Skip to main content

Culture, Media and Sport

Volume 740: debated on Thursday 16 November 2023

The Secretary of State was asked—

Artificial Intelligence: Creative Sector

4. What assessment she has made of the potential impact of AI on under-represented groups in the creative industries. (900124)

I will endeavour to be succinct. AI offers huge benefits and opportunities to the creative sector, but it also brings challenges. The Government have engaged extensively with the creative industries and others about it and will continue to do so.

I thank the Minister for his succinct response, but, as he knows, the Select Committee has called for the Government to abandon the proposed copyright exemptions for text and data mining, which the chief executive officer of UK Music succinctly described as a

“green light to music laundering”.

Can the Minister confirm that the Government will not undermine artists and musicians by exempting AI data mining from copyright restrictions?

As the hon. Gentleman is probably aware, there are ongoing discussions between creative rights owners and the platforms and others through the Intellectual Property Office, but it has made clear that, unless permitted under licence or on exception, making copies under text and data mining will constitute copyright infringement.

Does the Minister agree that the nature of AI systems is such that, when they are trained on creative works, both conscious and unconscious biases in music, films and art against certain groups in our society will be reinforced in generative outputs? The Government are seeking a code of conduct on copyright and AI; will they use this opportunity to address that issue and ensure that AI companies take responsibility for protecting against that type of harm? Is he considering an AI Bill, even though it was not announced in the King’s Speech?

There is a great deal of work going on around AI to develop a framework of regulation, as was originally set out in the White Paper. The hon. Gentleman’s point about algorithmic bias is a serious one; it is being studied by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, and obviously we will look very carefully at that.

People working in the creative industries have been completely let down by the Tories, including on real concerns about the impact of AI. The Government have not responded to the consultation on their own AI White Paper or the report on AI and the creative industries. They have not got to grips with the issue at all. Creative people need to know whether they will be properly rewarded for their incredible talents, now and in the future. When will the Government set out a proper plan to protect creators?

The hon. Lady is new to her role and so may have missed the creative sector vision, which was published about six months ago and set out an investment totalling some £50 billion going into the creative industries over the next five years. A great deal of work is taking place on the impact of AI on creative industries, and we are hoping to say more about that before the end of the year.

That is just not good enough. Thanks to the resilience and hard work of those in the creative industries, they are growing faster than many others, but it is people who make the best joy and the best culture, not AI. We are all better off when we draw on everyone’s talents. That is how we grow the creative industries—with people from more diverse backgrounds in more jobs. Tackling AI is a fundamental part of that. To pick an example for the Minister, talent in the north represents just 15% of employment in the creative industries under the Tories, so what are the Government doing to protect and increase that in the age of AI?

With the Secretary of State, I was able to spend Monday in Manchester for the creative industries conference, where we met representatives from right across the sectors, including those from the AI sector. AI is already benefiting the creative industries to a considerable amount and represents real opportunities for them.


Horseracing is an integral part of British sporting culture, and we recognise the significant contribution the sport makes to the economy. We have commenced the review of the horserace betting levy, to commit to a sustainable future for racing, and the British Horseracing Authority’s 2024 fixture list for racing shows an estimated £90 million improvement to British racing’s finances until 2028.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that many racegoers and people who work in a variety of jobs across the sector are concerned that increased affordability checks could have a detrimental impact on British horseracing. What assurances can he provide that affordability checks will not be intrusive and that millions of hard-working Brits will still be free to safely enjoy the great British tradition of a day at the races?

I know that my hon. Friend has a keen interest in this area. We absolutely recognise the relationship between betting and racing, and have no intention of over-regulating. In fact, it is the current system that is inconsistent, and we want to bring some uniformity to it. We have had several meetings with racing stakeholders, the gambling industry and the Gambling Commission this week. We have been very clear that we will not mandate checks until we are confident that they are frictionless and that the majority of those who enjoy gambling safely can continue to do so, while protecting those who may enter gambling harm.

