Debates between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 17th Jan 2024
Thu 25th May 2023
Online Safety Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 2
Mon 17th Apr 2023
Thu 23rd Feb 2023
Mon 20th Feb 2023
Electronic Trade Documents Bill [HL]
Other Business

Lords Special Public Bill Committee
Thu 2nd Feb 2023
Tue 21st Jun 2022
Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Committee stage: Part 2
Tue 21st Jun 2022
Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 1 & Committee stage: Part 1
Wed 9th Feb 2022
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments & Consideration of Commons amendments
Tue 23rd Nov 2021
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

3rd reading & 3rd reading
Tue 16th Nov 2021
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report stage & Report stage
Wed 10th Nov 2021
Mon 21st Jun 2021
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
Grand Committee

Committee stage & Committee stage
Thu 23rd Jul 2020

Telegraph Media Group: Proposed Sale to RedBird IMI

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 31st January 2024

(4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I find myself in the somewhat novel position of fiercely defending the interests of the Telegraph newspaper group and the Spectator in the interests of press freedom.

There was a fairly remarkable debate in the Commons yesterday because, on a Question about transparency and protecting democracy, the Minister’s answer was mainly that she could not answer any questions. I must gently say that this questioning is not designed to trip Ministers up; these are serious concerns, put forward thoughtfully by Members of all parties right across the House. I therefore hope the Minister will be able to answer two of those questions today. First, can the Minister point to any existing examples of a nation state with “differing media values”—as the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee delicately put it yesterday—acquiring a major newspaper of another country? Secondly, and in the light of the proposed sale, do His Majesty’s Government have any plans to review existing rules on media ownership, and if not, does the Minister think they should?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for his questions and welcome him to the ranks of Telegraph and Spectator readers—I hope he will enjoy what he sees in their pages. He will understand that the Secretary of State is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity following the provisions laid out in the Enterprise Act 2002. She is considering whether mergers raise media public interest concerns. She has issued public interest intervention notices, reflecting the concerns that she continues to have that there may be public interest considerations in this case: the

“accurate presentation of news; and … free expression of opinion”

as set out in Section 58 of the Enterprise Act, which are relevant to this planned acquisition. I hope the noble Lord will understand that, as she is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, it is essential that she does not take into account, and that there be no perception that she has taken or is taking into account, any political or presentational considerations. I therefore find myself in the same position as my honourable friend Julia Lopez in another place yesterday in being limited in what I can say while that quasi-judicial process unfurls.

BBC: Funding

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 17th January 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I wholeheartedly agree with the noble Lord. The creative industries were growing twice as quickly as the economy overall before the pandemic. That is why, as part of the creative industry sector vision, we are looking to turbocharge that growth and why the creative industries are one of the Chancellor’s five priority areas for our economy. The noble Lord is also right to point to the importance of our public service broadcasters. I watched the third part of “Mr Bates vs The Post Office” last night on ITVX. It is a shining example of how the arts and creative industries can shine light on important issues facing society, and long may that continue.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, during Monday’s BBC Question, references were made to the threats posed by disinformation and, in particular, the value of the BBC, which is seen as a trusted provider of news both at home and abroad. The Minister said that it was

“a beacon that shines brightly around the world”.—[Official Report, 15/1/24; col. 222.]

With that in mind, does he welcome the recent launch and gradual scaling-up of BBC Verify? Does he agree that the Government could greatly assist this new team by improving their own presentation of political events and official statistics?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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That is fitting for a Question begun by the noble Lord, Lord Morse. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, is right. So many of the world’s democracies go to the polls this year, and this is an issue which will face broadcasters, but the BBC particularly, both at home and through the World Service, does a brilliant job at making sure that the claims of politicians—wherever they are in the world, whatever party they come from—are rightly scrutinised and that people are informed so that they can make decisions about the societies and countries in which they live.

Loot Boxes in Video Games

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am not, but I shall take my noble friend’s very good question back to the gambling team at the department and encourage it to make sure that we are pursuing research that will add to our understanding of the implications for all age groups.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, whether it is the two-year gap between the Government’s call for evidence and their response, or the further year-long wait for the games industry to announce guidelines, efforts to tackle child access to loot boxes and other in-game features with gambling-like features have been far too slow, in our view. Like others, we hope that voluntary arrangements will work, but if they do not, can the Minister confirm whether the Government have a specific regulatory approach in mind? If so, how long might implementation take?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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We think the industry-led guidance on loot boxes has the potential, if fully implemented, to improve protections and to meet the Government’s objectives. We expect the games industry to implement the guidance in full and we will monitor that carefully. If the industry is unable to meet our objectives, there are a range of options that the Government may consider, but we would like to see how they bed in first.

Dormant Assets (Distribution of Money) (England) Order 2023

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 24th October 2023

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, like everybody else, I am grateful to the Minister for the way in which he introduced this. It is a short SI. That has not stopped noble Lords this afternoon asking a plenitude of questions, but all of them are highly relevant. Many of them are repeats from when we discussed the Bill back in 2021-22, but they are nevertheless highly relevant today.

This is of huge importance to community organisations and individuals who will benefit from the funding. I thought that the testimony of the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, was very good on that point because she gave very good examples of the benefits of using the funds in the way in which they are used. I am sure that the Minister will fondly remember his many hours taking the Bill through the House; I have a feeling that it was his first Committee, and he did it very well and with tact and skill.

During the passage of the Bill, we had a lot of discussion about the potential inclusion of community wealth funds as beneficiaries of the dormant asset moneys. In the best tradition of the Lords, there was cross-party support, including in particular from the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, the now-retired Bishop of Newcastle, and, speaking on her behalf, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely. That collaboration gave rise, as I recall, to an amendment that many of us signed, which led to a shift in the position of the Government. It was initially resisted by the Minister, who stressed that

“current evidence for community wealth funds, as well as concrete designs for how they would operate, are relatively sparse”.

He did, however, go on to say that

“there is more work to be done in this area before a commitment can firmly be made”. [Official Report, 16/11/21; col. 177.]

In a refreshing break from tradition, the Government have followed through with their promise. I congratulate them on that, because it is a very important and significant one.

Based on the outcomes of their consultation, which saw 71% of respondents agree or strongly agree that community wealth funds should be included as a cause for dormant assets, they have rightly included them on the list in this instrument. This is, without doubt, a very exciting time for those involved in the creation and scaling up of community wealth funds. However, the Minister will know that some in the sector are concerned by the direction indicated in the recent technical consultation document published jointly by DCMS and DLUHC. We understand the need to build the evidence base for community wealth funds. Limiting their work to smaller towns of fewer than 20,000 people appears counterintuitive to us—I will not say counterproductive. Some of the most deprived areas across our country have populations larger than 20,000, yet for a variety of reasons they lack the type of social infrastructure that these funds could provide. The noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, gave a very good case example of where that sort of community capacity can be missing.

Yes, we need to build the evidence base for community wealth funds over time, but I hope the department will consider whether this rather arbitrary threshold is wise. If the pilots are run in the wrong areas or to the wrong criteria, we may never see an accurate picture of the role these funds can play in improving communities and people’s lives and livelihoods. Will the department reflect further on this? This design principle is not even subject to consultation, and I think that needs to be given some urgent thought. At the least, we would like to see the Minister prepared to welcome views on the point and the issue.

While we are glad that community wealth funds have been named as a cause, we are equally pleased to see the existing three causes keep their place in the list. Dormant assets have funded a variety of important services for young people and those with debt or financial inclusion issues, which the Minister referenced. It is vital that their work is able to continue, particularly at a time where our economy continues to struggle and inflation remains a problem for people up and down the country. The Minister will be familiar with the work of organisations such as Big Society Capital, Local Trust and so on, that fall under the third category on the list. As I am sure the Minister is well aware, Big Society Capital has come up with a community enterprise growth plan, which aims to put dormant asset funds to even better use by leveraging additional private capital and multiply the impact that the initial investment generates. While I understand that the Minister will not be able to announce individual allocations today, will he commit to looking closely at least at that plan?

Some questions will remain over elements of the Government’s approach, but we are generally pleased to support this SI. As I have already noted, there is cross-party support for the scheme, and we should harness that energy. At the same time, there are legitimate concerns over particular aspects of the policy. Ministers like to talk about levelling up but, despite the fantastic work of social enterprises across the country, it is not clear that we are yet seeing it on the ground. With that in mind, I hope the Minster can commit to further discussions in the months to come.

For me, the dormant assets scheme is an original great Labour success story. It started in 2008 and was authored by Gordon Brown. The current Government have taken it a stage further and broadened the range of options for paying into that fund. It has put millions of pounds to good use around the country. We are happy to support the expansion of the asset categories through the 2022 Act. Once the finer details have been ironed out, we hope that even more will soon go to good causes.

A number of questions that colleagues asked were particularly important, such as on additionality. Ensuring the restoration of money to the right place is important. The size of the reserve fund seems questionable. We must ensure that we get the right distribution of funds and that they deliver additionality, rather than just paying for things that would otherwise be paid for by government programmes through local government.

This has been an impressive and useful debate. I hope this is an issue that we can keep at the forefront of the House’s consideration. Perhaps we could return to the point about monitoring and analysing the impact at some stage in some form or other. It might be the sort of thing that could be the subject of a Lords’ report, because this is an exciting opportunity. It is all about building capacity, providing opportunities and getting funds to communities that most require them.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, that this has been an important and useful debate. I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to it. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, and her fellow members of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments for the work they have done in this regard. I reassure her that we do indeed want this scheme to continue long into the future. The expansion of the dormant assets scheme is expected to unlock a further £738 million for England alongside the almost £1 billion which has already been unlocked, as I mentioned in my opening contribution. We are committed to ensuring the success of this expansion so that ample funding can be distributed across the four causes. That is what the primary legislation—the 2022 Act—and the secondary legislation intend to promote and protect.

I can also reassure the noble Lords, Lord Davies of Brixton and Lord Addington, and other noble Lords who underlined the importance of the additionality principle that it will be adhered to. Ensuring additionality is an essential criterion of the dormant assets scheme. The Government are committed to ensuring that a community wealth fund is designed and delivered in a way which does not replace or undercut central or local government funding. We specifically sought views on how to embed the principle of additionality in the design of a community wealth fund in the technical consultation, which closed on 19 October and which we are working our way through at the moment. That will include ensuring that any interventions provided to communities to support their decision-making will exclude statutory duties. We will work with the National Lottery Community Fund as the main distributor. Lottery funds are also subject to the additionality principle, so the National Lottery Community Fund already has its own policies and practices in place to maintain that important principle.

The noble Lord, Lord Davies, asked about the pensions dashboard. Ensuring that efforts are made to reunite dormant assets funding with its rightful owner remains the first priority of the scheme. A number of ongoing initiatives are aimed at preventing pension assets reaching dormancy, including pensions dashboards, which will enable people to access their information online, securely and all in one place.

Commonwealth Games

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Thursday 7th September 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The Governments of Alberta and Victoria have cited cost as a reason for their decision. That is curious in the light of Birmingham’s experience, where the Games came in £70 million under budget and the Government gave that money to the West Midlands Combined Authority to spend on a variety of important initiatives, including cultural and sporting ones, in that part of the UK. So it is possible to deliver a Games that everyone can enjoy, as they did in Birmingham, on time and on budget, and we are very happy to share the lessons of Birmingham’s successful hosting with those who might want to bid. My right honourable friend the Sports Minister has been speaking to the federation about learning those lessons.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, this has happened a few times before. Can the Minister ensure that His Majesty’s Government do more to facilitate discussions on the future direction of the competition? Does it need to be reinvented somehow or does more thought need to be given to reducing the costs to hosts? Would it perhaps be more sustainable if the frequency of the Games was varied to match economic needs? Thinking about my own city, which has finally entered the Europa League this year, there are clear economic benefits demonstrated from hosting events like that. Are the Government doing enough to promote participation in wider international sporting competitions so that we can reap the benefit of the economic boost they bring to our country?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Yes, we fully recognise the important economic boost that hosting major sporting events can bring. Sport is estimated to be worth over £38 billion a year to our economy. The hosting of the women’s Euros in 2022 generated economic activity of £81 million across the eight host cities that welcomed visitors and supported 1,200 full-time equivalent jobs. It also saw a 140% increase in participation among girls in the season after the tournament—so the benefits are manifold. The Commonwealth Games Federation is exploring all options to secure the long-term viability of the Commonwealth Games. It has committed to putting a firmer plan in place by the time of its general assembly in November.

Football Matches: Violence

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 14th June 2023

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of concerns expressed by the Professional Footballers’ Association about violent incidents at football matches; and what consideration they are giving to strengthening (1) stewarding, (2) policing, and (3) other legal powers, to protect professional footballers and football club staff.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, the safety of everyone at sporting events is of paramount importance to His Majesty’s Government. Stewards play an integral role in ensuring that safety, and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority is working to improve the quality of stewarding at football matches. The police and courts have a wide range of powers to protect footballers and club staff, including the use of football banning orders, which can now be applied to a wider range of offences thanks to recent changes made by the Government.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, this year’s EFL play-off semi-finals and final provided huge drama. The FA Cup had the first ever Manchester derby and the fastest ever cup final goal. However, despite multiple announcements in advance of full time, pitch invasions by fans were commonplace, putting players, staff and officials at risk. I have raised football disorder several times at the Dispatch Box. While I accept that Ministers alone cannot solve this, we need signs of progress. I remind the Minister that we are bidding, with Ireland, to hold the 2028 Euro championships. Will the Minister commit to using his off season productively to meet governing bodies and clubs to identify possible ways forward?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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It is an offence under Section 4 of the Football (Offences) Act 1991 for a person at a designated football match to go on to the playing area. Anyone found guilty of unlawfully doing so can be fined or can have a court preventive football banning order imposed on them. As I say, we have strengthened the football banning orders, and we keep these important matters under review. My department commissioned the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to conduct research into the long-term sustainability of stewarding. It is now working with football’s governing bodies and others to identify the challenges that it identified in its research. It has refined guidance and issued fact sheets to the football authorities. We keep these matters under review, including, as the noble Lord rightly reminds us, as we pursue our bid for Euro 2028.

