Oral Answers to Questions

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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Thursday 11th January 2024

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con)
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2. Whether her Department has made an assessment of the potential impact of tax relief on the growth of the creative industries.

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Lucy Frazer)
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Let me begin by welcoming the Minister back to her place. Since 2012, the Conservative Government have introduced tax reliefs for the creative industries year on year. That is one of the reasons why the creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy, and why they are world leading. The Labour party opposed every single one of those tax reliefs, and despite its warm words it offers no substantive action.

Stephen Metcalfe Portrait Stephen Metcalfe
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As my right hon. and learned Friend says, since we came to office we have introduced a number of tax reliefs that have supported children's television, video games, production, galleries, orchestras, theatres and museums. It is for the Chancellor to decide on tax policy, but can my right hon. and learned Friend tell us what more she can do to make this go further, to ensure that we remain one of the world’s leading production venues?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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We have indeed introduced many tax reliefs, and since we came to office I have instigated and backed the introduction of tax reliefs and other support for the sector. Independent film making has been supported with more than £60 million of Government and national lottery funding, and I have recently spoken to representatives of the independent sector to establish how we can provide further support. However, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, matters of tax are ultimately matters for the Chancellor.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I have a suggestion for the Minister. When I met several film, television and advertising companies in my constituency recently, they pointed out that Malta and Mauritius have a 40% rebate which also covers commercials, and that Ireland will be following suit with a 40% rebate on reality TV and game shows. These are the bread-and-butter products of the industry, and they have a huge impact on local areas where filming takes place. The UK is falling behind in this respect. What discussions is the Secretary of State having with the Treasury and other colleagues about the matter?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I assure the hon. Lady that I have regular discussions with the Treasury and the industry about how we can continue to support this vital sector. We are not falling behind. We are world leading, and we need to maintain that competitive edge. Our screen sector tax reliefs are estimated to have delivered over 200,000 new jobs and more than £13 billion in economic output.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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3. What steps she is taking to help increase community access to playing fields.

Stuart Andrew Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Stuart Andrew)
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The Government are committed to ensuring that every community has the facilities it needs to make sport and physical activity accessible to all, with over £320 million being invested by 2025 to develop thousands of state-of-the-art community football pitches and multi-use sports facilities across the UK.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson
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Udney Park playing fields in Teddington, in my constituency, have gone to rack and ruin over the past decade as successive developers have bought the site and, quite rightly, failed to build on it. The Udney Park Community Fields Foundation, led by Jonathan Dunn, has campaigned tirelessly to bring those fields into community use, because we desperately need more sports fields in my constituency. Now the site is back on the market, will the Minister join me, local sports groups and the local authority in backing the community’s bid for the site? Will he also put in a friendly word with relevant Ministers on the bid to the community ownership fund?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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I commend the hon. Lady for her commitment to improving sports facilities in her local area, and I commend all the volunteers, like Jonathan Dunn, who do a tremendous amount of work. Frankly, without them we would not have so many people being physically active. The Football Foundation and Sport England are always ready to discuss potential investments, and I would be happy to provide the hon. Lady with those contacts. Of course, I will raise this issue with my colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Andrew Selous Portrait Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con)
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The community sports area on Tithe Farm Road in Houghton Regis is about to get an amazing new all-weather facility funded by developer money, town council money, Central Bedfordshire Council money and Government money. Will the Minister come to open the facility? It is much needed and should be celebrated.

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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How could I possibly resist such an invitation? It is always a great honour to open facilities in this role, and I am delighted that we are so busy that we are opening thousands of them.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
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4. What steps her Department is taking to support local journalism.

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Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
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5. What recent discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on developing new sports facilities in Devon and Cornwall.

Stuart Andrew Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Stuart Andrew)
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As I mentioned a moment ago, the Government are investing in facilities up and down the country. I am pleased to say that the multi-sport grassroots facilities programme has invested, through the Football Foundation, more than £766,000 since 2022 across Devon and Cornwall, supporting 79 projects so far with equipment.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
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Groups such as the Torquay athletics club do great work in coaching and encouraging young people across Torbay to participate in sport, yet there are no synthetic 400-metre track and field athletics facilities suitable for high-level training in our bay. What opportunities does the Minister see for getting such a facility in Torbay to address that need?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important issue. It is vital that communities have access to the right facilities, in order to help us meet our target of having more than 3 million more people being active by 2030. Sport England has provided more than £20 million to support grassroots projects in the region. I would be happy to share a full list of the available funds that are open for him to have a look at. Let me also add my thanks to his constituents for the work they are doing in getting people more active.

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab)
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6. What steps her Department is taking to tackle loneliness.

