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Topical Questions

Volume 653: debated on Thursday 31 January 2019

The House will have noted this week that digital, culture, media and sport sectors are growing more than twice as fast as the UK’s non-financial business economy as a whole. That is testament to the hard work and global appeal of our creators and innovators. I congratulate all DCMS sectors on this success.

Talking of success, Mr Speaker—you will want me to get this bit in—I am sure that the House will join me, as I know you will, in paying tribute to Andy Murray after he announced earlier this month that he is likely to retire this year. He has been an inspiration both on and off the court, and I know that the whole House will want to wish him well for the future.

As was recently brought up in my digital surgery in Barnsley, the copyright directive is at a crucial stage, while YouTube continues to rip off musicians. Will the Secretary of State confirm the Government’s full support for the directive?

We do indeed support the directive. We think it is very important that those who create content from which the platforms benefit hugely are properly rewarded for their efforts. We want to make sure that the system is workable, and that is exactly what we are attempting to achieve.

T4. As a member of the Science and Technology Committee, I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend welcome the publication of our report on social media. Hopefully it will help him in his thinking when he comes to develop the internet safety strategy. May I push him a little further on what the timing for that strategy might be? (908949)

We have made it clear that our White Paper will be published in the winter, and those paying close attention to the weather forecast will have noticed that the winter is not over yet.

Football supporters are repeatedly made worse off when fixtures are rescheduled. Fans’ representatives from every single premier league club agree that it is time for action. The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones), cancelled his meeting with me this week. The football family needs a Government who are on our side, so can the Minister make it clear what the Government’s position is on a fans fair travel scheme?

I have met my hon. Friend on exactly this issue, and can say that he is making strides on it. He is very concerned that our fans are being caught in the middle of this and is working with us to do something about it. If the hon. Lady knows of particular fixtures that are affected by strike action or by broadcasting issues that she would like me to raise again, I am happy to meet her and take this forward.

T5. Apologies, Mr Speaker, I was half asleep. [Interruption.] I am now fully awake. East Sussex bid to the Cultural Development Fund, which would have created an enterprise zone for our amazing art galleries on the coast, was sadly rejected. Will there be an opportunity to apply again and, if successful, will the Secretary of State join me for a cup of tea down at Bexhill-on-Sea? (908950)

I am happy to have the cup of tea so long as my hon. Friend stays awake. On the Cultural Development Fund, I am sorry that his constituency was not successful, but he will know that there were five successful bidders, who, we think, will be able to deliver huge advantage to their own areas. I hope that that success will demonstrate a good case for pursuing this objective, and, as and when we do, we will make sure that he and his area have the chance to bid again.

T2. Will the Secretary of State update us on the Government’s consultation on the 9 pm watershed on junk food advertising on TV and on similar restrictions online? (908947)

Yes, the hon. Lady makes an important point that this is about broadcast media and about what we can do online. We will bring the consultation forward, as we promised to do, very soon. She will recognise that considerable progress in the area to which she refers has already been made, including, of course, with the soft drinks levy, which has effectively removed 45 million kg of sugar from the diets of children in particular.

I wonder whether the Minister is aware that non-league football is in a really difficult financial position. I know that myself, as I am president of Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club. Is the Minister aware of any future money coming down the line from the premiership, which seems to be flush with money? Money is literally flowing in the transfer market. Teams galore have money flying everywhere, especially Arsenal, but it needs to flow down to non-league football.

I thank my right hon. Friend for raising that concern. The grassroots is benefiting from £100 million a year in Premier League investment, and we are already in discussions with the body about ensuring that it remains at least at that level for the next three years. However, I absolutely agree that the time is right to keep looking forward to what can be done to enhance the pipeline of youngsters coming through, and to ensure that there is equal opportunity in participation so that, wherever a person comes from, they can get involved in sport.

T3. Last week in Westminster Hall, we had an excellent debate on the possibility of having an award for towns of culture to complement cities of culture. The debate showed the level of artistic and cultural activities going on in our towns. Will the Minister say what action has been taken as a result of that debate? (908948)

The hon. Lady is quite right: it was a very good debate in Westminster Hall. Since then, I have asked my officials to do some work with key stakeholders to consider whether this would be a valuable extension of the City of Culture. I have agreed to meet the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) and other hon. Members to discuss this further. The Arts Council England is also looking to undertake further analysis of this important area.