Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 4th July 2019

(4 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)
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1. When the Government plan to review their guidance on the statutory duty for local authorities to provide youth services.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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We are pleased to announce that we will be reviewing the guidance as part of the civil society strategy published last year, and we still anticipate launching the review before the summer recess. In fact, I hope to do it next week.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris
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Up and down the country, there is less and less for our young people to do. The Government’s own civil society strategy says that youth work and youth services can be “transformational”, so why has funding for them fallen by 70% since 2010?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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This Government are committed to supporting youth activities and our young people. In fact, I have had several meetings just this week on the youth charter and our vision for young people over the next 10 years. The National Lottery is supporting positive activities for our young people through £80 million of funding, and of course we have the National Citizen Service.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
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The Government’s serious violence strategy rightly placed programmes for young people at its heart. Will the Minister assure the House that that strategy is going to start delivering those projects on the ground, to divert young people away from gangs and crime?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my right hon. Friend for her question. The Secretary of State and I were part of the Prime Minister’s summit on serious violence in April this year. It is right that we take a multi-agency approach to tackling knife crime and serious violence. The Government are investing £200 million in the youth endowment fund to support interventions with young people, and particularly those who are at risk.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
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On Independence Day, may I congratulate all my American cousins on this fine day when they broke away from Britain? I still have my green card from when I emigrated.

Youth services should learn from what is done in the best cities in the United States. It is high time that we put proper Government resources into youth services and stopped relying on charities, although partnerships are good. The fact of the matter is that in most constituencies, youth services are on their knees.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank our charity sector for the work that it does in this area. The hon. Gentleman is right that we should not rely on charities, although we must learn from and listen to them, and listen to young people. In terms of lessons from America, one issue that came up in the knife crime summit was that particular social media platforms are allowing groups to come together, organise and cause more problems on our streets. This Department is determined to ensure that we work together, in both my sector and that of my hon. Friend the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, to support and keep our young people safe.

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con)
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I agree that local authorities have a role to play in youth services, as well as the charitable and voluntary sector, but does the Minister agree that the private sector also has a role? In my neighbouring constituency of Grimsby, a youth zone is being proposed, funded by local entrepreneurs. Does she agree that that is one way forward?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising entrepreneurship, which seems to be a theme in our party at the moment. Looking again to America, we can and must learn from altruism and philanthropy. I thank people for giving directly back to their community, which we encourage in the civil society strategy.

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab)
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I am delighted to see so many of my former Whips Office colleagues, including the Chief Whip, in the Chamber to hear me speak at the Dispatch Box for the first time—no pressure.

UK Youth, a leading national charity, estimates that the National Citizen Service underspent by more than £50 million this year. Many organisations are desperate to support our young people. Will the Minister explain what plans the Government have to reallocate the underspend to the many fantastic charities that support our wonderful young people?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I welcome the hon. Lady to her post. I know that she is very passionate about this area and was part of our knife crime summit in April. I met UK Youth and the NCS yesterday as part of our youth charter work. Work is going on with the Treasury to ensure that all our youth sector is supported, including through the underspend of the NCS.

Daniel Kawczynski Portrait Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con)
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2. What recent progress his Department has made on increasing access to superfast broadband in rural areas.

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Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)
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5. What recent steps he has taken to improve the quality of local youth services.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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I am excited and proud to be working cross-Government, with this Department leading, on developing a new youth charter for our young people—the Government’s vision for the next 10 years—and that work has continued this week. The Government invest in the Centre For Youth Impact to support sector-led evaluation and to build evidence of the impact of local youth services, and we are working with the National Youth Agency and partners to renew the youth worker qualifications and review that curriculum.

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton
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“Positive for Youth” was the Government’s last comprehensive youth policy document. It contained many good examples of joint project working between local authorities and charities and philanthropic businesses, a pledge to youth-proof Government policy, and a pledge to publish annually a set of national measures to demonstrate progress in improving outcomes for young people. When does the Minister plan to update the House on that progress?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for his pertinent reminder to the Government and the House to focus on our youth. I believe that the youth charter will reaffirm the Government’s commitment. It will state that our young people should have a strong voice, and that we must listen to it and take note of the issues that they care about. It will set out how we should act on what they tell us and, more importantly, it will state that we are actively involving them in key policy making. It is vital that we do that. I had the youth steering group in with me just this week. So the sector is very much being heard, and will be reported back and listened to.

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Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan (Chichester) (Con)
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7. What steps his Department is taking to help tackle loneliness.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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As we have heard this morning, the UK is a world leader in tackling loneliness, and the first Government loneliness strategy was launched last October. It has been globally recognised, and includes the £11.5 million building connections fund, announced over Christmas, which is a partnership between the Government, the National Lottery and the Co-op Foundation. The first progress report is due later this year. Last month, we launched the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign, which is all about reducing stigma. The hashtag alone has had 5.5 million impressions globally.

Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan
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I am proud of the work that the Government are doing on loneliness, but according to Age UK more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone. Loneliness is thought to be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In Chichester, we have some fantastic projects such as the Rotary Club’s Building A Generation, in which every two weeks older people go into Chichester College and meet, and share experiences with, college students. What more support is available to encourage such innovative, community-based solutions for tackling loneliness and to help to spread them more quickly across the country?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for all the work done by all the great charities in her community to tackle loneliness at all ages. Support is available for community-based projects, including two pots of Government funding. There is £1 million for the Tech To Connect challenge—I know my hon. Friend is interested in tech—to address social isolation, and the fund will be managed by Nesta. We also have the Space To Connect fund, which will be part-managed by the Co-op and will have £1.6 million to open up community spaces. Everything happening in Chichester is helping people come together, and I welcome that.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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These Chichester people seem very decent folk indeed. I think it is partly the effect of the Member.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
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Earlier this year, the Minister was good enough to come to a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on suicide and self-harm prevention and speak to us about the loneliness strategy. What steps will she take in response to the Samaritans’ paper on loneliness in young people, which is a particular concern?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I particularly remember that meeting and I welcomed the opportunity to join her. We currently have 60 different policies across nine Departments, but I would like to point out that loneliness and isolation can affect people at any age and at any time—including young carers and care leavers. We need to support everybody of every age and every gender. I hope that the new policies that we are working on and will announce later this year will have a youth focus.

John Grogan Portrait John Grogan (Keighley) (Lab)
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10. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the regulation of commercial local radio.

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Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con)
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12. What steps he is taking to ensure that the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham benefit (a) neighbouring boroughs and (b) Walsall.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will be the biggest sporting event ever held in the west midlands. Last week the Government announced that the region would benefit from nearly £800 million of investment. The venues for the games will extend from Royal Leamington Spa to Coventry and to Cannock Chase. There will be 11 days of sport across the west midlands, along with cultural and business engagement, trade and volunteering. The hon. Gentleman should keep his diary clear, because the event will be showcased at the Walsall shopping centre on 20 July.

Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes
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I understand that the training venues will be announced later this year. Will the Minister put in a good word for the British judo Centre of Excellence in Walsall?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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The available training venues are currently being reviewed. I understand that there has already been an initial meeting with representatives of the British judo Centre of Excellence and the University of Wolverhampton regarding the possible use of their facilities. Many great sporting facilities in the west midlands and, indeed, across the United Kingdom will want to host training events, and I am sure that they will receive a very warm welcome from my hon. Friend.

Gareth Snell Portrait Gareth Snell (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Lab/Co-op)
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Five junctions up the M6 from Walsall is the great city of Stoke-on-Trent, which stands ready to play its part. How will the Minister ensure that the benefits to which she has referred are felt throughout our region and not just in the conurbation, and what strategy does her Department have for a long-lasting legacy programme so that those benefits do not disappear once the games have ended?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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The hon. Gentleman has made an important point about the joy that will be felt not only in the west midlands but in the whole of our country. We should bear in mind the economic impact of the games in Glasgow in 2014, which brought more than £740 million to Scotland’s economy, and the £1.3 billion boost for the Gold Coast following the games in Queensland. We expect the Birmingham games to bring jobs and opportunities such as volunteering, with up to 45,000 people involved in delivering the event. This is a catalyst for a legacy in terms of facilities and on the ground, and I am working towards that result as we head towards “three years out”.

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab)
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T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

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Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con)
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Does the Minister agree that one of the crucial aspects of tackling loneliness is raising awareness of the services, support and activities that are available in local communities, and what are the Government doing to achieve this?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising this point, because it is so important. Nobody walks around with an arrow on their head saying that they are lonely. There are times in our life when we feel lost or isolated and we need someone to turn to, so the 1,000 social prescribers will be very helpful. I know that my hon. Friend has done something directly in his own constituency with an older people’s fair—an event around loneliness—to do just that, and I welcome all constituencies doing this.

Rosena Allin-Khan Portrait Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting) (Lab)
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On behalf of all my colleagues on the Benches behind me, I would like to wish the very best of luck to the England cricket team. We also wish the best of British to all our British tennis players at Wimbledon, and we would like to thank the Lionesses for inspiring a generation.

Our children are facing a deadly obesity crisis. Obesity is rivalling smoking as a leading cause of cancer. Being healthy is about keeping fit and having a healthier diet, but the sugar tax has also been very welcome in promoting a healthier lifestyle, especially for children and young people. The Sports Minister has a responsible role to play in tackling obesity, so will she today publicly commit to resisting any call to scrap the sugar tax, even from her favoured candidate for Prime Minister?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Lady for raising this issue. She and I share a great passion for getting and keeping our young people active. I hope to announce the school sports action plan, alongside colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education, before the summer recess. We are very close to this. All money that comes into PE and sport from the premium—the levy has doubled this—is important. I hope to see Government investment in school sport continue in any way, shape or form.

Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con)
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As this is 4 July, Independence Day, and despite this week’s football result, will the Secretary of State, who like me has an American spouse, comment—positively, of course —on the very many benefits of our special relationship with the US?

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Baroness Anderson of Stoke-on-Trent Portrait Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab)
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T4. As we head towards the long summer holidays, sports centres are becoming increasingly important for families. Two years ago, Staffordshire County Council pulled the plug on my pool at the Kidsgrove Sports Centre. After lots of false starts and undelivered promises, we are still without a swimming pool. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can actually deliver a pool for my constituents?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I would be happy to meet the hon. Lady. Sport England is active in communities to ensure that nobody is barred from getting involved in sport, and swimming is crucial as we come to the summer holidays.

Discrimination in Sport

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 12th June 2019

(4 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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This has been a valuable and important debate as we lay bare how we must tackle racism and intolerance in sport at every level—from grassroots level up to the elite—because this is a truly crucial issue that faces this country. I am sure that, as we heard from the hon. Member for Tooting (Dr Allin-Khan), we are truly united in our determination to stamp out racism and bigotry wherever it rears its head. On what would have been Anne Frank’s 90th birthday, her words are stronger and more compelling than ever—we must never, ever forget where hate leads humanity. Some of the issues that we have touched on bring to life the challenges faced by the sector and by all of us across sport and, as we heard from the Secretary of State, civil society.

Before I continue, I would like to wish Chris Froome well. He has had multiple serious injuries in a crash this evening that could rule him of out of the Tour de France. I hope all is well with him.

Why do we need to get this right? Well, over the next three years, the eyes of the world will be upon us. Indeed, they already are when it comes to the cricket world cup. We have the netball world cup, and Birmingham 2022 in three years’ time. I met representatives of Yorkshire cycling; what is happening in Harrogate this September is very exciting. We have the diving world series and the rugby world cup warm-ups. I am conscious that I should mention the rugby league world cup for Mr Deputy Speaker. We have the Solheim cup and the opportunities that provides for women’s golf. I could go on, because we are absolutely in the right place as regards hosting and showcasing these events.

Let me turn to some of the comments made during the debate. The hon. Member for Tooting talked about the sexism and intolerance seen on social media, particularly with regard to broadcasters and abusive tweets—“getting a slap”. This is just not acceptable, as we heard from the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell), who talked with passion, as ever. That view continues to unite us, and we must all strive to work together to stamp it out. I, too, pay tribute to Gareth Thomas and to Justin Fashanu. The ability of players, such as Joe Root, to be out and proud and to speak out is absolutely vital for their games to thrive. This would not be acceptable in any other workplace, and we will not see it in sport. We will support everybody who rightly calls it out.

In response to my hon. Friend the Member for St Ives (Derek Thomas), sport absolutely can address inequalities. Whether it is an arena or a stadium, the inspirational opportunity provided by getting facilities is vital. I have directed Sport England to work closely with the stadium developers in Cornwall to help them to improve their business case. The significant expertise that we have in this area has been very helpful. I continue to monitor the feedback to make sure that that business case is managed.

The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) made a characteristically passionate speech. I met him recently, and I know that he is bringing lessons from football around the world to the Department. If we do not get to every single piece of intolerance, including the sexist language that makes families not feel included, then we are absolutely missing a trick. Alongside the Secretary of State, this Government will work to hold the football authorities to account, tackling intolerance but also some of the other challenges that the hon. Gentleman mentioned around the experience of fans, including safe standing. We will keep the House updated on that.

I am very pleased, as ever, to hear from MPs who continue to affirm that there should be zero tolerance of discrimination. I have listened to, and had emails and tweets from, people who want to know that we have a real determination to ensure that sport continues to be welcoming.