Stuart Andrew Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Stuart Andrew)
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Since the tackling loneliness strategy launched in 2018, the Government and their partners have invested more than £80 million in tackling loneliness. The 2023 annual report included 60 new cross-government commitments, and updates on progress on things included in that report are due to be published in March.

Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Lewell-Buck
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Severe cuts have left a £600 million gap in adult social care funding. More than 1 million lonely and isolated elderly people now rely on charities such as Re-engage, which I volunteer with, to plug that gap. I know that the Minister does care about this, but surely he must recognise that those cuts and their leading to that rise in desperate loneliness are because of this Government.

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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First, let me pay tribute to the hon. Lady for the work she does with those charities. The partnership between Government and charities has made the UK one of the world’s leading countries on tackling loneliness. That is why in the Budget in 2023 we announced £100 million of support for charities and community organisations, recognising the challenges they face and paying tribute to them for the work they are doing in tackling this important issue.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Lilian Greenwood Portrait Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab)
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When the Government released their national strategy in 2018, we had a far more limited understanding of loneliness, its consequences and the effectiveness of interventions than we do now. However, despite six years of hard work and good initiatives, the problem has got worse; the level of loneliness has risen by half a million since 2020. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck) said, the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis have created new pressures, and with charities and local authorities facing higher demand and rising costs, it is increasingly difficult for them to respond. Given all those challenges, what has the Minister done to prepare for a refreshed national strategy to tackle loneliness?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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This is a complex area and a lot of the research done since the strategy was launched in 2018 has helped us to understand the issue in a lot more detail. Chronic loneliness has remained at about the same level, but there is still more work to be done. That is why we are now taking very targeted approaches to specific demographics within our society. I am also convening a cross-government meeting of Ministers from across Departments to see what more we can do to make sure we are meeting our strategy ambition.

Steve Tuckwell Portrait Steve Tuckwell (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con)
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7. What steps her Department is taking to support local communities and special interest groups in protecting heritage assets.

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Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)
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9. What steps her Department is taking to support the growth of the film and television industry.

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Lucy Frazer)
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We have seen significant growth in the film and TV industries. The support that we have taken includes reforms to audiovisual tax reliefs, uplifts for animation and children’s TV, and £28 million of investment in the UK global screen fund. As I have said, the Labour party voted against all our tax reliefs and, as far as I am aware, has offered no funding to those industries.

Michael Fabricant Portrait Michael Fabricant
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I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for her answer. She will know that there is now more studio space for feature film production in the home counties than there is in Hollywood. However, there is a vulnerability. We found that out at the time of the American writers and actors’ strikes, when a number of my friends, and many other people who are not my friends, were made redundant temporarily because film production halted. How can we make the British film industry more independent of the American production machine?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I know that my hon. Friend is himself a veteran of the silver screen, appearing in the brilliant British “House of Cards”. Our film industry is world leading. He is right that the strikes caused disruption. We work very closely with our partners in other jurisdictions. One example is the international hit film “Barbie”, which was filmed in the UK, supported 750 jobs, added £80 million to our economy and earned more than £1.1 billion at the global box office. We needed to ensure that the film industry could continue to thrive after the strikes, which is why we are continuing to support the industry with tax incentives, funding pots and, importantly, the development of a skills pipeline to ensure success long into the future.

Rob Butler Portrait Rob Butler (Aylesbury) (Con)
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10. Whether she has had recent discussions with the BBC Board on the impartiality of the BBC’s current affairs coverage.

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Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
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12. What progress she has made on increasing women and girls’ access to sport.

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Lucy Frazer)
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Women and girls should have exactly the same access to sport as boys and men. That is why we supported the recommendations in Karen Carney’s excellent report. It is why we are investing £600 million to boost equal access to sport, and why we recently announced £30 million for the Lionesses Futures Fund to deliver 30 pitches across the country with priority access for women and girls, with further opportunities for 8,000 women and girls.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones
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We have had fantastic success with women’s football, particularly the Lionesses, including Harrogate’s Rachel Daly, who has been a great inspiration locally, but what steps is my right hon. and learned Friend taking to ensure that sports with a smaller following can sustain a competitive grassroots environment for girls?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I recognise Rachel’s success as the top scorer in the women’s super league last year. We support sport at every level. Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, funded by the Government, inspires millions of women and girls to get involved in all sports. The School Games programme, also funded by the Government, encourages children to take up sport and get active.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Secretary of State.

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab)
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Unfortunately, in recent weeks there has been a spate of disgusting sexist, misogynistic abuse directed towards sportswomen just for being at the top of their game. I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the right hon. Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), has been on the receiving end just for standing up to it, which I commend him for. I agree with him that vile, misogynistic comments are dangerous. The reality is that they are putting women and girls off sport. Does the Secretary of State agree that every sporting organisation should have a strategy to eliminate all forms of sexual harassment and abuse?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I agree with the hon. Member: we should not have misogynistic, bullying behaviour in sport, and all governing bodies should be looking at what their sports are doing. We set out in our sports strategy how we should have fair competition and integrity in sport.

