36 Mims Davies debates involving HM Treasury

Alcohol Taxation

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 7th July 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alun Cairns Portrait Alun Cairns
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his point. The significant advantage that the cider industry receives—the differential in taxation status— is testament to the campaigning that my hon. and right hon. Friends have done for the industry. Some have called for that to be addressed, but that is not proposed in the Government’s plans, and I am not suggesting that should change. He makes an extremely important point about the complexity. Even when there are potential advantages for some sectors over others, the complexity detracts from that. The simpler the process, the better that would be.

I hope that the Minister agrees that the current proposal is too complex, and a simplified approach would work much better. The principles or broad approach of this incentive are important. Why is there no similar support for UK vineyards as well, all of which in the UK are small operators? These businesses invest for many years before receiving a return on that investment. The quality of wine competes on par with traditional winemaking countries and wins.

Llanerch Vineyard and Glyndwr Vineyard in my constituency are excellent examples. They invest heavily, have long lead times, are excellent employers and are great visitor attractions. In reality, they are small operators, and extending either the principle of the small producers relief to include vineyards or simply increasing the current arrangement—albeit simplified from the 8.5% ABV limit—would make a major difference and provide significant advantage to wines made in England and Wales. Support for such vineyards in the UK would not pose risks or undermine the Treasury’s ambitions and can be met within the World Trade Organisation rules.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies (Mid Sussex) (Con)
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This issue has been specifically raised with me by Bolney Wine Estate, on which the duty particularly impacts, along with other nearby producers, such as Ridgeview, which is on the edge of my pitch in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), and Kingscote in East Grinstead. There is a collective ask across the English and Welsh wine industry, and I hope that the Minister, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer) will be able to help these businesses to grow. They are small producers and tourist attractions, but above all they are businesses.

Alun Cairns Portrait Alun Cairns
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My hon. Friend makes an important point that underlines the issues that we have highlighted.

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Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con)
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It is a real pleasure to speak in the debate. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Alun Cairns) on securing it at such a vital time for so much in the sector. It is a particular pleasure to speak as chair of the all-party parliamentary beer group, which is the largest APPG in Parliament.

A lot of public focus is given to the very real harm that can be caused by alcohol and overconsumption, but not enough attention is given to the real contributions that British beer and our community pubs make to almost every element of life. On balance, they genuinely are forces for good. They are a force for good economically, with beer and pubs nationally contributing about £23 billion to GDP and, as I am sure the new Chancellor will become very aware, about £13 billion to the Exchequer. They are present in every single one of our constituencies in every part of the country. We have about 1,800 brewers —possibly more—across the UK, including about 150 in the west midlands. My own constituency is home to at least five breweries.

They make huge contributions to our local economies. They are a force for good for employment, with beer and pubs employing around 900,000 people, with an almost identical gender balance. Around half the people employed across the sectors are aged under 25 and there is a fantastic variety of career progression across the industry. They are good for tourism. British pubs are named consistently as one of the top three things that visitors to the UK want to do here. They are good for exports. They are the third-highest food and drink export sector, worth about £550 million for the UK economy. Before the pandemic, the sector was growing more quickly than almost any other export sector. They are good for our society and culture. At a time when loneliness and isolation are often the biggest challenges facing some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, in many areas the community pub really is the last of the services in towns and villages.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend for raising the long-term and managerial career opportunities in the sector, and for raising the charitable good will and fundraising that happens in many of our pubs. I recently went to a “Brave the Shave” in the Burrell Arms in Haywards Heath, which raised masses of money for Macmillan Cancer. That sort of thing goes on up and down the land, bringing people together and bringing good causes and good will together—as well as a good time.

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. PubAid estimates that pubs up and down the country contribute more than £100 million every year to charitable activities and community causes, and a further £40 million for grassroots sports in our constituencies, so they really are forces for good in our communities.

As my hon. Friends have said, our pubs, brewers and many other parts of the sector have long been over-taxed. UK pubs and brewers are taxed around 20 times more than US tech companies, as compared by their turnover. They are taxed around five times more than UK gambling. The UK has one of the highest levels of beer duty in Europe—behind, I think, only Finland and Ireland—which is 10 times that of Germany. Taken together, our pubs and brewers contributed over £10 billion in tax last year, even in reduced market conditions—£1 in every £3 spent in a UK pub goes straight to the Treasury. I am sure the Minister is very grateful for that, but I am also sure that Members recognise the disadvantage and burden that places on responsible places for people to drink responsibly and in moderation, compared with the opportunities that supermarkets in particular and other off-trade retailers have to sell their products far more cheaply, with far fewer employment costs and far fewer responsibilities to regulate who they are selling to.

Working People’s Finances: Government Policy

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 21st September 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies)
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I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in this important and wide-ranging debate. I will endeavour to respond to as many points raised as possible in the time I have. First, the Opposition have focused on benefits today, but the reality is that this debate is about working people. It is about people in work getting the right support that raises them out of poverty, and benefits are our safety net.

Let me turn to my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Jill Mortimer), who made her maiden speech. She spoke about the value she will bring to this place as the first Conservative elected for her constituency, and about her unwavering determination to be here. The fact is that she will be a strong voice in this House, and we welcome her heartily.

The hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) spoke about the price of food. I know the incredible strength of her community and what the pandemic has done across many of our communities. We have all worked together to support those communities. Let us commend all the communities and people who have stepped forward.

My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Danny Kruger) spoke about the important investment this Government have made in young people, our support for restart and the emergence of the global economy, which is creating challenges for everybody.

The hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans)—and I thought this was a very important matter—raised the issue of water prices, but also his deep frustration about the impact of loss of water. I have seen that in my own constituency, and that was welcome to hear.

There was an excellent contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (James Daly), who spoke about the business support in this area, the protection of jobs and the fact that there had been hardship help with council tax bills. He said that we need high skills and to see the impact of T-levels, and this Government are making that happen.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Gill Furniss) spoke about Shaun and the mental health impact of the never-ending spiral of poverty, which was absolutely harrowing to hear. Our in-work progression focus will absolutely help people such as Shaun. Our work coaches transform the lives of people like Shaun every day, and we stand ready to help.

The hon. Member for Coventry North East (Colleen Fletcher) shared her shopping habits, which I very much enjoyed. It was very reassuring to hear that she really understood the value of the DWP to her community.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con)
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This debate is all about jobs. Does the Minister agree that the reopening of the Amlwch jobcentre will ensure that my constituents across Ynys Môn get access to hundreds of new jobs?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank my hon. Friend, and she gives me the opportunity to speak about our unwavering support for the most vulnerable people in our society. Week in and week out, the doors of our jobcentres have remained open for the most vulnerable, but that particular jobcentre has been very difficult to get open safely. I am delighted it is opening imminently, and I know what an impact it has in her community and how much work she does to support that community.

To turn to the thoughtful contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Miriam Cates), she spoke about the hiring opportunities, the opportunities of rising wages and of course the challenges of raising a family, which we all know.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) rightly raised the cost of broadband. I am happy to say that at the DWP we have a social tariff available. We want to support people on low incomes who need specific help, and we have specific support through the benefits system and the flexible support fund. She should be reassured by that.

There is so much more I would like to say. There was the passionate contribution by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Aaron Bell). There was the speech from the hon. Member for North East Fife (Wendy Chamberlain), who should please look at the strategy in the disability Green Paper and have a look at the impact of auto-enrolment, which I think will reassure her.

The hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) mentioned the value of UC and how it had supported many people, and he asked about our plan. We have had a plan for jobs since last July, and I will go on to make further comments shortly.

We in this House engage weekly in our surgeries with constituents who are in times of need, and nobody could have foreseen how difficult the last 18 months or so were going to be for our society because of a global pandemic. Members have raised various challenges faced by their constituents in different sectors, and they are important matters, but it must be noted that many constituents on UC are working, which is exactly why we have a taper rate to support people. There is no cliff edge on UC—if you work hard, UC helps you to keep more of your money.

Through this pandemic the Government have recognised that people needed significant additional support and have stepped in to help pay the wages of millions of workers, investing over £400 billion in an unprecedented package of support, protecting jobs and safeguarding livelihoods, as we have heard throughout this afternoon. Our plan for jobs, which I have been delivering on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, is wide-ranging. The package includes kickstart, restart, doubling the number of our work coaches, job entry targeted support, job finding support, sector-based work academy programmes, our enhanced youth offer and new DWP youth hubs, and a significant expansion of our jobcentre network, allowing us to assist our claimants, some for the first time in their lives, with not only benefit support and advice but opportunities to progress or transition to a different sector and harness their skills in a new way.

Richard Holden Portrait Mr Holden
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Does the Minister agree that the best way to help people, especially those changing jobs, is to do everything we can through jobcentres? I thank the Consett, Stanley and Crook jobcentres for attending my recent “jobs, jobs, jobs” fair at Derwentside College in North West Durham, which the Pensions Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman), also kindly came along to. Does the Minister also agree that it is incumbent on all Members to do everything they can to help all their constituents get into new jobs given the record numbers of vacancies across the country?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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Absolutely: jobs, jobs, jobs is the right message, but very little of that has been heard in the Chamber this afternoon from those on the Opposition Benches. On jobs fairs, it is vital that people come through our doors and see what is out there, because it is time once again to be, as this Government are being, forward-thinking, pragmatic and responsible as we push to build back better. The reality is that it is unsustainable to carry on spending the amount that we have been on welfare measures during this pandemic without ongoing increases in public expenditure, which Opposition Members have complained about. Inevitably, that would also affect working people’s taxes—which is what the debate is about.

