The Secretary of State was asked—
Tourism is hugely important for the UK. One of my major focuses is to encourage visitors from across the world to visit the whole of the United Kingdom. We provide financial support through both VisitBritain and VisitEngland, which are responsible for promoting the UK through a range of initiatives and campaigns.
One of the many reasons why millions of people from around the world come to the UK and Scotland is because of our world-class food and drink sector, of which Angus is a powerhouse—the Minister is very welcome to come and taste our Forfar bridie whenever he wishes. Can he reassure me that the UK Government are working to support the Scottish food and drink industry, and to develop the necessary links between that sector and the UK tourism industry?
I thank my hon. Friend for that question because we are working hard to protect and promote some of our world-leading produce, and she is doing a wonderful job in her Angus constituency with regard to tourism as well as many other areas. I am sure that she will join me in welcoming the Chancellor’s Budget because the support it shows to the whisky industry by freezing duty clearly helps. Food and drink is particularly important. I attended a board meeting yesterday of the GREAT campaign, which covers Scotland, and I am disappointed that the Scottish Government have not been as supportive of that campaign as my hon. Friend.
West Oxfordshire has many famous tourist attractions that bring economic benefits to the surrounding areas, including Blenheim Palace, which attracts almost 1 million visitors annually. What are the Government doing to ensure that lesser-known tourist attractions such as Kelmscott Manor, Crocodiles of the World and Cotswold Wildlife Park have their fair share of the tourism cake to bring in all those benefits?
As you know, Mr Speaker, West Oxfordshire is a beautiful part of the country and we are supporting it in a number of ways. VisitBritain has organised travel trade trips to West Oxfordshire, including to Blenheim Palace. My officials at the Department also work closely with Experience Oxfordshire, a good organisation that makes sure that as many visitors as possible come to that part of the UK.
With the building of the new £83 million international convention centre at Celtic Manor, there is huge potential for Newport. What are Ministers doing with the Wales Office to encourage more events and conferences in Newport, the home of the NATO summit in 2014?
I commend the hon. Lady for her support for that conference facility. Conferences, business events and events of all types are very important to the economy of this country. We engage with the Wales Office, as indeed we do with the Scottish Government, to support business events.
It is nice to have the festival for Great Britain and Northern Ireland that is due to take place in 2022. Will the Minister commit to ensuring that Northern Ireland does not get left behind and has the same opportunities as our GB counterparts to show off our business, technology, culture, sport and arts expertise to the rest of the world?
Northern Ireland will certainly not be left behind. I was delighted to visit Belfast only a few weeks ago, when I saw its wonderful tourism offer, including the Titanic exhibition and so much else. I would recommend visiting Northern Ireland to anyone, as there are wonderful tourism opportunities—“Game of Thrones” is filmed there, and there is so much else.
Steve Ridgway of VisitBritain, along with Anthony Pickles, together with airlines, hotels and all the rest of it, have pulled together a sector deal. I do not want to bore the House because I have raised this before, but when are the Government going to support it?
Tourism should not just be beaches and city breaks. The wonders of Ealing include our world famous studios of Ealing comedy and Downton fame, the basement blues club where the Stones first played, and the Questors theatre, the biggest am-dram venue in the world. They should all be linked together in a cultural quarter, but our council is cash-strapped in its provision of even the most basic services. The Minister mentioned the effect of Brexit on the number of overseas visitors. [Interruption.] So my question is—[Interruption.] I was building up to the question, Mr Speaker; thank you for reminding me. What are the Government doing to put suburbs on the tourist trail?
We want to support tourism around the country, and of course that includes Ealing. The hon. Lady mentioned Ealing Studios and the Ealing comedies—I think I have a box set actually—and the reality is that VisitBritain and VisitEngland support lots of programmes around the country. [Interruption.] Some of the comedians are on the Opposition Benches at the moment.
The biggest concern for the tourist industry at the moment is access to labour once we end the free movement of people. Will the Minister join my calls for the Government to introduce a seasonal migrant workers scheme for the tourism and hospitality sector?
