13/01/2017 House of Commons


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 13/01/2017. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Order, order. We will come to points of order if that is what it is, in a


moment. Recitation of Bill. Secretary of State for Communities


and Local Government. Local Government Finance Bill. Second


reading what day? Tomorrow. Thank you. I beg that this House do now


sit in Private. The question is that the House and sit in Private? I


think the noes have it. The noes have it. The Clerk will now proceed


to read the orders of the day. Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex


Services) Bill, second reading. I beg to move that the Broadcasting


(Radio Multiplex Services) Bill be now read a second time. Mr Speaker,


it is a pressured -- a pleasure to bring this bill to the floor of the


House today in what I hope will be a constructive, interesting,


informative and perhaps even entertaining debate. In starting,


can I thank the clerks in the public builds office, my own staff and the


radio team at the Department for the, media and sport in putting this


bill together. It has to be said that it's somewhat interesting that


we are here on Friday the 13th to discuss this. Some people say it's a


day that is unlucky for some and I hope it will be a lucky day for this


bill given some of the issues we sometimes have on Friday with Bill


is managing to make progress. On the course -- in the course of my own


remarks, I intend to explain some of the details in the bill and how I


think they will bring legislation which will bring benefits not just


to listeners of DAV radio but two other creative and media industries


as well as giving community radio stations a chance to go digital.


Plus a chance to create diversity and media that doesn't currently


exist. It's also worth being clear that this bill relates to the whole


of the United Kingdom, given that broadcasting is a matter that is not


devolved, so slightly disappointing tonight that members who are


normally keen to make points about bills which do not relate to


Scotland on Friday are not here for a bill which directly does relate to


them, particularly parts of rural Scotland which could allow them to


develop services which do not currently exist or to give a real


community feel. This is a bill for all corners of the United Kingdom,


that they could all benefit from. The first point to consider, of


course, is whether it is needed at all. I know the honourable member


for Bury North who is in his place is one member who regularly and


rightly raises this in relation to bills being put forward in this


House, actually, what is this about? What will it achieve? What will it


do? Passing pieces of legislation is not just for academic debate. What


benefit will it bring and why should we look to bring it forward? I


suppose the first part to explain this what actually is a multiplex? I


expect many people when they saw this on the order paper read it and


thought, what is that about? What is a multiplex? As the House of Commons


library briefing note handily explained in non-technical jargon,


and it's possible to get extremely technical in some of the


descriptions, ADA be multiplex can be broadcast on multiple platforms


using the same platform. Analogue transmissions are broadcast on


individual frequencies and neighbouring transmitters cannot use


the same transmitters as each other, so many of us will be able to think


of a local radio station that advertises itself as 94 point


whatever FM, because I'm analogue it's important you know the


frequency. On digital... In a moment I will give way. Whereas digital is


broadcast by the name of the station because it is effectively on the


same frequency wherever you are. I will happily give way to my


honourable friend. Can I thank very much my honourable friend for giving


way. Forgive me, but I am not a particularly clever man, so I find


it difficult to understand the technical side of this. Could you


remind me, is F M part of that analogue or is that digital? I thank


the honourable member for his intervention. F M is an analogue


intervention and I will go into this more in a bit, as that is where most


community stations currently are, whereas DAB, you tune in by the name


of the station. You don't search for a frequency, you search for a


station name. We could even have a chance for hedgehog DAB community


sound if there were more opportunities for digital radio. A


local station dedicated to promoting the benefits of the hedgehog as our


national animal, I know a matter the honourable member takes very


seriously. Many of us would probably listen to digital radio already and


think, how does this bill fit in? What is the purpose of this bill in


terms of a multiplex on a small scale? At the moment on digital


radio, there are three national multiplexes that currently broadcast


between ten and 19 stations each. These are probably the most popular


stations. I went give them any promotion they really don't need.


But they are the ones that you can hear in virtually every part of the


United Kingdom and they cover about 97% of the UK population. They can


receive one of the three national multiplexes. The latest figures are


about 97% of the UK population can receive one of those three national


multiplexes. There are then 58 local commercial DAV multiplexes covering


county sized areas. Each broadcast commercial radio stations as well as


the local BBC radio station for the area and from figures from the House


of Commons library, over 90% of the UK population should be covered by


one of these, so, for example, in my own area, I can receive BBC radio


Devon through the local multiplex and also some of the commercial


services that currently operate on DAB. Yet when we read that


description, we instantly realise that there is a real gap in what


most people recognise as the third layer of radio, namely community


radio. We have national radio, regional and then we have the very


small-scale community radio stations that many people know and love.


Certainly. I am grateful to my honourable friend for giving way.


Does he agree with me that when we are talking of these layers of


radio, community is the one that we often forget about. We hear the big


names in radio but the reach of community radio has such impact? I


thank the Member for Brownhills for that interesting and pointed


intervention. We could think of community radio that becomes famous


across the country, because it does reflect very much the community that


is being broadcast. We will see later Aric samples of particular


places where there are communities with different language services


which would not necessarily appeal across the UK, but in a particular


area, it speaks to a need that people want to hear. When we see an


explosion in opportunities on the Internet, it seems strange that at


the moment we are very restricted in what we can get onto radio and even


the bizarre situation where actually we can get far more TV stations are


many areas broadcast free to air that we can radio stations. A


contrasting situation that most of us will remember 20 or 25 years ago,


when we only had the main analogue TV stations, but radio had started


to expand. This bill looks to expand that type of choice. You can get


more formal things from more community. It will mean something to


you but not necessarily appeal to the whole area of a region. As


touched on... Thank you, Mr Speaker and my honourable friend for giving


way. After his clear explanation of the difference between these


different F M and digital and analogue services, would my


honourable friend agree that in rural areas like mine, that's where


community radio stations can really come into their own because often


they can't link into the transmitters and the sparse


populations, those areas are where small community radio stations can


serve a very important purpose? I thank the honourable member for her


intervention and absolutely agree with that. One of the issues at the


moment is that a community radio station radio station looking to


sever very small community that might be viable fire FM finds the


jump to DAB virtually impossible because of the revenue they have do


produce. To build the infrastructure, that has to do why


devote including nearby city -- by default include a local city in


order to make it feasible. This thrust of this bill is to include


more areas with the ability to go on to DAB in a practical sense, rather


than just the theoretical. In a rural area, you would not be able to


generate the type of revenue she would need to in order to support


that and therefore you would not be giving a service that many people


would like to listen to. I think that intervention... Briefly, then I


must make progress. I thank my honourable friend for giving way.


Would he agree with me that the plurality of an area is a problem in


itself? It's not just about the revenue it needs to generate but


also the signal strength that they are allowed. With the topography of


a rural area, it can restrict how far they can transmit in the current


analogue situation. The intervention, and she's right to


point out that geography and topography is going to have a large


impact on what people can receive in radio and television signals. One of


the points of this Bill is that because it's about targeting the


infrastructure that provides radio, it would potentially give options,


as I'll touch on later, to provide a service where digital radio doesn't


exist currently, or the choice is limited due to the topography of the


area. That is a reason why, when you look at how the technology works,


that having the current licence system hasn't kept up with it, so


therefore needing a different option for stations on a smaller scale. In


the same way as the old analog technologies. Originally, there was


a small number of analogue stations broadcasting at a time when the


technology was extremely expensive. Then as we saw the technology


reduced in price, an increasing number of stations were created,


including community stations. Now we need to look at creating a


legislative process and licensing system that allows that technology


that is becoming cheaper in the digital sense, to allow community


stations to go on to go onto it. As I've touched on, in terms of


interventions already, one of the issues with the current system of


multiplexes is that many areas are to a large or it could mean


providing almost irrelevant content for each community station to go


onto them. For example, a community station that wished to cover Torbay,


perfectly reasonable to be done under an FM licence, would end up


having to be broadcast over a wider area, making any sponsorship or


local discussions, or input for local shows and groups, effectively


meaningless to much of the theoretical listening population.


That's why this Bill is looking at creating smaller multiplexes that


can cover defined areas in the wiki community FM licence can do. Also,


the fact that there are such wide areas to be covered means that the


cost of access is affected by the large-scale jump that is not


necessary for looking to go onto analogue, where community licenses


can be sought, forestation that is being operated out of someone was 's


bedroom or being operated on the Internet from a small studio.


Instead, the jump from that position to being on digital radio can


actually see a fee of ?100,000 being charged, for them to have the right


to broadcast. Effectively, they have to generate revenue of about ?1


million a year to provide a DAB option in the area or in the local


multiplex that currently supplies them. If you think of any other


industry, put that really be tolerated? For me, it is this shelf


that stifles the natural growth of the business from a bedroom or


amateur operation, through to Internet broadcast, then to a


small-scale broadcasting operation, then who knows what next? We have


seen large companies develop literally from people's bedrooms.


You'll recall the story of how Microsoft started off with students


drinking Coca-Cola to keep them awake all night and has now ended up


as one of the biggest companies in the world. I am grateful to him for


giving way. It is all very well in making reference to commercial


operations, but could he confirm whether this Bill would allow


commercial radio stations to operate, or is it just intended to


be non-commercial? I thank him for that intervention. I know he will


have read the Bill and he will have seen that one of the subsection


states that off, may require small-scale BDO multiplexers to be


provided on a non-commercial basis, which is in there. But I think the


thrust of my point mostly is that there are few other industries where


you have such a shelf if you are trying to rule something, so going


from a very small-scale operation to ?1 million a year operation. My


intention is that most of this would focus on community radio primarily


and be the main focus of both, licensing, though I would emphasise


that there would also need to be detailed consultation with the


industry about this operation. Fundamentally, we are looking at


non-commercial, although when he looks through, he will see that


doesn't mean eight non-profitable or charitable organisation. It may be


providing an infrastructure that allows digital radio to be


broadcast, which may carry stations, but has been telling away to allow


digital radio services to be broadcast into an area. Certainly,


if the Bill gets its successful second reading today, certainly at


committee stage, it will be interesting to explore how we refine


the Bill. What I'm clear about is this Bill doesn't put any


requirements on existing multiplex operators and neither would it


attempt to bypass those licensing regimes. So he wouldn't be able to


have multiple small-scale licenses to avoid going through the current


off, licensing procedure for those that are clearly commercial


operations on a large scale. The reason I use the analogy is that if


retailers starting out as market stalls and drawing from that, if we


can imagine that the only options we provide for charitable operations


would be moving from a market stall to a large department store. He


sparked lots of things in my memory, with quite a long career involved in


radio, I used to get frustrated when one was trying to bid into systems,


particularly the BBC system, very complicated systems, to try and get


your ideas on. I used to be very frustrated. This would offer the


opportunity to set up your phone outlet and broadcast your own ideas,


to give opportunities to many people on different levels. I wonder if he


might comment on that. I wanted to get my environmental gardening and


countryside ideas and back in the day, I was told no one was


interested in those things, and that has been proven quite wrong. I thank


her for the intervention, she makes a fantastic point. Sometimes the


community radio operation can take a broadcasting risk that a large-scale


commercial operation or even the BBC, with its requirements to


licence payers, cannot. Earlier this week, we talked about the green


investment bank, which was started to deal with the perceived market


failure, but no private investors want to take that on and develop


some of its actions into a profit-making venture, because they


believe the market has changed. It is the same with podcasting. You can


have something that may not seem inherited -- inherently profitable,


but it can build an individual's abilities and talents that then


allows them to move on to broadcasting more generally. In


effect, is an incubator for what the future might be popular and


successful services. Yet, if we have a position where you can't make that


jump, then in essence, what we do is we restrict the options to those who


can go on the Internet and find that, but when they go on to their


DAB radio, they can't find it, or they have to rely on their FM radio.


This Bill looks to fix that issue in terms of the scale of digital


broadcasting by allowing the creation and licensing of smaller


scale multiplexers that can operate in a local area, giving an


opportunity to create the infrastructure for delivering


digital radio. We must be clear technology has moved on hugely since


the house considered these issues in the past. I may have to do greater


interest. I may have to declare an interest. If I remember rightly, and


maybe he can clarify this, when he was secretary of state for culture,


media and sport, wanted and did announce, if I remember correctly,


that he wanted to see the old analogue system called digital


sooner rather than later. And I think at that particular type, we


were expecting that this would happen very quickly. Could you


clarify? Just to be clear, this Bill does not make any move towards


turning the whole sector from analog to digital. To be very clear, this


does not seek to end the process of seeking community FM licences, that


will still be there. This is about creating an option to be able to put


community radio onto digital broadcasting systems. There is


perhaps a debate at some point in the future, that parliament might


look at options to have a fully digital radio broadcasting system.


However, as it stands today, that's not what's being discussed. It a


debate for future years. With technology moving on, we don't know


if we will still have separate broadcasting systems in the future.


I suspect many of us use the BBC I'd play radio, where you can turn a


dial, select a station and listen to them live broadcast. That doesn't


come through a DAB system, it doesn't come through FM or medium


wave, it comes through your Internet link. I think there will be a future


debate about that, but to be clear, this is not about forcing anyone to


go on DAB, or bringing an end to the analogue broadcast system, it is


about giving a practical option for community radio to be broadcast on


digital. That's what this Bill is about. Although there have been


suggestions in the past, the UK might want to move to it. Norway is


saying it will be the first country to switch off its analogue radio


transmissions. There is some debate and I've been speaking to people in


the industry about that. But fundamentally, it's a debate partly


for another day, but if we get want, if this House ever did consider


ending the analogue broadcast system, we would need to give a


practical and affordable solution to community and smaller scale


operators to be on digital radio, if we didn't just want to annihilate


that whole sector. At the moment, the current system of digital radio


would do that we went to a digital solution. It would leave large


operators but take out hundreds of community radio stations. This is


about giving them an option for digital, it's not about forcing them


onto digital. And it's not about forcing existing multiplexers to


carry them. They are not affected by this. This does not seek to force


them to do anything. It's an option that is timely and might contribute


to a future changeover, but isn't intended to. It is to give them an


option. In terms of the technology moving on, with the days of


large-scale broadcasting equipment be needed to broadcasting reliable


radio transmission are long gone. The idea of engineers running around


in white coats to fix various bits of equipment is just not what


small-scale radio is about any more. Literally, some of these small-scale


radio trials, the main broadcast was being run off a laptop and probably,


it's theoretically possible to run it off a smartphone. We can see how


small-scale broadcasting has become huge on the Internet. YouTube and


Facebook are showing a range of changes and showing things people


would never see on a broadcast channel. That says to me that more


people want to be out there and hear this content and also the following


rates you see at times, in terms of things broadcast over the Internet,


again, it all points towards community broadcasting and people


expressing their own experiences, that really means something to more


people than watch certain broadcast television shows. To provide that


opportunity on digital radio makes eminent sense. We can see the impact


of digital television in terms of opening up a range of choice and


opportunities to deliver new community services, and digital


radio could be the same, if we give an option to have smaller scale


multiplexes. As touched on, we don't know where technology will go next,


and it's almost pointless to spend a morning speculating on, will we


still have broadcast, will we do it through the Internet? What


integration will there be in terms of technologies that might benefit


or not benefit? But we do know, what we fundamentally know is that the


technology exists to enable effective, community run small-scale


digital radio broadcasting, and that's what this Bill seeks to


create a licensing structure to allow.


Of course, in any technology we may say yes, it exists, but is it


practical? A year of work was funded by Ofcom to look at an approach to


enable small-scale DAB broadcasting. The work included ten technical


field trials in towns and cities across the UK. The three main aims


of the trials were to one, test how well the small-scale DAB technology


worked. Two, test how well the technology lends itself to several


parties coordinating their services through the transmitter. Three, to


give the market a chance to learn about small-scale DAB and the


potential opportunities it presents. I'm sure some members before coming


today will have studied Ofcom's report that was published in 2016


and which concerned that the trials had achieved all three aims. First,


that the technology worked and was reliable in terms of transmission.


Second, that the ten trial operators gained significant experience with


some actually innovating further in how this technology could work. But


most importantly, the third aspect of it, is that across the ten areas,


70 unique radio services are now being carried, the majority of which


are totally new to DAB. This wasn't about seeing existing choices


disappear or competition with it, it was about giving a new choice. Thank


you for giving way. A QS question as to how much it would cost a


community organisation to apply for a license, because that seems to my


mind to be something that needs to be taken into account as well. I


thank the honourable member for his intervention. In terms of the


process to apply, this is mostly focused on the actual infrastructure


so it would be possible for a couple of community groups to club together


or potentially bore a provider or an organisation to provide a


small-scale multiplex to help facilitate the growth and creativity


in their area. A university would be a classic example that may provide a


small-scale multiplex that would broadcast both the student radio


station and give the opportunity to other community-based radio


stations. To be clear, the bill also make sure there are protections


around those who operate existing multiplexes. This isn't about


creating a new competitor for them. It's about creating an opportunity


for existing community services to go to digital and I will touch more


on that later on in my speech. Only too happy to. Thank you for giving


way. Can my honourable friend explain what the status is of the 70


unique radio stations which apparently have sprung up, most of


them knew? What would be their status if this bill didn't proceed


and what is their status at the moment without this bill? How can


they pay for it? I thank the honourable member. At the moment,


they operate under a trial basis that Ofcom has created. I think if


this bill didn't proceed, they could continue on a trial basis and


potentially some indications of no, because it is a trial, but the


current system -- if the current system is reinforced by the failure


of this bill and the Government does not want to see a smaller scale, at


some point those radio broadcasts would need to be brought to an end.


My guess is that some might move purely to Internet broadcasting,


restricting their audience. Others might seek to switch to a community


FM licence, but this would be one of the few examples in this Parliament


of us saying, we can see a new technology breeding and coming on


and creating new opportunities and creating more diversity in the


media. As we have done in previous debates, we sometimes get a


misleading picture presented that people only get their news in this


country from one source which is patently nonsense when we look at


the number of options that are there. But actually to not


create this type of opportunity, to create this type of opportunity, to


look at when we have seen it offered up as an opportunity to say, no, we


would rather you all went back to FM only and the National creators are


the only ones who are able to take advantage of this, I think that


would be a national -- a negative step and I see the Minister nodding


some agreement and I'm sure we will hear that in his own remarks later


when we hear the comments on what will be the future for those


stations if we did not seek to create a permanent structure of


small-scale multiplex licensing. I think it's safe to say the future


would be rather grim. In terms of the technology, we know it works, we


know the operators who did it successfully and they have created


new services. The technology is there. The gap in the licensing is


there, the next question is demand. I'll give way. I'm grateful again to


my honourable friend. Could he say a few words though on whether the


infrastructure is there and if it will be financially viable for some


of these community radio stations to move on to the multiplex system? I


thank the honourable member for her intervention. The infrastructure


currently actually isn't there and that the issue we are looking to


create a licence for small-scale multiplex is to allow the creation


of that infrastructure. In terms of cost, what we do know is that the


existing multiplexes work reasonably existing multiplexes work reasonably


well for larger operators that I have touched on, those with a


turnover of around ?1 million can find this an option for them. Some


would debate whether there is effectively a monopoly in some areas


but I am not looking to create that situation, rather an opportunity for


small-scale operations. The feedback is very strongly from the market


that the opportunity is there, particularly with the notion of


shared multiplexes. As we touched on, as I have touched on, this is


not about forcing people to do things. It doesn't compel the


Minister to provide a service or provide a subsidy. It doesn't compel


the BBC to help provide the service. My feeling is there was a strong


need to do this for reasons I will set out in a moment and that if we


don't do it, in leisure studies terms, we are effectively slugging


it out. We have seen new ideas come along and we have seen them


flourish, but if we do not give them the opportunity, I would really have


to say, why not? I thank my honourable friend and thank you for


being so generous to give way. I want to clarify. If the demand is


there and as you have said before, people could be utilising this


technology, would that not eventually drive the cost down? I


thank the honourable member for that point. Indeed, yes. Things are more


able to be done, as we have seen with experience in the past, as


industries have grown and developed, costs have fallen. I am certainly


convinced that in this area we would see the costs for quite


significantly. That is if there was one, the ability to do it, too,


there would be more multiplexes to work from with huge benefits from


this, as you would not have do pay for an area you do not need, and all


of the broadcast of element in the past have been that as things


develop, things have got cheaper. We can look back 50 years ago and see


what happened when we were overly top -- tough and regulatory system


of broadcasting onshore. We ended up with people sat on ships just


outside of our territorial waters to get...


They would be open to possible small commercial stations, they would be


able to access that, even though they are commercial station, is that


right? My understanding is that yes, they would, though it would have to


be very clear. This Bill would set a framework, consultation with the


industry and off, considering individual licence applications.


Possibly very small-scale operations would be able to take advantage of


this, but there would be a process in place to make sure the rights of


existing multiplexers were not affected and Julie, and that


secondly, one of the considerations would be, if you had an interest in


one of those other multiplexers, for example, rules specifically


disbanding someone from applying to have a small-scale multiplex, who


already had an interest in that local or national multiplex. So yes,


it could give opportunity, but this Bill is very much about setting a


framework of legislation, with detail to be taken forward. Partly


about creating a framework is trying to have an element of flexibility as


well, because it will be unique individual circumstances. There are


some areas covered by the National Digital radio multiplexers that are


not covered by the local ones, so again, we may wish to look at some


flexibility there, to allow provision of digital radio. Is about


creating a framework, giving opportunity. But there are limits to


that framework, so it doesn't undermined the current systems of


regulation. But this is a deregulation


measure, in terms of providing an opportunity to small-scale digital


radio stations that serve communities and that cannot


realistically take on the cost of a local area multiplexers covers a


wide area, so in terms of looking at the demand for these services, we


know that as a technology that can work, at the gap in the legislation


that needs fixing. But the next point, as touched on in response to


that intervention, is if there is a demand for this type of system?


There's little point in passing a law just for the benefit, for a


point of argument, that the structure exists. It must have a


practical effect as well to justify the time of this Parliament.


At the moment, 400 community radio stations are in existence with a


huge range of diversity in there that point -- output and we have


real diversity in these registrations. Interestingly, there


are quite a number of British voters -- which is forces radio stations


and they operate as community radio stations, such as Aldershot radio


and another one on Salisbury Plain. They operate using community FM


licences. They would potentially benefit from this type of framework


being created. There are community stations that reflect the area they


are in, like hills FM in Coventry which I was once interviewed on and


things like Riviera FM in Torbay which normally ends up broadcasting


via the Internet as their sole digital output. If you could


broadcast on the Internet, you could quite quickly convert to using a


small-scale multiplex hence why I am keen for this structure to be


created. As I touched on earlier, we have hospital radio stations that


give more than something to listen to was staying on award, but are


actually part of the local community. Several already operate


as community FM stations. I would like to see them have the


opportunity, if they wish to, to have community DAB stations. They


are clearly not going to want to cover and approximately county sized


area. They are not going to look to compete with a national DAB station.