The extra provision this Government have provided during the pandemic was temporary, to deal with the pandemic head on. Now that public health restrictions have been relaxed, it is right that these temporary support measures come to an end. Of course we also have our successful vaccine roll-out, and pleasingly—we must remember this—we are no longer in the same situation we were in at the turn of the year, and nor is our labour market. We have been able to reopen society, and our economy is recovering strongly. Growth is forecast by the OECD to be 7.2% this year, reflecting the bounce back we are already seeing right across the UK. So it is a time to be bold and empower people to harness their opportunities and help them progress on to their next stage—to give people both the hope and the skills and training they need to thrive in this changing economy.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman
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What would the Minister say to the working parent who is already trying to juggle hours around childcare and who cannot simply pick up another few hours of work a week? How are they going to make up this shortfall?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I would say, “Talk to your work coach.” We heard from two hon. Members from Liverpool today. I was in the Toxteth jobcentre meeting the first people taking the digital online level 3 programme, which people can earn a lot more money by taking part in. There are so many opportunities in jobcentres. I know that the hon. Lady has not been to her jobcentre recently, because I checked. Please do go and visit.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I will make some progress, because I think it is important to talk about the 1 million vacancies that we have in our economy. We have jobs in growing and emerging sectors; we have green jobs, we have tech roles, and they can all be accessed through our jobcentres.

I am determined to help those with the biggest barriers to move closer to the labour market, to ensure that, as the hon. Lady says, people progress into work and see the reward for their efforts, and to help people increase their hours or get into work for the first time, like—I must correct the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Mr Clarke)—the more than 69,000 young people who are now in kickstart roles, on that important first rung of the career ladder.

My message today to everyone in the Chamber and everyone looking in is: if you want to progress in this jobs market, whoever you are, wherever you are—at any age or any stage—we are here for you. We will get behind you. We have dedicated work coaches, and we have boosted them by 13,500 as part of our plan for jobs. We will give you tailored support and we will help you progress. We will not leave you behind.

We are directly investing in our young people most at risk of long-term unemployment with the £2 billion kickstart scheme, a life-changing scheme of a six-month work placement—a springboard into a future career. With over 188,000—I got it right this time—kickstart roles, young people must turn to their work coaches to hear about these amazing opportunities.

Meanwhile, I must let the House know that we have a new youth hub across every Jobcentre Plus district throughout England, Scotland and Wales. By Christmas, we will have 150 new youth hubs open. These are valuable new partnerships—interventions for direct life chances—with local councils, football clubs, charities such as the Prince’s Trust, and local training providers.

We are also seeing lives changed by our job entry targeted support programme, which is known as JETS, with over 25,000 people starting new jobs since our plan for jobs was launched. That is not forgetting our £2.9 billion restart scheme, which will, crucially, help those who are leaving furlough. We have also refreshed our “50 PLUS: Choices” offer, and we have stronger support for those who need any extra skills through our lifetime skills guarantee.

I am passionate—I hope the House has noticed it this evening—about getting people into jobs, but also about progressing people when they are in work. This Government’s longer-term ambition remains to build an economy that ensures that everyone, no matter what their background, has the opportunities to enter work and progress out of low pay.

We are absolutely taking action. The in-work progression commission was launched in March 2020 by the DWP. We will respond shortly to its report, but it is all about getting that understanding about the barriers that people in low pay face and, crucially, as we talked about this afternoon, ensuring that work remains the best route out of poverty.

Our plan for jobs programme is also helping claimants to gain the skills they need to progress in work. Our sector-based work academy programmes—SWAPs—are helping people get new skills to retrain and pivot into growing sectors, from viticulture to construction, infrastructure and social care. Haulage has been mentioned this afternoon; we have a programme in that, too. We also have DWP Train and Progress, which provides the ability to access the Department for Education skills bootcamps in growing sectors. With over a million—

Alan Campbell Portrait Sir Alan Campbell (Tynemouth) (Lab)
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claimed to move the closure (Standing Order No. 36).

Question put forthwith, That the Question be now put.

Question agreed to.

Question put accordingly (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the original words stand part of the Question.

Economy and Jobs

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 20th January 2020

(4 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Caroline Ansell Portrait Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con)
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It has been two and a half years since my last contribution, and I am delighted to have been re-elected to my seat. I am also delighted to see you re-elected to the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova), not least because I will try later in my mini-maiden that is now a maxi-maiden to do justice to some of the excellent work in constituencies the length and breadth of the land to support those with disabilities to move into the workplace. I was very proud in my first term to be a Disability Confident champion and to promote, at every level and every opportunity, those who were opening doors so that people of all talents, regardless of disability, had the opportunity to be everything they could be. We need them.

I am particularly pleased and privileged to follow in the footsteps of genuinely new friends and particularly my new neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mrs Elphicke), who is of course a fellow coastal community champion. I would also like, without causing offence by not singling out more people, to commend my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Felicity Buchan), who spoke movingly earlier in the debate.

This debate about the economy is particularly important, because it is the economy that powers our public services. I speak with feeling on that, because it powers our schools and I am a teacher. It also powers our NHS, and I stand before the House today not just as a teacher, but as a very grateful mum. What brought me to Parliament in my first term was a potentially shattering experience, when my then five-year-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumour. We fell into the embrace of the NHS, and thanks to the surgeons of Great Ormond Street and King’s College, his life was saved. That stopped me in my tracks; I was moving towards being a headteacher, and I was overwhelmed with such a need to give something back, having experienced that incredible support and affirmation from the NHS. Ultimately, I found my way here, and the same sense of service that brought me here the first time has brought me back.

I would like to thank the good people of Eastbourne and Willingdon for bringing me back. I would also like to thank one or two hon. Friends for helping me on my way and for campaigning with me in the dark and the rain in my beautiful coastal town. I would particularly like to mention my parliamentary neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman). So confident was he in my success that he said to a member of the media that if I did not win, he would jump off Eastbourne pier naked. Now, there was joy in my campaign centre in the early hours of election night on the back of my win, but there was some disappointment in other quarters that that jump was not to take place, although I am not sure the world is any poorer for that missed opportunity.

I also thank my predecessor, Stephen Lloyd, who, in victory and defeat, brought back and supported the Eastbourne carnival, which is a really important showcase for local community groups and a powerful fundraiser for local charities.

In the context of today’s debate, I stood on a platform of inspiring new prosperity in my home town and, critically, new prosperity that left no one behind. For that reason, I wish to highlight two particular groups in Eastbourne whose important work I will be supporting. One is called Project SEARCH. I am sure that other Members will have similar programmes in their constituencies. Project SEARCH seeks to provide supported internships for young adults with learning disabilities. Such internships are to be found at the local hospital, which hosts the programme and which has genuinely opened the door of opportunity to these young people who come and add to that organisation. Their work is of inestimable value. It is hugely important, and I want to see that work grow and develop.

A second group relates to another cohort of people who must not be left behind. They are under the auspices of Reformed East Sussex, which looks to build bridges for ex-offenders who can find it incredibly challenging to find their way back to employment. What an incredibly powerful thing it is to be able to reach out and to provide that first step back into work. It does tremendous work not only for ex-offenders, but for those who are recovering from addictions. I look forward to working with both those organisations for those particularly hard-to-reach groups and to seeing those jobs open up for them.

What do Members know of Eastbourne other than the fact that it is, of course, the sunshine capital of the south, with the highest number of sunshine hours anywhere in the kingdom? Sometimes that is disputed by neighbours, but not tonight, so I will rush on. It is also known for its heritage coastline—incredible vistas are beamed across the world when we host our international tennis tournaments. We are also the gateway town to the South Downs national park, which is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Mims Davies) reminds me, the home of the very famous challenging, but inspiring, Beachy Head half marathon, which she herself ran. I waited on the finish line to welcome her in.

Caroline Ansell Portrait Caroline Ansell
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Yes, in the rain. That is a partnership that I am very happy to continue with.

Members will not be surprised to know that tourism and conferencing are critically important to my home town, blessed as it is. Just last year, a brand new conference centre opened up, which is really going to put Eastbourne on the map. In part, that conferencing centre has been powered by Government investment. The Government recognise that coastal communities such as mine have not just challenges, but opportunities, and those opportunities are being unlocked now thanks to that Government investment. Importantly, in the context of a debate in which we are looking to establish and inspire that greener more sustainable future, I was very pleased, just last weekend, to be part of a launch event—Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030—at that very conference centre. It brought together different groups to harness the power of our community to achieve that really important aim of living more sustainably and powering forward in a much greener way.

Language schools are also hugely important to Eastbourne’s economy, and we have a cluster of high-performing schools. I look forward to working with Ministers and with my local schools to ensure that we continue to be that open and attractive destination for young people from across the globe.

The fisheries Bill is another really important and welcome Bill in this Queen’s Speech, and it will provide that springboard to the future. For my 30 to 40-boat strong fishing community, which includes many families, jobs are really important. There will be a new quayside development at the waterfront. These are really exciting times, and I look forward to see how we are going to support that industry.

The digital and creative industries—perhaps not the traditional, conventional industries that hon. Members might expect in my seaside town—are emerging with more and more strength, creating a whole new vibe in town. There is a strong future there, and I am really pleased that I am going to be a part of it.

I welcome the Chancellor’s opening comments, particularly about levelling up. I need to see levelling up, across the nation of course, but also in my hometown. I need to see investment in the north—the north of Eastbourne. We need to open up new opportunities and level up there, because the sorry story is that life expectancy varies even across my small seaside town, and to the tune of six or seven years. We need to bring about far greater equalities in that respect.

There are references to investment in infrastructure in Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech, and that will be critical to unleashing potential in Eastbourne. The A27 in particular is a very dangerous and unreliable stretch of road that is strangling the local economy, so I am looking forward to working with Ministers on such issues. The most important point is that global Britain is such a powerful way forward. Global Britain; global Eastbourne.

Youth Services

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 24th July 2019

(4 years, 9 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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I beg to move,

That this House has considered the role and sufficiency of youth services.