Online Safety Bill

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Yes, and as I say, I am happy to talk with the noble Lord about this in greater detail. Under the Bill, category 1 companies will have a new duty to safeguard all journalistic content on their platform, which includes citizen journalism. But I will have to take all these points forward with him in our further discussions.

My noble friend Lord Bethell is not here to move his Amendment 220D, which would allow Ofcom to designate online safety regulatory duties under this legislation to other bodies. We have previously discussed a similar issue relating to the Internet Watch Foundation, so I shall not repeat the points that we have already made.

On the amendments on supposedly gendered language in relation to Ofcom advisory committees in Clauses 139 and 155, I appreciate the intention to make it clear that a person of either sex should be able to perform the role of chairman. The Bill uses the term “chairman” to be consistent with the terminology in the Office of Communications Act 2002, and we are confident that this will have no bearing on Ofcom’s decision-making on who will chair the advisory committees that it must establish, just as, I am sure, the noble Lord’s Amendment 56 does not seek to be restrictive about who might be an “ombudsman”.

I appreciate the intention of Amendment 262 from the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle. It is indeed vital that the review reflects the experience of young people. Clause 159 provides for a review to be undertaken by the Secretary of State, and published and laid before Parliament, to assess the effectiveness of the regulatory framework. There is nothing in the existing legislation that would preclude seeking the views of young people either as part of an advisory group or in other ways. Moreover, the Secretary of State is required to consult Ofcom and other persons she considers appropriate. In relation to young people specifically, it may be that a number of different approaches will be effective—for example, consulting experts or representative groups on children’s experiences online. That could include people of all ages. The regulatory framework is designed to protect all users online, and it is right that we take into account the full spectrum of views from people who experience harms, whatever their age and background, through a consultation process that balances all their interests.

Amendment 268AA from the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, relates to reporting requirements for online abuse and harassment, including where this is racially motivated—an issue we have discussed in Questions and particularly in relation to sport. His amendment would place an additional requirement on all service providers, even those not in scope of the Bill. The Bill’s scope extends only to user-to-user and search services. It has been designed in this way to tackle the risk of harm to users where it is highest. Bringing additional companies in scope would dilute the efforts of the legislation in this important regard.

Clauses 16 and 26 already require companies to set up systems and processes that allow users easily to report illegal content, including illegal online abuse and harassment. This amendment would therefore duplicate this existing requirement. It also seeks to create an additional requirement for companies to report illegal online abuse and harassment to the Crown Prosecution Service. The Bill does not place requirements on in-scope companies to report their investigations into crimes that occur online, other than child exploitation and abuse. This is because the Bill aims to prevent and reduce the proliferation of illegal material and the resulting harm it causes to so many. Additionally, Ofcom will be able to require companies to report on the incidence of illegal content on their platforms in its transparency reports, as well as the steps they are taking to tackle that content.

I hope that reassures the noble Lord that the Bill intends to address the problems he has outlined and those explored in the exchange with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. With that, I hope that noble Lords will support the government amendments in this group and be satisfied not to press theirs at this point.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I listened very carefully to the Minister’s response to both my amendments. He has gone some way to satisfying my concerns. I listened carefully to the concerns of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, and noble Lords on the Lib Dem Benches. I am obviously content to withdraw my amendment.

I do not quite agree with the Minister’s point about dilution on the last amendment—I see it as strengthening —but I accept that the amendments themselves slightly stretch the purport of this element of the legislation. I shall review the Minister’s comments and I suspect that I shall be satisfied with what he said.

UK Concussion Guidelines for Grass-roots Sport

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 3rd May 2023

(10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, we on these Benches strongly welcome this guidance and hope the Government will ensure that anyone suffering from a head injury is able to get swift access to the treatment and continuing support that they need. In the Commons yesterday, the Minister said he was “sure” that his Department of Health and Social Care colleagues would make announcements “in due course”. I wonder whether the Minister can be any more specific on timings today.

The introduction of concussion protocols in many elite sports has undoubtedly helped increase awareness of the subject, but we sometimes see players ignore the advice of medical professionals and attempt to play on. Indeed, I remember my son as a teenager being fouled and a penalty being given, and he was badly concussed. He was determined to take the penalty spot kick, and his mother and I had to wrestle him off the pitch.

We know that these things are important, so does the Minister agree that governing bodies need to keep their own protocols under review and that players themselves should be mindful of their status as role models? What more do the Government plan to do to ensure that this advice gets the profile it needs at all levels of sporting endeavour? These are important moves forward, and we broadly welcome them.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the support of the party opposite. World-leading experts have informed this guidance and it is important that we give it to the many people who are engaged in recreational sport across the country. The example that the noble Lord gives from his own family is illustrative of the issues that we need to make people aware of, so that people can intervene where needed and make sure that there is support for those who require it.

As my right honourable friend the Sports Minister said yesterday in another place, he has committed to continuing to work with his colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that the relevant advice is given to people, including those who want to contact the NHS through the 111 service. Many health experts from lots of sporting backgrounds have been involved in the preparation of this advice.

The noble Lord is right to point to the role of financial governing bodies in disseminating the advice that is appropriate in the context of their sports. Last year the English and Scottish Football Associations banned heading the ball in training for primary school-age children, an example of work that has been taken on. We are working with national governing bodies to make sure that the guidance is disseminated to everyone who needs to see it.

Music Industry

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 17th April 2023

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, 23 of the 27 member states of the EU already offer visa- and work permit-free routes for touring artists from the UK. We have seen progress on portable musical instruments being transported cost-free without an ATA carnet and have had confirmation that splitter vans are not subject to the TCA limits on cabotage and cross trade. We continue to speak to the four remaining member states and encourage them to have the same generous rules that we have in the UK to welcome musicians from all over the world. As I have said, the Foreign Secretary continues to raise this at the highest level.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister referenced high energy costs. The noble Lord, Lord Black, spoke more widely of some of the threats to the music industry. Grass-roots music venues are closing at the rate of one a week, as the noble Lord rightly said. Without these venues, emerging artists will struggle to showcase their talents and grow the fanbase required to move to bigger venues. The Minister will know that many sports governing bodies prioritise grass-roots investment, while non-music performing arts enjoy various forms of public subsidy. Some theatres are able to charge a small restoration levy. Music is so important to our personal, communal and national shared experience. What other, more imaginative options than the Minister has given us today are his department exploring to ensure that smaller venues can flourish instead of being lost for good?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord is right to raise this. I have pointed to the £18 billion energy bill relief scheme and the energy bill discount scheme, which has succeeded it. The Music Venue Trust has been raising the issue of small grass-roots venues. The Creative Industries Minister, Julia Lopez, met the trust last month to discuss its proposals for a levy such as the noble Lord outlined. I am also happy to say that on the trust’s other initiative, Own Our Venues, the Arts Council has contributed £500,000 of public funding towards this community project to purchase at-risk venues and rent them back to the owners as benevolent landlords. We look to creative solutions to these problems.

Treasure (Designation) (Amendment) Order 2023

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 28th March 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate so far, and I will try to add a little bit to it. I always know it is an important debate when the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, turns up to entertain us for the afternoon. We welcome the bringing forward of this statutory instrument and the accompanying guidance, which is a fascinating document. We can see that it is the result of a lengthy consultation process, as the Minister said, which was started back in 2019.

As he outlined in the supporting documentation, there has been a growth in detectorism and the number of detectorists. In fact, as the Minister was speaking of his many visits to museums and places, I was thinking that perhaps he sees a future for himself as a detectorist, out there at the weekends with his metal-detecting device, because he is clearly very enthusiastic for it, and rightly so. As he said, more than 95% of finds since 1996 have been made by metal detectorists and the annual number of cases of treasure has climbed in the intervening period. It is clear that there is no shortage of treasure, enthusiasm or talent in this country and there is a desire to satisfy ourselves about our heritage, as a nation with a rich history. There is clearly an increasing urge to be connected to the past. For some, this takes the form of researching their family history, while for others it is a more active pursuit which takes place on our fields, beaches, riverbanks and other places where detectorists gather.

As noble Lords have already said, the Treasure Act has helped to put many important finds in the hands of museums, providing another important means for people to be informed about the history of their local area. As the Minister hinted, several significant finds in recent years have not been protected under the law, leaving artefacts at risk of falling into private hands, unless museums were able to rely on other methods, such as securing export bans. There is obviously a ready market for finds overseas, and I suspect particularly in the USA.

The step-by-step approach proposed by the Government, making changes so that metallic items are captured by the Act but not yet extending it to non-metal objects, appears a sensible way forward. While we support the order, the consultation underpinning it was launched a long time ago in 2019 and we wonder why it has taken quite so long to bring this change forward. If any further changes are deemed desirable, such as extending it to non-metal objects, we would like to see a more rigorous timeframe so that there can be greater certainty. Clearly this is a growing area of interest.

Can the Minister talk about the role of local museums and whether such institutions will be at the front of the queue to claim items found in their area? Previous research by the Museums Association shows that local authority funding cuts have resulted in a drastic scaling back of support for local museums. Are any steps being taken to address that issue? I know the Minister will be familiar with concerns raised by stakeholders and in another place about the potential for these changes to lead to underreporting of treasure finds. Will he comment on those fears?

Finally, I think the Minister’s Commons colleague volunteered him to address the exemption granted to items that fall under Church of England processes. Perhaps he can say a bit more about this and on that decision to ensure the record is complete.

Although these questions need answering, we hope this order and the accompanying changes to guidance will further increase interest in finding treasure, help protect those items for the future and, in doing so, make a positive contribution to the telling of important local and national historic stories.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, this has indeed been an entertaining and informative debate, and I am glad that two of my predecessors have excavated themselves to join us. I can see why they speak so fondly of their time engaging with this process because it is a highlight for any Minister at DCMS to be involved. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, shared the tribute that I paid to him for his work, with the late noble Earl, Lord Perth, and all those who urged the important change. He is right to highlight what a success the Act has been and the number of items that it has saved for the nation to be shared with the public and to highlight the way that it has inspired people to discover more or to shed new insights into the past, sometimes including obscure practices, such as why people would ask my noble friend Lord Vaizey any questions. That practice is no longer continued.

The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, is right to point to the fact that this is not because of the work of any legislators or Ministers but because of the many dedicated experts who are engaged in the process. I am glad that, in our debate, Roger Bland, chairman of the Treasure Valuation Committee, and Dr Michael Lewis, head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, received the credit that is due to them.

The noble Lord is right to talk about the disappointment that can ensue when these items are not shared with the public. One of the most wonderful things about this is that items often end up in a museum close to where they were found. They help us to understand local and regional history as well as our shared national history. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, is right to point to the important role of local museums in sharing these items and giving credit to those who have found them and generously donated to support them.

The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, is right to point out that these items are not always expensive. Their value lies in their importance and in the fact that they have been lost to human view for so long. They can quite often be purchased for reasonable sums, and there are many generous grant-making bodies, such as the Art Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the V&A, Arts Council England and many more, which help to keep these items in public collections and shared with museums and local visitors around the country.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, asked whether we had thought about putting part of this process on a statutory footing. I will take that point away and discuss it with colleagues, but I underline the point that I made in my opening remarks about the resources that we have given to ensure that the process is well administered. In 2022-23, we gave the British Museum £365,000 for the administration of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, £150,000 to support the treasure process and £808,000 to support a new Portable Antiquities Scheme database. The scheme in England now employs 40 full- time and part-time finds liaison officers and 12 part-time liaison officers. We will be monitoring the impact of these changes on the scheme’s resources, but I will take away the noble Lord’s point about statutory support.

The question that the noble Lord asked about whether a specialist coroner would help speed up the process has been looked at before. I will discuss that with officials as we monitor the impact of the changes that the statutory instrument brings about. We have certainly assessed the additional work that we know this will cause coroners and we are aware that some parts of the country may be more affected than others. We have engaged with the Chief Coroner’s office, with coroners themselves and with colleagues across government on the order and the revised code, and we will be providing opportunities for training and advice for coroners and their staff, as well as monitoring the impact of these changes.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, invited me to say a bit more about the Church of England exemption. I explained the history to it in my opening remarks: as the established Church, the Church of England is the only Church that is officially recognised and that has a formal relationship with the state. It is therefore the only Church that has its own specific legislation, including a system of controls on the protection and disposal of moveable objects associated with its buildings and land.

Before the 1996 Act, the common law of treasure trove required that treasure had to have been hidden with an evident intention by the person who hid it to return and find it, which meant that objects related to Christian burials were not treasure. The 1996 Act removed that requirement, bringing these objects into the treasure process, while they also remained under the statutory processes of the Church of England. It highlighted the possibility that other treasure objects might be found, not in association with burials, which could be subject to both of those statutory regimes. It was to remove this confusion that these finds have been exempted from the definition of treasure. Our view is that the Church of England’s statutory processes provide sufficient protection for these finds. Equally, finds associated with other faiths and the Anglican Communion in Wales and Northern Ireland are protected by the treasure process.

I am grateful to noble Lords who have taken part in our debate today. As I said, we will keep the impact of these changes very much under review. Each year, we publish a Treasure Act statistical release and an annual report. Seeing its publication and some of the items found over the previous calendar year at the British Museum is indeed a highlight for us all. Because of that report, we will be able to monitor how many additional cases go through the process. In addition, we will speak to all those involved in the process, whether administrators or acquirers or finders of treasure, to see how effective the change is and how it has affected them. With renewed thanks to noble Lords who have taken part in the debate, I commend this instrument to the Committee.

Electronic Trade Documents Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, it falls to me to add my general congratulations to the Minister, to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, for his work on this, to the Bill team and the advisers who were behind them and, in particular, as the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said, to Professor Sarah Green, who led the way in the evidence and cleared a great pathway for us. The Law Commission should be congratulated on constructing this legislation to which none of us wanted to effect an amendment, and we succeeded in that through many hours of deliberation and consideration, so that is something to be proud of in itself.

