Karen Bradley – 2019 Statement on Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland

Below is the text of the statement made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 7 May 2019.

This is a summary of the main findings from the report by His Honour Brian Barker QC, the Independent Reviewer of National Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland, covering the period from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018. His Honour Brian Barker concludes:

Throughout the reporting period I have been briefed periodically on the state of threat in Northern Ireland. I received presentations from PSNI and MI5 on the ​practical effect of their co-operation and mutual reliance. My visits to PSNI establishments and to MI5 left an impression of deep commitment and professionalism, further demonstrated by their openness and willingness to respond to all aspects of my enquiries. Strong cross-border links continue with An Garda Siochana.

The context in which national security activities are performed in Northern Ireland remains challenging and members of the security forces continue to require vigilance in relation to their personal security. Dissident republicans continue to express political conviction to justify violence and law breaking, while loyalist paramilitaries maintain control in areas by self-justified intimidation and administration of violence. As in recent years there have been successes and considerable effort devoted to containing and disrupting dissident groups. Nevertheless, planning and targeting continues and attacks occur.

The number of security related incidents for this reporting period are broadly similar to my previous report; in 2017 shooting incidents rose from 49 to 58, whilst the number of security related deaths decreased from 6 to 2. There were 30 bombing incidents, and casualties from paramilitary style assaults (excluding fatalities) increased from 65 to 74; casualties from paramilitary style shootings (excluding fatalities) also increased from 20 to 27. The number of persons arrested and charged under s.41 of the Terrorism Act decreased from 18 to 13.

This period I have focused on Covert Human Intelligence Sources [CHIS]. There is excellent co-operation between MI5 and PSNI on CHIS operations, including frequent meetings between PSNI and MI5 at a senior level to discuss CHIS policy and operations. In accordance with the St. Andrews principles, PSNI manage the majority of national security CHIS. There is a systematic review procedure for CHIS.

The political situation is difficult and complex and throughout this reporting period Northern Ireland was without a functioning Executive and Assembly, despite a number of attempts at negotiations between parties; concern about the effect of the political situation was a recurring theme in many of my stakeholder engagements.

I met a range of stakeholders in this reporting period, including the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB), the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI), the Attorney General (AG) and the Committee on Administration of Justice (CAJ). NIPB highlighted the effect of not being able to fully operate, due to the lack of a functioning Executive or Assembly, and raised concerns that crucial decisions, such as an inability to retain their independent Human Rights Advisor, could lead to a diminution of trust in their work.

PONI outlined the challenge of balancing a large volume of troubles-era complaints against a limit to the resources available to investigate.

The Committee on Administration of Justice (CAJ) raised concerns about the effect of the lack of an NI Executive and the potential impact of EU Exit. They reported that their relationship with PSNI was good and improving. CAJ proposed a framework where the operational boundaries of MI5 and PSNI responsibilities relating to NIRT, paramilitarism and extreme right activity was published. CAJ believe this would have an international benefit and would give accountability and public acceptability.​

A meeting with the Attorney General (AG), John Larkin QC, was productive. Within the scope of his remit, the AG explained his hope for improvement to certain elements of the criminal justice system, such as more informative defence statements and better monitoring of entrapment accusations and subsequent requests for disclosure.

Overall, I continue to be impressed with the standards and commitment of the senior members of MI5 and the PSNI and understand the frustration all stakeholders experience due to the lack of a functioning Executive.​
I have measured performance in this reporting period against the five key principles identified in relation to national security in Annex E to the St Andrews agreement of October 2006. My conclusions are set out in the attachment table.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parilament. uk/business/publications/wntten-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-05-07/HCWS1538/

Karen Bradley – 2019 Statement on the Northern Ireland Executive

Below is the text of the statement made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 1 May 2019.

This statement is issued in accordance with section 4 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 (EFEF Act). Section 4 of the Act requires that I, as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, report on a quarterly basis on guidance issued under that section of the Act. It also required me to report on how I plan to address the impact of the absence of Northern Ireland Ministers on human rights obligations within three months of the day the Act was passed.

The Act received Royal Assent on 1 November 2018. Following careful consideration of the sensitive issues section 4 deals with, and in consultation with the Northern Ireland civil service, guidance under section 4 was published on 17 December 2018.

The first report required under section 4 was published as a written ministerial statement on 30 January 2019. It is again worth reiterating that abortion and same sex-marriage are devolved matters in Northern Ireland, and neither the EFEF Act nor the section 4 guidance change Northern Ireland’s law in relation to these issues or enable the law to be changed by way of guidance issued in my capacity as Secretary of State.

I appeared before the Women and Equalities Committee on 27 February 2019 to provide evidence as part of its enquiry into abortion law in Northern Ireland. I welcome the Committee’s work on this important issue and the report it published on 25 April 2019. The Government will carefully consider the Committee’s report and recommendations and respond in due course.

As before, I have consulted the head of the Northern Ireland civil service in the preparation of this report. He has advised that the Northern Ireland Departments continue to note the guidance and comply with their legal obligations when exercising any relevant functions in relation to abortion and same sex-marriage. He has also confirmed that relevant Departments are also considering the Women and Equalities Committee’s report.

I continue to believe that the current absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland should not dislodge the principle that it is for the devolved administration to both legislate on, and ensure compliance with, human rights obligations in relation to such devolved matters. I would encourage a restored Executive to progress legislation on these issues as a matter of priority.

Restoring the Executive remains my absolute priority. As I announced on Friday 26 April 2019, the Government have agreed, together with the Irish Government, to ​establish a new process of political talks, involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, in accordance with the three-stranded approach. The aim of these talks, commencing on 7 May 2019, is to quickly re-establish the democratic institutions of the Belfast agreement so that they can effectively serve all of the people for the future. I am firmly of the view that the people of Northern Ireland need their elected representatives back in government to take important decisions on the issues that matter most to them.