The Government have called this debate today as a response to the publication of the inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group on youth affairs, which was published in April. I am delighted that the Secretary of State and my colleague with the arts and culture brief are here to support me in responding to the report. I recently met the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) to discuss the report. It is a very impressive piece of work and, as I said at the time, the all-party group and its teams should be commended for it. We will of course respond in detail to all the report’s recommendations presently. Today I would like to continue that spirit of cross-party co-operation and focus on our young people, and to highlight what the Government are already doing to address the subject of sufficiency in youth work. I look forward to hearing Members’ views.

I shall turn first to the youth work curriculum and qualifications. On training for youth workers, we will renew the youth work curriculum and national occupational standards. We will also renew the entry level qualifications into youth work, and I am pleased to announce today that we will establish a new level 3 youth work apprenticeship. We know that these are particularly valuable to frontline youth workers—paid workers and, importantly, volunteers—and we are doing this because we know the power of a trusted relationship between a young person and an appropriately trained adult. This can absolutely transform a young person’s life.

Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con)
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Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the voluntary youth workers, both in my constituency of Crawley and up and down the country, who give so much of their time not just through council youth services but through other youth groups such as the Cubs, Brownies and Scouts?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I know the importance of youth work interventions in my hon. Friend’s community and town, which can be seen in the football club, the charity movement and in terms of prevention. I completely agree with him regarding the uniformed youth.

Jim Cunningham Portrait Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab)
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The Minister is making some important comments, given that a 15-year-old was shot by somebody on a motorbike in Coventry last Saturday. The point that I am trying to make is that 87% of local authorities have cut at least one portion of their youth services over the past 10 years, and we must do something about that. To put it another way, £3 billion has been cut from youth services over the past 10 years, so how are the Government going to try to make up for that, bearing in mind that police resources are badly stretched? I am not making a political point, but we still have a shortage of policemen.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that. The loss of one young life on our streets is one too many. When we are making decisions about local services, it is important that councillors and councils recognise the impact of their decisions, and I have been one of those people having to make decisions in challenging circumstances. Our young people matter, and I will be coming on to that later in my comments, but I hope today’s debate will make it clear that, whether cross-Government or cross-party, we absolutely do care.

The new qualification that I mentioned earlier will be accessed by those working in a volunteer capacity—perhaps in small voluntary organisations—and they may not have the significant sums needed, so I can also confirm today that we are providing £500,000 in bursaries for potential students who would otherwise not be able to pay, benefiting up to some 400 students.

Turning to further investment, the youth investment fund has a three-year, £40 million collaboration with the national lottery, and I thank the players who are helping us to support the fund. The collaboration will benefit 90 voluntary and community organisations working in disadvantaged communities. A great example of that is the detached youth work done on the Pallister estate in Middlesbrough, which engages with 60 to 80 young people each week and has contributed to a reported decline in antisocial behaviour rates in the community. That successful model means that the delivery agency, Youth Focus: North East, is working with a local community business to establish a permanent building for young people on the estate.

Ellie Reeves Portrait Ellie Reeves (Lewisham West and Penge) (Lab)
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Youth First provides fantastic youth services across Lewisham, and it was instrumental in bringing the community together when 15-year-old Jay Hughes was murdered last November. However, it is chronically underfunded owing to cuts to our local authority, so it cannot provide the detached youth workers that the Minister just mentioned. Does she agree that we must invest in youth services, so that they can play that vital role in tackling youth violence and supporting our communities?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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I agree with the hon. Lady. It is far too easy in council chambers to overlook our young people, because we perhaps do not think about them when making difficult decisions. I have heard about the benefits of detached youth work, and it is vital that the Government look to support it. I have already made a case to the incoming Prime Minister about the importance of our young people, and I will continue to do that while I am in this role.

My hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) has already mentioned uniformed youth groups. We invested £5 million in 2018-19 through the uniformed youth fund, supporting the Sea Cadets, Boys Brigade and Girlguiding, to expand opportunities to take part into the most deprived wards. Over 10,000 new places for young people have been created as a result. There is another great example in Liverpool, where the Fire Cadets have a new unit in schools for young people with autism. This funding is enabling uniformed youth organisations to reach out, modernise their websites and improve their training materials.

What has happened in the National Citizen Service? To date, 500,000 young people have taken part, and 100,000 more will do so this summer. That means an additional 15 million hours of volunteering via the NCS.

Ruth George Portrait Ruth George (High Peak) (Lab)
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It is good to hear that there are some isolated examples of youth work going on, but in my county of Derbyshire every single youth worker has been made redundant—ironically, on the same day we had our first knife stabbing by young people, in Buxton. That is what is happening up and down the country. Isolated examples—the NCS lasts for two weeks—are no replacement for the long-term relationships and commitment that youth workers give young people around our country.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
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It is vital that our young people have an opportunity to be involved in the NCS, but it is also vital that we have other interventions. I do not see this as a case of one or the other, although I understand the point the hon. Lady is making.

I confirm today ongoing funding of £280,000 to six of our most promising Centre for Social Action initiatives, to help them to grow. That includes support for the Grandmentors initiative run by Volunteering Matters, which uses mentoring to help our young care leavers. This complements the existing outstanding work done by civil society and our local authorities.

Local councils have a statutory duty to provide services for our young people. No one can deny that there has been an operational challenge in the financial environment for that provision, but as we perhaps heard just now, open access to youth services has in some cases been far too easy to target for cuts. Credit should therefore go to those local authorities that have helped to set up new structures, attracting new partners and direct funding into this space. We have seen fantastic examples of this from Devon to Doncaster, in Manchester and on Merseyside. That is why—this is key—we have launched a review of guidance for our local councils on the statutory duty to provide youth services. The Government want to see a more accessible approach, without putting any underfunded burdens on our local authorities.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle Portrait Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for her kind words about our meeting. I welcome the fact that the Government have agreed to review the statutory guidelines and how councils are fulfilling their duties. Will she ensure that the guidelines set out a basic right for every young person to access youth services every night of the week, or will this review just be a wishy-washy statement of principles for councils to follow?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman, who I know is passionate about this area and absolutely doing all the right work to promote the positives available for our young people. It is absolutely right that they should know what they can expect from this Government and from the community. I will come on to that in relation to the youth charter, but let me briefly address the charter now. It is absolutely right that our young people get a chance to grow, mature and find things for themselves, and that is absolutely about a youth offer. That is why, when I came into this post, it was clear to me that a youth charter—a youth offer—setting out what our next generation could and should expect had to be addressed. I am very pleased to be taking that work forward, and I will say more about it shortly.

We are committed to keeping our young people safe, and tackling serious violence is a priority for this Government and our communities. At April’s knife crime summit, at which the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) joined us, all Government Departments were at the table, as were Sport England, the Premier League, sporting governing bodies, and representatives of the arts, culture and civil society. They all agreed to work together to strengthen the sporting offer to tackle serious violence and other problems. The Home Office has launched a £200 million endowment to fund grassroots interventions. That is in addition to the £22 million early intervention youth fund. This week, I announced that Sport England will provide a further £400,000 of national lottery funding to 49 projects to deliver strong, targeted sports offers ahead of the summer holidays.

Lyn Brown Portrait Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for that, and I have to say that Newham has in the past benefited from such projects. However, the applications were due in yesterday, and the money has to be spent by March. It is a complete waste of money to try to do these projects in an ad hoc way, year after year. We need a proper, costed programme that runs from the beginning of the year and can be planned properly, instead of squandering the money that is put in place.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I agree. A concerted effort for our young people through long-term funding is the way forward. Salami-slicing is not helpful in this situation. I am sure that my officials will have heard that. This offer is about knowing what works, amplifying that, spreading it out, and supporting it.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I will take an intervention from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Gill Furniss) first, because she looks frustrated.

Gill Furniss Portrait Gill Furniss
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for giving way. My constituency has seen a significant rise in knife crime and organised gangs. Recently, two youth workers, Fran Belbin and Lloyd Samuels, came to my surgery and explained their frustrations with the funding formula that my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) mentioned. It would be fantastic if the new Prime Minister committed to a five-year strategy that gave all sorts of bodies, whether from the voluntary sector or the council, a good go at improving things for our young people, because at the moment, people are bidding against each other for bits of funding and are given very short timescales for preparing a plan. For instance, this year, people were made aware of the funding only a few weeks before the school holidays, and having been awarded the funding, they have a week to pull things together for the young people. That is not good enough.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

In my experience in this role, I have found brilliant projects ready to roll, and I like to think that we will have no problem finding the right interventions this summer, but I hear what the hon. Lady says. The incoming Prime Minister will find—I have to be careful in what I say—that we are committed to a youth charter, a 10-year vision for a generation. I will absolutely make the case for us to continue with that.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I will take an intervention from the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), and then I will try to limit the interventions I take, because I want to hear from other Members.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful. Young people from the poorest backgrounds are four times more likely to suffer a traumatic or acquired brain injury. There is lots of evidence that those teenagers who do, and who have less developed executive functions in their brain—though some parts of their brain will already be very well developed—end up being the youngsters who get excluded from school, because they appear to be misbehaving, and end up in the criminal justice system. Is it not vital that we make sure that those teenagers, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, get the medical and rehabilitation support that they need, so that they do not end up in the criminal justice system?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman is right. If we intervene once a young person is in the criminal justice system, we are in some ways intervening far too late. That does not mean that there cannot be change from there, but we should be intervening sooner. This week, I have been working with the Minister for safeguarding, my hon. Friend the Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins), across the whole sector, on making sure that people with a challenged background get a chance to get into employment. It is absolutely right that the hon. Member for Rhondda should mention early intervention.

I do not want to undersell the impact of what Sport England is doing; through that, we will reach more than 3,000 additional young people under 25, giving them key skills, coaching and further opportunities. These projects demonstrate the power of sport to inspire. Culture, arts and heritage can also offer young people in our communities a way out, a new chance, and take them away from the risk of violence and gangs.