I want to add to a point the noble Lord, Lord Clement- Jones, usefully began. Many Bills meander their way through Parliament and disappear, sinking without a trace. I suspect this Bill might do that as well, but it does not deserve to. This is a really important piece of legislation which we should not just be proud of but make something of. Some estimates suggest we can save something like 50% in costs by moving to forms of electronic trade. That is not to be sniffed at in an intensely competitive international trading world. This piece of legislation, which puts us in the lead on electronic trade, is something we should celebrate.

I raised in Committee with the Minister that we should ensure we have a strategy which means that this Bill gets the opportunity to do what it says it is about: facilitating electronic trading. I asked the Minister about this when we were in Committee. He said:

“Following the Bill being passed, many of the precise steps taken to implement and fully harness the benefits of the Bill will be for business and industry to determine.”


That is fine, but we need a clear pathway and strategy from the Government for us to be able as a trading nation to reap the benefits of this legislation. I would like to hear from the Minister—it is something I am sure the House will want to come back to at some point—what that strategy might look like. He later said that there is

“a role for government to play”,—[Official Report, Electronic Trade Documents Bill [HL] Special Public Bill Committee, 20/2/23; col. 17.]

which is the case. However, we and Singapore are the only two trading nations with the benefit of this legislation in prospect.

I congratulate the Government on bringing this forward. It is a fine piece of legislation. It may not be controversial, but it is potentially of great value. I hope this Government can aspire to give this piece of legislation the value it deserves.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am very grateful to the noble Lords, who have given the rest of your Lordships’ House a brief snapshot of the good scrutiny the Bill received through the Special Public Bill Committee. It may be unamended, but it is certainly not unscrutinised. I am very grateful to all the other members of the Committee for the work that they did and, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, rightly said, to all the academic experts, those from the legal profession and, crucially, from the industries which stand to benefit the most and came to give evidence before the Committee. All of that was much appreciated.

The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, asked about the single trade window. It falls to colleagues at His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. If I may, I will direct the question to them and furnish him with an answer on the single trade window. Both noble Lords are right that there is work to be done across government. Colleagues at the Department for Business and Trade and at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology will take the Bill forward in another place.

As noble Lords have heard me say before, through our presidency of the G7 recently and our role jointly chairing the Commonwealth digital connectivity cluster, we are in international fora encouraging other jurisdictions to follow our lead in this area to align with the model law and avail themselves of these opportunities. They are significant for industry in terms of the simplification and speeding up of trade, the environmental impact and resilience when it comes to unforeseen things such as the pandemic, which brought into relief the importance of this Bill.

This Bill is facilitative, but it will put the UK ahead not only of the G7 countries but almost the whole world. I am very proud that we are setting the approach which other jurisdictions will seek to follow. With gratitude to noble Lords who have scrutinised the Bill in your Lordships’ House, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

BBC: Government Role in Impartiality

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 15th March 2023

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, the Government claim not to have interfered in the BBC’s affairs this past weekend. We take that at face value, even if Downing Street had no problem with Conservative MPs applying their own pressure on the BBC. According to leaked messages, it is clear Downing Street has interfered in the corporation’s news output, both during the pandemic and at the beginning of the Ukraine conflict. Is not the Minister concerned by this quote from a BBC insider, who said:

“Particularly on the website, our headlines have been determined by calls from Downing Street on a very regular basis.”


Does not this bring us once again to the wholly inappropriate relationship between Boris Johnson and the man he appointed as chair of the BBC, and does not this tell us everything we need to know about the Government’s paper-thin commitment to the notion of impartiality?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord will know that political parties, whether in government or in opposition, regularly contact the BBC and other broadcasters in relation to what they broadcast as part and parcel of the news content they provide, but the public service broadcasters do a brilliant job presenting impartial news which continues to inform people, whatever their political views or persuasions. The impartiality of the BBC as a publicly funded broadcaster goes to the very heart of the contract between it and the licence fee payers it serves. It is set out in the royal charter, along with the underpinning framework agreement, and the Government fully support the BBC in the action it takes to uphold that impartiality.

Creative and Cultural Sector: Social Mobility

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 7th March 2023

(11 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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As my noble friend knows, we have ensured that the Arts Council, which distributes a lot of taxpayer subsidy to arts and culture, does so more fairly across the whole country, bringing opportunities and high-quality cultural provision close to people’s doorsteps. Since 2018, the Arts Council has asked national portfolio organisations, as it calls them, to provide data on the socioeconomic background of their permanent staff. We have asked them to take the socioeconomic background of the people involved into account so that we can make sure that everybody is able to enjoy the opportunities that that affords.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, returning to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, there is a crisis here. According to ONS data from researchers at the universities of Manchester, Edinburgh and Sheffield, the number of creative workers from working-class backgrounds has halved since the 1970s—my generation, if you like—and the chances of children from middle-class backgrounds getting a job in the cultural sector are four times greater than for those from working-class backgrounds. Does the Minister share my concern that this affects not only who portrays the characters but the stories and narratives seen by the wider public? What work is the department doing with the Social Mobility Commission in this area, and what additional resources can it give the commission to help it change the class basis of our arts?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord is right: culture and creativity are enriched when as broad a range of people as possible are part of telling stories and sharing perspectives. That is why we commissioned the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre to do the report that I mentioned. We have also commissioned an external evidence review to identify interventions that can help. I have mentioned the work we are taking forward through the cultural education plan and the creative industries sector vision, so there is work for us to do. The point he makes about the Social Mobility Commission is a good one, and I will follow it up with colleagues.

Medicines Manufacturing Industry

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 27th February 2023

(1 year ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My noble friend has great expertise in the economies of Latin America and South America. I will ensure that the example of Costa Rica is being heeded in the department.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, all I am hearing is “managed decline”. The MMIP report set six themes for developments in medicines manufacturing, highlighting the importance of a resilient, stable manufacturing base to supply UK and global needs. The report aims to ensure that we have a competitive edge in a world of trade bottlenecks and political instability. What steps are the Government taking to collaborate internationally to secure better regulatory co-operation and trade facilitation to enable this? While we are at it, can the Minister update the House on the Horizon programme association bid, given the progress with the Northern Ireland protocol that we have been told about today?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord is very up to the minute with the final part of his question, so I will perhaps defer my answer until I have seen what detail emerges. As I explained in the recent Question on Horizon, it is still the Government’s desire to join the programme. We hope that the EU will adhere to the terms of the trade and co-operation agreement, which we mentioned.

The pharmaceutical industry in the UK employs more than 136,000 people, of whom more than 48,000 are in manufacturing sites. The bulk of those are across the country, outside London and the south-east. There is perhaps not cause for as much gloom as the noble Lord had in his question, but we know that there is more work to be done, hence the work of the Life Sciences Vision and the innovative manufacturing fund to which I referred. We look forward to announcing the first winners of that fund later this year.

Horizon

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Thursday 23rd February 2023

(1 year ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The right reverend Prelate’s final question is a matter for the EU. We stand ready to follow through on what was agreed in the trade and co-operation agreement and hope that the EU will do so swiftly. Erasmus is another good example of an EU programme that is open to other countries which, unlike us, were not for four decades members of the EU. Regrettably, the EU takes a different view on that. However, our Turing programme replaces it and makes sure that there are opportunities for people studying in the UK to benefit from international collaboration.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, it is always best to know when you are beat on this. My view—and I am sure the Minister will not agree—is that the original negotiation on this programme was badly handled and we have been left with a poor deal. There have been a number of calls, including from health leaders, for the scheme introduced by government to grant applications with final submission deadlines on or before 31 March to be extended as a backup while we seek the important association that we are all agreed on. Will the Minister ensure that NHS patients can continue to benefit from the Horizon programme’s collaborative research? The last time I raised this issue, I asked the Minister then to confirm whether 31 March is the final cut-off date and whether the Government will bring forward a plan B to ensure that we have the right levels of international co-operation in research available. I did not get an answer then and the House deserves an answer today.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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UK researchers and businesses will receive at least as much money as they would have done from Horizon over this spending review period. The Government are delivering their commitment to invest £20 billion a year in R&D by the end of the period; that is a rise of 30% in cash terms over three years, and the largest-ever increase in funding over a spending review period. We continue to pursue our associate membership of Horizon, as agreed with the EU in the trade and co-operation agreement, but it takes two to tango—it is up to the EU to follow through on that agreement as well.

Fan-led Review and Football White Paper

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 21st February 2023

(1 year ago)

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I was expecting a bit of support. This is no laughing matter, actually, because we have had 13 years of government prevaricating and dithering on this issue. We have had an excellent report produced by Tracey Crouch in another place. I am wondering whether the Secretary of State is going to be able to publish the White Paper this week, as was promised just yesterday. In the meantime, clubs such as Bury, Derby, Southend, Scunthorpe and Crawley have all had very unfortunate financial situations obliged upon them by owners. This is really important, and we need to get it right. There needs to be a fully effective football regulatory body at the core of the White Paper. Can we have from the Government today a definitive answer, first, that the paper is going to be published this week and, secondly, that we will have legislation before the next general election?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, this is indeed an important matter. That is why it was a manifesto commitment, why the Government acted on it, why we commissioned Tracey Crouch to lead the fan-led review, why we accepted in principle the strategic recommendations she made and why we are grateful to everyone who gave their thoughts towards it. The Government have been at the forefront of work to reform our national game and ensure that it is fit for the future. The importance of this to clubs such as the ones the noble Lord mentioned is well known. The review that Tracey Crouch led shone important light on several significant and complex issues. It is right that we have given them due attention and we will be publishing our White Paper later this week and legislation will be set out in the usual way.

Electronic Trade Documents Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I feel provoked to speak. I shall not detain the committee long. I entirely echo what the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said. The letters from all parties have been extremely helpful, and the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, has played a blinder in trying to draw out the detail, which has helped all of us. This is obviously a very necessary Bill, and I am sure that, in the fullness of time, it will ensure that we as a nation are well placed in the world of electronic trade and electronic trade documentation. I do not have any particular misgivings about the Bill, but I shall of course listen very carefully to what is said in the other clause stand part debates.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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I will not detain the committee long on this clause, not least because I will speak in detail on Clause 2 in a moment. I echo my noble friend Lord Lansley’s thanks to all the members of the committee, with whom it has been a pleasure to work, particularly under the chairmanship of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who has helpfully steered our discussions. I express my gratitude to our clerks and all who gave evidence.

I am glad that my noble friend was satisfied by the letter that I sent on 17 February. I am glad to have this opportunity to put that on record. It will of course be published alongside the other Bill documents, so that the explanation contained in it can be seen. It goes without saying that the Government believe that Clause 1, and all the clauses, should stand part.

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, clearly, the issue of possession and exclusive control was the nearest we came to controversy in our sessions on the Bill. But the convocation of professors arraigned before us was unanimous in the view that this is the way to approach the issue. The seminars on this which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, gave us added to our conviction that this was the right way. No doubt, it will establish the benchmark for other jurisdictions to follow.

I have one question. My eye alighted on the word “indorse” in Clause 3(1). Normally, this would be “endorse”. As I understand it—my English is not the best in the world—the difference is pretty marginal, but one relates specifically to financial terminology. I wanted to understand this better, because it is an unusual word that is not often used. Apart from that, I have nothing to add.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I am sure that the Bill team behind me, to whom I add my thanks, will provide the legal thesaurus to answer the noble Lord’s question.

It is helpful to have a debate on Clause 3, as it is at the heart of the Bill. It provides that electronic trade documents are capable of possession and are, in all other ways, capable of having the same effect as paper trade documents. As my noble friend Lord Lansley said on the previous clause, this is an opportunity for us to show our working and reflect our helpful discussions in the committee with those who have kindly given evidence.

At several points during our deliberations, questions have arisen regarding the Bill’s approach to possession and exclusive control, particularly in comparison with the approach taken by the model law and Singapore. The Bill’s approach provides that a document that satisfies certain criteria, including being capable of exclusive control, qualifies as an electronic trade document, and that an electronic trade document can be possessed. The Singapore legislation and the model law provide that, if an electronic trade document can be exclusively controlled by a person, and if that person can be identified as the person in control, the document can satisfy a possession requirement. The main distinction between the two approaches is that the Singaporean and MLETR approach conceptualises exclusive control as a functional equivalent to possession, whereas the Bill provides expressly and directly that a document that can be exclusively controlled can be possessed.

The approach taken in the Bill was consciously chosen as the best solution for UK law for several reasons. Allowing the possession of electronic trade documents unambiguously removes the legal blocker currently preventing their recognition. It ensures that paper and electronic trade documents are subject to the same legal rules and laws, including that possessory concepts, such as pledge and conversion, apply to electronic trade documents in the same way they do to paper trade documents. This approach avoids the need fundamentally to rethink existing concepts of possession in respect of intangible assets, and it achieves equivalence with paper documents in a straightforward manner that is easy to understand for British businesses and global trade.

It is crucial for market certainty that electronic trade documents are able to plug directly into the existing legal framework applicable to paper trade documents. This identical treatment, irrespective of whether a document is in paper or electronic form, is particularly important, given the provisions in the Bill allowing for a change of medium, which are necessary to give parties flexibility as the industry seeks to effect the transition to electronic trade documents that we want to see.

Applying the concept of possession directly also preserves the role of intention in relation to electronic trade documents as it applies to paper. Intention is an important element of possession in UK law, and, as we heard in the oral evidence we received, it is possible to conceive of a situation in which a party has exclusive control of an electronic trade document but not the intention necessary for possession. Intention is relevant to determining who has possession of a paper trade document, and it should be equally relevant to the same documents in electronic form.

Possession is a common law concept with a significant and hugely valuable pedigree. The Bill in general, and Clause 3 in particular, is carefully worded to take advantage of this without risking the integrity of a well-established and foundational common law concept. Taking a different approach would require a fundamental reworking of the Bill.

