Oral Answers to Questions

Lindsay Hoyle Excerpts
Thursday 15th June 2023

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the importance of sport. A significant proportion of the £300 million that is going into sports facilities across the country will go to disadvantaged areas. As I mentioned, we are bringing forward a sports strategy that will set out how we ensure that everybody around the country can take part in sport and that it is inclusive for everybody.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Obviously, if we beat the Australians in the tests, that would be even better for young people. Let us go to Chris Elmore, a big cricketer.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
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3. What her planned timetable is for the draft Media Bill.

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Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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We took careful consideration of precisely that matter when we developed the White Paper. The financial risk checks outlined in that White Paper will be designed so that they are frictionless. The majority of people who enjoy a flutter and for whom it causes no harm whatsoever will not notice any difference, but hopefully this will identify much earlier on those who are getting into an area where this is causing harm, so that we can act fast. The racing industry can be assured that the Government are on its side.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Let’s have a tip from Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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If you take my tip, I am afraid you will be in trouble, Mr Speaker. I am not a gambler, but I do have a very active and vibrant horse sector in my constituency. There is racing at Maze and at Downpatrick. The sector is so important. Gambling, which sits alongside that, is also important for the horse-racing sector. Can the Minister assure me that whatever happens in relation to the gambling review, the horse sector will benefit, which will be to the benefit of my constituents in Strangford?

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John Whittingdale Portrait Sir John Whittingdale
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I recall the debate that has already taken place in this House on this matter, which was very widely attended. We heard from across the Chamber how much local radio is supported in each of the various areas represented by Members who spoke. The BBC does do a lot of consultation, but I agree that it is very important that local people should be able to make their views known on that proposal.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) (Lab)
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It is one of the BBC’s public purposes to reflect, represent and serve diverse communities of all of the UK’s nations and regions, yet when deciding to change local radio programmes so that they are regional after 2 pm—further to the question asked by the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous)—the BBC did not offer the communities affected any form of public consultation. Does the Minister agree that losing local radio as we know it would inevitably weaken the BBC’s ability to fulfil its purposes, and that it is not too late for the BBC to think again?

John Whittingdale Portrait Sir John Whittingdale
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The BBC is not proposing to scrap local radio. However, the changes proposed will mean that, for parts of the day and at weekends, areas of the country will be part of a much bigger area for broadcast than previously. That is what is causing concern. I know that the BBC has met hon. Members in this House recently, but I encourage hon. Members to continue to reflect the views of their constituents directly to the BBC.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We want Radio Lancashire for Lancashire —that is the answer, Minister.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
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6. Whether her Department is taking steps to support the sustainability of local (a) swimming pools, (b) leisure centres and (c) sports grounds.

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Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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The hon. Lady is absolutely right to highlight the importance of the work of many swimming pools and leisure centres up and down the country. It is precisely because of the messages I heard from them that we were successful in getting that £60 million in the Budget. £20 million of that will help with initial costs, and the other £40 million will help to make those swimming pools and leisure centres more resilient in the future. The criteria will be released very shortly so that the hon. Lady’s particular pool can apply for that money at that time.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
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It has now been three months since the £60 million swimming pool support fund was announced, and still nobody has received any money. As the Minister has said, £23 million is revenue funding, which according to the Local Government Association works out at only £25,000 per pool, and that will not arrive until September. The rest is capital, which will be allocated by a yet to be determined bidding process and will not happen until December. Why is it taking so long to get even this level of support out when our swimming pools are at risk of closure?

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John Whittingdale Portrait Sir John Whittingdale
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My hon. Friend is a fantastic champion of his constituency and in particular its railway heritage. A number of different initiatives are planned. My noble Friend the Minister for arts has been talking to Network Rail about its plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary, and the Department for Transport is championing the bicentenary celebrations across Government. I encourage my hon. Friend to talk to the Department for Transport and Network Rail and to please come back to me or my colleagues in the Department if we can be of further assistance.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Florence Eshalomi is not here.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
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9. What progress she has made with Cabinet colleagues on supporting musicians planning to tour in Europe.

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John Whittingdale Portrait Sir John Whittingdale
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We have reached a position where nearly all member states—24 out of 27—offer visa and work permit-free routes for musicians and creative performers, and we will continue to engage with the three remaining. We will also engage on this with the EU in our more general discussions. On the specific issue that the hon. Lady raises about portable instruments, while ATA carnets are new for touring in the EU, arrangements are more workable than has sometimes been reported. We have confirmed that portable musical instruments carried in or on a vehicle can be transported cost free and should not require ATA carnets.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Barbara Keeley Portrait Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab)
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This year, there will be a third fewer British performers playing at festivals across Europe than before Brexit. Whatever the Minister says, I have heard from orchestra leaders that promoters in Europe are now less willing to book UK musicians. The difficulties of touring now include impractical cabotage rules, the steep cost of carnets, and the bureaucratic nightmare of A1 forms and CITES—convention on international trade in endangered species—certificates. How can we be a truly global Britain when the Government are not acting to remove these barriers to international touring for musicians?