I have been looking in the Department for a concerted effort on discrimination and racism and the power of sport to inspire. Today, the Football Association, the Premier League and the English Football League have written to me to set out their next steps on tackling racism and discrimination, following the summit I called earlier this year. They have set out stronger education measures, improved reporting systems and better training and support for referees and stewards. There is more to do, and I expect the issue to be at the top of the agenda for the whole of football in the next season.

Let me turn to the other interventions we have made regarding the school sport and activity action plan. A third of our young people—especially girls, children from poorer backgrounds and some children from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds—are doing less than half of the recommended amount of exercise each day. We have published our new school sport and activity action plan, which will ensure that young people are able to get the benefit of 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity.

Jim Cunningham Portrait Mr Jim Cunningham
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister raises an interesting point. We need joined-up Government, with the involvement of education, including further education, which has lost a lot of money. Often, if we can channel a young person into further education, they can make their mind up and may want to go to university. It is a joined-up process and that is the approach that has to be taken.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I will come to that joined-up approach shortly, because it is absolutely key.

We must ensure that young people are able to have a say in the policies that affect them. I have launched three further cross-Government youth voice projects, which enable young people to input directly into policies and design them, alongside officials and politicians. Whether it is hearing from the young people who attended the recent summit on serious violence or our youth steering group that advises the Government on environmental action, we are making sure that young people are being listened to.

The theme of today’s debate is the sufficiency of youth services. I have outlined some of the things we have done and the plans we have made. In April this year, the Government announced that we would develop a youth charter. We need to ask ourselves whether we are sufficiently ambitious on behalf of our young people. Through the charter, we will be. We will bring together policies from across Government and listen to views from young people, those who work with them and, importantly, those who care for our young people. I wish to say a huge thank you to the youth sector organisations that have shared in and embraced the opportunity to work with us to develop the charter so far. It is a commitment to a generation, for a generation. I want the youth charter to have a clear message for our young people: we back them and we are listening to them—to all of them. We are not stereotyping them and we are not limiting them, and we will make sure that if they speak or act in a different way, we will hear them.

Every young voice matters. The Government are determined that all young people will be supported to reach their full potential. We want this country to be the best place in the world to be young.

--- Later in debate ---
Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Maybe now.

As vice-chair of the all-party group on youth affairs, I have looked at the role and sufficiency of youth services closely over the last year, alongside colleagues from across the House and the brilliant National Youth Agency. Access to quality youth work and services for young people is fundamental, particularly in areas of significant deprivation such as Mansfield and Warsop. The reduction in services in recent years is well documented.

The APPG on youth affairs led a year-long inquiry to understand the role that youth work plays and the impact of recent changes. We had a brilliant time visiting some fantastic services in different parts of the country. I enjoyed spending some quality time with the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle). Although we do not always find total consensus on every issue, not least the things that I just mentioned, this is probably one on which we broadly agree. We might articulate it in slightly different ways; we will find out a bit later.

It was plain to see that the quality and the existence of these services is variable at best. The fabulous multimillion-pound Myplace centres that we visited in Mansfield or the brilliant YMCA facilities that we visited in Lincolnshire contrast with tumbledown scout huts and even minibus-based youth centres in many cases. Even in my own county of Nottinghamshire, the service is hugely varied.

My takeaway, informally, has been that the accessibility and locality of these services is far more important than fancy buildings. If young people cannot reach them, they are wasted. The Garage, which the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown visited, is connected with the Garibaldi School in my constituency. Although it is literally a scout hut on the side of the road and has needed significant refurbishment recently, the fact that it is next to the school and is local, so that people can get there, makes it almost a more positive contributor to the area, which is a particularly deprived part of my constituency, than the big, fancy Myplace centre in the middle of town.

I urge the Government to consider the possibility of linking up school facilities with youth work organisations and qualified youth workers. They need to be separate from schools, but basing those services there or nearby makes them as accessible as possible. The Shed and Vibrant Warsop are brilliant examples of how those services can be brought closer to home and into the local community. Warsop, which is a small town on the edge of Mansfield, did not have any youth services whatsoever until the voluntary sector stepped in and brought those services to the local estate, which made them much more accessible. It is a really positive scheme.

In April, the all-party group set out clear recommendations on what needs to be done. The report is detailed, and I encourage colleagues who have not had a chance to read it to get hold of a copy. It found that too many young people do not have the family support or the social networks they need to adequately support them into adulthood. Youth services can provide an important safety net for young people at risk of going down the wrong path. For too many, they are the only secure place that offers them safety and continuity.

In the UK, we are lucky to have a proud history of charities and organisations working with young people—from uniformed groups, such as scouts and girl guides, to social enterprises and local charities. I have been pleased to see Government support particularly for uniformed services and the extra funding for those services, as well as the many positive elements that my hon. Friend the Minister mentioned in the National Citizen Service.

I have met so many brilliant volunteers and youth workers in Mansfield who make a hugely positive impact on young people. I know the importance of youth workers in particular, and the importance of such intervention was absolutely clear from the inquiry. It was brought home to me recently in a panel discussion with young people, organised by the British Youth Council. We talked about the proactive and preventive approach to youth services, which is so much more effective and cost-effective than the kind of crisis management we so often find ourselves doing.

Whether it is the trusted adult who steers a young person away from gangs and violence or who provides a safe space in the community for activities that forge friendships and skills for young people to get on in life, youth workers transform lives. Providing vital early intervention services keeps people out of trouble, frankly. We have so many discussions about some of the major societal challenges we face, such as knife crime, but youth services, particularly with trusted youth workers who forge connections with young people, can have a huge impact on those issues.

In many areas, such as Mansfield, we need to do more to support youth services and ensure that especially the most vulnerable young people have access to youth workers and services. Those services can help people feel supported and less isolated. They can improve mental health, tackle loneliness and, as I have said, steer children away from gangs and crime. It is a prevention service, and as we heard today in Prime Minister’s questions, prevention is better than cure. It is better for individuals, families and communities, and for the public purse as well.

The loss of youth services can lead to significant costs—social and economic—in later years if young people do not receive support early enough. Through my own role on the Education Committee, I know the statistics on how many young people who do not get access to those services or to early intervention end up excluded or in the criminal justice system. It is very clear across all these sectors that prevention is the key. Youth services can play a key role in filling the gap in a more effective and cost-efficient way than needing expensive crisis services later on.

A key recommendation from the all-party group report was that we need clear statutory guidance that defines a minimum and protected level of youth service. I am pleased that the Government have initiated a review of that statutory guidance, with the National Youth Agency joining forces with the Local Government Association to lead on the Government consultation. I know it is due to report later in the year, and it should inform our local choices and local youth partnerships to strengthen those services. That review of what is a sufficient youth offer is very welcome and much needed. I am grateful to the Minister for securing the overdue review and renewal of youth work qualifications, which we have discussed, led by the NYA. I appreciate her update in her opening remarks on the progress on the funding for that, which I inquired about during PMQs a few weeks ago. I understood, as of a few days ago, that it was still awaiting the final sign-off. I do not know whether she can confirm that it is entirely done and sorted.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

indicated assent.

Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is nodding, which is brilliant news. I know that the NYA will be relieved to hear that.

There needs to be a consistent understanding of the level of service, and suitable data should be available to answer the question of whether there is sufficient youth work in any particular area. For example, we do not know the sector’s balance between private, public and voluntary sectors. It is important to explore the changes that have happened over the last decade and examine exactly what we have in place now before we decide whether that is good enough. The reinstatement of the NYA audit, which determined levels of local authority provision, would help us to start to understand the picture at a national level. The last of these reported back in 2008, and things have clearly changed in our provision and youth work since then.

We have witnessed a reduction from 75% to just 25% of the youth workforce holding qualifications in youth work, and we have seen a nearly two-thirds drop in the number of new youth work graduate and postgraduate students since the peak. We are now in a position where there are not enough professionals in the sector, and we need to tackle this issue. With preventive services, as with anything we are trying to reinvigorate—for instance, the recruitment of teachers or doctors—the time involved in training people and putting in place qualifications to get people into the sector can be too long. We need to be looking now at how we support those qualifications, to ensure that if the Government do go ahead with plans for something, such as having youth workers more closely related to schools and tying those things together, we have youth workers trained and ready to deliver that. Pushing for those qualifications, and for the funding needed for their renewal, is absolutely vital.

I do not want to bang on for much longer—

--- Later in debate ---
Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

With the leave of the House, I will close this debate for the Government, and it is a pleasure to do so. I thank hon. Members for such a passionate and informed debate. Let me repeat that the all-party group has done outstanding work on its report. I will, and we will, fully consider all its recommendations, and all the contributions made by Members today. I think that we do need to look at the workforce strategy. We need to make sure that we have a formal response to the report. I am delighted to hear that UK Youth has written to the new Prime Minister today. I do not want to give away secrets at the Dispatch Box, but I very much encouraged it to do so, so I am delighted that it has undertaken that.

As we have seen from the passionate speeches around the Chamber, there is absolutely a need to consider this report. The message from this debate is that we need somewhere to go in talking about youth work and our young people. We need to offer the opportunity that comes through the youth charter. I am delighted with the way that the sector has got to grips with supporting that. As we have heard, we are committed to the revision of the youth work qualifications, the bursary programme and the revision of the guidance for local authorities. That has met with warm support, but I absolutely recognise that many Members around the Chamber feel that it is just the start. On the issue of youth loneliness, the new policies that will come into place later this year, I hope, will have a focus on our young people—on our care leavers, on our young carers and on people who need further support.

My hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), who is no longer in his place, talked about fast-track opportunities to get into youth service. The role of the NCS is extraordinarily valuable and important. The opportunity to bring people into this realm is a chance to give back through NCS—a great way to explore. Talking of exploring, it is very important for us to look at the future underspend in the NCS. I would personally love to see it directed towards detached youth services. I would welcome, as anybody would, more funding going that way, but obviously we will have to wait and see. The NCS is delivering a more confident, capable group of young people. We want that for all our young people, and it is absolutely right that we focus on that.

