, with bingo operators repeatedly trying to hook her back in with offers and emails. Will the Minister look at the issue?

I am happy to look at all issues of this nature but I remind the hon. Lady that the remote gambling Bill will require all operators selling online gambling to British consumers to hold a Gambling Commission licence and to comply with conditions that include having policies, procedures and practices to promote socially responsible gambling.

T10. The Secretary of State will be aware that the England cricket team ran into a spot of bother in Australia, and did not manage to retain the Ashes. Will she join me in congratulating the England women’s team, who did retain the Ashes in Australia this week, and who have given all English cricket fans a team to be proud of? (902312)

I welcome my hon. Friend’s question, and join him in congratulating Charlotte Edwards and her team on doing what the men could not do.

Further to Question 11, would it not be sensible to give councils the power to say that there must be no more gambling shops in their areas because saturation point has been reached? That would not mean stopping gambling shops per se; it would merely impose a limit which does not exist in planning legislation at present, whatever the Minister may think.

I am afraid that I fundamentally disagree with the hon. Gentleman. There are powers in the form of article 4 directions, which can be and have been used successfully.

They do work, and they have been used very successfully in relation to both Southwark and Barking and Dagenham. I remind the hon. Gentleman that Newham council also used licensing conditions to control unacceptable activities in betting shops.

In Somerset, we now know which areas will not benefit from the roll-out of high-speed broadband. Some of them have been in the news over the past couple of days. When the Secretary of State distributes the funds that she has available for the last 10% of the population in rural areas, will she please not do so on the basis of an elaborate bidding system, and will she please not ask for match funding from rural areas, where it will simply never happen?

My hon. Friend, who speaks with passion about this subject, will know that we have already committed ourselves to spending an additional £250 million on starting to address that last 10%, and to an additional £10 million budget for the hardest-to-reach areas. We must of course ensure that the money is used wisely, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we need to use it to fill the gaps that the commercial providers simply cannot reach.

The outstanding Nottingham Playhouse faces threats, if not to its whole future, to its ability to commission and stage new work as a result of the Government’s local authority cuts. What is the Secretary of State doing to support councils such as mine which want to promote new work and new talent in our region?

I know that the hon. Lady will welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a theatre tax credit for new work, which is aimed at precisely such organisations as the Nottingham Playhouse.