Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Media Matters

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The changes proposed by News UK would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor.

Having considered News UK’s application and representations made following an Invitation to Comment issued by DCMS on 17 January, I announced, in a Written Ministerial Statement dated 11 April, that I was minded to accept News UK’s application to vary the 1981 conditions. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I also noted that the existing governance arrangements lacked clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Following discussions between News UK and Officials, News UK submitted revised undertakings which substantially meet my concerns.

On 27 June, as required by legislation, I issued a further consultation notice seeking views on the changes to News UK’s revised undertakings. Two responses were received. Neither response raised any issues that would warrant me seeking further modifications to the Undertakings from News UK. Accordingly, I have today formally decided to accept the new Undertakings and have today issued a Notice of Acceptance. A copy of the Notice of Acceptance with the final signed undertakings and the revised articles of association of Times Newspapers Ltd (TNL) and Times Newspapers Holding Ltd (TNHL) will be published on the Government website. My Department will shortly publish in the Issues Note circulated to News UK prior to the discussions with Officials.

The new undertakings creates an explicit requirement for the CMA and the Secretary of State to monitor the effectiveness of the obligations placed on News UK and the TNHL Independent National Directors (INDs). As part of this, I can confirm that in line with the Government's commitments on the handling of media merger cases, that DCMS will publish a non-confidential version of the reports from the TNHL INDs which have to be submitted to DCMS and the CMA annually.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 18 July 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Equality and listed events

I have written today to the BBC, S4C, Ofcom and The International Paralympic Committee in a limited consultation on adding the Paralympic Games to the Listed Events Regime. I have also copied the letter to Channel 4 who currently hold the broadcasting rights for the next Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020, to other eligible Free To Air broadcasters, and to the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

The Broadcasting Act 1996 gives the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport discretion to designate sporting and other events of national interest as listed events. Once listed, broadcasting rights to such events must be offered to the main free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters (“qualifying broadcasters”) on fair and reasonable terms. Qualifying broadcasters are those which reach 95% coverage of UK viewers and at no additional cost to the viewer than the television licence fee. Broadcasters currently meeting these criteria include BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4.

The current list, compiled in 1998, consists of two categories of events:

  • Group A, in which full live coverage must be offered to the qualifying broadcasters; and

  • Group B, in which live coverage may be broadcast on subscription television as long as secondary coverage is offered to qualifying broadcasters.

Under section 97 of the Broadcasting Act 1996, the Secretary of State is able to amend the list providing that they have consulted with the statutory consultees. In my letter I have asked consultees to consider the following:

  • whether, based on the guidance and criteria given, the Paralympic Games should be added to the list;

  • whether the Paralympic Games should be listed under Group A or Group B of the list;

  • other factors affecting the likely costs and benefits to the sport concerned, to the broadcasting industry and to viewers, as set out in the guidance on the criteria for listing; and

  • any other factors relevant to the final decision.

While the Government does not wish to reopen the list of events for a full review, it is committed to supporting more equality in the coverage of sport on TV, and in particular, disability and women in sport. It is for this reason that I am considering whether to exercise discretion to add the Paralympics to the list, and that I intend on holding a consultation later this year on adding women’s sporting equivalent events to the regime that match the men’s events.

I will inform the House of the outcome once I have discussed fully with statutory consultees.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 18 July 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Update on Ofcom provision of information regulations

I would like to update the House on Ofcom’s statutory duty to share information with Government at least 24 hours before publication, introduced under section 24A of the Communications Act 2003, inserted by the Digital Economy Act 2017. This early access to information from Ofcom is important in supporting the Government’s wider policy responsibilities in safeguarding and improving the delivery of essential communications services on which consumers rely.

To commence the duty I must specify by regulations what categories of information will be exempt from this duty, following consultation with Ofcom. Our consultation with Ofcom has now concluded and I can inform the House of our intention to proceed with the implementation of the duty via a negative Statutory Instrument later in the Autumn.