There is absolutely no place in football or any sport for racism and race-related crime—I have said that before at the Dispatch Box, and I will take every opportunity to say it again. Bigotry and intolerance cannot be allowed under the cloak of football. It is not right online, and it is not right offline. We do not want it. These are not fans. We will not give the good fans the embarrassment of calling these people that, because they do not deserve it. Our sports clubs and fans continue to embrace diversity and tackle racism. We have heard tonight about Chelsea’s work, and I applaud the work that Brighton have done on tackling homophobia.

We have set out a clear ambition—we heard it from the Secretary of State—for how we will combat all forms of discrimination, whether online or offline. We have a key duty of care in the “online Harms” White Paper, which will require companies in law to take steps to protect users from harm and abuse on their platforms. As the Secretary of State said, it will be overseen and, more importantly, enforced by an independent regulator.

If we get this right, there is everything to gain. We cannot have a situation online that is not matched offline. We know that racism and intolerance is not of sport’s making. We need to ensure that there is no disproportionate opportunity for its impacts to be suffered on the sports field. It is wrong for that to be allowed to happen.

There is much to say about the summit that I held earlier this year, and I will update the House on it soon. I want to finish by making it clear that at the heart of this Government’s sports strategy, “Sporting Future”, is our desire to be at the forefront of equality and fully support a zero-tolerance stance of inappropriate behaviour. I am determined that in any sporting event on our shores, we will be at the forefront of equality. We will be world-leading in the environment that both players and spectators can expect, and we will reject racism, intolerance and bigotry in every single form.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House notes with concern that levels of discrimination across sport remain unacceptable; considers that a combination of tougher sanctions against offenders, action by social media companies and better education are key to driving discrimination out of sport; and calls on the Government to hold social media companies to account on this issue.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 23rd May 2019

(4 years, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)
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4. What steps his Department is taking to ensure adequate funding for (a) education, (b) research, (c) treatment and (d) support to minimise gambling-related harm.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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I am pleased to say that the NHS is expanding specialist support for gambling addiction in its long-term plan. Public Health England is reviewing evidence, and GambleAware will publish a needs analysis this autumn. Building evidence is key to future funding decisions. We want the industry to be responsible in all ways, which includes funding support for people experiencing harm.

Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan
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According to the Gambling Commission, the gross gambling yield of Great Britain’s gambling industry is £14.4 billion, yet the amount donated through the levy for gambling-related harm was less than £10 million. A statutory levy of 1% would equate to £140 million. I know that such a levy is being considered, but what alternatives exist to raise a guaranteed amount over a period?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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GambleAware was fully funded last year. As the hon. Gentleman said, it almost reached the £10 million target, and another £7 million was brought in through financial penalties. We expect targets to be increased in the future and welcome commitments by operators to substantially increase the amounts they give. However, as I said at the Gambling Commission strategy launch, if the voluntary system cannot meet current or, more importantly, future needs, we will look at alternatives. Everything is on the table, including a mandatory levy.

Rosena Allin-Khan Portrait Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting) (Lab)
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Some gambling companies sponsor football clubs to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds, and in return, they get branding on T-shirts and around grounds, seen by thousands in stadiums and millions on TV, including millions of children. Yet we found out recently that some of those sponsors gave as little as £50 to GambleAware—the charity that funds research and treatment of gambling addiction. Currently, just 3% of gambling addicts get the treatment they need. When the stakes are so high and contributions so low, how can the Minister justify refusing a mandatory levy?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I think every sport, but particularly football, has a responsibility to those enjoying the game in relation to the amount of sponsors they have and they experience the fans have. In particular, on the size of football shirts, children may be a young adult size, and that should be looked at appropriately.

As I say, if this voluntary system does not work, everything is on the table. However, I would say that of those people who come into contact with GambleAware, 70% come through a life-changing experience and get on to a better future, and I would advise anyone experiencing harm to contact it.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Jim Shannon—not here.

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Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con)
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T2. I add my best wishes to the England women’s team for success in the forthcoming World cup. Will the Minister give them the best possible send-off by ensuring that the Government commit increased funding to football facilities at grassroots level?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising the exciting summer of women’s sport that is coming up, which will include the Ashes and the Solheim cup. Today, the netball squad is being announced for Liverpool. It is a very exciting time for sport across our nation and many people will be coming to our shores to enjoy it. I will be sending off the women’s team, because I will see them at Brighton and Hove before they go on their final warm-up. It is absolutely right that we prioritise grassroots opportunities for everyone to enjoy.

Ged Killen Portrait Ged Killen (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Lab/Co-op)
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Next month, UEFA will start the process of recruiting 12,000 volunteers from host countries, including Scotland and England, for Euro 2020. They will be expected to give a huge time commitment and to work for free in complex roles that involve huge responsibility, including anti-doping. Is that not just exploitation dressed up as an opportunity, and will the Secretary of State raise it with UEFA directly?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I feel we have a number of conversations to have with UEFA and I am happy to add that to the list. As we approach the Commonwealth games in Birmingham in 2022—10 years on from London 2012, where people derived incredible experiences from volunteering—I think we should support this. However, if there are challenges in recruiting people due to their responsibilities, we must look at that.

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)
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T3. For what it’s worth, I recently appeared in panto as Sir Lancingalot in the North Lancing residents association’s version of “Robin Hood”. [Hon. Members: “Oh no you didn’t!] Oh yes I did! Also in Lancing, I am attempting to arrange a programme of midnight football over the summer, which I did a few years ago in another part of my constituency that is affected by antisocial behaviour. With the help of Adur Athletic football club, the local police and the local council, we laid on football between 10 and midnight on Saturday evenings for teenagers who otherwise, as they admitted themselves, would be getting up to no good on the streets. It completely changed the dynamics between those kids and the police, who came and joined in enthusiastically. Does the Minister agree that that is a constructive way of dealing with antisocial behaviour, getting kids engaged in sport, and engaging those kids with the police and other local people in a positive way?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I am very pleased that I can mention that my daughter, Jemimah, is going to be a barnacle in her next production. [Laughter.] She is going to be really unhappy about my saying that. [Interruption.] She’ll stick at it.

On the broader point, as we approach a really important time for our young people in terms of bringing forward the youth charter for our next generation, we absolutely have to think about the positive activities, engagement and participation of our young people. On my patch, we have Friday night football, which gets people off the streets and gives them the chance to have free wi-fi and some toast afterwards, and to enjoy being part of the community. We need to make sure that there is that participation, at any time of the day or night. As Sports Minister, that is what I like to hear.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)
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Last week, Wolverhampton Wanderers became the latest football club to commit to rail seating at its stadium. Football fans want safe standing, clubs do, and the governing bodies are on board as well. It has been eight months since the Government announced their consultation and a review of this. When will it come to a close?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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The Secretary of State and I have had the results of a review come to us that we are considering very carefully. In this Chamber over a number of months, it has been very clear that fans and MPs alike want to know what the next stages are. We are considering the review appropriately and will be coming forward with the next steps.

