8 Munira Wilson debates involving the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Tue 12th Jul 2022
Online Safety Bill
Commons Chamber

Report stage & Report stage (day 1) & Report stage
Tue 19th Apr 2022
Online Safety Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading
Tue 19th Jan 2021
Tue 21st Jul 2020

Budget Resolutions

Munira Wilson Excerpts
Monday 11th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting
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The list is inexhaustible, is it not? It is just one thing after another, and then they have the audacity to say that Labour does not have any plans. If that is true, why are they swooping in like magpies every five minutes, ready to pick the next cherry from Labour’s tree?

It is just a shame that the Conservatives did not see the light earlier. Had they abolished non-dom tax status when Labour pledged to do so in 2022, 4.5 million children could be enjoying free breakfast clubs today. They could have funded an extra 3.6 million NHS appointments and operations, hundreds more artificial intelligence-enabled scanners, and 1.3 million more urgent and emergency dental appointments. The Prime Minister would have delivered on his pledge to cut waiting lists, if only he had listened to Labour. What stopped him? Why was the Prime Minister so wedded to the non-dom tax status?

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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The hon. Gentleman has mentioned schoolchildren a couple of times in passing. It was hugely disappointing to me that there was absolutely nothing in last week’s Budget about schools or colleges. Today’s theme is growing our economy, which starts in our classrooms. Investing in education is an investment in this country’s economy and society for generations to come, yet there was nothing for day-to-day spending, even though schools in my constituency and across the country are having to make cuts every day. Shockingly, the small print revealed that next year we will see a real-terms cut of £200 million in capital investment in school buildings, while hundreds of thousands of children learn in crumbling classrooms. Does he agree that the Conservatives have no clue about growing the economy if they will not focus on children and young people?

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting
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I agree with the hon. Member. Politics is about choices, which is why we choose to end the tax breaks enjoyed by private schools, which are attended by the 7%, in order to fund more teachers and education for the 93%. The Conservatives have not nicked that policy yet—it could be any day now—but it does say something about choices.

There is something else that I found really galling. When the Government appointed Sir Kevan Collins as their catch-up commissioner, they could not have found someone better to advise on education, life chances and how to correct the obvious damage that had been done to children’s education as a result of successive lockdowns. Most of us in this House—on both sides—felt that the lockdowns were necessary, given the scale of the virus, but we ought collectively to acknowledge that there was a consequence and a debt to be repaid to that generation. When Sir Kevan Collins published his report, which was commissioned by the Government, the Prime Minister decided that he could not do any more. If the Prime Minister’s children attended state schools and he understood the challenges that such schools were facing with recruiting teachers and providing the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities that so many independent schools offer, I wonder whether the Prime Minister would have made the same political choices—or is it just for other people’s children that this Prime Minister and his Government have low aspirations?

I think it is fair to say that we know why the Prime Minister was so wedded to the non-dom tax status. In fact, the only way the Chancellor could have upset his neighbours more was if he had raised taxes on helicopter rides and heated swimming pools too. But at least the Prime Minister can now look the British people in the eye and honestly tell them that we are all in this together. In fact, we have to pity poor non-doms—they cannot even look to their friends, or indeed their husbands, in the Conservative party to defend them any longer. Nor can pensioners, incidentally, because 8 million pensioners will see their taxes increase as a result of this Chancellor’s decisions. I do not think that is right or just, and I do not think people will forget it come the general election.

I turn to the Prime Minister and how he evaluates his own performance. At a Wetherspoons in Maltby last week, he told the public that at the start of this year we “turned a corner.” He is right: at the start of this year the economy turned the corner from flatlining and entered recession. Rishi’s recession is taking a heavy toll on working people. Labour’s candidate for Rother Valley, Jake Richards, told me about John from Maltby, who lives just down the road from what was probably the first ’Spoons the Prime Minister has ever been in. John is a veteran of our armed forces. He served his country and now, thanks to the recklessness and incompetence of this Government, he cannot make ends meet. That is the price that people are paying, and it is why this country is crying out for change.

Having crashed the economy just two years ago, the Conservative party is at it again with a £46 billion unfunded tax plan. Can any Conservative Member explain how on earth they are going to pay for the abolition of national insurance? This is a bigger unfunded commitment than the “kamikwasi” Budget of the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss). Mortgage payers are still paying the price for that grotesque act of economic self-harm, and the Conservatives are at it again—

Oral Answers to Questions

Munira Wilson Excerpts
Thursday 11th January 2024

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lucy Frazer Portrait Lucy Frazer
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I assure the hon. Lady that I have regular discussions with the Treasury and the industry about how we can continue to support this vital sector. We are not falling behind. We are world leading, and we need to maintain that competitive edge. Our screen sector tax reliefs are estimated to have delivered over 200,000 new jobs and more than £13 billion in economic output.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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3. What steps she is taking to help increase community access to playing fields.

