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Topical Questions

Volume 750: debated on Thursday 23 May 2024

I reiterate my thanks to the Minister for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Julia Lopez), the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew) and Lord Parkinson for the significant support they have given me throughout my time as Secretary of State. DCMS is a team and without their phenomenal work we would not have been able to achieve what we have over the past 18 months or so, so I just wanted to say thank you to them.

Over the past 14 years, the Conservative party in government has helped transform the creative industries. There have been 1 million new jobs since 2010 and the economic value of the creative industries has doubled, to over £124 billion in 2022, powered by investment and tax breaks that Opposition Members voted against every single time. Unlike the Labour party, we have set out a plan to go further, to grow the creative industries by an additional £50 billion and add another million extra jobs by 2030. That is the choice voters will face in July: a clear Conservative plan for growth or back to square one with Labour.

I thank the Secretary of State for all her work with my team in Redditch. Can she confirm that, despite the tight timelines, we can ensure that the £5 million in funding, which is hugely valued, is able to be made use of by as many local groups as possible before we break for the general election?

My hon. Friend is a huge campaigner. She was awarded £5 million at the spring Budget to support the development of cultural projects in her area. She will know that it is a matter for each council to identify the most suitable project to be funded in their area. I am sure she will work very closely with them to ensure that funding will be distributed appropriately.

I hope that it is in order for me to thank all the ministerial team for when they have been absolutely courteous to us and when we have been able to work together on matters. I particularly pay tribute to the Under-Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), who is not only a gent, but a champ.

However, we have two music venues closing every week; British artists prevented from touring in Europe; the UK art market falling from second to third in the world; A-level music students down by 45%; museums and galleries struggling with the cost of living; ballerinas told to retrain; theatre and opera touring slashed; and an apprenticeship levy that does not work for the creative industries. Was that all part of the plan? Or, in the words of RuPaul, is it not time for this appalling Government to sashay away?

There are tax reliefs for every subsector of the creative industries. Whether it is film, studios, independent film or grassroots support, we have supported the creative industries at every level. We have a plan from the first day of primary school to the last day of work. That is what we are doing for our sectors.

T4. The reputation of Torbay’s iconic tourism sector has been badly hit by recent events relating to local water supplies. What discussions has the Minister had with colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about ensuring that support is provided and paid for by South West Water to compensate for that? (902998)

I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Robbie Moore), whom I met earlier this week, is very engaged in this issue, and our stakeholders in the south-west and Visit England are looking into any necessary information that they can give to tourists. They will continue to keep that under review, but I empathise deeply with local businesses, particularly tourism businesses, and residents. It is important to say that the majority of those businesses in Brixham were not affected by this outbreak. It is a wonderful place to visit. It has a fantastic local MP, and I am sure that he will provide everybody who visits the region with a very warm welcome.

Can I thank our shadow Culture Secretary? I am proud of the work that he has done and that I have been able to do alongside him on behalf of the SNP and the people of Scotland.

Mr Speaker, can I also echo your comments about Liam Laurence Smyth? The number of times I have gone to Liam and said, “I want to get up to some mischief, can you help me?” I have really appreciated all the advice that he has given me.

I would like to ask the Secretary of State whether the Media Bill will be part of wash-up, because a number of organisations, including STV, have contacted me this morning asking for it to be.

That is certainly what I am pressing for and I am very grateful to the hon. Member for her support to ensure that that happens.

T5. With the Olympics happening in Paris in the forthcoming months, what work is the Minister doing to ensure that the residents of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and those across the whole country, get to support GB as passionately as if the games were being held on our shores? (902999)

We are all looking forward to the Olympics and good luck to Team GB. UK Sport invested £382 million of Exchequer and lottery funding for the Paris Olympics. We also want to ensure, with the change maker programme initiative, that, when our athletes come back from the Paris games, they give back to communities such as those of my hon. Friend.

The Guardian reports that, as a result of the Conservative Government’s Brexit deal, the costs of touring in the EU are now so high that 74% fewer UK bands are now touring there. The UK touring scene is all the more valuable for musicians and bands now, but opportunities to perform here are being lost, as music venues and festivals are forced to close due to rocketing operational costs. Does the Secretary of State see just how the Government have failed the music industry? Is it not time for a Labour Government, who will support our excellent musicians, our venues and our festivals?