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con)
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T4. If we are talking about our acting accolades, Mr Speaker, mine was winning a national best actress award with the Young Farmers—a strange dichotomy, but true. Yesterday, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee went to the Chelsea Flower Show and carried out an inquiry into the value of garden tourism to the nation—it is already some £4 billion. Does the Minister agree that if we put garden tourism in the tourism sector deal, we could double this money, at least, and benefit the economy?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 11th April 2019

(5 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Karen Lee Portrait Karen Lee (Lincoln) (Lab)
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1. What recent assessment the Government have made of the adequacy of the level of funding for local authority youth services.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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Local authorities are responsible for funding local youth services, and over the next financial year English authorities’ funding for public services will increase, from £45.1 billion to £46.4 billion. In this role I have confirmed to the House that we are reviewing the guidance that sets out local authorities’ duty to provide appropriate local youth services. In addition, I am delighted to announce that the Government will be developing a new youth charter setting out our vision for supporting young people over the next generation and beyond.

Karen Lee Portrait Karen Lee
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I am a member of the all-party parliamentary group on youth affairs. Evidence submitted to our recent cross-party inquiry into youth work shows that the reduction in publicly funded youth services has led to the voluntary and community sectors being expected to fill the gap left by Government cuts. That has created an increasing reliance on short-term funding and the loss of qualified and experienced youth workers. Will the Minister commit herself to addressing urgently the crisis in long-term funding for youth services?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the all-party parliamentary group on youth affairs, which has produced an excellent report on youth policy and funding. The Office for Civil Society has allocated £195 million to youth programmes, and the offer that my Department makes to enrich young people’s lives, through civil society, sport, digital and culture, is very important. The new youth charter gives us a chance to continue looking at all the issues the hon. Lady has raised.

Maggie Throup Portrait Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con)
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Youth services come in many different formats. Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating Long Eaton rugby club on its work with young people—boys and girls—which helps to provide necessary life skills through sport?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for that point. Local authority spending on youth services has been challenged—it is absolutely right that we accept that. However, we have great local authorities and partnerships that continue to innovate to ensure that the challenging funding landscape is addressed and that the benefits are there for children across all communities.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not want to berate the Minister about the lack of resources in youth services, because we know that we do not have as many resources as we used to. Will she follow what we are doing in Huddersfield? We are consulting young people and asking them what they want. Nearly all of them want a safe space where they do not have to drink alcohol, with nice coffee and wi-fi. Is it not about time we supplied young people up and down our country with the safe spaces they want?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. On a Friday evening, what young people want is to be out from the rain and away from parents, with high-speed internet access and the chance to hang out with friends—to be a teenager—and that is very welcome. I met policy officials yesterday, and we will be funding such spaces very shortly. We will update the House soon.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In the borough of Kettering there are many independently run and often volunteer-led sports clubs, amateur dramatics groups, scouts, guides and cadet forces—all sorts of organisations. Is it not true that successful and diverse youth engagement does not necessarily require direct local authority control?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I absolutely agree. It is right that we look at the local authority and community facilities that young people would like to engage with, and to reflect the community they live in. In fact, just this week we directed £90 million from dormant bank accounts to the newly established Youth Futures Foundation, which will support some of our most disadvantaged young people into employment. We will be working with all sorts of bodies to ensure that there are opportunities for all young people.

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Opposition welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of youth services with their commitment today to a youth charter. The Minister will be aware that there is a strong economic case for investing in youth services, with Ofsted saying that cuts are “a false economy” leading to “greater pressures elsewhere”. We know that the cost of late intervention is estimated to be £17 billion a year. What concrete conversations has the Minister had with her Treasury colleagues ahead of the comprehensive spending review to ensure that the charter is not a no-cheque charter and that there is proper investment in youth services?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

As the Minister for youth—that is slightly embarrassing occasionally—I think it is absolutely right to be in a position to work across Government as we head toward the spending review, to make sure that there are opportunities for our young people. With the youth endowment fund we have seen £200 million to support interventions for children and young people at risk. I absolutely agree that early intervention is right. That is why we have also pledged to review specific youth work qualifications, which were due to expire in 2020, to make sure that the youth work training curriculum is right. That is absolutely on the table.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
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2. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the inclusion of the historic environment in the definition of the natural environment in the Environment Bill.

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Lord Bellingham Portrait Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk) (Con)
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10. When he plans to publish a response to the public consultation on society lottery reform.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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Society lotteries are a vital source of fundraising for charities in this country, raising £300 million for good causes in 2018. Since the consultation on society lotteries reform closed, I have held many meetings with colleagues and stakeholders who reflect all sides of the debate. That process, alongside the consultation, is shaping what I intend to be a fair, balanced and future-proof package of measures that will enable all lotteries to thrive.

Lord Bellingham Portrait Sir Henry Bellingham
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, but does she agree that there is now overwhelming evidence that increasing the maximum prize for society lotteries to £1 million will have zero impact on the national lottery?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I know he feels passionately about the work of society lotteries in supporting important causes in his constituency and across the UK. I am delighted to say that I hope to be able to respond formally to the consultation on the points he raised by the summer recess.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister underline the importance of ensuring that any money set aside for administration is at an acceptable level? If something pertains to be a society lottery, the majority of its money should go to its projects and not be swallowed up in administration fees.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that point—transparency about the money that goes to good causes is important, and it is no secret that I have ensured that transparency in this sector is a priority going forward.

Giles Watling Portrait Giles Watling (Clacton) (Con)
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11. What assessment he has made of the attractiveness of the UK as a visitor destination.

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John Hayes Portrait Sir John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con)
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T2. I recall, in bygone years, the fun my father had completing his pools coupon. That stands in stark contrast with the sinister attempts of corporatist, globalist gambling firms to bypass the new restrictions on fixed odds betting terminals. Will the Minister meet me and others to discuss how we can revitalise the football pools, perhaps by cutting duty on this family fun?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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My mum was a big fan of doing the pools, an opportunity many people took. We have rightly taken decisive action. From the start of this month, the FOBT stake has been cut. We have been absolutely clear that harm around gambling is not confined to one product. We will always look at where there is harm and act where we see it. We want responsible business. I will of course meet my right hon. Friend to discuss his concerns.

Jo Stevens Portrait Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) (Lab)
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T3. Does the Secretary of State agree with the Foreign Secretary when he said last week: “Democracy and freedom of expression means nothing unless journalists are able to expose the truth”? How does that square with the arrest of two members of the National Union of Journalists, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, for their role in making the award-winning documentary “No Stone Unturned” which exposes the truth about the police’s protection of the killers involved in the Loughinisland massacre towards the end of the troubles in Northern Ireland?

