Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Thursday 20th October 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am more than happy to meet the hon. Member and discuss this further and also take this away to discuss with hon. and right hon. Members across Government.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- Hansard - -

T1.   If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

He is not here. The Secretary of State can continue with business.

--- Later in debate ---
Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Member will know, we introduced the energy price guarantee to help organisations with the cost of living, and are working with all sectors through the current challenging time. I am happy to meet the hon. Member to discuss the matter further.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Mr Speaker, I apologise to you and my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench for my discourtesy in not being here at the beginning of topical questions. Earlier this week, I met representatives from the creative industry. They would warmly welcome the media Bill if the Channel 4 provisions were dropped. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State meet me to discuss this issue?

Michelle Donelan Portrait Michelle Donelan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would be more than delighted to meet my hon. Friend.

Channel 4 Privatisation

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Wednesday 27th April 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Channel 4 has been a driver of the independent sector. As the Minister knows, the independent sector trade body is raising considerable concerns about the impact of privatisation on the sector. Will she tell the House whether she intends to retain, in the privatisation details, an obligation and a quota for the independent private sector?

Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for raising the important point that we can get a number of our aims in relation to independent production via quotas in the public service broadcasting remit. We will be seeking to do that. We will provide further details as the process goes on, but I hope that when we are able to publish the White Paper tomorrow he will see that we will seek to retain and modernise the approach we take to independent production such that the companies he is concerned about will be able to benefit.

Points of Order

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Wednesday 27th April 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, but it is not really a matter for the Chair. Obviously, as he mentioned, there are questions that he can raise with the Electoral Commission. I rather think that letters are sent out during election campaigns, from different party leaders—but, as I have said, this is not really a matter for the Chair, and as the hon. Gentleman said, he could raise it with the Electoral Commission should he so wish.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice. In last week’s privileges debate, the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Ed Davey) mentioned a number of constituencies in the House, and supposedly quoted constituents. May I ask first, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether it is normal practice to inform Members that their constituencies are to be referred to in that particular way, and secondly, whether it is normal practice to advise Members representing the constituents whom they are quoting? I should add that I notified the right hon. Gentleman of my intention to make this point of order.

Football Governance

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Monday 25th April 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am definitely usually a “glass half full” rather than “glass half empty” person, which I think is a good way to go through life. I do not think I can be accused of being naively optimistic, but I do believe that the football authorities have a responsibility and an obligation to put their house in order and take action. If they do not, action will be taken against them.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

AFC Wimbledon is a living example of a football club that has been rebuilt by fans and the community after its heritage was taken away. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) for all her work. In her contribution, she mentioned how the Government’s definition of “summer” is sometimes moveable; the Government’s definition of “engagement” is also sometimes moveable. Will the Minister be clear that when the White Paper comes out, there will be a condition to set out clearly what fans should expect from their engagement?

Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. He is right that engagement could mean different things to different people. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we set a minimum level, and that will be the condition. We will look at licensing conditions, and fan engagement for, say, a top-end premier league club might be different from that for a club further down the pyramid. Indeed, expectations of engagement might also change. We will set some minimal conditions and, although one model may not fit all, there will definitely be changes.

Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Monday 8th March 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to speak in the debate this evening. This Budget was produced after a year of extraordinary economic challenges and an extraordinary economic response to give support to families and businesses. No Chancellor would want to raise taxes or increase Government borrowing to the current record levels, but in this Budget the Chancellor has rightly recognised the need to continue to support families and companies in the face of this extraordinary unforeseen economic shock.

Equally, the Chancellor is right to be honest. Modern monetary theory does not mean that a magic money tree has been found, and we cannot expand the Bank of England’s balance sheet forever, so rightly and probably unwelcomely, the plan to restore public finances understandably includes raising taxes.

A key imperative last week, alongside the need to restore the public finances in the medium term, was to encourage investment and enterprise and to embed recovery. So, alongside the planned corporate tax rises was a more generous treatment of tax losses and the announcement of the super deduction, which will inevitably help many companies to invest in exactly the capital formation that they will need for the future.

The Chancellor is also right to focus on infrastructure spending and investment. Infrastructure is not an end in itself; it is the driver of growth and productivity in economies. The policies announced last week will allow growth and investment in both physical and social infrastructure. I welcome the increase in departmental spending limits and the increase in transport spending. I also welcome the increase in skills investment, in kickstart and in the digital skills scheme. The establishment of the UK infrastructure bank is welcome, but it is the private sector that will drive investment. A green gilt is welcome, but I urge the Government to think about an infrastructure bond, which would open up the potential for private capital—individuals and pension funds—to invest in infrastructure. Equally, the announcement of the consultation on changes to the capital cap for pension funds will drive some of that investment.

Financial services are the jewel in the UK’s economic crown, so there is good news for many and I welcome some of the other measures, but I urge the Government to think about a review of the regulation of financial services, to ensure that we have competitiveness and also appropriateness in regard to capital and conduct. Financial services will allow the necessary investment to happen in the infrastructure of the United Kingdom. I welcome this Budget. It was the right Budget at this time, and the Chancellor is to be congratulated on it.

Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd March 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to follow my fellow London MP, the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), and to welcome the hon. Member for Cardiff Central (Jo Stevens) back to her place.

At the outset of these remarks, I want to say how much I welcome and commend the Government’s support for entertainment. Throughout this pandemic, I have used these debates and questions to raise issues on behalf of the hospitality, events and entertainment industry in Wimbledon. As many know, we have the best theatre outside the west end, the New Wimbledon Theatre. We have the internationally renowned children’s theatre, the Polka, a huge entertainment industry featuring the book fest and the music fest, and a large number of events and exhibition companies. I want to concentrate my short contribution on the three issues that will help them to survive and thrive.

While there has been extensive support, many of the people who work in entertainment, events, hospitality and supply chains in Wimbledon are self-employed freelancers. These are the people who will ensure that the creative industries can reopen and thrive, but most of them have not qualified for either furlough or business grant support. Many who became self-employed in 2019 do not qualify for the self-employed income support scheme. So with covid restrictions remaining in place for longer than we all would have liked and a recognition that it will take some time after 21 June for the events industry to fully recover, can I say that, a year into the pandemic, the only just and fair policy would be to forward the qualifying date for the self-employed income scheme by a year? I hope that we will hear that from the Minister or the Chancellor in the next couple of days.

The Minister for Digital and Culture was right to say in her opening remarks at the Dispatch Box that there is a cautious approach to relaxation based on data, not dates, but a number of issues still remain for the exhibition and events industry. Last year, pilots were conducted on how these events and exhibitions could be conducted in a covid-safe way. We have not yet heard whether those pilots will feed into the road map. Can my hon. Friend assure us about that? Post 12 April, theatres can have audiences above the 30 limit through steps 4 and 5, but there is nothing yet for meetings and exhibitions. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) on the insurance guarantee scheme. Finally, large events will recover only if there is some certainty over the unlocking of global travel. That remains uncertain and the Government need to give some clarity as to when or if quarantine measures will be reviewed.

Cultural Attractions: Contribution to Local Economy

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Tuesday 6th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

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

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

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

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this afternoon, Sir Charles, and to see the Minister in her place. Like many others, I express my thanks for the package the Government have put in place for the arts sector, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Nickie Aiken). She is right that as London MPs, we are extraordinarily proud of our city’s cultural offering and the economic benefit it gives to this nation. It would be remiss of me to not point out that this cultural offering is not just in central London. In Wimbledon, we have the New Wimbledon theatre, the home of panto; the Polka theatre, which is the best children’s theatre in the country; the Lantern arts centre, of which I am a patron; and many other small venues.

I will focus my remarks on the events industry. Back in March, I first mentioned in the House the problems that the supply chain into the hospitality industry and the live events industry was likely to have if support packages were not in place. The people who work in that industry—caterers, photographers, event planners, exhibition organisers, audio-visual engineers, musicians, actors, and more—simply have not been able to work at all, because events and exhibitions have all been stopped by the pandemic. I would suggest that it has affected this industry more than most others, and perhaps most of all. The Chancellor has put in place an extensive package, but there is a good case for looking at the industry.

In Wimbledon, as in so many parts of the country, we have extraordinary businesses—viable businesses—such as White Light and Oxygen Event Services. Only yesterday, the managing director of another events company—Nineteen Group—wrote to me saying that the sector does not want to go into hibernation; the exact opposite is true.

Like everybody, those businesses would like certainty. Like everybody, they want more help with money for jobs. I rarely agree with the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter), but he is right to say that one of the things the Government could do would be to put in place a guarantee package that would allow the industry to start having some certainty for planning for events for when we finish covid, hopefully at some stage next year. At the moment that certainty is not there, and a Government guarantee would work.

I had a Zoom meeting with my constituents Mark and Judy Faithfull last week. They pointed out that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and other Government Departments have been involved in test events. There was a test business trade exhibition, a test trade event at the Hilton in Canary Wharf in September and a test banqueting event. The industry does not understand why other parts of Europe and the world are looking opening up test events. Will the Government look again at the test events they attended, which proved that such events could be covid-secure? Will they look to open those up, so that the industry can thrive?

Covid-19: Support for UK Industries

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Thursday 25th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) and I absolutely agree with her sentiments about opening up the economy.

May I say right at the outset that I think what the Government have done in terms of this unprecedented economic support—the support for businesses and for workers against the economic consequences of the pandemic —has been truly extraordinary, and the speed at which those programmes were put in place was particularly impressive?

In my constituency alone, 10,000 jobs were furloughed under the job retention scheme—10,000 incomes. With that support through the crisis, people have a chance of a job in the future as the restrictions ease. I am very pleased that the scheme has been extended and that there is the ability to part-time furlough. That flexibility has to be right; the businesses want that as they gradually reopen.