Stuart Andrew Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Stuart Andrew)
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The Government are committed to ensuring that every community has the facilities it needs to make sport and physical activity accessible to all, with over £320 million being invested by 2025 to develop thousands of state-of-the-art community football pitches and multi-use sports facilities across the UK.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson
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Udney Park playing fields in Teddington, in my constituency, have gone to rack and ruin over the past decade as successive developers have bought the site and, quite rightly, failed to build on it. The Udney Park Community Fields Foundation, led by Jonathan Dunn, has campaigned tirelessly to bring those fields into community use, because we desperately need more sports fields in my constituency. Now the site is back on the market, will the Minister join me, local sports groups and the local authority in backing the community’s bid for the site? Will he also put in a friendly word with relevant Ministers on the bid to the community ownership fund?

Stuart Andrew Portrait Stuart Andrew
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I commend the hon. Lady for her commitment to improving sports facilities in her local area, and I commend all the volunteers, like Jonathan Dunn, who do a tremendous amount of work. Frankly, without them we would not have so many people being physically active. The Football Foundation and Sport England are always ready to discuss potential investments, and I would be happy to provide the hon. Lady with those contacts. Of course, I will raise this issue with my colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Online Safety Bill

Munira Wilson Excerpts
Technology moves very quickly, so personally I would welcome an annual debate on areas that may need improvement. Now that we are outside the European Union and have autonomy, those are the kinds of things that we must decide in this Chamber.
Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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I rise to speak to new clauses 25 and 26 in my name. The Government rightly seek to make the UK the safest place in the world to go online, especially for our children, and some of their amendments will start to address previous gaps in the Bill. However, I believe that the Bill still falls short in its aim not only to protect children from harm and abuse, but, importantly, to empower and enable young people to make the most of the online world.

I welcome the comments that the right hon. and learned Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Sir Jeremy Wright) made about how we achieve the balance between rights and protecting children from harm. I also welcome his amendments on children’s wellbeing, which seek to achieve that balance.

With one in five children going online, keeping them safe is more difficult but more important than ever. I speak not only as the mother of two very young children who are growing up with iPads in their hands, but as—like everyone else in the Chamber—a constituency Member of Parliament who speaks regularly to school staff and parents who are concerned about the harms caused by social media in particular, but also those caused by games and other services to which children have access.

The Bill proffers a broad and vague definition of content that is legal yet harmful. As many have already said, it should not be the responsibility of the Secretary of State, in secondary legislation, to make decisions about how and where to draw the line; Parliament should set clear laws that address specific, well-defined harms, based on strong evidence. The clear difficulty that the Government have in defining what content is harmful could have been eased had the Bill focused less on removing harmful content and more on why service providers allow harmful content to spread so quickly and widely. Last year, the 5Rights Foundation conducted an experiment in which it created several fake Instagram profiles for children aged between 14 and 17. When the accounts were searched for the term “skinny”, while a warning pop-up message appeared, among the top results were

“accounts promoting eating disorders and diets, as well as pages advertising appetite-suppressant gummy bears.”

Ultimately, the business models of these services profit from the spread of such content. New clause 26 requires the Government and Ofcom to focus on ensuring that internet services are safe by design. They should not be using algorithms that give prominence to harmful content. The Bill should focus on harmful systems rather than on harmful content.

Damian Collins Portrait Damian Collins
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It does focus on systems as well as content. We often talk about content because it is the exemplar for the failure of the systems, but the systems are entirely within the scope of the Bill.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson
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I thank the Minister for that clarification, but there are still many organisations out there, not least the Children’s Charities Coalition, that feel that the Bill does not go far enough on safety by design. Concerns have rightly been expressed about freedom of expression, but if we focus on design rather than content, we can protect freedom of expression while keeping children safe at the same time. New clause 26 is about tackling harms downstream, safeguarding our freedoms and, crucially, expanding participation among children and young people. I fear that we will always be on the back foot when trying to tackle harmful content. I fear that regulators or service providers will become over-zealous in taking down what they consider to be harmful content, removing legal content from their platforms just in case it is harmful, or introducing age gates that deny children access to services outright.