I appreciate the hon. Member raising the concerns of the music industry because we, too, very much want to support it. When I first joined the Department, the industry was very vocal about some of the challenges of touring, and we methodically worked through those challenges to make sure that some of them were eased. We have also supported grassroots venues. However, I often wonder whether, when Labour Members raise these points in the Chamber, they do not have an ulterior motive. I am keen to see whether they will put in their own local manifestos their desire to rejoin the European Union.

T6.  In my constituency, I have many local grassroots football teams, including Newton Aycliffe, which has just achieved the highest league position in their history, and Ferryhill Town youth, which is looking to provide disability access. Both of them have been well supported by Newton Youth and the local Chapter respectively, but does the Minister agree how critical it is that money flows down the football pyramid, and will she congratulate Newton Aycliffe on their achievements and commend the local paper for its backing? (903000)

I commend Newton Aycliffe and Ferryhill Town youth football clubs for their recent successes, both off and on the pitch. It is great to hear that my hon. Friend has been engaging with organisations such as the Football Foundation, because it really helps us as MPs to support our constituents. I absolutely echo his words.

T3. The legacy of 14 years of Conservative Government is a 73% real terms cut in local authority expenditure on youth services since 2010. Will the Secretary of State admit just how profoundly the Tories have failed our young people, and acknowledge that only a Labour Government can restore hope and opportunity for young people across this country? (902997)

In addition to the £500 million in the national youth guarantee, which is supporting young people across the country, we are approaching youth in a cross-departmental way, whether through the £200 million from the Home Office to support young people not to go into a life of crime, the similar amount of funding from the Ministry of Justice to ensure that that funding comes through, or the £64 billion that we give to local councils. We are supporting young people at every stage of their life.

Will the Minister for sport join me in congratulating Kettering resident Kyren Wilson on becoming the new world snooker champion, and in hoping that Kyren’s success will encourage people in Kettering and across the country to take up snooker?

My hon. Friend is right to pay tribute to the success of Kyren Wilson. The people of Kettering must be incredibly proud of him, and I hope that he will inspire more people to take up snooker. It is an important sport in this country, and my hon. Friend has been an advocate of supporting it in the many conversations that we have had outside the Chamber.

What steps will the Government take to ensure robust regulation of the special impartiality rules that apply during the election period? This is in reference to my substantive question about the enforcement of the broadcasting code, to ensure that multi-party democracy is respected, devolution is not treated as a sideshow, and the people of Scotland get an accurate picture of public policy that applies to them, so that they are not disinformed and disenfranchised.

The hon. Member will know that all broadcasters are regulated by Ofcom. I am sure that they will all be aware of the importance of impartiality.

Cotgrave football club does a fantastic job of providing access to football for the local community, but it is limited by its current facilities and needs funding from Sport England for a 4G all-weather pitch. To secure that funding, it must qualify as a level 3 club, with facilities for disabled football and a plan to grow women’s football. It would love to do that, but it cannot do it without a 4G pitch. Can the Secretary of State help us to resolve this chicken- and-egg situation, so that Cotgrave football club can secure the funding that it needs and provide access to football for even more people?

My hon. Friend has raised that with me in the past, and I have spoken to my officials. I encourage her to continue to liaise with the Football Foundation to understand what might be possible, so I suggest she passes that on. She is a really successful and staunch campaigner for her local area. I have worked with her on a number of campaigns, and I have every faith in her success in this particular campaign.

I, too, thank Liam Laurence Smyth, who was the first Clerk who worked for me when I was Chair of the Education Committee. He became a great friend and mentor, and this House will miss him dreadfully.

Is there any special money for communities that have a rich tradition of music and the arts? Huddersfield, my constituency, has the Huddersfield Choral, brass bands, so many centres of excellence, and an international festival of music. Could we have special money for towns such as mine, which would give a boost to the whole country for the arts?

We have special money for areas across the country, because every year the Arts Council has £444 million to spend. It spends a significant amount of that money in music.