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Licensing Act

5. Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): How many representations she has received on the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on fundraising events for charities. [131508]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Shaun Woodward): We have received a wide range of representations from community groups and not-for-profit organisations about the costs and processes involved in licensing events under the Licensing Act 2003 and we will continue our dialogue with those organisations to evaluate the effect of the Act.

Mr. Hollobone: My constituent Mr. John Sutton, who is chairman of the county fair committee of the rotary club of Kettering Huxloe, has written to me to express his understandable concerns about the cost—and the financial and other regulatory burdens on exclusively charitable events—of the new premises and entertainment licences. What firm plans does the Minister have to bring forward legislation to exempt charities from the new burdens that he has imposed?

Mr. Woodward: As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are currently considering some of the proposals in Sir Les Elton’s report and will subsequently put those out for public consultation. The purpose of the 2003 Act was to introduce a streamlined system. It included charitable events for one simple reason: we had to make a proper assessment, regardless of whether the event was for charity, to make sure that appropriate conditions were attached to licences, to protect to the public. His constituent, Mr. John Sutton, acknowledged the fact that a charge would have to be paid. That does
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not mean that Daventry council could not make a contribution to that. As Mr. Sutton said,

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): In looking at the impact of legislation on charities, will the Minister also consider, in relation to charitable events that use microphones, the impact of the review of how the spectrum is going to be dealt with? As I understand it, there has been a further section of Ofcom’s review. Will he make sure that charitable fundraising events can continue without limitations on their use of the spectrum?

Mr. Woodward: My hon. Friend makes an important point. I reassure her and other hon. Members that we are in dialogue with Ofcom about this matter and that we are in constant contact with organisations that will be affected to ensure that in the future the spectrum is allocated effectively, not adversely—which is what she is concerned about.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): The Minister may be aware that my constituency is rural and semi-rural. There are 32 villages. Most have their own halls. Most of those are charities. None has a record of disorderly behaviour at any of its functions. The halls are run for charity and they—particularly the little halls—have been severely hit by the legislation. In his review, will he consider taking some of this heavy-handed legislation off those little village halls, perhaps starting with a de minimis level below which the legislation need not apply?

Mr. Woodward: I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman makes. I wish to point out that 91 per cent. of village halls have a premises licence, which allows all kinds of regulated entertainment to take place. The purpose of the new legislation was to introduce a light-touch regime, bearing in mind that previously an appearance before a magistrate was required or there was a need to apply for different temporary provisions when offering a combination of entertainment. None the less, his point is well made and we are considering proposals for the future.

Film Industry

6. Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): When she last met representatives of the British film industry to discuss public support for the sector. [131510]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I frequently meet representatives of the film industry and regularly consult a wide-range of representatives. Most recently, at the end of March, I consulted the International Indian Film Academy in relation to the promotion of Yorkshire’s successful bid—I add my congratulations in relation to that—to host this year’s Indian academy awards.

Miss McIntosh: Although there have been some notable successes—in particular the film “The Queen”, which was recognised in the Oscars this year; we recognise that that was funded in large part by organisations such as ITV—the film industry operates
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internationally in a highly competitive environment. What are the Minister and his Department doing to ensure that British films will continue to be made in this country, not overseas, where it is frequently cheaper to make them?

Mr. Woodward: I wonder whether the hon. Lady has had a chance to look at the figures for the film industry recently. She would see that—if we simply take last year alone—between 2005-06 and last year, the spend on film production in the UK was up by 50 per cent., and that inward investment last year in the film industry by companies that want to come to Britain to make their films was up by 83 per cent.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): An important, but often forgotten, part of the film industry are the regional film archives. I went to visit the Yorkshire Film Archive over Easter. Will the Minister tell us what support is being given to film archives, and will he consider visiting the Yorkshire Film Archive to see the important work that it does?

Mr. Woodward: Of course the film archive in the UK is an absolutely essential part of the UK film industry. In fact, we have the largest archive of moving film image in the world. This year, the UK Film Council will make £472,000 available to Screen Yorkshire for its work, and I understand that £45,000 of that will be given to the Yorkshire Film Archive.