As I have previously stated, I will keep the Government’s position on abortion and same-sex marriage under review in the light of the UK Government’s legal obligations, and in the light of any relevant emerging legal judgments, as appropriate.

Karen Bradley – 2019 Statement on Terrorism in Northern Ireland

Below is the text of the statement made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 21 January 2019.

With permission Mr Speaker, I wish to make a statement to the House following the terrorist attack in Londonderry on Saturday evening.

As the people of the City and those visiting were making the most of the renowned hospitality on offer, a crude, unsophisticated – but dangerous – explosive device detonated as brave PSNI officers were clearing the area. CCTV released by the PSNI shows teenagers and others passing by only minutes before the device detonated. It is sobering to think that a truly sickening outcome by those responsible was only narrowly averted.

Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to the police and other emergency services who responded so magnificently in the immediate aftermath of this attack. It was through their urgent actions that we are not facing circumstances where there could have been casualties or even fatalities.

A nearby hotel was busy; a fundraising event was taking place in a hall adjacent to where the device exploded; and elderly residents in sheltered accommodation were all within yards of the explosion.

Those who planned this attack and who placed this crude device in a busy city centre had absolutely no regard for the people who live and work there.

Mr. Speaker, Hon and Rt. Hon members will be aware that there are a number of security alerts ongoing in Derry/Londonderry today and we are being kept informed of developments by PSNI who are working hard along with other agencies to ensure that this sort of mindless disruption is minimised.

Mr Speaker, those behind the attack will never succeed. Londonderry is a city that has thrived since the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago – everyone can see that – and one that will continue to grow and develop despite the actions of those who seek to sew discord and division.

And that’s why, Mr Speaker, the city has sent a clear message in the wake of this attack – these people and these actions have no place in their city. Political leaders, the business sector, those offering hospitality to a growing number of visitors to Northern Ireland, have all spoken out to challenge those who seek to continue with these violent and futile acts. The wider community in the city have also united their voices in condemnation. We should all listen carefully to what they say.

And to be clear, Mr Speaker, the City remains open for business – Londonderry’s Chamber of Commerce condemned the attack but were clear that it would not, “deter us from opening today and getting on with the job.”

The bottom line is that voices across the political, business and community spectrum are united. This is intolerable violence which has absolutely no place in our society. We all want to look forward and build a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. The small number of people responsible for this attack have absolutely nothing to offer Northern Ireland and will not prevail.

Violent dissident republican terrorists operate in relatively small, disparate groupings. Their campaign of hatred and violence is unfortunately nothing new. Law enforcement pressure has reduced the number of national security attacks in Northern Ireland. In 2018 there was only one national security attack, compared to five in 2017, four in 2016 and a total of 16 attacks in 2015. Although there has been a reduction in the overall number of national security attacks in recent years, vigilance in the face of this continuing threat remains essential. The current Northern Ireland Related Terrorism (NIRT) threat to NI is SEVERE (which means an attack is highly likely), this attack does not change this threat level.

While there have been many successes by the police and others, it is clear dissidents remain intent on killing. In attempting to impose their unwanted control on people across Northern Ireland, these groupings also choose to ignore democracy and consent, principles that have been, and will continue to be, central to the political process.

The Government have consistently made it clear that terrorism will not succeed and tackling it continues to be of the highest priority. We are determined to keep people safe and secure across the whole of our United Kingdom. Derry is a vibrant city with a bustling economy and an exciting arts and cultural scene, as demonstrated in 2013 when it was the UK’s City of Culture. Success breeds success. That is also why this Government has backed Londonderry, and will continue to do so. Building upon the £350m commitment we have made towards a Belfast City Deal, the UK government is equally committed to delivering a comprehensive package of economic support for Derry and Strabane. A city deal for Derry and Strabane will boost investment and productivity, generate jobs, and deliver growth and prosperity, and this activity has been supported by a number of visits by UK Government Ministers.

At the budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer opened formal negotiations for a Derry and Strabane City Region Deal. Those negotiations are underway, and it is crucial that this unique opportunity is grasped to unlock the economic transformation that the region needs and deserves.

But it is not just the UK Government who are backing Derry/Londonderry – from all across the world businesses recognise Londonderry for the great place that it is to do business. Whether it is financial services firms such as FinTru, or IT company Alchemy Technology Services, new jobs are being created every day in the city.

Finally – and in direct opposition to the kind of ideas and barbarism advocated by those responsible for Saturday’s attack – Londonderry continues to shine as a beacon of culture and progress on the Island of Ireland… as a major tourist destination and as a host for world renowned events like the Clipper round the world race.

As Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said yesterday, it’s not dissident republicans who hold the ground in Londonderry, it’s the community.

Anyone who has any information should pass it to the Police or anonymously to Crimestoppers.

Mr Speaker, I commend this statement to the House.

Karen Bradley – 2018 Statement on the Security Situation in Northern Ireland

Below is the text of the statement made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 17 December 2018.

This is the twelfth written statement to Parliament on the security situation in Northern Ireland since the Independent Monitoring Commission concluded its work in July 2011. It covers the security situation and threat from Northern Ireland related terrorism, rather than from international terrorism, which Members will be aware is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who updates the House separately.

In the 13 months since the last statement on Northern Ireland’s security situation, a small number of violent dissident republican terrorist groups have continued to pursue a campaign of violence. Violent dissident republican terrorists are relatively small, disparate groupings. They remain intent on killing and undermining the will of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland who have repeatedly and consistently expressed their desire for peace. These groupings choose to pay no heed to this and continue to plan attacks with the purpose of murdering and maiming those who work on a daily basis to uphold the rule of law and protect the whole community. In attempting to impose their unwanted control on people across Northern Ireland, these groupings also choose to ignore democracy, principles that have been, and will continue to be, central to the political process in Northern Ireland.