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire
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The Secretary of State mentioned the Carney review, but I am afraid that the Government seem to be failing women’s football on that, with a complete lack of detail about how the implementation group to put into practice the Carney review recommendations will work. Without senior leadership, that group will not have the teeth that it needs, and all the hard work will be put at risk. Fans, players and clubs deserve urgent action and leadership from the top. If the Secretary of State does not reform the women’s game and give it the same prominence as the men’s, I will. Will she commit to chairing the implementation group, and reporting back to Parliament so that MPs can hold her to account?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I completely dispute what the hon. Member says about our support for women in sport, and women in football. I have had the pleasure of meeting Karen Carney on a number of occasions. Her report is excellent. We endorse all its recommendations, many of which are for the FA, which I have also spoken to on this subject. I will ensure that the recommendations are fulfilled. The implementation board will have all the governing bodies on it. Its first meeting is in March. I will keep a very close eye on the board, and will work very closely with my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary on that and every other issue.

Peter Aldous Portrait Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con)
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T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Lucy Frazer Portrait The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Lucy Frazer)
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As 2023 drew to a close, official statistics highlighted that under this Government the creative industries continued to thrive. They now employ almost 2.5 million workers, a growth of 4.4%, so we are well on our way to meeting our objectives to grow the creative industries by £50 billion and increase employment by 1 million by 2030.

Peter Aldous Portrait Peter Aldous
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Local commercial radio, whether in Lancashire or Suffolk, can fill the gap left by the reduction in BBC local radio coverage, but in the Lowestoft and Waveney area it is constrained in doing so, as the local digital audio broadcasting network has not been extended to cover the area. Please can my right hon. and learned Friend arrange for that important infrastructure, which is available throughout most of the UK, to be extended to north-east Suffolk as soon as possible?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I completely agree with my hon. Friend on the importance of local radio to listeners across the UK, and I know that he is an effective campaigner for his local area. The BBC and commercial radio are responsible for the operation of their respective radio networks, including the DAB radio networks, but I have asked my officials to engage with local DAB multiplex operators and broadcasters to look at whether there is a desire to increase local DAB coverage further.

John Spellar Portrait John  Spellar  (Warley)  (Lab)
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T2. Does the Secretary of State agree that, in the media world, content is king, and that that is why we must support our world-leading creative talent? Will she take steps to require artificial intelligence developers to provide songwriters and composers with detailed information as to how their works are being used, including when authorisation has been granted for use of those works as training data?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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The right hon. Member is absolutely right about the importance of protecting the original work of the creative industries. I have held a number of roundtables to ensure that we protect that originality. The Intellectual Property Office is working on that very issue, and I have been liaising with it and with the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con)
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T3. The Secretary of State will be aware that the Premier League and the English Football League have held meetings, and yet have failed to come up with a solution for a fairer redistribution of funding. Given their inability to come to an agreement, will she get the two sides together round the table—she is probably already doing it—to encourage them to come up with a solution? Failing that, if legislation is necessary, will she consider it, because we do not want to see any clubs going under?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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It is absolutely right that a deal should be done. The Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), and I have been encouraging all the authorities to come to an arrangement. We have been clear that if no arrangement is reached, there will obviously be a backstop in the legislation for the football regulator that we will bring forward to the House shortly.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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T5. As the Secretary of State will be aware, charities are facing an extremely challenging fundraising environment and, at the same time, are trying to respond to increased demands due to the cost of living crisis. Will she explain why the Government continue to impose sales restrictions on charity lottery fundraising, the removal of which would not cost the Treasury a single penny, but would ensure much-needed additional funds for charitable causes? That would hugely benefit communities in my constituency and across the whole UK.

Stuart Andrew Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Stuart Andrew)
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As probably one of the few Members of this House who have actually set up a charities lottery, I understand the importance of them. It is right to say that we did a significant review of them not so long ago. I know the hon. Member is probably referring to one particular lottery, and I have written to that lottery with suggestions, having consulted with the Gambling Commission, of ways it may be able to expand within the current remit. But, as a Department, we are extremely busy at the moment dealing with the gambling White Paper—that has to take priority. Once we have done that, we will consider what further work may need to be done on society lotteries.

