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Written Statements

Volume 624: debated on Wednesday 29 March 2017

Written Statements

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Culture, Media and Sport

Archives Unlocked

I am delighted to announce the publication of “Archives Unlocked”, a new strategic vision for archives across England. It is available online at www.nationalarchives.

The National Archives leads 2,500 archives in England, a diverse landscape of national regional and local archives. Together they form a unique network of rich archival collections. Archives Unlocked is an ambitious vision that recognises and celebrates the value of archives within the wider culture sector, and across our society. At its heart is a recognition of the opportunities provided by new technologies and digital transformation—opening up our collections to all like never before and encouraging innovation across creative industries and businesses. As the UK strives to take its place as a world-leading digital economy, Archives Unlocked will help drive the digital transformation needed across the archives sector.

Accompanying the strategic vision is an action plan focused on building digital capacity; engineering resilience; and demonstrating impact. I believe that by working together with The National Archives, partners and funders, Britain’s brilliant archives will be able to thrive and contribute fully to the nation’s cultural, intellectual and economic future.


Future of Channel 4

Since late 2015 the Government have been working with Channel 4 to look at options to ensure a strong and successful future for the broadcaster.

Channel 4 broadcasts a range of great content and delivers significant public value in a variety of ways. The Government have therefore concluded that Channel 4’s public service model and remit would not be best served by privatisation.

However, the Government believe that there is scope for Channel 4 to do more to serve the nations and regions across the UK. Channel 4 already does much good work in the nations and regions but as a publicly owned asset the Government believe Channel 4 can, and should, go further to ensure it is doing all it can to support the UK as a whole. The growth in the broadcasting and production sector has not been evenly distributed, with more than two thirds of UK producers presently based in London and the south-east. This limits the spread of wealth and opportunity, including in terms of regional growth, and it also limits the representation of local tastes and interests in television.

The Government will therefore launch a 12-week consultation to seek views on how Channel 4 can most effectively increase its regional impact. Specifically, we want to look at:

To what extent should Channel 4 be based outside London;

Whether more programmes shown on Channel 4 should be made outside London;

Whether Channel 4 should be able to make larger investments in production companies to support the development of emerging talent, including that from the regions, and help bolster Channel 4’s future financial position.

We are seeking the broadest range of views and evidence to inform our assessment, including from the broadcasting and production sectors, from regional authorities, and from audiences around the UK. Channel 4 is a key stakeholder in this process and the Government will work closely with it throughout this process, including in finalising the consultation document.

The consultation will be published in the coming weeks.


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council (3 April)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 April. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Luxembourg.

Foreign Affairs Council

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include Syria, Libya and Yemen. There will also be a session with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.


At the Foreign Affairs Council, Ministers will discuss the forthcoming conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” in Brussels on 4 and 5 April, along with Council conclusions on Syria including the joint communication on the EU-Syria strategy published by the EU External Action Service on 14 March. The UK will co-host the conference along with the EU, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar and the UN. The conference is an opportunity for the international community to come together and take stock of the humanitarian situation in Syria; build support for the refugee-hosting countries in the region; reconfirm multi-year commitments made in London; and raise vital new funding for 2017 and beyond.


Discussions will cover the latest developments in the Libyan political process. The EU has formed a new quartet on Libya with the UN, the League of Arab States and the African Union. Ms Mogherini will debrief Ministers on the quartet’s first meeting on Libya and outline next steps.


Ministers will discuss the appalling humanitarian situation in Yemen and the need for progress towards a political settlement. The UK will update EU member states on recent diplomatic activity in support of the UN special envoy for Yemen, following the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the UK, US, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman which took place on 16 February in Bonn. The discussion will be an opportunity to explore ways in which the EU can further support the work of the UN special envoy and respond to the humanitarian crisis.



Dartford-Thurrock Crossing Charging Scheme

The Dartford-Thurrock crossing charging scheme account for 2015-16 is published today under section 3(1)(d) of the Trunk Road Charging Schemes (Bridges and Tunnels) (Keeping of Accounts) (England) Regulations 2003. A copy of the accounts will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.