Of course, some internet services are clearly inappropriate for children, and illegal content should be removed—I think we all agree on that—but let us not lock children out of the digital world or let their voices be silenced. Forty-three per cent. of girls hold back their opinions on social media for fear of criticism. Children need a way to exercise their rights. Even the Children’s Commissioner for England has said that heavy-handed parental controls that lock children out of the digital world are not the solution.

I tabled new clause 25 because the Bill’s scope, focusing on user-to-user and search services, is too narrow and not sufficiently future-proof. It should cover all digital technology that is likely to be accessed by children. The term

“likely to be accessed by children”

appears in the age-appropriate design code to ensure that the privacy of children’s data is protected. However, that more expansive definition is not included in the Bill, which imposes duties on only a subset of services to keep children safe. Given rapidly expanding technologies such as the metaverse—which is still in its infancy—and augmented reality, as well as addictive apps and games that promote loot boxes and gambling-type behaviour, we need a much more expansive definition

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson) for keeping her powder dry and deferring her speech until the next group of amendments, so Members now have five minutes each.

Online Safety Bill

Munira Wilson Excerpts
2nd reading
Tuesday 19th April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nadine Dorries Portrait Ms Dorries
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These online giants will be held accountable to their own terms and conditions. They will be unable any longer to allow illegal content to be published, and we will also be listing in secondary legislation offences that will be legal but harmful. We will be holding those tech giants to account.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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I thank the Secretary of State for giving way. She talked about how this Bill is going to protect children much more, and it is a welcome step forward. However, does she accept that there are major gaps in this Bill? For instance, gaming is not covered. It is not clear whether things such as virtual reality and the metaverse are going to be covered. [Interruption.] It is not clear and all the experts will tell us that. The codes of practice in the Bill are only recommended guidance; they are not mandatary and binding on companies. That will encourage a race to the bottom.

Nadine Dorries Portrait Ms Dorries
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The duties are mandatory; it is the Online Safety Bill and the metaverse is included in the Bill. Not only is it included, but, moving forward, the provisions in the Bill will allow us to move swiftly with the metaverse and other things. We did not even know that TikTok existed when this Bill started its journey. These provisions will allow us to move quickly to respond.

--- Later in debate ---
Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson
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rose—

Chris Philp Portrait Chris Philp
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I have so many points to reply to that I have to make some progress.

The Bill also enshrines, for the first time, free speech—something that we all feel very strongly about—but it goes beyond that. As well as enshrining free speech in clause 19, it gives special protection, in clauses 15 and 16, for content of journalistic and democratic importance. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State indicated in opening the debate, we intend to table a Government amendment—a point that my right hon. Friends the Members for Maldon and for Ashford (Damian Green) asked me to confirm—to make sure that journalistic content cannot be removed until a proper right of appeal has taken place. I am pleased to confirm that now.

We have made many changes to the Bill. Online fraudulent advertisers are now banned. Senior manager liability will commence immediately. Online porn of all kinds, including commercial porn, is now in scope. The Law Commission communication offences are in the Bill. The offence of cyber-flashing is in the Bill. The priority offences are on the face of the Bill, in schedule 7. Control over anonymity and user choice, which was proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Siobhan Baillie) in her ten-minute rule Bill, is in the Bill. All those changes have been made because this Government have listened.

Let me turn to some of the points made from the Opposition Front Bench. I am grateful for the in-principle support that the Opposition have given. I have enjoyed working with the shadow Minister and the shadow Secretary of State, and I look forward to continuing to do so during the many weeks in Committee ahead of us, but there were one or two points made in the opening speech that were not quite right. This Bill does deal with systems and processes, not simply with content. There are risk assessment duties. There are safety duties. There are duties to prevent harm. All those speak to systems and processes, not simply content. I am grateful to the Chairman of the Joint Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins), for confirming that in his excellent speech.

If anyone in this House wants confirmation of where we are on protecting children, the Children’s Commissioner wrote a joint article with the Secretary of State in the Telegraph—I think it was this morning—confirming her support for the measures in the Bill.

When it comes to disinformation, I would make three quick points. First, we have a counter-disinformation unit, which is battling Russian disinformation night and day. Secondly, any disinformation that is illegal, that poses harm to children or that comes under the definition of “legal but harmful” in the Bill will be covered. And if that is not enough, the Minister for Security and Borders, who is sitting here next to me, intends to bring forward legislation at the earliest opportunity to cover counter-hostile state threats more generally. This matter will be addressed in the Bill that he will prepare and bring forward.