The categories of information to be listed as exempt in these regulations include broadcasting content standards and broadcasting licensing enforcement. This is to ensure that there can be no accusations or perceptions that the Government has had inappropriate prior knowledge or been involved in these functions. Corporate functions will also be excluded. Other types of information Ofcom proposes to publish, which fall outside of the above exemption regulations, will need to be shared with the Government at least 24 hours before publication by Ofcom once the duty comes into force, unless there are exceptional circumstances or prior agreement is reached.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be agreed between Ofcom, DCMS and BEIS, setting out processes to be followed for the provision of information by Ofcom. This MoU will provide the necessary assurances around who will have access to this information and when, as well as reinforcing the strong procedures government departments already have in place to handle sensitive information. Furthermore, additional arrangements for highly market sensitive information will see that such information only has to be shared once UK markets have closed (which may be less than 24 hours before publication), to provide necessary assurances to the companies Ofcom regulates.

The Government remains fully committed to Ofcom’s independence. This duty to provide information will not influence Ofcom’s investigations or decision making. Safeguards in the legislation legally prohibit representations being made to Ofcom before publication and also restricts with whom Ministers, and officials acting on their behalf, can share information before publication. For transparency, the consultation correspondence between DCMS and Ofcom will be published on GOV.UK.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 18 July 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications, the management of radio spectrum, and postal services

I am today laying before Parliament the Government’s draft Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications, the management of radio spectrum, and postal services.

The statement sets out the Government’s strategic priorities and desired outcomes in a number of areas, including gigabit capable broadband deployment, 5G, spectrum management, the security and resilience of telecoms infrastructure, and furthering the interests of telecoms consumers.

The statement follows a statutory consultation that ran between 15 February and 27 March 2019. This elicited a number of responses from a large and diverse range of respondents, including industry, consumer bodies, local councils, and bodies representing rural interests. This has given the Government a wide variety of views to reflect upon. I would like to thank all respondents for taking the time and effort to respond.

I intend to designate the statement for the purposes of section 2A of the Communications Act 2003 after the end of the statutory “40-day period” (as defined in section 2C of the Act), unless either House of Parliament resolves not to approve it within that period.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 04 July 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Response to Opposition Day Debate: the over-75 licence fee concession

On 8 May 2019, the House debated a motion calling on the Government to guarantee the maintenance of free TV licences for over 75s beyond 2020.

The concession which was debated by the House, was introduced in 2000, and allows every person over the age of 75 in the United Kingdom access to a free TV licence. The concession was funded by the Department for Work and Pensions in full between 2000 and 2017.

In the 2015 funding settlement, the Government agreed with the BBC that government funding for the concession would be phased out between 2018 and 2020, with control of the concession passing to the BBC from June 2020. The Government and the BBC agreed this was a fair deal for the BBC - in return, the Government committed to close the iPlayer loophole and committed to increase the licence fee in line with inflation, among other measures. The Government is clear that the future of the concession from June 2020 is the responsibility of the BBC.

Parliament made this decision and legislated to put it into effect. Transferring responsibility for the concession was debated extensively during the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which was agreed by Parliament.

The BBC announced on 10 June 2019 that from June 2020 only those who are over 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit would continue to receive a free TV licence.

The Government is disappointed that the BBC will not protect free television licences for all viewers aged 75 and over. We recognise that television is a vital link to people of all ages, but particularly so for older people who value television as a way to stay connected with the world. That is why we have guaranteed the over 75 concession until June 2020 and that is why we believe that the BBC can do more to support older people, and why we have asked them to do so.

The debate was an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of the BBC to every licence fee payer in the UK. The BBC is one of the UK’s most treasured institutions and is part of the social and economic fabric of the country. It is a world-class broadcaster and a cultural institution producing some of the best television and radio in the world.




WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 27 June 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Media Matters

Times/Sunday Times application to vary 1981 conditions

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The proposed changes would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor.

Having considered this application [using my quasi judicial power as Secretary of State as set out in the Enterprise Act 2002] alongside the representations made to the Invitation to Comment published on 17 January 2019, I concluded that there had been a material change in circumstances since 1981 that would justify the variation as the effect of the proposed changes did not, in my view, materially impact on the public interest considerations as set out in Section 58 Enterprise Act 2002.