Steve Tuckwell Portrait Steve Tuckwell (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con)
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T4. With both Wealdstone and Uxbridge football clubs embedded in my constituency, grassroots football is incredibly important to the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Clubs like those offer more than just football; they act as vital community hubs and support a significant increase in girls’ football through to special educational provision and much more. For the benefit of the clubs and fans across my constituency, will the Minister give the House an update on the progress being made to protect grassroots football, including how television revenues will be distributed, to ensure that those important community assets do not just survive but flourish?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the importance of football clubs like Wealdstone and Uxbridge. They are incredibly important in providing opportunities for people to become physically active, but are also integral parts of our communities. That is why, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State just mentioned, we have been urging the football authorities to come up with a deal, so that that money can flow down and we can ensure that our great football sport that we have in this country continues to flourish.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
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T6. This year, in Scotland, we will have the chance to see the Scottish football team on terrestrial television. That is a rare opportunity—not just because we have qualified, but because Scottish football, like other sports, is becoming increasingly difficult to view, because it is increasingly behind a paywall. That is damaging its attraction to young people who want to see it. Will the Minister tell us what discussions are taking place to try to alleviate that problem?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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I am glad that people in Scotland will be able to watch their national team. I believe that our current list works well. It is important that we strike the right balance, because we have to ensure that the sport rights holders use the income they get to benefit the whole of that sporting environment. That is something we look at constantly, but I think that at the moment we have the right balance.

Andy Carter Portrait Andy Carter (Warrington South) (Con)
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Given Ofcom’s comments that it is considering whether its proposals for regulation of local radio are still appropriate in the light of the BBC’s changes to local radio provision, does the Minister agree that the BBC’s mid-term review is a good opportunity to look at how the BBC delivers for older audiences, particularly in its local radio provision?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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The mid-term review is a very important point where we can look further, and indeed have looked further, at a number of issues, including competition, complaints and impartiality. We will be publishing the results of the mid-term review very shortly.

Matt Western Portrait Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)
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The Minister will know that Warwick and Leamington—Leamington being also known as Silicon Spa—enjoys the greatest concentration of games companies in the world. I appreciate what was said in the autumn statement, but there is a skills shortage. Can the Minister update us on what is being done to address that?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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The gaming industry in this country is world leading, and I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of gaming companies to see how they are thriving. We have a creative industries skills package, which we committed to in the creative industries sector vision, to ensure a pipeline of talent all the way from primary school right up until someone’s second or third job, and there are measures at every single one of those steps.

Elliot Colburn Portrait Elliot Colburn (Carshalton and Wallington) (Con)
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Wallington FC is an amazing local football club in Roundshaw, in Carshalton and Wallington, but it is having trouble maintaining its lease with the new owners and its very old sports pavilion needs an overhaul. Can the Minister set out what support is available from the Department or other organisations to help with that?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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The volunteers that my hon. Friend mentions are absolutely the lifeblood of community sport and it is vital that they have those facilities, as I mentioned earlier. Again, we are investing more than £320 million, and any team can have discussions with the local authority and the Football Foundation. I am happy to meet him privately to discuss that and perhaps give him some pointers.

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP)
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Performers in the UK are having their images, voices or likenesses reproduced by others using AI technology, without their consent. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which regulates performers’ intellectual property, does not account for AI. When will this Government act to protect the rights of artists, performers and other creatives in the UK, or are they content to see this continued exploitation and violation of people’s intellectual property rights?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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The hon. Member will know that in the UK we have world-leading protections for copyright and intellectual property. We want to make sure that, as we move into a new technological age with generative AI, we continue to protect creative work. I assure her that we are working closely with the industry and the Intellectual Property Office to ensure that we get the best protections we can, and I know that an update on the IPO’s work will be published shortly.

James Morris Portrait James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con)
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One of the key recommendations of the Carney review into women’s football was the need for an improvement in mental health provision in elite women’s sport. I think the Government have accepted most of the recommendations of the Carney review, so can the Secretary of State give us an update on how she thinks mental health provision needs to be improved in women’s elite sport?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight that important piece of work in Karen Carney’s review. I know that football authorities such as the FA, for example, are starting work in this area, but that is precisely why we will be introducing the implementation group, because we want to ensure that pressure is put on to do the work that is needed, and to do it quickly.

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op)
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Labour has a programme for a new generation of youth hubs, because we know that our young people are struggling with mental health challenges, school, themselves and others, and some are being picked off by criminal gangs. In contrast with our programme, the YMCA has identified a 70% cut in funding since 2010 and a loss of 4,500 frontline youth workers. When will the Government invest in our young people and in a comprehensive youth service?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I am grateful for the hon. Lady’s question, because this is something I feel very passionately about. I am very proud that we are investing £500 million in our national youth guarantee, and that we already have in place a programme to build youth clubs—we have already built 87 throughout the country, spending £300 million. We want constructive things for people to do, which is why we are spending £300 million on our sports pitches. I have strengthened the statutory guidance in relation to what local authorities are required to do, and we are working across Departments to ensure that our young people have something to do, somewhere to go and someone to talk to.

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—