I thank the Minister for his response. The terrible weather conditions in the last three or four weeks has had an impact on the horse- racing sector. The races at Down Royal, on the edge of my constituency, were cancelled because the flooding was of biblical proportions. Horseracing is very important to my constituents, and many people are involved in it. That had an impact on their ability to attend. Has the Minister had discussions with other Departments to ensure that any help that can be given to the horseracing sector for those races that were lost is given?

First, may I say what a pleasure it was to visit the hon. Gentleman’s constituency a few weeks ago? He is asking if I can do something about the weather; I wish I could. I understand the impact it might have. I would be happy to discuss any specific issues relating to the racecourse he mentioned, and to see whether I can talk to colleagues in other Departments about that.

Tourism Industry: Devon and Cornwall

3. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on Government support for the tourism industry in Devon and Cornwall. (900123)

I was pleased to visit south Devon in August and to meet members of the Great South West tourism partnership. I am also pleased that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have recently been accredited as a local visitor economy partnership and that Devon is working with VisitEngland towards potential accreditation.

As the Minister knows, the tourism sector in our region is iconic, but any rises in business rate bills that local hospitality businesses are required to pay could see many struggle. While it is for the Chancellor to set out tax changes, can he outline what representations he is making to the Chancellor to freeze the business rate multiplier and extend the 75% relief for hospitality for a further year?

I discussed a range of issues affecting tourism in Devon with the Great South West tourism partnership. We covered a lot of ground, and I know that those issues are of great importance to the tourism sector. Of course, we are in regular dialogue with the Treasury, but it is a matter for the Chancellor, as my hon. Friend says.

Journalists in Conflict Zones

5. Whether she has had recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs on support for journalists working in conflict zones. (900125)

Journalists in conflict zones are putting their lives on the line to enable us to benefit from their accurate reporting. My thoughts are with all of them, and with the families and friends of those who have unfortunately lost their lives. I have raised support for journalists in conflict zones with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer and for her understanding of the issue. As so many news outlets are cutting budgets, the reliance on freelancers reporting from conflict zones grows. Such reporters do not have a big corporate behind them to pay for their training, their personal protective equipment and then their support and counselling when they come back. A lot of good work is done here by the Rory Peck Trust, but it is desperately short of resources. Will she speak to her colleagues in Government to see what more can be done to support freelancers through better funding for the Rory Peck Trust?

I am happy to speak to my colleagues in Government to understand how we can further support journalists. We have led a great deal of action recently and over a number of years to support journalists both here and abroad, and we have set up a number of funds and taskforces to support them.

Independent Football Regulator

The Government remain committed to putting fans at the heart of football and to ensuring that the game has a sustainable financial future. The football governance Bill was included in the King’s Speech, and we intend to work closely with the Football Association, the leagues and fan associations to build the best independent regulator possible.

I thank the Secretary of State for that response. My understanding is that while negotiations are taking place between the Premier League and the English Football League, there has not yet been agreement on redistribution of money. Is there anything she can do to bring the two sides together so that progress can be made on that very important issue?

I understand my hon. Friend’s concerns. It is really important that football comes to a deal in relation to distributions. I support him in encouraging the football associations to do so, and I continue to urge them to reach an agreement in that area. Although our preference is a football-led solution, given the importance of distributions to financial sustainability, the independent football regulator will have targeted statutory powers to intervene on financial distributions as a last resort, if necessary. If football fails to deliver a solution, the regulator will deliver one.

Like many people across the House, I love football—I always have done. It is more than just a game; it is the social fabric that runs through communities, and it can make our weekends or break them—but enough about United’s current form. The England manager, Gareth Southgate, has warned that the regulator is

“another VAR waiting to happen”,

with the Government possibly looking to solve complicated questions with simple answers. Will the Secretary of State explain how we will get this right, and will she ensure that the regulator is implemented swiftly, so that more clubs do not go the way of Bury in the meantime?