Furthermore, the Bill deliberately does not define what it means to have possession of an electronic trade document. The Bill is concerned with features that an electronic trade document must exhibit in order to be possessable, and it includes a notion of control for this purpose only, rather than identifying who is in possession of it as a matter of fact or law, or both. Leaving the latter inquiry to the courts and common law is the preferable course of action. The common law has proven itself highly flexible and adaptable in this regard: existing common law has developed a range of tools to assist in determining what is, and who has, possession of a tangible asset at any particular time. This could include the related concept of constructive possession, which was raised in our evidence sessions as an important concept.

Although the common law of possession may need to be adapted in order to accommodate electronic trade documents, this is achievable without an explicit account of its relationship with control. This is largely because control is one of the two elements of possession as a matter of fact of common law.

Anyone with the ability to exercise control over an electronic trade document, such as anyone with knowledge of the private key or other security credentials, could thereby claim to have control and in turn a claim to possession. Where multiple people have competing claims to possession, existing rules on relativity of title will apply to determine the superior interest in any given situation.

The noble Lord asked about indorsement. It means an annotation in writing on the back of a paper trade document instructing that the obligation recorded therein be performed to the order of the person named in the indorsement or simply to order, which is called a blank indorsement. This instruction must be signed, and is usually completed by delivery. If the indorsement is a blank indorsement, the possessor of the document, whoever they may be, may indorse it in their turn. If the indorsement is to a named person, any subsequent indorsement must be by that person. It is an essential part of the transfer of many trade documents and any rights that attach to them. There is a business practice of indorsing paper documents on their reverse, which reflects that “indorsement” comes from the Latin “dorsus”, meaning back. The term is also used in the Bills of Exchange Act. I am glad that we have continued our learning process in this session.

Finally, on the subject of functional equivalence, it is worth noting that although Singapore is a common-law jurisdiction, it has diverged from the UK in the context of electronic communications and electronic commerce, where it has adopted other UNCITRAL model laws and the UK has not. The language of the MLETR might therefore be more compatible with Singapore’s existing law than it is with the UK’s. Its implementation without adaptation may raise fewer difficulties of interpretation there than it would in this jurisdiction. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, said, different countries may take different approaches, but to all intents and purposes we are striving for the same ends.

As English law is the foundation of international trade, this Bill will put us ahead and in the lead not only of the G7 countries but of almost every other country in the world. The UK is setting the approach which all other jurisdictions will seek to follow, not just on the digitalisation of trade documents but on the future digitalisation of all trade, towards which this Bill is an important but merely foundational step.

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Lord Davies of Brixton Portrait Lord Davies of Brixton (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank everyone who has helped the committee in its work. It has been an education. I have learned a great deal about electronic trade documents; I suspect it will not be of great assistance in my future career, but there is some value in the context of all our discussions about the internet. Learning about the Special Public Bill Committee process has been of particular value, and I take on board the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, about how the approach could be improved. My thanks to everyone.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, Clause 7 sets out the territorial extent of the Bill, so this is an opportunity for me to say a little about that, as I touched on in my letter of 17 February.

As we heard during the evidence sessions, timing and resourcing meant that, unfortunately, it was not possible for the Scottish Law Commission to work collaboratively on this project, but the Government have taken every opportunity to ensure that the Bill works across our devolved legislatures. On Scotland specifically, the Government have undertaken significant legal work, including by engaging independent legal counsel, to analyse and ensure the compatibility of the Bill with both English and Scots law, including that related to the Moveable Transactions (Scotland) Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament.

Following one of our evidence sessions, I corresponded with Professor Andrew Steven, who queried whether Clause 3(4) was necessary. In his response, he acknowledged our thinking behind its necessity and agreed with our approach. I will ensure that the Explanatory Notes that support the Bill are updated to provide further information on this matter. The Government are working closely with the Scottish Government to secure legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament. To be clear, this may require minor amendments to the delegated powers in the Bill to ensure that areas of reserved and devolved competence are satisfactorily covered.

The remaining parts of Clause 7 make provision about the coming into force of the Bill and it having prospective effect only. It also sets out the Short Title of the Bill. It will come into force two months after the day on which it is passed. Clause 7(3) ensures that an electronic trade document issued before the Bill comes into force cannot be possessed, indorsed or converted into a paper trade document. It also ensures that it is not possible to effect a change of form or medium under the Bill from paper to electronic if the paper trade document was issued before the Bill came into force.

Following the Bill being passed, many of the precise steps taken to implement and fully harness the benefits of the Bill will be for business and industry to determine. That is consistent with the approach taken throughout the Bill; it does not mandate the use of electronic trade documents but is a facilitative Bill. However, as we heard in our evidence sessions and as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, said again today, there are favourable winds and great enthusiasm from UK businesses for this important change. Businesses stand ready and eager to support the delivery of the Bill, which will benefit businesses of all shapes and sizes.

However, there is certainly a role for government to play here, not just my department but across His Majesty’s Government. For example, a memorandum of understanding has been agreed as part of the Singapore digital economy agreement, through which the Government are working in partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce on a pilot project intended to improve the interoperability between the UK and Singapore’s electronic trade documents framework. I mentioned in our evidence sessions the role that we played through our presidency of the G7 to encourage other jurisdictions to follow in this important area. We will continue to work alongside international bodies such as the ICC to assist that and support businesses to benefit from this UK legislation. We will work across government to ensure that this change is communicated.

The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, asked about the Digitisation Taskforce chaired by Sir Douglas Flint. That was launched by the Chancellor in July 2022 to drive forward the modernisation of the UK’s shareholding framework. In particular, Sir Douglas has been asked to identify immediate and longer-term means of improving the current intermediated system of ownership, eliminate the use of paper share certificates for traded companies, mandate the use of additional options to cheques for cash remittance and consider whether the arrangements for digitisation can be extended to newly formed private companies and as an optional route for existing UK private companies. His Majesty’s Treasury leads on that work, so it may be better for Treasury Ministers to provide further information in the debates which noble Lords rightly say may prove useful.

In closing, I echo the thanks given to the Law Commission, particularly Professor Sarah Green, to George Webber and Louise Andrews, who have supported the committee’s work admirably, and to all those who gave evidence. I acknowledge the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, about the difficulties imposed by the timetable of the Special Public Bill Committee process; we are all the more grateful that they sent us that evidence, which informed our discussions. I am also grateful to the members of the Bill team from across a number of departments who have supported our work.

I underline the point that all members of the committee have made and which has underpinned our discussions from the outset: that this small Bill has enormous potential to place the UK at the forefront of international trade as a thought leader for others to follow, and that it can bring significant benefits to British businesses, making it easier to sell internationally as well as cheaper, faster and more secure. It has been a privilege to work on it with the rest of your Lordships’ committee, and I hope that it will become law very swiftly.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I caught what the noble Lord said about the Treasury. Am I correct in understanding him to say that the Treasury will be in the lead in developing a post-Bill implementation strategy, rather than the noble Lord’s own department? I can understand why, strategically across Whitehall, it might not be DCMS, but will it be the Treasury rather than the departments that are responsible for business and for trade?

CCTV

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Thursday 2nd February 2023

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I do not have those figures to hand, but I imagine that they are substantial, and I shall find out and write to the noble Lord.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, there is an opportunity here for the Government to get something right. The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill received Royal Assent, as the Minister knows, in early December. Its security provisions are designed to improve the security of smart products—a category that includes CCTV doorbells. Is the Minister able to provide some updates on commencement of Part 1 of the Act, or on the laying of relevant regulations and guidance, given that this will be the subject of some intense debate—and given, too, the potential privacy issues that will arise if security vulnerabilities in personal CCTV products can be exploited, as we now know, by bad actors?

Broadcasting: Children’s Television

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Thursday 2nd February 2023

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Baroness is right, and the Government are clear that we want to see distinctively British content, so that young people growing up in this country can see it on television and on their tablets, or however they view it. Through our creative industries sector vision, the department is working to address skills gaps right across the creative industries in order to ensure that we can continue to make world-leading content.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, we of course echo the concerns raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin. Public service broadcasting faces a number of challenges, including uncertainty over the status of the long-awaited media Bill, which was parked while the Government considered whether to U-turn on privatising Channel 4. Now that decision has been made, can the Minister confirm when noble Lords can expect some breaking news? If not, can he at least say whether the Leader of the House was correct when he stated on 12 January that this crucial legislation will be published only in draft form?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The media Bill will reform decades-old law to boost the growth potential of our world-leading public service broadcasters, replacing the outdated set of 14 overlapping purposes and objectives. We have set out those reforms in our White Paper and the Government will legislate when parliamentary time allows.

Football: Illegal Entry to Matches

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 1st February 2023

(1 year ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to introducing new criminal sanctions in England and Wales for those tailgating to gain illegal entry at football matches; and what other measures they are planning to take further to The Baroness Casey Review: An independent Review of events surrounding the UEFA Euro 2020 Final ‘Euro Sunday’ at Wembley, published in December 2021.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government keep tailgating under review. Any disorder associated with attempting to gain unauthorised entry may be a criminal offence, with a football banning order imposed following conviction. The safety of spectators at sporting events is of the highest importance. We continue to work closely with all the relevant authorities to ensure that football fans can continue to enjoy the sport safely. The review by the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, was commissioned by and reported to the English Football Association. The Government were referred to in four of the recommendations. Our approach to these is outlined in evidence to the DCMS Select Committee, a copy of which can be found in the Library.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I am conscious that I have asked this Question before and also that the Minister has responded before. Would it not be of value to consider making this an offence, to deal with the issue of tailgating, as the review from the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, suggested? This is against the background of a worrying increase in disorder at football grounds this season, evidenced by the recent increase in pitch invasions. We can never be complacent about disorder at football games, and we should never be complacent about crowd safety.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Absolutely—and we are not. As I have explained to the noble Lord before, we have taken action to implement a series of changes to the football banning order legislation with which he was associated when he was in government to help ensure safety at football matches. That included adding football related online hate crime to the list of offences, amending the threshold for the imposition of a banning order, extending the legislation to the women’s domestic game and adding football-related class A drug crimes to the list of offences. We continue to work with the police and football bodies to review disorder and consider whether any further action is necessary.

UEFA Euro 2020 Final

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 30th November 2022

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the conclusions of the report by Baroness Casey of Blackstock An independent Review of events surrounding the UEFA Euro 2020 Final ‘Euro Sunday’ at Wembley, published on 3 December 2021; and what plans they have to publish a full response to that report.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, the safety of spectators at sporting events is of the highest importance to His Majesty’s Government. We continue to work closely with all relevant authorities to ensure that football fans can continue to enjoy the sport while attending matches safely. This review was commissioned by and reported to the Football Association, and the Government were referred to in four of its recommendations. Our approach with respect to those recommendations is outlined in our evidence to the DCMS Committee inquiry into safety at major sporting events, a copy of which I have placed in the Library.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I had to introduce the current football banning order system as emergency legislation some 22 years ago. It works well to punish offenders identified by the police and football clubs, and they work well with the CPS. Stake- holders believe that a refresh is needed. They want us to intervene early. They want to better educate fans, improve advice for stewards and create a new offence tackling turnstile tailgating. Do the Government have a plan to bring forward these revisions to tackle increases in football-related disorder, or is this another issue that will be put on the back burner?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, the Home Office has already implemented a series of changes in relation to the existing football banning order legislation, building on the work that the noble Lord took when in government. This includes adding football-related online hate crime to the list of offences for which a banning order can be imposed on conviction, amending the threshold for the imposition of a banning order, extending the legislation to the women’s domestic game, and adding football-related class A drugs crimes to the list of offences, but we continue to keep all this under review.

Football Spectators (Seating) Order 2022

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 21st November 2022

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for the clarification. If it is helpful, I will write with some technical detail, as what he is asking is probably best covered in a letter setting out some of the technical specifications.

It is perhaps an interesting point to add that UEFA, which has consistently also maintained an all-seater policy for its competitions, is now conducting its own review into the feasibility of licensed standing areas. UEFA will engage with relevant parties in the UK and other UEFA nations that routinely have standing accommodation available in its domestic competitions.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, asked about the consumption of alcohol in view of pitches, an issue covered by the fan-led review. I know that he looks forward to a full response on that from the Government, which will be coming in due course. I shall check whether the document that he mentioned has been deposited in the Library, and, if not, I shall ensure that it is.

In conclusion, the statutory instrument does not change the overarching approach to sports ground safety. Safety remains the primary factor in whatever type of spectator accommodation is offered; the measure that we are debating today does not draw our interest in that to a close. We must not rest on our laurels with any aspect of stadium safety, but I am confident that in the Sports Grounds Safety Authority we have an expert body that will ensure that our approach evolves and remains world-leading for many years to come.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I am sorry to get to my feet again, but the Minister has not dealt with my points on the five-yearly review periods and the criteria for design, and so on, although I appreciate that the technical stuff may be better dealt with in correspondence. Could he reflect on those two points?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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If I may, I shall add the response to the five-year review to the letter setting out the technical details on the criteria. As I say, I remain confident that in the SGSA we have a suitable authority. I know that noble Lords will remain vigilant on this important issue, as rightly they should.

Football Governance

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Thursday 3rd November 2022

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
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To ask His Majesty’s Government when they expect to bring forward legislation to implement the recommendations of the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance, published on 24 November 2021; and in particular, the proposal for an independent regulator.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, the Government published their response to the recommendations made by the independent fan-led review of football governance in April 2022. The Government recognise the need for football to be reformed to ensure the game’s long-term sustainability. We continue to consider the policy and consult interested parties, but the Government remain committed to publishing a White Paper setting out our detailed response to the fan-led review.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I warmly welcome the noble Lord back to his place on the Front Bench and commiserate with the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, his predecessor, but this is part of the problem. The Conservative Party made a strong manifesto commitment, as did our party, to hold a fan-led review of football’s governance. I appreciate that we have had a year of on-off, merry-go-round government, but a year has passed since the review was published and nearly six months since the Queen’s Speech announced a White Paper. When can we expect some legislative protection for our football clubs? When can we start to see the interests of the fans who give their support week in, week out to football clubs properly represented? This has been going on for far too long, and I think we are all beginning to run out of patience.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I join the noble Lord in paying tribute to my noble friend Lord Kamall, with whom I swapped places on the substitutes’ bench; I hope that his stay there will be as brief as mine. However, for all the changes in ministerial positions, the work to continue examining the recommendations made by Tracey Crouch, in commitment to and fulfilment of our manifesto pledge, as the noble Lord said, has continued at official level. The Secretary of State and my right honourable friend the Sports Minister, who have stayed in place, have been engaging with organisations. The Sports Minister made sure that his first meeting was with the Football Supporters’ Association. They are taking the time to continue that engagement and to look at the policy, and they will bring forward a White Paper with the answers to these complex issues soon.

