Mims Davies debates with Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

There have been 34 exchanges between Mims Davies and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Wed 24th July 2019 Youth Services 33 interactions (3,554 words)
Tue 16th July 2019 Lotteries Regulation 21 interactions (2,385 words)
Thu 4th July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 46 interactions (1,379 words)
Tue 25th June 2019 Gambling Levy: Online Gambling and Greyhound Racing (Westminster Hall) 8 interactions (1,349 words)
Wed 12th June 2019 Discrimination in Sport 2 interactions (1,086 words)
Wed 12th June 2019 Cornish Wrestling 2 interactions (1,287 words)
Thu 23rd May 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 17 interactions (616 words)
Mon 20th May 2019 Billy McNeill MBE 2 interactions (1,335 words)
Wed 8th May 2019 Full-time Social Action 4 interactions (1,746 words)
Thu 11th April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 43 interactions (1,147 words)
Thu 11th April 2019 Discrimination in Football 63 interactions (3,032 words)
Tue 19th March 2019 Gambling-Related Harm (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (1,910 words)
Tue 12th March 2019 Online Gambling Protection (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (1,898 words)
Thu 7th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 29 interactions (885 words)
Wed 13th February 2019 Communities: Charities and Volunteers 29 interactions (3,743 words)
Fri 8th February 2019 Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill 5 interactions (1,311 words)
Thu 7th February 2019 Social Media and Screen Use: Young People’s Health 3 interactions (253 words)
Mon 4th February 2019 Sport in the UK 51 interactions (4,821 words)
Thu 31st January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 24 interactions (600 words)
Thu 31st January 2019 Fashion Industry 2 interactions (132 words)
Thu 24th January 2019 Newcastle United Football Club: Regulation 10 interactions (1,785 words)
Tue 22nd January 2019 Grassroots Football Funding: Wembley Stadium (Westminster Hall) 16 interactions (1,967 words)
Tue 15th January 2019 Coventry City Football Club (Westminster Hall) 4 interactions (1,539 words)
Thu 13th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 12 interactions (381 words)
Tue 13th November 2018 Local Sporting Heroes (Westminster Hall) 7 interactions (1,651 words)
Tue 6th November 2018 Centenary of the Armistice 4 interactions (1,717 words)
Tue 9th January 2018 BBC Pay 3 interactions (76 words)
Thu 21st December 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 3 interactions (48 words)
Thu 23rd November 2017 Uber: Personal Data Theft 3 interactions (44 words)
Mon 20th November 2017 TV Licence Fee (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (1,162 words)
Thu 16th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 10 interactions (171 words)
Thu 14th September 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 3 interactions (48 words)
Thu 7th September 2017 BBC Transparency (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (1,120 words)
Thu 20th July 2017 Fox-Sky Merger 3 interactions (58 words)

Youth Services

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 24th July 2019

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:32 p.m.

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) - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:34 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:35 p.m.

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.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab) Hansard

The Minister is making some important comment, 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 - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:35 p.m.

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) - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:38 p.m.

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 - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:38 p.m.

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 (High Peak) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard

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) - Parliament Live - Hansard

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 - Parliament Live - 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 (West Ham) (Lab) - Hansard

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 - Parliament Live - 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.

Gill Furniss Portrait Gill Furniss (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard


Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab) - Hansard


Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - 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

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.

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

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
24 Jul 2019, 4:49 p.m.

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.

Mr Jim Cunningham Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:50 p.m.

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
24 Jul 2019, 4:51 p.m.

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 to 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.

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 4:53 p.m.

I thank the Government for scheduling this general debate on the role and sufficiency of youth services. The Opposition welcome any new moneys announced today, because they are certainly needed for the youth-work sector. I join the Minister in welcoming the all-party group’s inquiry on youth work, which was published earlier this year, and commend my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) and the National Youth Agency for their role in that important body of work that will have a lot of influence on this debate.

Youth services play a vital role in our communities. They provide a safe space for young people to be creative, develop friendships and learn new skills, all with a trusted adult. However, this vital public service and the youth-work profession continue to be misunder- stood and under-appreciated. Youth work is often misportrayed as sport, which is not what it is. Too often, youth services are depicted as a meeting place for young people to knock a ball about on a battered ping-pong table, yet that could not be further from the truth.

Youth work is a distinct educational process that focuses on young people’s defined needs through non-formal learning. Its key purpose, as outlined in the recent all-party group inquiry, is to facilitate young people’s personal, social and educational development, to enable them to develop their voice, influence and place in society and to reach their full potential.

Youth services also play a crucial role in interacting with other services for young people where additional needs or opportunities are identified from formal education and social services to criminal justice, healthcare, housing and benefits. However, over the past decade, the Government have failed to recognise those benefits and have dismantled the entire infrastructure of youth services.