Secondary Ticketing Websites
I take this issue very seriously, and I know that the hon. Lady has done fantastic work on it over the years. Ticketing website advertisements must comply with the Advertising Standards Authority code, and those using advertising facilities attached to search engines must also comply with their terms of service to prevent misleading ads and to protect consumers. I am in touch with internet service providers, and they assure me that they are prepared to take action where necessary.
I thank the Minister for her work on this issue and her support for my work on it. According to research by the FanFair Alliance in a study carried out earlier this year, Viagogo was in the top two results on Google in 80 out of 100 searches. Time and again, victims of Viagogo tell me that they have been directed to Viagogo by a Google search. Does the Minister think it is appropriate that Viagogo is still able to buy itself to the top of the Google search rankings while it is facing court action by the Competition and Markets Authority?
The hon. Lady makes a good point. Viagogo is the subject of legal action by the CMA. However, she might be interested to know that the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that consumers would not assume that Viagogo was the primary ticketing agent for an event, and that there was therefore nothing in the ad to claim that it was the primary—[Interruption.] If you will permit me, Mr Speaker, I will just say that Google’s conditions state that resellers must prominently disclose themselves as resellers. The hon. Lady can therefore draw her own conclusions from that—
Does the Minister accept, however, that Google is accepting ads through Viagogo agents that are in breach of consumer protection law and of Google’s own terms of service, and that it is effectively taking money through being party to a fraud by allowing those ads to run?
I absolutely sympathise with my hon. Friend’s point of view. I have had discussions with Google on this very point. I think it is safe to say that we have a difference of view, but I remain optimistic that the search engines will comply with their own terms and conditions in the end.
The creative industries are a great British success story. They generate £91.8 billion for our economy and are responsible for 2 million jobs, so we are committed to supporting all creative businesses. The sector deal that was published earlier this year contains £150 million of private and public sector funding to realise the potential of this great sector.
I will certainly join my hon. Friend in wishing the consortium all the very best with its application. The ceramics sector in and around Stoke has been revitalised in recent years. As well as being important in its own right, it is important to many other industries. We have had some excellent bids for the £20 million cultural development fund, and decisions on the projects to be funded are expected early next year.
What a good day it is: we have got Channel 4 for Leeds. Applause?
Will the Minister look carefully at the campaign that we are running to get more people who are on the autistic spectrum into the creative industries? Quirky people are very creative; let us do more work to get them into those industries.
I congratulate Leeds on its success in securing Channel 4’s new head office. The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. We are already working with the National Autistic Society on a programme to engage young people in coding, which will help them in the creative sector, but more can be done, and I will take his suggestion on board.
In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell), I cannot ask the Minister about the Health and Social Care Secretary’s important speech next week about the arts and health. Instead, may I ask whether she, like me, welcomes the astonishing figures that continue to come from the British film industry thanks to the success of the film tax credit? The industry continues to make a huge contribution to our economy.
I heartily agree with my right hon. Friend. London Film Week marked the launch of the British Film Institute’s excellent report on the massive value of film tax credits to the economy. A third of all global blockbuster films are made in this country, which is a fantastic success story.
The Minister will also want to congratulate Glasgow on getting Channel 4’s creative hub, which is the culmination of a great campaign led by Stuart Cosgrove, and the council team of Susan Aitken, David McDonald and Colin Edgar. Will the Minister come to Glasgow to see all the brilliant things that the city can offer the creative industries?
I totally agree with the hon. Lady that the news is a great success for Glasgow, and I am pleased that Channel 4 made that decision, given the huge talent and creativity in the city. I shall be glad to visit next year to see the progress with my own eyes.
I should say at the outset—
I am about to explain. The Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), has been visiting the United States this week for meetings, including a White House roundtable on doping in sport, and she is travelling back this morning.
I can tell the hon. Member for Bolton North East (Sir David Crausby) that, over the next four years, almost £100 million of public money will help to build and upgrade artificial and grass pitches, encourage greater participation and enhance coaching programmes. He will also be aware that football is benefiting from £100 million a year up to 2019 from the Premier League, and I have begun discussions about ensuring that investment remains at least at that level for the next three years.