In 2016, dissident republican terrorists murdered prison officer Adrian Ismay while in 2017 they again demonstrated their lethal intent, including one attack where a petrol station forecourt was sprayed with gunfire and two police officers were wounded. There have been two attempts to murder police officers since the last written statement, with numerous other plots identified and prevented by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and MI5. These included shots fired at police officers during rioting in Londonderry in July of this year. This incident, like many dissident republican terrorist attacks, posed a risk to members of the public in the immediate area as well as the police officers who were targeted while they were working to keep communities safe.

I wish to pay tribute to all the agencies, including the PSNI, MI5 and the bomb disposal teams, who work on a daily basis to keep people safe. In many cases their work can make them the target of dissident republican terrorists. I applaud the work they do across Northern Ireland, their professionalism and the personal sacrifices ​that so many of them make in support of this vital work. I also commend the work undertaken by An Garda Siochana, and the excellent relationship they have with their counterparts in Northern Ireland. This has had a significant impact on dealing with the threat. The commitment of such a wide variety of agencies to public service and to the communities they serve, stands in stark contrast to the acts of dissident republicans.

While terrorist attack planning continues, law enforcement pressure has reduced the number of national security attacks. Since the start of 2018 there has been one national security attack, compared to five in 2017, four in 2016 and a total of 16 attacks in 2015 and 40 in 2010. Although there has been a reduction in the overall number of national security attacks in recent years, vigilance in the face of this continuing threat remains essential and the threat level remains

Since October 2017, MI5 has identified a number of violent dissident republican attack plots; two attacks were attempted, but were ultimately unsuccessful, and others were disrupted. This success is in no small measure due to the continued close working between PSNI and MI5, as well as with the authorities in Ireland. Each of the main violent dissident republican groups has suffered significant disruption including the loss of personnel and weapons in the past 12 months. During the past 12 month period (1 October 2017-30 September 2018) in Northern Ireland, there have been 143 arrests under the Terrorism Act, with 16 people subsequently charged. During the same period, 45 firearms, 0.74kg of explosives and 3157 rounds of ammunition have been seized. This pressure, and other interventions, is a barrier to, and a brake on dissident republican activity of all kinds, although I assess that, in the coming months, dissident republican terrorist groups will continue to seek to attack officers from the PSNI, prison officers and members of the armed forces.

As a consequence of violent dissident republicans’ actions and intent, the threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism in Northern Ireland remains SEVERE, which means an attack is highly likely. In Great Britain, the threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism was reduced in March this year from SUBSTANTIAL to MODERATE, which means an attack is possible, but not likely.

The Government have consistently made it clear that terrorism, including Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, will not succeed and tackling it continues to be of the highest priority. We are determined to keep people safe and secure across the United Kingdom. To support this effort over this Parliament we have provided £160 million of additional security funding to the PSNI to tackle the enduring threat from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism. This is significant funding. They recognise the severity of the terrorist threat; it demonstrates our unwavering commitment to the brave men and women in the police and intelligence agencies, and it is helping to keep people safe.

Paramilitary groups, both republican and loyalist, continue to carry out violent criminal attacks against members of their own communities. So far this year there have been 64 such attacks. This includes one paramilitary related death, 16 casualties of paramilitary style shootings and 47 casualties of paramilitary style assaults. The hypocrisy of paramilitary-linked criminals claiming to act to defend their communities from anti-social ​behaviour and drug dealing, while at the same time profiting from this activity is not lost on affected communities. They are targeting the most vulnerable members in their communities as they try to exert control and fear.

This Government continue strongly to support ongoing efforts to tackle paramilitarism and organised crime in Northern Ireland through the delivery of the commitments made in the executive’s action plan on tackling paramilitary activity, criminality and organised crime. This work is, by design, a collaborative endeavour being taken forward by a partnership of more than 24 organisations, including executive departments, statutory bodies and voluntary and community sector partners. Delivery is being achieved through four connected and mutually reinforcing approaches, aimed at developing long term prevention measures; building confidence in the justice system; building capacity to support communities in transition; and putting in place the strategies and powers to tackle criminal activity. Supporting the move away from paramilitary activity and promoting a culture of lawfulness are key underpinning are providing £25 million over five years to support a Northern Ireland executive programme of activity. This resource is being matched by the executive, giving a total of £50 million. The Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) is charged with reporting on progress towards ending paramilitary activity, and its first report was published on 23 October 2018.

In the last year significant progress has been made. For example, key initiatives already making a difference include outreach programmes aimed at supporting young people in areas particularly vulnerable to paramilitary activity; a programme delivering mentoring support for young men; and one for women aimed at building their capacity to be involved in community transformation. Work also continues on the speeding up justice programme, and the PSNI is working with communities to implement training and interventions in collaborative problem solving, as well as local initiatives to address issues of visibility and engagement. Young people have also been taking part in a programme on lawfulness being run by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, and a number of other pilot projects on the theme of promoting a culture of lawfulness are being delivered by a range of partners.

In addition, since the Paramilitary Crime Task Force, which comprises the PSNI, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), became fully operational in 2017, it has carried out a number of high profile operations against organised crime groups linked to paramilitaries. During 2017-18 the Task Force carried out over 110 searches and made over 47 arrests, including 44 people charged or reported to the Public Prosecution Service. In addition, 21 paramilitary-related organised crime groups were frustrated, disrupted or dismantled.


In conclusion, the SEVERE threat from dissident republican terrorists remains and paramilitary activity continues to have an impact in certain communities in Northern Ireland. Considerable progress has been made but the need for vigilance remains. There are a relatively small number of people who wish to continue to commit acts of terror and who want to control communities ​through violence for their own criminal ends. Through the excellent work of PSNI, MI5 and other law enforcement agencies including An Garda Siochana, we will continue to bring to justice those who seek to cause harm in our society. There never has been, and there never will be any place for terrorism or paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland. We all must play our part so that we can continue to allow Northern Ireland to flourish and ensure a stronger Northern Ireland for everyone free from this harmful and malign activity.

Karen Bradley – 2018 Statement on Northern Ireland

Below is the text of the speech made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 20 February 2018.