Since 2010, local authority spending has fallen from £1.1 billion to just £384 million, a 70% reduction in real terms. In my home county of Lancashire—you might know it well, Mr Deputy Speaker—that reduction rises to 78%. In the Minister’s own patch of Hampshire, the scale of cuts is even higher at 95%. As a result, at least 760 youth centres have closed their doors up and down the country. However, there are still fragments of excellent provision across the country. Labour councils have sought to protect services and their communities and, where funds have been cut, have innovated to continue to deliver a service for young people.

Barking and Dagenham Council is soon to open London’s first youth zone to offer first-class facilities to thousands of young people. Despite cuts in the council’s budget, it is innovating to ensure that all young people still have access to youth services. However, the youth service in England no longer exists as it did—as a service provided in every local authority area—with its specialist team of professionals and dedicated buildings and projects for young people.

Break in Debate

Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 5:12 p.m.

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
24 Jul 2019, 5:18 p.m.

indicated assent.

Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 5:18 p.m.

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—

Break in Debate

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 6:18 p.m.

I am glad that we have had the opportunity to debate the positive impact that youth services have on our young people. Youth centres provide young people with safe spaces in which to learn, develop trusted relationships, build friendships and develop interpersonal skills. They should be at the heart of our communities, but, sadly, after nearly a decade of austerity, many parts of our country have no recognisable youth services at all.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) for his persistence in securing this debate. He is chair of the all-party group on youth affairs, which recently conducted a parliamentary inquiry into youth services. He spoke eloquently about his areas of expertise, which are wide and varied, and I learned a lot from him. He also spoke about the importance of evidence and why he was involved in this work. I hope that the Minister responds positively to his recommendations, and I look forward to her response.

We also heard a number of very passionate speeches. We heard from my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) who spoke passionately about knife crime, the impact of trauma on our communities and how youth services can help in prevention, building resilience and ensuring that our children have trusted adults to whom they can go to be connected with the relevant agencies.

We also had a passionate speech from my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Ruth George), who spoke emotively about Fairfield youth club in her constituency and about how, when she spoke to young people there, they spoke of the need for a safe space and how, sadly, this club was their only safe place and the only way to keep them out of the grips of the local gangs.

Many other Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham), mentioned the importance of youth work in tackling youth violence. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham West and Penge (Ellie Reeves), who is my neighbour and friend, talked about the impact of losing a young person’s life—Jay Hughes—on the local community and the role that youth work can play in rebuilding that community.

My hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough (Gill Furniss) and for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) and the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) also mentioned those points. The great role that NCS plays was mentioned by the Minister and the hon. Members for Crawley (Henry Smith) and for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool South (Gordon Marsden) made some positive points about the scheme but also asked some questions, which leads me on to a few issues on which I wish to touch.

Currently, 95% of all Government spending on youth services goes to the NCS, despite the fact that only one in 10 eligible young people participate in its programmes. Since it was established, the NCS has received £1.5 billion, and it spent £10 million on a brand refresh earlier this year. Let that sink in. This is alongside a landscape in which spending on youth services has fallen by 70%, 760 youth centres have closed their doors and over 14,000 youth workers have lost their jobs in the last decade. Surely, it is unsustainable to spend millions of pounds on a programme that is simply not attracting the numbers when there are hundreds of brilliant youth centres and talented youth workers crying out for funding across the country.

The hon. Member for Mansfield (Ben Bradley) quoted the APPG’s report and spoke about the importance of family support into adulthood, youth work being one of the only safe spaces for young people and why we need trusted youth workers. He also pointed out that there are not enough professionals in the sector and mentioned the importance of early intervention. I agree with all those points.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool South spoke about the impact of cuts to council funding and pointed out that Blackpool Council is losing £700 million. He also mentioned the overall negative impact of these cuts on all the services that interact with young people.

Labour is absolutely committed to rebuilding the youth sector to ensure that it is fit for the modern age—a youth sector that has open access, is diverse and has the interests of young people at heart. I remember chatting with the chief executive officer of UK Youth about consulting young people on the kind of programmes they wanted to see. After she had got feedback from lots of young people, UK Youth put on a course called “Money for Life”, which focused on budgeting and money management. The organisation was concerned that no one would turn up, but it was inundated with young people. That just shows how important is to have young people at the heart of designing youth work. We need to ensure that the programmes we create are relevant to them.

Labour is also committed to ensuring that our youth services respond to the unique challenges that young people face. Youth centres should be safe spaces for every young person, where they can speak to adults they trust and who have built up relationships with them over time. Trauma-informed training will be necessary to ensure that youth workers are equipped to deal with the various issues and challenges that young people face today.