Football’s coffers are overflowing, except of course when it comes to grassroots football. The Football Association reports that one in six matches is postponed and one in three pitches is inadequate. In fairness, more money is coming in from the professional game following Government pressure, but it is nowhere near enough, and we still have only half as many 3G pitches as Germany. If we are to remain even close to the forefront of the game, we need to do much more for children’s football—
I am not available for selection, but there is a huge amount to be done to encourage people to participate. We have talked about facilities, but this is also about people: those who play, those who coach and those who encourage. We need to do more on all those things.
Grassroots football, and football in general, will be improved by greater financial transparency, so what are the Government doing to ensure that club owners cannot sell part of a club’s assets without clearly reporting it?
As the hon. Lady will know, rules already exist around the handling of money in relation to criminal activity, and it is important that we have as much transparency as possible. I will consider her specific point and, if she will forgive me, get back to her on it.
What has been the impact of the reduced rent to small clubs arising from revisions to the electronic communications code? That did not happen on the Secretary of State’s watch, and it was not intended, but it has been a disaster, has it not?
I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend. With the electronic communications code, we have attempted to ensure that property owners cannot prevent the roll-out of new infrastructure that is needed to ensure that this country has proper coverage for mobile and broadband, and that will have to continue. We of course want to ensure that people are properly remunerated, but they cannot hold the whole process to ransom.
Digital Radio Multiplex Services
I recognise the important role that commercial and community radio stations play in the communities they serve, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on the passage of his Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Act 2017. My Department provided funding for the successful trials of small-scale digital audio broadcasting across the UK, and we have now completed the consultation on detailed proposals for the licensing framework.
Having completed the consultation on the new licensing system, we are now working closely with Ofcom on the detailed arrangements, including spectrum planning, on which Ofcom has the lead. Our aim is to bring forward the secondary legislation required for the first stages next year.
Digital Sector: Economic Contribution
The UK’s digital sector is a global powerhouse, and the most recent official statistics show that the sector has contributed over £116 billion to the UK economy and is growing faster than the average for the rest of the economy by two and a half times. From 2015 to 2016, the digital sector’s contribution increased by 5.8%.
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. Indeed, I visited UKCloud a few months ago and was extremely impressed by not just its fast growth but its innovation. The UK cloud sector is a strongly performing part of the overall digital sector. Earlier this year I spoke at the UK cloud awards and was very impressed by the success, innovation and growth potential of the cloud sector.
My hon. Friend puts his finger on an area of tech that will transform our country once it is unleashed through public services. We want to make it easier for Departments and public bodies to work with tech companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises. The Chancellor has announced that we will conduct an artificial intelligence review to examine how Government can make better use of AI to provide valuable services more efficiently.
Ninety-five per cent. of respondents to my broadband survey are not happy with their service, which is not surprising, given that Barnsley’s broadband speeds are 20% slower than the national average. What are the Government doing to invest in broadband in the north?
We are doing a huge amount through commercial operations, and the hon. Lady will find that things improve dramatically. Her constituency is only a few steps off the 95% average for access to superfast broadband. I advise her to make sure that people know that they have it. Approximately half the people who have access to superfast broadband do not take it up, because some of them do not realise it is there.
As well as fast broadband, small tech businesses in my constituency and across the country need the right people to make sure that they grow and continue contributing to the economy. What conversations is the Minister having with the Home Office about the negative impacts of the Government’s immigration policy on attracting and securing the right staff to grow these businesses?
The hon. Lady will know that we have doubled the number of tier 1 exceptional talent visas to 2,000. We have also announced a start-up visa for entrepreneurs. The other side of the coin, of course, is the huge investment we are making in skills training for people who are already resident in her constituency.
The tech sector is important, but it is not yet a big enough contributor to the Treasury. Can the Minister tell us what percentage of sales will be paid in the new tax introduced by the Chancellor by the big five tech giants next year?