With permission I should like to make a statement about the current political situation in Northern Ireland.

Over recent weeks there have been talks involving the main political parties, particularly the two largest parties, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein, to see if there is a basis for re-establishing the Executive.

The UK Government has facilitated and supported these intensive negotiations. We have been in close touch with all the parties, and responded to requests for advice and support

The Irish Government have also been involved in accordance with the well-established three-stranded approach.

And I would like to place on record my appreciation of the contribution made by the Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, and his team.

In addition my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister has been consistently and closely involved, speaking to party leaders and visiting Belfast last Monday. I have continued to give her up-to-date reports as the talks have progressed.

The aim of those talks has been very clear: to bring about the re-establishment of inclusive, devolved government at Stormont which Northern Ireland has effectively been without for over thirteen months.

In doing so, we have been able to build on the progress made by my predecessor, my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup, who I warmly welcome back to this House today.

In the Government’s view, both the DUP and Sinn Fein participated in discussions seriously and in good faith.

And we believe that progress towards reaching agreement on all the key substantive issues has been made.

It became possible in the light of this progress to identify a basis for a possible agreement to allow an Executive to be formed, embracing how the parties ensured the Executive was sustainable, and how they reached a balanced and fair accommodation on the difficult issues of language and culture, and how this was reflected in a package of legislation. Many other issues were addressed too, if not always resolved. Unfortunately, however, by last Wednesday it had become clear that the current phase of talks had reached a conclusion, without such an agreement being finalised and endorsed by both parties.

As I said then, it is important for everyone to reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future.

What is important today is for me to give some direction as to next steps.

First, as our manifesto at the last election set out, this Government believes in devolution under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

We want to see local politicians taking decisions over local matters accountable to a local Assembly.

We need devolved government to help deliver a stronger economy, to build a stronger society and to ensure that Northern Ireland’s voice is properly heard as we leave the European Union.

In addition we want to see all of the other institutions of the Agreement operating in the way that was intended.

I cannot reiterate too strongly that devolved government is in the best interests of all the people of Northern Ireland because it ensures their interests and concerns are fairly and equitably represented.

It is also in the best interests of maintaining and strengthening the Union, to which this Government remains fully committed, consistent with the principle of consent.

So we will continue to explore with the parties whether the basis for a political agreement still exists.

And as my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister has re-affirmed we stand ready to bring forward the necessary legislation that would enable an Executive to be formed at the earliest opportunity.

That is this Government’s clear hope and desire, something that I believe is shared widely across this House.

Second, however, things in Northern Ireland cannot simply remain in a state of limbo.

A number of challenging decisions will have to be taken.

Ultimately the Government has a responsibility to ensure good governance and the continued delivery of public services.

In particular, as the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service has made clear, there needs to be certainty and clarity about a budget for Northern Ireland for next year as soon as possible.

And I intend to take steps to provide clarity on the budget and I will update the House as soon as I am in a position to do so.

This is clearly not where I want to be but in the absence of an Executive in Northern Ireland I will have no other choice.

Longer term the Government will not shirk its responsibilities to take whatever steps are necessary to provide certainty and stability for the people of Northern Ireland, while maintaining our commitment to govern with rigorous impartiality in the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland.

But we will only do that once we are sure that all other viable options designed to restore devolved government have been properly considered, including my statutory obligation to call an Assembly election.

In the absence of devolution it is also right that we consider the issue of salaries for Assembly Members.

At the end of last year my Right Honourable Friend for Old Bexley and Sidcup received recommendations on this from Mr Trevor Reaney, a former Clerk of the Assembly.

The Government will need to decide shortly on the next steps.

I acknowledge the public concern that while a number of Assembly members continue to carry out constituency and representative functions, current salaries are maintained while the Assembly is not meeting.

On the issue of addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past the Government has manifesto commitments to consult on the implementation of the bodies set out in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement and to support the reform of inquests.

I would much prefer to do this in the context of an agreement that sees the restoration of a devolved Executive.

But I am conscious of the Government’s responsibilities to make progress in this area to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors, the people who suffered most during the troubles.

So we will continue to proceed toward a full consultation as soon as possible, so that everyone can have their say.

Mr Speaker, as the House will recognise this April marks the 20th anniversary of the historic Belfast Agreement.

That Agreement, along with its successors, has been fundamental in helping Northern Ireland move forward from its violent past to a brighter, more secure future.

And this Government’s support for the Agreements remains steadfast. As does our commitment to govern for everyone in Northern Ireland.

There is no doubt that Northern Ireland has taken huge strides forward in the past twenty years.

In my short time as Northern Ireland Secretary I have seen a place full of wonderful talent and huge potential.

Yet any commemorations this year will look decidedly hollow if Northern Ireland still has no functioning government of its own.

So everyone needs to continue striving to see devolved government restored and to build a Northern Ireland fit for the future.

That remains the clear focus and determination of this Government.

Karen Bradley – 2017 Speech at Children’s Media Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, at the Children’s Media Summit held in Manchester on 5 December 2017.

It’s a pleasure to be here at this Children’s Global Media Summit to discuss the future of children’s media in a digital world.

I’m in the fortunate position where I have two roles here: as the Secretary of State responsible for Digital and Media – the first Secretary of State to include Digital in my official title – but also as a mother to two boys.

So I really do appreciate the importance of this Summit, and of the new digital world for our children.

Like any mother, I want my children to be safe online, but at the same time I don’t want to smother them, or unduly limit their freedom. That is the balance I have to strike in my professional role too.

We all know that we’re living through a time of great change, and that digital is an ever-increasing part of everything we do, as we move more and more online – and that includes media.

For my generation, media used to mean the shows we watched, the music we listened to, the books and comics we read. And they’re all still relevant even in this digital age. Around a third of children have a radio set. Nine out of ten children still watch TV on a traditional set. Millions of families are hooked on Strictly, and I’m sure most of us here, not just our children, will watch history being made at Christmas when Jodie Whittaker becomes the first female Doctor Who.