Before I end my remarks, I have several questions for the Minister. Successful grantees of the Government’s youth endowment fund will need to demonstrate their plans to spend £100,000 or more by March 2020. This freezes out small charities from the outset, setting some of our brilliant grassroots organisations up for failure. Does the Minister agree? If not, can she outline exactly how the youth endowment fund will support small charities? In what ways have the Government consulted young people to ensure that the youth endowment fund is directed to the right organisations and projects? Do they have any plans for any potential underspend from successful grantees of the fund?

We all know—it has been said many times in this Chamber—that 3 to 6 pm is a particularly dangerous time for young people, so do the Government have plans to provide youth work during those hours as part of their public health strategy to tackle violence and keep young people safe? What date will the Government publish their review of the statutory youth guidance? We have talked about it many times, but there still does not seem to be a date for this. What work is the Minister doing to ensure that youth services receive adequate funding in the upcoming spending review? Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society estimate that this funding needs to be around £3 billion.

UK Youth and other leading youth bodies wrote to the new Prime Minister today asking him to make Britain the best country in the world to be young. Will the Minister call on the new Prime Minister to back the asks in that letter—in particular, to unlock the £50 million NCS underspend and deliver a 10-year spending commitment to the first ever youth charter? Our young people are fantastic, but to reach their potential, they need to be given the right opportunities. It is vital that fully funded youth services are part of that picture—services that are varied, accessible and fit for the modern age. Following his speech yesterday, if the new Prime Minister wants to be known as a dude and not a dud, he could start with our youth services, making sure that they are delivered locally with a universal offer and diverse provision and established with and for our young people. So dude, don’t under-deliver. We need action, not rhetoric.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 6:28 p.m.

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 - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 5:14 p.m.

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
24 Jul 2019, 6:34 p.m.

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.


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

Lotteries Regulation

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 16th July 2019

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:20 p.m.

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.

Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:34 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:36 p.m.

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.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Mr Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:36 p.m.

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
16 Jul 2019, 1:36 p.m.

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) - Parliament Live - Hansard

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 of 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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:39 p.m.

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) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:40 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:41 p.m.

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) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:42 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:42 p.m.

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.

Sir Desmond Swayne Portrait Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:42 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:43 p.m.

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.

Dame Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:43 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:44 p.m.

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) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:44 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:45 p.m.

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.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:45 p.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:46 p.m.

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) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2019, 1:46 p.m.

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 - Parliament Live - 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.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 4th July 2019

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

1. When the Government plan to review their guidance on the statutory duty for local authorities to provide youth services. [911737]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, midnight

We are pleased to announce that we will be reviewing the guidance as part of the civil society strategy published last year, and we still anticipate launching the review before the summer recess. In fact, I hope to do it next week.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, midnight

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, midnight

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

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con) - Hansard

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, midnight

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

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

On Independence Day, may I congratulate all my American cousins on this fine day when they broke away from Britain? I still have my green card from when I emigrated.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, midnight

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

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con) - Hansard

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, midnight

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

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab) - Hansard

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

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, midnight

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

Daniel Kawczynski Portrait Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con) - Hansard

2. What recent progress his Department has made on increasing access to superfast broadband in rural areas. [911738]

Break in Debate

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con) - Hansard

5. What recent steps he has taken to improve the quality of local youth services. [911744]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 9:55 a.m.

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

Tim Loughton - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 9:55 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

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

David Morris Portrait David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

6. What steps he plans to take to increase the provision of FM frequencies for commercial radio in (a) the UK and (b) Morecambe Bay. [911745]

Break in Debate

Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan (Chichester) (Con) - Hansard

7. What steps his Department is taking to help tackle loneliness. [911746]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10 a.m.

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

Gillian Keegan Portrait Gillian Keegan - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

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

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:01 a.m.

These Chichester people seem very decent folk indeed. I think it is partly the effect of the Member.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:02 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

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

John Grogan (Keighley) (Lab) Hansard

10. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the regulation of commercial local radio. [911749]

Break in Debate

Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con) - Hansard

12. What steps he is taking to ensure that the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham benefit (a) neighbouring boroughs and (b) Walsall. [911751]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:06 a.m.

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

Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:06 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:07 a.m.

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

Gareth Snell (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Lab/Co-op) Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:07 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard

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

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab) - Hansard

T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities. [911754]

Break in Debate

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:14 a.m.

Does the Minister agree that one of the crucial aspects of tackling loneliness is raising awareness of the services, support and activities that are available in local communities, and what are the Government doing to achieve this?

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

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

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan Portrait Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:15 a.m.

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

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:15 a.m.

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

Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:15 a.m.

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

Break in Debate

Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard

T4. As we head towards the long summer holidays, sports centres are becoming increasingly important for families. Two years ago, Staffordshire County Council pulled the plug on my pool at the Kidsgrove Sports Centre. After lots of false starts and undelivered promises, we are still without a swimming pool. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can actually deliver a pool for my constituents? [911759]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2019, 10:19 a.m.