There should at least be a practical opportunity to go one to digital


radio if that is what they see as the natural progression for their


services. Can I congratulate my honourable friend and bringing


forward this excellence built to broaden choice for community


providers but would he also joined me in congratulating the volunteers


who work across the country in our community radio stations and would


also welcome the opportunity to expand their role in our


communities? Can I thank my honourable friend and next-door


neighbour for that intervention. You look at the way hospital radio


provides an opportunity for volunteers to be part of delivering


a service to patients but also to develop skills and talents that may


well sustain them into a paid career in the future. Thereafter stories of


people who have started off on community radio as a volunteer but


are then a talent that they can take so much further. I know she will


know of Torbay Hospital radio which regularly provides the outside


broadcast system for a number of community events and fares and it


isn't just sitting there. The image of hospital radio is someone sat in


a broom cupboard at the bottom of the hospital playing requests.


Actually, they get out in the community, do interviews and looks


to be more than just a station we listened to in a hospital bed and


one that really needs contribution. I thank my honourable friend very


much for giving way. Thank you, Mr Speaker. In my office, I have a


young lady who volunteers at one of the local hospital radios and she


said more over what it gives them is them the chance to go round and


befriend patients. They are actually a conduit between the radio station


and patients. That makes them feel befriended, they take their shows to


the patient needs and it allows them to actually feel that somebody is


taking their views as important and also listening to the things that


they might want to listen to. Would he agree with me that actually when


you hear so much negative about hospitals, hospital radio provides


so much and can actually improve that element of loneliness we talk


about often? I thank her such a passionate


intervention on behalf of the hospital radios and I totally agree


with her point. It's not just about providing a song to listen to, it's


about providing the sense of community in hospital. Why would we


want to maintain a licensing that effectively bar is the possibility


of them going onto digital radio? Why would we want to say to them,


you can go digital, but you'll have to do it on the same basis as fairly


large regional radio stations? Or radio stations owned by fairly large


media conglomerates. Why would we do that, by not allowing this Bill a


second reading and allowing some small-scale transition to develop.


We want to do that, not just because of the technical point wouldn't it


be nice to have a better sound system, we want to do it because we


think it's right to give them the chance an opportunity if that's the


way they want to take the radio station in future. The whole point


of this Bill is to give options. It's an option to go onto DAB. It


doesn't make any requirements are then one and it doesn't require the


existing multiplexers breeders to do something to allow them to do that.


It just gives them the opportunity to do it themselves in a practical,


affordable way, but without this framework, they wouldn't be able to


do. So what exactly those reasons, we want to give them the


opportunity. In short, there are lots of examples of where this Bill


could help drive local service, great news and information from


South Uist to the Scilly Isles. This is about giving legislative


opportunity to form structure for that growth. Not asking the taxpayer


submit fund a load of small scale multiplexes across the country, I'm


not asking existing multiplexers owners to provide space on their


broadcast systems for these services. This is about giving an


opportunity. The one thing when I give a little bit of thought, is


where this type of service might in the future provide an opportunity to


help sustain local newsrooms. Across the country, many local newspapers


are struggling to maintain capacity for investigative journalism at a


local level. In the past, we rightly made sure there were very strong


restrictions between a potentially dominant local newspaper owner also


owning one of a handful of local FM licences. But with the Internet and


the growth of other News sources, means a wider platform may be needed


to sustain some level of professional journalism in an area,


or not just seeing it reduced to purely the BBC having a pool of


local journalists available. It's not something I'll dwell on in terms


of this Bill as such, but it's worth considering where smaller scale


digital radio operations might have a role in future. It's perhaps


something to consider for future policy. Thank you. You see the


taxpayer is not going to have to fund these small multiplexes. I'm


wondering where funds are going to come from. That has to be factored


into what each of these community radio stations would pay to use the


service. I thank her for that most helpful intervention. In essence, it


would be similar to how they fund FM transmissions, if they wish to get


the equipment and go onto the licence. There might be some


opportunity in terms of crowdfunding in other environments that could be


decided to provide support. In local authority might decide it wishes to


help provide infrastructure, and I emphasise that clearly, the


infrastructure. It's not the role of the council to provide a radio


station in the same way that it's not their role to provide a local


newspaper. Would it be funded commercially? Is it we've seen from


the trials that yes, there would be some demand from community radio


stations to provide this infrastructure. The costs have


fallen significantly. The actual cost to do it, particularly if


you've got a friendly tall building owner, it can be relatively little.


We've seen the community radio sector flourish on analogue, without


heavy tax poor support or subsidy. I didn't see any reason why the


community digital radio infrastructure would not develop in


a similar way. By creating the opportunity, by seeing some schemes


go ahead, it would give us a chance look what happens in reality. The


Minister might decide that in years to come, particularly if there was a


move to all digital, there may be an argument for support for community


stations to support to DAB. But it's about creating the opportunity for


them, then we can look at where new services have started. I can't see


any reason why in Torbay it would be any different from Bristol or


Taunton, if the opportunity is there, people seem to want to dig it


up. As we will perhaps touch on and we have touched on there, there may


be opportunities for groups like councils and universities to look at


providing the infrastructure to allow creativity to spawn in the


area. But this is about infrastructure giving an


opportunity, it is for others to use their sparks of entrepreneurship to


take specific ideas forward, not for the parliament to legislate on


whether there should be a community radio station in a particular area


on digital on whether a particular operator should be required to bid


up an aerial broadcasting system. In terms of the bill itself, as I've


already touched on several times, the Bill does not require any


station to move to DAB, neither does it require anyone who has an


existing multiplex to provide space on it. As I say, as I touched on in


an earlier intervention, there has been a debate at times about our


entire radio system going digital, but that is not the debate for


today, this is just about providing an opportunity to go digital, is not


about forcing them to go digital. I neither seek to interfere with the


current local or national multiplexes. Provision may in


particular include disqualification of those in a national or existing


local radio multiplex. Any license may also include provision to


provide services required by it to be done on a non-commercial


business, yet there is a small bit of flexibility to allow for unique


circumstances, where there might be a pressing case. Although I would


emphasise, if members have specific concerns, they are more than welcome


to join the Bill committee to look at this in and I know there will be


a debate on how exactly we get the law right on point. It is possible


in the Bill to reserve some space and four EE, and small scale


services, which might be of benefit in isolated communities, or where


there are limited opportunities to install new infrastructure. One


point that may come up in some locations, this would apply in


central London, there may only be a small number of tall buildings that


are the realistic option for installing this infrastructure, so


it might make sense in an individual location to have a requirement that


you can effectively as part of the licensing of it, state that they


must provide some access to another service. Again, that is not about


compelling people on existing infrastructure, is about ensuring


that, for example, we didn't have a circumstance where there were four


tall buildings in an area and one operator decided to agree with the


owners of those buildings that they were the only ones that had the


right to put broadcast equipment on top of them and then see a license


effectively excluding others. As I've repeated several times, their


bill is aimed at putting this together, without being so rigid


that unique circumstances cannot be accommodated. As stated in the


explanatory notes that go with this bill, the final details were


regulatory framework will be subject to a full consultation with the


industry. There is one final issue that I do need to address, in terms


of my own opening to this debate, is that I recognise this Bill does have


a targeted power to modify primary legislation by statutory instrument.


However, in justification of this, there are already presidents to


create lighter touch regulatory regimes were smaller audiovisual


services. A similar approach was taken by Parliament to create such


regimes by creating secondary legislation but community radio and


local television in 2004 and 2012. This builds on those precedents that


Parliament has already accepted, in what are strikingly similar


circumstances. The power in this bill will be used in a deregulatory


way and will not create additional burdens on existing multiplex


operators. Finally, to confirm that this power is only accessible by


affirmative order, in both houses before such modifications could come


into force. I am sure the Minister would wish to set up in his speech


similar points and to confirm this is the intention of the government.


This builds on precedents that have already been used on very similar


areas of policy development, and I believe therefore it is appropriate


to seek to have in this Bill, when we are dealing with something that


is very, very similar. To sum up, this Bill creates opportunities for


new creative travel to flourish, gets hundreds of local stations are


practical and affordable way to go digital, and as I now we will hear


from many members about to speak, the transfer more communities to


have a unique choice of radio stations that reflect the area they


live them. To not get this Bill its second reading would not be to help


any radio operator, it would not be to protect any interest and it would


not be to see things develop in a better way. It would merely be to


block growth and development of community radio stations and


restrict development in this industry in a way that we would find


absolutely ridiculous in any other sphere. This is about supporting


small community stations, it's about giving that the local opportunity


and it's about allowing broadcast radio to reflect the explosion of


creativity that is going on on the Internet. The days when we felt we


should strictly regulate and control very small numbers of operations, I


believe, are gone. That's why I hope all members will support this Bill


and that's why believe this Bill deserves a second reading and one


the Has full support today. The question is that the Bill now be


read a second time? Or shall we have? I think which each year from


Pauline Latham. Can I congratulate my honourable friend for making such


an informed speech, but also for giving so much of his time to


multiple interventions from many other members on this side of the


house. Sorry and very surprised that there are no members, apart from


front bench, on the other side of the house, because this particular


bill, I would've thought would affect single constituency in the


country. Resigned, yes, I think! I think every constituency could be


affected by this Bill, which I think is a very sensible Bill, and I want


also to pay tribute to my honourable friend for all the hard work and


effort he has Putin to bring forward this debate on such an subject. I


thank my honourable friend forgiving way. Would she not find it more


surprising that there was not more broad-based interest in the house on


2015, 90% of all stations, but 100% 2015, 90% of all stations, but 100%


of all local stations, contacted and had talks with their local MP? Yes,


I think it is disappointing. But it is a Friday and there are never that


many members coming to Parliament on Friday, because it is traditionally


a day we all spend an our constituencies.


I would just like my honourable friend to reflect on the fact that


Parliament is sitting. There is no such thing as a constituency Friday.


Parliament is sitting and as far as I am concerned, members of


Parliament, if at all possible, should be in Parliament. I know that


my honourable friend is usually here on a Friday and I have do say I am


guilty, as many others are, of using Friday as a day that I do normally


spend in my constituency, but I am delighted to be here today to


support my honourable friend for Torbay. Now, I have said that he has


brought forward this debate on a very important subject and polite


words are often said more out of custom but I cannot say them more


genuinely today, as I know my honourable friend slept in


Parliament last night to try to get this bill through, such was his


dedication. As he pointed out afterwards, the reality of sleeping


in the royal palace is far less glamorous than it sounds. I hope for


his sake he has had a better nights sleep before the second reading of


the bill today than he had when he tried to introduce it. I don't know


exactly how he passed the hours while he waited to get his bill


submitted, but it would have been extremely apt, given the bill's


subject, if he had listened to digital radio to keep him company


and pass away the time. Digital has and is in so many sectors across the


UK so important for radio. In the third quarter of 2016, just over


half of all radio listening, 45.5%, was on a digital platform. That


figure will increase. The radio industry itself predicts that if


current trends continue, the number will be 50% by the end of 2017. I


would have thought that was a fairly Conservative view. Small-scale DAB,


the kind of digital radio that this bill deals with, is especially


important. Industry data shows 60% of UK homes today have at least one


DAB radio and the DAB terrestrial platform accounts for around three


quarters of all digital radio listening. These figures underline


the importance of the area and make it more important than ever that


small-scale ditched all radio becomes a viable option for as many


stations as possible. I actually listened to radio Derby recently and


the digital platform and it is a better signal than I got and I'm


very pleased that they have been able to go on to that platform as


well as continuing on FM. Unfortunately smaller radio stations


currently face the major disadvantage when it comes to


digital radio. At present, the cost and licensing scheme are not


conducive to allowing small-scale radio services access to the digital


radio network. As with anything, costs do vary but Digital


specialists estimate the cost of a mono service is between 3500 and


?5,000 per month. That could mean around ?60,000 per year. Needless to


say, that is a pretty hefty sum for a small station to have do pay, with


the consequence that these smaller stations that want to operate are


priced out of the market. If we contrast that with Ofcom's estimates


that using small-scale DAB would allow stations to access the digital


market for just ?9,000, that is a huge difference and makes it much,


much more accessible for small stations. Alongside the cost, the


current climate creates a number of other key problems for smaller


stations. Local DAB multiplexes exist and are used effectively by


several stations, like, as I said, radio Derby, which sits under East


Staffordshire as well as Derbyshire as a county. There size means they


are not suitable for smaller stations that want to switch to DAB


and can't. Additionally, stations could encounter problems in practice


because there is not always sufficient space multiplexes for


them. Providers know they face a fall in audience numbers and


advertising revenue if DAB comes -- becomes the norm and they quite


obviously want to change that. Ofcom says there is a major demand for


change and that appropriate legislation will be followed up with


action. In 2016, they state that there is a significant need for


small-scale DAV -- DAB and things need to be more commercially


sustainable. That statement comes after a trial in which 100 small


stations were able to successfully broadcast on DAB for the first time.


Those stations came from a wide range of backgrounds, providing an


even more compelling case that more small stations could make a


success... I thank my honourable friend for giving way. Talking about


community radios, which sometimes have dwindling listeners, audience


numbers, De she also think this might be an opportunity for print


media to have the broadcast from their newsrooms, because we know


what pressure they are under as well? Yes, I entirely agree with my


honourable friend. For instance, locally, the Derby Telegraph is


losing its readership, sadly, because it is a very good local


paper, and I think the web is not exactly conducive to local papers


because they have to do so much local advertising which intrudes on


the media and the reading of the reports. I do believe that if they


could broadcast as well, that would produce more competition and help


other local media to get into the act. Would the honourable lady give


way? Can I thank my honourable friend for giving way as well. A lot


of local newspapers also now try to move very firmly into using much


more activity online as well. Does my honourable friend not think that


one of the things that could also happen is that not only could there


be a community licence but it could also appear on the Internet, too?


Yes, and I'm sure that would be the case. I thank my honourable friend


for intervening at that point. The compelling case is that all small


stations could make a success of using digital radio and the initial


trial was actually so successful that it was extended for two years.


Alongside test the viability and effectiveness done inside the UK,


the international use of small-scale DAB offer another indication of the


benefits of the expansion of this new technology. It has been used


successfully abroad, with stations using it on air in both Switzerland


and France. Given the established track record, we can see that this


bill would be helpful. It would make a tangible difference for an


estimated 450 stations who could take advantage of small-scale DAB


and I think we heard from my honourable friend and from


interventions that it was hospital radio -- even hospital radio could


get in on this, widen their listenership, which I think is


incredibly important. We have talked about hospital radio. Can I talk


about radio in universities and colleges? Run Shaw College, which Mr


Deputy Speaker you know very well, has a fantastic radio station which


broadcasts at the college but of course it has so many links with


local businesses and community enterprises that it could take


advantage of this new technology and deep proposals in this bill. Do you


not agree? Yes, of course, and of course that also means that it can


be used as part of a degree to give the students the opportunity of real


live practice on radio, which they would not normally have. It is


something which I'm sure radio Derby and the University of Derby would


embrace, because they have already embraced taking over the local


theatre so that they can give students real live practice of


producing plays, acting in place as a practical example, so that when


they go into the world of work as people working in the local


university radio would have when they went to university, -- when


they were two interviews, they would have real life experience and we


know that is really important in interviews as employers. I think it


provides an opportunity to alter the current legislation and the


framework for multiplex licensing as set out in the broadcasting act in


1996, to introduce a lighter touch regulatory framework. Greater


numbers of small radio stations could expand into a digital market


which do not currently -- they do not currently have access to. I


particularly commend how the proposed approach has adopted


features of effective secondary legislation which has successfully


modified primary legislation, but jazz community radio order 2004, by


allowing the 1996 act to be modified rather than replaced. This slight


but very important distinction will not only make things simpler, it


will also allow for the creation of a new licensing regime which will


take account of the needs of smaller stations. Whilst the use of


small-scale DAB is relatively novel as a form of technology,


implementing this bill fits into the Government's long-term radio


strategy, published in 2014 in the Department for Culture, Media and


Sport's Digital radio action plan. That plan recognise that radio is


changing and that Government needs to respond to this by facilitating a


digital friendly environment where 50% of all listening is digital. The


paper also states that the transition to digital and the


changes the Government makes should always be driven by the listener. I


would add that to some extent the change must also be driven by the


consent of radio station providers themselves. It is clear from Ofcom


trials that smaller stations really do want to access the digital market


and we must not ignore the views. As well as setting out its digital


criteria, the paper stresses the major contribution that radio makes


to the UK, outlining that 90% of the adult population choose into eggs in


excess of 1 billion listening hours a week. That allows them exposure to


an endless variety of cultural topics and the chance to listen to a


myriad of fantastic music genres. From acid jazz to cite Deco. I'm not


sure if I have pronounced that right, but I probably haven't! I


must admit that when I was probing the Internet rather in-depth in


order to find a musical genre beginning with said, it was


difficult, I was very pleased to find the music of which I speak. The


fact this legislation could lead to economic growth and job creation


cannot be dismissed. If we have so many more digital stations, not only


will it give real value to the experience of this young people, as


I presume it will be mainly young people who take it up, with that


experience they can then go on to bigger, brighter things in the


larger broadcasting corporations, whether they are the BBC or


commercial operations. That cannot be dismissed. It will create many


jobs. At the moment, the entire radio sector is worth an estimated


?1.2 billion and employs 17,000 people. Making sure that legislation


which affects the sector is helpful and up to date is a very important


responsibility and one that should encourage us to introduce this bill


today and I am sure the Minister will have many of these aspects in


mind when he responds later. I therefore once again congratulate my


honourable friend for introducing this bill and urged the House to


support its second reading today. Let us make sure that his sleepless


nights were definitely worth it. Absolutely. David Nuttall. It is a


great pleasure as always to follow my honourable friend, the Member for


Mid Derbyshire. I want to start this morning by congratulating my


honourable friend, the Member for Torbay, for the very short way in


which he introduced this debate on what is quite a technical subject.


It has the capacity to be quite a dry subject and he brought it to


life this morning in a very entertaining way. That is whilst


dealing with all the technical aspects in a very confident manner.


This bill is one which is ideally suited, I would venture to suggest,


for the private members Bill procedure. It does not seem to


impose any cost on the taxpayer and it deals with a relatively narrow


area of the law. One which has the bill seeking to do with a problem


which has arisen that could not have been foreseen at the time of the


original legislation being drawn up because of the developments in


technology and the advances in software and the production in the


price of the equipment, really, as well, which is something I will come


onto. All this has left a gap in the


legislation, which this Bill seeks to fill. I will give way. I am


grateful to my honourable friend forgiving way. Does he not think the


other opportunity for this legislation would not have been


through the Digital Economy Bill? I am grateful to have for that


intervention. It would seem that the nature of this Bill could have been


included in the Digital Economy Bill. Maybe there Minister, when he


addresses us, we'll be able to explain why it wasn't, given that it


is undoubtedly an area which needs addressing. I should say at the


outset that I wish to support the Bill, I have no wish to scupper it.


I do have concerns about the precise detail, which I will come onto. But


in broad principle, I agree that this Bill is needed. Will he agreed


with me that the borders of this particular aspect of the law being


dealt with through the Private members Bill Root, rather than being


part of the government Digital economy Bill, is that it makes it


clear it's about resolving this issue for community radio stations,


rather than it being linked to broadcasting and media regulation?


My own view is it could have been dealt with without any undue


side-effects in the Digital Economy Bill. But we are where we are and we


do have this separate Bill. Perhaps we will jump onto a point that I was


going to make any way, which is that this Bill of itself is, we might


politely called, and enabling Bill. It will be of no benefit to anyone


unless it is driven for words after it becomes an act, after it features


the statute book. By the Minister, who I am sure will want to take


advantage of the powers, by making an order and doing something about


it. The Bill itself would help anybody, it's an enabling Bill. For


it to be of any use at all to man or beast, it needs the Minister and his


team and department to bring the appropriate order as soon as


possible, I hope, if this Bill does reach the statute book, to cover all


the various aspects that are set out in clause one. And to give those


powers to off com, so that they can set about licensing new


broadcasters, so that the broadcasters can enjoy what some of


those who have taken part in the trials have already benefited form.


Basically, this Bill is about making it easier to broadcast digital


radio, at a time, at the time when the original act was passed, it was


something that was very new, and it was only thought possible that it


could be dealt with on a large-scale, on the national and


countywide scale. But since that act was passed, it has become possible


now, through advances in technology, or smaller scale multiplexes to


operate and to provide opportunities for community radio stations and


smaller scale commercial stations to operate. I should declare an


interest, in that I am a very avid user of my digital radio. In fact, I


carry it with me everywhere. It is at this very moment in my coat


pocket and I very rarely go anywhere without my digital radio. We are not


allowed to use props, as the honourable gentleman knows, but it


is a wonderful thing. It's my second one, because the first one broke


down. I wonder if he would give way on that note. I wonder if he might


share with us what sort of radio stations he listens to and whether


any local community stations are among his particular favourites? Al


be honest, it's usually Radio 4 radio five radio five Sports Extra,


particularly when it's carrying the cricket commentary. I'll certainly


give way to the cat back minister. -- Minister. Does he agree that many


people carry radios with them, particularly on a Friday so that


they can listen to his speeches in parliaments? I'm sure that's not the


case! Of course, my honourable friend in the previous intervention


raised the question as to whether or not I use it to listen to community


radio stations, but of course, there are very few of those operating. And


this Bill, if it reaches the statute book and is then an act and is


followed up by an order, and some activity from community radio


stations, it will enable better be even more stations on my Little


radio than there are already. There are already plenty on there. I also


made sure that my last car, when I bought it a few years ago, Hadi


Digital radio in it. And is now virtually all cars have it as


standard. Then it was an option that you had to pay a little bit extra if


you wanted a digital radio, mainly because Test Match Special was no


longer broadcast on longwave and in order to reach it, you had to have


radio five Sports Extra. Would he not agree with me that this is one


of the biggest changes since Parliament last substantive movement


to broadcast regulations, is the spread of DAB radio into the car. I


was an early adopter back in 2003, I got the digital radio I have at


home, but seeing it in most new cars on the market, it creates the need


for community radio stations to be there as well as the larger


stations. He is absolutely right. There has been an enormous increase


in the use of digital radio in the past few years. And while I fully


understand the concerns of those who operate on the FM frequencies, it


seems to be that inexorably, we will be moving towards a situation, just


as we have a television, where radio will operate in a Digital space in


years to come. As members will be aware, it has been in the news this


week that it has been touched on earlier, that Norway is planning is


to become the first nation to move its radio stations onto an entirely


digital platform, or that the next few months. It will take many years


and I hope we proceed very cautiously, because I am very


conscious that there will particularly be elderly people who


don't have access to modern equipment. But we managed it with


television, and it seems to me that it wouldn't be on the wit of man for


us to be able to manage it in due course of the radio. But it will


need us to proceed very carefully and to make sure that all the


technical research is properly done. To be fair, of column are on with


this and it's something that if there's time, I will touch on


briefly. That the report that was issued last year by off,


specifically refers to the feasibility of being able to


accommodate existing commercial and community stations, which currently


transmit on analogue, onto DAB. One concern I do have about the Bill is


clause one, subsection four, small sea, which requires, states that but


it would require small scale multiplexes services to be provided


on a non-commercial basis. I see no reason for this, personally, I see


no reason why we should try and restrict it to non-commercial


services, as my honourable friend said in his opening speech. The


costs of moving straight onto the larger multiplexes could be very


prohibitive for any start-up operation, and what I want to do is


to see more competition and to see the costs of entry reduced, so that


the barriers to entry are as low as possible. And it seems to me that


restricting this and including a reference to a non-commercial only


is something which is not necessarily, and something which, if


this Bill proceeds, I will be looking at further. I thank the


honourable member for briefly giving way. The section in relation to it


says, it may, in particular. While it alludes that there may be a


requirement that service is provided on a non-commercial basis, that is


not a must. I except that, and in fact, in making that intervention,


my honourable friend draws attention to another point which I was going


to make about the Bill, and that is that in many ways, it raises more


questions than it answers. Because of the use of language, it doesn't


make it clear what is going to happen. I hope when we hear from the


Minister, he may give us a more clarity about exactly how open we


are going to see this play out, because there are competing


interests, I can understand that there will be the commercial


interests that the larger operators will want to see it made easier for


new competitors to join the market. But I don't see that as any reason


not to allow new entrants to the market. More competition would be a


good thing for them. But I particularly support this Bill


because I want to see my all area be able to benefit from possibly having


its own commercial or non-commercial radio station, a community station.