I can tell the Minister that, based on last year’s sales, next year the big five will be paying 0.01% of their sales in tax. That is the Treasury forecast in the Red Book, but even the Office for Budget Responsibility says that that is highly uncertain, and it will be outweighed by the cut in corporation tax to 17%. So is it not true that she has conspired with the Treasury to give a free pass to some of the wealthiest firms on earth?
I have had no discussions with the Treasury on that matter. [Hon. Members: “What?”] No, I have not. The right hon. Gentleman has alleged that I have had discussions, which I have not. To answer his substantive point, the Treasury expects to raise £1.5 billion over the next four years; 2% is a start and he should know that other countries are planning to take action, but no country has yet done so. Therefore, I suggest that the UK is taking the lead on this. We hope for international action, which will land a bigger hit, but at this stage international action is not forthcoming so we are taking action unilaterally—
Sporting Events: Northern Powerhouse
Hosting major sporting events brings significant economic and societal benefits. There will be a number of exciting events hosted in the northern powerhouse area in the coming years. You will not want me to list them all, Mr Speaker, but I might mention the world road cycling championships in Yorkshire and the rugby league world cup, both of which I know will be of interest to the hon. Lady. UK Sport estimates that these events will generate more than £225 million of direct economic impact for local host communities.
With three years to go until the 2021 rugby league world cup, will the Minister welcome the significant economic benefit that the tournament will deliver to the north of England and recognise the legacy programme that has been put together, which will have a lasting impact on communities across the north?
We believe it is important to attract some of these major events, and the Government work hard with those who are interested in attracting them to offer guidance. We will certainly make sure that anyone in particular whom my hon. Friend has in mind receives that advice.
As thought is now being given to planning for a potential bid for the 2030 World cup, I hope we all really get behind that. Will the Secretary of State assure us that we will look at not only the sporting impact of that but its economic and regeneration impact, particularly across the northern powerhouse? We might look at the Olympic legacy park in my constituency as an example of how to follow through on a major event.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman: the Olympic legacy is a very good example of what can be achieved. He will recognise that the initial decision to be taken is one for the Football Association. It must decide whether it wishes to bid, but if it does, he has my assurance that the Government will be fully behind it.
Of course they already do, through tax and through other measures where they do assist, but we will continue to talk to the Premier League about ways in which they can help. We have talked already today about their support for grassroots football and I am sure there are other ways in which they can assist, too.
Leaving the EU: Data Transfers
The United Kingdom has made it clear that we are ready to begin discussions on an adequacy assessment. The Commission has not yet indicated a timetable for such an assessment. Ministers and officials from DCMS and other Departments have visited member states and EU institutions to deliver the Government’s message on the importance of that decision to the UK and to the EU, and on the need to start now, and we will continue to do this.
Data adequacy is vital to financial services. TheCityUK tells us that what has been suggested so far does not provide a long-term, sustainable solution. Now that Government sources are distancing themselves from their own overnight reports of an adequacy deal, will the Secretary of State stop the spin and tell us what the Government are going to do and when they are going to reach the agreement on data that is so vital to our financial services?
There is no spin here. One of two things will be true: either we will reach a deal with the EU, in which case I expect data to be part of that deal; or we will not, in which case we will seek an adequacy decision. It is very much in the interests of both sides —EU and UK—for these arrangements to be made.
I have a major internet-based hotel and travel-booking company in my constituency. In the absence of an adequacy deal, it will have to strike 72,000 separate contractual agreements with hotels across Europe. Does the Secretary of State understand that if Brexit means Brexit, no deal means no holiday?
I think that is ever so slightly on the alarmist side. It is important for us all to bear in mind that the starting point is that we comply with all the data adequacy measures that the EU requires and we have implemented the general data protection regulation, so we are in a very good position as we begin the discussions and can therefore be optimistic about their outcome.