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

Sir Vince Cable (Twickenham) (LD) Parliament Live - Hansard

T5. Ministers are aware of the nervousness about Brexit in the creative industries. What assurances can they give that the copyright protections in the European directive will be fully preserved? [911760]

Gambling Levy: Online Gambling and Greyhound Racing

Mims Davies Excerpts
Tuesday 25th June 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish - Hansard
25 Jun 2019, 11:04 a.m.

My hon. Friend—I believe him to be my hon. Friend—raises a very good point. Not only would 1% not break the bank for the betting industry, without greyhound racing the gambling industry would lose £2,500 million a year. I will be quite blunt: I think it is criminal that the industry does not pay 1% or more—1.5% or even 2% if necessary. There is no point in imposing a levy for the sheer sake of it, but we have to remember that back in 2008-09 we were on some £14 million. Since then, the amount has probably halved. We are building it back up to £10 million now, but I would like to see around £20 million going towards rehoming greyhounds.

The public demand good welfare—it is also in the interests of the industry—and for the betting industry to deliver that money. Otherwise, there will be huge pressure not to have greyhound racing at all. That is the point I stress. The amount of welfare funding at the moment is a voluntary 0.6%. I will talk about the good companies that come up with that. Previously, too few betting companies have coughed up the cash, and there are still a few more to go—especially online betting companies based overseas.

I congratulate the Minister, and her predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), on getting the bookies around the table, and on getting them to contribute to the British Greyhound Racing Fund, which was set up to protect greyhound welfare. I also congratulate the betting companies themselves—Betfair, Betfred, Sky Bet and William Hill—that have committed to meet the 0.6% target in January in this year, raising a projected £3 million a year. That will take the total amount raised up from £7 million to £10 million.

However, too many companies still do not contribute. Many independent bookmakers, and a growing overseas betting presence, do not pay their fair share. Not only is it wrong from the point of view of the greyhounds’ welfare, it is wrong for the rest of the betting industry, because if some companies are making that donation so should they all. Bookmakers profiting from greyhound racing have a responsibility to support it, whether they trade on the high street or online. Of course, high street bookmakers have contributed and still do.

When we consider that £2,500 million is staked annually on live greyhound racing in the UK, the welfare conditions of some of those animals remain shocking. They are improving, but with more money they could be much better. Greyhounds bred for racing are animals, not assets. They are gentle, athletic breeds. They feel pain, whether due to damaged limbs or dental problems, and they need love like any other dog. We must ensure that all kennels are up to scratch.

I thank the Greyhound Board of Great Britain for all the work that it does inspecting and helping to raise standards, and I thank the Kennel Club, the Greyhound Trust and other welfare charities for the great work that they do in rehoming greyhounds. An increase in cash for the British Greyhound Racing Fund would make a great difference to greyhound welfare. Even the commitment made in January for the betting companies to reach 0.6% merely reverses a decade-long trend of drastically declining income from the voluntary levy paid by bookmakers.

Income for the British Greyhound Racing Fund has fallen by half in the last 10 years, from £14 million in 2008-09 to just £7 million last year. While online betting continues to thrive, retail betting is suffering. Some 60% of BGRF funding currently comes from retail betting, but the introduction of the £2 maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals which, by the way, I am very much in favour of, will result in a decline in the amount of money received. That is why we need to increase the percentage of the levy.

A statutory levy that targets greyhound betting equally, levied on all bets placed on UK greyhound racing, will be fair on betting companies and on greyhounds. A strong greyhound welfare system requires strong long-term financing. Take horse-racing as an example. The horse-racing betting levy covers the gross profits of all gambling operators offering bets on horse-racing in Great Britain. Last year alone, the 10% statutory levy on profits generated around £100 million to support infrastructure improvements, a reduction in injuries, better data and higher prize money.

A similar statutory levy on greyhound racing, but based on 1% of gross turnover, would generate £11.6 million for greyhound welfare. A levy of 1.5% would generate £17.5 million. That is where I would like it to be at the very least, because I do not believe that it would affect the industry very much at all. In fact, it would make for a stronger industry. Immediately, the money would provide a more stable income stream for animal welfare activists and charities that improve kennelling standards, pay for veterinary bills and rehome greyhounds. It would also create an even playing field between contributing bookies.

As the sixth most-watched sport in Britain, the welfare and care of all racing greyhounds, from registration to retirement, must be a fundamental part of its successful future. Last year, 4,963 injuries were sustained by dogs in the greyhound racing industry. We welcome the industry giving those figures, because that was something that we put in our report. Almost 1,000 died or were euthanised. I do not want greyhounds to be euthanised because it is not economic to keep them going. That simply should not happen. Enough money should come from the betting industry to rehabilitate those dogs and get them rehomed.