But the media is changing, and children’s engagement with it developing at an incredible rate. It isn’t just about settling down in front of the television for whole evenings any more. I know this from personal experience. One minute my children are watching Horrible Histories on the iPlayer, the next they’re looking at a Youtube clip to help their homework on the iPad. The platforms, content and experiences the media offers them are far more varied than when I was their age.

That’s because in this digital era, media has taken on a broader meaning. Increasingly it is where children socialise, and how they experience the wider world, although that too is changing all the time – in fact the pace of change can feel relentless.

Once it was Myspace and Bebo, now it’s Instagram and Snapchat. Ten years ago neither of those existed. Now they have nearly one billion users combined. In the years ahead it will be something we haven’t even heard of yet – so it is vital that on all of this we continue to look forward and prepare for the next innovation.

As any parent will tell you, children understand how this technology works. Better than anyone. They were born into it. A fifth of 4 year olds in the UK already have their own tablet, and more than half of them are regularly online – and when you get to 12 to 15 year olds, my children’s age, that figure rises to 99%. They are completely at home in the online world. Or think they are. Because what children don’t necessarily understand is the level of risk involved.

Ofcom’s Media Attitudes Survey, published just last week, made the challenges clear. It tells us almost half of all 12 to 15 year olds have seen something hateful online in the last year. A quarter have been contacted online by someone they don’t know. And one in ten have seen something of a sexual nature that, as the report words it, made them feel uncomfortable. Something they weren’t emotionally or mentally prepared for. Something, frankly, they should not have seen.

Now as a parent, that really worries me. As Secretary of State, it’s my responsibility to do something about it. We don’t pretend this government can, on its own, solve this global challenge. But we are committed to taking genuine action and for the United Kingdom to lead the way.

That is why we are working hard in three ways: through our Digital Charter and Internet Safety Strategy; through our work to support children online; and through taking steps to help the media provide for our children in a global society.

First, we announced our Digital Charter in June to establish a new framework to balance freedom with protection. Through the Charter, we will work with businesses, academics, charities and the wider public to build consensus on how technology should be used and how we act online. We announced our Internet Safety Strategy in October – the first major step towards achieving that goal – and the consultation on that closes this Thursday. The aim here is simple: behaviour that is unacceptable in normal life is not acceptable online.

These are, of course, global issues. Every country is being transformed by the rapid development of digital technology, so we are consulting with people from a whole range of backgrounds – other Governments, technology firms, content creators, schools, the voluntary sector, and ordinary people young and old – to make sure we get this right.

That includes consulting on a social media code of practice to tackle harmful conduct – including bullying behaviour – and an industry levy to support educational programmes and technical solutions.

Only a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be able to join the Duke of Cambridge to support his Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying. It is exactly this sort of action, which brings together tech companies and charities to set out effective industry-driven initiatives, that we need in order to make a real difference. I look forward to His Royal Highness’ keynote speech tomorrow, and to continuing to work together on this very important issue.

The second area Government is taking action on is around supporting children online. It is crucial that young people understand online risks, that they know where to get help, and that they’re able to recover when things go wrong.

Today’s generation is the first to learn about relationships and sex in an online world, and that isn’t always something their parents understand or can teach them about. So we’re bringing in new compulsory school subjects in England. For the first time, primary school children will be taught Relationships Education, and secondary school children will be taught Relationships and Sex Education.

And we are considering how we can best support children, and their parents and guardians, through industry-designed projects, peer to peer support schemes and partnerships with civil society organisations. It was great to see the BBC Director General today launching the “Own It” website to do exactly this, by giving children the information they need to minimise risks online.

And thirdly, we are taking steps to ensure that the media provides for and supports our children in a global society. While the distinction between TV and online blurs, it is so important that children have access to the content that helps them understand their place in the world.

So we are taking steps to strengthen the children’s TV sector in our country. We have introduced a tax relief. We have given Ofcom new powers to impose quotas on commercial public service broadcasters, taking into account the new platforms on which children watch this content.

And we are committed to establishing a contestable fund to stimulate new public service content, with children’s programming as potential area of focus. We want the children’s sector, a source of so much imagination and inspiration for all of us, to play its part in a media environment that provides for our children for years to come.

As I said at the outset, I’m in a fortunate position where I see the challenges first-hand, but I am also able to do something about it. When I’m much older, and grey-haired, I want to look back on my time in this role and say we helped to make the digital world a safer place for children.

For me that means protecting them without limiting their freedom, or putting barriers on their ability to learn and explore. If we get it right it is something that will benefit my children, their whole generation and their children after them.

Thank you.

Karen Bradley – 2017 Speech at the Cultural Relations Awards

Below is the text of the speech made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to the Cultural Relations Awards on 24 November 2017.

Thank you for inviting me here this evening. It is a pleasure to join you, in this beautiful building, designed of course by the talented late Dame Zaha Hadid.

Where better to celebrate our two countries’ shared cultural heritage than in a British-designed building here in the heart of Rome?

The UK has rich and longstanding cultural ties with Italy.

Our ancient Roman heritage is found across the whole country, from Hadrian’s Wall to the baths of – well – Bath. Italy provides the setting – and in two cases the title – of some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. I’ll let you remember which two yourselves. It inspired our great Romantic poets, Byron, Shelley and Keats – in fact the last two are buried here in Rome – and painters from Turner to Hockney.

And these strong ties continue today. One of the highlights of the modern London skyline – in every sense – is the Shard, by an Italian architect, Renzo Piano. The great Italian fashion houses shape what we British wear, filtering down from the catwalk to the high street.

Last year, more than three million Britons chose to holiday here in Italy, such is our love for this country and its people.

And I’m pleased to say it’s a two way exchange.

Two million of you visited the UK last year, and beyond that, over 600,000 Italians currently live, study and do business there.