There is already, order has been in the past, operating in the town,


something called Project 29 Radio, which I have appeared on a


small-scale station, operating from the centre of the town, but the


small staff working on a volunteer basis, running community programmes.


It's the sort of small-scale community radio station that I see


being able to benefit from the future, if this Bill goes ahead, and


that it is made easier for small operators to be given a digital


licence, and for them to be able to operate with modern equipment, which


by definition, will be the latest available, because it will be new as


up-to-date, broadcasting over the relatively small area, smaller than,


for example, the whole of Greater Manchester or the whole of


Lancashire. I'm very conscious of the fact that there are many members


who have given time to this debate this morning, so I don't want to


extend my remarks and Julie. In conclusion, I would want to refer


to the trials allowed last year by Ofcom. My honourable friend touched


on these in his remarks. There were three different types of trial


allowed. They covered different sorts of equipment. Without going


into detail, they raised from 9000 as the cheapest to ?17,000. It gives


some idea of the cost of the equipment that was involved.


Different licensees were given different equipment to try it out,


to see how efficiently it would operate. The results are all set out


in the Ofcom report. It is a lengthy document and will take some time to


read through. It is worth it for those interested to study that


document because it does set out the detail of the nature of the


equipment and how successful it was. More importantly, perhaps, the


report concluded at the end of the report that the typical scope for


the wider roll-out of the DAB. Although we can solve the


problem of the legislative framework and how we create a licensing


regime, there is a problem around the frequency blocks on which DAB


operates. They are fixed, there is not much we can do about what is


there. They currently use VHF band three blocks. It is these


frequencies which provide the spectrum to support the existing


multiplexes and the local commercial multiplexes. When Ofcom looked at


small-scale DAB trials, it was announced that the first entry would


be required because DAB receivers could also be used for lower free


causes than are available in the UK. They also carried out an initial


study as to whether it would be technically feasible to develop a


future platform that might provide an opportunity for those smaller


community, commercial stations which currently transmit only one analogue


radio to move to DAB. There is a chance to transfer everything onto


DAB. We need those we can see is available to be able to do it. Ofcom


conclude that in most areas, it should be technically possible to


develop the frequency allowance for small-scale DAB. They do say that


more detailed planning and optimisation will be required to


develop the frequency plan which could be put into practice. I will


certainly give way. I thank my honourable friend for giving way.


Would he agree that the point of this Bill before us today is about


that, to enable smaller multiplexers to set up and produce a death across


the country? I would agree. That is what this Bill is seeking to do. As


I mentioned earlier, the Bill itself will not achieve that. It will need


action from the Department. Hopefully the Minister in his


remarks will give the House the insurance that his Department will


work speedily in bringing this forward. With that, I will conclude


my remarks and wish this Bill well this morning.


I'd like to begin by congratulating my noble friend for bringing this


Bill. In all other research that he's done, it seems like quite a


completed Bill. It is very technical. Many of us who don't have


an engineering or science background are discussing this matter. We're


always running to catch up. I'm absolutely delighted that we have


this Bill this morning because we are going some way to anticipating


the future. I've got an admission to make, I am an absolute radio nut.


There have been periods in my life, sometimes years and years, where I


have always had a radio. The only image voices I heard apart from a


family work on short wave weightier. -- short wave radio. I'm now a


convert to digital. I know we have been discussing this morning about


the transfer from FM and the other frequencies. This can be somewhat


controversial. Norway is due this week to go completely to DAB. We


have to accept, and I know that my honourable friend has said this is


not about switching off other frequencies. My other honourable


friend mentioned that there might actually be technical difficulties


that. I will happily give way. She is or was very generous. On the


point of the switchover, does she feel that that isn't opportunity for


other countries to watch what Norway are doing, to watch and learn as we


take our radio forward into the future. That is an excellent point.


There are huge geographical and I'm a graphic differences between Norway


and us. But we should be watching and learning to see what happens. Is


the reason why Norway moving away from analogue forms is they do not


have test match special. Probably! I wouldn't dare to make any comment.


So the... I would give way, and then make some progress. The game of


cricket is a perfect example of the way we are approaching this whole


particular situation, we are quite happy to listen on Radio 2 a match


that will take five days to flow out its course and similarly it is good


that we are approaching change from analogue to digital as a slow and


measured way. I would agree... There is a balance, isn't there? We have


to do it in an revolution reword a. -- revolutionary way. There is a


great barrier that exists at the moment. In this Bill, we have seen


the costs for smoking in the radio is prohibitive. Different figures


have been raised. Looking at non-London multiplexes, around ?3500


a month. That is too high for community radio TV racing. -- to be


raising. There are opportunities it can offer to businesses and the


communities. In the day and age when we can have groups and entrepreneurs


setting up from their laptops and mobile phones, it is to be affecting


where we're going in other spheres of life. Ideally, you want to focus


on community radio. We had woken about community radio in our own


constituencies. Honourable members have said to me, we are lucky that


we do have a radio station called Festival Radio. Mr dippy speaker


knows because his seat you to take in Leyland, the Leyland Festival is


the absolute highlight of Leyland life. It has had a long history of


Festival making, tanks, buses, the Pope Mobil. All of these things are


stored in the day come easy in Leyland. -- in the vehicle Museum.


The festival is a joyous occasion when we can make the most of what is


fantastic about Leyland and its heritage. Ireland are watching the


festival as a little girl. I now have the honour and pleasure... Back


in 2015, a group of local people came together and they wanted to


celebrate this. They wanted a moment and focus for this. Between April


and June 2015. The station came to FM in 2015. For other honourable


members, their -- they may hate never have heard of Farrington and


Moss side. We have these countywide multiplexes. There are sometimes


stories in Lancaster or in other parts which I cannot identify with.


These hyper local networks really appeal to people. There is community


involvement and it brought together people across generations and


backgrounds. This is the point I want to make in this speech. It


develop transferable skills. As my honourable friend mentioned, it is a


training ground. During the making of Festival radio, they developed


transferable skills such as marketing and production. They learn


from the other people. People from all different backgrounds. It was


peer-to-peer learning. It was a partnership. Ron Shaw College has


its own excellent radio station and other committee groups as well. It


is an opportunity for businesses to talk and for artists and performers


to have proper on-air experience in broadcast.


I know my first ever radio experience was as a candidate in the


2010 election and I was interviewed by De Vreede heel. I am sure the


only person listening was my agent and my grandma, but was still a


great experience for me. These interview opportunities and all of


this was a really fantastic sense of community cohesion that grew up


outside of Leland Festival radio. I am very happy to give way. She has


been very generous this morning, thank you. The honourable lady


touches on the value of community radio and I know that she is a great


advocate for tackling isolation. We cheer agree with me that community


radio is an excellent means of reaching into some of the most


vulnerable and isolated members of our communities? My honourable


friend anticipate the next part of my speech. It's almost as though she


had seen it in the tearoom, which she has not. I'm buried glad that


the point I'm making industries about isolation and loneliness are


getting through. That's exactly the point I would like to make next.


Just to give a slight conclusion on Leland Festival radio and its


excellent work, although they are carrying on broadcasting breakfast


programmes with Keith Bradshaw as the presenter, it's very limited.


The aim for the group is to be a permanent community Radio 4 on


Leland firing ten and Moss side. I now want to go on to the point that


my honourable friend made, because I believe that hyper local radio


really does have a role in combating loneliness and isolation. Members


will know, because I had been raising it that along with the


honourable lady the member from Leeds West, she and I are carrying


on the work was started by a late colleague Jo Cox. Harriet loneliness


commission will be launched in Speaker 's house on Tuesday the 21st


of January. My honourable friend the member for Bury North says he always


has his read your with him and I think we recognise that radio is a


very intimate medium. It really can speak to us and I know from friends


and family who have suffered and I know I when I have been very lonely


in my life, I have had the radio on. It makes us feel a bit safer and as


though we have other people there. Really valid points about radio as a


friend, certainly in the night. I know that people turn to the radio


the wake-up and switch it on. But also I know that many local radio


stations have regulars that phone in and many of these are lonely and


individual people that are finding some relationship building with the


radio station and they serve an excellent purpose progress. My


honourable friend with a history and broadcasting nose is only too well.


We talk about local radio. It has such an important role in the


community and is hyper local radio, I think it already does that. The


provisions in this Bill will allow a flourishing of hyper local radio,


because the point I am talking about loneliness and isolation, the point


is that mediums of technology are useful only if they actually lead to


face-to-face context, because as human beings we need the contact of


others just as much as we need food and water. This is the point of it.


It's not just about Facebook and Twitter, which we all talk about.


Radio has to have that, we need to be able to connect to people. If you


have a radio station broadcasting to a feud thousand people, those worked


risk of being very lonely and isolated, the old, the infirm,


people suffering from mental health problems, disabled, and they cannot


travel very far, the hearing about community events and businesses


which are very close to them, then it will be able to get to them and


that will be great advantage of that. There really is much to plot


in this Bill. I have some questions which I hope the minister will


respond to in the way of, how do these things work in practice? In


terms of, I know they are being attached to high buildings, because


my honourable friend keeps talking about high buildings, many of us


don't have high buildings in our constituencies. The other thing and


forgive me if I have missed something, but often when new things


are picked up any time, there are often worries about it. I do think


this Bill has such great potential to expand community radio, which


plays such an important role in helping to Nitties to build together


and to foster good relationships. I am thinking again as I have


mentioned, the things about Leland Festival radio which have really


done sterling work in our team in Italy and I hope that this Bill


would give it just those opportunities to fulfil a stream of


being a full-time radio station. Mr Deputy Speaker, it's an absolute


pleasure to follow on from my honourable friend and also I would


like to congratulate my honourable friend from Torbay for securing a


spot in the Chamber. I have to declare an interest, I used to write


songs in the 1980s. Which always cheers at the colleagues on my side


of the bench. This is a very serious issue that we are discussing today,


because... I shall give Ray to my honourable friend. Is my honourable


friend is still getting royalties from the 80s? Not correct that would


be telling. If you're going to name a question like that, you have to


name the chin that you're referring to. Digital radio. As this Bill


covers, affects areas of the UK that should really be honed in on from a


very, very long time ago. Before I alluded to my honourable friend from


Torbay about the previous Secretary of State for culture media and


sport, when he had an ambition to have digital radio take over from


analogue. As my honourable friend stated, this would be an optional


issue or a request from the broadcasting industry, but it is


something that must be taken seriously. If you think in my area,


we have a feud good radio stations in the area, but we do have the baby


radio, which on its website states there is no solution for them to


have digital radio at this moment in time, yet they do cover areas which


are quite low-lying in my constituency, leading all the way up


into the Lake District and all the way touching on the Scottish


Borders. It does a new website that if you want to find a coverage area,


click on the application. However, I do think with this option that my


honourable friend has put forward for the broadcasting industry to


consider, this would hope my local radio station in measurable way and


help the people in those communities to be kept in touch with what is


actually going on around them. Last year, about 12 months ago, we were


hit with the most horrendous floods we've ever seen. There was a power


cut. The only lifeline that we did have in the whole area as to what


was going on was our local B radio. I thank my honourable friend


forgiving way. I would like to reiterate today of all days how


important that last point is, because we have along the east coast


and particularly in Suffolk a real challenge today with the possibility


of flooding and as he says and as the Right honourable friend for


purple Valley has often said, when flooding comes, there is not much


warning. To have community radio is enabled to give more information to


the public is certainly a good thing, is it not? I do agree and I


do think my honourable friend for that very helpful intervention,


because that leads onto what I'm about to speak about next. What


happened was they also did as well and they were running a whole


operation of a laptop on the first floor. As my honourable friend did


allude to in his speech, laptops can come in very handy for this kind of


broadcasting. What are a problem at this moment in time, which has been


highlighted by my right honourable friend, is that the cost of this


could be prohibited, because it is quite costly to get these kinds of


licences, however, with demand, costs can be drives down. I hope


that the Minister will look on this proposal favourably, because we must


go forward with progression. If we don't, it is at our cost. We have


had the radio industry is subject to certain problems over the years, not


least not having this helped out in the first place. If you think about


what happened to my local radio station, if they had had digital


radio, the aerial areas that they broadcast to would have been better


informed as to what was actually going on with their localities. It


wasn't just my constituency that was affected, it was a constituency next


order of Lancaster. Also constituencies further up into


Carlisle. I do know that I had a meeting during these floods with the


Minister Stewart. Not many people knew that the minister was actually


running around the vicinity trying to sort out the problems and he was


working very hard. Purely and simply, because the communications


broke down in the area and he had a power cut in my vicinity that lasted


nearly two days. You can see, radio is a lifeline for these communities


and we should be looking to enhance the industry and not curtail it. I


do think that this measure that my honourable friend has done today is


a very welcome measure indeed. I do think that the larger broadcasters


such as the BBC, would also welcome this, because it would actually


drive the cost down as well. All the radio stations, I hope if they are


listening to this speech, I'm not being more favourable to one and the


other and I hope that have mentioned you all. I must a plug in for it


Beyond Radio. I'm sure they will be losing that in their jingles.


Digital radio is the future and it is for the right reason that the


honourable member for Ali when he was in the Secretary of State, he


wanted to push forward this particular project, but as yet we


have yet to see it. I would love to give way to my honourable friend. Q


refers to what the right Honourable member suggested at the time I think


when he was the Cabinet minister responsible for the area of policy.


Whilst this is not about that specific way, if ever there was the


move to digital, we need to make sure all three layers of radio are


represented. National, community, local. Might I pay homage to my


right honourable friend for researching this Bill thoroughly and


speaking for one hour without notes on this particular issue. I was in


the music industry once, it pains me to say I didn't know half of what my


honourable friend was saying. However, it's a big help to the


industry as a whole and ensure that they would welcome what he is trying


to do. With that, Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you very much for your time.


Mr Deputy Speaker, I'm delighted to follow my honourable friend and it's


amazing what we discover about her colleagues during these debates and


I'm intrigued to find out some of those songs that have been written


by my honourable friend. Perhaps he might share that with those later.


Having spent very much of my life as a broadcaster and journalist with


many years involvement in radio stations of every kind, from


community to local to commercial and BBC national radio, I'm really


delighted to support my honourable friend from Torbay in bringing this


Bill and I congratulate him for bringing it forward, for all the


work that he has done and in particular for the very clear case


that he is made today. I think even those who don't understand very much


about the technicalities, even I don't understand a lot of those, he


has made it very clear. I must reiterate the comments made from my


right honourable friend that it is disappointing that the benches are


so empty on the Opposition side, particularly amongst our Scottish


colleagues, because I do believe that if we can bring this Bill


forward, it will help those of every mode areas where it is quite


difficult to get the correct signals. At the Welsh, I agree.


Sorry, the Welsh are here. Apologies, said. A Welsh present is


here. You are well represented compared to a Scottish colleagues. I


take that back. I'm a keen supporter of local media


including newspapers. That includes local radio stations. Anything that


can be done must be applauded. I understand that that will friend, I


am a fanatical radio nut. I go everywhere with my radio. We have a


radio in almost every room! You might think that is a bit sad. I


will give way. I thank a forgiving way. One of the affections I would


make is that I listened to the radio on my way from the constituency,


because I want to listen to the cricket and to the cat macro


archers. -- Archers. I could not be without my radio because of the


Archers. I listen to the same episode multiple times a day! I am a


big local radio fan as well. Like my honourable friend, as soon as I get


back to my constituency in my car, I switch on the local radio so I can


catch up instantly and what the news is there. Of course, the way we now


listen to radio is changing. TV has ordered one through a big


transition, and now so is radio. Statistics show that many households


in the UK already own a DAB radio. This year, terribly exciting, I got


a DAV system. -- DAB system. I have to put my glasses on to get


to the touch button thing. DAB systems are increasingly important


as features in cars. That is obviously where I listen to my local


radio a lot. In this new DAB world, I must reiterate for the


uninitiated, we're not talking about the dap fish. Dab are a wonderful


fish that are great to feed children and are very cheap. We are not


talking about them, we're talking about radio. I want to explain that


small radio stations are really important. This Bill will help them


have a better future, and for the better under resourced stations to


have a better future. They offer a very high delocalised news. This is


the news you do not get from elsewhere. You don't get that from


the National stations. You often don't get it from the regional


stations can, because they are covering bigger areas now. That is


really interesting. For example, in Taunton, we have just welcomed the


fact that the governorate has just announced Taunton as a garden town.


But what a derelict place for the public in Taunton to interact about


what they think of that. That was well covered on the local stations.


Also, what better place to carry out a poll on which day we should have


Somerset day. It was huge audience interaction across all the different


stations about what people thought about that. And they local


initiative called Art Taunton. It is trying to encourage culture and art


in Taunton. We need to up our offer of art and culture. Perhaps the


minister might take this on board, being in this particular area. He


may even do an interview on the radio. It is important. It is


important, as has been touched on by my honourable friend, who is just


leaving, in times of crisis. Local stations were invaluable in the


terrible time of flight in 2013 - 14, when huge areas of Somerset


flooded and it was the local radio that was the linchpin of


transmitting the news, of people phoning in and offering help, people


caught making where they should go and what they should do. It was


local radio that played a key role in that time. It is also really


important when it snows, for transferring information, but Italy


for the local schools. All of the local schools use the local radio to


tell people whether they are open or closed. Everybody turns on the radio


to find out. It is invaluable in times of emergency. That is


important. Also think of local guide you and you cannot help but think of


travel reports. You know, is this not where all about honourable


friends get travel information, about what is happening in rush


hour, whether to use that key road in Somerset, the A358. If one hears


that that road is log jammed, one void it. It is a marvellous service.


I hope we will never have to hear those messages again shortly


because, this week, I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State for


Transport has just reiterated his commitment to upgrading that road.


Hopefully, we will all start not hearing about that so much now local


radio. I will mention some of the excellent community radio stations


in my constituency. One is Tone FM. It is very good for its traffic


news. This station has an incredible audience of 22,000 people. That is


incredible for a small town community radio station. They are


operating on a shoestring. I used to due a regular gardening slot for


them. We had a lot of fun but also imparted a lot of knowledge and


information. I will never forget the time... Are usually took in


something for the audience to guess what we were talking about. I once


took in an elephant garlic. If the members have ever seen one of those,


it is a bit drastic thing to see and using cooking. Much guesswork went


on about my Jerusalem artichokes. We get a lot of interaction about what


is going on in Parliament, and people this into the pod casts, it


is a great way of disseminating information. All of the people that


work in this station, it would not run without them. Darren McCullum


puts a lot of hours into making sure it runs. Ten Radio is also


fantastic. With my honourable friend agree that these hyper local radio


stations, they could all... This Bill could be a substitute for the


sort of Facebook community pages which are grown up in many rural


areas but are not accessible to older people because they have to


look at them. This might be the perfect substitute for those or the


declining local newspaper is as well? She makes a valid point. It is


an invaluable service for local news and gossip. I enjoyed going there


before Christmas to give an update on my year in Parliament, and they


did a long interview and then did one is about cast as well. It is run


entirely by volunteers. They have to run the technical size of these --


sides of these services. I particular wanted to mention the


story of Joseph Tucker. He is a wheelchair user. He speaks through a


computer-controlled gadget with his aye movements. He presents a show,


which is all about musicals, which is brilliant. What a fantastic


platform for Joe to engage with people and for them to engage with


Joe. It was on a small local commercial radio station that I


started, where many people from pirate radio had gone to work, like


Johnnie Walker, who is now on Radio 2. At that time, I had left


university and I started there for work experience. I worked there for


a whole year pretty but unpaid. I had three other jobs on the go to


fund myself. I divided a programme called country connections which are


broadcast live at 7am. It would all of my Saturday nights. I had to


drive all the way to Bristol early in the morning to broadcast the show


to the whole of Bristol. I'm sure nobody was listening to it because


it was so early and it was a very urban audience. It was a fantastic


grounding. It was where I learned all of my craft on editing,


producing and all of that. Without that, I am certain I would not go on


to produce farming today on Radio 4. That is where I did all of my


groundwork. Small local radio stations are still offering this


opportunity for young people. I would urge people to take it. It is


a fantastic grounding. The more we can do to help those those services


remain in existence and expand, all the better. That is what this Bill


will do. To go on, Tone and Ten radio are not on DAB. The cost is


too high and there is not sufficient capacity for stations like this.


The smaller local stations are very much aware that audiences are moving


over to digital, and all of them would very much, and in particular I


have talked to them about this, they would appreciate the opportunity to


work on digital as long as it is affordable.


They have demonstrated the software -based approach can be viable. Two


breeze radio does broadcast from the constituency of Taunton Deane.


Across the ten trial areas, 70 unique radio stations are being


carried. The majority of them are new DAV, and I believe a lot of


interesting work went on during the trial and lessons can be passed on.