John Whittingdale Portrait Sir John Whittingdale
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We are fortunate in this country to have some of the finest performers in the world, and I am keen to ensure that as many people across the world are able to enjoy their performances, so we will continue to work on this. As I said to the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), we have already made significant progress in obtaining visa agreements so that musicians no longer have to obtain visas, and we will continue to work with the Musicians’ Union and others to make it easier in the future.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson.

John Nicolson Portrait John Nicolson (Ochil and South Perthshire) (SNP)
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This is all of course very much worse than the situation that existed before Brexit. Paul Smith, the chief executive officer of the VOCES8 Foundation, a UK touring group with a music education programme, has described Brexit as a “bl— nightmare” for musicians looking to tour in the European Union, and has said:

“Our industry is on its knees and we have to fight more than ever”.

Talented Scottish singer Iona Fyfe has said that in Europe

“many promoters, festivals and organisers are simply choosing not to book emerging acts from the UK to avoid the bureaucratic headache.”

We have seen the loss of 50,000 jobs in the UK music sector since Brexit—a shocking waste of talent. How many more will it take before UK Ministers address their responsibilities to the sector and stick up for musicians?

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Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating Dudley Town football club on its tremendous season, its league title and its promotion. I understand the importance to fans of where football is played, and fans want to watch their teams play in Dudley town. I wish the club well in its aspirations to return there.

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

Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op)
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On that note, perhaps the Secretary of State will also join me in congratulating my constituents and my club, Manchester City, on its historic treble-winning season. As yet another Premier League AGM passes, and Wigan Athletic faces a winding up order, why has the Secretary of State not personally done more to bring about a fair financial settlement with the English Football League and the Football Association, to address the problems set out in her own White Paper and press the Premier League to do more? Does she share my strong view that the football regulator must be given all the powers it needs to resolve this matter?

Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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Of course I congratulate Manchester City on its tremendous achievement. It is really important that football sorts out the finances within football. That is why we have consistently encouraged the Premier League and the EFL to come to some resolution, and I seriously hope they do. The hon. Lady will know that that is one of the reasons why we brought forward the White Paper, and why we are bringing forward regulation. I hope that football resolves this issue itself.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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The Clerk of the House is in tears; he’s a Manchester United fan.

Rob Roberts Portrait Mr Rob Roberts (Delyn) (Ind)
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T2. In 2020, 30,126 complaints were made to the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Only 496 were investigated, and only 79 out of more than 30,000 complaints were upheld. When are we going to stop talking about the freedom of the press, and recognise that with that freedom comes responsibility? We cannot let them keep marking their own homework and giving themselves a clean bill of health.

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Andrew Selous Portrait Andrew Selous
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I am very pleased to be able to tell my right hon. Friend that the new co-director of music at St Mary’s church in Fordingbridge, Hazel Ricketts, is running a singing club, working with 53 children in local schools every week. Her expertise in church music will enable that work to expand next term to include all four local schools, both primary and secondary. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will want to go to enjoy this wonderful singing for himself.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Talking of singers, I call Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I am afraid that, as it says in the Bible, I make a joyful noise—it is never melodious, but it is always joyful and always noisy. I am very keen to encourage school choirs and church choirs to sing together. We have a tradition of that in my constituency. What can the hon. Gentleman do to ensure that Strangford can be a part of the project he is talking about?

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Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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The Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Dehenna Davison), said that the evaluation of anecdotal feedback shows that the roll-out of voter ID has been successful. The Electoral Commission warned that the introduction of voter ID should be delayed until after the English local elections in May—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. The hon. Gentleman is meant to be speaking through the Chair. The advantage of doing it this way is that we do not personalise things.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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My apologies, Mr Speaker.

Does the Electoral Commission now share similar views to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that the roll-out of voter ID has been a success?

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Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith
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The Electoral Commission will shortly be publishing its report on the local government elections in May. It will include data collected by returning officers, but also public polling to catch the people who did not get as far as the polling station. The issue of equality impact assessments is a matter for the Government, and I would encourage the hon. Lady to raise it during the upcoming questions to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I must now suspend the House for two minutes.