Mr. Edward Vaizey (Wantage) (Con): The Minister paints a rosy picture of the state of the British film industry, but he knows full well that that success comes despite, not because of, the Government. After the frequent changes to film tax relief, not to mention the fiasco of the British film test, one director was moved to complain that the Government change the rules “frequently and arbitrarily”. Now, the abolition of sideways loss relief has led a leading film investor—

Mr. Speaker: Order. We need to hear a question.

Mr. Vaizey: Will the Minister make representations to the Treasury about the abolition of sideways loss relief, which a leading film investor has said will put the British film industry seriously at risk?

Mr. Woodward: It is a real shame that every time the hon. Gentleman speaks at the Dispatch Box, he talks down the successes of the film industry, which is one of the great successes of our creative industries. It is estimated that the film tax relief scheme introduced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will cost the Treasury £120 million a year to ensure that we have a sustainable film industry. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should stop talking down the industry and recognise its terrific successes.

Digital Dividend Review

7. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): When she plans to discuss with Ofcom the outcome of the consultation on the digital dividend review. [131511]

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The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): Ofcom plans to release a statement on the consultation on the digital dividend review this summer. Before then, I will have full discussions with Ofcom about the findings of the consultation.

David Taylor: The Secretary of State will know of widespread concerns about the possibly unintended consequences of the DDR on the programme making and special events sector, which are highlighted by early-day motion 531, which has been signed by many hon. Members, including me. Will she reassure the House that Ofcom will guarantee that sufficient quality and quantity of spectrum will be available to prevent serious damage to this wide-ranging, £15 billion UK industry, which covers, inter alia, performing arts, news gathering and many major sporting occasions?

Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for that. I know that the matter is of great concern to him—he has taken a leading role—and to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. There are two elements: the impact on what are essentially amateur events, such as community festivals; and the possible impact on professional theatre and other forms of entertainment. Ofcom has recognised the specific concern about the perceived—I believe that it is unfounded—threat to professional entertainment. It will carry out a separate consultation specifically on that to ensure that any unintended consequences are avoided.

The Government are determined to avoid the risks that early-day motions and other interventions have outlined. Obviously, Ofcom’s responsibility is to consider the market price that can be raised for spectrum. However, it was specifically put in the legislation that Ofcom would have to take account of the citizenship impact of any such decision. This is a good example of citizenship in practice.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Perhaps the Secretary of State could use the microphone. It is not necessary to address individual hon. Members; perhaps addressing the Chair is the best way to do things.

Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): I was fascinated by the Secretary of State’s reply. I assure her that the threats from the original proposals set out by Ofcom in its consultation document were not widely perceived, but very well founded. I am grateful to the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Woodward), for agreeing to meet a delegation of users—including those involved in the theatre industry, the film industry, the music industry, news gathering, sports, and special events such as Live Earth—to discuss in detail the consequences for the sector. Does the Secretary of State realise that if the original proposals are not amended, the effective loss of radio microphones will have a devastating impact?

Tessa Jowell: We absolutely recognise that. It is why we shall not allow the review to have an impact on the sort of community events that I described, or on the professional theatre and other professional entertainment.

Mr. John Grogan (Selby) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend concerned about one aspect of the digital dividend review? Freeview is now the most popular
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digital television platform and millions of people are being sold HD-ready television sets, but there is a real prospect that, unless something is done, most British viewers will not be able to watch the 2012 Olympics on high-definition television, whereas most viewers in the rest of the developed world will be able to do so.

Tessa Jowell: That is precisely why the review is so important and timely. My hon. Friend will know that 70 per cent. of the potentially available spectrum has been allocated to freeview to enable the roll-out of digital television. The further availability of spectrum for high-definition television is a matter for discussion with the public service broadcasters, but technology and consumer expectations are moving fast and we have to make sure that we keep up with them.

Footballers’ Behaviour

8. Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) (Lab): If she will convene a meeting of football club chairmen to discuss the on-pitch behaviour of footballers and the example set for young sports participants. [131512]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): First, I thank my hon. Friend for again raising this important matter, which we debated in Westminster Hall only a few months ago.

We can rightly be proud of professional football in this country. The premiership is now undoubtedly the best and most competitive football league in the world. That was underlined last week when Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool qualified for the champions league semi-finals. However, football players, who are idols and role models to millions of young boys and girls must understand the responsibility of the privileged position they hold. I have written to the chairmen of the professional clubs a couple of times now to make sure that they remind their players—and, indeed, their managers—of the fact that they have all signed up to the fair play charter, and of their responsibilities as role models in our society.