I have only four minutes left and there are so many points to reply to. If I do not cover them all, I am very happy to speak to Members individually, because so many important points were made. The right hon. Member for Barking asked who was going to pay for all the Ofcom enforcement. The taxpayer will pay for the first two years while we get ready—£88 million over two years—but after that Ofcom will levy fees on these social media firms, so they will pay for regulating their activities. I have already replied to the point she rightly raised about smaller but very harmful platforms.

My hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Saqib Bhatti) has been campaigning tirelessly on the question of combating racism. This Bill will deliver what he is asking for.

The hon. Member for Batley and Spen (Kim Leadbeater) and my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Dean Russell) asked about Zach’s law. Let me take this opportunity to confirm explicitly that clause 150—the harmful communication clause, for where a communication is intended to cause psychological distress—will cover epilepsy trolling. What happened to Zach will be prevented by this Bill. In addition, the Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission are looking at whether we can also have a standalone provision, but let me assure them that clause 150 will protect Zach.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Maldon asked a number of questions about definitions. Companies can move between category 1 and category 2, and different parts of a large conglomerate can be regulated differently depending on their activities. Let me make one point very clear—the hon. Member for Bristol North West (Darren Jones) also raised this point. When it comes to the provisions on “legal but harmful”, neither the Government nor Parliament are saying that those things have to be taken down. We are not censoring in that sense. We are not compelling social media firms to remove content. All we are saying is that they must do a risk assessment, have transparent terms and conditions, and apply those terms and conditions consistently. We are not compelling, we are not censoring; we are just asking for transparency and accountability, which is sorely missing at the moment. No longer will those in Silicon Valley be able to behave in an arbitrary, censorious way, as they do at the moment—something that Members of this House have suffered from, but from which they will no longer suffer once this Bill passes.

The hon. Member for Bristol North West, who I see is not here, asked a number of questions, one of which was about—[Interruption.] He is here; I do apologise. He has moved—I see he has popped up at the back of the Chamber. He asked about codes of practice not being mandatory. That is because the safety duties are mandatory. The codes of practice simply illustrate ways in which those duties can be met. Social media firms can meet them in other ways, but if they fail to meet those duties, Ofcom will enforce. There is no loophole here.

When it comes to the ombudsman, we are creating an internal right of appeal for the first time, so that people can appeal to the social media firms themselves. There will have to be a proper right of appeal, and if there is not, they will be enforced against. We do not think it appropriate for Ofcom to consider every individual complaint, because it will simply be overwhelmed, by probably tens of thousands of complaints, but Ofcom will be able to enforce where there are systemic failures. We feel that is the right approach.

I say to the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Borders will meet him about the terrible Keyham shooting.

The hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) raised a question about online fraud in the context of search. That is addressed by clause 35, but we do intend to make drafting improvements to the Bill, and I am happy to work with her on those drafting improvements.

I have been speaking as quickly as I can, which is quite fast, but I think time has got away from me. This Bill is groundbreaking. It will protect our citizens, it will protect our children—[Hon. Members: “Sit down!”]—and I commend it to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

UK Musicians: EU Visa Arrangements

Munira Wilson Excerpts
Tuesday 19th January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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

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

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

Caroline Dinenage Portrait Caroline Dinenage
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As ever, my hon. Friend makes an excellent point. There are so many facets to this issue that we need to keep in mind as we move forward. That is certainly something that I am very happy to talk to him further about.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD) [V]
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I have been contacted by a number of constituents—not just musicians, but actors, dancers, choreographers and puppeteers—about the Government’s failure to secure visa-free work permits for touring artists in the EU. This comes as a further hammer blow to their livelihoods, with the continued shutdown of live entertainment as well as the huge gaps in the Government’s support for many working in these industries. What assurances can the Minister give to my constituents, particularly students such as Fresca David, who is just starting out on her career, that they are not being treated as an afterthought by this Government?

Caroline Dinenage Portrait Caroline Dinenage
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My message to the hon. Lady’s constituent would be that the Government entirely recognise the vital importance of the UK’s thriving creative artists. We want to support them in every way we can. I am just so pleased that there was not a Liberal Democrat Government, who would have voted for no deal.

