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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
27 January 2020
Volume 670

Written Statements

Monday 27 January 2020

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Cairncross Review: Government Response

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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Baroness Morgan of Cotes, has made the following statement.

The Government are today publishing their response to the independent review into the sustainability of high-quality journalism in the UK, which was led by the journalist and academic Dame Frances Cairncross. The Government remain grateful to Dame Frances for her work on this review.

The Cairncross review looked at the overall state of the news media market; the threats to the financial sustainability of publishers; the impact of search engines and social media platforms; and the role of digital advertising. The Review identified a range of challenges facing the sector and made nine recommendations for government, regulators and industry.

Since the publication of the review, DCMS has engaged news publishers, online platforms, the BBC, Ofcom and other regulators to take their views into account in formulating the Government’s response.

This Government are clear that newspapers play an invaluable role in the fabric of our society, and underlines its support for a free and independent press. News publishers remain uniquely placed to undertake the investigative journalism and scrutiny of public institutions, including local councils and our courts, which is vital to helping ensure a healthy democracy both nationally and at a local level. However, as society continues to move online, as the Cairncross review identified, the news publishing sector is facing significant challenges in transitioning to sustainable digital business models. These challenges include newspaper circulation figures and income from advertising falling dramatically, leading to large-scale closure of local papers and the number of full-time, frontline journalists dropping significantly.

The Government are committed to supporting the industry in its transition to a more sustainable footing. The Government therefore accept the majority of the Cairncross review’s recommendations, apart from the proposal to establish an institute for public interest news. The Government will not be taking this recommendation forward as, while it acknowledges the value the proposed institute is intended to achieve, it is not for the Government to lead on this issue.

The Government has already started to take forward some of the interventions proposed in the review. We have worked with Nesta to develop a £2 million pilot innovation fund, which launched in October 2019 and seeks to invest in new technological prototypes, start-ups and innovative business models to explore new ways of sustaining the industry in this changing landscape. The Government will work with Nesta and other partners to evaluate and draw findings from the pilot fund to inform decisions on the full innovation fund ahead of the next spending review. The Government have also announced formally today that it is extending the £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspapers in England for an additional five years, until 31 March 2025, as part of its efforts to support local and regional journalism. The Chancellor will consider the case for a range of potential tax incentives to support the news publishing industry this year, including policy options on VAT, notwithstanding recent litigation in this area.

There are many synergies between recommendations made by Dame Frances and this Government’s wider programme of work to address the challenges raised by digital products and services, including in light of the findings of the “Unlocking Digital Competition Report of the Digital Competition Expert Panel”, chaired by Jason Furman, and the online harms White Paper. In taking forward the recommendations from the Cairncross review, the Government will continue to take account of the connections between these areas to ensure a coordinated and coherent approach.

The Cairncross review and its recommendations were not aimed solely at the Government. For example, the review recommended that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigate the workings of the online advertising market to ensure fair competition. The CMA published their interim report in December 2019 and the Government look forward to considering the findings of the final report, which is due for publication in July 2020.

As announced last year following the publication of the Cairncross review, DCMS is also considering how online advertising is regulated in the UK. This work is looking at how well the current regime is equipped to tackle the challenges posed by developments in online advertising, aiming to foster fair, accountable and ethical online advertising that works for citizens, businesses and society as a whole. This work will complement and supplement other reviews underway in this area, including work by the CMA, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. In this context, DCMS is today launching a call for evidence. DCMS welcomes views from participants engaged in all stages of the online advertising supply chain, as well as those who work in complementary or competing markets.

The Government also intend to go beyond the recommendations in the Cairncross review, including with a view to supporting the modernisation of court reporting, supporting transparency in the advertising supply chain and continuing to ensure a free and independent press, both in the UK and internationally. The Government will continue to engage with the sector and identify ways to support the news publishing industry as we take forward this work. The Government reiterates its commitment to champion our media and creative industries more widely.

To read the full response, please go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-cairncross-review-a-sustainable-future-for-journalism

The call for evidence on online advertising is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-advertising-call-for-evidence

[HCWS67]

Sport Broadcasting

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On Thursday 18 July 2019, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright), the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced to the House that he was consulting with Channel 4, the BBC, S4C, Ofcom and the International Paralympic Committee on the addition of the Paralympic Games to the listed events regime. The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Morgan) and I have carefully considered the consultation responses and have decided to add the Paralympic Games to Category A of the list of sporting and other events of national interest maintained under section 97(1) of the Broadcasting Act 1996.

The Secretary of State and I are satisfied that the Paralympic Games meets the criteria for listing as it is an event of ‘special national significance’ and provides a ‘shared moment on the national calendar’ that serves to unite the whole of the United Kingdom. Having started in Stoke Mandeville in the 1940s, the event has a unique relationship with the UK. The increasing audience figures also demonstrate its clear importance to the UK. It is the pre-eminent international event in disability sport, involves the national team, commands a large television audience and has a history of broadcast on free-to-air channels.

