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Topical Questions

Volume 633: debated on Thursday 21 December 2017

I am delighted to be able to confirm to the House again that the Commonwealth Games Federation has this morning announced that the 2022 Commonwealth games have been awarded to Birmingham. Our commitments now come into effect, and I am sure that the games will demonstrate the very best of global Britain and Birmingham to the world. May I add my congratulations to all involved, particularly Mayor Andy Street and the Sports Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), who has done an incredible amount of work with her team to ensure that we secure this important event for Birmingham? Even better, thanks to our announcement yesterday that people have a legal right to demand high-speed internet in their home by 2020, more people across the country will be able to enjoy the games.

On the subject of sporting successes, I would like to congratulate Sir Mo Farah on being named BBC sports personality of the year and the England women’s cricket team—we will not mention any other cricket team—on being named team of the year. I am sure the House will agree that both accolades are very well deserved.

I have spent many an oral questions session telling Members that I cannot comment on the UK city of culture bids, given that one was from my local city, Stoke-on-Trent, so it is a great pleasure to finally be allowed to talk about the city of culture, although I am sad that it is not Stoke-on-Trent. I would like to congratulate Coventry on its success in being named UK city of culture for 2021, and my commiserations go to the unsuccessful cities.

Finally, I would like to wish you, Mr Speaker, and all Members of the House—[Interruption]—even the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson), a very merry Christmas. I take this opportunity to thank all the charities working so hard over Christmas and throughout the year for all that they do.

Yes, and I think that the BBC overseas sports personality of the year is the inimitable and unsurpassable Roger Federer, my all-time sporting hero.

May I take this opportunity to wish you, Mr Speaker, and the whole House, including all the members of staff here, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year?

I encourage people to visit places in my constituency such as the Derwent Valley world heritage site, which encompasses the Strutt’s mills in Belper, which won the first Great British high street award. We are working towards having a cycle way up the entire Derwent valley, to encourage international visitors to the area. Does my right hon. Friend agree that visitors would have an amazing visit if they came to the Derwent valley and other parts of Derbyshire rather than just staying in London?

I have to agree with my hon. Friend. I know that part of the world very well, as I am sure you can imagine, Mr Speaker, and I agree, particularly about the use of cycling to get people to see these incredible parts of our country, the scenery, the UNESCO world heritage sites, and others. However, I would point out that you do not have to go to Derbyshire to enjoy the Peak district; you can also enjoy it in Staffordshire.

Merry Christmas to you, Mr Speaker, and to one and all, in particular my opposite number, the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), who it is a pleasure to serve opposite.

The Gambling Commission’s annual report confirmed that children as young as 11 are being introduced to forms of online gambling. The Gambling Act 2005 was introduced before many young gamers could trade in loot boxes. Right now, there is nothing to stop a child gambling away money for virtual prizes in video games. Can the Minister please tell me when the Government will look to close this loophole and put an end to loot box gambling?

May I extend my Christmas festive wishes to the hon. Lady and to all those on the Opposition Front Bench? She raises an important point. The recent report by the Gambling Commission was an incredibly useful document. We are doing all we can to protect children and vulnerable people from the harm and risk of gambling. We are working with the Gambling Commission on these issues. It keeps the matter very much under review. It is an emerging issue in the market, but the Gambling Commission has strong powers to regulate gambling, and the convergence between gambling and video games is being monitored quite closely.

T2. The opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi by President Macron last month demonstrated the power of culture to drive foreign and trade policy, but we all know that the glories of France are as nothing compared with the glories of our own country, so what can the Secretary of State and her Ministers do to advance British cultural diplomacy around the world, and might one element of that be our excellent cultural protection fund? (903094)

My hon. Friend raises an excellent point. The cultural development and cultural protection funds are both top of my list. The cultural protection fund has done an enormous amount internationally. I would draw his attention to what has been highly successful diplomacy, including the V and A opening a new gallery in Shekou design centre in China earlier this month, which is one example of the advances we have made.

T3. This week the German competition authority ruled that the collection and use of data by Facebook was abusive. Does the Minister agree? (903095)

The hon. Lady raises an important question. Of course, competition rules are rightly decided on independently in this country, so she would not expect the Government to express a definitive view one way or the other, but the question she raises is a very interesting one.

T7. Is my right hon. Friend aware that estimates show that something like over 1 million people will be watching their festive TV and films using illegal streaming devices? Does she agree that this does huge damage to our creative industries, and will she look at what more can be done to tackle it? (903100)

My right hon. Friend again speaks with great knowledge and experience. He has very wise words for us—one very wise man in the Chamber at Christmas time is a start—and his points are well made. We want to ensure that content is protected and that those who provide and produce it are able to make the money that they should rightly make from it. We are working with the creative industries as part of the sector deal in the industrial strategy on how to protect content in the most effective way.

T4. I am sure the Minister agrees that a vital aspect of creating a thriving and exciting community for all parts of the UK is safeguarding our national built heritage. In my city of Glasgow, the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, of which I am a member, the renovation of the Fairfield Heritage Centre, in which I am involved, and the Springburn winter gardens project in my constituency could be threatened as we come out of the European Union, as European regional development funding is unavailable to safeguard these heritage projects. Can the Minister guarantee that any funding available to these projects will be safeguarded when European Union funding is no longer available? (903097)

Order. Just as a general piece of advice to the House, may I say that the best way to cope with the additional time pressure in topical questions is not to blurt out the same number of words at a more frenetic pace, but to blurt out fewer words?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that all my colleagues in the Department are working very hard to make sure that all funding is protected, as far as possible, beyond the changes following Brexit.