The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Vicky Foxcroft) spoke about long-term funding, which is what the youth endowment fund is about. It is absolutely right that we look at the 10-year plan—and that is exactly what it is—on top of the £22 million early intervention plan. On the joined-up approach, it is absolutely right that we link up with our communities and schools. Our schools know where the young people who are going to be at risk are at the end of the day—from 3 pm to 6 pm, after school. It is therefore absolutely right that we use the opportunities and understanding that our schools have.

The hon. Member for High Peak (Ruth George) made an emotional speech. I understand what she said; my goddaughter lives in a rural community in Derbyshire. I do not want anyone to feel, from talking to young people, that it is a terrible time to be young. That is not where we want to be. The innovation and opportunities in this sphere should reach everyone, wherever they live. I hope that, through the additional £16 million in the rural services delivery grant for local authorities, we can give hope to young people. As we have heard, we need to balance the urban, rural and coastal challenges. The Government have a proud record of putting more money into coastal communities, supporting 295 projects nationwide with £174 million since 2012.

I want to talk about the youth charter. The hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) spoke about the importance of youth positivity and not needing to reinvent the wheel. He asked about where we are with the NYA on the evaluation of current youth work. That is ongoing between us and the Department for Education, and no final decision has been made, but his plea has been heard.

It is true that there has been a challenge regarding our youth services. Local authorities are responsible for assessing local needs, and we have given them flexibility to make decisions. As we have heard today, where we use innovation, our community and our understanding of it, we can get things right and do things better.

We heard from the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) that this is not just about ping-pong, but I would like to look at ping-pong, because the Brighton Table Tennis Club in the constituency of the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown is fantastic. I have never been to a youth centre or youth club that does not have table tennis, and I would like to praise that one in particular. It works with a pupil referral unit and with people with dementia. There are fantastic, elite table tennis players. There are people who suffer loneliness and isolation, and it is table tennis that has brought them together. That just shows how services can be innovative and welcoming by opening up their facilities. Through the loneliness fund, we have ensured that local facilities are available for people to come to and feel welcome in.

I want to pick up on a point made by the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown). If we are lucky, we can look back to a teacher, youth worker, mentor or grandparent who told us that we matter and that we had chances and opportunities. We must ensure that we use our opportunities to give confidence to our young people—not to talk them down but to give them the skills and opportunities to move forward. I am delighted to hear about the extra £1.4 million in her constituency, which is being used wisely to support young people. We need to look at the basic level of sufficiency and how we are ensuring that our young people are not at risk and are safeguarded.

Lyn Brown Portrait Lyn Brown
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for recognising what the London Borough of Newham is doing, despite the financial restraints, but I gently say that £1.4 million is very difficult for my local council to find. We collectively need to find ways of funding local government to fund local youth services, otherwise there will not be the people I had in my constituency to help young people through the difficulties they face.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

Absolutely. A strong economy, working with communities and using all the tools we have—including, for example, social impact bonds and our dormant assets—to fund our local communities, is vital.

As someone who has young girls growing up, I want to reiterate the importance of a youth voice in this policy area and the youth charter. We know what it was like when we grew up, but we have heard today that it is very different for young people growing up now. Members have asked why the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is the right place for youth policy. I think it really is the right place, but I will not be ungrateful to the rest of Government, who we have hauled in to speak to about amplifying and recognising where we are all working together. We have three youth voice projects: the youth voice steering group, which sits in civil society; the young inspectors group; and our new digital solutions group. It is right that we engage with our young people and listen to them, to ensure that these policies are right for them.

I do not think anyone can deny the challenge of serious violence and the fact that we need to make sure our young people stay safe on our streets. I am personally delighted to make sure that we have more police on our streets, and the Home Secretary—I am not quite sure who it is right now—will, I hope, be following through on this.

I am very proud to have heard from so many Members across the House about the importance of our young people. I say again that this Government are determined to support all our young people in reaching their full potential and in giving them skills and opportunities. We truly do want this to be the best place in the world to be young, and I am determined that my Department will make that so.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered the role and sufficiency of youth services.

Lotteries Regulation

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 16th July 2019

(4 years, 9 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 - -

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement in relation to lotteries. The national lottery and society lotteries contribute around £2 billion a year to good causes in this country, forming the backbone of giving in the UK. As preparations start for the competition for the next licence to run the national lottery, it is important that we ensure that the wider lotteries landscape is fit for the future and allows as much money as possible to be raised for good causes within a suitable framework. To ensure that there is clarity ahead of the upcoming fourth licence competition, I am today announcing next steps on society lotteries. I am also launching a consultation on increasing the age limit for playing the national lottery.

I turn to society lotteries. In June last year, the Government launched a consultation seeking views on proposals to reform the existing limits on society lotteries, which had not been raised for over a decade. I am aware that there has been strong support from across this House for the Government to increase the sales and prize limits for society lotteries, and that changes have taken a long time to come. Society lotteries are a vital source of funds for charities and other non-commercial organisations, and in 2018 alone they raised over £300 million. I am the Minister not only for lotteries but for charities as a whole, and I want the third sector to grow the pie overall for everybody’s benefit. I am aware that society lotteries are a vital funding mechanism for thousands of charities in many of our local communities, including air ambulances and local hospices.

The consultation aimed to ensure that society lotteries and the national lottery were able to thrive, and that society lotteries could continue to grow while we maintain the unique position of the national lottery and its ability to raise funds across the country by offering the largest jackpots. We heard strong arguments from both sectors, and I am grateful to everyone who shared their views. In coming to a final decision, I have balanced needs across the sector to ensure that returns to good causes can grow overall.

I am pleased to announce that I will raise the per-draw sales limit from £4 million to £5 million, and the maximum prize limit from £400,000 to £500,000, for large society lotteries. These increases will allow for significant headroom for most of the sector to continue to grow, and I am pleased that the Gambling Commission has agreed to carefully monitor these changes for any potential wider impact. This will enable us to analyse the impact of the changes over time. In addition, I will raise the annual sales limit from £10 million to £50 million. In recent years we have seen charities forced to slow their fundraising from lotteries as a result of the current limits, or to adopt costly alternative structures to avoid breaching them, thereby increasing admin costs and diverting money away from good causes. Indeed, one charity told us that introducing such arrangements could cost £345,000, with additional running costs of more than £100,000 a year. A £50 million annual limit will reduce or prevent administrative burdens for society lotteries, and I fully expect to see an equivalent increase when it comes to the amount of money directed to good causes as a result of the lower admin costs and this increase. I will be watching that closely.

I am aware that many Members support a higher annual limit of £100 million. I share that ambition, but this is a significant increase and I want to be certain that moving to this much higher limit would in reality increase returns to good causes across the sector. I want to be assured that an appropriate regulatory regime is in place. It is therefore my aim to launch a further consultation, looking at adding an additional tier of licence with suitable additional requirements for the very largest lotteries.

It is also important that society lotteries demonstrate the highest levels of transparency. I am therefore pleased that the Gambling Commission is also planning to consult on measures to tighten the existing licensing framework for all large society lotteries, looking in particular at the information provided to players on how the proceeds of society lotteries are used and on the good causes that benefit. We will also be looking further at how best to increase transparency in relation to executive pay, and we will seek further advice from the Gambling Commission. I will look to legislate if these measures do not go far enough. There was less support for changing the limits for small society lotteries and, having considered the evidence carefully, I do not plan to increase those limits at this time. I have previously committed to laying Camelot’s response to the society lotteries consultation in the Library, and I will also lay the other key responses that my Department received.

The age of 18 is widely recognised as the age at which one becomes an adult, gaining full citizenship rights and responsibilities. At present, all lotteries can be played from the age of 16; that is one of the few exceptions to the age limit of 18 for gambling products. In addition to the option to raise the minimum age to 18 for all national lottery games and to retain the current limit of 16, I am also seeking views on a differentiated approach that would increase the minimum age for instant-win games only. That includes scratchcards and online instant-win games.

My initial view, based on the evidence reviewed so far, is that such a split could be the best approach. This takes into account the fact that the risk of harm associated with playing the national lottery is the lowest for any form of gambling. We know that the risk of harm is slightly higher for instant-win games than it is for draw-based games such as Lotto. Given that the national lottery matters so much to so many people, I am keen to see further evidence in this area and hear what others, including operators, distributors and retailers, think about any potential impacts and benefits of any change.

This year, the national lottery celebrates its 25th birthday. Mystic Meg herself could not have predicted how successful it would be in that time, raising over £40 billion to support our local communities, protect our heritage, enhance the arts and transform funding across our sports. The national lottery has been at the very heart of creating, protecting and driving much of what we love. Each week it raises around £30 million for good causes. Since 1992 it has funded more than 4,000 world-class UK Paralympians and Olympians, and each year it invests around £325 million in protecting some of our most prized national heritage. It has funded the development of our artistic talent, and access to art. It has ensured access to sporting opportunities for people in all communities, alongside its support for 10,000 charitable causes each year, with more than £500 million of funding. I thank our national lottery players, the 12 distributors, the Gambling Commission and my Department for making that all possible.

Today’s announcements give clarity to those interested in running our national lottery when the current licence expires in four years’ time. It also gives our society lotteries greater capacity to continue to increase their work in the constituencies of my many colleagues in the Chamber. I look forward to seeing the real benefits of the changes for charities and good causes that are supported by all our lotteries across the UK. I commend this statement to the House.

Lord Watson of Wyre Forest Portrait Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for her statement. I appreciate the prudent approach that she has taken to the issue. As she knows, I wrote to the previous Secretary of State last summer to raise my concern that society lotteries had been waiting for six years for the result of a review into their regulation. More than a year on, it is now a full seven years that the sector has been waiting for an answer from the Government. The delay in making that decision has left society lotteries facing an increasing uncertainty, unable to make substantial plans for the future.