In my Written Statement to the House on 11 April 2019, I announced that I was minded to accept News UK’s application to vary the 1981 undertakings. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I also noted that the existing governance arrangements lacked clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Before agreeing the application, I therefore made clear to News UK that their proposals needed to be suitably updated and enhanced to reflect corporate best practice.

I asked officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to take forward discussions on these issues with News UK in order to consider proposals from News UK which would address my concerns. Following the conclusions of these discussions, News UK have submitted revised undertakings which, in my assessment, represent a sufficient improvement on those contained in the original proposal and which substantially meet my concerns. I therefore propose to accept the revised News UK undertakings.

Before doing so, and in line with the Enterprise Act 2002, I have today published a Consultation Notice on the Government website seeking representations on the proposed undertakings. I have also published the revisions to the Times Newspaper Holdings Limited Articles of Association, which give effect to the agreed changes.

Views are sought on the revised News UK undertakings and the supporting documents by​ 10am ​on ​Monday 15 July 2019​. Responses should be sent to media-mergers@culture.gov.uk​ or to DCMS Media Team, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1 2BQ.

I will consider any representations received on the revised undertakings before this deadline, and will consider whether any further modifications are required in light of them, or if the undertakings are now sufficient. I will keep the House informed of further developments with this matter.

Acquisition of 30% shareholder stake in the Evening Standard.

On 13 June I instructed my officials to write to Lebedev Holdings Limited (LHL) and Independent Digital News and Media Limited (IDNM), the owners of the Evening Standard and the Independent, to inform them that I was ‘minded to’ issue a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN). I can confirm today that I am issuing the PIIN.

This relates to concerns I have that there may be public interest considerations - as set out in section 58 of Enterprise Act 2002 - that are relevant to the recent acquisition of a 30% stake by the International Media Company (IMC) in LHL and the linked transaction involving the acquisition of a 30% stake by Scalable LP in IDNM and that these concerns warrant further investigation.

I invited the Parties to submit representations to me, which they have done. I acknowledge the points they have raised about the structure of the transactions and the turnover of the companies. Nonetheless, I still consider that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a relevant merger situation has been created. I have also noted what they have told me about protections for editorial independence, including the provisions in their Shareholding Agreement. However, I continue to believe that it may be the case that the public interest considerations of freedom of expression and accurate news reporting are relevant to this merger. I thus consider it appropriate for me to intervene in this matter.

At this stage, my decision to issue the PIIN triggers the requirement for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to report to me on jurisdictional and competition matters, and for Ofcom to report on the media public interest considerations in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002: (2A) The need for (a) accurate presentation of news; and (b) free expression of opinion. I have asked both the CMA and Ofcom to report back to me by 23rd August 2019.

My role as the Secretary of State in this process is quasi-judicial and procedures are in place to ensure that I act independently and follow a process which is scrupulously fair, transparent and impartial.

I will update the House once I have received both reports from the regulators and have had time to consider the recommendations.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 13 June 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Media Matters

My Department has today written to Lebedev Holdings Limited (LHL) and Independent Digital News and Media Limited (IDNM), the owners of the Evening Standard and the Independent, to inform them that I am ‘minded to’ issue an Intervention Notice. This relates to concerns I have that there may be public interest considerations - as set out in section 58 of Enterprise Act 2002 - that are relevant to the recent acquisition of a 30% stake by the International Media Company (IMC) in LHL and the linked transaction involving the acquisition of a 30% stake by Scalable LP in IDNM and that these concerns warrant further investigation.

A ‘minded to’ letter has therefore been issued to the parties on one public interest ground specified in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002:

(2A) The need for (a) accurate presentation of news; and (b) free expression of opinion.