As the Secretary of State is aware, Dundee city has put together a transformative bid to be the European city of culture. I desperately want Dundee—its bid will have clear benefits for all of Tayside—and the other cities to have a chance to test their bids. May I urge my right hon. Friend to find an alternative way of taking forward this contest so that all the time, money and, most importantly, vision for Dundee is not put to waste?

My hon. Friend has been an absolute stalwart in campaigning for Dundee, both before the very disappointing announcement by the European Commission and since, and in finding a way of recognising the work that has been done. Dundee should be congratulated: it made a bid for city of culture in 2017, when Hull was given the award, and since then, the same team has worked together and really built up the Dundee waterfront, with the new V&A coming next year. We are working with Dundee and the other cities to find a way through this, but I once again commend my hon. Friend for her incredible work in promoting the bid.

T5. The Prime Minister herself referred to allegations of police misconduct in her correspondence with the former First Secretary of State last night. Is it not high time that the Secretary of State commenced this unfinished business, and honoured the promise of a previous Conservative Prime Minister to get Leveson 2 under way? (903098)

We have consulted on Leveson, and we will release the responses and our response to the consultation in due course. We are currently having conversations with all those involved to make sure we follow the proper process that is required before we can release the figures.

I declare an interest as the chair of the all-party group on commercial radio. Will the Minister update the House on the long-awaited but positive deregulation plans announced this week? Commercial radio has long been struggling with outdated, old-fashioned restrictions, meaning that the industry has been unfairly treated.

This week, we published the response to the consultation, which was incredibly warmly received. We will remove over 100 measures in the very outdated legislation on commercial radio to free up commercial radio stations to support their communities and to deliver for their audiences in the best way they see fit.

T6. On the Minister’s current consultation on reducing the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals, will she place in the Library the Treasury’s estimate of the fiscal impact of each of the four options being consulted on? (903099)

The impact assessments, which we published alongside the Government consultation document on 31 October, have already been placed in the Library. I hope that answers the question posed by the right hon. Gentleman.

The residents of West Oxfordshire have welcomed the recent announcement by the district council and Gigaclear on the roll-out of broadband. Will the Minister join me in pressing for real progress in 2018 not only on broadband, but on mobile signals, with which so many villages suffer problems, including in my constituency?

Oh, yes. Tell me about it. My hon. Friend is completely spot-on. I pay tribute, at this Christmastime, to his personal leadership locally in delivering better connectivity across West Oxfordshire.

Members on both sides of the House may enjoy many festive films over the Christmas period. The Secretary of State will be aware that there are plans for a new film studio in my constituency, but will she do everything possible to ensure that that studio and creative industries across the UK flourish post-Brexit?

I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady. The creative industries are a real UK success story. They are growing much faster than the rest of the economy, and they make up a significant proportion of our economic value and our power in the world. We have a brilliant film industry in the UK, and I urge all hon. Members, if they have not yet done so, to go and see “Paddington 2” and “Star Wars” this Christmas, as they are both British-made films. I also welcome the initiative in her constituency. I assure her that we are working closely with the creative industries to make sure they are on the same secure footing post-Brexit as they are today.

Since we are focusing on “Paddington 2” I should announce an interest because we are going this weekend—please don’t tell my son! “Paddington 1”, which we intend to watch on catch-up the day before, will be problematic because while some people are enjoying fibre lines and some have copper, we in some parts of Kent appear to have a hemp line that connects us to the rest of the internet.

I am pretty sure that my hon. Friend’s son does not watch Parliament TV, so his secret should be safe—[Interruption.] Well, he certainly does not watch it yet. My hon. Friend makes the point that we need decent connectivity everywhere, and the Government are bringing in the universal service obligation to ensure that decent broadband can be available to everybody, fulfilling our manifesto commitment and delivering that by 2020.

Last week the Gambling Commission issued a report that highlighted that 80% of young people aged between 11 and 16 have seen gambling on television, 70% on social media, and 66% on websites. Does the Minister agree that more action must be taken to educate young people positively about the risks of gambling, as that could help them to avoid gambling-related harm later in life? A statutory levy on bookmakers could go a long way to funding that education.

The quick answer is yes, and GambleAware will lead a responsible gambling advertising campaign as part of the consultation that we publish.

May I say, Mr Speaker, that flamboyant scarves have just as much place in the Chamber as flamboyant ties? I congratulate the Minister on the work she has put into securing the stakes and prizes review, but will she make strong representations to the Treasury about the associated consequences of problem gambling? Mental health issues and antisocial behaviour costs the public purse more than £1.2 billion annually, and the reduction in stakes will help not only the individual concerned, but society in general.

It will not surprise the hon. Lady to learn that we regularly make strong representations to the Treasury on a number of issues, of which gambling is one. The gambling consultation is a live document, and I encourage people to take part in it and make their representations. We are aware of recent reports about problem gambling and its cost and impact on society.

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Given that we are not allowed to talk about what is in the Brexit sectoral analyses over the road at 100 Parliament Street, will the Secretary of State say what is not in them in relation to the creative industries?

I do not think there is anything that is not in there. The creative industries work with us, and these are sectoral analyses that set out the analysis we have made as Government, working with the industry. I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Lady at Christmastime if she feels that she is missing something, and I hope that when Christmas comes it will provide everything she is looking for.