Topical Questions

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 15th December 2011.

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Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Shadow Minister (Equalities) 10:30 am, 15th December 2011

If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

This week we announced the first cities that will be getting licences for local TV. They are Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Swansea. We hope to award a further 40 licences in the following year.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Shadow Minister (Equalities)

Ministers are aware of the considerable concern that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ treatment of VAT on five-a-side league football is causing businesses such as the Trafford soccer dome in my constituency. What steps can Ministers take to support this popular sport and ensure that it continues to thrive?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The hon. Lady is from a constituency with fantastic sporting traditions. We want to do everything we can to get more young people playing sport next year of all years. If she supplies us with more details, we will happily make representations to the Treasury, although it is a very difficult climate in which to get concessions on things such as VAT.

Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall

Two of my constituents, Audrey Cole and Colin Maddever, live in Doddy Cross, where there is no broadband. Superfast broadband is being rolled out across Cornwall, but these constituents still have to use expensive dial-up, which is frustratingly slow, blocks their incoming calls and increases costs. Furthermore, there are many farmers in that area who have to file their VAT returns online but find that they are unable to do so. What message of help does the Minister have for the 33% of people in South East Cornwall who have no broadband access at the moment?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend makes an incredibly important point very powerfully. There are still 250,000 homes in this country with no broadband access at all. We are absolutely committed to making sure that we deal with that problem by the end of this Parliament, which is why we have announced very ambitious plans. Cornwall, like the rest of the country, is being asked to submit a broadband plan that deals with all the broadband “not spots” as well as providing superfast broadband to 90% of its residents. I hope very much that at the next election my hon. Friend will be able to go back to her constituents and say that the problem has finally been addressed.

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Shadow Minister (Olympics and London)

Today the Indian Olympic Association meets to condemn Dow Chemical’s controversial sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic stadium wrap. Will the Secretary of State join me in reaffirming the Indian Olympic Association’s view that a boycott of the Olympics would merely make Indian athletes the innocent victims of the ongoing controversy caused by the continued debate about liability for the Bhopal gas disaster and ensuing contamination? However, have the Government carried out a risk assessment of Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the 2012 stadium? If not, will he commit to doing so and sharing the results so that an agreed course of action on a cross-party basis can be taken to mitigate any assessed risk of the sponsorship?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Of course I welcome what the Indian Olympic Association has said about a boycott. As the right hon. Lady will know, boycotts are illegal under the Olympic charter. With the greatest respect to her, because of the enormous role she has played in the 2012 project, she is a member of the Olympic board and shares some responsibility for all the decisions that have been made. We look to her to play a constructive role in resolving this difficult situation, not exacerbating it.

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Conservative, Esher and Walton

Two weeks ago Transparency International cut its ties with FIFA. The corruption watchdog objected to the lack of independence in FIFA’s new outside governance committee and to the fact that its remit will not extend to allegations of past wrongdoing. What pressure will the Minister and the Football Association exert so that we can shine a light on the serious allegations of systemic corruption at FIFA both past and present?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

We will do everything we can, both internationally through our European counterparts and elsewhere, to ensure that FIFA becomes what we all want it to be: a properly transparent and accountable body that is capable of fulfilling the remit it is supposed to have to govern the global game.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

It is some time since John Robb of Louder than War approached me about the problems musicians have when trying to get visas to tour the United States, and we brought a delegation to see the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Mr Vaizey, who has responsibility for culture. Will he update the House on the progress being made in talking to the Americans about this and, in particular, whether we can persuade them to look at reciprocal arrangements and adopt measures similar to those that we have here whereby organisers of big events can help to facilitate the visa process?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Officials from my Department have had constructive discussions with the United States embassy, which has taken on board our points, and those discussions continue. Obviously the US will continue to want to implement its regulations, but it has heard the hon. Lady’s concerns via my officials and we are continuing a constructive dialogue with the US.

Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

I very much welcome my right hon. Friend’s announcement of local television and the greater media diversity that it will bring and note with interest the impressive list of cities involved. Crawley finds itself on the cusp of two television regions, so may I put in a bid for it to be considered as a future centre for local television?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I am sure that Crawley would be an excellent place for a local television station and that my hon. Friend would make a very good contribution to it when it happens. Our plans for superfast broadband, which we talked about earlier, mean that it will be possible to launch a local television station in Crawley with no transmission costs by the end of this Parliament, so I hope that he encourages local media groups in his constituency to take advantage of it.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

Further to the Secretary of State’s earlier answer to Esther McVey on tourism, has he made any regional assessment of the number of visitors likely to visit the UK regions as a result of inward tourism for the London Olympics and the jubilee celebrations next year? In particular, has he had any discussion with the Welsh Assembly on how we can attract additional visitors to my area?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Because of the way the 2012 project has been constructed, with the progress of the torch relay across the whole country, including it spending a significant amount of time in Wales, and because of the cultural Olympiad, which is happening across the whole country, we are absolutely determined that next year will be a bumper year for tourism in all parts of the country. We have a big domestic tourism marketing campaign, which is fully supported by Visit Wales, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will encourage businesses in his constituency, which has some particularly beautiful scenery, to take part in that promotion to encourage more people to have a holiday at home next year.

