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House of Commons Hansard
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Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
16 November 2017
Volume 631

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

Superfast Broadband

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1. What recent progress her Department has made on reaching the Government’s superfast broadband target for the end of 2017. [901877]

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14. What recent progress her Department has made on reaching the Government’s superfast broadband target for the end of 2017. [901894]

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I call the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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Thank you, Mr Speaker; the length of the name of the Department now makes it sound like a land grab.

Over 94% of UK homes and businesses can now access superfast broadband and we are on track to reach 95% by the end of the year. Superfast broadband coverage will extend beyond that to at least another 2% of premises. For those not covered by superfast broadband, we will ensure universal broadband coverage of at least 10 megabits.

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I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, and I am delighted that Aberdeen is one of six pilot areas for superfast reliable full-fibre broadband, which can offer speeds as high as 1 gigabit. However, at a time when the Scottish Government’s slow roll-out of superfast broadband has left my constituency with one of the worst broadband speeds in the UK for an urban constituency—as well as the city being Europe’s energy capital—does the Secretary of State share my belief that this UK Government investment is vital to boosting connectivity in Aberdeen?

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I am disappointed to hear about the superfast coverage in my hon. Friend’s constituency, because this Government have put the resources behind the superfast programme, but we are obviously reliant on local authorities, and, in the case of Scotland, the Scottish Government, to deliver the superfast programme. But we have always said that superfast gives good connectivity to as many people as possible as quickly as possible, but full fibre is the future, and the fact that Aberdeen is in the pilot is good news for his constituents.

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I am grateful to the Secretary of State for her answer. People and businesses in my constituency are hungry for full-fibre broadband; when will they get it?

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We are determined to make sure that all businesses and people living in my hon. Friend’s constituency are able to access the broadband speeds they need to ensure they can be part of the digital revolution in our economy. I assure my hon. Friend that we will deliver full fibre to his constituency as soon as practicable.

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Virgin Media has recognised that Wrexham is a great place to invest and is building new infrastructure in Wrexham. What can the Secretary of State do to help all the Conservative Members who ceaselessly complain about this Government’s performance on superfast broadband, and ensure they have the benefits that Wrexham is now having?

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It is a shame that the hon. Gentleman takes that approach. In 2012 only 2% of premises in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen South (Ross Thomson), for example, had access to superfast broadband, but the figure is now 94%, thanks to the actions of this Government. We know that we need to continue working on this, because it is important that we get the right access for people, and I am delighted to hear that the hon. Gentleman’s constituency has such good broadband access.

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Ceredigion has the dubious accolade of being in the bottom 10 UK constituencies for broadband provision. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Welsh Government to ensure that Wales, and in particular its rural areas, are not left behind and lose out on superfast broadband?

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My Department speaks regularly to the Welsh Government, who, as with the Scottish Government in Scotland, have responsibility for delivering superfast broadband across Wales. They will have heard the hon. Gentleman’s comments, and I am sure they will act upon them.

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I am pleased to hear the Secretary of State talk about superfast broadband coverage. Superfast Essex will provide coverage for 95% of the county, but what is being done to provide access to the 5% of residents in Essex, many of whom live in rural areas in my constituency, who desperately require improved connectivity?

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I am very pleased that Superfast Essex will reach 95%, and, as I said in my opening remarks, the superfast programme does not end at the end of 2017; we expect a further 2% of premises to be covered by superfast under the programme. I also urge my hon. Friend and her constituency neighbours in Essex to encourage take-up of superfast broadband, because, as people take up access to it, money then comes back into the system to connect even more premises to superfast broadband.

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Will the Secretary of State explain why the UK Government’s contribution to the Scottish Government’s broadband roll-out project is just £21 million, an amount less than that awarded to Devon and Somerset? Will she join me in applauding the scale of the Scottish Government’s ambition to achieve 30 megabits per second for every Scottish household? Does she not think that the people of England deserve that level of ambition from their Government?

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This is about delivery of superfast broadband, not just ambition, and I am afraid that the Scottish Government are behind on every single measure compared with other areas—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman talks about money, money, money but the important point is that this is about delivery. Other local authorities and areas have been able to deliver, and I hope that the Scottish Government will take note.