It is important to note that I have not taken a final decision on intervention at this stage. In line with the statutory guidance on media mergers, the ‘minded to’ letter invites further representations in writing from the parties and gives them until 5pm on Monday 17 June to respond. I plan to make my final decision, which needs to be made on a quasi judicial basis, on whether to issue an Intervention Notice no later than week commencing 24 June.

If I decide to issue an Intervention Notice, the next stage would be for Ofcom to assess and report to me on the public interest concerns and for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to assess and report to me on whether a relevant merger situation has been created and any impact this may have on competition. Following these reports, I would need to decide whether to refer the matter for a more detailed investigation by the CMA under section 45 of the Enterprise Act 2002.

In view of the time it has taken to obtain sufficient information to reach this point I have asked the parties to agree to extend the statutory time limit to allow Ofcom and the Competitions and Markets Authority to report to me on the public interest issues raised by the transaction.

I will keep Parliament updated on progress with this media merger case.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 21 May 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council

The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (EYCS) Council will take place in Brussels on 22 and 23 May 2019. The UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, Katrina Williams, will represent the UK for the Youth session on 22 May. Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb of the Department for Education will be representing the UK in the Education session. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Lord Ashton, will be representing the UK on 23 May for the Culture/Audio-visual and Sports Sessions.

Youth

This session will begin with the adoption of the Council Conclusions on young people and the future of work. Furthermore, the Council will also seek to adopt a Resolution on the Governance of the EU Youth Dialogue.

Also tabled for this session is a policy debate on young people as agents of democracy in the EU.

Other

There will be information from the European Commission in regards to DiscoverEU and information from the Portuguese Delegation on the World Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth 2019 and Youth Forum Lisboa (22 and 23 June 2019).

Culture/Audio-visual

This meeting will begin with the adoption of the Council Conclusions on young creative generations. In addition, the meeting will also look to adopt Conclusions on co-productions. This shall be followed with a policy debate on ‘from tackling disinformation to rebuilding EU citizens’ trust in the media’.

Other

Information will be provided from the Hungarian Delegation on the nomination of Veszprém for the European Capital of Culture 2023. Moreover, information will also be provided from the Spanish and Portuguese Delegation on celebrating the fifth centenary of the first circumnavigation of the world, led by Fernão de Magalhães and Juan Sebastián Elcano.

Sport

The sport session of EYCS will begin with the adoption of a Resolution on EU Member States’ representation and coordination for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) meeting in Montreal. In addition, there will also be the adoption of the Council Conclusions on access to sport for persons with disabilities.

The session shall then proceed with a policy debate on increasing the participation of children and young people in sport in 21st century Europe.

Other

There will be information from the EU Member States’ representatives in the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation Board on the meeting with the WADA taking place in Montreal on the 14-16th May 2019. There will also be information from the Finnish Presidency on the work programme of the incoming Presidency and information from the Danish Delegation about the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (match fixing) and the ways forward for the EU.

To conclude, there will be information from the Bulgarian, Greek and Romanian Delegations on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia to host either the Euro 2028 championship or the 2030 World Cup.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

The Times/Sunday Times

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The changes proposed by News UK would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor. The application proposed no other changes to the 1981 conditions. As set out in the Invitation to Comment which my department published on 18 January 2019, this was treated as an application by News UK to replace the 1981 conditions with new undertakings in accordance with Schedule 18 to the Communications Act 2003.

I have considered this application in my quasi-judicial role regarding media merger cases. Having considered News UK’s application and the representations made to the Invitation to Comment, I have concluded that there has been a material change in circumstances since 1981 that warrants me considering the application. I have also concluded that the change of circumstances justifies the variation, as the effect of News UK’s proposed changes would not, in my view, materially impact on the public interest considerations contained in Section 58 Enterprise Act 2002.

I am, therefore, minded to accept News UK’s application. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I have noted that the existing governance arrangements - agreed in 1981 - lack clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Before agreeing the application I am therefore of the view that these arrangements need to be suitably updated and enhanced to better reflect current corporate best practice.