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Gareth Snell Portrait Gareth Snell (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Lab/Co-op)
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T4. The Minister will, I am sure, be aware of the work done by the Industrial Communities Alliance and my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Gloria De Piero) to demonstrate the disproportionate nature of areas that play the national lottery and areas that subsequently receive lottery funding for community projects. What work is he doing with Camelot to ensure that small towns, small cities and industrial communities feel the benefit of the lottery that they play?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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The national lottery has raised over £39 billion for good causes since 1994, funding projects in every constituency throughout the UK. It is my job, as we move into the fourth licence, to ensure that it thrives for the next 25 years. The opportunity to re-engage with communities and the public is there for us. If there is a particular concern relating to the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, I will be happy to take it forward to the national lottery.

Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)
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What steps is the Department taking to encourage consortiums of arts organisations to work together with local authorities on applications to the cultural development fund to help local culture’s potential and the visitor economy?

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Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con)
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I warmly welcome today’s announcement of a youth charter, and the Minister knows that it will get my wholehearted support. Will she confirm the remit of the charter? Will it, for example, have a cross-departmental focus?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for the work that he has done to push this forward while in our Department. It is absolutely vital that this works across Government, and this is what we have seen through the Prime Minister’s knife crime and serious youth violence summit. It is absolutely right that we make sure that the help for our young people is set out very clearly in the charter and that we listen to people who know what our young people want; that means young people and people working cross-Government in the sector. I will be delighted to work with my hon. Friend on this issue.

Mike Amesbury Portrait Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) (Lab)
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T6. Over recent weeks, we have seen a number of shocking incidents of racism at football matches at both elite and grassroots levels. What action are the Government taking to ensure that we stamp out racist abuse at every level of the game?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this issue in the Chamber. There will be a further Government statement this morning on this issue. Football cannot be used as a cloak for racism and intolerance. This is a sign that players, fans, and this Government have had enough—so stop it. It is absolutely right that players can take the right action. We should stand with them, and I look forward to saying more on this later this morning.

Robert Courts Portrait Robert Courts (Witney) (Con)
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West Oxfordshire District Council does a fantastic job telling the world about the natural wonders of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. What are Ministers doing to ensure that more tourism investment comes to rural areas such as mine?

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Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I had the pleasure recently of sharing a platform with Judy Murray and staff from the new women’s sport section of The Daily Telegraph. She spoke about the “lady in the van” tennis club that she ran around Scotland to support grassroots tennis. It is absolutely right that the governing body continues to work from the top to support those doing so much from the bottom. I am happy to speak more about that at some point and to support tennis to grow and create more Andy Murrays and, indeed, all Murrays.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

And, of course, Judy Murray, to her huge credit is promoting the Park of Keir project, which I, for one, and many others, enthusiastically support.

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Ruth George Portrait Ruth George (High Peak) (Lab)
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Food banks are like the fourth emergency service, especially in rural areas such as mine. High Peak Foodbank has helped over 1,000 people this year, but it is no longer funded by the lottery. What assessment has the Minister made of the impact of the lottery’s decision on food banks and the vulnerable people who need them?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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As the lotteries Minister, that is not something I am aware of. I am happy to hear more from the hon. Lady and to engage with the national lottery on this issue. We need to make sure there is appropriate funding, and it is great that the national lottery reaches into many communities, helping people broadly. I am happy to take away this issue and the challenge to look across Government and work with colleagues.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. We must move on to questions to the Attorney General.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 7th March 2019

(5 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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12. What the timetable is for the Government’s response to the consultation on society lottery reform.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
- Hansard - -

I am carefully considering the evidence submitted during the consultation, and I hope to respond in the first half of this year.

Brendan O'Hara Portrait Brendan O’Hara
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Despite many warm words stretching back over several years, the Government have shown a distinct lack of urgency in considering the future of society lotteries. It has now been six months since the consultation closed and, all the while, charities and good causes are losing desperately needed funds. Will the Minister now confirm that the Government’s preferred option of a £100 million annual sales limit will be applied and implemented, as previously stated, on 6 April? If not, why not?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I accept the hon. Gentleman’s point that there is a real strength of feeling on this matter. The fact that I am still regularly meeting colleagues and hearing from the sector shows that we want to get this right. I understand the sense of urgency, but I appreciate that we need to get the balance right. Society lotteries are important, and they make a huge contribution to the fundraising landscape, with £296 million raised for good causes last year alone. Of course we need to balance that alongside supporting the national lottery, too.

Lord Bellingham Portrait Sir Henry Bellingham
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In concurring with the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara), does the Minister agree that the request by society lotteries to raise the maximum prize to £1 million is both popular and reasonable, and that there is no evidence this would damage the national lottery? She will be aware that society lotteries do untold good in our constituencies, so will she now stand foursquare behind them?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and it is right to admit and react to the fact that we consulted on the £1 million prize, but we need to balance it with any potential impact on the national lottery. There is a balance to be made. Society lotteries, as we well know, are widely used as a fundraising tool across our communities to support local charities and hospices. To my mind, if we find this balance, we will grow the pie and help all lotteries to survive.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The players of the People’s Postcode lottery, based in my constituency of Edinburgh North and Leith, have raised an amazing £400 million for good causes, but achieving that incredible fundraising milestone has been greatly hindered by this outdated legislation. The Government said last June that a £100 million annual sales limit is their preferred option. Why has that not been implemented? When exactly will they bring forward the legislation to do just that?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I know that the People’s Postcode lottery does a huge amount in the hon. Lady’s constituency. In fact, it recently brought George Clooney to her constituency to celebrate this success. I am very disappointed not to have been able to accept the invite—can’t think why!

The work of the People’s Postcode lottery has supported our building connections fund, with £11.5 million going to tackle loneliness. It is right that we balance all these great but competing opportunities to support charities across the country.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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6. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on free TV licences for people over 75 years of age.

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Rupa Huq Portrait Dr Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) (Lab)
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7. What steps he is taking to help increase public trust in charity regulation.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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The Charity Commission performs a vital role as the independent regulator and registrar of charities in England and Wales. The National Audit Office conducted a review of the commission as recently as November 2017 and was positive in its findings. The commission continues to regulate robustly to ensure that the public can support charities with confidence.

Rupa Huq Portrait Dr Huq
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Some £43 million of public money going on a bridge across the Thames on which zero construction occurred has led us all up the garden path and now we know that the trust is being wound up. The Charity Commission says it will do no further investigation, so will the Government instigate an independent inquiry so that lessons are learned and no project like this ever has the same fate? Frankly, to have a regulator that is not regulating feels useless.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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The hon. Lady raises the specific issue of the Garden Bridge Trust, which is concerning. The commission has rightly scrutinised the trustees’ conduct and management, and the charity itself, carefully, and it continues to monitor the charity’s progress on winding up. I understand that the commission intends to publish a concluding report on the running of the trust and to learn those wider lessons, setting them out for policy makers so that we can learn from them. I am happy to hear from the hon. Lady if she has further concerns.

Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con)
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The Minister will be aware that public trust in charities was shaken to the core by the revelations of the sexual abuse and harassment that occurred not only in the UK and Europe but around the world. What work is the Charity Commission doing to make sure that that issue is addressed, and that emerging concerns about the role of overseas orphanages in issues of modern-day slavery are looked into? These are important issues involving charities.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend for raising this issue; she is a doughty campaigner for women around the world and it is absolutely right that we will have the debate later today ahead of International Women’s Day tomorrow. People have been horrified by what has been allowed to be done around the globe under the watch of charities, and it is absolutely right that we learn lessons. I am due to talk to Ministers from the Department for International Development about this matter, and I would be happy to speak to my right hon. Friend about particular issues if she feels that anything has not been picked up on. We must make sure that we learn further lessons. Nothing can be left alone on this issue.

Steve Reed Portrait Mr Steve Reed (Croydon North) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I want to press the Minister further on the garden bridge issue. It has been a total fiasco. We have seen £40 million of public money wasted; public tendering and procurement processes bypassed; contracts awarded before the business case was even drawn up; and a cosy relationship—to say the least—between the chair of the trustees and senior figures at the Charity Commission itself, as well as the former Mayor of London. How can the public have trust in charity regulation if the Charity Commission will not properly investigate a scandal of this magnitude? What is the Minister going to do herself to make sure that a full investigation—not just a report—into this scandal is conducted?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

As I said, there has been an investigation and lessons will be learned. I am due to meet the Charity Commission fairly shortly. The Government increased the commission’s budget by £5 million in January 2018 so that it could increase its core regulatory functions. I admit that I have had issues in my own constituency relating to concerns about the Charity Commission, so I am happy to take the matter further. I am the charities and lotteries Minister and, as we heard earlier, if we do not have confidence in our charities’ ability to make sure that they look after other people’s money properly, we need to carry on and do more.

Norman Lamb Portrait Norman Lamb (North Norfolk) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

8. What steps his Department is taking to improve mobile phone coverage throughout the UK.

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Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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It is vital that charities feel free to speak on behalf of everyday people and continue to develop the right policy with Government. Government contracts will include provisions to ensure that providers adhere to the high standards that we expect. However, those provisions are in no way gagging clauses.

Emma Dent Coad Portrait Emma Dent Coad
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In my constituency, we have a large number of charities and advice agencies dealing with the fallout of Government cuts, universal credit, and, of course, the after-effects of Grenfell. Does the Minister truly believe that those frontline organisations should be silenced rather than being able to share their justified concerns, which could then be rectified? I draw particular attention to some of the groups involved in Grenfell that have been told, “Play nice, and you’ll get what you need.” They should be allowed to speak out.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I reiterate that this is not a gagging clause. I repeated that when I met the charities group in December and spoke at its event here in Westminster, and the Prime Minister wrote to Sir Stuart Etherington and reaffirmed the point. If the hon. Lady wishes to meet me to discuss those who feel that they cannot speak out, I would be very happy to do so. It is absolutely right that we should be able to hear the sector’s voice and to hear its expertise, its insight and everything that it can bring to Government to tackle burning injustices. As I say, I am very happy to meet her to discuss the matter.

Peter Heaton-Jones Portrait Peter Heaton-Jones (North Devon) (Con)
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T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

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Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab)
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Will the Sports Minister comment on whether English Football League football fans were consulted on the “fans fare” scheme to protect the fares of away travelling fans?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
- Hansard - -

My hon. Friends in the Department for Transport have been working strongly with fans to ensure that travel is appropriate. My understanding was that the issue had been dealt with, but I am happy to meet the hon. Gentleman if he still feels that there are concerns in this area.

Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. May I congratulate the entire DCMS team on their truly world-leading work on online harms? On the issue of online abuse specifically, it would appear—certainly in this place—that women are targeted far more than men. Will the Minister confirm whether there is evidence to suggest that this gender bias in online abuse is an issue more broadly?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 31st January 2019

(5 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Andrew Rosindell Portrait Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con)
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8. What steps his Department is taking to encourage more international sport to be played in the UK.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
- Hansard - -

My Department works closely with UK Sport and national sports governing bodies, as well as with local, regional and devolved partners, to ensure that the UK successfully bids for and stages a range of the world’s largest sporting events. We have secured over 100 major international sports events since 2012, and this will be an exciting summer, which will include the cricket world cup, the cycling road world championships and the netball world cup. Of course, we are looking forward to UEFA 2020, and not far off is the rugby league world cup in 2021.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

And Wimbledon.

Andrew Rosindell Portrait Andrew Rosindell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Now that the FIFA bidding process is much more transparent, has the Minister considered the possibility of holding the 2030 World cup in England or in the United Kingdom, involving all the home nations of our nation?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

As the Prime Minister said last year, the UK Government would support a bid to host the 2030 FIFA World cup. I welcome that transparency and the football associations are free to decide whether to pursue that opportunity. The English FA is already working with the FAs of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland to explore the feasibility of such a joint bid.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure the Minister will join me in welcoming the fact that the 2021 rugby league world cup opening ceremony will take place at Newcastle’s St James’ Park. Does she agree that all sport played at St James’ Park should be played in the interest of the fans, not of finance, and that the Premier League would do well to learn that?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

The hon. Lady, adorned in black and white, makes her point once again. It is a very exciting announcement for the cities involved, and it is right that she continues to stand up for her football club and for the great sporting prowess in her constituency. It is right that we send the message that Newcastle should continue to play its part.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the excellent Minister agree it is important to have international sport here regularly? Four American football games a year are now played in this country—two at Wembley and two at the excellent Tottenham Hotspur ground next year—but would it not be better if we had a permanent franchise so that we could have American football played here throughout the season?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

The Americans are coming—on a trade level, on a footballing level and on a baseball level. We will see Major League Baseball at the London stadium, as well as more National Football League games. The Houston Texans and the Carolina Panthers are coming, and we will be seeing more and more coming across from the stateside. I am sure my hon. Friend will be delighted to attend. Perhaps we could go together.

John Grogan Portrait John Grogan (Keighley) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There are concerning reports this week that Six Nations rugby, one of the great annual sporting events that unites the nation, is about to be subsumed in a world tournament and disappear off to subscription TV. Will the Minister take steps to add Six Nations rugby to the listed events that must be offered live to free-to-air TV?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

As the Six Nations approaches, the excitement fast builds. Such concerns have already been raised with me this week by the Secretary of State for Wales, and I have agreed to meet him and broadcasters. It is important that this area of sport, which we all enjoy, is available for everyone to see and to be part of. I will be taking those concerns forward.