A campaign is under way to ban greyhound racing altogether. I believe a statutory levy will better protect welfare and the industry in the long run. The industry should embrace that—if it does not, greyhound racing will be under pressure in future. It is wrong of the companies not to embrace the levy and pay more. I congratulate the Minister and the gaming companies that have contributed a voluntary levy on their hard work, but I urge her to do more and greater things to get more money out of the gaming industry.

After Brexit, the Government should come forward at the earliest opportunity with primary legislation to introduce a statutory levy, to equalise welfare contributions and protect greyhound racing. Believe it or not, the statutory levy on horseracing was introduced before we joined the EU, and it is quite difficult to introduce a levy under EU law. As we leave the EU, we can put a statutory levy on online gambling and racing greyhounds. I would very much welcome that, because putting it in place would bring into line a lot of the gambling companies that are not paying at the moment. We in this House, and people across the country, all want our greyhounds to have a good retirement. Let us ensure that those that can be rehabilitated after racing have a good life. We can then have a good industry that is well run with good welfare conditions that are well funded by the gaming industry.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Hansard
25 Jun 2019, 11:11 a.m.

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
25 Jun 2019, 11:14 a.m.

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 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 report of the 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.

Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish - Hansard
25 Jun 2019, 11:19 a.m.


Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
25 Jun 2019, 11:19 a.m.

I can see what is coming.

Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish - Hansard
25 Jun 2019, 11:20 a.m.

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
25 Jun 2019, 11:22 a.m.

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.

Discrimination in Sport

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 12th June 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan Portrait Dr Allin-Khan - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 8:20 p.m.

I have the unexpected pleasure of responding to this debate.

Sport is a unifying force, a force for good. It has been incredibly moving to hear so much support across the House for something that we all agree is extremely important. We are proud that this House stands together tonight against the homophobia seen at pitches, on stands and at matches, and against xenophobia, racism and sexism.

The hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) made a great intervention about social media companies, which need to do more. We all agree that they need to be held accountable. It is not okay that for years on end damaging and toxic tweets can remain accessible and online for all to read.

I am glad to hear that the English Football League, the FA and the Premier League promote good behaviour and work to make a stand against abuse. However, I acknowledge the importance of education in tackling that from the bottom up, as well as from the top down.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) made good points about ensuring that more is done. In my role, I will continue to push for all governing bodies to do more, and I do not doubt that the Ministers will do the same. I was glad to hear that my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) joined the Twitter boycott to protest against racism targeted at footballers. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) made some bold suggestions and rightly called for clubs to take responsibility. The hon. Member for St Ives (Derek Thomas) made some interesting points and gave us the first mention of wrestling this evening.

People know that I am a doctor—it is no secret—and I work on the frontline of our NHS. I see what gang violence does and how it damages our communities and ruins the lives of young people. It is also no secret that I am a boxer in my local community, and I see what sport can do to heal. Sometimes in debates in this place sport is not given the importance that it deserves, compared with issues such as Brexit—that is a fact. That does not mean that it is not of equal importance when we look at the transformative merits it possesses to change lives. I see that. As a humanitarian doctor, I have been in refugee camps where I have seen people wearing Man United shirts. They might not have food or security, but they proudly support a football team. That is something that no one can take away from them: they identify with a team.

Let us talk about communities. I am a Liverpool supporter, and I heard my friend on “The Anfield Wrap” talking about Mo Salah and how he has become such an important and integral part of the Liverpool community, the Liverpool family. He quoted:

“Being Scouse is a state of mind.”

The importance of sport and physical activity cannot be overestimated. I stand here with great pride tonight, joining colleagues from across the House to celebrate that sentiment. We face a time in which our community, our society, is fractured—we have to be honest about that—but let us ensure that there is no room for those fractures to permeate the very thing that does so much to unite us.

We must also understand that discrimination in sport is not just about players on a pitch, or even about fans; it is also about what goes on in the boardroom. It is about understanding that we need representation from all groups at boardroom level—women, people from the black and minority ethnic community, and our LGBT brothers and sisters all need a seat at the table.

Tonight, I hope that everyone present unites with me to say that together we want to stamp out racism, sexism, homophobia and any form of discrimination in sport.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 8:25 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question put and agreed to.


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

Cornish Wrestling

Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 12th June 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Scott Mann Portrait Scott Mann (North Cornwall) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 8:34 p.m.

Good evening, Mr Deputy Speaker. Meur ras—thank you—for allowing me to speak in the debate. The people of Cornwall will be saluting you.

I come from a part of the country that has a very proud history and culture. Our population dates back to the stone age and is steeped in history and lore, particularly in mining and fishing. Some of our ancient traditions still exist today. Every year in Cornwall, people participate in the ancient tradition of hurling through the streets, and in the merry mornings of May, the ’Obby ’Osses descend through the streets of Padstow. In recent times, we have seen a huge resurgence in the sport of gig rowing. We are proud in Cornwall to be home to those historical cultural events, which are unique to our county.