I know much of British culture – from Shakespeare to The Beatles and beyond – is as well loved here as it is at home. Most recently, British design has shaped the tech you all use every day – particularly the iconic work of Sir Jony Ives for Apple.

Yesterday, I visited the Venice Biennale and was pleased to see the work of so many talented British artists on display.

I particularly enjoyed the work of Phyllida Barlow, selected as this year’s artist for the British Pavilion, and would like to congratulate the British Council on their excellent job in managing the British Pavilion in Venice, as they have since 1938.

I’d also like to thank Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Jill Morris, for such a wonderful concert at the residence last night, and for all her hard work in maintaining and strengthening cultural relations between the UK and Italy.

We want those ties to deepen. Britain may be leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe, nor our friends in Europe.

I met this morning with my counterpart in Italy, Dario Franceschini, and we confirmed how committed both our governments are to continued collaboration on matters of culture and heritage.

My own department in the UK has recently changed its name to become the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to reflect the growing importance of digital technologies to culture and the creative industries.

We are living through a technological revolution as profound as any that has gone before. We all know that new technologies can be disruptive, and that we need to stay aware of the challenges ahead, but this digital revolution offers enormous opportunities too, not least for the cultural and heritage sectors. For promotion, for collaboration, and perhaps most significantly to engage with a size and breadth of audience unimaginable only a few years ago.

I am well aware how privileged I am to have seen what I have seen on this trip, and that not everyone gets the chance. But there is less and less reason for our shared cultural heritage to only be available to the few.

Last year in the UK, we published a new Culture White Paper, the first comprehensive review of the sector in fifty years. It set out this Government’s vision for helping the arts and culture to thrive, and put particular emphasis on widening access for people from all walks of life.

Access to the arts can be so transformative. We all know it only takes one song to inspire a singer, one painting to inspire an artist.

But often – though, of course, not always – the most thoughtful, well crafted art is shut away in institutions that people believe are not for them, or that are simply too far away to visit.

Digitising museum collections and publishing them online opens them up to bigger, more diverse audiences than ever before. It brings once unreachable – or plain intimidating – art right to the phones people carry in their pockets.

And those who’ve done it, who’ve put their collections online, tell me that far from replacing physical footfall it actually drives up visitor numbers.

It’s great for curation too, particularly now academic collaboration is becoming the global norm. Put an image of an object online, and all the world’s experts can comment and share their knowledge.

So I see this as very much the road ahead. One of the greatest advantages of the digital age is better connectivity. Let’s use these new technologies to aid collaboration, and to open our shared cultural heritage to everyone in our societies, so a work sited in London can be easily enjoyed in Naples, and those in Rome can be accessed from Birmingham.

This award, which it is my honour to present, is a fitting celebration of the close and fruitful cultural collaboration between the UK and Italy. I look forward to helping to strengthen that bond and to building ever closer ties, and more effective collaboration between our countries.

Karen Bradley – 2017 Speech at Bazalgette Review Launch

Below is the text of the speech made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport on 22 September 2017.

Thank you to Sir Peter for his hard work in completing such a broad, thorough and thought-provoking review – some really interesting and bold recommendations for both industry and government to pursue, and across a very wide range of areas. And made much more interesting than a normal review by the quotes across the document which are drawn from British creative life. I can certainly relate to Kate Tempest’s call to action – “move fast, don’t stop, you got things to do” – as I’m sure you all can too.

And thank you to you all for making time to be here at such short notice. Turnout at a few days notice shows how much passion and commitment there is in relation to this subject, and how much interest in hearing what Sir Peter has to say.

That we are here today is testament to the importance of the creative industries to the UK – increasingly recognised across government as a key sector of the economy. This is partly about a sector holding its own with more traditional industries such as manufacturing – industrial policy is no longer just about widgets and hardware. It is also too about a sector holding its own with tech and other celebrated growth sectors.

Now – as Business Secretary, Greg has to be even-handed across the economy. As Culture Secretary, I can be a little more partisan. To underline just how important creative industries are to the UK economy, Creative Industries Federation analysis of PwC data suggests that they deliver four times the GVA of the automotive industry, six times as much as life sciences and nearly 10 times that of aerospace. Between 2011 and 2015, the sector created three times more jobs than the economy as a whole. The UK is the third-largest exporter of cultural goods and services in the world – just behind China and the USA. I spend a lot of my time reminding my Cabinet colleagues of these kinds of fact.

But they matter too for Britain’s place in the world – our values, soft power and influence. Creative Industries are in many cases at the very forefront of how the world perceives us. Whether it be music, film or design, they strengthen the UK brand, adding impetus to our growing creative content and services presence around the world, strengthening trading links in key emerging economies and influencing wider perceptions of the UK.

And they also matter intrinsically. They produce the things that enrich lives and give them meaning. That’s true of the ‘content’ sub-sectors of the Creative Industries – TV, film, games, music, publishing, fashion. It’s also true of the services side – the architecture that RIBA, our hosts today, do such fantastic work to promote, the design that creates our products, the advertising that influences our desires.

I hope it is clear to you that Government is committed to supporting the Creative Industries – for example, through the creative sector tax reliefs, which paid out over £600 million last year alone, securing in return nearly £2 billion. And more broadly in securing the best possible outcome for the sectors as the UK prepares to exit the European Union and looks to do trade deals around the world.

But there is still more to do – and that’s what today is all about. Creative industries in Britain and beyond face both real challenges and opportunities. Much of that is driven by technology and changing patterns of consumer demand. The “D” word – Digital – is now at the heart of the DCMS as the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It is transforming the whole economy, but bears strongly on the Intellectual Property-rich, small and micro-dominated businesses that make up much of the creative industries. But change also arises from policy landscape – for example, the opportunities presented by the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and its clear focus on place, inclusive growth and rebalancing the economy.