I understand the hon. Member’s concerns: Bury has suffered in the past, as have many other clubs across the country. That is why we are bringing in a regulator. I have had a number of conversations with the leagues, my parliamentary colleagues and fans to make sure that we get the regulation right. We committed in our manifesto to bring forward a fan-led review White Paper. We have done so, and we are at a very advanced stage, having announced the football governance Bill in the King’s Speech. I note that Labour did nothing in its 13 years in office.

The inclusion of football governance in the King’s Speech is very welcome. Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm what discussions she has had with the FA on whether the independent regulator will include women’s football, and when the Government intend to publish their response to the Carney review?

I have regular discussions with the FA—indeed, I met its chair yesterday. At the moment, the regulator will cover the men’s game, but I also met Karen Carney a week or so ago. Her review is extremely important to women’s football and women’s sport, and I very much look forward to publishing our response to that report, which we will do very shortly.

There was concern that the Premier League made very late representations and tried to water down the powers of the regulator. Will the Secretary of State say what the Government’s response to that intervention by the Premier League was?

We want to ensure that we get the regulator right. It is essential that we protect fans and bring forward the legislation that the Labour party failed to bring forward. The legislation will strike absolutely the right balance between protecting fans and ensuring that our premier league and our football remain a competitive, world-class sport across the globe.

Football clubs are more than businesses; they are at the heart of communities up and down the country, but too many clubs are being pushed to the brink, leaving fans from Scunthorpe to Reading worried that their club might be damaged beyond repair by the time a regulator is brought in. Will the Secretary of State update us on what immediate action and interim measures the Department is taking to ensure that an independent regulator for football is ready to go as soon as new legislation is passed?

We are taking absolutely those measures: we are putting in place a shadow regulator, and we have advertised for the appointment of the regulator’s chief operating officer. We want to ensure that as soon as the legislation is on the books, everything is ready so that it can come into force as soon as possible.

I notice that the Football Task Force was set up in 1997 by the incoming Labour Government to look at systemic issues in football and make recommendations to Ministers on how to address them. However, despite a number of reports identifying significant failings in the sport, a member of that taskforce’s working group reported that the Labour Government made it clear that they could not, and would not, deliver a statutory regulator. This Government are bringing that regulator in.

Commercial Radio and Television

7. What steps her Department is taking to support commercial radio and television in the context of the development of new transmission platforms. (900127)

I note that my hon. Friend has in the past been a big star on the airwaves himself. Last week, the Government introduced the Media Bill into Parliament. The Bill will ensure that our world-leading TV and radio sectors are able to compete in the new digital world, so that they can continue to produce great content for the audiences of the future.

If I were to say, “Hey, Siri, can I have GB News radio?” or “Alexa, play GB News radio”—[Interruption.] Of course I would say GB News radio. It is the most successful news channel now, pulling in a bigger audience at most times of the day than either the BBC News channel or Sky—TalkTV cannot even be measured. Anyway, I am going off the subject.

Order. I am trying to help you, because if you do not get to the question, you will not be asking it. Come on!

My question is: what provisions are in place, if any, to ensure that if I do say those things, I get GB News radio, not another channel, and I am not charged for it?

The measures in the Media Bill will protect the position of radio in relation to voice-activated smart speakers, ensuring that listeners can find their favourite radio stations on request. In particular, when a listener requests a specific station, they should receive that station.

Music Education

8. What steps she is taking with the Secretary of State for Education to increase the uptake of music among children. (900129)

In June 2022, we published the new national plan for music education, which aims to level up music opportunities for all children and young people regardless of circumstance, needs or geography. Since publication, we have worked with the Department for Education to progress delivery of the music hub investment programme and the music progression fund.

I recently welcomed Bath young carers from the Bath Philharmonia to perform music in Parliament, and it was a wonderful evening. Sadly, too few young people have the opportunity to learn an instrument, or to perform or enjoy music, and the number of GCSE music entrants has fallen by 12.5%. The Minister mentioned the new national plan for music education. Will he update us on how many schools have implemented that plan, and will we get regular updates about any increase in the number of GCSE music entrants?