Society lotteries achieve a lot of good for our country, as does the national lottery. They raise hundreds of millions of pounds a year for good causes, funding charities as varied as Barnardo’s, the Stroke Association, Friends of the Earth and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, as well as many others. Major benefits of society lotteries include their flexibility and predictability, which charities tell me is exceptionally useful because it allows them to prioritise funds where they will have most impact.

The Minister is right that transparency must be paramount, and we agree with her about the importance of openness on what the costs of this fundraising process are and where the money goes. People who take part in the lotteries need to know that they are not just taking a punt but getting value for money.

I understand the feeling that sometimes there is a conflict of interest between society lotteries and the national lottery, and I agree with the Government’s stated aim to

“achieve a balance between enabling the sustainable growth of society lotteries on the one hand while also protecting the unique position of the UK-wide National Lottery”.

The Minister mentioned Mystic Meg. If she was Mystic Mims, what would she say the impact of the changes will be on the fundraising for good causes that the national lottery provides to the arts, culture, heritage and sport? When will the new regulations come into force?

The second issue is the age limit on national lottery products. There are 450,000 children gambling every week in our country; the number has quadrupled in recent years. For many young people, scratchcards are a gateway to gambling from the age of 16. We do not think that is right, particularly when we are struggling with an epidemic of gambling addiction across the country. Gambling is fun, but it can also be dangerous when it is poorly regulated or gets out of control for an individual. In my view, and in that of the Labour party, there is absolutely no need for a consultation on this issue.

The Minister’s predecessor, the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), announced last year that she would gather evidence on the topic. It is our strong view—I am sure Members across the House will agree—that we already have all the evidence we need. Those who gamble should be adults, so the minimum age for all gambling products should be 18. It is as simple as that.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome. I believe that this is a prudent approach. I have been very mindful that, as the Secretary of State and I as well as many other Members have found, people are fed up with waiting and want to know what the lottery landscape looks like. As Mystic Mims, I would say that this sets the landscape appropriately for protecting the national lottery and all the good that it does: it keeps the £1 million prize and the jackpot for the national lottery, but allows society lotteries that support causes such as our air ambulances, which are bumping along at the top of the headroom of the money they are able give to local causes, to be able to raise more money and support our local communities. That is the right approach.

On the minimum age issue, the hon. Gentleman will know that I cannot say any more ahead of the consultation. I seek the views of those in this Chamber and across the sector. The current licence period has seen a range of technological developments, which have changed the way that we play the national lottery, and it has also seen gambling behaviours change. We are therefore right to consider how the licence might look. It is right to consider whether it is appropriate to sell all national lottery games to those under 18 as part of future proofing it for the duration of the next licence.

On the timetable, I hope that we would lay the changes in autumn in order to see a move in 2020.

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Mr Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome my hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box. I completely agree that there is no need for a consultation about the age limit. Frankly, we should just get on with it—there is enough evidence out there.

Secondly, while I welcome the Minister’s comments, I am slightly concerned. Will she tell the House whether there was real, powerful and compelling evidence why society lotteries should be restricted to a gain of only £100,000 on the prize money? If there is clear evidence that they damage the national lottery, will she publish that? If there is not, will she tell us why we have been in such trepidation about moving the prize money total?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments. There has not been compelling evidence that the majority of the sector requires a £1 million prize limit to drive growth, so we have sought today to seek a balance to enable society lotteries to grow, while preserving the distinct space in which the national lottery operates, with the key feature of life-changing prizes. The Gambling Commission will be monitoring the impact of increasing the prize limit to £500,000, so we do not rule out further increases in the future, if we have a clear evidence base on the impact of the current changes.

Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for advance sight of the statement. I welcome the ongoing improvements in UK gambling legislation, which the Department has been bringing forward, and I appreciate and welcome the consultation to increase the age for playing the national lottery to 18.

I do not think the Government should be differentiating between Lotto and scratchcards—it should be 18 for all. I am concerned that the Government felt the need to put this comment in the statement:

“My initial view, based on the evidence reviewed so far, is that such a split could be the best approach.”

We are approaching a gambling epidemic in the UK, and the grooming of young adults in the gambling arena should be stopped, and stopped now.

The Gambling Commission was mentioned a number of times in the statement. I have concerns that extra administration will consume its budget, which should be tackling gambling-related harm. Last year, the national lottery paid its chief executive officer £100,000 more than it donated to gambling charities, and I take the opportunity to remind the Secretary of State once again that my preferred option is a mandatory levy.

Recent years have seen an increase in Camelot’s profits against a backdrop of a decline in lottery funding for good causes. However that is to be addressed, we should never forget that we are using gambling to raise funds for charities, and that charities exist because the Government have let down particular areas of our society. Many of the charities being supported should be Government-funded in the first place. Will the Government please reconsider their age-limit review, and will they guarantee the percentage of gross profits to be allocated to good causes?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments and his hard work on protecting the vulnerable when it comes to gambling. I absolutely share the view that we should be protecting everybody from elements of harm. The risk from the national lottery is low. I understand that he feels differently about the levy, but the Department’s responsible approach of working with the industry is bearing fruit, as we have seen with the £100 million announced recently. The consultation on the age limit applies to all national lottery products, and I will welcome his and others’ response.

Priti Patel Portrait Priti Patel (Witham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for her statement and her recognition of the good that society lotteries do across the country through the funds that they raise. She has been clear that the jackpot will not be lifted to the £1 million that the society lotteries had hoped for and is now looking to place new transparency requirements on society lotteries. In the light of that, will she outline the problems she sees with the extensive reporting requirements on charities that justify this further action and the delay in raising the jackpot total to £1 million?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I thank my right hon. Friend for her question. She has consistently campaigned to support society lotteries, recognising all the good work that they do in her constituency and many others. It is important that society lotteries demonstrate the highest levels of transparency. The changes that we have announced, alongside the Gambling Commission’s plans to consult on measures to tighten the national lottery licensing framework, will help to give players of the national lottery a clear understanding of where the money is spent locally and the good causes that it is spent on. It is absolutely right that we support society lotteries and grow the pie for them, while keeping the unique position of the national lottery. As the charities Minister, I am clear that all money for good causes is very welcome.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister explain what steps she has taken to increase the transparency of how the proceeds, particularly from large-scale lotteries, are spent?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

This issue has come up significantly in conversations with the national lottery and the sector. Transparency is vital when people play the lottery, so there will be further transparency measures with the change to £50 million, alongside work by the Gambling Commission. The hon. Lady will see from the consultation documents that we seek to ensure that everybody in this space understands where the money for good causes goes and what is spent on marketing, and I am sure that she will contribute to any further conversations.

Desmond Swayne Portrait Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given gambling’s tendency to be habit forming, the later that it can be put off until, the better. Certainly, gambling should not begin before adulthood, should it?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I agree with my right hon. Friend, but those who play sport locally or enjoy their local heritage, or who have a local commitment to a hospice or something else in their community, might feel it appropriate to support that. That is why we are listening to all views in the consultation, and all national lottery products will be looked at.

Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the UK city of culture, Hull benefited enormously from national lottery funding. Will the same amount of money be available in future for arts, culture and sport with these changes—the point that my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson) raised from the Front Bench—or does the Minister think that what happened in the Netherlands will happen here and that less money will be available from the national lottery?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

The hon. Lady is right to mention the Netherlands, where things are set up differently from here. As the lotteries and charities Minister, I am clear that we should support our small lotteries and smaller charities, while maintaining the national lottery’s unique status. It supports our arts, heritage, sports and cities of culture, and it is vital that the unique status of the jackpot is maintained through these prudent changes—as the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson) noted—that support the whole sector.

John Howell Portrait John Howell (Henley) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Gambling Commission evidence that, for scratchcards, people under 18 did not really suffer was based on a small sample size. Would it not be better to have a proper consultation on and examination of this aspect?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

The Gambling Commission plans to consult on measures to tighten up the society lotteries framework, including by looking at the information provided to players about the proceeds of a lottery and how they are used, and publishing breakdowns of where the money is spent and the good causes that benefit. As I said earlier, if we need to, and if those measures do not go far enough, I will look to legislate to protect all players, of all ages, who are appropriate to be playing.

Jim Cunningham Portrait Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With greater transparency for society lotteries, can we also publish a proper breakdown of how the money is spent?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

As I said earlier, it is important to use this opportunity to work with the sector to ensure that those playing charity lotteries in their local communities get the transparency that they would expect and see from the national lottery—something that the national lottery and its distributors have raised strongly. That is why we have been looking at this and why the Gambling Commission is looking at the sector more widely to support these changes to ensure that anybody playing a society lottery or the national lottery is clear where the money goes and which good causes are supported.

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

The £2 billion raised each year by lotteries helps to fund charities, sports and heritage initiatives in my constituency and across the country. I recognise that the Minister must strike a balance, and I know that some of the society lotteries might be disappointed at the limit not being £1 million. Will she confirm that the growth in society lotteries has not been, and will not be, to the detriment of the national lottery?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

This goes back to the prudent—I love that word—decisions that I believe I have made today. We had a huge response to the consultation, alongside the report from the Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and we have had up-to-date information and advice from the Gambling Commission. In the broader landscape, this change clears the space for the fourth licence, but more importantly gives the national lottery a chance to celebrate its 25th birthday, with a clear differentiation in the sector and clear transparency about where the money for good causes is going and how the sector can thrive on both sides.

