Written question – Advertising [17/12/2018]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will include alcohol products in the proposed consultation on a 9pm watershed on the advertising of unhealthy foods. (200726)

Tabled on: 10 December 2018

Margot James:

In the second chapter of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan, published in June, we committed to consult by the end of 2018 on introducing a 9pm watershed on TV advertising of HFSS products and similar protection for children viewing adverts online – with the aim of limiting children’s exposure to HFSS advertising, and incentivising sugar and calorie reduction.

Alcohol advertising is not in scope for this work because the consultation is focused on products that children consume.

As with HFSS advertising, alcohol advertising in the UK is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the industry’s independent regulator, who enforce the Advertising Codes through a system of self-regulation and co-regulation with Ofcom. The Codes apply to all media, including broadcast and online, and set standards for accuracy and honesty to which advertisers are expected to adhere, including specific conditions on advertising to children, causing offence and social responsibility.

The Codes recognise the social imperative of ensuring alcohol advertising is responsible. They are regularly reviewed and updated by the industry to ensure they remain effective, and proposed changes to the Codes are routinely subject to public consultation. The Codes currently state that alcohol advertising must not be targeted at people under 18 and “should not imply, condone or encourage immoderate, irresponsible or anti-social drinking.

The answer was submitted on 17 Dec 2018 at 13:10.



HMRC – Christmas phone and online scamming

HMRC recommends that if you cannot verify the identity of a caller, do not speak to them. You can check GOV.UK for information on genuine HMRC contact and on how to avoid and report internet scams.

I would encourage Inverclyde residents to be aware of potential fraudsters who try to spoof legitimate HMRC phone numbers.

If you notice anything suspicious then please email phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and send suspicious texts to 60599

Westminster diary w/b 10th December


All of today’s plans got wiped as the UK Government decided after three days of debate and 164 speeches that the next two days of debate would not take place and that the Meaningful Vote scheduled for Tuesday wasn’t that meaningful after all. The Select Committee for Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs met to consider our latest report. The timing of our report ‘Confidence motions and the Fixed Term Parliament Act’ could not have been better. As of Monday the future of the current Prime Minister, Government and Parliament were all tenuous. Erskine May (the big book of Parliamentary process) became very popular in the House of Commons library while the plotters and schemers huddled together in corridors and lobbies. Amidst the nonsensical rhetoric and political posturing, work did continue. I met with the Minister for Defence Procurement regarding the Type 31e frigate programme. Three consortiums have been given £4.5 million pounds each to bring forward a design. The winning design will then get the contract to build five type 31e frigates, each with a value of 250 million pounds. Ferguson Marine are represented in two of the three consortiums and I continued to lobby for them to be part of a winning bid.


I was in the chamber to support Norman Lamb’s ten minute rule bill, ‘Cannabis regulation and legislation’. The purpose of the rule is to facilitate a debate on the subject, unfortunately that opportunity was voted down. The SNP had a free vote but Labour were whipped to abstain. Why they won’t even debate the subject is beyond me. We then had a debate on the reason for cancelling a debate. This was not Westminster’s finest hour. As the evening drew to a close it was becoming clear that the Prime Minister was going to face a vote of no confidence from her own party. The process demands that 48 Conservative and Unionists MPs have to submit a letter asking her to resign. This number was reached with apparent ease. Whatever happened to ‘strong and stable’?


My day started at a Delegated Legislation committee. It was not contentious as it was simply moving existing laws regarding merchant shipping’s recognised organisations from the jurisdiction of the European Union to United Kingdom Parliament. There have been a host of these committees doing the same thing for hundreds of laws. All these laws that Brexiteers were so opposed to, have been accepted by the U.K. and nobody batted an eyelid. The Tory rebels got there vote but failed to remove their leader. The Prime Minister won by 200 to 117 votes and lives to stumble on. She has said she will not stand at the next election. Now all we have to sort out is Brexit! Because Westminster has become a moving feast we have regular briefings on the state of play at the procedures that may or may not be applicable. Westminster continues to prove that every day is a school day.