The Secretary of State has also written to the European Commission to notify it of the change to the list as she is required to do under audiovisual media services directive.

The Secretary of State and I also consulted on the addition of the women’s equivalents of men’s events already on the list. The consultation closed on 11 December 2019, and the responses are being analysed. The Government will respond in due course.

[HCWS66]

Treasury

Business Rates Reliefs

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The Government will increase the retail discount from one third to 50%, extend that discount to cinemas and music venues, extend the duration of the local newspapers office space discount, and introduce an additional discount for pubs.

The increase in the level of the retail discount from one third to 50% will apply in 2020-21 for eligible retail businesses occupying a property with a rateable value less than £51,000.

The extension of the retail discount is to those eligible music venues and cinemas with a rateable value of less than £51,000.

The extension of the £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspapers will apply for an additional five years until 31 March 2025.

The pubs discount will provide a £1,000 discount to eligible pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 in 2020-21. This is in addition to the retail discount and will apply after the retail discount.

All reliefs are subject to state aid rules and apply in England only.

The Government confirm that they will fully fund local authorities for awarding these reliefs and provide new burdens funding to local authorities for administrative and IT costs.

Local authorities should start preparations to include these changes now, and act promptly to ensure eligible businesses receive the increased support in their rates bills at the start of the financial year.

The Government expect local authorities to ensure these changes are applied for the start of the 2020-21 billing period. The Government will publish amended guidance for the retail discount reflecting these changes as well as refreshed pubs relief guidance for local authorities.

The Barnett formula will be applied in the usual way. Consequentials for the devolved Administrations will be confirmed at the Budget.

[HCWS64]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

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The Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Brussels on 27 January.

As the provisional agenda stands, the main item for agriculture will be an exchange of view between EU Ministers on the regulation on common agricultural policy transitional rules. The Commission will also present on the agricultural aspects of the Green Deal, followed by an exchange of views on this.

This will be followed by a presentation from the Croatian presidency on the work programme during the presidency.

[HCWS62]

Exiting the European Union

Exiting the European Union

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Signing of the withdrawal agreement

On Friday 24 January, the Prime Minister signed the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and European Atomic Energy Community. The Presidents of the European Commission and European Council signed the agreement on behalf of the European Union on the same date. The withdrawal agreement must now be ratified by both parties by 31 January to bring the agreement into force from the point when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. Ratification by the EU will take place after the European Parliament has given its consent to the conclusion of the agreement, which is expected to happen on 29 January.

Following ratification by both parties, the agreement will enter into force at 23:00 GMT on 31 January in the UK (00:00 on 1 February in Brussels).

UK-EEA EFTA separation agreement

On Tuesday 28 January the UK, alongside representatives from the EEA EFTA States (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) will also sign the UK-EEA EFTA separation agreement. First published in December 2018, this agreement protects the rights of our citizens who have chosen to call each other’s countries home, as well as resolving a small number of other issues arising from the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK-EEA EFTA separation agreement broadly mirrors the terms of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement.

The UK-EEA EFTA separation agreement will be provisionally applied by the UK from exit day. The UK-EEA EFTA separation agreement will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny processes under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, and will enter into force in respect of the UK following ratification by the UK and at least one other party.

UKRep

Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, the United Kingdom’s representation to the European Union (UKRep) in Brussels will become a third country mission to the European Union. Formally, the mission will be titled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s mission to the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community. In practice, the mission will be referred to as the United Kingdom’s mission to the European Union, shortened to UKMis Brussels.

This change will take effect from 1 February 2020.

[HCWS61]

Home Department

Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority: Annual Reports and Accounts

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The 2018-19 annual report and accounts for the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority is being laid before the House today and published on www.gov.uk. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.

[HCWS63]

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures

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Section 19(1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (the Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of her TPIM powers under the Act during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

TPIM notices in force (as of 30 November 2019)

5

TPIM notices in respect of British citizens (as of 30 November 2019)

5

TPIM notices extended (during the reporting period)

1

TPIM notices revoked (during the reporting period)

0

TPIM notices revived (during the reporting period)

1

Variations made to measures specified in TPIM notices (during the reporting period)

6

Applications to vary measures specified in TPIM notices refused (during the reporting period)

1

The number of current subjects relocated under TPIM legislation (as of 30 November 2019)

3

The TPIM review group (TRG) keeps every TPIM notice under regular and formal review. Third quarter TRG meetings took place on 4 September, 18 September and 1 October 2019. Fourth quarter TRG meetings took place on 9, 10 and 11 December 2019.

The section 9 TPIM Act 2011 judicial review of the TPIM against QT was heard at the High Court between 24 and 27 June 2019. In a judgment handed down on 14 October 2019 the Court upheld the necessity and proportionality of the TPIM notice against QT.

On 10 December 2019 former TPIM subject IM was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for breach of his TPIM notice that was in force between 20 June 2016 and 19 June 2018.

[HCWS65]