I have asked DCMS officials to discuss these issues with News UK and to consider new proposals from News UK to update the proposed undertakings to address my concerns. I will update the House in due course on these discussions. Should News UK be able to offer revised undertakings which meet my concerns, I will, as required in legislation, consult on the final form of the undertakings before deciding whether or not to accept them.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 28 March 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Historic England Tailored Review

I am today announcing the start of a Tailored Review of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (more commonly known as Historic England). As a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), Historic England is required to undergo a tailored review at least once in each Parliament. This is the first review to take place since the organisation was split into two separate, though related, bodies in 2015: an Arm’s Length Body operating under the name Historic England, and a charity called The English Heritage Trust (trading as English Heritage).

The Review will be conducted by my officials and will comprise two stages. The first stage will be a robust challenge to the continuing need for the functions performed by Historic England and, if there is a continuing need, whether some or all of these functions should be delivered by alternative delivery models or continued to be delivered by a NDPB. It will also assess the current model and relationship with the English Heritage Trust to ensure it remains fit for purpose. This will include assessing the robustness and long term sustainability of the current financial and governance arrangements following the split of English Heritage from Historic England in 2015.

If the review finds that the functions should continue to be delivered by a NDPB, the second stage will review the structure, efficiency and effectiveness of Historic England. It will also consider the organisational control and governance arrangements in place to ensure that they are compliant with the recognised principles of good corporate governance and delivery of good value for money.

The findings of the Review will be examined by a Challenge Panel, chaired by a DCMS Non-Executive Director, which will rigorously and robustly test and challenge the assumptions and conclusions of the Review.

In conducting the review, officials will engage with a broad range of stakeholders across the UK from heritage, culture, planning and development sectors as well as a selection of local government authorities.

The review will follow guidance published in 2016 by the Cabinet Office: ‘Tailored reviews: guidance on reviews of public bodies’. The Terms of Reference for the review and a survey seeking evidence about HE can be found on the DCMS website at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tailored-review-of-historic-england

I will inform the House of the outcome of the Review when it is completed and copies of the report of the Review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 21 January 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

The Times/The Sunday Times: proposed undertakings submitted by News UK to vary the 1981 conditions

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to DCMS requesting that the Secretary of State accept proposed undertakings in place of undertakings that were put in place by the then Secretary of State for Trade (the Rt Hon. John Biffin) in 1981.

The proposed new undertakings seek to vary the sections of the 1981 conditions which require that ultimate control over the resources, including journalists, available to each newspaper are kept separately with the editor of each newspaper. The main variation proposed by News UK is to set out explicitly in paragraph 5 of the proposed undertakings that “The newspapers may share services and resources, including journalists, to such extent as the editors agree.”

News UK have submitted that the changes would permit a greater sharing of resources and services, including journalists, between The Times and The Sunday Times and that such sharing is a necessary step to mitigate the financial challenges that the two titles will face in the future.

I am placing in the House today a copy of the application we received from News UK along with details on how to comment on the application. The deadline for comments is 5pm on Monday 11 February. This application will be considered in a quasi judicial manner through a fair and transparent process.

If, after considering the responses, my decision is to accept the new undertakings, there will be a further consultation on the terms of the new undertakings as required by the legislation.

Times undertaking (PDF Document, 670.45 KB)
ITC final version (PDF Document, 108.56 KB)
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 14 November 2018
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

DCMS Policy Update

The Government is today announcing that the implementation of changes to reduce the stakes of B2 Gaming Machines from £100 to £2 will take place in April 2019. This will be done through a Statutory Instrument, laid before the House this week.

Following the consultation on Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility measures, the Government decided to cut the maximum stake for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2 to help stop extreme losses by those who can least afford it and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

After a thorough consultation with interested parties, including charities, campaigners and the gambling industry, across government we reached a decision to make this significant change in October 2019.

The Government has been clear that protecting vulnerable people is the prime concern, but that as a responsible government it is also right to take the needs of those employed by the gambling industry into account and provide time for an orderly transition.

Parliament has, however, been clear that they want this change to be made sooner. The Government has listened and will now implement the reduction in April 2019.

