Written question – Gambling & football [24/05/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of gambling advertising during the upcoming European Championships on people at risk of gambling-related harm. (2347)

Tabled on: 17 May 2021

This question was grouped with the following question(s) for answer:

  1. To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate he has made of the number of advertising breaks which will contain a gambling advert during the upcoming European Championships; and if he will take steps to prohibit gambling adverts from being broadcast before the 9.00pm watershed. (2348)
    Tabled on: 17 May 2021

Mr John Whittingdale:

The Government does not hold data on the volume of broadcast gambling advertising and so cannot provide an estimate of the number of advertising breaks that will contain a gambling advert during the UEFA European Championship. Broadcasters have discretion over how advertising breaks are set and what adverts are broadcast, in line with Ofcom and ASA standards. The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising also prohibits adverts being shown around or during live sports broadcast before the 9pm watershed.

The government has not seen any evidence which demonstrates a causal link between exposure to gambling advertising and the development of problem gambling. However, all gambling advertising, wherever it appears, is subject to strict controls on content and placement.

Gambling adverts must never be targeted at children or vulnerable people. The Advertising Standards Authority independently administers these standards through the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) which covers online and non-broadcast spaces and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) for TV. If an advert for gambling holds particular appeal to children and is freely accessible then it will break the rules.

The government launched the Review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December with the publication of a Call for Evidence. This closed on 31 March and received approximately 16,000 submissions from a broad range of interested organisations and individuals. As part of the wide scope of that Review, we called for evidence on the benefits or harms of allowing gambling operators to advertise and we are considering the evidence carefully.

The answer was submitted on 24 May 2021 at 15:06.

Greenock Telegraph 21st May 2021

During the Covid pandemic there have been a lot of questions asked about the UK Government’s procurement process. There have been claims that companies who were ill equipped to fulfil contracts have been awarded them. Allegations of cronyism and preferential treatment for friends and even family have been circulating for some time. Many of the contracts are for eye watering sums of money and it only right and proper that there is full scrutiny of public spending.

A combination of a declaration of interests, the ministerial code and ministerial advisers should guarantee that good ethics and probity are maintained. But as you may suspect we have a problem. Interests that should have been published five months ago, have not. The ministerial code is only a set of recommendations, ultimately, it’s up to the Prime Minister to decide if the code has been broken. And while the Prime Minister is one of those whose behaviour is being questioned, he turns to the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests for advice on matters of propriety and ethics. Which is awkward as Lord Geidt, Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests, is appointed by and answers only to the Prime Minister. The phrase marking one’s own homework springs to mind.

The situation is simply not good enough and while UK Government ministers maintain that nothing inappropriate has happened it is important for public confidence that the machinery of Government is open and transparent. While the general public have made sacrifices and people’s jobs have been on the line it would be unconscionable for any elected member to financially benefit from the crisis whether directly or indirectly and its important that we are all open to unbiased scrutiny.

Written question – Access to cash [20/05/2021]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what progress he is making on ensuring people have access to cash throughout the UK; and if he will make a statement. (2349)

Tabled on: 17 May 2021

John Glen:

The Government recognises that cash is important to the daily lives of millions of people across the UK, and has committed to legislating to protect access to cash for those who need it and ensuring that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term.

Last year, the Treasury published a Call for Evidence, which sought views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. The Government has recently announced that it will consult this Summer on legislative proposals for protecting cash for the long term.

The Government has also made legislative changes to support the widespread offering of cashback without a purchase by shops and other businesses as part of the Financial Services Act 2021. These changes will come into effect in late June of this year. The Government’s view is that cashback without a purchase has the potential to be a valuable facility to cash users, and to play an important role in the UK’s cash infrastructure.

The answer was submitted on 20 May 2021 at 10:36.

Greenock Telegraph 7th May 2021

Having complained loudly and often about the environmental vandalism being perpetrated by Inverclyde council on the local tree stock, I was delighted to see that they are now advertising for an Arborist. Hopefully, this will ensure ongoing responsible tree management and not the neglect and subsequent drastic actions we have witnessed of late. But just as one hand giveth another taketh away.

Recently, there have been moves to establish an ‘Inverclyde Pollinator Corridor’. The aim is to save the bees and pollinators by creating a corridor of beautiful wildflowers across Inverclyde. I like to think of it as service stations for bees. Schemes have been launched across Inverclyde, including up at the Cut, Belville Gardens and the site of the old Hector McNeil baths.

With this in mind, I was disappointed that Inverclyde Council has decided to include greenbelt land at Kilmacolm in the Proposed Local Development Land to meet the housing requirements identified within the Clyde Plan, and the subsequent decision by the Planning Board to approve a related housing development, which will result in the destruction of a natural wild meadow and all the wildlife within it. In this example the planning system has let people down. The proposal is for housing that embraces some aspects that I welcome, including not being connected to the gas network, instead “it is proposed that air source heat pump technology is employed to serve the heating and hot water demands of the residential elements”. And I note that the plans state “it is proposed to incorporate high levels of passive and energy efficient design measures in order to reduce the development’s energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions”. All in all, it is an admirable attempt at building in an environmental fashion, but it doesn’t begin to offset the environmental damage that building on this site will do in the first place. Is prevention no longer better than cure?