Repatriation of Cultural Objects

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 6th September 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, in begging leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper, I declare my interest on the register as a trustee of the People’s History Museum and the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, museums and galleries in England operate independently of government. Some national museums are prevented by law from deaccessioning items in their collection, with some narrow exceptions. The Horniman Museum is not subject to such legislation so this was a decision for its trustees, but I know that they went about their decision with appropriate care and consideration. Arts Council England has published a practical guide for museums in England to help them in approaching this issue more generally.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I congratulate the Horniman Museum on being made the Art Fund’s museum of the year back in July. The unanimous decision of the museum’s board to return ownership of 72 artefacts to Nigeria has been hailed as “immensely significant”—a view that I share. Given that the organisation receives DCMS funding, what discussions, if any, did the Horniman have with DCMS prior to making this decision, and should we take this as evidence of a shift in government policy on the future of cultural objects acquired through force? I note that George Osborne, chair of the British Museum, said recently in relation to the Parthenon sculptures that there was a “deal to be done”.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I echo the noble Lord’s congratulations to the Horniman on its accolade as museum of the year and, indeed, to the People’s History Museum, which was shortlisted and narrowly lost out. As I said, the Horniman Museum is not prohibited in law from taking the decision. The trustees let us know that they had been approached with a request for restitution; I am satisfied that they went about it in a thoughtful manner, in accordance with their guidance. Separate guidance has been published by Arts Council England to inform deliberations by other museums but this does not have any implications for wider positions, particularly in relation to the barrier in law to deaccessioning.

Channel 4: Annual Report

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Thursday 21st July 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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The department laid Channel 4’s annual report before Parliament on 13 July with no changes to its content from Channel 4’s draft. The timeline for the department receiving the draft annual report from Channel 4 and laying it before Parliament follows last year’s timetable. It is usual practice for departments to review annual reports ahead of publication.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, rather than trying to sex up Channel 4’s annual report to suit the privatisation agenda, is now not the time for the Government to do a bit of a Lynton Crosby, “scrape the barnacles off the boat” and finally admit that neither the public—nor, for that matter, the parliamentary Conservative Party—want Channel 4 flogged off?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, given that Channel 4 is currently publicly owned, the Government are fully entitled to comment on the contents of its annual report. As I say, it is usual practice for departments to review annual reports. We cannot direct a public body to change what it says but it is quite proper for us to make representations. The Government are clear that we have the long-term interests of Channel 4 at heart in want to ensure that it continues to access the capital and funding it needs to continue doing the brilliant work that it has done for 40 years.

Broadcasting Sector White Paper

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 11th July 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The right reverend Prelate points to an important issue in talking of skills. The British Film Institute has looked at this very carefully and published its film and high-end TV skills review at the end of last month, which we strongly welcome and look forward to discussing with the industry to see how it engages with the findings. The Government are doing their bit by, for instance, the new pilots of flexible apprenticeships and through our regular support of more than £2 million a year to the National Film and Television School.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, given that the current cost of living crisis is problematic across all sectors and can have a particularly adverse impact on the creative industries, which are sensitive to changes in economic conditions even without the continued fallout from the pandemic, what assessment has the department made of the impact of inflation and energy price increases across the whole sector, whether on huge production companies, small venues or the dedicated workforce that keeps the show on the road?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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We talk about inflation and energy bills with all the sectors and industries that the DCMS has the privilege of representing. I spoke about them this morning at the Imperial War Museum when I visited it. Our settlement for the BBC will, as I say, ensure that it continues to receive around £3.7 billion in annual public funding, which will allow it to deliver its mission and public purposes.

Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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No, I give credit where it is due. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot, on his amendment because the issues that he raised and the questions posed by the noble Lord, Lord Fox, in particular, are legitimate ones.

Although this is not the place to amend or change the Computer Misuse Act 1990, as the noble Lord, Lord Fox, said, it certainly is the place to raise concerns. After all, we are talking about product security and safety. It is vital that we have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent and, if need be, punish cyberattacks and other forms of hostile behaviour online.

However, as we seek to make smart devices safer, clearly there is a role for researchers and others to play in identifying and reporting on security flaws. They need to be able to do this within the safe zone of concern, knowing that they are not themselves going to be captured by those who are responsible for cybersecurity. As I understand it, exemptions exist in similar legislation to ensure that academics and other legitimately interested parties can access material relating to topics such as terrorism. The amendment before us today raises the prospect of granting a similar exemption and defence in this particular field.

I am conscious that the noble Lord, Lord Fox, raised the spectre of auras in the form of the noble Lords, Lord Vaizey, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Holmes of Richmond—as well as the intent of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, who is of course very knowledgeable about the business of security and has had both professional and political responsibility in that field. However, I think that, when those auras and his own say that this is an issue of concern, we as the Official Opposition reflect that concern.

I hope that the noble Lord will engage with the noble Lord, Lord Arbuthnot, and others following Committee on this—I am sure he will—because it is a very important subject. A campaign backed by such an esteemed cross-party group of colleagues in the Committee and in another place cannot be entirely wrong. The Computer Misuse Act 1990 is the framework we have got, but it is right that it is reviewed and that something fresh is brought before us to protect us from cyberattacks in the future.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom for representing the other three signatories to this amendment. I was glad to meet him and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, to discuss this yesterday.

The role of security researchers in identifying and reporting vulnerabilities to manufacturers is vital for enhancing the security of connectable products. The good news is that many manufacturers already embrace this principle, but there are also some products on the market, often repackaged white label goods, where it is not always possible to identify the manufacturer or who has the wherewithal to fix a fault. The Bill will correct that.

As noble Lords have noted, there are legal complexities to navigate when conducting security research. The need to stop, pause and consider the law when doing research is no bad thing. The Government and industry agree that the cybersecurity profession needs to be better organised. We need professional standards to measure the competence and capabilities of security testers, as well as the other 15 cybersecurity specialisms. All of these specialists need to live by a code of professional ethics.

That is why we set up the UK Cyber Security Council last year as the new professional body for the sector. Now armed with a royal charter, the council is building the necessary professional framework and standards for the industry. Good cybersecurity research and security testing will operate in an environment where careful legal and regulatory considerations are built into the operating mode of the profession. We should be encouraging this rather than creating a route to allow people to sidestep these important issues.

As noble Lords have rightly noted, the issues here are complex, and any legislative changes to protect security researchers acting in good faith run the risk of preventing law enforcement agencies and prosecutors being able to take action against criminals and hostile state actors—the goodies and baddies as the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, referred to them. I know my noble friend’s amendment is to draw attention to this important issue. As drafted, it proposes not requiring persons to obtain consent to test systems where they believe that consent would be given. That conflicts with the provisions of the Computer Misuse Act, which requires authorisation to be given by the person entitled to control access. As the products that would be covered by this defence include products in use in people’s homes or offices, we believe that such authorisation is essential. The current provisions in the Computer Misuse Act make it clear that such access is illegal, and we should maintain that clarity to ensure that law enforcement agencies do not have to work with conflicting legislation.

The amendment would also limit the use of such a defence as testers would still be subject to the legal constraints that noble Lords have described when reporting any vulnerability that the Government have not banned through a security requirement. If a new attack vector was identified that was not catered for by the security requirements, the proposed defences would have no effect. The amendment would not protect those testing products outside the scope of this regime, from desktop computers to smart vehicles. If we consider there to be a case for action on this issue, the scope of that action should not be limited to the products that happen to be regulated through this Bill. None the less, the Government are listening to the concerns expressed by the CyberUp Campaign, which have been repeated and extended in this evening’s debate.

The Home Secretary announced a review of the Computer Misuse Act last year. As my noble friend noted, the Act dates back to 1990. I do not want to stress too much its antiquity as I am conscious that he served on the Bill Committee for it in another place. His insight into the debates that went into the Bill at the time and the changes that have taken place are well heard. The evidence which is being submitted to the review is being assessed and considered carefully by the Home Office. It is being actively worked on and the Home Office hopes to provide an update in the summer.

I hope, in that context, that noble Lords will agree that it would be inappropriate for us to pre-empt that work before the review is concluded and this complex issue is properly considered. With that, I hope my noble friend will be content to withdraw his amendment.

Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I do not think that they are quite analogous. As I say, it is about the requirement to keep the last available updates available to consumers for eight years rather than evolving them. We do not yet consider that there is sufficient evidence to justify minimum security update periods for connectable products, including display equipment—certainly not before the impact of the initial security requirements is known.

It is important to stress that, as consumers learn more, they will expect more. This will drive industry to respond to market pressure. If the market does not respond to this effectively, the Government have been clear that they will consider the case for further action at that point, but we think that consumer expectation will drive the action we want to see in this area.

Amendment 3, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Fox, refers to children. All noble Lords will agree, I am sure, that protecting children from the risks associated with connectable products is vital. I assure noble Lords that the security requirements we will introduce are designed with consideration for the security of all users, including children, alongside businesses and infrastructure. The Bill already gives the Government the flexibility to introduce further measures to protect children, whether they are the users of the products or subject to other people’s use of a product. We therefore do not think that this amendment is necessary as this issue is already covered in the Bill.

The Bill, and forthcoming secondary legislation, will cover products specifically designed to be used by or around children, such as baby monitors and connectable toys; they include Hello Barbie, which I was not familiar with but on which I will certainly brief myself further. However, we recognise that the cyber risks to children are not limited to the connectable products in the scope of this Bill; indeed, a lot of the issues referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Fox, were about the data captured by some of the technology, rather than the security of the products themselves. That is precisely why the Government have implemented a broader strategy to offer more comprehensive protection to children—including through the Online Safety Bill, to which the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, referred.

I hope noble Lords will agree that Amendment 3 is not needed to make a difference to the Bill’s ability to protect children from the risks associated with insecure connectable products—this is already provided for—and will be willing either to withdraw their amendments or not move them.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, this has been a useful and interesting exchange.

In my lordly world, “may” and “must” are sort of interchangeable; they were a useful peg on which to hang our discussion about the statutory instrument nature of this piece of legislation. I am somewhat reassured by what the Minister had to say about that, and acknowledge that some of the regulations were brought forward and consulted on at an earlier stage. However, we on this side of the House—I am sure that I speak for the noble Lord, Lord Fox, as well—want to see increased transparency throughout this process. So much of what is in front of us will be in secondary legislation; it is essential that we, the industry and the sector are properly consulted so that we understand exactly what we are dealing with. I make that plea at the outset.

I was pleased to hear what the Minister said about children as the primary users of particular products. I am glad that we have got beyond the “Peppa Pig” world that the Prime Minister occasionally occupies and are giving this issue proper, serious consideration. It certainly needs to be that way.

I am not entirely convinced by what the Minister said on Amendment 4. I look at our amendment; it is pretty basic, actually. It is hard to argue against setting out a particular prohibition in legislation. The ones that we have picked out for prohibition and restriction are quite important and essential. Of course, the Minister is right that those subjects will change and technology will overtake the words we use. We understand that point but we are trying to secure some basic minimum standards and protections here. Clearly, we will retreat with our amendment and give it some further thought before Report, but we may need some further persuasion on this. That said, I am quite happy to withdraw Amendment 2 and not move Amendment 4.

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am happy to include my noble friend in the replies and the letter I send. This touches on work which falls under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the points he raised, of course, fall to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. We will make sure that, having consulted officials there, we provide some details of the work those departments are doing as well.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I am looking forward to the correspondence on this; I fancy that the noble Lord’s civil servants will have a tricky job on their hands. I do not think I quite got a response to what the nature of “being kept under review” really meant, but I await word in the future.

I have been reading the Explanatory Notes, as the Minister will probably be unhappy to hear, and I can see the difficulties. In trying to ensure that the legislation is focused, rightly, on the producers, manufacturers, importers and distributors, it is hard to work round that and not capture people who are simply installers of a product. On the other hand, there are circumstances where installers are primarily responsible for the effectiveness and working of the product, and if it was not for the way they install it, it would not be effective. The terms of the contract are such that it makes that difficult.

I can see the difficulty here, but for now I am happy to withdraw our amendment. In doing so, we are equally supportive of the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Fox, because the two are contiguous in their formulation.

Champions League Final

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 6th June 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, spectator bottlenecks, closed turnstiles, riot police using tear gas on patient fans and thuggish attacks by local gangs indicate that something went seriously wrong in the planning of the Champions League Final and the police operational plan, yet the authorities immediately accused Liverpool Football Club fans.

I have three questions for the Minister. First, what liaison took place between UK and French police before the match, and were co-operation protocols properly followed? Secondly, although I welcome that assurances have been given on the genuine independence of UEFA’s inquiry or investigation, its terms of reference and likely punishments will be key to its work. The appointment of the inquiry chair and the terms of reference will determine the effectiveness of its outcome. Thirdly, what steps will be taken by the Government to help restore the reputation of Liverpool Football Club and of its fans? Many fans caught up in these events were at Hillsborough, where an early blame game saw lies established as fact. I hope that, on this occasion, the truth will quickly out.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I certainly agree with the noble Lord’s final comments: we want to see the truth out and to do so quickly. We want the facts to be established, which is why the Secretary of State and the Sports Minister urged that this independent investigation be swiftly set up and are glad that it has been. We are confident that UEFA is committed to a thorough review.

I will write to the noble Lord on the question of police liaison beforehand, having checked, but I saw that UK police officers were present there, which suggests liaison beforehand, and we will of course want their insights and evidence, as well as that of fans and others, to feed into UEFA’s review. He is absolutely right to mention the Hillsborough tragedy in this regard. Liverpool fans, above all, know all too well the importance of proper security and policing at football matches. That is important for fans across the world, whatever team they support. Something clearly went wrong on 28 May, and we are very glad that UEFA is investigating it so that the facts can be established.

