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Topical Questions

Volume 604: debated on Thursday 21 January 2016

Since the House last met for these questions, the Minister for sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), has launched the first Government sports strategy in more than a decade and the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, my hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), has become the longest serving arts Minister in history. We have also seen the sad passing of some of our great cultural icons. I am sure the whole Chamber will join me in extending our sympathies to the families, and indeed the fans, of David Bowie, Jimmy Hill, Alan Rickman and Lemmy, and also in celebrating the enormous contribution that each made to the sporting and cultural life of our country.

The success in attracting the “Star Wars” trilogy to the UK underlines the terrific talent available in our creative industries as well as the incredible variety of filming locations. What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the impact of tax credits on the film and other creative industries?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the success we have had in attracting international investment in film to this country not just in “Star Wars”, but in a huge proportion of the major films now being made. Part of the reason for that is indeed our creative industry’s tax credits. In 2013, the creative industries accounted for 5% of the economy, and our tax credits are one way of our supporting them. The film tax credit has been responsible for nearly £7 billion of investment in the UK, and our high-end TV tax credit has helped to support more than £800 million of investment.

T5. What assistance will the Department give to local authorities to keep their regional museums open following the recent Museums Association report, which stated that one in five regional museums has closed in part or in full and that one in 10 expect to introduce entrance charges to cover reductions in local authority funding? (903163)

I read the Museums Association report, and I welcome the fact that 60% of museums have seen their visitor numbers increase and that 40% of museums have seen their museum outreach increase. We want to work with local authorities and to work through the Arts Council with local authorities. I urge Labour authorities such as Lancashire to look again at their horrific plans to close their museums.

Order. I have never known a situation in which Mr Nuttall has not been fully heard, and he will be fully heard.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Nuisance phone calls continue to blight the lives of many of my constituents. Will the Minister explain how quickly the latest proposed action on caller line identification will be introduced and enforced?

I am very pleased that we have now issued a consultation on caller line identification which will, we hope, allow receivers of nuisance calls to screen the calls so that they take only calls from people from whom they want to hear.

T7. What progress has been made in securing at least 5% of the Premier League TV deal for grassroots football? Children’s football is virtually unplayable at this time of year, yet the Premier League continues to throw money around as though it is going out of fashion. (903165)

The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that through negotiations and discussions with the Premier League I have managed to secure at least double what it currently invests in grassroots football. That will be more than £100 million per annum from the domestic TV rights, which equates to about 6.5% of the total.

T3. The long-serving Minister responsible for arts and broadband will share my disappointment that despite his welcome promise to ensure that no home in the country has broadband speeds of less than 2 megabits per second, there are apparently parts of my constituency in Gloucester that have still not reached that speed. I have raised one particular area and problem with BT since 2013. First BT promised to upgrade the cabinet, then it failed to do so, and now it says that it is commercially unviable. Will the Minister meet me and celebrate his long tenure by resolving this problem? (903161)

I will happily meet my hon. Friend at any point. I am pleased that at least 93% or 94% of his constituents have superfast broadband. Of course, it is more difficult because of state aid rules to subsidise broadband in cities, but I will certainly meet my hon. Friend and discuss the particular issues he faces.

I, too, wish the Minister well on maternity leave. I hope that it all goes well and that we see her back in her role.

A recent response from the Gambling Commission to a freedom of information request has revealed 633 possible incidents of money laundering in betting shops in the past 12 months alone. Not only that, but online we are seeing videos of fixed odds betting terminals being smashed up with chairs and hammers. What are the Government going to do to protect lone staff and vulnerable people in betting shops?

I take the issue of money laundering in gambling very seriously and the Gambling Commission is currently consulting on proposed regulatory changes to strengthen the fight against that crime. I understand that the Treasury will be consulting on the EU directive on money laundering, which will include gambling. On the issue of violence in betting shops, there has of course been an increase in the number of police callouts to high street shops. Whether the callout is related to FOBT machines is not recorded, but as a keen campaigner on BT machines I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that today I have published on the gov.uk website the evaluation of the £50 regulations introduced last April, and I expect a triennial review of stakes and prizes to begin soon.

T4. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating the many towns across the UK that will be laying on cultural experiences in the coming year? In Horsham, that varies from a brand new cultural festival we are putting on in the summer to pancake racing next month. The Secretary of State would be very welcome to join me at either. (903162)

I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating all those towns holding arts festivals, which include not just Horsham but Maldon. I am particularly pleased that there are plans in my hon. Friend’s constituency, as part of a festival, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, which will be marked not just across the country but around the world. I would be very happy to visit an event in my hon. Friend’s constituency, although I cannot promise to participate in the pancake race.

Despite the Secretary of State’s earlier bluster about national programming, people in Scotland were shocked by the £145 million differential between income and expenditure as regards the BBC licence fee. That could free up £100 million for direct production in Scotland, which would support 1,500 jobs and add a boost of £60 million to the economy. Will he commit to full devolution of broadcasting to make that happen?

