Topical Questions

Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons am ar 22 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Sarah Dyke Sarah Dyke Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Somerton and Frome

If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I am proud of our Government’s record in supporting the creative industries. Figures published last week, which I am sure Opposition Members will welcome, show that our powerhouse creative industries grew by 6.8% in 2022, generating an enormous £124 billion for UK plc, putting us ahead of our ambition to grow those sectors by an extra £50 billion by 2030. Of course, much of that depends on the amazing talent of Britain. Many in the creative industries are benefiting from the Government’s targeted tax breaks, which are powering those industries.

Photo of Sarah Dyke Sarah Dyke Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Somerton and Frome

Does the Secretary of State agree that we need to support local initiatives to encourage more girls to get into—or back into—and remain in sport? I myself enjoyed a long and prosperous rugby career playing in national league 1. Will she join me in congratulating Somerton rugby football club on its new girls rugby “skills and social” nights?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

More girls should have the opportunity to play sports that are traditionally the preserve of the boys. That is why we are encouraging all schools to offer all sports to all their pupils, whatever their gender. In addition, we are backing women’s football, with £30 million for 30 pitches across the country to which girls will have priority access. It is absolutely right that we continue to encourage girls and women to take up more sport.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Ceidwadwyr, Gainsborough

Gainsborough was once the capital of England under the incomparable Sweyn Forkbeard. It is an historic market town with the Old Hall at its heart. What plans do the Government have to preserve the character of historic market towns such as Gainsborough?

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

I thank my right hon. Friend for raising the beauty and heritage of Gainsborough. Heritage, of course, has a vital role to play in levelling up, and can act as a powerful catalyst to increase opportunities and prosperity. We recognise the opportunity that historic high streets give us, and we have a £95 million high streets heritage action zones programme that is driving the regeneration of 67 of our towns and cities. I believe that Gainsborough has previously been a recipient of heritage lottery programmes, and we also have a scheme to help with historic churches.

Photo of John Nicolson John Nicolson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

Coverage of yesterday’s Commons chaos showed how desperately we need good-quality journalism, so I am concerned about BBC Scotland’s request to Ofcom for a reduction in its broadcast news output, especially the loss of “The Nine”. BBC Scotland’s TV news had something of a couthie image until “The Nine” came along, placing Scottish news in the context of UK and international news. It was a compromise offering for those who wanted a “Scottish Six” on BBC 1. Although “The Nine” created a pathway for young talent, I said at the time that its slot—tucked away on a channel that many struggled to find—could be its undoing, and now it has been pulled. In an election year, we need more scrutiny of politicians, not less, and the need for a properly resourced “Scottish Six” remains. I hope Ofcom will say no to the proposals, and I know that the Cabinet Secretary for culture, Angus Robertson, opposes the reduction in news output. Does the Minister?

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

I am aware that the BBC is looking at changing its programme mix in relation to news in Scotland. My understanding was that those changes were cost-neutral, but I hear what the hon. Gentleman says and appreciate that he has concerns about them. He will be aware that we do not hold direct power over the BBC’s programming mix. I am sure that the director general has heard his concerns. As I say, I think the BBC is still investing in quality news content in Scotland, but it may be that the mix is changing, and the hon. Gentleman is clearly unhappy about that.

Photo of Mary Robinson Mary Robinson Ceidwadwyr, Cheadle

Cheadle Town FC have been a member of the north west counties football league since 1983. However, the oversubscribed division leaves Cheadle Town and other south Manchester clubs at risk of being moved laterally into a midlands division, meaning a significant increase in the club’s travel costs and an impact on gates, breaking their identity as a northern club, and challenging their future viability. I have met the Football Association and raised the club’s concerns. Will my right hon. and learned Friend join me in urging the FA to review its processes and listen to south Manchester clubs that want to keep their teams northern?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend is a massive champion for her area—she has previously raised this issue with me and with the sport Minister. As she rightly recognised, levels five to 10 of the English football league system are administered by the FA, and decisions regarding which league a team plays in at those levels are for the FA in its role as governing body. I am sure the FA is listening to my hon. Friend’s concerns and will have heard her plea this morning.

Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

This week in the House, I raised with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury the fact that serious delays in His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs issuing A1 forms mean that touring musicians are waiting months to be paid. A1 forms ensure that musicians do not have to pay additional tax when touring in the EU, but some musicians are waiting six to nine months, or even a year, for those forms. One leading singer told me that musicians feel like “hostages” of HMRC incompetence, so what is the Secretary of State doing alongside Treasury Ministers to sort out this mess, which is hitting UK musicians so hard?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I recognise the importance of touring to many of our fantastic industries. We have bilateral agreements with many other countries to ensure that touring can take place, but I will continue to ensure that as a Government, we take every step across the board to make sure that our musicians can tour appropriately.

Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Ceidwadwyr, Warrington South

What assessment has the Minister made of the BBC’s proposals to launch four new national music radio stations and to relaunch an existing station, Radio 5 Sports Extra? To my mind, those proposals are a direct imitation of commercial broadcasters’ innovation, and the time and resource that the BBC is investing could be better spent in reversing the cuts to BBC local radio—a source of distinctive public service content that is not available anywhere else on the same medium.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

My hon. Friend is a stalwart of the radio scene. I would like to pay tribute to the 40-year career of Steve Wright, another stalwart of BBC radio. I have spoken to the director general about the launch of new radio services, and he is very aware of the strength of feeling in this House about the proposals for local radio. The mid-term review says that the BBC should engage much more closely with the market ahead of the launch of any new stations, but Ofcom also has powers to make a judgment on these matters before any new station is launched.

Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration)

Now that the Government have moved to repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, there remains no legislative measure to convince print media to sign up to the state regulator, so how do the Government plan to finally give the state regulator the power to do its job, as called for by the National Union of Journalists?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I am very proud that we have a free press, and I think it is really important that we repeal section 40 to ensure there is not a chilling effect on our reporting. Of course, since that was first proposed, we have had greater self-regulation, and I am sure the press will continue to ensure that they do their outstanding job in an appropriate fashion.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

Can we recognise pickleball as a national sport, and will the sport Minister come to the Dunstable Hunters pickleball club, where he will see men, women, grandparents and grandchildren having a wonderful time?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

How can I possibly resist such an invitation? [Laughter.] People are laughing, but this is becoming a more and more popular sport. For me, anything that gets people active and enjoying sport can only be positive, so I am happy to come to see it in action.

Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Alba, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

On the annual sales limit on the People’s Postcode Lottery, the Minister says that he wants to have some evidence on why an additional increase is necessary. Since the advent of the pandemic, funding and fundraising have come under increasing pressure, and that has led to charities in my constituency closing. Saje Scotland, a domestic violence charity, was unable to access funding, so the evidence of the need is there for everyone to see. Will he at least consider an additional uplift to the annual sales limit in the interim, so that charities can access meaningful funding and are not forced to close down because of a lack thereof?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

I think it is important to put it on record that almost every other society lottery is nowhere near those limits, but I do recognise that it may be getting tight for some of the individual trusts in the People’s Postcode Lottery. We have been speaking to the Gambling Commission to see what else it can do by using some of the other trusts at its disposal to increase that funding, but I take on board the points the hon. Member made.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Ceidwadwyr, Lichfield

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that individual sports clubs have a role to play in providing youth services? In that respect, can I thank the Government for funding Lichfield sports club and Chasetown football club, which have both received grants for the work they do—grants that reach up to £2.5 million?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is a fabulous champion for Lichfield, and I am pleased that young people in Lichfield are getting the benefit of Government funding.

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Exports)

The Government’s promise to protect music creators from the potential negative impacts of artificial intelligence relied on a deal between tech companies and the music industry. However, it emerged earlier this month that those discussions have collapsed. Will the Secretary of State admit that their plan has failed, and say what the Government are going to do about it to support the creative sector?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I wish Labour Members would actually read our White Paper on AI, because in that paper we recognise the importance of this issue and the importance of protecting the creative industries. The White Paper sets out what we are doing about transparency, which is a key issue. We are of course continuing to work with both sides of the industry—the AI tech giants and the creators—to ensure we come to an appropriate resolution of this issue.

Photo of Sara Britcliffe Sara Britcliffe Ceidwadwyr, Hyndburn

I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Will the Minister please update us on the independent regulator, and can he quite literally get the ball rolling to get this Bill in front of the House?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

My hon. Friend has done a lot of work in this area. We are absolutely committed to introducing the recommendations of the White Paper, which we have published, and a Bill will be published shortly.

Photo of Judith Cummins Judith Cummins Llafur, Bradford South

The chair of Girlguiding UK has recently informed me that with Government funding, Girlguiding can at least be sustained in three overseas military bases. Will the Minister update me on his discussions to ensure that girls living on UK overseas military bases can continue to access Girlguiding?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

I know the hon. Lady has done a lot of work in this area, and we had a good Westminster Hall debate on this. Girlguiding is an independent organisation, and must make its own organisational and directional decisions. The Department is working closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Ministry of Defence, Girlguiding, and representatives from overseas territories to see whether we can come up with a solution.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Ceidwadwyr, Christchurch

What are the Government doing to promote facilities for padel tennis?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

We work closely with national governing bodies such as the Lawn Tennis Association. It has done amazing work training 17,000 teachers across the country to teach tennis, padel tennis and so on. I went to see it myself recently at the national centre—[Interruption.] I am not doing very well here, I know that, but my hon. Friend raises an important point, and I will continue to raise it with the national governing body in due course.

Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security)

There have been a number of late postponements of football matches recently, causing massive inconvenience and putting many fans, including Barnsley football club fans, seriously out of pocket. I have suggested to the English Football League that it adopts a postponement promise that would stop that from happening. Will the Minister work with me on that?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, and I have heard that from fans in my constituency. It is a decision for football, but I will be happy to raise the issue with the various leagues. I recognise the impact that such postponements have on fans up and down the country.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis Ceidwadwyr, Northampton North

Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that the large number of inquiries that Ofcom has launched against GB News, for conducting itself in exactly the same fashion as other channels routinely do, is in danger of looking biased and political, and that Ofcom is in danger of putting itself in judicial review territory?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The Government and I are in favour of media plurality, and it is important that different channels express different views across our vast political landscape. I am pleased that GB News has chosen to be regulated by Ofcom, and I know that Ofcom carries out its job appropriately.