I am sorry that I was unable to hear the visiting group from the hon. Lady’s constituency, but I am delighted that it came. As I have said, we are investing £25 million in the provision of musical instruments through music hubs. I can tell her that the proportion of pupils studying for a music qualification at key stage 4 over the past years has remained stable at about 7% to 8%.

I have to say that the Bath young carers played wonderfully, and I really enjoyed listening to them.

Ofsted recently stated that there remains a

“divide between children and young people whose families can afford to pay for music tuition and those who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”

I share the concern just expressed about the impact this is having. The money promised for musical instruments in June 2022, which the Minister has just mentioned, has still not been distributed to schools, and it now sounds as though that money is not going to arrive until autumn 2024. Will that delay not just mean that more children are not able to learn to play an instrument? What action can the Minister take to speed it up?

I can tell the hon. Lady that the Government remain committed to investment through the music hub investment programme, and I am happy to give her a specific answer to the question she raises about the allocation of that money in writing. The Government are working very closely with the DFE on this, and we also look forward to producing a cultural education plan in early 2024.

UEFA Euro 2028

The Government are delighted that the UK and Ireland have secured the right to host Euro 2028. This will be the biggest joint event our islands have ever hosted, building on our world- leading track record of delivering major sporting events and leaving a lasting legacy for communities right across the United Kingdom.

I am delighted to have to declare an interest, because my cousin, Ray Reidy, has just been appointed interim chief financial officer at Aston Villa. As an Aston Villa fan myself, I know how difficult it is to get away from a game using Witton train station. Will the Minister join me, Andy Street and the combined authority, in working to develop the capacity of Witton train station in advance of that stadium being used for the Euros in 2028?

We in DCMS are always happy to try to deliver what our colleagues want, and I am delighted that Villa Park is a great venue and has exciting plans. Birmingham and the west midlands region has benefited from significant investment as part of the Commonwealth games, but my hon. Friend is right to say that we will be working with partners right across Government, and in other organisations, to ensure that Euro 2028 is one of the most exciting events we have seen in this country.

I am not sure whether my right hon. Friend has been to Villa Park, but some of us may differ on its condition. We will leave it to Gareth Southgate to prepare the team to go one step further and win the championship when it comes around, but will my right hon. Friend ensure that the security and travel arrangements, and most importantly the ticketing arrangements, maximise the capability of people to enjoy our beautiful game?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise that issue. In my role I get the great opportunity to go to many exciting events—

Well, Eurovision of course. I always make sure that I take the opportunity to meet fans and see the experience that they are having at these events, so that we learn from them and ensure that we are addressing any issues that come up. That is why we will be working with all operational partners to ensure that every match is a good one for people to enjoy.

St James’ Park in the heart of Newcastle will be welcoming European football fans as part of Euro 2028, and we are very proud of that. Following the 2012 Olympics, sports participation did not increase. Will the Minister set out what the Government will do to ensure that the legacy of Euro 2028 is increased participation across Newcastle?

The hon. Lady raises an important point. Legacy is incredibly important to me. That is why we have been giving hundreds of millions of pounds to improve on and build new grassroots sports facilities, so that there are plenty of opportunities for people to enjoy the things they want to do that are inspired by tournaments just like Euro 2028.

This should be an opportunity for fans to celebrate and enjoy. I remember the 1996 Euros, when the Danish fans came to Sheffield and drank the city dry, without any problems or disorder whatsoever. Will the Minister give two commitments? First, will he engage with the Football Supporters’ Association in full planning for this? It needs to be involved because it has really good ideas and experience. Secondly, will he talk to the authorities about ticket pricing, so that those on low incomes, and particularly children, can get to the games and enjoy the events?

I absolutely commit to engage with the Football Supporters’ Association. I also met fans ahead of the European championship finals in Istanbul this year. The hon. Gentleman is right, and there are lots of issues for us to discuss. We are in constant discussions with the likes of UEFA, for example, to which I will happily make those representations.