I think it is an exciting opportunity which has opened up. It


is proven they could work and I hope this Bill will facilitate those


things going forward. To conclude, I am delighted to support this Bill


which will allow Ofcom flexibility on servicing small-scale radio


stations with multiplex licences in a much, much simpler and more


straightforward manner. This can benefit, and can only benefit local


radio stations in doing their work. The committee will benefit hugely


from that. If this Bill is passed, the opportunities could be endless.


Perhaps one may even be able to start up a radio station from my


garden shed! Welcomed the Bill and wish it all the best of luck.


Can I thank the Deputy Speaker. I haven't listened to the omnibus


edition. I look forward about on Sunday, though I have tried quite


hard. May I also congratulate the member for Paul Blake for producing


a very excellent Bill which I'm delighted to be able to support


later on today, should it be put to a vote. I will certainly declare an


interest, namely that my father, when he left the Navy, he


immediately became the head of outside broadcasting for a


television station which is the forerunner to ITV and all of that as


well. As many people may know, my brother


is the cricket correspondent for sky television and before he took up


that job somewhere the go now, he was a newsreader on Radio 4 where


repeatedly he went on radio at 1pm on Saturday lunchtime and said, BBC


radio news at one o'clock, a Russian submarine has been found south-east


off Swindon. It should have been Sweden. It's one of those things. I


am going to confess, in the 1980s there was the Conservative Party


agent and I worked for Angela Rumbold who was the Minister for


education and went to the Home Office. Before she became a


minister, she got very involved in the campaign to do with the company


called radio Jackie. It was a pirate radio station. It broadcasts


initially on a Sunday and then moved a bit further into broadcasting


during the course of the day. There was a real sense of the time that


the DTI didn't want to have more radio stations that were actually


being put forward at that time. It was very limited. The BBC, I think


by that time Capital Radio had come on board as well, but it was a


really important issue. This feels a groundhog Day to me. Indeed, I have


to confess, there were times when the DTI were so stringent that they


decided they were going to try and read some of these pirate radio


stations only tried to and did succeed. They succeeded in reading


radio Jackie. I was asked by my governor to make sure that he was


aware as to what was likely to end up happening and heated the


equipment away, rather than lose it. It seems to my mind that we have


moved an awful long way now with the advent of digital radio to make sure


that we can actually now provide a better service, but more


importantly, a greater service. More choice as far as radio is concerned


as well. I think that is something which every much welcome in this


country. Can I pay tribute, not only to my local BBC radio station and


the wonderful Gordon Sparks, who unfortunately hasn't been


commentating very much on Plymouth Argyle, which honourable members may


know, ended up drawing against Liverpool and we are very much


looking forward to what happens on Tuesday when the replay at home


Park. I understand tickets had been going incredibly well, too. It could


potentially add ?1 million to Plymouth Arguelles's Exchequer. Can


I also pay tribute to Simon Bates who has just given up being on radio


Devon. Every time she wanted to talk about my great campaign about how we


could make sure that hedgehogs become a protected species and one


wouldn't want to miss an opportunity during the course of an informal


debate like this in order to acknowledge him. Sadly, he has


decided to stand down. I would like to pay great tribute, because he was


a delight to end up being injured the guy and I thoroughly enjoyed


myself. Can I also paid tribute to radio Plymouth, which probably is


the best example of the local community radio station within the


city as a whole. It covers a whole series of issues and I think is very


good. Another great thing and I think it's important about having


community radios is that it can actually cover specific community


events which take place. In 2020, Plymouth will be commemorating and


has been named as the place where we will be commemorating Mayflower 400.


This is where the Mayflower left Plymouth Asturian a journey into


Torbay and other places as well. It founded the American colonies. We


need to make sure that there is good coverage of this, so that people


feel they are engaged. And we know how it is during Arscott or


Wimbledon, there are specific radio stations set up in order to cover


that and it seems to my mind that this is a useful opportunity whereby


local communities can promote the activities which they are going to


be talking about, but secondly, they can make sure that people in the


individual communities are actually going to be very much engaged. If


this is successful, can become another version of the Democrat


focus. I suspect I will have to ask the Minister, who I am delighted to


see in his place today, because he is a great cricket fan, too. He has


played cricket with me, too. That has been great fun, in India. We


ended up by having a great time, but is very good news, because I know


that he has in his own constituency, Newmarket, which has a good racing


events as well. I think there are specific ways that we can do this.


We can make sure that there are could be specific campaign issues. I


am acutely aware that the website is now, there are a number of community


websites, like FW 19 which I know about from the days when I was


younger. They have regular people who write in and put comments on it


as well. Some of the local community activities and I think that is


something which is very, very important. One question that I would


ask the Minister, to see make sure that when this is being developed,


I'm completely aware that this is about infrastructure, did he make


sure that there is actually going to be affordable licenses that local


people can afford. The would be nothing worse than for it to be too


expensive and prohibitive. Yes. The honourable member, I hope you will


be reassured that experience wear off, did its trousers that very


small operations did get going. Enabling to have this funny much


more permanent bases across the rest of the country. The cost of the


current multiplexes would exclude any operation. Thank you for that.


The other point that I would also make is that it is very important


that we develop an infrastructure that isn't going to be too expensive


as far as the communities are concerned, too. I'm acutely aware


and I will make a confession, I did some work on behalf of the mobile


phone operators and it seems to my mind that we still need, sadly on


the train going down to Paddington to Plymouth, we need to have much


better mobile phone coverage, because half the time when you go


down, you can't actually get on to the Internet or for that matter can


you end up taking telephone calls, because the mobile phone coverage


isn't particularly good. Why could it not be the local communities


could also opt to end up by pitting their stuff on the mobile phone mast


network, too. That I think is important. The final point I would


make is, could we have an assurance from the Minister that what we are


going to be able to do is to make sure that it could not end up that


these community radio stations cannot be abused by other political


parties and that actually it has got to be used to conform to the


representation of the People's act, whether has to be balanced,


especially during the course of elections, too. That is something


that I would be very nervous about if we ended up having a biased


reporting and I think one of the things that is really good, I


personally think, that the BBC isn't particularly biased and I think it's


very important that we do not give an opportunity for people who have


perhaps not necessarily agreed with everything to end up by using it in


order to be a campaign going in a party political manner against us.


Thank you very much indeed. This has been a pleasure and a delight and


can I say that this has been a fantastically informal, I would


predict to you, debate weather has been entertainment which I suspect


Abu braided summer of two. LAUGHTER


-- I suspect I have provided some of that, too. I would like to


congratulate my honourable friend, the member for Torbay for securing


the Bill today. It is an issue of great importance to both of us in


the Chamber today and hopefully many other members as well. I would also


like to add my name to the list of people who are archers fans and I


also have been known to listen to each episode three times. I must


visit on record, I no longer have the time to do that, but in the past


I have. Is my honourable friend aware that there is a wonderful


Archers and it kissed which is an organisation which believes that


isn't exactly a soap opera, but more if fly by documentary as well. They


have a lecturer from Sammy the cat everyday. Not like thank my


honourable friend for that intervention, but I'm not surprised.


The issue we are talking about today is of great importance to my


constituents. Especially those in the southern part of my


constituency. As you are aware, I represent error wash. They have a


community read your station. It is called Erewash Sounds. They


regretted in F community radio licence and were granted that on


Saturday the 6th of March 2010 from studios which no... Was an old


school, based in the community. It is a community interest Company. It


is not-for-profit, run by volunteers for the benefit of the people.


Running costs are covered by the advertising and sponsored it and


when they are able to secured by grants, donations and fundraising.


Community radio across the country faces certain issues that continue


to affect their sustainability and hopefully today we're talking about


one aspect that can really change the sustainability of the community


radio operators. I'm led to believe that the community order from 2004


places restrictions on community radio. Limiting broadcast power


levels to quite low, stipulating that community radio can only credit


up to 50% of total to read can use to advertising and sponsorship. Some


local radio stations cannot even do that. They cannot sell any advertise


or sponsorships. Erewash Sounds is currently restricted by this 50%


rule. It has even greater problems. Erewash Sounds was allocated a power


allocation of just 25 watts 96.8 FM. This is just one point away from a


transmitter in Ashbourne to the west. These are commercial radio


stations that broadcast on 96.7 FM. It is quick difficult to get that


separation. 96.8 FM is also used by to BBC Wales Wealth language


service. It has 125 kilowatts power and is in some parts 250 kilowatts.


That is a transmitter located in South Wales. From Wunsch, Erewash


Sounds has continued to suffer from spurious and often intermittent


interference from the BBC's transmitter in Wales, the effects of


which can be severe, interrupting. I'm sure that people do not mind


hearing the Welsh language programme, but I'm afraid that in


Erewash, not many people may be able to understand what is being said. I


understand from the operator that this is even worse in fine weather


and yes, in Erewash we do have lots of fine weather. With the challenge


of frequency allocation, Erewash Sounds was told by off, comedy


broadcast regulator, that 96.8 FM was and I quote, the best frequency


they could offer. Now, that is really per. Erewash Sounds was also


informed by off, but 25 what's with the usual power level allocated to


commuter radio. Yet there is evidence that other community radio


stations have been allocated double the power of Erewash Sounds and some


have been allocated 100 kilowatts. You can see with the problems are to


build up. The BBC radio Wales service and the low-power, this


results in probably over half of my constituents being prohibited from


tuning into Erewash Sounds residence in low Newton struggled to tune into


Erewash Sounds added the southern part of the area that is the


problem, partly because we have a village on a hill between Folkestone


and Long Eaton. Some people probably can tune into Erewash Sounds, but


I'm afraid that once they get over the hell, people can't do that.


The power and the bandwidth is restricting the transmission of this


fantastic local community radio station. This hasn't stopped Erewash


Sound from promoting their radio station in the south of the borough,


even though people can't hear them. They live in hope that one day


things will change, hopefully through this Bill, and people


through the whole of error -- Erewash world be able to hear it.


I want to spend a little time explaining how Erewash Sound


contraries to the whole community across my constituency. They provide


the outside broadcast facilities at the Trinity Hospital -- community


hospital. Last summer, I was invited to judge the floats at Long Eaton


Carnival. I was so relieved to have a fellow judge. Where you are


judging fantastic floats, you don't want to let anyone down. They're


actively promoting and supporting the local hospice. They have also


recently committed even more to a business club to allow them to meet


in their premises so people involved can see what is involved in the


radio. They tried to reach out. Other honourable members have


alluded to the importance of community radio providing the


training ground for budding presenters. Erewash Sound has got an


academy which is open to local people, regardless of age or


experience. Mr Deputy Speaker, it seems completely wrong that Erewash


Sound supports the whole of my constituency really, really well and


yet a great number of my constituents just cannot enjoy the


pleasures of listening to the Trinity radio station.


David Allen will still be broadcasting now, he goes on until


1pm. On the most recent visit to the radio station, I had the leisure of


sitting within and being interviewed by him. Live on-air we had a good


chat and a bit of a phone in as well. It is a really interactive


radio station. David Allen's show will be followed by the afternoon


show, then the homeward bound and then the alternative show and then


the late show. For those insomniacs to monks asked, the night owls show


revise drug -- provides music throughout the night. I hope not to


listen to that because I like my night's sleep. In the parts of my


community that cannot receive the station, they have told Erewash


Sound that they want to listen to the radio station but they cannot.


They want the changes to be made that we are talking about today so


they can tune in. Back in 2015, I made reference to the fact that


people in Ilkeston think that the residents of Longleat and get


everything and vice versa. Usually, I say they are wrong because they


both get everything. In this case,, below Eaton residents are right.


They don't get Erewash Sound. This doesn't do anything to bust that


myth. In fact, the committee radio station was based on the fact it


would help ring the two towns together and get technology has


stopped them doing that. My discussions with Ofcom have


resulted in the conclusion that the affordable license is the only


option available for Erewash Sound to fulfil its goal of bringing


people together and broadcasting to the whole of Mike Scituate see. That


is why I am supporting the builder Dave -- the whole of my


constituency. We need to bring this in without delay so all of my


constituents can enjoy the sounds of Erewash Sound. I would like to thank


everyone at Erewash Sound for providing such great entertainment


and supporting the whole of the community through their committee


actions, even though they are not broadcasting throughout the whole of


the constituency. They do a fantastic job, all voluntary, but


the people in Long Eaton want this to go through as quickly as possible


so they can continue to enjoy the benefits seem in Ilkeston.


I'd like to start by saying it is a pleasure to follow my honourable


friend, and she dubbed about -- talked with so much passion about


her local radio station. She is a good advocate for all things good


about her constituency. It is a pleasure to speak in today's debate.


I congratulate my honourable friend for bringing this Bill before the


House. I do feel I should shed a level light on the reference made


earlier in the debate, in the member's hard work and determination


during his slot for this important Bill today. Reference has been made


to the sleepover at the House of Commons to secure Bill slots, a


well-known practice for those of us who are determined to try out best


to get legislation on the statute book. I will say they were number of


us there that night. There was no DAB radio, but we did have Big Ben


chiming throughout the night. I will leave it at that. Moving back to the


Bill, this is an important point. It is very technical in parts, but it


is important and much needed. It will bring and create a lighter


touch regime. Before I move on, during my research, I was pleased to


hear my honourable friend, the motherboard want and even make a


reference to the word dab. We did find out that the term DAB does


refer to Digital audio broadcast, not the dance move, dab, where you


look into your elbow as if you were sneezing. I will not be doing that


today. Currently, there are around 250 committee radio stations and 200


smaller stations transmitting on FM who do not have the opportunity to


broadcast on digital radio. Local to my home constituency, there are


Amber Radio and other local radio stations in the Birmingham West


Midlands area. If this Bill does proceed through this place and does


get onto the statute book, more committee stations at for local


stations will be encouraged to start. The reasons for those not


able to broadcast are twofold. There is insufficient bandwidth on the


multiplex. A number of DAB radio stations are trusted on a single


frequency and given to a geographical area. This is more


efficient than FM, AM and other analog methods. The second is the


prohibitive cost of broadcasting and these existing DAB networks. It is


currently transmitted by three existing multiplexes. There are 58


local commercial DAB multiplexes covering county sized areas. The


cost broadcasting on such a multiplex is quite large. These


multiplexes have a limited capacity and can only carry a certain number


of stations, meaning the biggest county or countrywide stations can


afford to broadcast while smaller committee stations, which serve a


smaller area, I priced out of broadcasting on the multiplex. We


have heard a lot today about the Ofcom work and the trials they have


been doing. This Bill seeks to address the issue of capacity by


enabling Ofcom to modify the various procedures, procedures and


conditions connected to the awarding of licenses so more community


stations can broadcast on small-scale DAB multiplexes. Surely,


this must be a good thing for them as and all other constituents. Mr


Deputy Speaker, for several years now, the Government has been


discussing the digital radio switchover. I was pleased to hear my


honourable friend make reference to this earlier today. Much like the


digital television switchover in 2012, this switchover will see


broadcasts move from analogue but wants to digital. For this to


happen, criteria would need be met before starting any process of


digital switchover. I was pleased to hear my right honourable friend


assure us today that this Bill is all about choice and opportunity.


Will we honourable man to give way? I thank the honourable member for


giving way. Which she agreed that the focus is on giving an option for


committee stations to go on to DAB, nobody will be forced to go off FM.


What this Bill does is gives an option for the third tier of


community radio to go on if it wants to, but if they want to stay on the


current analogue stations, there is nothing to force them to do so. I am


grateful again for my honourable friend for giving us all that


reassurance that is very welcome today. There are many reasons why


the DAB is vital. The first is choice, which he has just reassured


us again on. The variety and quantity of stations available is


the main motivation to use DAB. There are huge number available, we


have heard many examples today. Stations playing jazz music all day,


children's stations, religious stations, through to those that only


play heavy metal. The FM spectrum only has limited space and is


currently very crowded. DAB provides a greater space, stations and more


choice for communities. And for space full local communities as


well. There are double transition fees and the to won and analogue


stations. Digital radio offers the possibility to develop content and


innovation much better than analogue dials. These add scrolling text or


slide shows, and adds the ability to pause and record live radio as many


people have become expecting that as a normal. We have heard earlier that


reception which is currently far from perfect, often described as a


cliff edge. You may know yourself, you either have a perfect signal and


reception or absolutely nothing at all. I'm hoping that you, Mr Debbie


did speak, are the same wavelength as me today! In Chorley FM, we get


perfect wavelength! This contrasts with FM which becomes slightly fuzzy


as you begin to lose the signal. There are possible options to deal


with this, but much like FM there is a limit to how many stations can be


broadcast from a single multiplex. This limit is much higher than on


FM. As a multiplex fills up, and competition increases, naturally the


cost of broadcasting from that multiplex rises. This price is local


stations out of broadcasting and the multiplex. Another reason why this


Bill is so important. The industry has already made some


developments increasing capacity on the DAV stations. This reduces the


transmission costs and enables more stations to be accommodated within a


multiplex. Another more efficient way of increasing DAV capacity is as


which to be a B+. That is to three times more efficient. Some of the


trialists in the off, trial were allowed to start broadcasting on DAV


and it will be interesting to see what the Minister has the today. And


I want comments the importance of community radio and why it matters


community radio is live and kicking, we have heard that today. For these


stations to really grow, there needs to be the opportunity and space for


them to broadcast on small-scale, local multiplexes covering the local


areas that they represent. I am reminded of my own background,


coming from a local area, the deals radio was reporting on bad weather,


localised road conditions each year of the bad weather forecast today,


it's not just the rain and floods, but also the heavy snowfall across


the country. I am sure that those local radio stations are playing a


vital part of our constituents and our local communities. The British


forces broadcasting service is another fantastic example of the


true community radio station. I am going to wind up now, Mr Deputy


Speaker, because I know the time is marching on and there are others who


still would like to speak today. I would like to say that at the heart


of this Bill, I think we have an opportunity not just help local


radio stations access these local multiplexes, but making real


difference to our local communities. Those local communities that we all


fight so hard to represent in this place. Some have local radio


stations, some do not. For some, I would like to think that this Bill


brings about the opportunity for more local radio, more chance to


broadcast, more chance to communicate and particularly at a


time when there is a much said about the need for greater social


cohesion, the need for communities to come together, particularly


post-Brexit. I think this is a perfect opportunity we can all come


together make a difference. Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is my


great pleasure to follow my honourable friend the member for all


church. I would like to start my remarks by congratulating my


honourable friend, the member for currently in bringing this Bill


beyond the house. He is proving himself to be tenacious campaign,


always stands up for his constituents and is an impressive


Commons performer in my mind. I think we saw that at the side of


this debate, speaking for nearly one hour and taking all the things


thrown at him and speaking with great elegance. I am not surprised


at all that he signed a night in his office queueing to get this Bill on


the order paper and the four hours in this House, so I congratulate him


for those efforts on behalf of his constituency. You tend to know that


you are in a pretty good place on these bills when the honourable


member for Shipley isn't here. There has to be and we are seeing


demonstrated, very broad support for this Bill and a couple of words that


my honourable friend the member for Shipley regularly uses when he


speaks on a Friday is one of worthy sentiment and I think there is a lot


of worthy sentiment in this Bill, because this is all about community,


local services, communication with local people in local areas and I


believe the objectives that underpin this Bill most certainly constitute


worthy sentiment. I just want to start that by recognising in my


pride of the country, we are very well serviced by our local media


outlets. When it comes to radio, we have BBC radio Northampton, we also


have connect FM, all of which provided brilliant local services


have different leashes and dissonances. We also have good


coverage with television would look east that provided good local news


service and we have our newspapers. All of those come together in a


different way to really contribute to local north Northamptonshire in


life. As members from the house will appreciate, those different outlets


have different resources available to them. Some of them are much


better resourced than others. I don't think we should forget that


community radio is very dependent upon volunteers who put an off a lot


of time and effort into providing the services on behalf of the


community where they are based. It is hardly surprising that currently


around 200 small commercial radio stations and 244 community radio


stations do not have the opportunity to broadcast and jewellery do you


only realities around us are very striking. I think the rationale


behind this Bill is exceptionally logical, because there's not enough


capacity on the DA be multiplexes available currently, particularly in


urban areas. The cost of carriage on networks is too high for some local


stations. That is particularly pertinent in north Northamptonshire.


The area of the multiplex coverage provided by county level DA be


multiplex is too large computed the smaller transmission areas. The


license of 12 years is not appropriate for all broadcasters. I


will comment that later. I also think we have to recognise that we


need to move with the times. Many small radio broadcasters broadcast


online, but they need a better option. By the end of 2017, early


2018, 50% of radio listening will be on a digital platform, which is


hardly surprising in a digital age. 60% of UK homes have at least one


DAB radio. That will have increased over the Christmas period with many


people being given one as a gift. My honourable friend alluded to her own


household situation and the digital radio she has received at various.


That is the context that we, this debate from an one thing that my


honourable friend the member for Torbay and I can sometimes be


accused of is chuntering from a sedentary position and I can tell


you that that happens when we believe that members on all sides


are complaining about problems, but not really bringing any solutions


for red to address and I have to say that as frustrated as on a somewhat


regular basis. That is why this Bill has a particular strength I would


maintain. The DC MS funded trials between 2014 and two dozen 16 have


proven that this technology works. It proves this is a viable


opportunity, this is something that could be ruled out, because we have


seen through the ten pilots and we have seen in this library briefing a


real acknowledgement of the successors been hard with those


pilots. Not only have we identified a challenge and a problem, but we


are also in a position where we have something to help rectify some of


those challenges that is ready-made, ready available and I can be ruled


out of we move forward on that basis. I think that is very welcome


in its own right. Sometimes one of the criticisms that can be made of


this House is that debates that we have here are sometimes a little


abstract and what I would like to do in the back end of my remarks as set


out the local context and exactly where we sit in my part of the


country in relation to this issue. As I say, we are very well serviced


by two local community radio stations, Collect F M and Corby


radio. I've made part of contact with both of the review stations ask


what their take on this Bill is. I have to mess they are any particular


challenges or areas of improvement. I would like to reflect on the


comments I have had back from that. They had been in touch and said that


Connect FM is on DAB radio currently and they believe it is the way for


written to the decision to invest in it. We currently broadcast on DA be


across Northamptonshire. It gives smaller broadcasters like connect FM


who previously only covered part of the county the ability to broadcast


on a countywide basis. This is vital to ensure financial stability that


broadcasters like as required. I think level playing field is


important here. Previously only enjoyed by a limited number of


commercial broadcasters and the BBC. The cost involved in broadcasting on


DA BR currently I watch only high when compared to the financial


return. We have had to negotiate heavily with the sole DAB supplier


to be able to broadcast on the platform and even then can only


afford a low, bit rate, Mono signal. Stereos beyond our reach currently.