In order to cover the negative impact on the public finances, and to protect vital public services, this change is being linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, paid by online gaming operators. The Finance Bill will also be amended so that the increase to Remote Gaming Duty comes into effect in April 2019.

The Government will expect the gambling industry to work with it to reduce the effect of any impact on jobs and to support employees that may be affected by this expedited timeline. The cross-government group that has been set up is ready to assist.

Finally, the Government will continue to take action to protect vulnerable people, including strengthening protections around gaming machines, online gambling, gambling advertising and treatment for problem gambling.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1053
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 06 September 2018
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Appointments

I am today laying two statements before Parliament to fulfil my statutory duty under paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 and paragraph 5(2) of the Schedule to the British Library Act 1972.

I am the appointing authority for twenty three current board members for the British Library Board, the British Tourism Authority Board (VisitBritain) and the English Tourist Board (VisitEngland). The legislation for these bodies determines that statements should be laid before Parliament for all board appointments and sums payable for these appointments as soon as possible after the first appointment is made.

As a consequence of an historic oversight this statutory duty has not been fulfilled for sixteen of these appointments. These statements are now being laid to correct this error.

The Department accepts full responsibility and apologises to the House and I have taken action to ensure my Department fulfills the statutory duty for all future appointments to these boards.

British Library Appointments (PDF Document, 344.7 KB)
BTA Appointments (PDF Document, 342.44 KB)
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 19 July 2018
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Contingent liability

A minute has been laid before Parliament regarding the live broadcast of the England men’s team Semi-Final match at the 2018 Football World Cup in Hyde Park on the 11th July, and specifically in relation to incurring a contingent liability.

The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) directed the Royal Parks (TRP) to host an event which showed the live broadcast of the England men’s team Semi-Final match at the 2018 Football World Cup on large television screens in Hyde Park on 11th July. The Department provided an indemnity agreement to the TRP; in order to meet the short timescale to organise this event, it was necessary to give commitments in relation to such liabilities urgently.

DCMS agreed to indemnify TRP for net costs and there is an agreement regarding any such indemnity costs between DCMS and the Greater London Authority and the Football Association.

The Treasury approved the proposal in principle. Authority for any expenditure required under the liability will be sought through the normal Supply procedure. A full departmental Minute has been laid providing more detail on this contingent liability as provided to TRP on the 8th July.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 12 July 2018
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Media Matters

Having taken over as the Secretary of State with responsibility for media public interest cases I have reviewed the process regarding the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox (21CF) and Sky Plc (Sky). I am content that DCMS and the relevant parties have ensured a scrupulously clear, fair and transparent process and I can now therefore inform the House of the final decisions made by my predecessor as Secretary of State. These decisions were made in a quasi-judicial capacity.

On 5 June the previous Secretary of State made a statement to the House in which he set out his decision in relation to the proposed merger.

He announced that having considered the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) report, he agreed with their findings on the public interest grounds and their finding that undertakings to divest Sky News to The Walt Disney Company (Disney) or to an alternative suitable buyer could potentially remedy the public interest concerns identified.

Following the completion of discussions with the parties, on 19 June he published a consultation on the undertakings offered by 21CF along with new undertakings offered by Disney for the divestment of Sky News to Disney and several associated documents.

We received five responses to the consultation, which closed on 4 July. These responses will be published today on the DCMS website, along with the government’s response to the consultation.

Having considered the responses to the consultation, the previous Secretary of State agreed with the parties a clarificatory change to Disney’s undertakings and changes to the associated brand licensing agreement. In response to specific concerns raised by respondents, he also agreed that where appropriate the Secretary of State will consult with the CMA in relation to these undertakings and will publish the formal written advice given by the CMA. I am content to confirm this position.

The final version of the undertakings have been published along with the other relevant documents on the DCMS website.

The publication of the undertakings marks the final stage of the public interest consideration of this case. It is right that Ofcom, the CMA and my Department have taken such care in ensuring the bid is properly and effectively scrutinised. It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21CF’s bid.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 10 July 2018
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Media Matters

This WMS is to update the House on the process and timings regarding the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox (21CF) and Sky Plc (Sky).