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Jeremy Lefroy Portrait Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On Saturday I enjoyed watching England’s under-18 schoolboys beat Australia at the excellent Stafford Town football club. Can we ensure that international matches in all sports are played right across the country, including in our great towns as well as in our cities?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

That sounds like another bid. It is right that we should host international sporting opportunities across our great country. Perhaps my hon. Friend is bidding to be part of the future UK major sports events strategy, which is coming up shortly. We have seen that, with the announcement of the rugby cities, we are looking beyond London, and it is right that Stafford plays its part.

Antoinette Sandbach Portrait Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

9. What steps he is taking to improve broadband and mobile phone coverage in rural areas.

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Rosena Allin-Khan Portrait Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Football supporters are repeatedly made worse off when fixtures are rescheduled. Fans’ representatives from every single premier league club agree that it is time for action. The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones), cancelled his meeting with me this week. The football family needs a Government who are on our side, so can the Minister make it clear what the Government’s position is on a fans fair travel scheme?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
- Hansard - -

I have met my hon. Friend on exactly this issue, and can say that he is making strides on it. He is very concerned that our fans are being caught in the middle of this and is working with us to do something about it. If the hon. Lady knows of particular fixtures that are affected by strike action or by broadcasting issues that she would like me to raise again, I am happy to meet her and take this forward.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call Huw Merriman.

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Mike Penning Portrait Sir Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wonder whether the Minister is aware that non-league football is in a really difficult financial position. I know that myself, as I am president of Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club. Is the Minister aware of any future money coming down the line from the premiership, which seems to be flush with money? Money is literally flowing in the transfer market. Teams galore have money flying everywhere, especially Arsenal, but it needs to flow down to non-league football.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend for raising that concern. The grassroots is benefiting from £100 million a year in Premier League investment, and we are already in discussions with the body about ensuring that it remains at least at that level for the next three years. However, I absolutely agree that the time is right to keep looking forward to what can be done to enhance the pipeline of youngsters coming through, and to ensure that there is equal opportunity in participation so that, wherever a person comes from, they can get involved in sport.

Liz McInnes Portrait Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T3. Last week in Westminster Hall, we had an excellent debate on the possibility of having an award for towns of culture to complement cities of culture. The debate showed the level of artistic and cultural activities going on in our towns. Will the Minister say what action has been taken as a result of that debate?

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 13th December 2018

(5 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
- Hansard - -

We are taking decisive action to ensure that we have a responsible gambling industry that continues to contribute to economic growth while protecting the most vulnerable in our society from gambling-related harm. Such commercial arrangements are a matter for the industry and were not a factor when the Government determined their policy to reduce the stakes on B2 machines.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and congratulate her on her well-deserved promotion. When the offshore gambling company GVC bought Ladbrokes for £3.9 billion, £700 million was contingent on the date on which statutory instruments were submitted by the Government on reducing the odds on fixed odds betting terminals. Does she think that the shareholders of Ladbrokes, including UK pension companies and employees, should get that £700 million, or should the offshore gambling company GVC pocket it and use it for irresponsible gambling adverts?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for making an important point about being responsible in this industry. We have been very clear that we were going to be acting in this space. As the Secretary of State said during an urgent question on 1 November, when determining policy in this area, it would not be

“proper for Government to take account of such commercial arrangements”.—[Official Report, 1 November 2018; Vol. 648, c. 1064.]

Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con)
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4. What steps his Department is taking to improve the security of data for people and companies.

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Rosena Allin-Khan Portrait Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting) (Lab)
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I add my congratulations to the new Minister for Sport and welcome her to her place. I look forward to working with her.

Moments of sporting history were made during the London Olympics, with billions of pounds invested in what was meant to be an everlasting legacy. Since 2016, 800 grass pitches have been sold off, 100 swimming pools have been drained, a dozen athletics tracks have been closed, and 350 sports halls have been shut. The Olympic legacy is in tatters and it is fuelling our country’s obesity crisis. We need urgent change, so can the new Minister confirm how many new sporting facilities will be opened in 2019?

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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I very much welcome my welcome to the Dispatch Box. I will have to write to the hon. Lady about her question, but I dispute the premise that London 2012 is not delivering a legacy. My Eastleigh games has been going since 2012. You can try out boccia and rugby, and get involved in all sorts of different sports. As a local councillor, I set up a staggered marathon, which is still going on and bringing people into running.

Some of the legacy projects, particularly those in the park, will not finish their benefits until 2020, so the inspirational power of London 2012 continues. We also have the stadium. The legacy of 2012 is there in the fact that so many sporting events are coming to our shores. We are leading in this area, and are perhaps looking at having the Ryder cup going forward. I understand the concern around grassroots and we will look at the new sporting strategy next year—we are three years on. It is absolutely right to question London 2012, but its legacy is there in many constituencies.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I think the Minister meant “one” rather than “you”.

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Stephen Hepburn Portrait Mr Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow) (Lab)
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T5. Will the Government give football fans an early Christmas present by announcing their intention to sanction the introduction of safe standing at stadiums next season?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I have already met representatives of the Sports Ground Safety Authority, and a small analysis is currently under way. This is a hot topic on my desk, and I will make further announcements in January. In respect of sports ground safety more broadly, I have asked the authority to work with those in charge of the Qatar 2022 World cup to ensure that travelling fans also have a safe experience.

The Attorney General was asked—

Centenary of the Armistice

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 6th November 2018

(5 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies)
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Diolch yn fawr, Mr Speaker. This has been a privilege and an education, a reminder that no community was truly unaffected by the visible and invisible scars of a century ago. Both Front Benchers spoke about sacrifice, and we have heard not only about emancipation, courage, gallantry, equality, bravery, impact, loss, opportunity, reflection, contribution, community, family, survivors, duty and tragedy, but about home and coming back safely.

This weekend, we will mark the Armistice with silence and we will pay our respects. This is an opportunity for all the communities represented in this House to come together. The Secretary of State spoke about blood, mud and misery, about a collective effort of commemoration and about using history to bring us together. He said that we should give thanks for the end of the great war and be ready for the special sound of church bells as they ring out across the land 100 years on. It is bittersweet, said the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson), and what a magnificent speech that was. He talked about learning from living memories, not just from history, about the poppy from Flanders fields, about civilian support for our Royal British Legion, and, yes, about common cause and, again, about bell ringing for those millions who never came home.

It really has been the most poignant and often painful afternoon of debate. It has been touching, thoughtful, passionate, emotional and, above all, personal. I shall try to pay tribute to some of these heartfelt contributions this afternoon. There were Members of Parliament from across this land in the Chamber—from Aldridge-Brownhills, Eastleigh, Henley, Ynys Môn, West Dunbartonshire to Cheltenham.