Creative Industries: Careers

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2. What steps her Department is taking to improve access to careers in the creative industries. [901878]

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We are collaborating closely with industry to develop a sector deal for the creative industries. This includes considering how Government and industry can partner to strengthen the pipeline talent to the sector. Following the independent review of the sector by Sir Peter Bazalgette, we are working with the Creative Industries Council and the Creative Industries Federation and discussing measures including ways of improving information about careers in the creative industries and tackling barriers to working in the sector.

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I have visited a number of excellent apprenticeship schemes across the broadcast media, and apprentices often tell me that they have had to seek out information about apprenticeships themselves rather than receiving it from schools or careers advisers. What can we do to better promote the value of apprenticeships among our young people?

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I completely agree that apprenticeships are a fantastic thing, and it is a great achievement of this Government that so many more young people are taking them up. They are a fantastic way of getting the skills and training they need for their careers. There are specific issues with regard to apprenticeships in the creative industries, particularly as a result of there being so many freelancers in those industries, but I know that the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Anne Milton), attended a roundtable of the creative industries earlier this week to discuss how exactly we can make this work so that all young people can benefit from apprenticeships.

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Nurturing diversity is key to our vibrant creative industries, and access to those industries. Will the Minister join me in urging the new chief executive of Channel 4, Alex Mahon, to adopt a different approach from that of her predecessor by putting diversity and access to the industry at the top of her wish list as she considers relocation to the likes of Birmingham and Solihull?

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I think we have a question on Channel 4’s location later. Channel 4 has done incredibly great work when it comes to diversity. Its on-screen talent includes people with disabilities, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and people of different sexualities. It has been very good at promoting diversity, and I want to pay tribute to it for the work that it has done. Across the industry as a whole, more diversity would mean more creativity, and that is a message that the whole industry must listen to. And that diversity may possibly be located outside London.

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In order to progress their careers, creative artists need lots of work opportunities. For musicians, that means venues, many of which are now being closed. Will the Secretary of State give serious consideration to embedding the agent of change principle into legislation, as I hope to propose in a ten-minute rule Bill in the near future?

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We are aware of those concerns and we are working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to look at the proposition that has been put forward.

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Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best way to promote careers in the creative industries is on the back of a strong economy and having sensible economic policies to drive our country forward?

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I could not have put it better than my hon. Friend has done.

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Of course, the people with the greatest interest in careers in the creative industries are the workforce. In those industries, those people are often rights holders as well as workers, so why are the Government continuing to deny membership of the Creative Industries Council to the trade unions? Will the Secretary of State make a pledge now to rectify that glaring omission immediately?

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Membership of the Creative Industries Council is determined by the membership of the Council. It is not a Government decision. The hon. Gentleman will be aware, if he has been speaking to the council, that because of the sector deal, any decisions about future membership have been deferred until the deal has been finalised.

Rural Broadband

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3. What steps she is taking to improve broadband speeds in rural areas. [901879]

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As we have heard, superfast broadband is now available to more than 94% of premises. In 2010, only 42.5% of homes in Windsor had superfast broadband access. Today, that number is just shy of 94%.

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Windsor is a well-connected constituency —particularly given one notable resident—but we do have concerns that some rural and semi-rural areas may need further connectivity. In order to boost the creative, home education and home entertainment markets, does my right hon. Friend agree that developers and local authorities would do well to push on with ensuring that they deliver broadband infrastructure, such as ducting alongside the mains?

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Windsor is not only well connected, but well represented. My hon. Friend’s point is that it is important that new developments get infrastructure and connectivity right from the start. We have agreed with the Home Builders Federation and major broadband providers that all new large developments of over 30 homes will get good connections, but we are also talking to the Department for Communities and Local Government to strengthen that requirement, because it is pretty absurd to build a new house without the ducting to take fibre all the way to it.

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I wrote to the Treasury about its £200 million locally led infrastructure fund, but I was passed to the Minister, who passed me to the local authority. The local authority says that the criteria mean that people have to make bids that are too big for a rural area. Will the Minister please look again at that so that my constituents in Teesdale can get the broadband they need?

