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Written Statements

Volume 637: debated on Wednesday 7 March 2018

Written Statements

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Embedded Technology: Cultural Sector

I am delighted to announce the publication of “Culture is Digital”. A link to the report can be found here:

The UK’s future will be at the nexus of our artistic and cultural creativity and our technical brilliance. The UK has a proud history of both cultural and technological excellence: from its world class museums, historic buildings, monuments, theatres and festivals to being a pioneer of computing and its role in the development of artificial intelligence which have changed the world. Today, the UK ranks second globally in terms of the soft power it projects through its cultural offering with cultural organisations and practitioners contributing £27 billion to the economy. Meanwhile the digital sector contributes £117 billion to the economy and remains one of the fastest growing segments of the economy.

Aligning with the aim of the Government’s industrial strategy to build on the UK’s strengths, and capitalise on the opportunities before us, our “Cultural is Digital” report looks to build on the twin UK strengths of creative and technology skills, focusing on the use of digital technology to drive our creative sector’s global status and engage audiences with new creative experiences.

“Culture is Digital” focuses on three themes: how cultural organisations can better use technology and data to serve audiences; improving the digital skills of the sector; and a future strategy section on the need to engage with new technology and for there to be many more collaborations between technology and cultural organisations of all sizes.

The cultural and technology sectors have together come forward with 12 policy commitments within the report to help mainline technology within the cultural sector. This report marks a staging process in the overall goal of embedding technology and digital skills in the cultural sector, and Government will continue to monitor progress and offer support. By delivering on each of the elements of this report, I believe we will cement our position as a world-leading cultural power and thrill even more audiences.


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Prison Accommodation: Nigeria

On 9 January 2014, the United Kingdom signed a compulsory prisoner transfer agreement with Nigeria. As part of this agreement, eligible prisoners serving criminal sentences in Nigeria and the UK can be returned to complete their sentences in their respective countries. In support of this, and to help improve the capacity of the Nigerian prison service, the Government have agreed to build a UN compliant 112 bed wing in Kiri Kiri Prison, Lagos. Tenders have been placed and a supplier identified to conduct the building work, alongside project support and monitoring and evaluation, bringing the total cost to £695,525. This project is funded from the CSSF (conflict, stability and security fund) migration returns fund.

The provision of this assistance is in line with the Government’s security and stability objectives in West Africa. FCO officials carry out regular reviews of our programmes in Nigeria to ensure funding is directed only to approved recipients.


Home Department

Justice and Home Affairs Pre-Council Statement

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 8 and 9 March in Brussels. I will represent the UK for interior day.

Interior day (8 March) will begin with a discussion on co-operation between common security and defence policy (CSDP) operations and EU JHA agencies. This work aims to join up the activity of JHA agencies more effectively with EU security and defence missions in third countries. The Government support improving co-operation in this area and I will endorse this work.

This will be followed by an exchange of views on the implementation of the directive on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data. The UK has existing capability for processing PNR data in Europe, was at the forefront of advocating the need for an EU tool in this area, and continues to offer advice and support to member states in the development of their own capabilities.

There will be an exchange of views on co-operation with the western Balkans in the area of internal security and counter-terrorism. Ministers will discuss how to help build capacities in the western Balkans and to facilitate co-operation against threats from organised crime and terrorism, in light of the EU Commission’s western Balkans strategy, published in February. The Government broadly support these high-level counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism objectives and recognise the importance of effective work in these areas in the western Balkans.

Over lunch, Ministers will discuss ways of combating terrorist content online. I will share recent global developments made in preventing terrorist use of the internet. This includes developments within industry, which have been driven by our efforts in the UK and through partnerships including with EU member states and the Commission. I will also note the progress made by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and the complementary role it plays with the EU internet forum. I will also update Ministers on the Home Secretary’s recent visit to see the US tech industry in Silicon Valley, where she discussed how to make sure terrorist use of the internet does not simply shift to less well-resourced platforms as the large companies clean up their act.

In the afternoon, Interior Ministers will discuss JHA agencies’ role in counter-terrorism. Discussion will focus on the potential future strategic direction of co-operation, including between JHA agencies; improving engagement with priority third countries; and increasing the number of CT experts based within the agencies. The Government are broadly supportive of these measures, which will enhance co-operation and increase expertise, and which in turn will make better use of the existing mechanisms and structures.

There will then be a policy debate on the proposed regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems. The legislation aims to create a more joined-up approach to EU JHA databases to prevent criminals and terrorists exploiting the gaps between them. The Government are assessing if these proposals would provide benefits to the UK, in particular if they would make UK law enforcement agencies’ searching of data more efficient and represent value for money. These considerations will then inform whether the UK will opt in to the new systems.

On migration, the presidency will update on progress and the way forward on managing Mediterranean migration to build upon the concerted efforts across the EU last year which saw a marked reduction in the number of flows arriving in Europe in 2017. The UK supports the proposals as they align with our “whole of route” approach, which seeks to intervene at every stage of the migrant journey to reduce illegal migration and promote safe and orderly migration. I will be highlighting recent UK efforts in this space, including our record on resettlement having now resettled over 10,000 vulnerable refugees who have fled the Syrian crisis since 2014 as part of our commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020.

Justice day (9 March) will begin with a discussion on whether the recast of the Brussels lla regulation should include a provision that obliges member states to ensure central authorities have sufficient financial and human resources to fulfil their role. The Government support adequate resourcing of central authorities, but do not believe that a provision to that effect should be included in the proposal, as such matters should be for member states to decide.

A general approach will be sought for the proposed directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment, which aims to address the shortfalls of existing EU legislation in addressing the challenges in this area from organised crime. The UK has not opted in to this directive.

The presidency will give an update on the preparatory steps needed to be taken to ensure that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) becomes operational in 2020. As the UK will not be participating in the EPPO, we will not intervene on this item.

The Commission will then provide an update on its work to improve law enforcement access to cross-border e-evidence. We expect the Commission to propose a legislative proposal in this area in March. The Government recognise that this is an important issue to address but we want to ensure that the proposals do not duplicate any of the existing or proposed EU legislation or other international agreements in this space and that they do not jeopardise the existing practical co-operation we have with communication service providers.

The working lunch will discuss radicalisation in prisons. This is an opportunity to highlight the UK’s approach to counter-terrorism and counter-extremism in prisons, and our commitment to working closely with our European partners to respond to common challenges in this area.

In addition to the substantive agenda items, the Commission will present to Justice Ministers its recommendation on illegal content on online platforms and its impact on the work under the code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech.


Prime Minister

Intimidation in Public Life Review: Government Response

Today, I am pleased we are laying before both Houses the Government’s response to the 17th report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on intimidation in public life.

In July 2017, I asked the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life to undertake a review into the issue of abuse and intimidation experienced by parliamentary candidates, including those who stood in the 2017 general election campaign. Concerns were highlighted by those across the political spectrum. The Committee published a comprehensive report in December.

The Government would like to again thank the Committee for their considered and thorough report. Today we publish the Government's response to the report, which addresses the roles of the main players—Government, social media, the law, policing and prosecution, and political parties—and the range of actions the Government will take in both the immediate and longer-term.

It is not just politicians who have experienced unwarranted abuse—it has included journalists and other prominent figures in public life. Everyone deserves to be treated with tolerance and respect, and the British liberties of freedom of speech and freedom of association must always operate within the law. All those in public life need to demonstrate their opposition to intimidation and call it out, and report it when they see it. We must all work together to combat this issue.