Heritage Steam Sector: Coal

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 18th May 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord makes an interesting point. The Government have set up an interministerial group on the visitor economy, and I will direct the noble Lord’s point to my ministerial colleagues.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I live not far from the Bluebell Railway which, later this year, will play host to the iconic “Flying Scotsman”. That line places specific emphasis on the educational value of our heritage steam sector, and I wonder whether the Government should be investing more in this. Perhaps, as part of the discussions with the heritage steam sector, they could take forward some further thinking to increase the country’s knowledge of the value and importance of steam and its part in our great Industrial Revolution.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Absolutely. Coming from the north-east, the cradle of the railways and the birthplace of George and Robert Stephenson, I am very mindful of the approaching bicentenary of the first passenger rail. We are already discussing that with the National Railway Museum and others in the sector. It is very important that we continue to inspire people about our industrial past, as well as turning their minds to scientific challenges for the future—not least looking at clean coal and other energies.

Gambling Industry: Gambling Reforms

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 17th May 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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As the noble Viscount knows, we have looked also at the harms associated with online gambling. Indeed, while awaiting the White Paper and the outcome of our review, we have strengthened the rules on how online operators identify and interact with people at risk of harm. We are not delaying in taking action where that is needed.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, so far as we are concerned the Government continue to drag their feet on reforming gambling regulation, with reports suggesting that the White Paper has been delayed yet again. Gambling firms pay a significant amount in tax and there is a balance to be struck—we all like a flutter. However, with the Exchequer ultimately responsible for the significant costs of problem gambling, it is right that regulatory and fiscal arrangements are reviewed. Does the Minister believe it is right for firms such as bet365 to argue against proposals for a statutory levy while its boss takes home a salary of £250 million a year and £97.5 million in dividend payments?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, we have sought views from all interested parties as part of our review of the Act, including the industry, which is taking action in some areas. We are happy to engage with people on both sides of the argument. We called for evidence on the best way to recoup the regulatory and societal costs of gambling, which includes looking at a levy, and we will set out our conclusions in the White Paper.

Channel 4 Privatisation

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 5th April 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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On the noble Lord’s first point, the responses to the consultation will be published alongside the White Paper to which I alluded in my initial Answer. I disagree deeply with the rest of his question: the Government value highly Channel 4 and the part it plays, and has played for 40 years, in our broadcasting ecosystem. We want to ensure that its next 40 years and beyond are just as successful and that it can flourish. It is doing that in a very rapidly changing and increasingly competitive media landscape. Channel 4 is uniquely constrained by its current ownership model and limited access to capital. It is such a successful broadcaster that we think it will make an attractive proposition for people to buy, and private ownership will allow it to create new revenue streams and compete as effectively as possible to be fit for the future.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, last Friday the energy price cap increased by £700; inflation continues to climb and may reach 10%; we face record costs at petrol pumps and bumper increases to phone and broadband bills; and social security payments are to be cut in real terms from tomorrow. All this is at the same time as fines have been dished out to Downing Street officials for breaches of Covid regulations, so can the Minister tell us why the Government have chosen now to announce the privatisation of Channel 4, and can he give us three good reasons for doing so? It is not in the interest of public services or public service broadcasting.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I must say that I find that a weak argument from the noble Lord. The Government are capable of doing many things. There is an urgency in addressing this issue so that Channel 4 is fit for what is a rapidly changing media landscape. The proportion of viewing on subscription on-demand services has trebled since 2017; it is important that Channel 4 is able to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, so that it can continue to support the independent production sector and produce the viewing for which it is rightly renowned. That is why, as part of a wider package of reforms to public service broadcasting, the Secretary of State has announced her decision, ahead of having the vehicles to do that.

British Museum: Ethiopian Sacred Altar Tablets

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 30th March 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I completely agree with my noble friend, and am grateful to him for alluding to the British Museum’s work in this area. The pages on its website that explain both these items and, more generally, the museum’s approach to issues of restitution and contested heritage, are a model of transparency. They set out the facts very clearly so that people can understand the past and make their own decisions—and also so that they can understand the claims for restitution that have been made to the museum, and how the museum is dealing with them.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, while I appreciate that there are some legal complexities surrounding the return of the sacred tabots to Ethiopia, these highly significant religious artefacts have resided unseen in the British Museum’s stores for the best part of 150 years. As I understand it, not even students, researchers or historians are able to view them. This cannot be right. Can the Minister give some comfort to Ethiopia by encouraging the trustees of the British Museum to find a solution that satisfies curatorial concerns and the understandable desire from Ethiopia for them to be returned to their rightful home?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord touches on the core sensitivity of the matter. Some of these items are considered so sacred and holy that they can be looked at only by Ethiopian Orthodox priests, which would be the case in Ethiopia as in London. That is why the British Museum is in discussion with the Church. There are other items, however, from Maqdala that can be found in the museum’s public galleries or changing displays. Together and individually, they demonstrate some of the great artistic traditions of Ethiopia, showing the breadth and explaining the diversity of the religious traditions in that country, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and many other faiths.

Football Governance

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 22nd March 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The suitability of football club ownership was an important part of the fan-led review, and we welcome recognition from the Premier League that current tests are not sufficient. The fan-led review is about future-proofing the system, both domestically and, as the noble Lord says, in the international leagues, and we will set out our response to all these issues in full.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, the takeover of Newcastle by a consortium with links to the Saudi regime prompted questions about the appropriateness of the current fit and proper person test for owners and directors, and Mr Abramovich’s recent hasty attempts to sell Chelsea also raised concerns about due process. Can the Minister give us some confidence that these issues will be dealt with when the Government issue their response to the excellent Crouch review?

To pick up a comment made by the noble Lord who preceded me, the Premier League confirmed recently that it is looking to add human rights components to its assessment of prospective owners and directors. Do the Government support such a change? If so, what discussions have they had with other football stakeholders, including the FA and the EFL?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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As I say, the suitability of club ownership was an important part of the review. The review is about future-proofing the system, and that is why we are considering how to enhance the owners and directors tests to ensure that football has only suitable custodians. It is difficult to look back retrospectively at individual cases, but we are determined to get this right, and we are discussing the matter with people across the football pyramid to make sure that we do so properly.

Creative Professionals: EU Tours

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 21st February 2022

(2 years ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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We do now have an agreement with Spain—that is the most recent to be added to the list. One of the six which remains is Portugal, which of course had its general election last month. That has slowed down the negotiations there, but those are continuing at ministerial and official level.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, perhaps this is an apposite moment for the House to acknowledge the contribution and sad death of Jamal Edwards, who has done so much to promote a new wave of musicians and artists to a global audience. Awarded an MBE at 24, he was an inspiration to a new generation. With that in mind, perhaps the Minister can tell us what support Her Majesty’s Government are giving to young new artists who are not signed to a label but who want to tour and take their first steps towards performing to overseas audiences. The new Secretary of State has said that a package of specific help is coming. When will she deliver on that promise and help to resolve the EU’s continuing border issues?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I was very sad to see the news about Jamal Edwards this morning, dying so tragically young. The Government are committed to making sure that emerging artists and new talent have opportunities. We are working on a refresh of the national plan for music education under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lady Fleet, and with the Department for Education to make sure that opportunities in schools as well as outside are available to everybody. Through our working group, we are engaging with the sector to make sure that those who face challenges in touring know that the Government are working to address them.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I am grateful to my noble friend for his support on that point.

We on our Benches look forward to the consultation in due course and hope that the department will continue to engage with proponents of community wealth funds. Such funds could play an interesting and, we think, valuable role in levelling up and empowering local communities seeking their own solutions to local problems, a feature of the White Paper that we very much endorse.

May I use this occasion to ask the Minister what the Government intend to do to ensure that we continue to widen the potential scope for unlocking other dormant assets? Here I am thinking of Oyster cards, proceeds from crime funds, unclaimed pensions and unused insurance. It is worth reminding ourselves that the independent commission report identified some £715 million from investments and wealth management, £550 million from the pensions and insurance sectors, £150 million from securities, and £140 million from banks and building societies. Unlocking that sort of wealth unlocks a lot of power and gives great potential for social benefit. These are not inconsiderable sums of money, and if put in the right place and adapted, used and adopted for levelling up, they could leverage in bigger sums still for the hard-pressed communities that we want to see levelled up in the next few years.

We are again grateful to the Government for what they have done in improving the Bill. Your Lordships’ House played a valuable and valid part in that process. We are slightly underwhelmed by what has come back, but we are extremely grateful.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord and the noble Baroness for their remarks, which reflect the cross-party work that has improved this Bill throughout its passage and the interest that it has garnered from all corners for the benefits that it will bring. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, for reminding the House of the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Field of Birkenhead, and indeed many others who have played close attention to this issue for a long time.

To respond to the questions and points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, we recognise that the provisions that were inserted on Report in your Lordships’ House were permissive, but the Government contend that Amendment 3 is preferable in three main ways. First and foremost, it fulfils our commitment to consult openly; we have emphasised throughout the passage of the Bill that the consultation must be fair and transparent, and we remain mindful of the need to bring industry along with us alongside civil society and the general public. We cannot therefore agree to any amendment that would suggest that the process would be undercut.

Secondly, it recognises the widespread support and positive impact that the current causes of youth, financial inclusion and social investment have had. I am sure that noble Lords did not intend to imply that those would be disregarded, but the provisions that were inserted on Report in your Lordships’ House were silent on those and thereby afforded community wealth funds more legislative attention than those initiatives.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My noble friend raises an interesting point that has not been made hitherto during the passage of the Bill, but I know that he speaks with considerable experience from his time working with TfL. If he allows me, I will write to him with further information about the implications for Oyster cards, which is a matter that has not been covered. It may have been covered in another place, but I have not seen whether that is the case.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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I remind the noble Lord that he did not answer my last question regarding reviewing the future of other dormant assets. If he is unable to do so at this point, I am happy to receive correspondence on the topic.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for not responding to his question. We share the view that it is important to consider how dormant assets funding can be used most effectively. We are keen to get a wide range of views to help shape our position from Parliament through the Select Committees in both Houses. I will certainly write to him with further details if I am able to provide them.

I can tell my noble friend Lord Moylan that Oyster cards are not in scope of the Bill, which is why the point has not been raised hitherto. I will, however, take it back, and if there is any further information to furnish him with, I will do so. I repeat my thanks to noble Lords for the cross-party working on the Bill.

Racism in English Cricket

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 26th January 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord is right that we should point to the many happy examples of people who are getting it right and who are working very earnestly and very hard to make sure that people from all backgrounds are able to enjoy cricket, whether as players or spectators. In his capacity as president of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, my noble friend Lord Naseby came to the briefing with the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and we are always happy to point to examples of clubs that are getting it right, and from which others can learn.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, we have heard this afternoon a litany of responses which focus on racism, and rightly so. For our part, it is very frustrating to see the responses of senior people in cricket, and others across the sport, who are determined to bury their heads in the sand on this issue. The announcement that Clare Connor will lead a review into dressing room culture in the men’s and women’s games is very welcome, but that must be only one part of the sport’s response. Yesterday the chair of Glamorgan County Cricket Club noted that his own club’s efforts to promote diversity were only possible after years of work to make the club financially sound. What work is the government department doing with the ECB and the clubs themselves to ensure that schemes such as those promoted by Glamorgan get off the ground and start to produce the results and make the fundamental changes that cricket needs?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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As I said, we are watching the ECB closely and reserve the right to take further action if we think that is needed. But since November, the ECB has made some structural developments for long-term cultural change, which is what we need to see, including publishing its plan for diversity and inclusion. It has also committed to forming a new anti-discrimination unit by June this year. The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which was established in March 2021, has opened a call for evidence and will publish a report in the summer this year, examining all the issues relating to race and equity in cricket. We are glad to see that work is being done.

UEFA Euro 2020 Final

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 26th January 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made with football authorities towards addressing the (1) safety, and (2) security, implications of the report by Baroness Casey of Blackstone An independent Review of events surrounding the UEFA Euro 2020 Final ‘Euro Sunday’ at Wembley, published on 3 December 2021.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by putting on record again our appreciation of the sterling work of the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, on this review. The Government recognise the critical importance of the safety and security implications of her report. We are now working with relevant parties, including the police and the football authorities, to consider not only those implications but the report’s recommendations in full. We are committed to ensuring that the UK continues its world-leading reputation for holding safe and successful major international sporting events.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Casey, described the crowd events at Wembley’s Euro final as a “near miss” for fatalities and life-changing injuries and said that we need a national conversation about kicking racism and hooliganism out of football. Can the Minister tell us what plans the Government have for taking forward her six recommendations in full to improve safety, security and behaviour at football matches? Why did the Government not use the recent opportunity of a police Bill to incorporate new tailgating and drug-disorderly football banning orders, and to create a new offence of endangering public safety, as the report recommended?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, we acknowledge that the review shows that these events were foreseeable, but they were unprecedented. As in the previous exchange we had on this, it is important to underline that the blame lies squarely with the minority of supporters who caused the disorder and aimed to spoil the day for everybody else. It is clear that in future, we must ensure that the safety and security arrangements for an event such as this are in line with its national significance. The review was commissioned by the FA, so the Government do not intend to respond formally as the Government; the key thing is taking action. We are working with partners to ensure that we learn from it and that the recommendations are appropriately implemented. I pay tribute to the noble Lord for his recommendations on the online abuse of footballers, which were taken forward in the police Bill.