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As it happens, I was in Teesside last week talking to local authorities from across the region. We designed the scheme to allow all local bodies of whatever size to bid—district and borough councils, county councils and larger metropolitan areas—so I look forward to engaging with the hon. Lady to ensure that that can be taken forward.

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May I suggest that my right hon. Friend comes to the other end of Berkshire to look at what West Berkshire Council has done to try to get to the hardest to reach, particularly in rural areas? Only a fraction of the 72,480 homes do not have superfast broadband or will not have it in the next months. Instead of BT, the council is working with Gigaclear, which is a really effective delivery company.

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West Berkshire is also extremely well represented, and testament to that is the fact that so much progress has been made on superfast broadband. I love the fact that there are now more and more different providers—not just Openreach and Virgin, but Gigaclear, Hyperoptic and others—that are working to get Britain connected.

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I understand that the UK Government are likely to be taking up BT’s offer of a 10-megabits universal service obligation for the remaining 5% of premises, which is far behind the Scottish Government’s commitment of 30 megabits for 100%, so concerns have been raised about how the two will align. Will the Minister tell us whether he intends to discuss that with the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity before reaching a decision? Will he take up the suggestion of a UK-wide working group?

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Yes, I saw my Scottish counterpart last week, and I am going to Scotland in a fortnight to discuss the matter. The problem in Scotland is that we delegated the funding to the Scottish Government, who have contracted more slowly than any English county or the Welsh Government. They need to get on with it.

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Gigaclear is also coming into Devon and Somerset in competition with BT to deliver more superfast broadband. However, the percentage of hard-to-reach people is still big, so we really must concentrate on getting superfast broadband to them.

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My hon. Friend is dead right. I pay tribute to the work that Devon County Council and Somerset County Council have done together to deliver into some very hard-to-reach rural areas. In contrast to the Scottish contracting, they have been getting contracts out the door in order to achieve connectivity as quickly as possible.

Leaving the EU: Creative Industries

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4. What assessment she has made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the creative industries. [901880]

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The creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories, contributing over £87 billion to the economy. We have been working with the creative industries to understand the impacts and opportunities presented by our decision to leave the EU.

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The Secretary of State will understand that new technologies are fuelling economic growth in our country, and nowhere more so than in Manchester—home to the world’s first computer and the new wonder-material graphene. Manchester is an international city that was built on the work of people from all countries, as exemplified today by an international student population of 20,000. What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that Brexit does not create new borders that will separate a community that thrives when there are no physical, language or cultural barriers, just like-minded innovators?

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I agree that Manchester is a fantastic, creative, innovative and diverse city. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will join me in welcoming, for example, the Factory project, in which £78 million is being spent on regenerating the old Granada studios into an amazing creative space and hub. He will also welcome the fact that yesterday the Government announced a doubling of the number of tier 1 visas available for highly skilled—the brightest and best—creative and tech people. He will also join me in welcoming the fact that the success of Tech North, a Manchester success story, will now be expanded across the whole UK through Tech Nation.

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Does the Secretary of State agree that coming out of the European Union opens up great opportunities for the creative industries?

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My hon. Friend is right. Clearly there are challenges, but there are great opportunities. These are global industries that have operated outside the 27 member states of the European Union forever. They are a great British success story, and I am determined to make that continue.

Digital Infrastructure Investment

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5. What progress her Department has made on digital infrastructure investment for the next generation of mobile and broadband communications. [901881]

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As well as the current generation of technologies, we have provided more than £1 billion of funding to support the next generation of digital infrastructure, including investment in full-fibre networks and 5G testbeds, so that we are ready to ensure that we are ahead of the pack as 5G is developed.

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Given the number of companies in and around Cambridge that specialise in technological innovation, the growth of agritech in east Cambridgeshire and the rural nature of Cambridgeshire as a whole, does the Minister think that South East Cambridgeshire would be an excellent place to hold some of the 5G trials?

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My hon. and learned Friend has been assiduous in putting the case for Cambridgeshire, because of the combination of amazing high-tech growth in Cambridge itself and its rural hinterland, as an area where we can really test these technologies. I look forward to working with her and with Connecting Cambridgeshire to see whether we can make that happen.