Photo of Neil Carmichael Neil Carmichael Conservative, Stroud

In my constituency, we are busy pioneering the “Stroud Special” train, which is designed to take up the slack on the route from London and to encourage people to come and benefit from Stroud’s hugely impressive environment, pubs and all the rest. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a good initiative, which certainly justifies infrastructure expenditure?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

Of course, we encourage any organisation—any local tourism body—to lay on the kind of facilities and product offerings that my hon. Friend describes. It is absolutely essential that we secure better local marketing and ownership of the local tourism visiting experience, and I am glad to hear that Stroud is leading the way.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Culture and Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution)

The Radio 1 programme “Introducing…in Scotland” has helped launch the careers of fantastic Scottish artists such as Paolo Nutini, Calvin Harris and Frightened Rabbit, yet it is threatened with cancellation. Campaigners are coming to London on Monday to deliver a petition to Radio 1, and the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Mr Vaizey has kindly agreed to meet them, but does he agree that it is exactly the kind of programme that we need in order to introduce new British music talent to the British public?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I very much look forward to meeting the campaigners and to receiving the petition with the hon. Gentleman. Of course, I am a strong supporter of new music on the radio; that is why I campaigned so vigorously in opposition to save Radio 6 Music.

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley

Many constituents have contacted me with their concerns about the increase in spending on the Olympics opening ceremony. Will the Minister take this chance just to explain the extra value that we will receive for that money?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

With pleasure. We expect that 4 billion of the world’s 7 billion people will watch the opening ceremony, which will be the biggest single opportunity in our lifetime to showcase this country, its history, its culture and its tourism to the whole world. I want it to be of great benefit in places such as the Peak district and my hon. Friend’s constituency, and that is why I went to the east midlands and had a very positive session with the local tourism industry on how it can harness the amazing opportunities that we will have next year.

Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Labour, Brent North

When Lord Coe decided that Dow Chemical was a suitable ethical partner for the Olympics, was he aware that earlier this year, in May, it had been blacklisted by the Indian Ministry of Agriculture for five years for bribing officials to get the chemical, Dursban, fast-tracked before the growing season—a chemical that has been banned in the United States for some years because of its health risk to human beings?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

That is a question the hon. Gentleman will have to ask Lord Coe.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Conservative, Pendle

The Olympics are a real opportunity to boost tourism in the UK. Will my right hon. Friend say some more about his plans to spread the benefits of tourism to, in particular, the north-west of England?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

That is why next year we will have the biggest ever marketing campaign to encourage people to take a holiday at home. It is designed to encourage the whole UK not to take for granted what we have on our doorstep. I know that my hon. Friend has great local stories, such as the Pendle witches, which he would like the whole country to find out more about, and next year is the moment to do so.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

What discussions has the Olympics Minister had about the security implications of the cuts to police funding and the changes to control orders, which will allow very dangerous people back into the capital in the months leading up to the games?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

We have had extensive consultations with the Metropolitan police and all the security agencies about security for London 2012. The Metropolitan police assistant commissioner with responsibility for that area, Chris Allison, gave a presentation to the organising committee before the passage of the recent London Olympic and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill, and the Met has raised no such concerns.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Liberal Democrat, Bath

May I thank the ministerial team and the Opposition parties for their support for my Live Music Bill, which passed through its entire Committee stage yesterday? There are, however, fears among some residents associations that it will reduce protections against noise and antisocial behaviour. Will the Minister confirm that that is not the case and that, although we wish to see an explosion of live music in small venues, we want to continue to protect residents who live close to pubs and clubs?

Photo of John Penrose John Penrose Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

May I join everybody in the House in congratulating my right hon. Friend and, indeed, his compatriot Lord Clement-Jones at the other end of the corridor, who have been instrumental in guiding the Bill through both Houses so far? I can reassure him, as he said, that protections for local residents and local residents groups will be maintained as they are.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Labour, Bradford South

If it is right to cut the school sports budget by £162 million, a 60% cut, why is it right to double the budget for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics from £40 million to £80 million?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

In a sense, the hon. Gentleman has answered his own question. The two figures are in no way comparable. The amount of money that goes into school sport—[Interruption.] I have to say to Ms Harman that even she might have worked out that £160 million each year is a great deal more than £40 million once.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey Conservative, Suffolk Coastal

The deadline—[ Interruption.]

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey Conservative, Suffolk Coastal

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Tomorrow is the deadline for schools to register for the Get Set network, part of the Olympic legacy that can cover every school in our land. Will the Minister encourage children, parents and teachers to ensure that their schools are registered and take full advantage of the values and benefits on offer?

Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport and the Olympics)

I most certainly will. More than 20,000 schools up and down the country have now signed up to the Get Set programme, and I absolutely encourage every school across the country to do likewise. It is also great news that another 11,000 schools have signed up to the school games project, and I encourage many more to do that.