Football: Casey Review

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 6th December 2021

(2 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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There were meetings between the Metropolitan Police, the Government and others in the days running up to the final, but the noble Lord makes an important point about sharing intelligence during incidents such as these. I know that that was something that the noble Baroness looked into and it is one of the things that must be followed up.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I join others in thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Casey of Blackstock, for her excellent report. We would expect nothing else from her but a high standard of product. The Euro 2020 final should have been a cause for pride and celebration, not life-threatening danger and shame. Of course, due to the nature of the disturbances at Wembley, it was not possible for the majority of the ticketless fans to be identified, ejected and, where appropriate, punished. During the recent Committee stage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, we discussed whether those engaging in online racist abuse of sportspeople should be subject to banning orders, and we are hopeful that the Government will finally take action on this. Will the Minister now look more widely at what lessons must be learned from Wembley and whether the current banning-order system is enough to stop reckless behaviour at games? Does he agree that the Government should work more closely with the authorities and with clubs to improve the culture surrounding our national game? Without that change in culture, I fear that these instances will occur on other occasions.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord is right that what should have been a happy and important day was marred, both by the racist abuse that we saw of some of the England players afterwards and by the disorder that the noble Baroness’s report addresses. In both of those instances, action has been taken to follow up. As noble Lords alluded to, the Government have set out that we will amend legislation to extend the use of football banning orders. However, legislation on its own is not the answer to disorder. That is why we will keep the legislation under review, but we will also be working with the football authorities and others to ensure that the minority of people who spoil days such as 11 July for the majority cannot do so.

Network and Information Systems (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2021

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 30th November 2021

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords—well, my Lord—the Minister will be pleased to know that I do not have a lot that I want to say. As I understand it, this SI makes a couple of small changes, as the Minister has said, to retained EU law regulating the security of network and information systems of core UK service providers to reflect that fact that we are no longer part of the pan-EU regulatory regime.

I have just one or two questions. Why, given that the transition period ended almost a year ago, are we debating these changes only at the end of November 2021? While this may not have been day-one critical, one would have hoped that these kinds of cybersecurity issues would have been a priority for the DCMS.

The Government are lowering the reporting thresholds when relevant cyber incidents occur in an attempt to ensure that the Information Commissioner is sighted on them. Can the Minister confirm whether DCMS knows of any incidents occurring earlier in the year that did not meet the current threshold that would have met the revised one had it been in place?

When we discussed amendments to EU-derived regulations for video-on-demand providers in the past, the department conceded that our departure from the EU meant that we had no formal jurisdiction over most of the main players, which were generally registered on the continent. Is there a similar situation with some of the digital service providers or is this not a concern currently?

The Explanatory Memorandum, which I found very clear and helpful, shows that most of the costs associated with the change will fall on the Information Commissioner’s Office. Our understanding is that the Information Commissioner is working well as a regulator, but of course with expanded responsibilities comes the need for greater resourcing. Is DCMS comfortable that the commissioner has enough staff and wider resource to complete these duties?

I turn to my final point. Is alignment with EU practices an issue at all, and do we have a continuing relationship with the EU regulator and regulation? Do we have to work within a commonly accepted framework, even though we are now outside the EU and obviously have to have our own system for regulation, appropriate to the size of our market?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his questions and helpful comments on the impact assessment. He asked why we are doing this now and not sooner. The issue that I outlined at the beginning was not identified as a deficiency until last year, when the Information Commissioner raised concerns over incident thresholds with DCMS—that is why we have brought forward the statutory instrument at her recommendation and in consultation with the ICO.

The noble Lord asked about the ICO’s resources. We are confident that it has the resources, but we will maintain close dialogue with her to keep that under review. We have a continuing relationship with the EU. The matters here obviously cross international boundaries and, despite leaving the European Union, we continue to work with our European neighbours and other international partners on issues such as this. But obviously we have no obligation to implement the new directive that the EU is bringing forward. We are monitoring developments in the EU to assess any impacts that those changes might have.

I am afraid I missed the noble Lord’s second question, but the note I have been handed reminds me that it was on digital service providers. There is now a requirement for non-UK digital service providers to register with the Information Commissioner. As I say, there will be a divergence from EU regulations, but we will continue to follow a similar approach. I hope that answers the questions that he outlined and, on that basis, I commend the regulations to the Committee.

Independent Fan-led Review of Football Governance

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 29th November 2021

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, we strongly welcome the independent Crouch review, whose recommendations, I have to say, look suspiciously like the sports section of the Labour Party manifesto, going back several general elections. We have long called for fans to be placed at the centre of the game that they do so much to sustain and for stronger protections when they are mistreated or their beloved clubs mismanaged. The Government say they will respond to the review in spring 2022 but, let us be clear, there is much that can be done in the interim. Will they, for example, establish a shadow regulator ahead of the 2022-23 season? Can the Minister confirm that any enabling legislation for Tracey Crouch’s reform package will not only feature in the next Queen’s Speech but be made a genuine political priority?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, this is a matter that transcends party politics. Football clubs are at the heart of our communities and fans are at the heart of those clubs, and everybody with an interest wants to make sure that they are. I am very proud that our manifesto commitment to set up this review has led to it in swift time; Tracey Crouch has done very thorough work at good speed. We will give her report and the views of all the fans who contributed to it the respect that they deserve; the report deserves a substantive response from the Government and it will get one. But the noble Lord is right that there are things that can be done now, not least by football clubs themselves, with regard to heritage, financial flows and governance. They need not wait for us to go through the report and come forward with our response to start taking the action that people want to see.

Football Clubs: Ownership Test

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 29th November 2021

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to legislate to strengthen the “fit and proper person” test for the ownership of football clubs.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government have published the final report setting out the independent fan-led review of football governance’s recommendations for the reform of English football. These include proposals for a new and more robust test for owners and directors, resulting in a unified system which would be created and overseen by a new independent regulator for English football. The Government welcome the work of the review and will consider its detailed recommendations ahead of providing a full government response in the new year.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for that helpful Answer, but the recent takeover of Newcastle has raised many questions about the suitability of the fit and proper persons test. To be honest, concerns have been around for years but neither the footballing authorities nor the Government have come up with satisfactory answers. Last week, the Premier League’s chief executive said that, while there were concerns about the relationship between Newcastle’s owners and the Saudi state, he

“can’t choose who is chairing a football club”

because:

The owners test doesn’t let us take a view”.


Does the Minister believe that that is right, and can he tell us when, or if, the Government will legislate on the test?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, the takeover of Newcastle United by PCP Capital Partners has always been a matter for the club and the Premier League, which undertook its own due diligence as part of the owners and directors test. My honourable friend Tracey Crouch looked into that with the fan-led review and, as I said, we welcome the report of that review and are looking at all its recommendations, including on the owners and directors test. We will come back with our response to those in full.

Ofcom: Appointment of Chair

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 24th November 2021

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, the original competition was rerun because of the disappointing number of candidates. As the previous commissioner, Peter Riddell, wrote, one of the reasons for that was no doubt a result of speculation in the press at the start of the process about candidates said to be preferred by Ministers. It is regrettable that that speculation may be putting people off. We want to see a broad and diverse range of people applying so that the right person can get this important job.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I commend the Minister for his honesty but now that plan A is out of the way—with Paul Dacre having thought better of it and decided to continue with his senior editorial role at the Mail newspapers—can he update noble Lords on plan B? Would the Minister like to come clean and tell the House who the preferred candidate is? Can he also ensure that the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, gets a set of application forms this time?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I cannot be drawn on speculation about candidates, either in the first round or now. This has always been a fair and open competition, run in line with the governance code. It is ongoing and we want to see the best candidate appointed to the job.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass and, in doing so, take the opportunity to thank noble Lords from all sides of your Lordships’ House for their interest and contributions to the progress of the Bill so far. I am grateful for the scrutiny that they have brought, and the co-operative and constructive spirit in which the debates have taken place. I am also grateful for the broad cross-party support that the Bill has received so far. It is clear that all corners of your Lordships’ House share the same ambition to ensure the scheme’s continued success in unlocking dormant assets for public good.

I first thank my noble friend Lady Barran, who expertly led the Bill through Second Reading and Committee. I am very grateful for the opportunity to follow in her capable footsteps. I pay tribute also to the Front Benches opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, have helpfully challenged the Government’s approach, and I thank them for the collaborative way in which they have done so. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Kramer, from the Liberal Democrat Benches, for all their invaluable contributions, which have been detailed and thoughtful. Noble Lords from across your Lordships’ House have contributed to a rich discussion on the Bill, and I am very grateful for all the points which have been raised.

As ever, I am grateful to the House authorities and parliamentary staff for their hard work behind the scenes. I acknowledge the extraordinary work of the officials who have worked so hard on the Bill for many months: the Bill team, the policy teams at DCMS and at Her Majesty’s Treasury, the lawyers in both departments, my own private office, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the clerks in this place.

I take this opportunity to clarify aspects of the debate on Report regarding the additionality principle, an issue I discussed with the noble Baronesses, Lady Barker and Lady Kramer. Section 24 of the 2008 Act empowers the Secretary of State to add or remove named distributors of dormant assets funding. Currently, the only named distributor is the National Lottery Community Fund, and all funds, including those distributed through the four independent spend organisations in England, flow through it. Section 24 also provides for making consequential amendments, including to Schedule 3, where responsibility for reporting on the additionality principle is set out.

The Government consider additionality to be critical to the scheme’s success, and we have reiterated this position throughout our debates on the Bill. Indeed, we are clear that the voluntary participation of the industry is dependent on it. While we emphasise that there are no plans to change or add new distributors, I can reassure noble Lords that it is the Government’s policy that any new distributor added should be required to report on this principle in the same way that the fund is required to do so now.

The dormant assets scheme has spent the last decade working to tackle systemic social and environmental challenges and to level up communities which need it most. This Bill is set to unlock almost £1 billion of additional funding to ensure that the scheme continues to support innovative, long-term initiatives that seek to address some of the UK’s most important challenges.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister will be pleased to hear that I will be brief, but some thanks are worth echoing. I thank the Minister; it is never easy taking up another person’s Bill halfway through. I have had to do it myself and, at times, I lurched from being completely out of my depth to being a total shambles, so I know how it feels. The noble Lord was neither of those things; he was courteous and considerate of the points that we made and the amendments we moved.

Like the noble Lord I am delighted that we are moving to unlock previously untapped assets. I hope that the next iteration of this legislation—this is, after all, the second Bill on dormant assets—will bring forward even more dormancy and unlock it, so that communities can benefit.

I also thank the Minister’s predecessor, the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, for her time spent on the Bill. She was, like him, very courteous and open-minded about ways in which we can forge improvements. She was also willing to meet and discuss aspects of the legislation. I echo his thanks to my noble friend Lady Merron—my good friend—for her part in this. It is always a pleasure to work with her. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Kramer and Lady Barker, on the Lib Dem Benches, who also played an active and energetic part.

Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, played a decisive role on Report in helping to support the amendment that we sponsored on the community wealth fund, for which there was all-party support. Before the Commons is invited to reject that amendment, I suggest to the Minister that it might be an idea to sponsor some discussion between his ministerial colleagues and other Benches in your Lordships’ House to see if there is a way in which we can find some common ground on this—because I am very persuaded, as I know others are, of the benefit of the community wealth fund as a way forward. As he said, these resources can do a lot to take forward the shared agenda of levelling up and bring additional resources to bear in hard-pressed communities. We for our part would be very happy to meet and discuss this to see what common ground we can secure, because this is an important opportunity for us all, if we want to make it stick.

We wish the Bill well. It has been improved by your Lordships’ House, not just by the amendment on the community wealth fund but in other aspects as well. I thank the Minister for his comments on additionality, which will be very helpful. I am happy to support the Bill as it goes on its way.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, a number of noble Lords tabled and signed amendments in Committee which sought to broaden the range of consultees listed in Clause 29 of the Bill, which I believe remains the primary intention of this group of amendments. We share the view about the importance of considering how dormant assets funding can be used most effectively, and we are keen to get a wide range of views to help shape our position, as I said in previous debates. That is why we have consistently committed to launching a public consultation on the social or environmental focus of the English portion of funding before the first order is laid under Clause 29.

In response to the multiple calls which have been made in your Lordships’ House, we are happy to formalise this commitment in legislation. Amendment 3, in my name, therefore makes a public consultation a requirement before any changes can be made to the focus of the English portion of funds now or in the future. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, for adding his name and the support of Her Majesty’s Opposition to our amendment.

Amendment 3 takes the broadest and most inclusive approach to ensuring that the scheme benefits the most pressing social or environmental priorities in England. The Government plan to launch the first of these consultations after the Bill receives Royal Assent and are happy to commit to this lasting at least 12 weeks. Our amendment requires the Secretary of State to consult the National Lottery Community Fund, as the named distributor of dormant assets funding, about a draft of this order. The order would then be subject to the scrutiny of both Houses through the draft affirmative procedure. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I am speaking on behalf of my noble friend Lady Merron, who signed Amendment 4 but is unable to participate in today’s debate. I should explain that one of our concerns has been a lack of clarity around future consultation. We have already had some discussion this afternoon about consultation, and, of course, it was raised by a number of colleagues during the Bill’s Second Reading and featured fairly heavily during the debates in Grand Committee.

On the face of it, we do not really understand why Amendment 4, which lists a variety of topics and proposed participants, is not acceptable to the Government, but we are nevertheless grateful to the Minister for tabling Amendment 3. For that reason, I agreed to co-sign it on behalf of our Benches. That amendment ensures that there will have to be a full public consultation, as the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson, has already described, which will have to take place before uses for dormant assets funds are determined in regulations.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Lister of Burtersett for tabling Amendment 5, which seeks to ensure that future consultations include consideration of the merits of establishing community wealth funds. This is a good addition, and we hope that the Minister can address this point explicitly in his response—not least, of course, because we have passed and supported the community wealth fund amendment this afternoon.

I am therefore looking for further reassurance from the Minister that the public consultation will be run in accordance with Cabinet Office best practice, including the Secretary of State being proactive when engaging with charities and social enterprises, rather than merely posting a notice online. We are satisfied by the Government’s amendment, but we would like to see them go further. I guess that our amendment is inviting them to flesh out exactly how they see this working in some more detail.

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I thank noble Lords for their amendments in this area and for the issues raised in Committee and during meetings with me and my predecessor, my noble friend Lady Barran. We have carefully considered the different concerns raised about the need for the dormant assets scheme to be periodically reviewed and reported on to Parliament. We have both heard the strength of feeling about the importance of transparency, and welcome and echo the enthusiasm for maintaining momentum beyond this phase of expansion.