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As well as fibre and base stations, data is a key part of digital infrastructure. The Minister claims that his Data Protection Bill will put people in control of their own data, but it systematically strips various groups, including immigrants, of any control. What is he doing to ensure that people can actually control their own data?

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I am slightly surprised by the question, because we have introduced the Data Protection Bill, which is currently in the other place, to give people much more control and consent over their data and to ensure that in the UK we have a system that supports the use of data in a modern way while strengthening privacy. No doubt we will have a debate when the Bill comes to this House, but it is great that the Bill has cross-party support.

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Does the Minister agree that it is vital to invest in digital infrastructure if we are to raise productivity, particularly in rural areas like Gordon in northern Scotland?

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Absolutely. Not only are we ensuring that we roll out the current generation of technology—we are pushing the Scottish Government to deliver on that—but for the next generation of technology we will deliver directly to local authorities in Scotland, rather than going through the Scottish Government, because we want to make sure that Scotland does not get left behind, as it has this time round.

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The Minister will be aware that some 63,000 premises in Northern Ireland cannot get a download speed of 10 megabits per second, and 94% of those premises are located in rural areas. Through our confidence and supply agreement with the Government, we secured an extra £150 million for broadband. Can the Minister indicate what discussions have taken place with the Assembly to ensure that the roll-out continues?

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We have been putting a lot of work into trying to ensure that we get a faster roll-out in Northern Ireland, and I am happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to talk about the details. The passing of the Northern Ireland Budget Bill this week will help to deliver that, and it will help to ensure that we have the structures in place. I am determined to make sure that Northern Ireland continues to get connected.

S4C

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6. What recent discussions she has had with S4C on its future funding. [901883]

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As the hon. Lady will know, Euryn Ogwen Williams’ independent review of S4C is ongoing. It will consider a range of issues, including S4C’s remit, governance and funding methods.

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I thank the Secretary of State for that reply, but it is estimated that S4C is going to lose £9 million of funding over the next three years, so will she tell the House what guidance she has given to Euryn Ogwen Williams in conducting her review?

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This is an independent review. I have asked Euryn Ogwen Williams to look at the issues of remit, governance and funding methods, and it is down to him, as an independent reviewer, to look at those matters.

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Welsh is Britain’s oldest indigenous language and, as such, has great cultural, social and historic significance. Based in my constituency, S4C plays a huge role in providing constant opportunities for people to hear and learn Welsh. Will the Secretary of State commit to increasing S4C’s funding to ensure S4C’s digital content is adequately resourced for it to compete on an equal footing with other broadcasters?

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I agree with the hon. Lady that S4C is a fantastic success story, one introduced by a Conservative Government in the 1980s and one that continues to promote the Welsh language in such a fantastic way. We have an independent review, and I am determined to support and deliver a fantastic S4C for the future, making sure it is fit for the 21st century.

Channel 4: Relocation

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7. What recent discussions she has had with Channel 4 on relocating outside London. [901884]

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The Government have made it clear that Channel 4 must have a major presence outside London. As a publicly owned broadcaster, it is essential that it reflects and provides for the country as a whole.

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The Secretary of State keeps saying that this has got to be ensured, but many of us have put bids in, particularly from the west midlands—I am from Wolverhampton so I would want Channel 4 to go there—and we still do not know. What will she do to ensure that any relocation of Channel 4 protects its ability to fund itself through advertising?

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We are discussing with Channel 4 the appropriate way forward and what is appropriate for it to do. I make no comment on an appropriate place for it to relocate to. I have heard a number of bids just today. I suggest that right hon. and hon. Members contact the Channel 4 board to put their propositions forward. This is a decision for the board, but clearly if we cannot reach an agreement, we would need to legislate, and I welcome the fact that there is cross-party support for the private Member’s Bill on this matter.

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Given that Norwich University of the Arts produces many digital and creative graduates each year, does the Secretary of State agree, notwithstanding the fact that she is not going to make a public endorsement, that Channel 4 should carefully consider the merits of Norfolk for a new location when it moves outside London?