EU Exit: Creative Industries in Scotland

11. Whether she has had recent discussions with representatives of the creative industries in Scotland on the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU on those industries. (900134)

I and my officials regularly meet representatives of the creative industries in Scotland, and we were pleased to be joined by representatives from Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Creative Industries Council earlier this week. We will continue to work closely with colleagues in Scotland to ensure that the UK’s creative industries remain world leading following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Notwithstanding the Minister’s answer, polling by the Independent Society of Musicians has shown that almost half of musicians in the music industry have had less work in the EU post Brexit, and 40% have had to cancel work in the EU due to the increased cost of travelling and working in the EU. How can the Minister continue to pretend that Brexit has not harmed musicians, when the costs are so enormous and have been explained to this Government many, many times?

We are continuing to work to make it easier for musicians from this country to tour in Europe, and we have managed to establish arrangements with 24 out of 27 member states that now allow visa and work permit-free routes for UK performers for short-term touring. We continue to engage in discussions with countries individually to make further improvements.

The post-Brexit tightening of immigration rules and the Brexit-caused cost of living crisis are having a disproportionate impact on the creative sector, as the UK Government continue to squeeze public services. In advance of the autumn statement next week, what representations are the Secretary of State and the Department making to the Chancellor to ensure that the creative sector is adequately funded and protected, so that Scotland can receive the Barnett consequentials from that in order to continue to support our wonderful and, as the Minister says, world-leading creative industry?

The Chancellor has been very generous to the creative industries and I hope that he will continue to be so. However, I would point out to the hon. Lady that Creative Scotland benefits from a grant in aid budget of around £63 million, and I would have thought that she might welcome the fact that in the last March Budget the UK Government announced £8.6 million in support for two of Edinburgh’s world-leading festivals.

Topical Questions

May I first welcome the new Secretary of State to her place—[Interruption.] I mean the shadow Secretary of State. I also welcome all the new Ministers: it is a pleasure to work with them and I look forward to doing so over the coming months.

Since we last met for questions, my Department has been busy delivering on the priorities of the Government. On Monday, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew) and I met more than 150 businesses in Manchester to ensure that we build the creative industries not just in London but across the north. We made an announcement to drive growth in our creative industries with more than £10 million to scale up hundreds of creative industry businesses.

We are protecting and upholding media freedom, with an updated national action plan for the safety of journalists, and a new taskforce to tackle the misuse of strategic lawsuits against public participation by individuals who want to muzzle the press. As well as that, we are creating opportunities across the UK—

Order. I am sorry, but we have only eight minutes for topicals and I really am struggling to get everyone in. I call Gavin Newlands.

Tonight, Scotland will play what amounts to a dead rubber because we have qualified for the Euros with two games to spare. It is an unusual feeling for us and we do not know quite what to do. Generations of young Scottish football fans, unlike their English and Welsh counterparts, are unable to see their national football team on free-to-air television. Scotland is one of only seven out of 55 UEFA countries where the national team is hidden behind a paywall. In these times when families are really struggling, does the Secretary of State think that is fair in principle?

I did not catch all of the hon. Gentleman’s question, but I think he asked about broadcasting rights and Scottish teams. He needs to understand, because he raises this question from time to time, that there is a balance between audience numbers and commercial revenues for sport. As he knows, sport is devolved to the Scottish Government—

T2. Following the successful artificial intelligence summit, can my right hon. Friend update us on his conversations with the media industry to make sure that safeguards are in place while we also reap important jobs for the future? (900140)

Rapid development of AI poses major questions for many industries, including our vital press sector. We are hosting roundtables with broadcasters and news publishers to discuss the risks and opportunities of AI to journalism, and we intend to continue the conversation with the sector over the coming months.

T4. UK- inbound tourism has lost the equivalent of 15,000 jobs following the 83% fall in EU student groups visiting our country because of post-Brexit passport and visa requirements. I was heartened to read in the Financial Times about the proposed deal that the Prime Minister wants to strike with France following his summit with President Macron. Are any other deals like that in the pipeline? (900142)

T3. Swim Torquay provides a vital community facility in Plainmoor, yet it missed out on funding from the Government’s swimming pool support fund. Will the Minister agree to a meeting to discuss how it can still be supported to meet the essential costs that it faces? (900141)

It is precisely because we recognise how important swimming pools are that we have this fund. We have allocated £140,000 to the Riviera International Centre in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and I know that the local council is seeking funding from phase 2. I will happily arrange a meeting with colleagues and Sport England.