Moving tributes will be made this weekend as we all give thanks. I, too, will lay wreaths in my constituency—nine will be laid across the day. In the afternoon, in Netley, I will be at the site of the Royal Victoria Hospital, where only a refurbished chapel stands. It is also the site of the Netley military cemetery, in which 636 Commonwealth service personnel from world war one and 35 service personnel from the second world war lay. The site is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There are also the graves of 69 Germans, 12 Belgians and one Pole, all of which continue, rightly, to be cared for.

John Hayes Portrait Mr John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con)
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I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. It is always an honour to speak in this place, but, sometimes, it is also worth remembering that it is just as great an honour to sit and listen quietly, which is what I have done. I want her to do this, if she will. Many hon. Members have mentioned Victoria Cross winners—there were 627 in total in the first world war. Will the Government commit to ensure that every one of them, as a way to remember all those who served, are particularly marked in their locales—in the villages, towns and cities—perhaps by a plaque, by a road name, by a building or even by planting a tree? There will be war memorials, but I think that we can do more in this centenary year.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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My right hon. Friend is tenacity itself. It is right that such important people are raised in this debate, and I thank him for making such an important point.

Where do I begin with some of the contributions this afternoon? My right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) spoke about Brockenhurst. He said that we must not stint on defence and resources in peacetime. As we heard from the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire (Martin Docherty-Hughes), we need to commit to peace, to remember the people who were in peril on the sea and to remember the pain that they felt. Also among us was a historian—my right hon. Friend the Member for Broadland (Mr Simpson)—who has headed off to talk some more on this. His speech focused on why these events matter to young people and why we must have the sites commemorated appropriately, particularly for those who lost their lives at sea.

This Department has given £10 million to deliver events over the past four years. In addition, there has also been a mix of programmes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department for Education and the Ministry of Defence, and that is absolutely right. My hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) spoke about the hollowing out of communities by the great war, and it is absolutely right that we remember those sacrifices.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Ruth Smeeth) told us about the Weeping Window, an installation in the heart of her constituency showing the bravery of service personnel, who continue to do so much for this country. My hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell) showed a passion for peace making by the Council of Europe. The hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) gave us some great, positive news about a statue to commemorate Sikh soldiers and spoke about unity, integration and all-important diversity. Creating such a memorial 100 years on is the right thing to do.

The right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson) told us about the shamrock poppy, which is rightly being worn in the House of Commons to show this is a common cause. My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) talked about a devotion to duty, thanked his loved ones and mentioned the impact of the war on friends and family. The hon. Member for Reading East (Matt Rodda) spoke about the bravery of the Commonwealth—local heroes from Reading and those from across the world—and mentioned clubs and charities.

My hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) reminded us not to forget about our furry friends—the animals who were casualties of war and who were taken by their owners to an unknown fate. He also told us about learning lessons from his grandfather and said that the first step in preventing this from happening again is never to forget. In the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), we heard from a serviceman, who spoke about the new generation, uniformed cadets and young people always willing to serve.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) rightly raised the importance of culture. The 14-18 NOW project has engaged 35 million people, immersing them in cultural integration activities. We heard my right hon. Friend’s poetry oration, and he spoke about the horror of war and the sacrifice for rightful freedom.

The right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) talked about the trenches and the sunflowers in Gallipoli, and he told us about emotional sacrifice and terrible stories of the “goodnight kiss”. It was a passionate and brave contribution, highlighting that, moments before the Armistice, we still lost our brave men.

My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) spoke about people coming home from war, including the story that the men left in one town were only enough to fill three pews in the church. He said that the huge effort of valour must always be remembered, and he reminded us that 20,000 men and boys were lost on the first day of the battle of the Somme.

The hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) gave us a precious reflection on the Devonshires and spoke of the emancipation of women that came through the war—the gallantry of our men, and the impact of our women. I thank him for the huge amount of work he has done for this commemoration.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) rightly told us about the bravery of our allies and the impact on Canadians, the US, Australians and people from New Zealand. He spoke of the struggle to return to normality after knowing such pain and of soldiers coming from foreign lands to do their duty.

The hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen) mentioned the sacrifice given to continue trade links and the connections between the Welsh and the Irish through Holyhead. He told us of 500 lives lost one night at sea; we will remember them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mrs Trevelyan) spoke about Northumberland’s proud work to put together such a huge amount of battalions. There were 52 battalions and the regiment was awarded five VCs. She made a passionate, brave and typically emotional speech. She also spoke about the submarines, and it was news to me how dangerous serving on submarines could be.

I thank the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) for speaking about the importance of local cemeteries and about the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has done so much, contributing £96 million to over 2,000 projects to mark the centenary.

I find it so difficult not to mention everybody, but an important contribution for me was that of my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Alex Burghart), who spoke about his great-grandmother—the foreboding matriarch who paid him 10p to put whisky in her tea. He mentioned the 1.7 million “surplus women” and quoted a headmistress who is said to have told girls, “You must make your way in the world as best you can,” after they lost brothers and others lost sons and they could perhaps have become the maiden generation.

I pay tribute to the huge amount of people who have been pivotal in the commemorations that we have been discussing, including the Royal British Legion, which has been at the heart of so much important activity over the last four years. In my constituency, Norman Brown MBE personally raised £1 million over 25 years to give to the Legion. The tireless community work done by people across the UK is incredible, and they are rightly well regarded. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as we have heard, has sensitively maintained 23,000 sites in over 150 countries across the world.

I thank all hon. Members who have done so much. In particular, we have seen the remarkable contribution from the Prime Minister’s special representative for the first world war commemorations, my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), whose work over six years in delivering these commemorations has been exceptional, alongside the hon. Member for Barnsley Central. I thank all our important devolved Administrations who, as we heard, do so much across the UK and across the world.

It has been heartening to see this House come together to pay tribute to those who tragically paid the ultimate price. We rightly thank all those who went to serve their country and all those who continue to serve their country, to show them that all they have done is right because it has protected our precious freedom. The parliamentary prayer said that we should unite and knit together, in the spirit of recognition and peace, as we reflect on the centenary of the end of a war that brought so much bloodshed and so much horror. Let us all pledge that the sentiments expressed today over in St Margaret’s Church will remain in our thoughts today and over the weekend and in our hearts forever. We will remember them.

BBC Pay

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 9th January 2018

(6 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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I welcome calls for pay restraint in public bodies from all quarters, including from the hon. Gentleman.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies (Eastleigh) (Con)
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I declare two interests as chair of the all-party parliamentary commercial radio group and the former proud owner of a BBC pass. I strongly welcome pay transparency as the BBC is a publicly funded body. We are now in a very disappointing place. Does the new Secretary of State recognise that, despite what the Government have done, it is astonishing that we would not have discovered this underlying disparity without the singular bravery of individual women?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
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Yes. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who has worked hard on this issue during her time in the House. I also pay tribute to Carrie Gracie for her bravery and her actions.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 21st December 2017

(6 years, 4 months ago)

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

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

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