We have been keeping a close eye on small-scale DAB and it would be of


interest to us. Current DAB costs are excessive, so anything that can


be done to drive those costs down, was at the same time offering more


listener choice has to be considered. We support the Bill at


its aim is to achieve that and also bring forward a switchover date. I


hope some of those issues the minister could remark on in his


closing remarks and also we could get into the nitty-gritty as part of


any future Bill put committee that I would be delighted to serve on to


make sure that we get this right for all of different providers. I'll is


just want to touch in a situation with regards to Corby radio who


first started broadcasting in the 5th of December 2009 is a full time


community radio station. It's incredibly strong on local issues,


has a news output is well combined with popular music for all tastes.


It does regular studio programming, has won a special live broadcast


from the community of ten such as the carnival, the Highland


gathering, which is very popular in the town. The opening of the Corby


cube and the arrival of the Olympic torch in Corby. These are all


pivotal moments in the history of the town which had been captured in


local media output. I don't think without it would have been done in


the past and will not happen as successfully in the future. We need


to remember the enormous contribution that makes. This is


local coverage by Corby people Forum Corby people all the way through and


over the summer I took part in the listener takeover, where went in for


an hour and they basically had a desert island discs show where I was


able to get my rundown of my favourite songs. I thoroughly


enjoyed it. I hope the listeners at home thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope a


crazy few pounds to contribute to the radio station and I was just one


of many people who took part in those initiatives throughout the


summer months. Werther songs they once written by the member for more,


and Lonsdale's thank you for that intervention. Shamefully, I have to


say that I'm not aware of any of the songs that are honourable friend


published. I was disappointed. I was disappointed he didn't set out in


greater detail exactly what those songs were so that we could all go


and look them up over the weekend. Perhaps we could have another show


on Corby radio that goes through all of Dave Morris's greatest hits.


Currently, the station does not transmit on DA be, it is only on F M


to the borough of Corby and the surrounding villages. I know that


when I head back at the end of the week, when it begins to come in


range of my car radio that I'm nearly home. Corby radio is a


community station. It has been issued a five-year community radio


licence by off, which must be reviewed every five years. They


would be very interested in being able to transmit on DA be. They


cited back to me the evidence that I alluded to earlier. In the UK, more


and more people are turning to digital radio and it is estimated


that by the end of 2017, 50% of radio listening will be on the


digital platform. The altimeter really set out that situation is


part of this debate, because it is an important fact of the matter. The


also mentioned to me that Norway has just started to phase out FM and


that by the end of 2017, the whole country will be digital radio only.


That's a global trend. We have heard many degrees the Government wanting


to keep up and be at the front of the global race and I think on this


issue we should want to be doing exactly that, too. They would be


very interested in progressing the Bill. They are fully supportive of


it and as a local MP, I think it's important I put that on the record


and make sure we get this Bill through on its second reading and


that is why I'm pleased to be here today. I just want to move towards


the end of my remarks now, because this really does matter. Corby radio


does provide such an important local service. It promotes excellent local


community groups, Costner 's, fundraising efforts that other video


providers simply aren't in a position to advertise in the same


way. It provides that topical local news. As other members have alluded


to, these stations provide important local weather updates that are


crucial for people in the news output that comes from the small


local radio stations, in my experience, is completely impartial


and are simply often a case of presenting the facts and letting


people know what is going on. It also provides, this is a point


hasn't he picked up in this debate, a platform for local sports clubs to


get across future fixture information, to get across reporters


about how particular People are interested in the local


clubs and local teams. It is important they have that platform


available to try to encourage more people to come along to the ground


is on a Saturday afternoon, for example. Will he give way? Of


course. I thank him for giving way. He makes an excellent point about


the value of community radio. I'm sure, like with our own radio


Suffolk, you hear as we get towards the weekend in the summer about the


fates you here. It really does show the importance and the vitality of


keeping our local stations. This Bill will help this. I'm sure he


would agree. I completely sharing those


sentiments. In Bury St Edmunds, there is an awful lot of killing the


work that goes on that would not get the hearing it gets if it were not


for local radio. I was interested in what the member for South rouble


said about loneliness. It is clear that there is a big role for local


radio to play, particularly in isolated communities where people


are not necessarily able to get urban to urban centres and not able


to get for various reasons. This service keeps them connected to the


local community and allows them to bring in as part of the feedback


programmes that are held. It gives people that confidence that there


are things going on around them. There is an avenue of support as


well. Those are welcome. I commend her for the work she is doing on


this issue of loneliness. I don't underestimate as a local MP, and it


is a little bit lonely over and the opposition benches. I commend the


Shadow ministers for taking part in this debate today. I don't


underestimate the value of community radio in my local constituency. Not


only do people speak warmly about it, but I spend a lot of time


knocking on doors. Part of my job that I enjoy most is knocking on


doors, finding out what matters most to people as part of that campaign.


One of the things that strikes me on a regular basis is the number of


stickers in people's Windows for Connect FM and also for Corby Radio.


It shows that people are switched on to their kill unity radio services,


they hugely supported. They put a sticker in their window, which shows


evidently the value that people place on those services. So I


believe, in conclusion that this Bill presents a way forward to


secure the future of community radio services. There is no compulsion


about this, as the honourable men before Torbay has been clear about,


this provides another opportunity for community radio stations to be


able to secure their future in the way that works best for them. I


commend that and I very much hope that this Bill will make progress


today. We had a lot today about local


amenity radio and I want to endorse a lot of that. I would blog about


the future of DAB radio. I will state the matter of interest, I am


the leader of the all-party committee on this. We talk about the


motorbikes is that we have. We do have the national multiplexes, but


even their coverage is not great. But it is the future of radio. There


will come a day were we switch over from analogue to digital, and that


... As soon as that comes, the letter. We need to secure the future


of our local radio stations. As has been eloquently laid out today, the


small local radio stations, and it has been a great opportunity for us


to wax lyrical about how own local radio stations, and I intend to be


no different! I will talk about my own constituency radio station. My


constituency covers 200 square miles. Signals are problem, it has


many hills. Because of where we are, we did not identified Radio


Manchester, Radio Sheffield and so on. Our local station provides a


bespoke service for our area. The way things are, it is beyond the


finances of small, independent community commercial radio stations


to go into digital. It is too expensive, too costly and too


difficult. This Bill is an excellent piece of legislation and the sooner


we get it through, the better. What it does, as has been laid out by my


honourable friend from Torbay, it places a framework whereby the likes


of High Peak Radio can get onto DAB. I wish to remind my oral friend that


I was saying that... I have moved places. I was referring to the oral


member for Sedgefield which was some years ago. We need to allow the


likes of High Peak macro Radio to move into the digital age. Without


the costs that prevent such a conversion. I look at what High Peak


Radio have done for the community in the years they have been


broadcasting. They benefit so many aspects. We talk about community and


charities and we have things like Lighthouse Hospice, where High Peak


radio are supporter of that charity. If you take part in an event at High


Peak, I have walked all the way around, I have played golf, I have


done everything for charity. High Peak Radio have facilitated that and


got the word out. One of the first charity walks I did, one walked


around the boundary of the constituency, I was walking out of


Buxton and a car pulled up. People. Andy Hope and his window and said,


there is a tenner. I just heard on High Peak Radio that you are walking


the boundary of the constituency for that charity of the time. I heard on


the radio, here is ten quid. That went to the charity. That is an


isolated incident of how the radio station helped supports only people


doing such good work for the charities. They cannot afford an


advert on the big radio stations or on television. The local radio


station encouraged that support. It in turn promotes amenity cohesion.


We talk about cohesion in the amenity in this place and this is a


great way of doing it. -- promotes commune at the code lesion.


People say that people don't listen to the radio any more, but in High


Peak they do. There is the music but they get the local news and it makes


them feel part of their local community. Sometimes these are


elderly people who could not get out as much as they want to. They know


what is going on in their town and that area. They know that on


Christmas Day, there was an organisation that it's a Christmas


pledge for people. It is a great way for creating this code lesion and


dealing with the social isolation that we in this place try to find


ways to deal with. I can assure you it is probably pretty snowy in the


High Peak. Buxton is one of the highest towns, but have been highest


pub in England, which will be covered in snow. With High Peak


Radio, they can... If you put on your regional radio station, you


will only hear about Buxton once or twice a year. You care about the


rows that are often blocked with traffic. This time of year, snow is


a problem and those roads that many other rows. If you are looking to


get from Glossop to Buxton, you would not get that on BBC Radio


news, but you would get it on High Peak macro radio. The downside is


that Jamie Douglas cannot get to work today, so Mike sojourns in


office is closed. -- my constituency office is closed. There is traffic


news going on all the time. My friend from Corby, he talked about


sport and I was glad he mentioned that. I wanted to mention it first


but he beat me to it! We have football, cricket, rugby, lots of


sports teams in the High Peak. With Will he give way? My friend with the


hedgehogs is back. Certainly. He may recall that he organised a game of


cricket up in Burton which I was delighted to play in. It was a great


game. It was actually Buxton! It is the only example where a day's


cricket was lost due to snow. We organised a charity cricket game.


The Parliamentary cricket team played the Emmerdale farm 11. He


drove about 100 miles to play. He acquitted himself excellently. High


Peak Radio broadcast from the ground and we raised about ?10,000 for the


air ambulance. We could not have done that with such excess without


the backing of our local radio station. They introduced the


coverage. As a return to the local football teams, we have Buxton,


where they often broadcast the game live if it is a big match. Glossop


North end, who have been to the final twice recently. That is a huge


event for the High Peak but is encouraged by High Peak Radio. They


commentate on the game, live from Wembley. High Peak Radio how


broadcast from inside this building. And I was elected to this place in


2010, they broadcast from the Central Lobby. It was a fantastic


thing because people in the High Peak feel connected not just with


myself but each other. Those who could not get to Wembley to watch


Glossop in the final, they could tune into the radio station and feel


part of it. You will find no greater supporter of local radio in this


place than myself. That is white I take an active role in the all-party


group. They also support local businesses. I ran on for many years,


as many colleagues in here have. You can't afford to advertise on


television or BBC Radio Manchester, but there is an opportunity for


small businesses, the small business or trade, a garage, a plumber, they


give them an opportunity to advertise in the local area. An area


they can serve efficiently, quickly and more often than not at a lower


price than the national companies. He is talking about the fact that


people can advertise on these. Has he ever can sit it advertising for


his own election on the local radio? I have considered advertising and


many times. I have had my name is on buses and things like that, although


people did not backfire. People always said, I always said you look


like the back of the bus, now you are on one! These radio stations are


politically neutral. They will broadcast what I have to say, from


my perspective as a member of Parliament or when I was eight


candidate, or the Labour candidate, the Lib Dem candidate, whoever it


is. They are completely neutral. That is one of the advantages,


features of local radio. They do the broadcast and they are by the local


people for the local people. They do not have a political edge. That is


why a head not considered advertising politically on the


radio, because that would spoil the essence of the local radio. I will


give way. I have enjoyed the remarks he has been making. He will be aware


that the broadcast rules around advertising for political parties


would apply to these licenses as they do to larger scale ones as


well. Yes, and it must remain so. If we can give them this option and


the sooner it can be on the statute book, the better. They all have


their own programmes. Right honourable friend from Corby has


been on Desert Island Discs. My radio doesn't do that. They do High


Peak insiders. I am a great supporter of High Peak radio and


generally local radio. We need to give them every chance and every


encouragement to survive and flourish by doing this, by getting


this onto the statute book, they can get onto digital age and get the


help they need. I am delighted to see this bill here today and the


sooner we can get it through, the better. And the wider subject of


radio, I would give a gentle nudge to my honourable friend, the


minister, who is looking avidly and somewhat now startled, can we please


catch up with this radio deregulation consultation because it


has been talked about for quite some time. He is looking at his


officials, as am I, everyone is nodding, so hopefully we can achieve


something now. Thank you very much for bringing this bill forward.


Hopefully it will be on the statute book as soon as possible and can be


broadcast on High Peak radio as the news very soon. Thank you, Madam


Deputy Speaker. Can I congratulate the honourable member for Torbay on


his bill. The broadcasting Bill is intended to allow Ofcom a lighter


touch listening regime in relation to small scale digital radio


broadcasting. This comes following a two-year trial run by Ofcom and


funded by the CMS. As you may know, there are two categories of digital


radio multiplex under the Digital broadcasting act 1996. These are


national and local coverage, where local coverage is roughly county


sized. This bill would allow for a size which is no more than 40% the


size of the current services. The intention is to encourage the spread


of DAB to smaller scale radio stations. Often these county sized


DAB services are too expensive and have too large a range for community


services. As a result, and in commendation with other such


factors, there are up to 400 local and community stations which are not


carried on DAB but rather on analogue services, AM or FM.


Small-scale DAB would indeed provide a cost-effective way forward. This


bill aims to benefit both those areas experiencing over or under


subscription. The extra coverage provided by small-scale radio


multiplexes would benefit those areas, especially urban areas, where


currently county sized provision does not have the capacity to meet


demand. Likewise, in areas like the Shropshire and the Scottish Borders,


where there is no local multiplex, small-scale multiplexes could be


able to cater at a community level. More radio content and more people


accessing that content is clearly a desirable outcome. Indeed, the


Access radio scheme which saw the licensing of 15 community radio


stations was piloted by the radio authority in 2002 under the Labour


Government. Community radio continued to grow and strengthen. In


the five years following 2004, when the community radio warder came into


force, licences were given to more than 200 community radio services.


This created around 400 jobs, involved 10,000 volunteers and


offered their services to more than 10 million people. At the heart of


the scheme is the use of radio for social game and the developments


were hailed by Ofcom is one of the great UK broadcasting success


stories of the past few years. Radio content made by communities and for


communities was funded, supported and championed by Labour. Those hard


working groups and individuals who continued to run the services


continue to receive our full support and gratitude. Given that this bill


extends and modernises Labour's legacy, we welcome this bill and our


questions most relate to the practicalities rather than the


principles. As this is a bill which the Government have drafted, we will


be interested in what the Minister has disabling response. As mentioned


previously, the bill document draws specific attention to rule areas


where there are currently no local multiplexes. We have had many


examples today of how this would be welcomed across the country.


However, the Ofcom trial on which this bill is based used ten trial


locations, all of which were cities, from Glasgow to Manchester to


Cambridge. Of course I understand that the trial used pre-existing


radio services and so could not take place in areas without local


multiplexes. However, this disparity between the stated aim of the bill


and the scope of the trial which it is based requires further


exploration. Indeed, the industry body for commercial radio has


expressed concern that the measure prohibiting anyone with an interest


in a national or local multiplex from gaining a small-scale DAB


license could negatively impact rural areas, in particular where it


is possible that no other people would be interested. Can the


Minister tell us today if de CMS's consultation will specifically


address the feasibility of this programme in rural areas? In


particular, what is his view about the concerns expressed by radio


centre? The explanatory notes refer to those smaller radio stations and


240 community stations are currently do not have access to DAB and they


continue to board cast on analogue services on AM and FM. This bill is


presented in particular as an opportunity for such stations but,


Ofcom notes that in the smaller trials from 2016, whilst it should


be technically possible to develop a frequency programme for small scale


DAB to accommodate those stations, much more detailed planning and


optimisation work would be required to develop a frequency plan which


would be implemented in practice. The house will not want to pass the


bill on until it knows that this can be in fermented in practice. Can the


Minister tell us, please, what plans have been made to address these


uncertainties. When will the detailed planning and optimisation


work take place? Furthermore, there are issues to be addressed around


the experience and skills needed to capitalise on the opportunities this


bill could offer. Ofcom's final report notes that the trial is


focused on functionality so that the software and materials provided to


the operators involved in the trial were often, located and user


unfriendly. The majority of operators had suitably skilled


engineers or technical staff to deal with this and those that did not


receive additional support. In reality, a wider roll-out would


require more user-friendly tools as Ofcom recognises in the report. Yes,


delighted. I thank the Shadow Minister for giving way and welcome


the broad thrust of her remarks which appear to be supportive. If I


could make some reference to the operators. As she met any of those


involved in the trial and found out how simple some of this actually is,


as I have? I thank the honourable member for his comments. I


personally have not meant the providers as I am the Shadow


Minister for sport but members of my team have met with them and this


team are barely aware of the details, as I am -- are fully aware


of the details, as I am outlining today. The majority of people had


technical staff or additional support available. In reality, more


user-friendly tools would be required, as Ofcom recognised in the


report. This would be required by those without technically competent


staff and by those establishing a station for the first time. The


software developing community and market are beginning to deliver


those more user-friendly technologies. However, given that


this report was published only four months ago, it is safe to assume


that no breakthrough accessible technology has yet become available.


As such, does the Government to have a plan for making such technology


available? Will Government stakeholders and industry cooperate


to build up on skills and knowledge? Likewise, what assessment has been


made of the risk of adjacent channel interference which was a matter


discussed in the Ofcom report, which I am sure my honourable friend will


be fully familiar with. Of course, as is so often the case, this comes


down to funding and the Government is cutting funding wherever


possible. Department for Culture, Media and Sport seem hopeful that


bill will encourage the establishment of new small-scale


radio services. Can they clarify how and if any of these will be able to


claim grants? Radio projects established under Labour have


suffered a 17% cut. I understand that note fund will be available for


smaller scale DAB stations. Can the Minister confirm if that will be the


case? Some other details also require clarification. The draft


legislation specifies that a small-scale multiplex would only be


operated on a non-commercial basis. I'm concerted -- uncertainty over


this has caused concern amongst stakeholders. Radio centre


appreciates that the aim is to keep costs of carriage as low as possible


but with this stop a commercial operator from holding such a


license. Would commercial licenses be able to broadcast on the


multiplex? The community association has also expressed concern about the


ambiguity on this although they are in support of the bill in general.


In light of this, what measures will be taken to ensure that the


licensing of small-scale multiplexes encourages healthy come petition


without crowding out local services? Lastly, in relation to the bill at


large, we would like to know why was this provision not included in the


Digital economy Bill, the most obvious legislation for such a


measure? Indeed, the honourable member for Aldridge-Brownhills asked


the same question today in this chamber. The Government crammed


everything else into that bill, to the extent that this is a rather


more obvious thing to have included in their van what was in there. Does


that not indicate that we were right all along and that Bill was not


ready when we said, hence all of the adjustments. The Labour Party


encourage the proliferation of small-scale radio when in Government


and we welcome the opportunity for community channels and small


commercial channels to expand and to DAB and we support the establishment


of more local media. Can I thank my honourable friend for giving way.


Does she agree with me that community radio will benefit greatly


from this bill. I was once a volunteer Reporter on a community


radio station in Sydney in Australia where I covered rugby and


international relations. It was good to play a small part in the


community there and I am sure we support this bill for that reason.


Absolutely. We wholeheartedly support this bill for that reason


and I thank my honourable friend for his articulate and eloquent


comments. I would like to take this opportunity to once again reiterate


our support for local radio. Indeed, once with radio hows my own hustings


when I was victorious in June and I was very grateful to them for


covering it. Labour encouraged the proliferation of small-scale radio


in Government and we are proud of that fact, while weaving the


opportunity for community and small commercial channels to expand to DAB


and we support the establishment of more local media. We have questions,


some of which I have mentioned, and more which we will be discussing in


committee if this bill is successful today in receiving a second reading.


I greatly look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say. Thank


you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is a pleasure to follow the Shadow


Minister, although only slightly tempered that I was disappointed to


see a small amount of party politics into what has been a nonparty blitz


core and good-humoured debate today. I want to start by paying tribute to


my honourable friend, the Member for Torbay, for introducing this bill.


He is always an assiduous parliamentarian and performer in


this chamber and it is always a pleasure to listen to him and it is


even more so on an occasion when he is presenting his own bill and I pay


tribute to him for what he said and the work he has done on this issue.


As those that know me will be aware, I am not a particularly


technologically minded individual and therefore it is debates such as


this, Madam Deputy Speaker, that RA great opportunity to learn something


one hadn't known before both in the Trent -- both through listening to


them and in the research beforehand. Like many honourable member is, I am


a great fan of radio. I have disabled, no one, as far as I am


concerned, will ever quite compare to the late great Sir Terry Wogan. I


was Terry 's Young geezer my youth, listening to him and he will


continue to be missed. Of course, as many honourable member 's have said,


there are some fantastic broadcasters today and I very much


enjoyed not only Test match special and the wonderful John Suchet on


classic FM, but of course the wonderful Jim and Joe and the BBC


radio Leicester breakfast show. The essence of what we are debating


today reflects on the success of digital radio. We have seen huge


technological strides and developments in this area which are


a massive positive, but the reality is that the legislative framework,


the regulatory and licensing framework governing this area is


still rooted in, I believe, the 1996 and 2003 acts and has not managed to


keep pace with the changes we have seen. The regime is not explicitly


anti-small community radio stations, but that can often be the effect of


the way it operates. We have heard from honourable members that


carriage fees can be up to ?5,000 a month. That is clearly excessive for


many small community or voluntary radio stations. The trials which we


have heard about which I understand will run until 2018 are hugely


important and very positive, but not the basis for a sustainable,


long-term footing on which we can set community radio stations. In


essence there are three key elements to my honourable friend's bill which


are around innovation, localism and, indeed, proportionality. In terms of


innovation, we have heard and seen the huge strides made forward in


digital and EAB radio technology, we have seen increases in the number of


our constituents who choose to listen to radio in this way, and we


heard from my honourable friend for Bari North, both about the huge


successes in that technology but also that there are still challenges


to be overcome. -- honourable friend for Bury North. I believe those


challenges will be overcome. We have heard about the innovation and


software technology to support and enable broadcasting like this. We


have heard about localism from every honourable member talking quite


rightly about their own constituencies and we all know as


constituency MPs that each one of our villages, towns and parts of the


city have a very distinct and proud local identity. Local radio stations


and, indeed, community radio stations focused on towns and


villages played directly into that. People want but very local news,


they want that intimacy with the radio station that serves them. We


have heard about the role that those radio stations play not just in


combating loneliness, which my honourable friend the member for


South Ribble mentioned quite rightly, given the amazing work she


is doing on that subject. We have heard about their potential for


bringing on new broadcasting talent and we have also heard from my


honourable friend to the member for Corby, who has moved place but is


still in the chamber, about that sense of identity that people have


with those stickers in the window, I am sure, in the early summer of 2015


alongside stickers abdicating his election to this house.