Today, I wish to shine a spotlight on Cornish wrestling. I will, if I may, refer to Cornish wrestling in the Cornish tongue for the rest of the debate—I will be referring to wrestling as “wrasslin”. That is how we describe it in Cornwall. I have had a large number of media requests about this debate, which I was not expecting.

Cornish wrasslin bears no relation to the wrestling that people may have seen on television. It is not WWE. There are no ropes, nothing to jump off and no cage fights or tag teams. The sport of wrasslin in Cornwall sums up the Cornish very well. It is a game of power, skill and strength. Cornish wrasslin is a form of wrestling that has been established in Cornwall for several centuries. It is a unique sport that has witnessed a steady revival since the establishment of the Cornish Wrestling Association in 1920.

The history of wrasslin was recorded first in “The History of the Kings of Britain” in 1139, in which Geoffrey of Monmouth suggested that Corineus, the medieval legend, wrestled a Cornish giant named Gogmagog at Plymouth Hoe. Two Cornishmen were recorded in a poem of 1590 entitled “Poly-Olbion” at the battle of Agincourt, carrying carried a banner of two Cornish wrasslers in a hitch or a hold. In the 17th century, historian Richard Carew wrote of Cornish wrestling:

“Wrasslin is as full of manliness, more delightful and less dangerous”

than hurling. I can just imagine two burly Cornishmen, with hands the size of shovels, striding out into battle at Agincourt, proud of their sport and proud of their county.

In more recent times, we have seen a mini revival. Both Devon and Brittany have a history of wrasslin, and they have competed with Cornwall in inter-Celtic matches. Cornish wrasslin is the oldest sport in the British Isles, and alongside hurling it is the oldest sport indigenous to Cornwall.

The objective of Cornish wrasslin is to throw the challenger from a standing position, with no grappling or holding on the ground. A bout begins when the competitors grab each other’s jackets by the collar, lapel or sleeve, in what is known as a hitch. To win the bout, the competitor must score a back. A back is scored by throwing the opponent on his or her hips or shoulders. There are four pins on the back of the jacket, and three have to touch the ground to score a back and win the contest. A single pin touching the ground only counts as one point but can be accumulated and scored at the end.

There are many different techniques and throws to defeat an opponent and score a back. Crooks and heaves are the most popular. Crooks are a variation of a trip, to catch an opponent off guard, while heaves are used by heavier, more powerful wrasslers to lift their opponent in the air and fling them on their back.

The wearing of canvas jackets is essential and makes gripping easier, and competitors also wear shorts and socks. One crucial thing to keep in mind is that strength is not the main contributing factor to wrasslin. Many techniques and moves can be deployed to get a back. In fact, competitors from Devon are said to have used more kicking, which has not always gone down particularly well with the Cornish.

One of the most famous encounters between wrasslers from Devon and Cornwall must surely be the great wrasslin bout of 1826. Any match between Devon and Cornwall was almost always hotly disputed and always bore a pridely grudge, and this was no exception. James Polkinghorne was due to meet Abraham Cann. James Polkinghorne was born in the St Keverne and was usually associate with St Columb, for it was here that he was the landlord of the Red Lion inn. He set forth to uphold the honour of Cornish wrasslin when he took on Cann the challenger.

The match was to find the champion of the west of England and it took place at Tamar Green in Devonport on 23 October 1826. The ultimate result has never been agreed and it remains a matter of controversy to this day. It was from St Stephens that James Polkinghorne set off, in his gig rowing boat, on a long trip with his brother to Tamar Green. Information about the controversy surrounding the event from the outset can be found in an article on the heyday and decline of wrasslin. In 1960, the late Leslie Jolly, a recognised authority on wrasslin, wrote in a Cornish gazette that he wondered whether Polkinghorne was the right person to take on the challenger Cann. Jolly’s grandfather, of Penscowen, St Enoder, was a renowned wrassler during the early part of the 19th century, and he made the case that Parkyn of St Columb Minor would have been a better representative. Parkyn had been champion for 20 years, but he was 52 and Polkinghorne a mere 38. Parkyn’s claims were supported by some involved in the sport, including in St Columb, but nevertheless it was Polkinghorne who eventually went across the Tamar.

Cornish wrasslin has not always had a good name. Before the sport’s governing body was founded, there were all sorts of things going on in Cornwall. The attraction of wrasslin brought about a bout in Bodmin. One of the competitors entered the ring and threw two roach men. That success was immediately followed by an attack by the Bodmin men, which led to a general riot. The contenders congested in a pugilistic style, the combatants armed themselves with bludgeons from the wooden rickshaw in the church town, and a fight ensued. Heads were laid open, teeth knocked out and the battlefield was quickly strewn with the maimed.

