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Topical Questions

Volume 631: debated on Thursday 16 November 2017

Since the previous oral questions, my Department has made progress on a number of key priorities. We have set out the internet safety Green Paper, which is the first step towards making the UK the safest place to be online. This week, we launched the Mendoza review—the first review of the museum sector in 10 years—which will help England’s museums to thrive and grow. We have continued to work to ensure that the UK is a world leader in digital and technology. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor welcomed some of the best and brightest to Downing Street to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to the sector. Finally, my Department will be leading work across Government and with a range of people and organisations to develop a civil society strategy. We value the vital work that civil society contributes in a number of areas, and my hon. Friend the Minister for Civil Society has today made a written ministerial statement to inform the House of our intention to take that work forward.

American football is very popular in this country, and growing more so. In fact, we have had four regular season National Football League games in London this year. It is rather like Arsenal playing one of their premier league games in New York. Next year, there will be two games at Wembley and two at the magnificent new Tottenham Hotspur ground. Will the Secretary of State tell the House what efforts are being made to attract a franchise to London?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend who chairs the all-party group on American football. Mr Speaker, I am just contemplating what you would do if Arsenal were playing in New York and how you would manage to fit in going there and watching the match. It may be a bit of a challenge, but I am sure that you would enjoy it. I was at the Ravens v. Jaguars match at Wembley, and saw an amazing full house of people enjoying American football here in the United Kingdom. We want to continue to promote American football here, and discussions are ongoing about a full-time franchise.

The Minister will be aware that the Football Association made its final settlement payment to Eniola Aluko recently after initially withholding it because she spoke out about the abuse she had suffered. It is in the public interest to know how many people are being paid to stay silent. Does the Minister know how many settlement payments of a similar nature have been made to individuals by the FA or professional clubs after allegations of abuse or discrimination?

I am not aware of the answer to that question. I am sure that the FA is watching this exchange with some interest and that it will be in touch with the hon. Lady.

Does my right hon. Friend share my concern about the decline of local newspapers and the consequences for local democracy? Will she welcome the launch by the BBC of the local news partnership, which will support the employment of local democracy reporters? Does she agree that, perhaps now, Google and Facebook, which also profit from local journalism, could support that initiative?

My right hon. Friend deserves great credit for the work that he did on the BBC charter, which included this local news initiative now being carried out by the BBC. The idea that we might lose our local newspaper—the voice for local people—is of great concern to all Members of this House. I have regular discussions with the internet companies on precisely the point that he has raised.

T2. At the same time as the UK Government have been slashing Scotland’s budget, funding for the national lottery fell by 14% in the past financial year, leaving Creative Scotland having to consider 119 closures. Will the Minister implement a recovery plan to offset those further cuts in funding? (901858)

It has been well reported that there has been a decline in the receipts of the national lottery, and it is something that we are looking at. However, we still expect returns to good causes of the national lottery to be in the region of £1.6 billion, much of which will be distributed across the nation, including the constituency of the hon. Gentleman.

Following the statement by the Prime Minister on 17 June, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport gave £1.5 million to Mind to support our emergency services. That was much appreciated. Will she look at increasing that funding going forward?

I will look closely at what my hon. Friend says. Perhaps we could have a discussion outside this Chamber.

T3. With more than 430,000 people having a serious gambling addiction and a further 2 million people possibly developing one, can the Minister say exactly what the Government are doing to tackle this serious problem? (901859)

Mr Speaker, you will recall that on 31 October I published the 12-week consultation into gambling. That consultation will finish in January. On the day, we had an urgent question in which many of these issues were raised. None the less, the Government take the issue very seriously, and we look forward to getting back all the responses from the public and other interested organisations to help shape our policies in the future.

Society lotteries provide invaluable funding for charities and local causes, but they could provide a lot more if the jackpot prize was increased. Will my right hon. Friend outline what plans there are to reform the society lottery sector and the timetable for doing so?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point about society lotteries. As Government, we of course want to ensure that we have one strong national lottery, but that does not mean that we cannot also have strong society lotteries. We are looking carefully at the role of society lotteries and we will make announcements in due course.