That is why the Government have brought forward Amendment 7, as many noble Lords invited us to do in Committee, which would require the Secretary of State to review and report on various aspects of the scheme on an ongoing basis. I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, for adding his name to it.

Our amendment mirrors Section 14 of the 2008 Act, which some amendments tabled in Committee also sought to replicate. It goes further, however, responding to noble Lords’ calls for maintaining momentum for further scheme expansion, greater transparency over the use of funds as well as reporting on how the principle of additionality has been met. We heard in the debate on the last amendment about the importance of ensuring that this principle flows through to not only the National Lottery Community Fund but any new or additional distributors, were there to be any. To clarify, the National Lottery Community Fund is the only named distributor, and the four independent organisations receive funding from it rather than being named distributors themselves under the Act.

I would also like to draw noble Lords’ attention to the very deliberate phrasing of subsection (7)(d)(i) of our Amendment 7, which refers to any distributor or distributors named in Section 16(1) of the 2008 Act. We have done that, rather than specify the National Lottery Community Fund, so that in the event that a distributor is changed—which Section 24 of the 2008 Act allows the Secretary of State to do as well as allowing them to make consequential amendments to Schedule 3 to ensure that the principle of additionality similarly applies—this would ensure that it is still covered by our Amendment 7.

Amendment 7 will require the Secretary of State to carry out periodic reviews of specified matters, including the operation of the scheme from transfer to reclaim; the effectiveness of tracing and reunification efforts by scheme participants; and any efforts to expand it to include new dormant assets. The amendment will require the results of the review to be laid in a report before Parliament within three years of the Bill receiving Royal Assent and every five years thereafter. This is in line with Amendment 8 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton.

In Committee, my noble friend Lady Barran explained that a number of mechanisms for reviewing and reporting on various aspects of the scheme already exist. We agree, however, with the helpful suggestion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, that it is sensible to bring these together in one place. Therefore, Amendment 7 also requires the report laid before Parliament to include information about the uses of dormant assets money, including the principle of additionality. This will build on reports already published by Reclaim Fund Ltd and work done by the National Lottery Community Fund and, currently, the Oversight Trust, which oversees the four existing distribution organisations, to assess the scheme’s impact.

I hope that this amendment provides reassurance that the Government are committed to ensuring the ongoing success of the scheme and reflects a number of the helpful suggestions that noble Lords have made in our debates on the Bill hitherto. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I should first say that our amendment, signed by me and the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, was an attempt to combine different aspects of previous amendments into a single text. The result is, as noble Lords can see, a fairly lengthy shopping list. The thing about shopping lists is that something is always forgotten; something always falls off the end. That makes their operability in legislation perhaps less than perfect.

We envisaged, in construct, that the amendment would cover what had happened during the relevant period and whether the funding was delivering on the scheme’s priorities. So, we are grateful—I am certainly very grateful—to the Minister for his constructive approach to discussions since taking up his post. I believe that Amendment 7 represents a fair compromise. I think the Minister has said the reports will combine information that was already available from other sources —annual reports et cetera—but also require the Secretary of State to go somewhat further, including by giving information on whether and how the additionality principle has been adhered to. We have heard in earlier debates how important that is.

We hoped to gain more from the Government, including more concrete data on the contribution that funds make to people and communities subject to high levels of deprivation and inequality, but I am sure that there will be further consideration of such issues in the other place, and perhaps in our debates here as well, as this legislation kicks in. I am impressed with the approach the Government have taken, and they have certainly listened to our Committee considerations, taking on board the core of what we are after. Nothing is ever perfect, but this goes a long way in the right direction. While I would have preferred our amendment, I was more than happy to sign up to the Government’s, as it represented real progress in the way we considered the Bill.

Channel 4: Consultation

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 16th November 2021

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord is rather getting ahead of the process. No decision has been taken yet and we are carefully processing all the responses received. The consultation ran from 6 July to 14 September; as I said, it received around 60,000 responses, including more than 100 from the industry, all of which will be carefully analysed before any decisions are made.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, independent analysis from Ernst & Young, which explored potential business models and remits for a privatised Channel 4, suggested that any change could significantly reduce the organisation’s economic contribution in the supply chain, with the effects felt disproportionately north of the M25. The Government claim they want to level up, but time and again their action has knocked down the UK’s nations and regions, rather than giving them a boost. Can the Minister tell us what in-house analysis the Government are undertaking, and whether the Government’s findings are consistent with Ernst & Young’s? Will they publish their analysis along with the results of the consultation?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord mentions the work done by Ernst & Young. Our analysts, UKGI, and our corporate finance advisers, JP Morgan, take a different view and that is why we are taking a range of views on the suggestions. On the work that Channel 4 does across the United Kingdom, I say simply that Channel 4’s strengths in this regard are to be celebrated and maintained, and that is not at odds with private investment; in fact, Channel 4’s access to networks outside London and its ability to speak to such a diverse range of audiences are likely to be attractive assets to nurture and develop for any potential buyer, if that is the route we go down.

Racism in Cricket

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 10th November 2021

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, I welcome the appointment and early actions of the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford. He surely has shown more leadership in a few short days than we have seen from the entire Yorkshire County Cricket Club over many years.

I would also like to place on the record our sympathy and respect for Azeem Rafiq: sympathy, because nobody should suffer the racist abuse in the workplace that he has suffered; respect, because he blew the whistle and has set in motion a process which we hope will ensure that any form of abuse within cricket at any level can be swiftly identified, properly challenged and appropriately punished. While it is of course for individual sporting bodies to consider and respond to these kinds of incidents, can the Minister confirm whether the Government have plans to review the procedures in place across different sports and, in the light of events at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, governance arrangements, to ensure that they are fit for purpose? Finally, what support are the department considering or planning to offer the noble Lord, Lord Patel, in the difficult task that he has taken on?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for his support for the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, whom I spoke to this morning. Understandably he is rather busy, focusing his attention on the matter at hand, but I reassured him that there is huge support across your Lordships’ House for him and the important job he has in addressing this appalling situation at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

We are very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Patel, began by apologising to Azeem Rafiq for the appalling behaviour and the unacceptable way in which his case was dealt with. The Government will closely scrutinise the actions that the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the ECB take in response to these very concerning allegations. We want that investigation to be thorough and transparent but also swift, to ensure that the public’s faith in cricket can be restored—in Yorkshire and beyond. If not, the Government will not hesitate to step in and act.

Sport: Transgender Inclusion

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 9th November 2021

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Yes, I agree. The sports councils’ guidance supports that as well, as it aims to help governing bodies determine the right position for their particular sport. As the guidance says,

“what is right for one sport may not be right for another.”

Of course, it looks at low-level and recreational sport as well as competitive sport, and that is a job for the governing bodies then to take forward in relation to their sport.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, for many of us, sport is a unifying force, whether it is taking to the pitch with a diverse group of teammates or supporting a team from the grandstand. As the Sports Council Equality Group noted, the two main views on this matter “couldn’t be reconciled”, requiring

“a reset and fresh thinking.”

Rather than attempting to shut down this exercise, as some might, does the Minister endorse the group’s suggestion that individual sports explore whether more than one version of their sport can be offered in order to meet different aims?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Yes, as the guidance says, there can be no one-size-fits-all approach that covers every sport at every level in the country, and that is why it is right that the governing bodies look at what might be appropriate in their particular sport, so that they can balance, as far as they can, inclusion, safety and fairness.

Ofcom: Appointment of Chair

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Tuesday 26th October 2021

(2 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the timetable for the appointment of the Chair of Ofcom; and when they expect the appointment to be confirmed.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay) (Con)
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My Lords, the campaign to appoint a permanent chairman of Ofcom will be launched imminently. The announcement will include the timetable, details of the advisory assessment panel and the selection criteria. It remains a priority for the Government to find the best candidate for the role. It will be a fair and open competition run in compliance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments and regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab)
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My Lords, the wheels certainly seem to have come off the latest attempt to instal Paul Dacre as Ofcom chair. Reports suggest that the Government are struggling to identify credible individuals with a record in business or public life even to form an interview panel. If the appointment meets rules for public appointments, does the Minister believe that it will be seen as credible or help with the delivery of important things such as the online harms agenda? What can he say to the House to reassure the public that this and other public appointments will meet the tests of fairness and impartiality?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, of course the process will meet those tests. We want to identify the best candidate for this important role. As I say, the recruitment process will be launched imminently. Preparations are under way to ensure that it is successful in providing Ministers with a choice of high-quality candidates drawn from a broad and diverse field and we encourage lots of people to apply on that basis.

Dormant Assets Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I have nothing to add except that government Amendment 12 is described as a “verbal error”. I am not quite sure that you can have a verbal error in a piece of written legislation; perhaps the Minister can help us with that one.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for their support and brevity. As I said, these are minor amendments.

The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, alighted on “verbal”. I changed that word in my opening to this short debate to “terminological”; I hope he agrees that that is a bit clearer. Either way, I hope he sees that it is de minimis.

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I too am broadly satisfied with this collection of amendments, although they raise some questions about the initial drafting. I made a point about that at the outset of this afternoon’s deliberations. I just wonder why we have to amend the definition of “third party” by government Amendment 47. Also, what is not right—this is in government Amendment 49—with the definition of “repayment claims” that requires amendment? Perhaps the Minister could help us with that.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Again, I am grateful to the noble Lords for their support, particularly given the large number of amendments, albeit small ones. To answer the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, the use of “unwanted asset” is the intended terminology. “Unwanted” is different from “dormant”.

On the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, if he will forgive me, given the speed of progress on this group, it might be better if I make sure that I have understood it and write to him with a full answer so that he has that before Report. With that, I commend these amendments to the Committee.

University Students: Compensation for Lost Teaching and Rent

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 19th April 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, the disruption to university students caused by the pandemic and subsequent government restrictions has meant that students have not enjoyed the university experience that they would have expected, ranging from teaching, lectures and seminars, access to specialist resources and facilities, and career-enhancing placements, as well as the social experience which forms an important part of university life. Indeed, many final-year students have been advised that they will not even be able to attend a graduation ceremony.

Universities report that anxieties are mounting among students, who feel underprepared for their final exams after more than 12 months of major disruption. Following the delayed government announcement on returning to campuses, many still do not know whether these exams will take place on campuses or online and their mental health is suffering as a consequence. What discussions have the Government had with universities about mitigation for students sitting their finals this summer, who have suffered disruption to their learning as a result of the pandemic? Will the Government please ensure that in future plans students are not the forgotten ones left to the end?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord sets out powerfully the disruption that students have faced to not only the academic element of their university experience but all the extra-curricular activities and the broader experience. The Government are very mindful of that; my honourable friend the Universities Minister engages directly with students and representative bodies and has set up a higher education task force to engage with the sector. Students and universities are certainly not being forgotten—they are being engaged with fulsomely.

Higher Education: New and Returning Students

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Thursday 15th April 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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Yes, we have worked with the Office for Students to provide Student Space, which is being funded by up to £3 million by the OfS to support students with their mental health and well-being. Furthermore, we have asked the OfS to allocate £15 million towards student mental health this year through the proposed reforms to strategic priorities grant funding.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, university students feel forgotten in the Government’s plans for leaving lockdown. What discussions have the Government had with university leaders and student representatives regarding the date for return to in-person teaching? Given that, by mid-May, many universities will have finished their teaching year, does the Minister accept that the reality is that this decision means that many universities and courses will effectively stay online until the autumn? What impact will this have on students, who have, frankly, been paying through the nose to study at campuses that they have not been able to access since Christmas?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The students are most certainly not forgotten. My honourable friend the Universities Minister engages directly with students and representatives of students through various groups that she has set up, including ones focusing on mental health. The Office for Students is also conducting some polling of students so that their views can be fed into decision-making. That, alongside the scientific advice, is what has led us to the decision that we have taken this week.

University of Bristol: Jewish Students

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Wednesday 24th March 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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I completely agree with the noble Lord. That suggestion is at the heart of this issue because it implies that Professor Miller can understand the motivations or the political views of Jewish students at the University of Bristol who join a Jewish society. We think that is wrong and very ill-founded, and that is what causes us such concern in this case.

Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, this is an appalling case, but does the Minister share my concern that the Government’s proposals for free speech legislation run the risk of protecting statements that are anti-Semitic, offensive and dangerous? Will he clarify the role that the Government expect the free-speech champion to play in cases such as this? What protection and priority will be given to student welfare under the proposals to ensure that Jewish students do feel safe from anti-Semitic abuse?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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My Lords, people go to university to be provoked and challenged and to come into contact with ideas and opinions that may be different from those that they have encountered before. They might find those ideas fatuous or even offensive, but that is part and parcel of the academic experience. Our proposals for a free-speech champion are to ensure that free speech is being protected on campus, that that essential part of university experience is maintained and that universities are balancing their legal obligations to safeguard freedom of expression while also tackling any abuse, harassment or intimidation of students, which is contrary to the law.

Support for University Students: Covid-19

Debate between Lord Bassam of Brighton and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Monday 8th February 2021

(3 years ago)

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Lord Bassam of Brighton Portrait Lord Bassam of Brighton (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, last week a survey from the Office for National Statistics found that 63% of students have reported worsening mental health and well-being since the start of the 2020-21 academic year, compared with 57% last November. The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the student mental health crisis, with many isolated at home, without support, unfairly paying for accommodation that they are forbidden to use, and feeling a sense of hopelessness about their futures. With placements cancelled, jobs disappearing and whole industries at risk of collapse, the only certainty is that they are faced with significant student debt. The pandemic has undoubtedly been especially hard for students with disabilities, who face additional challenges and might need more support to continue their studies and find a worthwhile job once they have left. Will the Government commit to providing further funding to support the substantial increase in demand that university well-being and support services are experiencing, as well as direct support for students with disabilities?

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Portrait Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con)
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The noble Lord is absolutely right to point to the mental health and well-being challenges that the pandemic places on students. The Government are very alive to these. We wrote to vice-chancellors in October, outlining that st