Mr Speaker, I know that you would not want to miss out on any information about tennis. The Lawn Tennis Association continually reviews the number of professional events held in this country with the international tennis associations. As the hon. Gentleman knows, Britain has the world’s greatest tournament, Wimbledon, and also hosts the Association of Tennis Professionals world tour finals, which will celebrate its 10th year being held at the O2 later this month. We continue to encourage participation in tennis, with more than £9 million given to the LTA between 2017 and 2021 to encourage more participation.
As I was saying, the Secretary of State is absolutely right to talk about our world-class tournaments, but at challenger and future levels, we have far fewer tournaments than the other major European nations. Holding tournaments right across the UK is an important part of the participation strategy, so what more can the Secretary of State tell us about what he is saying to the LTA about getting tournaments held throughout the country at that lower level?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is important. The other important thing he will recognise is the development of the talent pipeline to give young players the opportunity to play in more and more tournaments. I should have made it clear that part of the £9 million I referred to in my previous answer is for the development of the talent pipeline. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says and we will do anything more that we can.
Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating England Hockey on the successful hosting of the women’s world cup this summer? Does he support the Hockey Futures programme, which was launched off the back of that tournament to encourage more young people from all walks of life to get the health and social benefits of playing hockey?
The Government recently published their first ever strategy for tackling loneliness in England. Commitments include a national loneliness campaign, investment in community spaces and local data pilots, and embedding loneliness in our internet safety White Paper and digital inclusion fund. Those commitments are in addition to the £20.5 million of new grant funding for projects to prevent loneliness that was announced by the Government in June.
Is the Secretary of State aware of the research published by the University of Oxford’s Robin Dunbar, which found that people who have a local pub that they visit regularly tend to be more socially engaged and to have better mental health? Will he join me in welcoming the measures announced by the Chancellor to support pubs and brewing, which will help to tackle loneliness and isolation?
My hon. Friend’s enthusiasm for local pubs is legendary and he has managed to express it again here. He is right that pubs and other community institutions have a huge part to play in dealing with loneliness in our society across a range of many other measures that we need to take.
What significance does the Secretary of State place on the role of the voluntary sector in helping to tackle loneliness in our country? If, like me, he thinks that it is an important role, will he say what discussions he has had with the Department of Health and Social Care and with local government to make sure that commissioners of services now understand that the voluntary sector should be taken seriously?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman. He may know that part of the responsibilities of Ministers in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will now include attention to issues of loneliness and he will see that, when we announce those who are the recipients of the £20.5 million that I mentioned a moment or so ago, there are a range of different organisations across the country, all of which play a vital part in this and to which we should all be grateful.
I am sure that the House will join me in offering heartfelt condolences to all those impacted by the tragedy in Leicester last weekend. Football clubs are at the heart of our communities and, just as Leicester’s magical premier league win inspired the city, this tragic loss of life will be deeply felt. My thoughts and sympathies, and I am sure those of the whole House, are with the friends and families of all those who lost their lives, with everyone at the club and with the people of Leicester.
May I associate myself with the Secretary of State’s remarks about Leicester City?
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders affect thousands of children born every year, and that includes entirely preventable permanent brain damage. Will he include alcohol advertising in the 9 pm watershed consultation on the advertising of unhealthy food?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have not yet given the details of that consultation process, but it is important that we address harms such as the one he mentions in a variety of different ways. If that is not the right way to do it, we will certainly consider what may be, and I am grateful to him for raising it today.
We do indeed have many bright new businesses across the UK. Research published a week ago by Tech Nation showed that British cities such as Manchester and Cambridge have the same number of tech companies now valued at $100 million, and that, I think, shows that we as a nation are really supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in their growth aspirations.
It is disappointing that the Minister who led the review that concluded that high-stakes fixed odds betting terminals were a social blight is not here with us this morning, although, contrary to what the Secretary of State said, I understand that Patrick Kidd of The Times is reporting that she is actually with the Chief Whip at the moment, and not in transit, as he hinted. May I ask him whether when he hinted to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that he was minded to delay the reduction in stakes on fixed odds betting terminals he had actually read the 78 pages of the devastating report, which his ministerial colleague had dedicated three years to compiling?