T4. Today’s Pro Bono Economics report shows that full-time volunteering would add up to £119 million per annum to the UK’s economy. What plans does the Minister have to respond to the recommendations of the youth full-time social action review? (901860)

The Government established an independent review of full-time social action by young people, which is expected by the end of the year.

The biggest concern of the tourism and hospitality sector is access to the labour force once we leave the EU. Will the Minister confirm that he has got this message, and will he update the House on what representations he is making to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on the matter?

My hon. Friend is a strong campaigner for the tourism industry. I have had numerous conversations with the tourism industry across the UK and I am having active conversations across Government. I look forward to progress being made on this important issue in the very near future.

T6. In September, the NEC Group agreed to operate the Bradford Odeon as the largest mid-sized venue outside London. This could attract a further quarter of a million visitors to Bradford. Does the Minister agree that this shows a huge confidence in Bradford, and will he look at bridging the funding gap after the local authority has added extra funds? Will he also meet me to look at the restoration of this world-class site? (901862)

I shall be delighted to meet the hon. Gentleman. I know about the exciting proposals. We are very strong supporters of music venues in Bradford and across the country. This gives me the opportunity to warmly welcome the decision of the Met to abolish form 696, which has done so much to prevent a diverse range of live music. Significant pressure was brought to bear and, thankfully, the Met has now taken that decision. That is in London, but I also want to work with the hon. Gentleman to deliver music venues in Bradford.

The Minister responsible for tourism will be aware of the importance of the industry to Torbay. It may seem strange to say this in winter, but many people will soon be starting to think about their summer holidays. What work will he do to ensure that people think of coming to Britain’s great coastline next summer when they book their holiday at Christmas 2017?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Extending the season is a key priority for the tourism sector. I shall be down in the south-west very early in March to declare the season open early next year.

T7. Will Ministers look at the situation whereby the 2018 winter Olympics would in their entirety be a listed event, with the expectation that they would be shown on live free-to-air TV, as before, in their entirety? In fact, most of the live coverage will be on Discovery’s Eurosport without, as yet, any reference to Ofcom. (901863)

The listed events regime is incredibly important to ensure that the nation’s favourite sports are seen on public service broadcasting channels. We do not have a proposal to change the listed events regime as it is working pretty well, but I will look into the specific details mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.

I am passionate about getting more women into sport, especially girls in the Eastleigh constituency and across the UK. This Government have done great work with the “This Girl Can” campaign. We must, though, ensure that everyone taking part in sport is properly protected. What is the Department doing to ensure appropriate safeguarding for all children participating in sport?

Mr Speaker, I hope you will forgive me, but it is actually a year ago today that the former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward reported historical allegations. He was incredibly brave to do so. As a consequence of his courage, he has ensured that the Government and other parts of the sporting sector have taken the issue incredibly seriously. I am pleased to announce that I have secured ministerial agreement with the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office to change laws on the position of trust to include sports coaches.

T8. Fixed odds betting terminals generate social harm of a scale and nature that demands an immediate, bold and radical response. I know that the Government are consulting on the question of a maximum stake, but does the Minister understand that unless they accept the minimum stake at the bottom end of those being consulted on, this problem will simply not go away? (901864)

The Natural History Museum is embarking on the monumental task of digitising 800 million items, including a collection of dung beetles and flea beetles. These items could hold the keys to our future biodiversity, climate change and pollution problems, so they are very important. Does the Minister agree that this is the kind of project the Government should be supporting in conjunction with our global partners?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. The Government are indeed supporting that sort of work, and we have some internationally renowned institutions doing wonderful work. Digitisation is really important, and the University of Sheffield, for example, is working closely with the Natural History Museum to take advantage of some of the pioneering work it has already undertaken.

I am sorry to disappoint remaining colleagues, but there is heavy pressure on time today in light of the Backbench Business Committee debates and the statements before them, so we must now move on.