Channel 4 Relocation — [Sir Graham Brady in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 10th May 2018.

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Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Culture and Media) 4:00 pm, 10th May 2018

Anything that can speed up journey times to Glasgow has a beneficial effect for the whole of the United Kingdom. I am certain that Glasgow City Council would make the transition for Channel 4 as painless as it could possibly be for the company, its employees and their families—more painless than Phil and Kirstie could ever do. We have heard welcome contributions from the hon. Members for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden), for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman), for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty), for Batley and Spen (Tracy Brabin), for Keighley (John Grogan)—the Mayor of Sheffield just learned the old adage that the opposition may be in front of you, but you your enemies are most certainly behind you—for Glasgow North East and for York Central (Rachael Maskell). I imagine that if some enterprising producer is watching this debate, there is a fantastic new Phil and Kirstie series to be made, based on that list of people trying to get relocation, relocation, relocation to their town or city.

For me, the most important contributions have come from my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow Central and for Glasgow South. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central was absolutely right when she said that Glasgow is indeed “pure gallus”. I believe it is that gallusness that sets it apart from any other bid. She was right to highlight the welcoming nature and cultural diversity of Glasgow. As the mover of the motion, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow South, said, we have Chinese, Pakistani, Indian and Caribbean communities, as well as an array of African communities and a multitude of our highly valued EU citizens, including—I just found this out today—our Lord Provost, who is Swedish-born. Glasgow has always had worldwide appeal, and that is reflected in the cultural diversity of our city. It is a major attraction to a broadcaster such as Channel 4.

In conclusion, I thank my hon. Friend for securing this debate and I thank all who took part. It has been well informed and hugely entertaining, a bit like “Channel 4 News”. As my SNP colleagues have said, we very much welcome Channel 4’s decision to move its national headquarters out of London. It is something that I have wanted to happen for a long time, both in my career as a television producer and latterly as a politician. Indeed, I raised the matter with David Abraham, the Channel 4 CEO, at his final appearance before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee last year. I spoke of the frustration that producers felt about having to come to London from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the north-west of England or wherever to pitch an idea to a London-based commissioner, who they just knew did not quite get it because he or she did not live in the same world. To move out of London can only be a good thing for Channel 4, for creative sectors across the UK and for those communities whose voices and stories are rarely heard.

Whichever city Channel 4 decides to move to, I guarantee that it will find no warmer welcome and no greater support from local and national Governments than it will receive in Glasgow, and it will not meet a more creative and multicultural community ready to make an outstanding success of the move than that of Glasgow.