During the 1930s and 1940s, several members of the Chapman family achieved great wrasslin success. Grandfathers, fathers and sons all fought. Many Cornish towns and villages held tournaments, and hundreds would turn up to watch the contests. The Hawkeys and the Warnes were also well-known wrassling families, but the most famous competitor of the day was the heavyweight champion, Francis Gregory of St Wenn.

Gregory had his first match when he was 13 and he was the youngest Cornishman to show his skills at the London Palladium in 1927. He represented Cornwall seven times from 1928 at the official Cornu-Breton championships. He won seven times, on four occasions in Brittany. Later, he moved north and changed his sport to play rugby league for Wigan and Warrington and was capped for England. Taking up professional wrestling, he became known as Francis St Clair Gregory, and in November 1955 he made his first appearance in a wrestling match shown on British television.

More recently, in the face of fierce competition and promotion, Cornish wrestling waned to a small group of stalwarts. To put a stop to the decline and help raise awareness, in 2004, the Cornish Wrestling Association became affiliated with the British Wrestling Association. Publicity increased and training sessions took place in Helston, Truro and Wadebridge. Those measures have helped wrasslin make a strong comeback. Based at St Columb Major, today Ashley Cawley is the current Cornish heavyweight champion. He is also the Cornish Wrestling Association’s public relations officer, while his uncle, Mike Cawley, is the association chairman. Ashley’s father, Gerry, came out of wrestling retirement and won two championships recently.

Over the summer months, the Cornish Wrestling Association runs tournaments in villages and towns across the duchy. They also feature at the Royal Cornwall Show. All ages are welcome to participate and there are several children’s categories. There is now a plaque in St Columb Major to commemorate the fight between Polkinghorne and Cann. The contests are overseen by three referees called sticklers, who award the points.

It is thought that Cornish wrasslin evolved the way it did because it is safer for wrestlers to land on their backs. The wrestlers are taught to grip tight and to avoid putting their arms down to soften the blow.

Wrestlers swear an oath in Cornish before wrasslin. The translation is:

“On my honour and the honour of my country”—

I think they probably mean Cornwall there—

“I swear to wrestle without treachery or brutality and in token of my sincerity, I offer my hand to my opponent.”

I will give the Cornish a go:

“Gwary whec yu gwary tek”,

which means, “Good play is fair play”.

While it has been good to give the Minister a tour d’horizon of Cornish wrasslin this evening, I have some specific asks for her. Perhaps next time she passes through Cornwall, she would like to take me on in a bout of Cornish wrasslin. Given the current environment, perhaps the quickest way to sort out the leadership contest is to put everybody in a Cornish wrasslin ring and let them duke it out and find out who is the strongest contender.

My first objective is to raise the profile of this wonderful traditional sport. I hope that we have managed to do that through the debate. Secondly, I seek the Minister’s support in getting help from Sport England to recognise Cornish wrasslin as a defined sport. That would allow Celtic tournaments between Brittany and Cornwall to continue. Sport England generously gave Cornwall £9,000 in 2012, and I hope that we can restore some of that funding.

Thirdly, the Commonwealth games are taking place in Birmingham, and there has been Greco-Roman wrestling in previous Commonwealth games. We have a chance to showcase all that is great about the British Isles. Will the Minister therefore help me to lobby the Commonwealth games committee either to put Cornish wrasslin in future Commonwealth games or to allow our fantastic sportsmen and women who do Cornish wrasslin to have a spot at the opening ceremony to demonstrate how good the sport is?

I hope that I have provided some entertainment in talking about a sport that I care passionately about. I hope that the debate has showcased Cornish wrasslin.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 8:44 p.m.

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.

Oral Answers to Questions

Mims Davies Excerpts
Thursday 23rd May 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP) - Hansard

4. What steps his Department is taking to ensure adequate funding for (a) education, (b) research, (c) treatment and (d) support to minimise gambling-related harm. [911066]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Hansard
23 May 2019, midnight

I am pleased to say that the NHS is expanding specialist support for gambling addiction in its long-term plan. Public Health England is reviewing evidence, and GambleAware will publish a needs analysis this autumn. Building evidence is key to future funding decisions. We want the industry to be responsible in all ways, which includes funding support for people experiencing harm.

Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan - Hansard

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
23 May 2019, midnight

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

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan Portrait Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 May 2019, 9:45 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 May 2019, 9:45 a.m.

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

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

Mr Speaker Hansard
23 May 2019, 10:11 a.m.

I call Jim Shannon—not here.

Break in Debate

Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T2. I add my best wishes to the England women’s team for success in the forthcoming World cup. Will the Minister give them the best possible send-off by ensuring that the Government commit increased funding to football facilities at grassroots level? [911082]

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 May 2019, 10:08 a.m.