The third element, of course, is proportionality. Proportionality of


regulation to what is actually being regulated and what we seek to


achieve. The regulatory framework is currently applied may well and


probably is entirely appropriate for the regulation of multiplexes when


talking about the BBC, national stations or large regions. I would


argue it is not proportionate Ory reasonable framework in dealing with


small, local community radio stations serving a particular town


or village. This Government and particularly this minister have a


very strong track record of supporting innovation, particularly


in technology. I appreciate that he sometimes probably despairs of my


unwillingness to embrace all elements that the technological


revolution in this country can deliver, but he continues to


champion the cause of technological innovation very, very proudly. As we


know, he is also a great champion of localism and a great champion both


in this role and previous roles of deregulation to ensure that any


regulation necessary is proportionate to risk and what is


being regulated. In this case, to free up small and community


organisations, the better to deliver services to their community. This


bill is overdue, I would argue, when we look at innovation and technology


in this country, but it is extremely welcome. Seizing the opportunities


that technology brings, harnessing the innovation and passion of our


local communities and freeing them from unnecessarily odorous or costly


regulation or licensing frameworks are extremely worthy ambitions and


objectives. -- unnecessarily odorous. I believe this bill meets


head-on and addresses these in full. I very much hope that this house


will fully endorse the contents of this bill and that it will be able


to proceed to the next stage. I very much look forward to what the


Minister has to say but I do not doubt it will be in a similarly


supportive vane -- vein reflecting the efforts of the member for


Torbay. I'm very pleased to follow my


honourable friend from Charnwood, as usual he raises lots of very good


points. I would like to congratulate my honourable friend for Torbay for


bringing forward this bill. I have to confess that this is not an area


that I have been particularly familiar with and, like my


honourable friend for Charnwood, actually I am a bit of the


technophobe, I still can't work out how to do certain things on my


mobile phone. The fact that I had the DA be in my car, I am probably


more familiar with it that I have been in the past -- the fact that I


have a DAB in my car. What I had not realised about this area is that


there were significant barriers for local communities and voluntary


radio stations for getting access to the infrastructure, which was a very


interesting point. It made me look at my own constituency and see how


things are going there and see what opportunities there could be. As my


honourable friend from Ribble South mentioned earlier, this is a


technical bill and it is focusing on opening up what we have already got


to make it more accessible for communities and small organisations,


that has always got to be a good thing. We are really lucky in my


constituency of Rochester and Strood, we have a radio station


called KMFM operating across Kent and Medway -- Kent and Medway. It is


run by the KM group which operate on different radio stations across the


county, particularly Medway, the site is in my constituency. But they


do operate on a DA be multiplex across the county. There is one


radio station that operates across the county on that system. The


actual analogue stations that are separate across the county are a


major part of getting news out. One of the things that KMFM have been


really, really good at doing is supporting local events. We get


coverage of all of our events in my constituency. Whenever we have a big


festival in Rochester or Chatham or Strood we always have the local


radio station covering what is going on, it is massively important for


local people to hear and be part of what is going on and being able to


listen if they have not always been able to get to some of the big


events that we have. Also the key thing is the lifetime news, which in


some cases is far quicker and far more accurate than what we get from


some of the other bigger regional radio stations -- the live time


news. One of the things, and only yesterday, actually, we had an


incident where we were able to get out an incident... We had the snow


last night and there was a man who, unfortunately, his boat was set


alight and he had to jump into the river and was taken to hospital.


That news was live very quickly via the local news link. I have not yet


heard whether he is OK but I am sure that he is now. One of the other


thing is that the local radio station is quite good at is


businesses. I know it is mentioned by my honourable friend from High


Peak, but it is far more accessible for local businesses and the local


authority. When we want to advertise events happening locally it gives us


an opportunity to be able to get access to cost-effective advertising


and promotion of events. And for the local community that is a major,


major thing. But also they are prepared to cover very, very small


events like village fete which sometimes you would not be able to


get the larger radio stations to cover at all, and in some cases my


particular sport of sailing, very rarely do any of the regional... The


national regional radio stations cover my sport of sailing. But it is


quite... We are able to get our local very small community radio


stations to come and cover what we are up to, which is a really am


porting thing, not only to get out the message of what is going on in


the constituency. But it's the diversity of the programmes, I


think, that are covered by the small community and voluntary radio


stations, for example in Kent there is another station called Channel


Radio, a constituent of mine runs a radio programme called Women In


Business. And she often has many different women who go one and speak


on her programme talk about entrepreneurship, talk about how


they are raising their family and running a small business from home,


and it is a real opportunity for the people listening to the radio and


being able to network without being able to see people face to face. One


of the things... The feedback I have had is that those things are really


important, it goes back to, maybe, loneliness, but if you are bringing


up a small family at home and trying to contribute to the growth in our


economy by setting up your own business you can listen to other


females' experience about what it is like to run a business and some of


the challenges that we do face when we are running businesses. So that


has been a really interesting programme. She is a business woman


herself and does this from a voluntary basis because she just


wants to help women get on. She makes a very powerful case.


Would my right honourable friend like to agree with me that local


radio stations in particular like BBC Somerset in Taunton are great


for education. I did a couple of gardening programmes, they were very


much about encouraging people to garden but also to grow and feed


their families healthily on very little money.


I think she makes a wonderful point. She is absolutely correct. That is


the beauty of community or voluntary radio stations, smaller radio


stations. They have the opportunities, they have the time,


they have more capacity to be able to deliver interesting programmes


like that that meet the very particular demographic that they are


serving. So I absolutely agree and there are lots of opportunities and


I definitely feel that I have found that through some of the programmes


that she has run. Also I have another gentleman, Paul


Andrews, who runs The Kent Business Bunker. He also delivers a programme


covering a range of things about whether you are looking for jobs


across Kent, what particular industries are interesting to get


into and also he also talks about funding for starter businesses and


businesses wanting to grow. Actually business and helping the local


community, especially in a constituency like mine which is a


small business economy, opportunities and programmes like


this are massively important for my particular local community.


Sorry, I lost myself. The other thing that it does highlight is


that, and I haven't spoken much about this now and we have heard


members here today talk about a very particular voluntary radio


organisation, so, for example, like the hospital radio. These are very


valuable community sources, so I won't keep going on about that, but


one particular reason I am very pleased to be supporting my


honourable friend on this bill today is that this is the bill which is a


positive bill, looking at something already in existence and saying, how


can we open it up to the small section that currently needs it.


There are many things where we can look at opening them up for the


small business or voluntary sector and I think this is a really, really


lovely and ideal thing to be bringing forward to the House, so I


have had no hesitation in standing here today and supporting my


honourable friend from Torbay. I congratulate him on his very, very


detailed and well explained introduction today. It gave me a lot


better knowledge of digital radio and its industry going forward. So,


thank you, once again and I look forward to supporting the bill


today. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I would like to thank the


honourable member/ and Stroud -- for Rochester and Strood and concur with


her about the points about connectivity but also pay tribute to


the honourable member for Torbay for bringing forward such a pertinent


bill that will not only enable businesses to grow, but it will also


start to allow us to look at not putting barriers in the way and ask


allowing to be pulling down barriers and not increasing regulation must


be what we are about in here. It's also about showing that we are a


flexible and adaptable parliament. That's what we're doing here today.


We are looking at modern times. We all work a different way, so


enabling modern communications to be more effective is what we must be


about. I will also declare myself as a radio nut. I will also say that my


DAB radio is on top of my kitchen cupboard where nobody can reach it.


Originally it was so I could get a better signal but now it is because


it restricts any of my children from changing the channel. It seems to


work very well on both fronts. Now, I also get a lot of my radio


listening off my phone. It struck me that the question that the right


honourable member for Plymouth asked as to whether we could use mobile


phone connectivity in a more beneficial way would be one that I


would like to ask the Minister. I am no technical bath. Is that something


that could be looked into? I have heard in this place in other debates


around mobile phones and not spots the fact that the churches have said


that they would be happy, and they are very often the tallest building


in rural communities, they would be happy to help facilitate masts and


so on in order to drive greater connectivity into communities. As we


heard from the honourable member for Ribble Valley, for the High Peak,


loneliness and connectivity, making sure that people can get to hear


what's going on in and around their local areas and in and around their


lives is vitally important. I would welcome an answer on that. But


radio's brilliant. It brings comfort. Not only do the Minister


and I share radio Suffolk, but also our local hospital, West Suffolk


Hospital. Radio West Suffolk brings great support to the patients that


are in there and I will give a shout out to Ian Norris here who


volunteers and we have heard so much about that this afternoon. People


running these radios give of their own time so selflessly. This helps


so much when you think that 87% of local radio stations support young


people volunteering. It is a hugely important area of our life in order


to start growing skills moving into the workplace. I don't know whether


I am right. Perhaps the Minister would like to respond. I feel like I


read somewhere that the minister he himself had time on a local radio


station. I am thinking radio Oxfordshire -- radio oxygen, so I am


hoping he doesn't run out of that when he is responding to the debate


this afternoon. I also had the great pleasure of visiting the British


forces radio in Canada last summer. British forces radio again is


important in connecting people's lives and in driving information


into places that wouldn't normally have that accessibility. Just giving


little personal bits of information that make people feel so much better


when they can't necessarily get out of a hospital bed or across parts of


the world in order to perhaps put their arms around a loved one. We


are taking things slowly. As the right honourable member 40 or they


explained, very eloquently, -- for Torbay explained, very eloquently,


as he introduced have this debate would go one. I am not technical,


but this strikes me as a good idea that we should be supporting today.


Today particularly, when we have snow falling outside, I know that


the travel news which has been spoken about by other honourable


member 's, the fact that our local radio act on such vital conduit for


travel news, they also tell us when our schools are open. Today, we


have, as I said earlier in the chamber, we have issues along this


coast as far as flooding goes. People who aren't necessarily using


the Environment Agency's bars to let them know what is going on with


flooding locally are going to be listening to local radio which shows


its huge importance in our community. Public information is


disseminated brilliantly in a way that we need to enable this


particular sector of our creative economy and it is part of that


creative economy that drives an awful lot of money into this


country. We need to enable them to help of volunteers, to help with


skills and to build on. Now, today on radio Suffolk, let's see what is


the time estimate it is 1:22pm, so Leslie will be entertaining across


Suffolk. I have had the pleasure of being on her show and chatting to


her. I would like to highlight that on radio Suffolk at the moment,


earlier on in the day, Mark Murphy is driving a campaign for no mobile


phones whilst you are driving. That is another thing that community


radios can do. They can start that campaigning zeal that we all


appreciate in this place. No mobiles, because mobiles being used


in the car one of the top four causes of death along with seat


belts, drink-driving and, oh, somebody might have to help me out.


Drink-driving, no seat belts, mobile phones and excessive speed, well


done. Once again, the honourable member for Torbay comes to my


rescue. We also just heard from the last speaker that local radio,


community radio in particular, covers 10,000 local events. The


fates that go on. I was recently interviewed by local radio at our


fireworks event in Bury St Edmunds but I have also come across them at


a plethora of school fares across the country, all sorts of different


events, but more importantly they bring ?25 million for charity and is


the honourable member for High Peak mentioned, it is often them


announcing that an event is going on, driving at Fulwood, getting


people to visit, and then getting people to put those contributions


into the bucket that actually helps them give another huge community


asset. Of course. My right honourable friend is making an


exceedingly powerful point and on that note, in this chamber I


mentioned a year ago that we might like to light up a monument and the


local radio, BBC Somerset, broadcast that and when we turned up in the


dark, hundreds of people turned up and they did that because they had


heard it on the radio to support my project to light up the local


monument simply because they had heard it on the radio. Would my


honourable friend agree with me that it is so important? I would


certainly agree and I also would congratulate her, as I believe she


got the money in the Autumn Statement to reinstate that monument


in her constituency. All that we have said in this place about work


experience, volunteering and so on, I want to give a particular shout


out to a member of my staff who goes home from her day's work here to a


community Stadium -- community station in the Harrow area. It


operates out of the hospital. The station's I merrily about the


community and is run -- run entirely by volunteers. Volunteers spend time


with patients on the ward and tailor the shows to their patients. It is a


chance for volunteers to gain hands-on experience in a new field


of radio broadcasting, with many... Yes, of course. Can I thank my


honourable friend for giving way. I am told that BBC radio Hereford and


Worcester hasn't appeared in this debate and I want to make sure that


that appears in hand side as well. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I


am delighted to get those words written into the -- written into


Hansard for the gentleman. It runs fundraising events, brings local


news to local people and this is all by volunteering. Now, only yesterday


I also heard that radio Caroline, which I am sure probably most


members are too young to remember, but radio Caroline have applied to


Ofcom to broadcast across East Anglia on AM. Their ship will be


moored in the Essex estuary and will only be on DAB in the northern part


of our county. It would be good to extend new business ventures and the


ability to do it across the piece. Whether it is your news, your music,


your travel, your politics or a little bit of something different,


because the radio is also your friend, which is, as the Member for


High Peak said, I know when I was raising a small family, woman's hour


used to mark the time through the day. I know when I was recovering


from being quite poorly that the play in the afternoon, I would


think, I am nearly at tea-time, and I can remember many of those. I am


so sad I take my radio gardening with me as I popped out to pull a


few weeks. Only weeds? Only weeds, I vaguely know the difference. A radio


is not only a piece of technical equipment. It is also a friend by


your side, so I would urge the Minister to take those thoughts on


board. I would thank the honourable member from Torbay for bringing this


forward. I would look forward to hearing from the Minister that we


are now going to, I think the radio termers action stations, and I look


forward to supporting this bill. Minister Matthew Hancock. Thank you


very much, Madam Deputy Speaker, and it is a pleasure and an honour to be


called to the dispatch box to respond to this debate and I first


want to put on the record very fulsomely, as everybody else has, my


thanks to the Member for Torbay or introducing the broadcasting radio


multiplex services Bill 2016 and 17. I thought he gave a great exposition


of the bill and set out in good detail what he hopes we can achieve.


They also want to put on the record my thanks to the officials in DC and


as who have prepared and worked with him on this bill -- in the


Department for Culture, Media and Sport who have prepared and worked


with him on this bill and have prepared me for this, because we


have a dedicated team who cared deeply about radio in this country


and I am thankful to them. What I want to do is try to answer directly


many of the questions which have been asked throughout the course of


the debate and also set out, quite briefly, what is in the bill.


Because that part was done so well by my honourable friend at the


start, I will be relatively brief. I am grateful to all of those members


who have contributed. Maybe we should start with the position of


the Labour Party and the front bench opposite. I thought that what may be


her maiden performance at length from the dispatch box, the


honourable member from tooting was only elected in June and I thought


gave a great performance and lots of questions. So impressive was her


performance at the dispatch box that I wonder whether she will be opting


for a job outside of Parliament soon like an increasing number of her


friends. I'm going to be going through... If I go through her


questions indeed tell, I thought it was very impressive that the member


of tooting started off with more issues. The question of addressing


rural areas is a very important one. It has been addressed in the trials.


It was addressed in Ofcom's response to the trials. Of course, we are


going to go through the technical details that will be to be ordered


in a further consultation and I am sure that, especially with her


interest in that, and given that this is a piece of legislation


supported on all sides, that we will ensure that question is properly


answered. On the detailed planning for the


frequency plan, she seems to imply that it is not possible to votes for


and supported the bill until that is in place, I would caution her


against that approach because this has already started, the trials were


very positive on the frequency available. Of course the further


consultation will address the technical details, but those are a


matter for the orders of statutory instruments that followed the bill


rather than the principles we are debating today. I would say the same


about the comments made by radio Centre and the CMA, these are


matters for the regulations. She rightly raise the question of


skills. The trial is delivered, and I think the Ofcom report was quite


clear, exactly some of the sorts of skills that we should be looking for


in this space. She also raise the question of funding, she said it all


comes down to funding. I would caution her that although the Labour


Party seem to think everything comes down to public funding, we think


that human ingenuity is quite impressive. As it happens, we have


increased the funding for community radio support in this spending


period, increased and guaranteed up to 2020. It is amazing what people


can achieve if you give them the permission to do. As my old friend


the Torbay set out many times in the course of his speech, this is


ultimately a permissive piece of legislation about allowing people to


do things that they currently can't. Therefore it is about allowing and


unleashing, a further unleashing, of human ingenuity. She asks why this


bill and the clauses in it are not part of the Digital Economy Bill.


That is perfectly reasonable that we wanted to see the conclusions of the


trials before putting it into legislation, and we publish the


Digital Economy Bill in the summer but the trials had not concluded at


that point so we did not want to put it into that bill. There have been


odd noises from opposite about why the Digital Economy Bill Was Not --


was not delayed but I do not think we can bring forward the transition


to digital in this bill or that one. She also raised the question that


has been raised by many others, including one of the members in her


place about the question of public only or public and private. I know


some of her friends on the front bench opposite think public good,


private bad. That is an approach we reject on this side because we think


that there can be a contribution from both public and private and


this question will be addressed in the consultation. As with other


parts of the bill is his permissive on that basis, it does not require


either public or private but there is an important balance to be struck


that we will address in the consultation which is that


ultimately small-scale Digital radio is about enabling communities and


community support, you don't want it to be completely gobbled up by large


commercial providers for whom there are other options. You want to make


sure that there is space for the innovative, for the very small, for,


as my honourable friend from Taunton said, I think it was them who said


that to be able to start a radio station from your garden shed. And


that is what this is all about. So there is a reasonable case for


limitation of the commercial element, but there is also a case


for very small commercial operations as well, and we will address the


balance of those cases in the forthcoming consultation. I hope


that addresses the points made on the front bench opposite, I will now


address some of the questions asked by other members. The first is the


question of how the masts will work and people will get these signals.


My honourable friend from severable as to how it would work in practice


in terms of these masts. -- my honourable friend from South Ribble


an individual radio station to put an individual radio station to put


up the mast, the whole point is to have a network of them. The masts


can go on the mast is currently used for other things, they can go on


buildings and we have just relaxed some of the planning regulations


around masts, but she like me represents a rural area and in


Suffolk I have the great privilege of opening the local digital mast,


which has gone up next to a school in the middle of... In the northern


part of Southwark which means we can now get BBC Radio Wales of the con


Digital radio. The technology is there, the planning is there to


allow for it this -- which means we can now get BBC Radio Suffolk on


digital radio. There are ways to start at the radio station without


going through the hardware side of putting up your own mast. My


honourable friend for Morecambe, a great supporter of radio, he has not


only provided insight to this debate but also entertainment, you could


say that as well as the music he has provided the lyrics. He made a


passionate case about the positive impact of radio during times of


distress, particularly during the very serious storms and flooding in


his constituency a year or so ago. He paid tribute in particular to his


local radio stations in what I thought was a very balanced way. Now


there is no reason to think that DAB will be any less reliable and


resilient in times of storms, but by allowing for more localised digital


content you can get even more local information in times of distress. So


I hope he is reassured on that. My honourable friend from Plymouth made


the important point about political balance in community radio. Of


course all... Anybody Broadcasting House to follow the law of the land


is and the PPR a and make sure that their output conforms to what is


required. He made the very strong case for radio mostly on the grounds


of cricket. I remember well that his son is not only the entire Indian


Parliamentary cricket team that the entire rest of the British


Parliamentary cricket team by taking a wicket in Darren masala. I'll the


recall spending an awful lot of time recovering the ball from the


boundary. Yes, of course. I have to say I was deeply


surprised, too. My honourable friend might recall that whilst there were


250 people in the ground, it was being watched by 19 million people


on Indian television. I have no doubt that all 19 million were


totally astonished! But it shows that what you might regard as niche


broadcasts on in this case a cricket match between the UK and Indian


parliaments, many, many people sometimes want to watch.


I will give way. I was commentating for the Indian television when my


honourable friend took the wickets. Yes, I remember that. I will make


this point which is slightly more serious, which is I think there is a


reason that 19 million people in India were watching, that is not the


quality of the commentary, nor the bowling nor the fielding, it was


because there is very heavy regulation on the number of


broadcast channels in India, so there was nothing else to watch.


Whereas if we put ourselves in the eyes of the viewer or the listener


it is far better to have more stations, especially local stations,


so that people, frankly, can do something better than watch the


member for Plymouth and I play cricket. Moving on, my honourable


friend raised the issue of the strength of signal power and


financial restrictions. Her point and financial restrictions is


slightly out of date. Since 2014 we have gradually... We have relaxed


slightly the financial restrictions on community stations, precisely


because of the argument that she made that if you are a community


station you still need to raise the money to run your community station,


so I hope... Maybe I can write to her with a full details of the


changes we have made and she can tell me whether she thinks we have


gone far enough. My honourable friend for Bury made the case that


small-scale multiplexer should be able to run on a commercial basis as


well. He also asked when this would all be in place, the answer is that


should this bill proceeds and alongside it we consult on the


details of the orders, we will be able to have the systems in place by


early 2018 with the goal of halving its place before the trials come to


an end at the end of 20 18. So we are on the path to get all that


timing right but we need to get the bill through in order to make that


happen. The honourable members the Charnwood


and from Rochester and Strood both professed to be not technological.


In fact, towards the end of the debate this crap to do everything at


my honourable friend for Bury St Edmunds, the suffix Bury, was making


the same argument. The thing is this, there may be and there are


many, many people who are incredibly enthusiastic about technology and


excited by it, I would count myself as one, but technology is only any


good if it caters for people because of what it does, not because of what


it is. So for people not enthusiastic about technology, you


can still use digital radio, for instance, to listen to Test match


special, and the gradual move towards digital has the potential,


if handled correctly, to free up spectrum is to be used in other


ways, but it has to be done carefully. This comes back to a


point made a lot at the start, this is about adding capability, it is


not about turning off analogue. As it happens, by coincidence I met the


Norwegian minister this morning on my way and she was telling me about


the progress they have made in starting to turn off the analogue


services. We not there yet, we still hope to do it, but we have to make


sure that enough people are on digital first and that we support


those still on analogue in the transition. There have been big


changes in the last couple of years, the car market, nearly 90 -- 95% of


new car radios are digital. The changes happening, the change is a


good thing, but we have to do it sensibly and carefully and this bill


makes no impact on those plans. The member for Bury St Edmunds


mentioned BBC Radio Suffolk, radio West Suffolk, which I visited in the


last parliament. It is true that I started life... As a student I was


on Oxygen 17.9, a radio station in Oxford where I learned how to handle


a radio microphone, I had the same sort of experiences as the member


for Taunton, it taught me a huge amount. I was the minority sports


correspondent and I had a lot of fun and I am sure that the radio was


more fun to make than to listen to. And I also, finally, in this, want


to pay tribute to the work of those helping with the expansion of the


digital radio, particularly to one person who outside this house has


done an enormous amount of work to try to make sure that people


understand what's digital radio is and, indeed, he is often on the


radio about why digital radio matters.