Mr. Allen: The Minister will know that the values that sport promotes—leadership, teamwork and fair play—are nowhere more important than in under- educated and poor constituencies, where there is often no male role model in the house and where parents and teachers struggle to communicate those values to children. Does he accept that the impact of the antics—cheating, cynical fouling and a lack of sportsmanship—that we see sometimes from a minority of professional footballers, who are role models for those youngsters, runs exactly counter to the efforts that parents and teachers are making? Will my right hon. Friend ensure that professional footballers, managers and chairs live up to their social as well as their sporting responsibilities?

Mr. Caborn: I fully agree. We should remember that there are 40,000 amateur football clubs in this country—football is by far the most widely played sport. We should emphasise respect for referees from players on the local parks right up to the national stadiums. Many of us are fed up with the growing sport of referee bashing played by some managers, who spend most of the post-match interview defending the
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indefensible actions of their players. Managers should set a better example by accepting their team’s responsibility rather than berating referees, who do a pretty tough job, by and large, in a very fair way. I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend.

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): To continue the theme of the Minister in acknowledging that the on-pitch behaviour of some players is the responsibility of managers, does he agree that boards of directors and the parasitic behaviour of some agents and others in the game are also involved? Obviously, I exclude Colchester United from those observations. Does he agree that, notwithstanding the elite performance of some premiership clubs, the state of football in this country all the way down to the grass roots is such that it is time we set up a royal commission on the national sport?

Mr. Caborn: I do not think that we need a royal commission; we just need some common sense in the game. In rugby union, rugby league and cricket, do we get the professional players or the managers arguing about the officials in those sports? No, we do not. I thought that it was time to write to the chairmen—the chairpersons, I should say, because I think that there was one lady among them. [Interruption.] If they were all chairmen, I would call them chairmen. On the very point raised by the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell), I raised with the managers the issue of bringing back that type of discipline. Without mentioning one or two clubs in the premier league, there are some—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I am the referee here, and I call the next Member.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley) (Lab): A recent report told us that schoolgirls as young as nine or 10 have given up all playground activity, including football and other games. We are not sure whether that is because of role models and the behaviour that has been mentioned by hon. Members, but the lack of physical activity undertaken by girls of that age should concern us all. Will my right hon. Friend take up the lack of activity at school among girls as young as nine and 10, and see what can be done to increase their activity in games at school?

Mr. Caborn: Very much so. More competitive sport is being played in school than has been played for many years, and football has a role in that. After “Bend It Like Beckham”, in excess of 1 million young girls and women have registered with the Football Association, and football is the fastest growing participation sport for young women, so in that respect it has done a first-class job. I repeat that there is more competitive sport in schools than there has been for many years.

Urban Regeneration

9. Sarah McCarthy-Fry (Portsmouth, North) (Lab/Co-op): What recent assessment she has made of the role of culture in urban regeneration. [131513]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): The role of culture in regeneration has recently been strengthened by a joint agreement signed by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the
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Department for Communities and Local Government and a number of non-departmental public bodies.

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: During the Easter recess I visited Dot To Dot, a community arts project in my constituency. It has a good record of involving the community in its projects. A lot of its work is done with mosaics; it gets people from the community to put the tiles together, and it has found that when the mosaics are put up, there is a significant reduction in vandalism and graffiti. Does my hon. Friend agree that, when there is community ownership of that kind, we get the best out of cultural projects in urban regeneration?

Mr. Lammy: My hon. Friend’s constituency has some real deprivation and culture is making a positive contribution, particularly at the Making Space centre in Leigh Park in Havant. We have moved forward from the days when culture was not on the table when planning and housing developments were under way. I look forward to visiting her constituency over the coming months to see what is happening there.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich) (Lab): We are blessed in Crewe with a live theatre housed in an Edwardian gem. Does the Minister agree that what we really need is a little flair in connecting the theatres and the arts movement in the north-west, so that we can get some of the benefits of having so many bright people in the region, and can use them outside the large urban areas?

Mr. Lammy: My hon. Friend will know that there has been an increase in funding to the arts of 73 per cent., and the lion’s share of that funding from the Arts Council has gone on theatre. I am happy to look into the theatre infrastructure in her area and into the wider arts community to see what more can be done with the Arts Council.

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