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

Ged Killen (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Lab/Co-op) Hansard
23 May 2019, 10:08 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
23 May 2019, 10:08 a.m.

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

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T3. For what it’s worth, I recently appeared in panto as Sir Lancingalot in the North Lancing residents association’s version of “Robin Hood”. [Hon. Members: “Oh no you didn’t!] Oh yes I did! Also in Lancing, I am attempting to arrange a programme of midnight football over the summer, which I did a few years ago in another part of my constituency that is affected by antisocial behaviour. With the help of Adur Athletic football club, the local police and the local council, we laid on football between 10 and midnight on Saturday evenings for teenagers who otherwise, as they admitted themselves, would be getting up to no good on the streets. It completely changed the dynamics between those kids and the police, who came and joined in enthusiastically. Does the Minister agree that that is a constructive way of dealing with antisocial behaviour, getting kids engaged in sport, and engaging those kids with the police and other local people in a positive way? [911084]

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
23 May 2019, 10:09 a.m.

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

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

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
23 May 2019, 10:11 a.m.

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

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies - Hansard
23 May 2019, 10:11 a.m.

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

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con) - Hansard

T4. If we are talking about our acting accolades, Mr Speaker, mine was winning a national best actress award with the Young Farmers—a strange dichotomy, but true. Yesterday, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee went to the Chelsea Flower Show and carried out an inquiry into the value of garden tourism to the nation—it is already some £4 billion. Does the Minister agree that if we put garden tourism in the tourism sector deal, we could double this money, at least, and benefit the economy? [911086]

Billy McNeill MBE

Mims Davies Excerpts
Monday 20th May 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP) - Hansard
20 May 2019, 9:09 p.m.

As the Member with the privilege of representing Celtic Park, I rise to echo the tribute paid to the late, great Billy McNeill by my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara), whom I congratulate most sincerely on securing this debate.

For some bizarre reason, there is a strange irony whereby many Scottish MPs do not, in fact, support the club based in their constituency, but I would argue that we are all the richer for that. I declare openly, and perhaps confess, that I am an Airdrieonians supporter. I will return to Billy McNeill’s link to Airdrie in a few moments.

Since being elected as the Member for the east end of Glasgow, I am proud to have had a good relationship with Celtic football club, which is a massive, iconic part of the east end. For those driving along London Road, that towering statue, produced by John McKenna, of Billy holding the European cup aloft is quite a sight to behold, particularly with the thousands of green and white scarves attached to it over the past few weeks.

Following Billy McNeill’s sad passing, it is hard to describe how much of an impact his death and, most importantly, his life have had throughout the city of Glasgow, regardless of people’s age or even which football club they support. As my hon. Friend has already outlined, Billy McNeill will be forever known in history as the first player from these islands to lift the European cup when Celtic triumphed in Lisbon back in 1967.

I would have expected nothing less, but my hon. Friend paid a typically warm and thoughtful tribute to the career and life of Billy McNeill, so I do not intend to repeat much of that. However, when he informed me that he had secured this evening’s debate, he told me—tongue in cheek, I am sure—that I am not allowed to mention Airdrie, a hurdle at which I fell just two paragraphs into my speech.

The link between Billy and Airdrieonians goes back to the Scottish cup final of 3 May 1975 when, unfortunately, Celtic defeated the Diamonds 3-1 at Hampden Park. Following the match, Billy announced his retirement from playing football. It was his 822nd and last appearance for Celtic. Remarkably, in a career spanning so many years, he was never substituted, which is a tremendous achievement for any player. I cannot recall any other player who made that many appearances without being substituted.

As my hon. Friend outlined, Billy went on to have a career in management, with spells at Clyde, Aberdeen, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Hibs and, of course, two spells at the helm of his beloved Hoops. Both on and off the park, Billy made an enormous contribution to the beautiful game, so it is right that so many people from all across the footballing community came together to mourn his passing and remember his life.

And it is not just people of Billy’s generation who wish to mark a life well lived. On Saturday morning, I was at Our Lady of Peace in Barlanark to cheer on St Francis of Assisi Primary School, which went on to win the Billy McNeill memorial cup. It is fitting that the cup was won and retained by a team from the east end of Glasgow. Many of the boys and girls who were playing recognised Billy McNeill’s contribution and seek to emulate it in the years to come.

Tonight, though, has been a fitting tribute to a man who entertained so many and brought so much happiness, as we have heard, particularly to those dearest to him. He will, of course, be sorely missed, but his contribution will never be forgotten, and I am glad that we have had the opportunity tonight to immortalise him in the Chamber and in Hansard. For that, I thank my hon. Friend most sincerely.

Mims Davies Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Mims Davies) - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 May 2019, 9:12 p.m.

I thank the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara) for 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.

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Mims Davies Excerpts
Wednesday 8th May 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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