Disaster as I manage to pull out a temporary filling while flossing. It is a timely reminder that amidst the ruminations of constitutional legislation and having the privilege of participating and witnessing history unfold, everyday life goes on. It’s a slow day in the chamber and most of my day is given up to reading and writing. It’s another privilege of this job that affords me days like this. In the evening I attended a reception and private dining (as much as my lack of tooth would allow) with ex-President of the Government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont. I got the badly named ‘sleeper’ train up the road.


Early arrival at Glasgow Central on the overnight train from London. Quick change of platform and down to Greenock. Home for a quick shower and change of clothes and my first meeting is with Peel Ports. Lots to talk about. I meet up with Citizens Advice Scotland. We need to ensure that money allocated to aid the roll out of Universal Credit which is being given to Citizens Advice still comes to Inverclyde despite the fact that we don’t have a Citizens Advice Bureau. In the afternoon I have a number of constituency meetings.

Universal Credit public petition

Inverclyde has had full service Universal Credit for over 2 years now while at the same time it has lost one of its jobcentres in Port Glasgow.  The House of Commons Library highlights that 4,810 households in Inverclyde currently claim Universal Credit and there are still 7,250 on legacy benefits.

My constituency office has dealt with hundreds of welfare cases and the vast majority of these are in-relation to Universal Credit.  Some of the stories that constituents have told me regarding their Universal Credit claim are scandalous and highlight the many flaws in the current system which need addressing quickly.  For example, the length in delay of receiving your first payment, or the issue of receiving your wages 4 weekly which means at least once a year you receive no Universal Credit payment as the system thinks you’ve had two wages in a month.

The Trussell Trust tell me that in Inverclyde between 1st April 2018 and 30th September 2018 in Inverclyde, 3,013 three-day emergency food supplies were given to local people in crisis.  Meanwhile welfare spending on poor people dropped by 25% during the decade of austerity, cuts to benefits that disabled people receive were significant.

It’s time the UK Government listened to the concerns being raised by constituents, charities and local organisations who are saying the current Universal Credit provision is not fit for purpose and it needs fixed. 

Therefore, I hope people in Inverclyde will sign the public petition, which is available in my constituency office, as this will allow me to take it to Westminster and demonstrate the strength of feeling against the UK Government policy.


Ofcom’s “Boost Your Broadband” campaign

Superfast broadband is available to more than nine in ten premises in the UK, but Ofcom want to help more people take up faster services. 

The campaign can help find out if they could:           

•           upgrade to a faster service with their current provider;

•           get a better deal for their current package;

•           switch to a new deal with a different provider; or

•           stick with their current deal. 

A dedicated website (www.BoostYourBroadband.com) will offer consumers tools including an availability checker for broadband services, information on what they need to ask their provider, and a jargon buster.


Scot Govt Funding for Active Travel

During the Scottish Government’s Draft spending and tax plans for 2019-20, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay MSP announced £80m for Active Travel

I’m delighted to learn the Scottish Government is continuing its investment in active travel and this announcement of £80m is to be welcomed.

Having recently met with both Community Tracks and Sustrans Scotland I know work is being undertaken to improve cycling links through Inverclyde.  This is something I very much support and will be promoting both locally and at Westminster in my role on the Transport Select Committee, through our Active Travel inquiry.

I would encourage more people to take up, or start again, cycling as a leisure activity and also as a way of staying healthy.  Inverclyde has some beautiful scenery to offer and this funding announcement should hopefully allow further investment in our cycling routes.



PACAC – Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published an interim report today (The Status and Effect of Confidence Motions and the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011) which confirms the principle that the government is dependent on maintaining the confidence of the House of Commons and any vote of no confidence could topple the government.

The SNP will wholeheartedly support any vote of no confidence in the government, especially in light of the cowardly move to pull the Withdrawal Agreement vote to prevent the government facing a humiliating defeat in the Commons.

The Prime Minister herself admitted that the vote would have been overwhelmingly rejected by MPs – not just on the opposition benches, but on the Tory backbenchers as well and putting narrow party political interest before constituents across the UK is a pathetic move by the Prime Minister which she must not be forgiven for.

It is now clearer than ever before that the UK government cannot command the confidence of the House of Commons. Theresa May and her government must now be held to account for their unforgivable dereliction of their responsibility.