On 5 June the previous Secretary of State made a statement to the House in which he set out his decision in relation to the proposed merger. He announced that having considered the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) report, he agreed with their findings on the public interest grounds and their finding that undertakings to divest Sky News to The Walt Disney Company (Disney) or to an alternative suitable buyer could potentially remedy the public interest concerns identified. Following the completion of discussions with the parties, on 19 June he published a consultation on the undertakings offered by 21CF along with new undertakings offered by Disney for the divestment of Sky News to Disney and the relevant subsidiary agreements. We received five responses to the consultation which closed on 4 July.

Having taken over as the Secretary of State with responsibility for media public interest cases I intend to keep to the timetable of informing the House this week of the final decisions and publishing all the relevant documents. I will do this by Thursday 12 July.

WS
Attorney General
Made on: 04 June 2018
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Attorney General)
Commons

Law Officers' Department update

Serious Fraud Office (Appointment of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office)

I am today announcing the appointment of Lisa Osofsky as the next Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1987, I appoint a person to be the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, who shall discharge their functions under my superintendence. The Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary have been notified of this appointment.

This appointment has been conducted in line with Civil Service guidance and the process has been overseen by a Civil Service Commissioner.

WS
Attorney General
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Attorney General)
Commons

Protection for victims of sexual offences in court

The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are supported throughout the criminal justice system. This is particularly so for victims of sexual violence: a devastating and traumatic crime.

Sections 41 to 43 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 Act came into force in 2000 and provide critical protection for complainants in sex offence cases by tightly restricting the circumstances in which the defence can introduce evidence relating to the complainant’s sexual history.

There is a general prohibition on the use of sexual history evidence by the defence in sex offence trials. There are very limited circumstances in which the law allows such evidence to be introduced, but crucially section 41 prevents the use of sexual history by the defence to discredit the complainant. The defence must make an application to the court to introduce evidence or questions of a complainant’s sexual history, which is then decided upon by the judge in that case.

The Government wants to be sure that the law is working as it should, and strikes the right balance between protecting complainants and ensuring the defendant’s right to a fair trial. That is why we have undertaken a study to look at how the law in this area is working in practice.

Earlier this year, the then Lord Chancellor and I asked the Crown Prosecution Service to undertake an analysis of rape cases finalised in 2016 to determine the frequency and outcome of applications, under section 41.

This study looked at 309 such cases and found that in 92% of them – the overwhelming majority – no evidence of the complainant’s sexual history was introduced by the defence. Additionally, applications to introduce such evidence were only made in 13% of these cases. These findings strongly indicate that the law is working as it should, and strikes a careful balance between the need to protect complainants and ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial, consistent with the common law and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Whilst this is reassuring, we want to do more to provide vulnerable victims – and the public at large – with complete confidence in our criminal justice system. The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are treated with dignity and fairness in court. We are therefore taking additional steps to ensure the law continues to function effectively. These steps include the launch of new mandatory CPS prosecutor training and updated legal guidance; discussing with representatives of the Bar and solicitors the opportunity to improve training for criminal practitioners on section 41; a review by the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee of their rules in this area; and improved data collection.

Throughout this study we have listened to the views of victims’ groups and stakeholders, and engaged with them on raising awareness of section 41 and ensuring its effective operation. We will continue to engage with them on this issue.

Further details of the study are set out in a report that accompanies this statement. The measures we are taking are in addition to our wider work to support victims and witnesses in sexual offences cases. This wider work includes the roll-out of pre-recorded cross-examination for vulnerable witnesses in sexual offence cases, the introduction of new guidance for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, and our commitment to publish a victims’ strategy in early 2018. The Government has also committed to publish a draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and provide an additional £20 million to provide support to victims and to organisations combatting domestic abuse.

Copies of the report have been laid before both Houses and the full report is available here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/limiting-the-use-of-complainants-sexual-history-in-sexual-offence-cases

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS343
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