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What we have found through this process, which is still ongoing, is the vast number of incredible creative locations that we have across the whole of the United Kingdom. I urge them all to continue to put forward their suggestions and proposals, not just for Channel 4 but for all other creative industries, because getting creative clusters and a centre of gravity in an area means that creativity can flourish.

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There is no doubt at least one in every colleague’s constituency.

Football: Policing Costs

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8. What recent discussions she has had with the Home Secretary on the cost to police forces of policing football matches outside the stadium. [901886]

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My officials and I have regular conversations with the Home Office on matters relating to football and other sporting events, including counter-terrorism, security and policing matters.

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I am very grateful for the Minister’s response. The cost to the Met of policing premier league football last year was almost £7 million, but the clubs contributed only £360,000. Given that they draw in more than £240 million every match day, is it not high time that premier league clubs were paying their full share to overstretched police forces?

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Football clubs do make a significant contribution to policing costs for home matches, and the Premier League and the clubs themselves contributed more than £2.4 billion to the public finances. We have to recognise that there are parameters as to policing costs and where these can be recovered from. I know that recent High Court cases have determined that, based on existing legislation, the police are not entitled to charge for these special police services where they are deployed on public land. That court decision has implications for what the police can charge, but we work with both the Premier League and the clubs on a host of policing matters, and I am sure that will continue.

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The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh) is absolutely right on this issue, about which I have had meetings with the Home Secretary. I urge the Minister to go with the Home Secretary to meet the Premier League and the English Football League and ask them to make a voluntary contribution from the massive amounts of money they get from TV rights, before they redistribute it to the clubs. If they refuse to do so, the Government should legislate to make sure that police forces get a realistic amount for the cost of policing matches; otherwise, the money is taken away from neighbourhood policing in all our constituencies.

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As I said, the Premier League and the clubs contribute more than £2.4 billion to the public finances. We are aware of the continued increase in the cost of policing football matches and other sporting events, and we have ongoing discussions about that with all those involved.

Cyber Attacks

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9. What steps her Department is taking to tackle cyber-attacks. [901888]

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Protecting the UK from cyber-attack is a tier 1 national securing issue. We are investing £1.9 billion in cyber-security, and this year we opened the National Cyber Security Centre to lead the nation’s efforts.

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The Prime Minister has been clear this week that the Russian authorities have been meddling in elections and using social media inappropriately. What extra steps is the Minister taking following those allegations, and has he raised them directly with the Russian authorities?

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The Prime Minister has been clear—as she set out on Monday night, with more details provided by the National Cyber Security Centre on Tuesday—that we know what the Russians are doing and we are not going to let them get away with it.

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Does the Minister agree that companies such as Facebook and Twitter should respond to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s request to supply any evidence of Russian-backed activity or fake news interfering with British politics to Parliament so that we can scrutinise it?

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Yes. This is an incredibly important issue and the Select Committee is taking a lead to ensure that evidence is brought to light. We will of course investigate all the evidence we see and take action where appropriate.

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There are now widespread reports of a wave of cyber-attacks, possibly backed by Russia, aimed at subverting our democracy. What conversations has the Minister had with social-media firms about the existence of evidence of Russian interference in the EU referendum and the general election?

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We have discussions with social media companies on a whole range of issues, including this one, and we discuss the impact of social media on political campaigning around the world. Of course, we cannot solve an issue such as this without working with the social media companies, because they provide the platforms on which a lot of the communication occurs.

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Well, that was a pretty high-level answer. If we are to stop the cyber-attacks on our democracy, it is important that the right agencies have the right powers. The Electoral Commission tells me that it does not have the power to investigate foreign spending in elections. Will the Minister assure us that the Government will co-operate fully with the Mueller inquiry into Russian cyber-attacks on democracy? Will he begin preparations now for an American-style honest ads Act, so that the right agencies have the right powers to stop these cyber-attacks in their tracks?

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The right hon. Gentleman makes important points. At this stage we are considering all options and looking at all the evidence. We will say more when it is appropriate.

Topical Questions

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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities. [901857]

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Mr Robert Halfon—not here.

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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?

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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?

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

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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]

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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]

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

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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?

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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]

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It is a live consultation, and I encourage the right hon. Gentleman to submit his views to it.

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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?

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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.

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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.