There are, Madam Deputy Speaker, currently around 200 smaller


commercial radio stations could bring small markets, and 244


commercial radio stations transmitting on mainly FM and medium


wave, which are not broadcasting on digital radio. I think that the


details of the bill have been well discussed and set out today. I think


the purpose of the bill has been well set out to day. I am delighted


that the bill has cross-party support and support from everybody


who has spoken in this debate and I hope that it can make progress, and


I pay tribute to my honourable friend for Torbay for bringing it


forward with such panache. With the leave of the House, can I


thank all the members who have spoken in the bill, in particular


the Shadow Minister and Minister for their support. I am pleased to note


that we are all on the same wavelength with bringing this


forward. I'm sure we can look forward to a range of broadcasts in


future when we take this bill into committee. I would like to thank the


honourable members for their support in bringing this bill forward and


for helping me know how best to bring this forward. The question is


that the bill now be read for a second time? The ayes have it, the


eyes mac habit. -- the ayes have it. I beg to move that the civil


partnership Amendment Bill be now read a second time. In doing so, I


am very excited, because in almost 20 years and this House, it is the


first time a bill of mine have got bearing on Friday morning ever. It


shows what can happen if you persevere and I do hope the Minister


is not going to spoil it when he gets to signal his vast amounts of


support for this very sensible and much-needed measure. Madam Deputy


Speaker, the debate over the same-sex marriage act has passed.


The act has become law and over 15,000 couples have taken advantage


of that new opportunity and whatever people on the opposite sides of the


argument now think, the world has not fallen in. The extension of


marriage, then, has unwittingly created a new inequality and a


Government which argued cynically -- argued zealously that this was about


equality is missing that marriage is available to same-sex and... He will


recall at the time that the same-sex marriage bill was known as the equal


marriage bill by many people. Would he agree that for that legislation


to truly be known as the equal marriage bill that this amendment


has to be actioned in order for things to be properly equal between


heterosexual and homosexual couples? I do agree with that and that is why


I argued for the amendment at the time which would have made that


inequality created, whereby heterosexual and same-sex couples


could enter into civil partnership. Different sex couples who wish to


give legal recognition to their relationship but not necessarily to


get married, doesn't this bill deal precisely with that situation? That


is right and I think that is why this situation is needed. What I


described, that inequality, some people may say, well, so what?


People who are opposite sex couples have always been able to get


married, in a church, a registry office, even now medieval castles or


exotic beaches. The problem is that a great many opposite sex couples


choose not to go down the traditional marriage route. The


Office of National Statistics estimate that there are just over 3


million cohabiting opposite sex couples in this country, almost


double the figure reported ten years ago and over a third of them have


children. Indeed, cohabitation is the fastest-growing form of family


in the UK and we need to recognise that our society is recognising just


as we did with recognising same-sex partnerships in 2004, which I


enthusiastically supported at the time and it was right to do. It was


a glaring inequality and injustice that up to then that loving same-sex


couples were not recognised in the eyes of the state and enjoyed no


protections under the law. That anomaly was quite rightly addressed


by this House and I was glad to be part of that back in 2004. People


choose not to get in debt -- involved in the paraphernalia of


full marriage for a variety of reasons. It is too much of an


establishment of them to do it, it is identified as an innately


religious thing for many, some see it as having a patriotic all side


and some see it as form of social control. It is not a proper


partnership. Those are not my own view is necessarily but it is


certainly the way that many people see it. There are a whole lot of


complex reasons why our constituents do not go down the marriage route


but if they do not want to go for traditional marriage, they have no


way of having their relationship recognised in the eyes of the state,


just as it was the case for same-sex couples pre-2000 and four. I will of


course. On that point, is my honourable friend whereof all can he


think of any reason why all those who supported the same-sex marriage


legislation would not want to support what might right honourable


friend is asking for in this bill? Of course, and at the time my


proposal was fully supported by the Labour Party at the Liberal


Democrats and buy a good deal of my own benches but for various reasons


they voted against the amendment at that stage. The logic is that of


course we would want to address that inequality but there are various


practical reasons that I want to come onto. Particularly worrying is


the common misconception that there is such a thing as a common-law wife


or husband. A woman typically finds out when there is an inheritance tax


bill and the estate or run the home. On that point, if people realise


there is no such thing as a common-law wife or husband, they


would then opt for this to give them that exact protection so that they


would not lose their home and they would have protection that they do


not have currently. And that is a very practical advantage from this


bill, because there was a great deal of ignorance amongst constituents


who think they have these protections, because if a woman has


a child with her partner and the relationship breaks down, she is not


entitled to any automatic form of child support if they are not


married, no automatic entitlement to property even if she had been paying


into the mortgage and surely couples should not be forced to choose


between having no legal protection or entering into an institution that


is not right for them? Can I thank my honourable friend for giving way.


The other issue that is surely important is the dependence?


Therefore if you are a daughter looking after an elderly mother and


your mother dies and that therefore means that jewel home is lifting, is


that the future? It is the future of children, the maintenance of


children, it is the property, it is the inheritance tax bill that all of


a sudden happens which could lead into the sale of the property and


you find yourself effectively homeless. All of these are potential


dangers that people who are not in a formal, legally recognised


relationship are currently facing. I thank my honourable friend for


giving way and he is making a very sound case. I was fascinated to hear


about the statistics for cohabiting now and if we are indeed to build a


balanced society, bring up our children in a fair and good way,


surely it is very important to move forward the idea is encompassed in


this bill in order to help society as a whole? My honourable friend has


pre-empted a large plank of my speech. I think rather than letting


everybody pre-run what I'm going to say, I will get on with saying it


and then take contributions. When one partner is much older than the


other and there is the reasonable assumption one will die some years


before the other, a long-time survival would not receive the same


tax benefits as those in a marriage or civil partnership. Even a couple


engaged to be married have more rights than a cohabiting couple. The


formalised opposite sex civil partnership bid save a lot of


heartache. These are all reasons for natural justice and protecting the


rights of partners whilst once again promoting a Private members Bill to


promote civil partnership to opposite sex couples and have been


trying to do this since they change the legislation in 2013. There is a


great deal of d j vu involved in this. Without the Government


support, this is unlikely to make headlines, despite the fact that it


has the support of honourable members from all sides of the House,


instigating a nationwide campaign that has so far attracted 71,000


signatures to a petition and I am particularly pleased that we have


the support of my honourable friend for Altrincham and their least and a


number of honourable members from just about all parties represented


in this House. Indeed, the honourable lady, the Member for


Rotherham, who speaks for the official opposition inequality


matters put it in her blog that we have the chance to take another step


in extending true equality, choosing the type of partnership that those


-- best fits our thoughts, lies and religion. I have supported this bill


for a long time. It is all about equality. I had a Private members


Bill that didn't get as far as yours about putting mothers names and


occupations and marriage certificates and the honourable


member for child would have taken up the mandate. It is about equality


and does the honourable member agree that despite the result of the


appeal in the High Court which has been challenged, ruling against it,


it is a matter for this House to decide because it is a matter of


great public interest? Quite, and I will refer to the case that is going


to appeal imminently. My bill might not get much further than hers


though if I continue to talk it out. I will make some progress now


because there are high-profile supporters of this including Rebecca


Seinfeld and Charles Kane who are the couple who instigated this


campaign. They appeared in the Royal Colts in London last September


seeking to overturn the ban on opposite sex civil partnership


arguing that it treats people unfairly because it depends on their


sexuality. In contests -- in contrast, a couple recently entered


into a civil partnership for the first time in the British Isles but


they had to travel to the Isle of Man to do that. So whilst they have


made this step towards equality, the Government on the mainland United


Kingdom are claiming, as they did when Rebecca and Charles first went


to the High Court in January, that such a change would be costly and


complicated and I just cannot see how or why. I am not convinced this


is not an excuse. This change is very straightforward. Just as with


the same-sex civil partnerships, it would not be possible for you to


become a partner with a close family member or if you were already in a


union. All that is required is a simple one line amendment to the


Civil Partnership Act 2004 that my bill would enact, which is why it is


a short one Clause bill. It could all be done and dusted in committee


by tea-time. I will give way very briefly. I'm sorry to interrupt my


honourable friend a game but the other way of equalising the law


would be to ban civil partnerships for gay couples. I just wondered


whether or not my honourable friend would be in favour of equalising the


law by doing it that way? That would indeed provide an equality and close


this loophole but it would be a retrograde step backwards because


for the reasons I mentioned, people don't want to go down the formal


marriage reach whether they be of the same sex or opposite sex


marriage group so we would be denying people who have chosen to go


down that route and have chosen not to convert their civil partnership


to a marriage as they can now do. Clearly there are reasons why a


civil partnership suits them. It is just that those of an opposite sex


cannot have that same privilege if it suited them better than


traditional marriage. One way of doing it would be that but it would


serve to cause downsides as well. In the Government's initial


consultation before the Civil Partnership Act in 2013, 71% of


people were in favour of expending marriage. That never made it into


the legislation for some inexplicable reason. That would have


made it fairer. When I read to the Secretary of State for Education


recently, in her reply for why the Government were not supporting this,


she quoted, as part of the exercise after the same-sex marriage bill


came in, we examined whether people encourage


Why did their views no longer count? But aside from some equality


question, there is a further major practical benefit in opening up


civil partnership to couples and that is family stabilities. My


honourable friend from Taunton mentioned. The centre for social


justice calculated the cost tho country of familiar breakdown is ?38


billion each and every year or 2.5% of gross domestic product. That's a


big problem. It's a growing problem and it's a costly problem, costly in


terms of finances and socially to our society. Fewer than one in ten


married parents have split up by the child a reaches the age of five


compared to those co-habiting but not married. 75% of family


breakdowns involving children under five result from the separation of


unmarried parents. There is all sorts of statistics about those


children and more susceptible to not doing well at school, to not ending


up in good jobs, problems with housing, mental health and so on.


That's not to be judgmental about parents who find themselves having


to bring up a child alone through no fault of their own, but two partners


make for greater stability. We know that marriage works. We also know


that civil partnerships are beginning to show evidence of


greater stability for same-sex couples as well, including those who


have children, be it through adoption, or whatever. So there is a


strong case for believing that extending civil partnerships would


improve that stability for many more families in different ways. It is


one in ten co-habiting opposite sex couples entered into a civil


partnership, 3 hundred,000 couples and their children t would offer


greater security and stability, less likelihood of of a family breakdown,


better social outcomes, and better financial outcomes and that surely


is progress and particularly good for children who are parts of those


families. There is a further application because many people who


have strong religious beliefs, particularly Catholics, who have


ended up getting divorced which is in conflict with certain religious


teachings, may not be inclined to get married again if they meet a new


partner because their Church supposedly believes they should be


married for life. In many cases, however, they would be able to


reconcile that position by entering into a new formal commitment, so


there ash number of practical real life scenarios in which civil


partnerships for opposite sex couples could achieve something


positive that would not be available to those loving couples otherwise.


Opposite sex civil partnerships are not something cooked up in


haphazardly circumstances in this country. In South Africa the civil


union act of 2006 gave same-sex and opposite sex couples the option to


register a civil union by way of a marriage or civil partnership on the


same basis. In France a pact was introduced in 1999 as a form of


civil union between two adults of the same-sex or opposite sex and now


gay marriage has been added to that. Interestingly, one in ten pacts has


been dissolved in France whilst one in three and many more marriages


ends in divorce. There is evidence that some of those civil


partnerships have created greater stability whether they are opposite


sex or same-sex partnerships. And if we look at a countries with both


marriage and civil partnerships open to all, like the Netherlands, the


vast majority of different sex couples continue to choose marriage


so it's in no way trying to undermine the traditional


partnership of marriage, but a significant minority choose civil


partnerships, couples in the UK should surely have that choice too.


And I am glad in the many years I have been banging away on this


subject and the campaign has got greater, support has grown. Indeed,


the London Assembly recently gave its unanimous support to this change


in the law and passed a motion unanimously that the Assembly notes


while same-sex couples are able to form a civil partnerships, different


sex couples cannot. The Assembly acknowledges approximately one in


five households in London exists of a co-habiting couple, the Assembly


believes it's unfair and prevents these couples able to get legal


recognition for their relationship in a way that matches their values.


The Assembly recognises that City Hall has often been forefront of


efforts to extend liberties and it introduced a registration scheme for


same-sex couples so the Assembly called on the mayor to support the


equal civil partnerships campaign and urged him to make


representations to the Government for a change in the law if the Court


of Appeal rejeths one appeal against the High Court's decision to rejeth


their application to form a civil partnership. Last week there was a


very supportive article in the Solicitors Journal where it referred


to the current anomaly as discriminatory and the senior


partner at family law said to some the concept of marriage is outdated


but seek a union where vows and promises to each other are not


required. So there is a lot of support for this measure. I have


received many e-mails from couples around the country who are waiting


for this change in the law to be able to signal in the eyes of the


public, their friends and the law and the state that they are part of


a loving, secure, sustainable long-term union. It's just a


different arrangement to many other people choosing to go down. If I


quote from two emails I received in recent days. My partner and I live


together for 25 years, we are not religious, nor do we feel a wedding


is suitable for us, we work full-time and all hard and feel we


deserve the recognition that other couples enjoy. As we get older,


they're in their 50s, we feel we deserve financial and long-term


benefits given to other couple who is contributed to great nation but


we are currently denied these rights. Another wrote, my peal


partner and I, female, have lived together for 38 years, we do not


wish to marry. My mother was adversely affected by marriage in


the days when women were rejected from their careers upon marrying and


rape in marriage was legal and my mother's advice was to try to enjoy


it as it might reduce physical damage. But we do want a civil


partnership. We are now both dependent on our pensions, but if my


partner died tomorrow I would not be recognised by his pension provider


and will receive nothing from them. If we had a civil partnership they


would recognise my claim. Just another example of the instability


facing loving couples in this case together for 38 years, if one of


them were happened to die or not be part of that relationship, because


the state does not recognise those relations. That is a nomly we do


need to close. I don't understand why the Government reneged


effectively on its promise to pursue this properly and to draw an end to


that inadvertent inequality which came back from that act. Regardless


of what we did on that act, there is a case for extending civil


partnerships to opposite sex couples for a whole raft of positive reasons


that I have given in my short comments here. If the Government is


to allow people to be as free as possible to make their own


decisions, without harming the freedom of others, what is it doing


failing to make it lawful for people of the opposite sex who happen to


love each other for them to enter into a civil partnership when it


allows that very same freedom to people of the same sex? The current


situation is unfair, and needs to change and that is exactly what my


bill will do and with minimum fuss and that's why I commend it to the


House today. The question is that the bill be


read a second time. Thank you. I rise to support this private members


bill on behalf of the loyal opposition. It's a bill with genuine


cross-party support. It's backed by colleagues who voted on both sides


of the argument in 2013 for same-sex marriage, including the honourable


gentleman, the member for Worthing and East Sussex who put a powerful


case already, he has nicked many of of the points I wanted to make in my


speech. He mentioned Martin and Clare, they're my constituents, they


live in Ealing in the next road to me, they were the first ever people


to enter one in the British Isles in a civil partnership but they had to


go to the Isle of Man. I am sure the Isle of Man is a lovely place, but


if this bill goes through no one will ever have to make that journey




I am sure it's lovely, I have never been. Look, he also mentioned - I am


going to crack on, there is workers' rights, my honourable friend is


going to speak. He also mentioned the London Assembly and their


unanimous vote in favour of this but also early day motion 619, genuine


cross-party support, even the DUP, as well as the usual suspects, so


it's clearly a matter of public interest that the Government needs


to properly revisit. As has been pointed out, it's a matter of


equality. Civil partnerships only exist for same-sex couples of the UK


and in a democracy all people should be equal before the law. I am proud


to say that my party has offered much of our antidiscrimination


legislation the Race Relations Act, equal pay, abolishing the heinous


clause 28, right up to the equalities act of 2010, so this to


me seems a logical step. The civil partnerships were a new Labour


creation in the first place. They were ground-breaking at the time to


allow LGBT people to have their loving relationships recognised by


law and those same benefits as married couples. But I think this


anomaly we have is an unintended consequence that was necessary in


the long and winding road to equal marriage. So it's time to rectify


that now. Because there are huge steps forward at the time but that


was 2004, it's 13 years ago so it's time to open them up to all. It


would be easily done as has been pointed out. This is a short bill. I


think it's just sort of two lines on a generous interpretation. It means


deleting the words must be the same sex, that is all that needs to be


done, no new law, so just an extension of what is already on


offer to the campaign for equal civil partnerships estimate that


it's 2. 9 million people, it may be more, who are in partnerships who


feel for whatever reason, and we have had a list outlined, choose not


to marry. 39% of them with dependent children. So when same-sex marriage


became legal many gay couples had an upgrade, they traded up to full


marriage from civil partnerships. So here we got an opposite case of


people that want to take a leaner, modern, 21st century version and


affording their families the same legal protections, fairness


consistency, equity in legislation, who would disagree with any of that?


And back in 2013 my party tabled an amendment stating that the


Government should consult on allowing all couples civil


partnerships, access as soon as possible following the passing of


the marriage same-sex couples act. Since then it does seem that the


Government's found all sorts of pretexts for not bringing forward


access to all or even revisit the issue in a serious way, they've


argued the results of the consult ace were inconclusive, they need to


await the outcome of pending legal action before they could possibly


reopen this issue but this sounds to the outside world just like dpuss.


So if we look further -- like excuses, we have had mention of the


French case, when I was a student there 20 years ago, they thought it


was normal and couldn't understand why we don't have it here. I could


go into the complexities of international law, there are


articles out there people can Google that say that articles eight and 14


of the European convention for human rights, which thankfully we are


still in and it looks like we are not leaving in any great hurry, that


the bits that sort of promise equality of the application of the


convention and the bits about freedom of family life, you could


argue contravene this and previous case law where our Government has


been on the wrong side of that so we wouldn't want the waste of public


expenditure and time that we had in previous cases. Secretary of State


for work and pensions versus M is what I am thinking of. I am going to


not eat up more time. In short, this is the right thing to do. As my


constituents Clare and Martin put it, imagine two houses, one says gay


marriage, and the other says CP on the front. Up a couples are allowed


in the first house but only gay couples are allowed into the second.


Now heterosexual couples like us just want to be allowed in that


second house too. So for fairness, equality, the tangible benefits that


would know from this, for the right of couples to dhoos the type of


partnership that best suits their needs, faith and aspirations, we


support this private members bill before us today and urge the


Government to revisit this matter without further delay.


David Morris. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. This has been a


fantastic day for Private Members' Bills and this Private Members'


Bill, I would see as being seen as welcome across the land. It really


is time that we should address this particular issue and I pay tribute


to my honourable friend for securing this date and for his bill to be


explained to the House. My personal feelings on this or that I think if


people love one another, it doesn't matter what six they are, same-sex,


heterosexual, should they wish to enter into an agreement or


partnership, that is up to themselves. It really is up to


themselves and I think the law should accommodate for any


partnership that is legally binding, especially when it comes down to


sharing of property and God forbid if one partner should be left


behind, by the other, in either circumstances of you know, sadly


death or for other reasons, that partner would be covered for


legally. I do realise that the last government moved mountains in the


equality of same-sex marriage is and partnerships in that respect,


however, this should be looked at more intently, I do believe. And we


should look into this as a matter of urgency. I would like to commend


this issue to the House, along with my honourable friend who has


about his wishes to see this bill to about his wishes to see this bill to


become law. Kevin Foster. Thank you become law. Kevin Foster. Thank


madam Deputy Speaker. I am conscious madam Deputy Speaker. I am conscious


remarks brief. As someone who plans remarks brief. As someone who


to get married in June myself, I to get married in June myself, I


of legislation, forward. Myself and of legislation, forward. Myself and


Hazel, the choice of marriage in church is the choice I feel is right


for ourselves but I suspect there are others who don't feel that's the


right choice for themselves and go down the path of a civil


partnership. In terms of the quality it's good to see the latest member


of the women's and equalities commission doing his duty and


championing his cause so seriously, here on a Friday to make those


points, to note that perhaps some other members who like to talk on


the subject don't seem to have found time to join us. I think it will be


interesting, Ed Ling sent to a wider debate, perhaps the Minister could


reflect on the time that he has, there is probably a debate about


civil partnerships and marriage in the civil sense, obviously,


different in the civil sense those who wish to be married the religious


sense, if we continue that system, how we continue at and if it carries


on, it seems strange to retain it purely as those for -- something for


those in a civil partnership. Also, could be interesting if the


ministers remarks would reflect on the impact on the number of civil


partnerships from marriage being extended to same-sex couples. Given


that of course, civil partnership is originated from the idea of a


compromise, to give us that the member of East Worthing pointed to,


at the time it was felt that marriage couldn't quite be got


through in terms of same-sex couples but the said least gave them label


-- long-term protection. A family, suddenly discovering very Victorian


attitudes in relation to a loved one or a relative's same-sex


relationship, than they realise certainly go presidents might help


the modern terms of getting assets and property and a civil partnership


was brought into stop such behaviour and give people certainty that they


could have at least legal protection and then of course, a fewer years


back the momentous step made to equalise marriage in the civil sense


and provide that equality in terms of same-sex couples being able to


marry under the law in the same way as couples can Houara of the


opposite sex. I do welcome this bill, forward. I think it's right we


are having a debate about the types of relationship we recognised in


point, those who are elected looking point, those who are elected looking


for pleasure ships in a religious for pleasure ships in a religious


disappointed, a civil partnership sense may


would probably be viewed in many would probably be viewed in many


parts of the Church as almost equivalent. What might own personal


religious beliefs may be should not altered the legal definition of the


relationship. As I say, for us, I think we find in terms of the


Catholic Church and the Church of England, there are views on marriage


don't necessarily reflect the position of the law of the land


around marriage and that's been the case since 1833 when the context of


civil marriage was created. Finally I will say it is a sadness that as


it stands, it is unlikely I will have my mothers name on the marriage


certificate because I want to let the ministers speak and I am hanging


around until 2:30pm and topping legislation on that front, we may


have progress as well. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Many


congratulations to my honourable friend for introducing this bill. As


I understand it, he said this was the first time that he was ever able


to speak on a Private Members' Bill in this way. On his own. I


congratulate him, given that this is a bill about civil partnerships and


marriage for losing his virginity in this way, with this bill! May I pick


up a couple of points. He talked about the survey and the survey was


done in 2014 and that was during the time that the civil partnerships had


been introduced. There were 11 and a half thousand respondents, 76%


opposing extending a civil partnership, and what the government


is saying is that we want to see what happens and look at the data


before taking any further decisions in this matter. The honourable


gentleman said that marriage was seen as patriarchal and had


patriarchal and religious associations. I think that the


concept of marriage has moved on from when women were considered


chattel, civil marriage ceremonies as he will know or available to all


couples and have no religious element, in fact when I got married


a few months ago we had the Wizard of Oz playing and a ten man in the


registry office. And the civil servant money is can be personalised


by the couple. Which is exactly what we did to include their own


non-religious words and fouls and there is no requirement for a couple


to take vows to honour or would be to the end he will know the only


takes place in the presence of takes place in the presence of


witnesses and the ceremony includes the statutory declarations and


contracting words. It's no longer for everybody a religious and


patriarchal way of making a commitment to one another. As we are


all aware, the government has rightly taken great pride in


championing equality for all. There was the introduction of the same-sex


couples bill in 2013 and during the passage of the bill, the question


arose that the marriage would be available to same-sex couples, then


surely as a matter of equality civil partnerships should be open to


opposite sex couples? The honourable friend points out that at the time


the government considered the issue and decided that it would be a


mistake to rush to amend the civil partnership act at that time as


there would have been unknown and untested effects of a myriad of


legislation spanning areas such as pension, devolution issues,


international recognition, gender recognition and the law on adultery


and consummation, that had not been fully considered or indeed


identified. And this House at the time recognised that to invite such


risk would be irresponsible and that the offer seen issues that may arise


from legislation as with all issues that come from great legislative


change, will take time to identify, understand and account for, lest we


burden the public with expensive and ineffective laws. I mention the


honourable gentleman, the consultation and the amount of


people who replied saying they didn't want any change in the terms


of civil partnerships. It's worth knowing I think the honourable


gentleman who brought through this brilliant bill earlier on, as the


Minister said with real panache, he asked about civil partnerships.