Sport Sector: Financial Support

Munira Wilson Excerpts
Thursday 19th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston
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My hon. Friend raises an important point about making sure we have sports facilities of all sorts and ranges available for our constituents. Sport England is the body most appropriate to approach to seek funding. Of course, it has prioritised its coronavirus response recently, but I am sure it will get back to business as usual in allocations as soon as possible. I would be happy to have further conversations about this with my hon. Friend.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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Today’s announcement is very welcome for premiership rugby clubs such as Harlequins, as well as national league south football clubs such as Hampton and Richmond, both of which are in my constituency. The Minister is aware that Quins ran the largest pilot event to date with spectators: 3,500 attended a match earlier this year which was proved to be very safe and very secure. We will naturally return, in time, to spectators in stands, which will be a graduated process, so can the Minister provide some assurances to clubs such as Quins and Hampton and Richmond that support will not be withdrawn immediately, because ticket revenues will cover only a small proportion of their costs? Will he see to it that we will not have the perverse situation whereby people are allowed into hospitality suites to watch matches, but not outdoors in the stands where it is an awful lot safer?

Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston
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The hon. Lady and I have spoken a couple of times about some of the points she raises. I can give her the reassurance that the pilots that took place earlier this year in her constituency and across the country were not a waste of time. They were fantastic learning experiences and proved very well that we could open stadiums safely, but of course there is a bigger issue in terms of transport to and from stadiums and all sorts of other matters that we need to consider in the context of the current coronavirus environment. I would be happy to follow up on some of the other issues she raises.

BBC

Munira Wilson Excerpts
Tuesday 21st July 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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John Whittingdale Portrait Mr Whittingdale
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I agree with my right hon. Friend. Undoubtedly, there is scope for efficiencies and savings. One thing that the Government have done is fully open up the BBC to scrutiny by the National Audit Office, and I think that that has led to some efficiencies. I am encouraged by the conversation that I had very recently with the incoming new director-general, Tim Davie, who recognises that there is scope to seek efficiency savings and is committed to looking across the whole range of BBC activities to see how that can be achieved.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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The Minister rightly recognises the BBC’s amazing covid service. I just want to put on record how invaluable BBC Bitesize has been to my six-year-old daughter and my long-suffering husband who has been home schooling her through the lockdown. Does the Minister recognise that the BBC is part of a much wider ecosystem in which it commissions a lot of independent production companies? We know that the creative sector is really suffering and that many jobs are in jeopardy, and does he recognise, therefore, that this continued pressure on BBC funding will put that wider revival of the creative arts sector, in terms of the independent sector, at risk?

John Whittingdale Portrait Mr Whittingdale
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I join the hon. Lady in thanking the BBC for all that it did to maintain educational programming during lockdown. As for the contribution that it makes to the independent production sector, she is also absolutely right. One thing that I have been concentrating on is trying to help the production sector get back into operation, and we have had frequent meetings with representatives to see how that can be achieved. I am delighted that most productions are now getting going again, but obviously maintaining and sustaining our production sector right across the country will remain a very important additional role for the BBC.

Covid-19: Support for UK Industries

Munira Wilson Excerpts
Thursday 25th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston
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I would be happy to take the letter and ensure that the hon. Gentleman gets an appropriate response from the correct Minister.

The importance of this debate is demonstrated by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people signed the petitions. Of course, we are in an unprecedented global crisis, and this Government have provided an unprecedented, wide-ranging level of financial support in response to protect jobs, businesses and incomes across the country. Under the coronavirus job retention scheme, we have supported over 10 million people and at least 1 million businesses. We have supported 2.6 million self-employed people and given out £26 billion in bounce back loans alone, not to mention the support in the form of grants for small businesses and for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Given the direct and acute impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on those latter sectors, the Government have also provided a business rates holiday for businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure, so that all eligible businesses will pay no business rates for 12 months. This support is worth almost £10 billion to those businesses.

Several Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers), asked about nurseries. We absolutely recognise the important role that nurseries play in young children’s lives at the very start of their education. Recognising that, we made sure that nurseries were also on the list for the business rate holiday.

On the broader financial package, when it became clear that more help was needed, the Chancellor announced in May that the furlough scheme would continue until the end of October, and in its current form until the end of July, supporting furloughed workers as they gradually return to work.

The Government have provided a wide and unparalleled level of financial support during the pandemic to help workers in every sector and in every region of the UK, but we knew that as we entered lockdown, as part of our battle against this disease we would need a number of targeted interventions to protect jobs and businesses in some of our most beloved and hardest-hit sectors, including those identified in the petitions. We have had a good and thorough debate about those sectors today. Working groups have been set up by various Departments to work on the path to recovery and to identify what further support may be required, and discussions with the Treasury are taking place.

Munira Wilson Portrait Munira Wilson (Twickenham) (LD)
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Will the Minister put it on the record that the creative industries contribute a huge amount to our economy and improve everybody’s mental wellbeing? Will he recognise that, welcome though the support schemes were, many freelancers and directors of limited companies, particularly in the creative industries in my constituency, have been left—