And that’s where the sector deal comes in. As Greg has said, the Government has essentially asked business to make it an offer it can’t refuse. In the words of the IS Green Paper there is ‘open door challenge to industry’ to be ‘driven by business to meet the priorities of business’. It seeks ‘a clear proposal for boosting productivity’ in order to ‘drive growth right across the United Kingdom… creating more high-skilled, high paid jobs and opportunities’.

We have a once-in-a-Parliament opportunity to capitalise on this through the promise of a sector deal.

In devising a deal, the Creative Industries have made good progress so far thanks to the work of the sector and of course Sir Peter’s independent review, which we will hear about in a minute.

We have a down-payment today with the announcement of the AHRC funding for research and development partnerships across eight creative clusters.

The key challenge now is turning a lot of compelling ideas, at varying stages of development, into a tangible agreement. An agreement which is credible and has buy-in from both Ministers and the industry.

There is definite appetite in Government to land an ambitious deal and this review is a really valuable input. But there are also real constraints – not least financial. As you would expect in a time of continued austerity, the bar to new Government money is very high. The starting point is spending existing resources better.

There is also time pressure. As ever with these things it is more important to get it right than to get it fast. But we also want to get on and reach an agreement as quickly as possible, taking advantage of the platform the Industrial Strategy provides. Success will depend on the commitment behind the offer from industry, and how that fits with the strategic challenges set out in the Industrial Strategy Green Paper.

So I encourage Creative Industries leaders to continue to work together and wow Government with a compelling proposal. As the statutory sector body, the Creative Industries Council will lead negotiations on the deal – and I pay tribute to Nicola Mendlesohn who has done a fantastic job as chair – with critically important input from the Creative Industries Federation, under John Kampfner’s outstanding leadership, as well as from others across the sector. We are keen for those discussions to move forward.

Times are challenging but the prize is big so let’s be bold and ambitious; do what you do best – thinking creatively! – so we can deliver real change that takes the UK’s creative industries to the next level of success.

I am now delighted to hand over to Sir Peter to tell you about the detail of his review.

Karen Bradley – 2017 Statement on the Sky/Fox Merger

Below is the text of the statement made by Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 12 September 2017.

I apologise for beginning my statement by correcting you, Mr Speaker, but I am now the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The Department has a new word in its name.

I am here to give an update on the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox and Sky plc and on my decision about whether to refer the transaction for a full six-month investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority. I should first remind the House that in my quasi-judicial role I must, first, come to a decision on the basis of relevant evidence; secondly, act independently in a process that is fair and impartial; and, thirdly, take my decision as promptly as is reasonably practicable. I am committed to transparency and openness in this process and have been clear that my decisions can be influenced only by facts, not by opinions, and that they can be influenced only by the evidence, not by who shouts the loudest.

I turn, first, to media plurality, and I can confirm that none of the representations received has persuaded me to change my position. Accordingly, I can confirm my intention to make a referral on the media plurality ground to the CMA. On the question of commitment to broadcasting standards, over the summer my officials reviewed the almost 43,000 representations received. A significant majority of them were campaign-inspired, arguing against the merger going ahead but generally without providing new or further evidence or commenting on Ofcom’s approach. Overall, only 30 of the 43,000 representations were substantive, raising potentially new evidence or commenting on Ofcom’s approach. Almost all were related to commitment to broadcasting standards.

In the light of those representations, I asked Ofcom to provide further advice. May I put on record my gratitude to Ofcom for its efforts to respond to the questions that were raised? I am, today, publishing the exchanges between my Department and Ofcom. In those exchanges, I sought clarification on, first, the threshold that Ofcom applied to its consideration of the commitment to broadcasting standards ground; secondly, the consideration made of broadcasting compliance; and, thirdly, the consideration made of corporate governance issues. I also asked Ofcom to consider whether any of the new, substantive representations that I received affected its assessment.

I have taken careful account of all relevant representations and Ofcom’s advice, and I have today, as required by the legislation, written to the parties to inform them that I am now minded to refer the merger to the CMA on the grounds of genuine commitment to broadcasting standards. I will now set out the technical reasons for that decision.

Questions were raised about the threshold for referral. The legal threshold for a reference to the CMA is low. I have the power to make a reference if I believe that there is a risk that is not purely fanciful that the merger might operate against the specified public interests. In its original report, Ofcom stated that​
“we consider that there are no broadcasting standards concerns that may justify a reference”.

At the time, Ofcom appeared to be unequivocal. Following the additional representations,

Ofcom has further clarified that

“while we consider there are non-fanciful concerns, we do not consider that these are such as may justify a reference in relation to the broadcast standards public interest consideration.”

The existence of non-fanciful concerns means that, as a matter of law, the threshold for a reference on the broadcasting standards ground is met. In the light of all the representations and Ofcom’s additional advice, I believe that those concerns are sufficient to warrant the exercise of my discretion to refer.

The first concern, which was raised in Ofcom’s public interest report, was that Fox did not have adequate compliance procedures in place for the broadcast of Fox News in the UK and that it took action to improve its approach to compliance only after Ofcom expressed concerns. Ofcom has confirmed it considers that to raise concerns that are non-fanciful but not sufficiently serious to warrant referral. I consider that those non-fanciful concerns warrant further consideration. The fact that Fox belatedly established such procedures does not ease my concerns, and nor does Fox’s compliance history.

Ofcom was reassured by the existence of the compliance regime, which provides licensees with an incentive to comply. However, it is clear to me that Parliament intended the scrutiny of whether an acquiring party has a “genuine commitment” to attaining broadcasting standards objectives to happen before a merger takes place. Third parties also raised concerns about what they termed the “Foxification” of Fox-owned news outlets internationally. On the evidence before me, I am not able to conclude that that raises non-fanciful concerns. However, I consider it important that entities that adopt controversial or partisan approaches to news and current affairs in other jurisdictions should, at the same time, have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards here. Those are matters the CMA may wish to consider in the event of a referral.