However, I would point out to my hon. Friend the Minister that there are a number of issues with the scheme, which, with a little bit of tinkering, could easily be put right. He will be aware that one particular problem is that eligibility is based on a real time information submission to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The problem for a lot of small businesses is that they had agreed with HMRC that they would make an annual return and, therefore, not being required to make the RTI return, they are ineligible for support. A brief word with the chief executive of HMRC would sort that problem out.

The self-employment income support scheme is very welcome. It is estimated to help 4,000 people in Wimbledon, but I have been contacted by a number of people who, because they became self-employed last year, do not qualify. They feel they have fallen through the cracks. Will the Treasury look at that? A number of the people affected are starting businesses for the first time and are likely to be the lifeblood of the economy as we recover; a little help now would work. Of course, the same applies to directors of small limited companies. If they were put on the same footing as the self-employment income support scheme, that would mean a grant, which, in some cases, would save their businesses. With that minor tinkering, the scheme could be even better than it already is.

The hospitality, retail and leisure industry is obviously at the forefront of the economic costs, having been unable to open until 4 July—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet said, we look forward to that date. The support for the sector has been outstanding, but the Minister will know that in some parts of the country the £51,000 rateable value limit is relatively small compared with the sums the businesses are transacting. On future economic packages, I say to the Minister that it would be really helpful if the Government would recognise that there are some quite major regional imbalances in rateable values when businesses are broadly of the same turnover and this would be a huge benefit.

While there has been extraordinary help to the retail, hospitality and leisure chain, inevitably a lot of the suppliers to those industries have not been able to get any help at all. What has been seen to be a postcode lottery has been developing on the basis that the Government have given advice on what qualifies as a retail, leisure or hospitality business. It is pretty specific, although the Government do say that the list is not exhaustive. The trouble is that different councils are choosing to interpret it in wildly different ways and it is having a major impact on suppliers to these industries.

I pick up the events industry in my constituency, with White Light and Oxygen Event Services being two companies that may not be able to reappear in the way they were before this pandemic hit the country, and that would have a huge impact on the concert, festivals and hospitality industry. May we have a bit of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government guidance to councils, that industry and also language schools, which are huge providers to local economies, particularly in Wimbledon? I have seven language schools that provide consumer expenditure into the local economy from the students, jobs for teachers and support for local families who house these students. Again, a postcode lottery has developed: in some places these businesses and schools are getting help and in others they are not. Again, if the MHCLG could be more prescriptive about exactly what should be allowed to be available for business rate relief, that will help.

There are a number of other industries I could comment on, but finally, can I just say that, as a London MP, I am proud of the culture and the arts in this city? I want to see that arts and culture not just in the west end, but across constituencies. I have the New Wimbledon theatre and the Polka theatre. On what such venues need to survive, can I ask the Government to really look very hard at this? A number of people working in these industries have had no income or access to help since the pandemic struck. I know there are various packages that the Arts Council funds, but we need a specific performing arts financial package, so that all theatres and concert venues can survive and the people who work in that industry will be there to make sure that, when they reopen, arts are being performed in them. That would mean that the culture in this country would survive, which is so vital to our future, alongside the economy and our health.

Oral Answers to Questions

Stephen Hammond Excerpts
Thursday 4th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Oliver Dowden Portrait Oliver Dowden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to raise this point. That is why my hon. Friend the tourism and sports Minister has engaged extensively with gambling companies on measures they can take and why the Government have already introduced a ban on using credit cards for gambling and will be issuing a call for evidence on loot boxes, which are also a way gambling can take place online.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
- Hansard - -

2. What steps his Department is taking to ensure the sustainability of (a) civil society and (b) charities affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

Imran Ahmad Khan Portrait Imran Ahmad Khan (Wakefield) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

3. What steps his Department is taking to ensure the sustainability of (a) civil society and (b) charities affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

Matt Warman Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Matt Warman)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Charities and civil society are playing a pivotal role in the response to coronavirus, and in April the Government announced a package of support worth some £750 million to ensure the continuation of this vital work. That is in addition to the business support measures that are available to the sector, including paying no business rates for their shops this year and furloughing staff where possible. It is a comprehensive package that will prevent immediate unnecessary closures, keeping vital services open and providing a basis to continue their contribution to the national effort, and we will keep it closely under our eye.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. I want to take this opportunity to thank a number of charities in Wimbledon that have done so much during this crisis, including the food bank, the Dons Local Action Group, Old Ruts and Old Wimbledonians. My hon. Friend is right that there is an impressive package. However, a number of local and national arts charities are experiencing real problems. Will he look again at charities that specifically promote the arts, and particularly local arts, such as Wimbledon BookFest, because they keep culture going in our communities?

Matt Warman Portrait Matt Warman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right that now, more than ever, arts and culture are vital to our society as a whole, and these are immensely challenging times. The £160 million emergency funding package announced by Arts Council England is an important part of that, but we are working closely with the Arts Council to consider what additional support may be needed for the long-term recovery of the sector in the future.