My hon. Friend the Minister for Sport and Civil Society was travelling back this morning, and it seemed unwise to rely on public transport or London traffic to ensure her being here, so we made arrangements for me to answer questions. I apologise, Mr Speaker, if the hon. Gentleman objects to my answering questions that are targeted at me, as you announced at the beginning of the session. On the issue that he raises, there has never been an announcement of the time at which this change to fixed odds betting terminals’ stakes would come in. There were early-day motions and all-party parliamentary group reports urging the Government to bring this forward from April 2020 and we have done exactly that. He will know that, in a few moments’ time, there will be an opportunity to discuss this subject in more detail and I will happily set out the rationale for this choice.
The Secretary of State did not answer the question, nor did he confirm that the Minister for Sport and Civil Society is actually in the building. The announcement in the Budget of the delay in implementing the stake reduction was a betrayal of his ministerial colleague and his two predecessors as Secretary of State, as well as the victims and their families, whose lives have been blighted by gambling addiction. Why has he chosen to back the bookies rather than the gambling addiction victims and their families, his own Minister and the overwhelming public interest?
No, there has been no delay. Mr Speaker, I am in your hands: I am very happy to set out now the detailed explanation of why we have done what we have done. The shadow Secretary of State has asked for an urgent question on this very subject at half-past 10, which you have granted, so it is a matter for you as to whether you would like me to address the question now or at 10.30 am.
The answer is very simple. The normal rules apply at Question Time—topical questions and answers are brief. The Secretary of State has perfectly properly given an answer. As he says, there will be an urgent question today; the matter can and will be explored further then.
I heartily agree with my hon. Friend’s concerns. I was delighted that the Budget confirmed that there is now £200 million to kick-start connectivity for superfast broadband around the edge of the country, and the Red Book shows that one of the places that this process will start is in my hon. Friend’s county of Cornwall.
May I join my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) in welcoming Channel 4’s hub, which is great news for Glasgow and the Scottish screen sector?
Will the Secretary of State apologise to the families who have been blighted by gambling-related harm due to the delay in the announcement of reducing the fixed odds betting terminals maximum stake to £2? Will he look into diverting the £1.8 billion bonus that is going to bookies to the affected families instead?
There has been no delay, but the hon. Lady is right that a large part of the rationale for this decision was to protect exactly the people she refers to. This Government have made that substantive change, and it should be recognised that there are a number of factors in the process of determining when the change should come in. Once again, we will get into those—in some detail, I am sure—at about half-past 10.
I join the hon. Lady in welcoming the decision that has been made about Glasgow. This will be an important move to get broadcasting talent out of London and into the rest of the country, so that the whole country can benefit from it.
It is extremely important that young people participate in sport. My hon. Friend will be aware of our recently announced school sport strategy to enable just that to happen. We think it important that young people remain active and, of course, that they participate in competitive sport, too, for all the many benefits we know it brings.
On the principle of better late than never, I shall call the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson) to ask a question now as she missed her question earlier. It is perhaps a good idea always to get here a bit earlier. Nevertheless, I wish to hear the hon. Lady, and I am sure the House does.
Many thanks, Mr Speaker, and apologies.
Next week, I will be holding Cheadle’s ScamSmart event to inform local residents about how to deal with consumer protection and address nuisance phone calls. Does the Minister agree that the bosses of companies that bombard people with unsolicited phone calls should feel the full force of the law and be directly liable for fines, to prevent them from doing this in future?
It is a pleasure to see my hon. Friend, who raises a very important issue. Nuisance calls are not a victimless crime; they are a source of fear and intimidation to many older people and vulnerable groups. So I agree that those who flout the law on a persistent basis should be held to account, and that means directors being personally liable. That is why we have just completed a consultation on how we bring this into force, and company directors will face, potentially, fines of up to half a million pounds if it is decided on.
The Minister may not be aware that I am currently in discussions with the National Audit Office to establish its right to examine BBC commissioning contracts worth less than the threshold of £1 million. Does she agree that that would be a good idea, particularly for openness and transparency at the BBC, and that failure to do so will leave the suspicion that it has something to hide?