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Written Statements

Volume 643: debated on Tuesday 19 June 2018

Written Statements

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Media

On 5 June I made a statement to the House in which I set out my decision in relation to the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox and Sky.

I announced that having considered the CMA’s report, I agreed with its findings on the public interest grounds and its finding that undertakings to divest Sky News to Disney or to an alternative suitable buyer could potentially remedy the adverse plurality public interest concerns identified.

I also noted that there remained a number of issues with the undertakings that had been offered and that these would require discussions between my officials and the parties in order to reach agreement on an acceptable form of the remedy.

Following the successful conclusion of these discussions and the resolution of these issues, I am today publishing updated undertakings offered by 21st Century Fox along with new undertakings offered by Disney for the divestment of Sky News to Disney.

These undertakings are offered on improved terms and will include:

a commitment from Disney to operate and maintain a Sky News branded news service for 15 years rather than 10 years

a restriction on Disney from selling Sky News for 15 years without the consent of the Secretary of State

an extension of the funding commitment from 21st Century Fox from 10 years to 15 years

an increase in the total funds available to Sky News, to at least £100 million per year, with operating costs protected in real terms; and

a formal commitment from Disney to preserve the editorial independence of Sky News

In my view, these revised undertakings meet the criteria that I set out to the House on 5 June and will help to ensure that Sky News remains financially viable over the long term; is able to operate as a major UK-based news provider; and is able to take its editorial decisions independently, free from any potential outside influence.

Under the legislation, I am required to consult formally for 15 days on the undertakings, which I propose to accept. Views as to whether these proposals are sufficient to remedy the adverse plurality public interest concerns raised by this merger are sought by 5pm on Wednesday 4 July 2018. The consultation can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/sky-fox-merger-proposed-undertakings-by-21st-century-fox-inc-and-the-walt-disney-company.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

FCO Services

FCO Services operates as a trading fund of the FCO. I have set it the following performance targets for 2018-2019:

A return on capital employed of at least 3.5% (statutory commitment).

An in-year surplus before financing and dividend costs.

A productivity ratio of at least 80%, measuring actual billable hours vs. available billable hours.

A customer satisfaction result of at least 80%.

A Your Say score for “Employee Engagement” measuring above 58%.

A Your Say score for “My Manager”, measuring above 62%.

FCO Services will report to Parliament on its success against these targets through its annual report and accounts for 2018-2019.

FCO Services is a trading fund of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). It provides a range of integrated, secure services worldwide to the FCO and other UK Government Departments, supporting the delivery of Government agendas. Services include protective security, estates and construction, cloud computing, communications and monitoring, logistics, translation and interpreting. This is combined with a portfolio of global maintenance work. FCO services also manages the UK National Authority for Counter Eavesdropping (UK NACE), helping protect UK assets from physical, electronic and cyber-attack.

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Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict

My noble Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon), has made the following written ministerial statement:

On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict and as the Prime Minister’s special representative on this issue, I wish to inform the House of the next steps for the UK’s preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative (PSVI) ahead of a UK-hosted international meeting in November 2019.

Four years on from the UK hosted global summit to end sexual violence in conflict in June 2014, the scale of these crimes remains truly appalling. UK leadership since then has secured the international political attention that preventing sexual violence in conflict rightly deserves. Our collaboration with partners is essential to ensure this remains the case. Recent examples include a joint visit I made with UN special representative of the Secretary-General Pramila Patten to Iraq in February to shine a spotlight on the need for accountability for survivors of sexual violence and an end to the stigma they face. During a visit to Mosul, I saw for myself the awful devastation Daesh has had on people’s lives and livelihoods, especially for women and girls, including through sexual slavery and forced marriage.

Our political drive has also been backed up by wide-ranging practical support, through ground-breaking work such as the development of the international protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict. Its second iteration, launched last year, is now being used by the International Criminal Court, the UN and in countries as diverse as Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Burma, DRC, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Uganda. Since 2012, £44 million of UK funding has been allocated to support over 70 projects in 26 countries to provide capacity building on advocacy, protection, survivor support, evidence gathering, judicial reform, prosecution and reparations work. We have also seen our team of PSVI experts deployed more than 90 times to provide support and training on a range of issues from documenting crimes to rehabilitating survivors. We know this support and assistance has had real impact and is delivering real change on the ground.

Implementing and galvanising effective action to bring perpetrators to account, to tackle stigma and to prevent sexual violence in conflict remains a high priority for the UK. We will continue to use our influence to rally sustained international action and push this issue up the global agenda.

Therefore, the UK will host an international meeting on PSVI in 2019, marking five years since the global summit to end sexual violence in conflict. This meeting will seek to achieve a number of outcomes. These include progress on accountability and tackling the culture of impunity; addressing sensitive issues such as support for children born of rape and male, LGBT and disabled survivors; the role of media organisations and faith leaders in tackling survivor stigma; and, working with armed forces to prevent conflict-related sexual violence.

To deliver on this ambition, the UK will work to strengthen both our bilateral and multilateral levels with international partners to secure commitments and make progress on this agenda between now and November 2019. This will include an event at the UN General Assembly in September and a PSVI film festival this November. We have already engaged with a wide range of stakeholders, including PSVI champion and focus countries and fellow Commonwealth member states. International organisations remain key partners, such as the office of the UN special representative of the Secretary-General, Pramila Patten; UNFPA; OHCHR and the ICRC. We will uphold the spirit of PSVI and reach out to British and global civil society, parliamentarians and the public. Staying true to the principles for global action on tackling stigma, we will place survivors at the heart of our collective work.

In 2014, we told the world that it was time to act, now is the time to deliver upon that pledge.

I will keep the House informed of progress on this work.

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Prime Minister

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: UK Delegation

The hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) has been appointed as a full member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in place of the right hon. Member for Birmingham Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne).

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