There has been an 85% decrease in civil partnerships since 2013, in


2015 or 861 civil partnership scampered to buy thousands of


hundred and 46 in 2013. I am grateful. I understand what he says


but the fact is with all the potential legislative implications


of my bill, were no less and no different from the implications of


the same-sex marriage bill itself on laws that had to be changed. Which


was rushed through a space of months whereas we've had several years to


think about this, it's almost three years since the consultation and


they do repeat there was a big consultation before that will itself


for the majority at that stage said that they did want to see civil


partnerships extended to opposite sex couples. How much longer we


going to have to wait? I thank my honourable friend for his question.


He will know, as other members of the House was no, that there are


ongoing legal proceedings on this and I'm sure he would agree it's


right for the government to wait to see what happens in terms of the


Court judgement. I think that's firmly reasonable to say that given


that the cord is considering this, the government should wait and


oversee what happens. His bill would amend the civil partnership act


2004, so that opposite sex couples perform civil partnerships. It's


been highlighted, the honourable member has tabled this proposal


before, and in response, the government tabled its own amendment


to require full review of the operation and future of the civil


partnership back in England and Wales, once marriage became possible


for same-sex couples. One of the reasons the government moved its own


amendment was the fact the impact on demand first civil partnerships


caused by the extension of marriage to same-sex couples could not be


predicted. When civil partnerships were introduced there was a peak in


the first year and it only took a couple more years before the numbers


started to stabilise. The Coalition Government said at the time we


expect an early rush to marry for same-sex couples from 29th of March


2014 when the marriage for same-sex couple act came into force and for


there to be a similar initial peak in the number of same-sex couples


wishing to convert your same-sex leisure shipped to a marriage. The


Coalition Government also believed that some couples may take much


longer to decide between a civil partnership and marriage if they


wanted a legal belated chip or in particular, with a conversion to a


marriage was a step and wished to take and even now, it's still too


early to tell if this would happen in practice. But Madam Deputy


Speaker, this is not the only reason why the government now believes that


the proposals put forward by my honourable friend would require


significant further work and I would like to take each of these in turn.


The legislative complexity introduced by the change to the law.


The difficulty in estimating the size of the challenge and


successfully making such a change. Publications introduced by marriage


being that the volt battery, treatment of other overseas


relationships, the reaction of religious communities and


stakeholders, and finally, Parliamentary time during this


Parliament. Of course... Every single one of those considerations


he has detailed applied to the same-sex marriage act itself which


was got through these houses in a matter of months, three years on,


why is this an impediment? It's right that government... There


always a law of unintended always a law of unintended


consequences I am sure my honourable friend recognises and it's right the


government make sure that all avenues are looked at very


personally before making any further changes to the law. I don't think


that is an unreasonable position. You will note that marriage law is


an inordinately complex landscape. If we are to change the civil


partnership act to amend the definition of the civil partnership


so that the term river it appears and legislation means a relationship


tween both same-sex and opposite sex couples, then we would need to


carefully and methodically assess the impact of that change on all the


relevant legislation or that appears. We would need to check


every position in all relevant legislation to ensure it still works


as intended and if not, to provide for consequential amendment of that


legislation. To give the House is an indication of the complexity of this


task, policy decisions would need to be made by a number of government


departments and issues such as pensions and benefit entitlement,


same-sex couples entering into civil partnerships, the dissolution of


civil partnerships for same-sex couples and the right for same-sex


couples in relation to assisted conception. In each case, the


question would be... Order, order. 24th March, 2017. Workers rights,


maintenance of EU standards bill. Second reading.


Second reading, what day? 24th February. 24th February. Protection


of family homes enforcement and permitted doechl bill. Adjourn


debate on second reading. Permission of the member for Selly Oak now.


Objection taken. Debate to be resumed, what day? 3 February.


Registration of marriage bill, second reading. I beg to move now.


The question is that the bill be now read a second time. As many of that


opinion say aye. Of the contrary, no. I think the ayes have it. Modern


slavery transparency and supply chain bill Lords second reading.


Friday 24th March. Now. Objection taken. Second reading what day.


Friday 24th March. Vehicle noise limits enforcement bill, second


reading. Now. Object. Objection taken, second reading what day?


Friday 24th February. Kew Gardens bill, second reading. Not moved.


Health and social care national data guardian bill. Second reading. Now.


The question is that the bill be now read a second time. As many of that


opinion say aye. Of the contrary no. The ayes have it. I beg to move that


the House be now adjourned. The question is that this House now


adjourn. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to talk about what I


think is an important issue, as the House adjourns. Tonight in a cabin


in the car park of a small industrial estate under the


dilapidated railway arches in Bethnal Green, east London, Courtney


will be teaching a class as usual at the knowledge academy. He will be


teaching men and women from all backgrounds, ages and races, who all


have one thing in mind and that's passing the knowledge and becoming a


London cabbie. They want to leave behind zero hour contracts and


insecure casual work, they're sick of the minimum wage jobs in call


centres, labouring on building sites, stacking shelves or waiting


tables. They desperately want to get into more secure, better paid work,


the ticket to a better life for themselves and for their families.


And the reason why I call this debate and the reason why I mention


the knowledge academy is because it feels to me like it's pretty much


amongst the last night schools left in London. When my mother arrived in


the UK in 1970 from a small tiny village in Ghana, she was unskilled


and uncertain of her future. She worked as a home help and after she


finished work she went to our local college and traineds a as a typist.


30 years later, she retired from her role as a manager at Haringey


Council. What does this tell us, that a woman can start off with


nothing, and work up from being a Secretary to a managerial position,


earning a salary to support a family as a single bread winner? It tells


us that if we give people opportunities to get the skills they


need, they will go from strength to strength. The term social mobility


gets thrown around a lot here in the House of Commons. But it basically


means helping people to climb the ladder. Ordinary people don't care


about jargon like social mobility but they certainly care about


climbing the ladder. They're working two or three jobs. They're borrowing


too much money from the bank. They're borrowing from friends and


family. They're sleeping sometimes on floors or to save money on rent.


They want the security of a reliable job that can pay them a wage that


can support their family and here in London that's between 40-50,000 a


year. We have a proud history of adult education in this country. We


have a proud history of adult education in this country,


stretching back to the Earth century. In the 1820s, the


university was established of Birkbeck as were institutes in


Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester. The working men's


college opened. These institutions gave working class adults the chance


to gain the skills that they had not learned at school and certainly


would not learn at work. George Stevenson, the inVenter of the steam


engine was illiterate until the age of 18 and the product of night


school. I want to thank the University of Birkbeck that's doing


outreach work in my own constituency in Tottenham, I want to thank City


Lit an amazing institution and a gem, frankly, in the fabric of


London. Morley College, the workers educational association, and the


college of north-east London in my own constituency, and other


institutions across the country for the work that they do in keeping


this tradition alive. They're making sure that we don't lose the legacy


of Samuel Morley, John Ruskin and William Morris and the value of


learning for learning sake and they're helping thousands of modern


day educating Ritas gain confidence they need to flourish. I also want


to thank my honourable friend, my colleague, the honourable member for


Newcastle for establishing the all-party group on adult education


and pushing it up the agenda. According to Hansard since 2010 this


House has discussed education on 339 occasions. There has not been one


single debate on adult education, not one. Just a single question in


education questions back in October 2010. That's it. That's what this


place thinks of adult learning in this country. This total disregard


for adult education is not good enough. It's not good to say that if


you don't go to university, you can't progress, and you are limited


to a life of low paid work with no prospects of change. It's not good


enough to deny opportunities to the already marginalised and already


struggling and those who didn't have opportunities when they were growing


up. But the bottom line is that in this place we are totally obsessed


with the education policy of 16 and 18-year-olds. We are obsessed with


university entrants, we are obsessed with apprenticeships at the moment.


It's all about getting young people into university or into


apprenticeships, but education does not and must not end at 18. It's


more important to put this debate in the context of our times and that


context is Brexit, not least because we are set to lose the European


Social Fund which currently contributes between 50 and 100


million to our colleges each year. Skill shortages already make up


nearly a quarter of all job openings according to the UK Commission for


employment and skills. 69% of all UK businesses are worried that they're


not be able to find enough people with the skills to fill job


vacancies. It looks like we are going to leave the single market, so


businesses will not be able to recruit from the continent to fluing


skills gaps. Much more will need to be done to reskill and retrain


people here in our own country to take up these jobs. As has been said


in this House so many times since June, the referendum result


highlighted the fact that there are many people out there who feel left


behind in places like Great Yarmouth, Blackburn, or Barking and


Dagenham here in London. The average earnings in Barking and Dagenham are


40% lower than the London average. In great Yarmouth, average earnings


are ?10,000, or 40% lower than the national medium. Blackburn has the


lowest - second lowest earnings of any UK city. There are growth


industries in this country. Look at programming and the digital sector


more generally, the construction sector is crying out for skilled


workers to deliver the infrastructure and homes our country


needs. There's a huge demand for engineers, especially in sectors


like biotechnology, in aerospace, professional services, consulting,


accountancy, also continue to grow. But my question is how are working


class people in these places going to access these sectors and get the


jobs where they can earn even the average salary? Never mind a


comfortable salary on which to support their family and enjoy a


good life. Millions of people are trapped in a low income, dead end


job with children and care responsibilities and they've been


shut out of adult education. I ask the Minister who I have spoken to on


a number of occasions and I am in the here in a partisan way on this


occasion because I know he cares about the issue, but I do ask him


and I hope I will hear from him what he is going to do about what I think


now has become a critical issue. By 2024 only 2% of people in employment


will have no formal qualifications. What exactly are the millions of


people who didn't get qualifications when they were young going to do?


What is the strategy for these adults? We want now to talk about


the 30-somethings, the 40-somethings, the 50-somethings, in


a country in which we are living longer and longer, how are these


people going to access education? And accessing education in a context


where we can't expect them to go to university and pay 9,000 a year,


that's unrealistic to drop your life to not support your kids in order to


do that. We have an hourglass economy in this country with a


shrinking middle section and a section of society trapped at the


bottom. Heave huge structural problems, especially the loss of


manufacturing and a fail yaur to replace these breadwinner jobs. This


is not Europe's fault. This is not the fault of free movement. Or of


migrants who come to this country to work. It's the fault of successive


governments, both Conservative and Labour. So what's the context that I


think the Minister has to address? Well, the association of colleges


has warned that adult education will disappear by 2020 at this rate. The


total number of adult learners fell by 10. 8% in just a single year


between 2014 and 2015. We have had 40% cuts in real terms to adult


skills budgets between 2010 and 2015 and spending on non-apprentice parts


of the budget fell by a staggering 57%. The Government published its


60-page post 16 skills plan Alastair July. You will see a couple of


paragraphs dedicated to adults. It says education and training need to


become a more important part of adults lives. The Government's plan


promise to outline a plan for life long learning by 2016 but it didn't


appear. I asked the Minister's office when this plan was


forthcoming but I haven't had a reply yet. I hope we hear from the


Minister on that subject. This Government office for science has


said life long learning and challenges of an ageing population


are an urgent issue for public policy in the UK. The range of


courses on offer has narrowed to basic skills and English for


speakers of other languages. Only 4900 adults achieved level four


awards or above. Under the education budget in 2015 a 36% fall in one


year. So a 75% fall in two years. I ask the Minister where is the


strategy, where is the investment, where are the ideas? Don't get me


wrong, this situation has been cause by funding cuts and the political


neglect of successive governments. Labour implemented union learn of


which I am very proud and was proud to be a skills Minister that worked


on that. We also had a focus on basic skills, English and maths,


hugely important for adult who is do not have the basics to move on. We


implemented train to gain to give employers huge budgets, millions of


pounds to train up their staff. On reflection, I am not so sure about


that programme and the reason I say that is because I think there is now


a lot of evidence, employers don't train you to leave. And that's why


you need to empower adults themselves to take up these courses.


We need a national strategy led by a Minister working across departments,


because the benefits of adult education have a huge impact on


employment, health outcomes and our GDP. In the coming years the


Government will be devolving control of skills funding, so we will need


to ensure that we don't end up with a patchwork across the country.


Britain can't afford that outside the European Union. I hope the


Minister might say something about that. The Government are bringing in


a ?3 billion apprentice levy, will some of that be allocated to adult


education? I hope the Minister might address that. The present system is


humaningly unbalanced, if you decide to go to university at 18 the


Government offers an open ended commitment to fund tuition feeses


and living costs and you pay it back if you earn over a certain


threshold. Where is The Support for adult learners and those going


through technical education? The answer is not the advance learning


loans. They're not working. In 2015 only 140 million loans were taken up


out of a total budget of just under 400 million, that was set aside. In


my constituency only 38% of adult learners are taking out these loans.


Leaders in the sector have told me the uptake is not there because


people don't know about them. And if people do know about them the kind


of families we are talking about, the burdens of a loan when you have


kids to feed and other things things is too problematic. So we have to


think again. We may have to go back, if we are going back in time to life


before the EU, we may have to go back to subsidising again adult he


had kalths, that's not to be on the table if we think it's economically


of importance. The government needs to consider


what's been described as a tertiary education entitlement. Ignoring the


jargon, people are going to have to learn new skills and change jobs.


The jobs of the future haven't even been created. There is no way that


the education we get in our teens and early 20s can support people


through their lives. Creating a fund people can draw on throughout their


lives reflects the reality of the modern world and I call on the


Minister to consider a single tertiary education entitlement or a


similar sort of scheme. Madam Speaker, I want to finish by saying


this. Look across the country in our seaside towns, post-industrial towns


across the North, Midlands and Wales. In places like Boston,


Hartlepool, Bolton, the prevailing wind is to blame immigrants for our


problems. Taking jobs, houses, cool places, taking GP appointments but


in a country where people are trapped in low income, low skilled


work and don't see a way out, we are playing a very dangerous game if we


don't act. People are not trapped in low income jobs because of


immigrants, it's the fault of successive governments who have


failed to equip them with the skills they need to get on in a modern


economy. My fear and very real fear in deed is that if we don't act now,


the consequences down the line will be very great indeed and we will be


opening up a very dark chapter in our history. Thank you, Madam Deputy


Speaker. May I give my genuine congratulations to the honourable


gentleman for securing this debate. It is customary to see these things


but I really mean it. He knows the subject inside out, he cares about


it passionately, he raises some incredibly important points and I'm


glad he has put this on the agenda, on this issue, because adult


education is incredibly important. He mentioned the Brexit issue but


when people raise this issue with me I always say to people we've been in


the European Union for 20-30 years but governments of all persuasions


and businesses have hugely underinvested in skills and so this


idea that it's all been caused by Brexit, which you didn't say but


people say, is, in my view, not the case. I will talk a little bit


about... Loans have in going up and I am happy to send him the figures.


He talked about apprenticeships. Apprenticeships as he rightly


pointed out, it's not about 16-18, I get a lot of stick because people


say, not enough 16-18 -year-olds are doing apprenticeships but over 19


euros, 377,960 apprentices over 19 started in 2015-16. That's a very


important part of the strategy of giving people, adults, the skills


that they need. My priority, the government's priority, as he said,


and I say often, creating a ladder of opportunity and making sure that


there are various rungs up the ladder that people can climb up,


with the government holding the ladder. The first rung of the


ladder, we have to have a national conversation and change the prestige


about skills and adult education in our country and he made the point,


rightly, and I didn't know this myself, the House of Commons is


hardly ever discussed at night school. And he can check with my


officials, even before I knew about this debate, when I got into this


post, I raised this issue and have done surveys asking for surveys and


evidence, which at the moment, there is not a huge amount. The other rung


of the ladder is having more widespread and quality provision,


addressing the skills needs of the nation, achieving social justice and


a sense of community and steering people to jobs and prosperity.


Social justice, because, whenever I have seen adult education centres


and the kind of people who go to them often come from very


disadvantaged backgrounds and it's a bridge for them, it doesn't matter


whether it's cake making or a maths GCSE, it's a bridge for them to go


on to do further education and jobs and when I Sikh community, I don't


say that lightly either because in my experience, adults, community


centres, night school build social capital. -- and off when I say


community. That is why I believe in adult education, why I'm looking at


what we can do and as a government, we are trying to promote a


conversation about skills and nonacademic pants for young people


and adults through getting... And ensuring we have dedicated careers


advice all the way through and careers guidance. This is why we are


investing 77 million in the national careers service to make sure that


people have advice on what adult education they can do, what jobs are


available, skills and training they can do. A strong further education


sector is essential to ensure that everyone in our society is empowered


to succeed. We need to equip further education colleges to be high status


institutions that can confer similar advantages to traditional academic


institutions and apprenticeships that are seen to be as valuable as


going to the best universities in the world. The spending review come


per to previous years, I think it is recognised, we are protecting the


sector given the funding pressures and what had gone on in the past,


and the whole purpose of the technical and educational and


further education Bill is to expand the role of apprenticeships to


include technical education, making sure employers shed qualifications


as well as apprentice standards. -- shape qualifications. The levy,


taken in conjunction with the adult education budget, apprenticeship


funding, advanced learner loans, funding, advanced learner loans,


this will provide more funding to support adult further education


participation than at any time in our island's history. And the


flexibility we have introduced into the FT system will ensure local


demand will determine when and where learning is delivered and I want the


new institutions we are establishing to make sure that we consider the


benefits to the community of making evening classes available. I know


for instance at the National College for digital skills which I was


really pleased the honourable gentleman did so much to make


happen, is in discussion with the number of other colleges and


providers about utilising its top and help campus level one and two


courses outside of standard hours and during holidays. I share the


right honourable gentleman's keenness to maintain the tradition


of nights good learning and evening classes. As part of a survey into


adult and community learning that they recently commissioned, it's


emerged that evening classes are run in 1380 local centres. The survey is


slim progress but results so far received from 97 providers, around a


third providers use more than 40% of their budget for evening classes. I


think it is important to quote these figures. In 2015, ad of the 1.5


billion for adult skills provision, the government provided 210 points 7


million 315 providers community learning, hundred 39 local


authorities got 170 million, and there is more. 236 community


learning providers rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted. And I know in


my own, we have very good adult community learning in Harlow College


and in the adult community Centre. The reason I called the statistics,


is because yes, we need to do a lot more, yes there are problems but it


is not completely bleak. I am grateful. I want to make this


profound statement. Most are easy colleges up and down the country are


closed. At about eight o'clock in the evening. Most FE colleges are


engaged in 70-80% of their activity with young people and by that I mean


under 25 and whilst there is a course and community learning, it's


at a basic level, basic English, basic maths. If we are serious about


economy it will need to be at the economy it will need to be at the


higher levels and that's where the strategy is going to have to take


place. He is right because I see, I remember in Harlow College in the


1990s, if you went there in the evening you couldn't get a car


parking space because people were parking space because people were


doing adult night school learning, they are still but it's not as


extensive as it was and as he pointed out, it isn't just this


government of the last government, every government in the past has not


put in resources to this and it started in the 90s, as far as I


remember and now you can get a space at Harlow College in the evening. He


is right. That is what we are looking at. People's energy and


enthusiasm as he highlighted for evening classes or amongst the


principal drivers of lifetime learning. We will soon bring forward


some potential policy options from the current review that will enhance


a pathway that everybody in the nation can use to climb the ladder


of opportunity but it has to meet the priorities, meeting the skills


deficit, helping socially disadvantaged, being widespread as


much as possible, and being quality as well. I do except that the


problem has been getting worse in terms of skills, in the past 20


years in a country, 20% of our long-term productivity gap with


Germany is due to lower skills levels. We are the only OECD country


were 16-24 -year-olds are no better at literacy and numerous than 55-65


-year-olds. The two macro skills employers say are indispensable our


mouths and English, we are giving adults the best opportunity to gain


qualifications in English and maths by fully funding all adults to


achieve their first level qualification, be that. Skills or


GCSE as well as other qualifications which up and get to that level and


we know that investment in maths and English provide substantial social


and economic returns that are beneficial to the individual,


families, workplaces and communities. And the economy. I


mentioned that advanced learner loans have gone up, I think they are


an important offering to people to do adult courses, available to


thousands of adults, aged 19 and above, studying levelled 3-6,


accessing nonsupport to help the meat upfront fees, removing one of


the main areas to learning. Now, I highlighted that community learning,


takes place often in excess of the local venues like children's


centres, libraries, community centres and reaches those


need and the most disadvantaged. The need and the most disadvantaged. The


and physical health, more confident including better self-esteem, mental


and employment and confidence to her bonding, formal


and employment and confidence to apply for jobs. We note that FE


works, the destination of adult students who complete courses, 64%


get job, 30% go into further learning, four percent into


learning, at level two macro earnings are boosted by 11%,


increasing the chance of being employed by two macro percent. 40 1%


of level two students live in areas of educational disadvantage, 34%


progress to higher education. In conclusion Madam Deputy Speaker, we


have to be proud of these institutions. I said out of 385


colleges, 19% were outstanding. My own college and adult and community


learning Centre which shipped my own views as minister. It has shown me


how the education system must be part of evening up the odds for


those who are disadvantaged and I intend to visit more as the


fundraising takes root and relay over the proposals in the future.


The question is that this House to now adjourn. As many as are of that


opinion say aye. To the contrary no. Order, order.


Download Subtitles