Gambling Levy: Online Gambling and Greyhound Racing

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 25th June 2019

(4 years, 10 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

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

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) on securing this debate and on giving us a chance to speak about the breadth of areas he mentioned. It is absolutely right that we do so, because greyhound racing employs over 7,000 people in the UK, with over 2 million people attending races each year. It contributes an estimated £55 million to the Exchequer.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss the Department’s positive work, including by my predecessor and my officials, to ensure that we have supported greyhound racing, that we increase bookmaker contributions and, vitally, that the welfare of our greyhounds is protected and indeed improved. We recognise the challenges that the sport has faced over the past few years. There has been a decline in racecourse attendance, and betting has progressively moved online, resulting in a drop in contributions from gambling operators to the British Greyhound Racing Fund.

The hon. Gentleman’s words are gratefully received, and in January we announced progress on additional voluntary funding—a commitment to the welfare of greyhounds. It is worth an estimated additional £3 million this year, increasing the expected income to around £10 million annually. This commitment will significantly improve the welfare of thousands of greyhounds, both on and off the track, and it will further support retired or injured greyhounds, ensuring they can enjoy a full and active life—as we heard—both inside the sport and in retirement. Although we recognise that it is a positive step in securing additional contributions from the five largest online betting operators, I am aware—the hon. Gentleman has also made the point—that we want more money for welfare. I therefore urge bookmakers that have not signed up to the agreement to do so to meet their welfare obligations to the sport and the animals.

Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The most difficult part is that, to a degree, we can name and shame companies that are not contributing, but those that are offshore and well away from the UK probably do not worry too much about their reputation. How do we get at them to ensure they contribute? More people are moving to offshore online betting.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

On welfare and levies on gambling, my Department has to ensure that bookmakers are at the table. Where profits are in this country, we should seek to ensure that they go back for the good of the sport or to support other areas where there are vulnerabilities. I take his point and will write to him.

The Department has a responsibility to ensure that all bookmakers meet their obligation. I will be meeting the Remote Gambling Association next month, when this will be on our agenda. I also recently met the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley), who has responsibility for animal welfare, to discuss our respective Departments’ funding and welfare concerns, and to ensure that it continues to be an important issue across Government. I also met the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, alongside the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, to discuss everything the industry has to think about on greyhound welfare. I have made it clear that welfare should be at the heart of the sport, as my hon. Friend said, and that standards should be as good as they can be, so that the sport will remain an attractive spectacle and continue to thrive by having people enjoy it. I will continue that work with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, so that industry representatives and everyone involved ensure that greyhound welfare is absolutely safeguarded. Any greyhound put to sleep due to medical treatment being too expensive or a poor prognosis is one too many, and we must stop it.

The publication of GBGB’s “Greyhound Commitment” is welcome and marks a sea change for the greyhound racing industry. It is driving up welfare commitments and standards, which is what we want, and has led to an increase in voluntary funding. Alongside the publication of the injury and retirement figures in 2018, the “Greyhound Commitment” makes it clear that we are making progress on this journey. It also shows that there is much more to do, and I want to ensure that we continue our commitment to drive these changes.

Over the next three years, GBGB has committed to halving the number of greyhounds that are regrettably put to sleep due to their not having a home or for economic reasons. The ultimate aim is to bring the figure down to zero within five years, which is absolutely right and an expectation that I thoroughly support. Hon. Members all want greyhounds to find new homes and enjoy a healthy retirement when they leave the sport. There are positive signs of the industry stepping up to the challenge that my hon. Friend laid down in the 2016 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report on greyhound racing, to build capacity and strengthen welfare in the system rather than just waiting for legislation and indeed enforcement.

On the voluntary commitment, bookmakers and the industry can play an important part in ensuring that there is enough funding for the greyhounds and integrity in the sport. Of course, this is only one source of income for the sport. More than half of the industry’s income, totalling around £119 million, comes from existing commercial agreements and racegoers. It is important that the industry looks at ways of increasing commercial income, so that more support can be used to benefit welfare and raise standards. As my hon. Friend said, we cannot do that without greyhounds being at the heart of the matter. Putting the welfare of animals at the heart of the sport, and supporting that with funds from existing commercial income, can only sustain and support the industry further. Greyhound welfare is an objective that we must all share to guarantee the long-term future of the sport.

Online betting on greyhound racing has increased in recent years, and the industry should continue to seek opportunities to generate more commercial revenue through online streaming and media platforms. That is another avenue through which we can support the industry directly.

The Government do not currently plan to introduce a statutory levy. My hon. Friend mentioned that state aid is one reason why a levy is problematic. Things may change post-Brexit, but we expect progress even without introducing a levy.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

I can see what is coming.

Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I accept what the Minister says, but I am a great believer in needing quite a big stick to bring people into line now and again. I would have thought that the idea of bringing in a levy in future would concentrate minds in the industry. If it delivered the 1% to 1.5%, we would perhaps not need the statutory levy, but sometimes the stick needs to be available.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies
- Hansard - -

My hon. Friend tempts me. I have never said, for any other aspect of gambling, that levies are off the table. At this point, the Government do not currently have plans to introduce a levy but, as I said, that does not stop us from working with all available tools to ensure that the sport has a successful future.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has committed to securing new funding from online operators, which was worth around £3 million to the sport in January of this year. As I said, that raises the total income to around £10 million annually, which ensures that we can work with GBGB on its long-term strategy for welfare, and shows the cross-Government commitment to doing what we can with the tools that are currently on the table to ensure that the industry is up to scratch. I take this opportunity to remind all operators to ensure that they are contributing and that we maximise commercial income from the sport so that we can deliver on our welfare commitments.

I thank my hon. Friend for raising the issue of the welfare of greyhounds. We need to make sure that we have a stronger industry in which the greyhound is at the heart of the sport. As we heard from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), there is a passion for making sure that that is the case. I remain confident about the new funding commitment announced in January. We will help the sport to ensure that welfare standards are met and maintained.

Like my hon. Friend, I urge all non-paying bookmakers to contribute to the fund so that we can sustain the sport’s future. I commit to working with DEFRA and with bookmakers to make welfare the priority, and to keeping everything under review, making clear that bookmakers should continue to meet their obligations to the sport. I have been delighted to speak about the progress that we have made so far this year. We will always keep everything under review.

Question put and agreed to.

Commonwealth Games

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 25th June 2019

(4 years, 10 months ago)

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

I wish to inform the House that, on 25 June 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport laid a minute advising of the investment of £778 million in Birmingham and the west midlands to deliver the 2022 Commonwealth games. This is an update to the minute laid on 9 October 2017, which set out the contingent liabilities that were taken on by the Government in order to support Birmingham’s bid to host the 2022 games.

The Government’s other commitments to the games, including the underwriting of the organisation and delivery of the games and a number of guarantees, will remain in place until the end of the 2022-23 financial year, following the successful bid by Birmingham and our agreement of a hosting contract with the Commonwealth Games Federation.

[HCWS1658]

Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 20th June 2019

(4 years, 10 months ago)

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

The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (EYCS) Council took place in Brussels on 22-23 May 2019. The UK’s deputy permanent representative to the EU, Katrina Williams, represented the UK for the youth session on 22 May. The Minister for School Standards, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Nick Gibb), represented the UK in the education session. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Lord Ashton, represented the UK on 23 May for the culture/audio-visual session and part of the sports session.

Youth

The session began with the adoption of both the Council conclusions on young people and the future of work and the resolution on the governance of the EU youth dialogue.

This was then followed by a policy debate on young people as agents of democracy in the EU.

Other

There was information from the European Commission in regards to DiscoverEU and information from the Portuguese delegation on the world conference of Ministers responsible for Youth 2019 and Youth Forum Lisboa (22-23 June 2019).

Culture/audio-visual

The meeting began with the adoption of both the Council conclusions on young creative generations and conclusions on co-productions. This was followed by a policy debate on “from tackling disinformation to rebuilding EU citizens’ trust in the media”.

Other

Information was provided by the Hungarian delegation on the nomination of Veszprém for the European capital of culture 2023. In addition, information was also provided from the Spanish and Portuguese delegations on celebrating the fifth centenary of the first circum- navigation of the world, led by Fernão de Magalhães and Juan Sebastián Elcano.

Sport

The sport session of EYCS began with the adoption of a resolution on EU member states’ representation and co-ordination for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) meeting in Montreal. In addition, Council conclusions on access to sport for persons with disabilities we also adopted.

The session then proceeded with a policy debate on increasing the participation of children and young people in sport in 21st century Europe.

Other

There was information from the EU member states’ representatives in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) foundation board on the meeting with WADA that took place in Montreal on 14-16 May 2019, information from the Finnish presidency on the work programme of the incoming presidency and information from the Danish delegation about the Council of Europe convention on the manipulation of sports competitions (match fixing).

To conclude, there was information from the Bulgarian, Greek and Romanian delegations on the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia to host either the Euro 2028 championship or the 2030 World cup.

[HCWS1644]

Cornish Wrestling

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 12th June 2019

(4 years, 10 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)
- Hansard - -

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann) on securing this debate on Cornish wrasslin. I was just wondering—my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Jeremy Quin) mentioned it, too—whether my hon. Friend the Member for St Ives (Derek Thomas) sat next to my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall to see whether there would be a bout afterwards. We shall see very shortly. I very much enjoyed hearing about the heritage of this interesting sport. Most of the historical stories I have heard previously have been in the Tea Room. I am glad to hear all about wrasslin tonight. I thought my hon. Friend gave his speech without a hitch—if I have that right.

It is clear that this sport means a great deal to those present and to the communities from which it originated, which is great to see. The media interest that my hon. Friend has had might give him an insight into the media interest in life as a Sports Minister. It has certainly given me an insight over the past few weeks and months into quite how much interest there is, rightly, in sport. I thank the hon. Members in the Chamber who have listened to the debate and are wondering where they can use this in their own constituencies.

I cannot say that I have yet had the opportunity to personally take part in this ancient and noble art. However, I have noted the invitation. As my hon. Friends and other hon. Members will know, I am a passionate advocate for new and different sports. Yes, this is on my list to at least look at. I am not sure I am going to try it, but I will take a close look at it.

