Margot James: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon. I congratulate the hon. Member for Keighley (John Grogan) on securing the debate and his incredible expertise on the subject. I listened to his speech with great interest. It is a pleasure to talk about this subject on such a day, following England’s incredible win at the weekend, and we will all want to wish the team a lot...
Margot James: The live music industry is a vital part of the UK’s economy, contributing £1 billion annually. We have announced that the agent of change principle will now be included in the national planning policy framework, helping to protect music venues when new housing is built. We will continue working across Government, and with the industry and the Musicians Union, on a range of measures...
Margot James: The hon. Lady mentions business rates. A £300 million rate relief fund is available to councils to provide flexible support to businesses, including music venues, which I accept cannot hike prices in order to protect themselves. I would draw her attention to successful small venues, such as Base Studios in Stourbridge, which has adopted a very entrepreneurial route and is thriving.
Margot James: I assure my right hon. Friend that the Government are making progress. We have reformed the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to give more protection to consumers when they are purchasing from secondary ticketing sites. We have also brought in ban the bots legislation so that it is now illegal to use electronic means to secure more tickets that the number the original organisers state as a maximum.
Margot James: I am a great admirer of the Ricoh stadium, although I am not sure it would qualify as a small music venue. Coventry benefits, of course, from being the city of culture in 2022, and I am sure that that will galvanise a huge amount of effort in support of what the hon. Gentleman requires.
Margot James: The UK has a world-class ecosystem for AI, and the Government are determined to maintain our position at the forefront of those technologies. That is why we published a sector deal in April, bringing together Government, industry and academia to provide almost £1 billion of investment to support growth in that sector.
Margot James: I congratulate my hon. Friend on all his work in this area. We have a full agenda following the publication of the sector deal, which will ensure that the benefits of AI are effected across the country. Tech Nation now has an AI programme that will support ecosystems across the country.
Margot James: I very much share the right hon. Gentleman’s concerns. We must encourage girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths, not just computer science, and programmes have been designed to do just that. We have made progress by making computer science mandatory in schools, which is a good first step. I am sure we will build on that, and recover the lost students at GSCE level to...
Margot James: We are clear on the continued need to improve broadband and mobile connectivity in rural areas. Broadband UK’s superfast programme has achieved 95% coverage, and continues to connect more rural premises. The broadband universal service obligation, implemented by 2020, will ensure that rural areas are not left behind.
Margot James: We have an agreement with the Home Builders Federation that all new developments by members of that organisation will deliver full broadband to the premises as those developments progress. I regularly meet a barrier-busting taskforce to consider how we can build on that voluntary agreement—not all builders are members of the federation—so that all residents of new-build...
Margot James: The valleys in south Wales, like the great rural areas of Scotland, present challenges, but challenges that will be overcome. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that they are an absolute priority.
Margot James: I certainly will look at the issues my hon. Friend raises. I am very aware of these notspots. We are working constantly with Broadband UK and mobile operators to close them in the shortest possible time.
Margot James: If we take coverage from at least one provider, we see that 50% of Scotland now has mobile coverage. I accept that that is obviously not enough, but that does provide coverage for indoor voice for at least 90% of Scottish premises. However, we still have a great deal more to do.
Margot James: We will certainly review the white space option. Fixed wireless solutions are already widely available in those hard-to-reach areas, but the universal service obligation will deliver high-speed broadband connectivity through wired or wireless technologies.
Margot James: The Government want all of the UK to benefit from 5G, and the future telecoms infrastructure review will create the right policy and regulatory environment to support this aim. After these questions, I will be visiting one of the 5G test bed pilots that is already up and running in Guildford, so I can assure my hon. Friend that across the whole UK, towns as well as cities will benefit from...
Margot James: I look forward to hearing more about that excellent venture. I recently met the hon. Lady at an excellent meeting with the Musicians’ Union, and I admire her passion and share it.
Margot James: I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon) on securing this debate, which is timely given the start of the summer sporting season with many events to which fans will want fair access. It has become ever more difficult to buy tickets at face value with powerful new technologies being deployed against the interests of consumers. However, as my hon. Friend...
Margot James: The Government are committed to making the UK the safest place to be online. Ministers and officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have had meetings with a range of social media companies to discuss abuse, including misogynistic abuse, on online platforms as part of our consultation on internet safety, to which we will respond imminently.
Margot James: I very much share the hon. Lady’s strong opinions, which are based on the facts: girls are intimidated and bullied disproportionately online, for all the reasons she sets out. I urge her to wait a very short time for our response to the internet safety consultation, which I trust will be robust.
Margot James: indicated assent. The House forthwith resolved itself into the Legislative Grand Committee (England and Wales) ( Standing Order No. 83M). [Dame Rosie Winterton in the Chair]