T5. A YMCA report last year found that £1.1 billion had been cut from youth services since 2010-11—a real-terms cut of 74%. While the Government’s national youth guarantee does provide a funding injection for youth services, it is nowhere near enough to reverse those cuts, and the funding is predominantly for capital investments. Will the Secretary of State commit to providing youth services with the sustainable revenue funding that they desperately need? (900143)

I invite the hon. Member to read a speech I gave on youth, which is a massive priority of mine. We are funding significantly through DCMS and through the National Citizen Service as well as through a number of Departments. There are Home Office funds, Justice funds, and funds through the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

T6. For me, as a massive Bath rugby fan, it is difficult to represent a seat in Leicestershire, what with the Tigers being there. With that said, the nice thing that brings all rugby fans together is the ability to watch the game. There is concern, though, about the governance of premiership rugby and how it is run. Could the Minister update us on where we are up to on that? I know that he has taken a special interest in trying to get that organised. (900144)

I know that my hon. Friend has taken a keen interest in this, and he is absolutely right that we need to see improved governance. That is why we appointed two special advisers, who have been working with both the premier league and the Rugby Football Union to come up with solutions. We are having meetings with them constantly and will ensure that they progress.

T7. Citizens across the EU now benefit from increased transparency in how big tech companies target them with adverts and propaganda thanks to the Digital Services Act. Of course, we have missed out because of Brexit. What will the Government do to provide increased transparency and tackle bad-faith actors using big tech to target our citizens? (900145)

The online advertising taskforce has come forward with a number of measures, and we are looking both to legislate in this area in due course and to introduce non-statutory measures. We are committed to protecting vulnerable people from inappropriate advertising, and to tackling fraudulent advertising.

The inclusion of five additional sports in the Los Angeles Olympics programme could provide extra medal prospects for Team GB, especially as our women are current European flag champions, the England, Scotland and Wales women’s lacrosse teams are in the top 10, and we have two men and one woman in the top 10 for squash. However, to ensure success, funding for the 2028 Olympics needs to be secured before Paris next year, so what discussions is the Minister having with the new lottery provider and the Treasury to ensure that UK sport is adequately funded for those sports and others for LA28?

I was interested to discover this morning that my hon. Friend has a horse named after her, called Commander Crouch—if anyone wants a good investment, there you go.

The UK sports investment process for Los Angeles is under way. I welcome the fact that there are these new sports, including flag football; I know that my hon. Friend is a big fan of American football. UK Sport will consider the funding for all those new sports, and I will soon have a meeting with its representatives to get an update.

Local newspapers are under threat. When the community news project was introduced in 2018 for newspapers such as the Cambridge News, it was widely welcomed. The project was supported by tech giant Meta, but it has now withdrawn funding. Will the Minister join me and others in calling for it to rethink its decision?

I met representatives of Meta earlier in the week, and I did make clear to them the Government’s disappointment at the withdrawal of the community news project. We are looking to ensure that newspapers are properly compensated by the tech giants, and measures to ensure that are contained in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.

After the tremendous success of the Commonwealth games in Birmingham in 2021, I was delighted to hear last week that our fantastic mayor Andy Street has secured a £9 million legacy fund from the Commonwealth games for communities to participate in grassroots projects. Does my right hon. Friend agreed that this is a fantastic opportunity for organisations in constituencies such as mine and across the west midlands bid for the fund in order to promote physical and mental activities in local communities?

My right hon. Friend is right. It is wonderful to see the legacy from the Commonwealth games. I join her in telling people to reach out and apply. That will be coupled with the significant investment that we are putting into grassroots sports so that communities can come together and enjoy the sports they like, and improve their physical and mental wellbeing.