I am aware of the concerns in Scotland about this, and, as I said earlier to the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock), it is something that the director-general discussed with the Select Committee last week. I shall be seeing the director -general later. It is important that the BBC should serve all parts of the country, but I do not think that we can simply sit down and allocate spending precisely in proportion to the licence fee. It is a national broadcaster.

T6. I, too, wish my hon. Friend well in her imminent personal sporting challenge. As she knows, Faversham and Mid Kent is rich in fascinating tourist destinations, such as Leeds castle and the historic market town of Faversham itself, so I welcomed the recently announced £40 million Visit England fund. Will organisations such as Visit Kent have a chance to bid for a share of this fund? (903164)

As a fellow Kent MP, I am proud of the tourist attractions across the county. I reassure my hon. Friend that all parts of the country, including Kent, will have an opportunity to bid for the Discover England fund.

I am proud that “Downton Abbey” was made in Ealing—the below-stairs servants quarters were in my constituency—but the series has now ended, so what are the Government doing to increase representation on and off-screen of the nation’s ethnic, regional and gender diversity so that the airwaves are not all dominated by the classes upstairs?

I fully support the sentiment behind the hon. Lady’s question. We have worked closely with the broadcasters to have stretching targets. We have put the Creative Diversity Network on a permanent footing and we have clear guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on what broadcasters can do—but they need to get on with it.

T8. Destination Staffordshire recently submitted its bid for funding from the European regional development fund. In the interests of brevity, will my right hon. Friend encourage Ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government to look favourably on the bid—yes or no? (903166)

My hon. Friend is right to stress the importance of tourism to Staffordshire as it contributes to the economy of so much of our country. He will know that this is a matter for my colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government. I understand that discussions have taken place and my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (James Wharton), the Minister with responsibility for local growth and the northern powerhouse, would be happy to set up a meeting to discuss the position.

Over 20,000 jobs depend on tourism in York. What support can the Minister give to ensure that attractions such as Jorvik and the merchant adventurers hall are quickly restored, following the floods?

I am very conscious of the challenge to ensure that we get the message out that Yorkshire and other parts of the country affected by flooding are open for business. We will be looking closely at what we can do to support those businesses affected by flooding. I hope we will be able to say more about that quite soon.

Did I just hear the Minister confirm that there would be a triennial review this year, and will she comment on exactly when and what that will be?

My hon. Friend is right—he did hear me say that. The triennial review is expected to be in 2016. It will be in 2016. Precise timings are to be confirmed.

Andy Murray, who hails from my constituency, won again last night. He is a hero and the epitome of integrity in sport. He made some comments this week about matchfixing. We have had the International Association of Athletics Federations report and the FIFA fiasco. Can the Minister assure me that we will do all we can to make sure that we are a shining example of promoting integrity in sport, as epitomised by Andy Murray?

I am happy to join the hon. Gentleman in that call. I have spoken this week with the Lawn Tennis Association, the All England tennis club and the Association of Tennis Professionals. We are determined to do all we can to support them in ensuring that the game is absolutely clean, and I know they are committed to that as well. We will be holding a summit later in the year, looking at the challenge of tackling corruption across all sectors, including sport.

Given the imminent demise of the largely unsuccessful Arqiva mobile infrastructure programme, what can now be done to improve the “not spot” situation, which is wholly unsatisfactory in relation to the £400 billion rural economy?

I am pleased that we should have 75 sites erected as a result of the mobile infrastructure programme. Thirty-two people living in Wales have benefited from a new mobile site that has just been erected. I am pleased that under the deal that we negotiated with mobile operators, they will increase their coverage to 90% geographic coverage.

I congratulate my local team, East Kilbride football club, on reaching the last 16 of the Scottish cup for the very first time. Does the Minister agree that it is unfair that while English fans can watch their national team free of charge, Scottish fans have to pay? Will she meet the Scottish Government’s sports Minister to discuss and resolve the situation?

That is a matter for the home nation football associations, so the Scottish FA should negotiate with UEFA, under its central sales strategy, which broadcasts qualifying or friendly matches. We have a listed events regime whereby we can see home nations compete in the European championship and, of course, world cup final tournaments, but home nations need to qualify to be able to do so.

The hon. Member for Hyndburn (Graham Jones) has a nerve trying to claim to be the champion of betting shop workers. If his policies were adopted there would be far fewer of them, because many betting shops would close. Does the Minister agree that if we want to see more staff employed in betting shops—I certainly do—they need to have a viable financial future, particularly in relation to negotiations on machines and the levy?

There are some very strict rules and statutory requirements, particularly on the number of staff in betting shops. They are subject to health and safety regulations, and voluntary minimum standards are required across the industry. I expect all operators to adhere to those standards in order to protect their staff on the high street.