Cornwall is a part of the country steeped in tradition and history, which manifests itself in so many ways: in the culture, in the language, and of course in its sporting history. It has been fascinating to hear about the many interesting facets of Cornish wrasslin and how it has developed as a sport. From Agincourt to riots to rickshaws to teeth being knocked out, it is clear that this sport has been popular and truly fascinating over a number of years. I am sure that this debate will in some way boost the sport. I hope that more youngsters will be able to understand that experience in all its vitality and history. It is fantastic to see how the sport has been handed down over many generations. That is typical of our sports and it is one of the joys of sport. It is a warming tradition that continues.

Let me, as my hon. Friend did, talk about the value and power of sport to our communities. Since I took on the job of Sports Minister, one of my key priorities has been to make sure that absolutely everyone is able to enjoy sport and physical activity. I think we are all extremely well versed in the benefits of sport and physical activity. That is reflected in the five outcomes of the Government’s sporting future strategy: physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development, social and community development, and economic development. I am totally committed to delivering those five outcomes for absolutely everyone. As my hon. Friend the Member for St Ives will remind me when it comes to a stadium for Cornwall, access to that is vital.

Everybody should be able to enjoy the benefits that sport and physical activity can bring. It should also, as we have heard tonight, be fun. It should be inclusive and there should be no barriers to taking part or feeling welcome. We want at least half a million more people to be regularly active across England by 2020, with at least half of them women. We are making good progress, but we must do more. Since we launched the strategy in 2015, we have recognised that this is about long-term change. This is about habits that exist over the long term. Physical activity has a massively positive impact on our nation’s health and wellbeing. It can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and tackle health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. There are ever-increasing pressures on our health and social care systems, particularly in Cornwall. The evidence shows that referrals to exercise classes, sports groups, ballroom dancing or indeed wrasslin can help people’s physical and mental wellbeing—as long as you keep your teeth.

It is extremely important to me that everyone, regardless of their background, age or where they live, can find a sport that is right for them and stick with it, getting active and staying active, whether through wrestling, wrasslin, dancing or football. We need to get young people involved in physical activity. There are still stubborn inequalities when it comes to taking part in sport; girls, certain black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, those with a disability and those with hidden disabilities are under-represented. It is clear that we need to continue to encourage more adults and children to take part in sport and physical activity and, as we heard tonight, it must be fair, safe and welcoming. The point about the Cornish wrasslin motto was absolutely right:

“Good play is fair play”.

What a fantastic message for all those in sport or who are considering taking it up. The basis of good sport is fairness. It is simple but absolutely true, and experience shows that if we get fair and welcoming sport or physical activity, we absolutely benefit.

On Sport England and grassroots funding, the investment of £9,000 helped with the school taster days, which saw several hundred children taking part. Sport England also funded some new equipment, including mats and jackets, to encourage a new generation of Cornish boys and girls to experience the sport. I am sure that, like me, it will have heard the plea.

In the last five years, Sport England has invested £7.3 million in projects in Cornwall, with the aim of getting more people physically active. We have heard about other sports. The Bude Surf Life Saving Club in North Cornwall is helping to get more women involved and it received £9,000, which seems like a lucky figure in Cornwall. Sport England has also invested over £75,000 of its community asset fund in Newquay Town Council to help with the skate park and to help to provide broad opportunities to get active. We need to shift the dial—sorry, I am falling over a pen here; that is nearly a sporting injury—when it comes to all our communities getting active and staying active.

In conclusion, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall for securing this debate and for allowing us to reflect fully on the benefits of sport and physical activity and on what sport and a connection to a community means. He mentioned the Commonwealth games. I am not in a position to commit to including wrasslin in a future games, but I am sure that those devising the start or the end of the showcase will have heard that point and I will of course mention it to them. We will certainly explore the opportunities to showcase those slightly different sports as part of our sporting and cultural programme. What is not to like about that?

I thank everyone who has been present to talk about the enjoyment of sport in the two debates tonight and the importance of different opportunities. I hope that wrasslin continues to grow, adds more participants far and wide and includes some of the under-represented groups that I spoke about this evening. I wish the sport and all those involved the very best—and I may, bravely, try it out for myself.

Question put and agreed to.

Billy McNeill MBE

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 20th May 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)
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara) for that passionate and moving introduction. I feel his speech may have been written a long time ago, ready to be brought out of the cupboard to pay tribute to his beloved team. Never have I met such a happy minor shareholder, which is a rarity. The wonderful, moving and passionate remarks of the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden) and all the interventions are greatly welcomed.

I feel honoured and privileged to respond and pay my own short tribute to Billy McNeill MBE. I remember hearing the sadness in Nicky Campbell’s voice on Radio 5 Live as he announced Billy’s passing and what it meant to him as a Scottish football fan.

At the same time as paying tribute to Billy, we must pay tribute to Stevie Chalmers, who also sadly passed away recently. Stevie, as we have heard, is another great of Scottish football and will always be remembered as the man who scored the winning goal, never to be forgotten, in that final in Lisbon in 1967. Their importance to the history of Scottish football has been underlined rightly by the First Minister of Scotland sending her condolences to both Mr McNeill’s family and to Mr Chalmers’ family.

I would like to use this opportunity to send my best wishes to the families and to pay tribute, on behalf of Members on both sides of the House. In her letter, the First Minister described Mr McNeill as a “legend of the game”. As we have heard, the word “legend” should rightly be reserved for someone who has achieved incredible feats, and there is no argument about the fact that Billy McNeill is not only in this category, but was one of the giants of football. He will be remembered as the first British player to win the European cup. Leading Celtic, he paved the way, showing it was possible to not only compete, but beat the biggest and best in Europe at football. He was truly inspirational, and as we saw, this inspiration spread, with Manchester United, under Sir Matt Busby, following Celtic’s lead and winning the European cup the very next year. Liverpool, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Aberdeen, under another great Scot, Sir Alex Ferguson, and so many of our other clubs, continued to win European trophies in the 1970s and 1980s because of that paving of the way.

As in 1967, we are again celebrating unprecedented British success in European football this season, with the top two European competitions—with new names and different connotations—being exclusively British affairs. On behalf of the Government, my best wishes go to Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea. As tonight shows, we know that European finals are where football legends are truly made, so we have much to look forward to.

When Billy McNeill captained his Celtic team to European glory in 1967, he etched the club’s name in history and made heroes of every player. The “Lions of Lisbon” have left a legacy and will be celebrated forever. We have rightly been reminded that Billy led Celtic during their most successful domestic period in history, with nine successive league titles and numerous cup wins. There is a great similarity with Celtic’s current achievement, with the club having just clinched its eighth consecutive league title and being on course for its third consecutive domestic treble. We of course wish both Celtic and Hearts the very best of luck in Saturday’s Scottish FA cup final—I see some pain etched on some faces.

In modern football, we are full of praise for how Manchester City have managed to defend their title this year, but the achievement of Celtic during the ’60s and ’70s was incredible, particularly given how strong Scottish football was in that period. It was as strong as it ever has been then. As we have heard, not only did Billy’s achievements as a player etch his name into the club’s history, but he then returned to the club as a manager, winning more trophies and truly cementing his place further in the hearts and minds of this mighty club and its great supporters for ever more.

Billy may have been described this evening as a “one-club man”, but some people might disagree; we must not forget his important management of Manchester City, Aston Villa, Clyde and Aberdeen, and those clubs and fans will rightly remember him fondly. He was, by all accounts, a humble man, a caring man and a gentleman. He was a true ambassador for the club and for the whole of Scottish football. Sport provides us with incredible leaders who transcend their achievements on the field and become part of our national memories. My dad would have felt the same about Denis Compton, and I feel the same about Ian Wright and Paula Radcliffe, to name but a few.

It is so important, as we come up to this summer, to look at the opportunity to find our new sporting stars, those who will have the chance to leave their mark and inspire the nation during an amazing summer of sport. Just this weekend, we hosted the taekwondo world championships in Manchester—I was there for the launch. Liverpool will play host to the netball world cup, and we will shortly be enjoying the cricket world cup throughout the country. These events could be the benchmarks for truly inspirational careers for a whole host of the world’s finest sportspeople, once again providing legacies for years to come.

Celtic’s current manager, Neil Lennon, summed up the mood perfectly when he said:

“I love Billy’s statue, which is the first thing you see whenever you walk up The Celtic Way. It’s the perfect image of him, holding aloft the European Cup, and it will remind future generations of supporters of what a great Celtic man he was.”

I am sure everyone in the Chamber will agree that we hope that Scottish football can truly return to such levels of European success—or even to success at the international level, with Steve Clarke’s appointment today as new team manager. Why not? The Scottish women have been leading the way, and they will play England in the world cup this summer, and of course Members from all parties will be joining in the support over in France. I am very much looking forward to that. The game of football remains absolutely as popular as it ever has been. It is full of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about clubs around the world. As the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) reminded me just last week, it is clear that there is much more to come from Scottish football, both men’s and women’s.

Let me sign off, as I started, by thanking the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute and everyone in the Chamber for affording us the chance to spend a little time rightly celebrating the lives of not one but two of Scotland’s greatest footballing heroes. Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers serve as great examples of the huge impact that good footballers can have on their club, their communities and their nation. Football is the people’s game, and let us rejoice in the fact that, unlike in other areas and facets of life in which, frankly, we cannot always come together, football allows us to share that passion and those magical moments and gives us memories that truly can last a lifetime, as we have heard this evening.

I have outlined some of the reasons why the Government rightly continue, and must continue, to develop and support new facilities and community programmes to encourage people of all ages to take up our national sport and to make sure that future generations can emulate their heroes and experience the sheer joy of football. Billy McNeill MBE and Stevie Chalmers, with his 236 goals, have rightly been remembered in the Chamber this evening for their achievements and the legacies they created and for reminding us of what is possible if we believe and come together.

Question put and agreed to.