I turn to the question of corporate governance failures. Ofcom states in its latest correspondence that such failures raise non-fanciful concerns in relation to the broadcasting standards ground. However, it again concludes that those concerns do not warrant a reference. I agree that corporate governance issues at Fox raise non-fanciful concerns, but in my view it would be appropriate for those concerns to be considered further by the CMA. I agree with the view that, in this context, my proper concern is whether Fox will have a genuine commitment to attaining broadcasting standards objectives. However, I am not confident that weaknesses in Fox’s corporate governance arrangements are incapable of affecting compliance in the broadcasting standards context. I have outstanding non-fanciful concerns about these matters, and I am of the view that they should be considered further by the CMA.

Before I come to a final decision, I am required, under the Enterprise Act 2002, to allow the parties to make representations on my proposed decision, and that is the reason why my decision remains, at this stage, a “minded to” one. I have given the parties 10 working days to respond. Following receipt of any representations from the parties, I will aim to come to my final decision in relation to both grounds as promptly as I can.​

I remind the House that should I decide to refer on one or both grounds, the merger will be subject to a full and detailed investigation by the CMA over a six-month period. Such a referral does not signal the outcome of that investigation. Given the quasi-judicial nature of this matter, my decision cannot be guided by the parliamentary timetable. If I come to my decision during recess, I will write, as I have done previously, and return to this House at the earliest possible opportunity to provide an update. I commend this statement to the House.

Karen Bradley – 2016 Speech on the Arts


Below is the text of the speech made by Karen Bradley, her first keynote as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in Liverpool on 9 August 2016.

Thank you – it’s fantastic to be back in Liverpool, this wonderful world city.

World city? Liverpool is not even in the top 250 or even 500 by some measures of cities by population.

But two years ago the Rough Guide said it was one of the three cities you MUST visit. Along with Sarajevo and Rio.

That’s because Liverpool – like the UK – punches way above its weight for Culture, Media and Sport.

The waterfront is a World Heritage site. There is gorgeous architecture. World-class performing arts. Amazing museums, and galleries.

I am really looking forward to visiting Tate Liverpool and the Museum of Liverpool later today.

And what a privilege it is to be here at the Philharmonic.

As the new Culture Secretary, I am already getting around the country – and the world – to demonstrate how culture, media and sport are all key parts of the Government’s overall industrial strategy.

On my first day in my department, I received two things. One was the most amazing warm welcome from the team. The other was a briefing pack, stuffed full of facts and figures.

Particularly striking were the statistics on the economic heft of the DCMS sectors. They account for a big chunk of GDP and lots of jobs.

You will hear me make liberal use of these statistics. But today I want to focus on something else.

Because everything DCMS covers has a value that goes beyond the economic.

They matter in and of themselves.

Watercolour painting, playing a sport, visiting ancient and beautiful places, drawing, writing poetry, mastering a musical instrument – all of these lead to a life well lived. They raise the human condition and cheer our spirits.

Simply put, they make us happy.

This is just as important as the positive impact that DCMS sectors can have on educational attainment, physical and mental health, community cohesion, and crime reduction.

In fact, treating the personal, individual benefits to a 12 year-old girl from learning the piano as wholly distinct from the overall benefit to society of music is a false dichotomy.

For it is precisely the aggregate effect of these individual experiences that will bring about a healthier, smarter, more peaceable, more cohesive, and happier society.

And so they must be available to everyone, not the preserve of a privileged few.

And how we make sure we reach everyone is what I want to talk about today – the scale of the challenge and what we are doing about it.

The challenge

The challenge is how do we make sure culture, media and sport fit into everything we do? How do we give them their rightful place as part of our civil society?

In today’s speech I will be concentrating on the arts and culture.

A determination to widen access to the arts is not new. It animated John Maynard Keynes – the first Chairman of the Arts Council – and Jennie Lee – the first minister for the arts – whose 1965 white paper said, “the best must be made more widely available”.

In the intervening half century since Jennie Lee’s paper, access to the arts has remained unequal, and some specific pursuits still appear to be for a privileged minority.

That is not to say there has been no progress. Throughout the United Kingdom one can find examples of incredibly successful projects.

When In Harmony Liverpool began at Faith Primary School in 2009, 84 children took part. Now more than 700 hundred young people and their families take part in orchestral music every week, for free.

I know that In Harmony concerts are the talk of the town. That is only possible thanks to expert tuition – a violin sounds wonderful in skilled hands but sometimes challenging in unskilled ones!

You can’t get better than the Liverpool Philharmonic, and their teachers and musicians have made a huge difference. I am sure that they find it rewarding too. Nothing can beat the joy of watching a child accomplish something they didn’t think they could do.

I would love to play an instrument, but because I wasn’t very good at the recorder at school, I was told I wasn’t musical at all. I was good at maths though, and that influenced my early career.

As Professor Brian Cox has said, no-one thinks they can simply pick up a violin and play but they think maths is a natural talent. But in truth, both music and maths take time – and hard work makes all the difference.

Music will now be a part of the lives of hundreds – and soon thousands – of Liverpudlian children who might not otherwise have had that chance. This is a gift beyond measure.

So how big is the challenge we face in making arts and culture a central part of everyone’s life?

The Government runs a survey called Taking Part. Arts engagement is nearly 82 per cent among adults from the upper socio-economic group – compared to just over 65 per cent from the lower socio-economic group.

The gap in arts engagement between white adults and adults from a black or minority ethnic background has widened. And people with a long-standing illness or disability are significantly less engaged in the arts.

Small wonder that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are poorly represented in the artistic professions – or that young people from such backgrounds are less likely to play an instrument and are underrepresented at conservatoires compared to higher education in general.

So we know what the problem is – what are we going to do about it?

Well earlier this year my department brought out its own Culture White Paper, and I want to pay tribute to the energy and resolve of the brilliant Ed Vaizey, who led this work.

But the short answer to the question is that we are going to pilot different schemes and expand and replicate the ones that work and do more of what we know works already.

Here is the longer answer:

In January David Cameron announced the Cultural Citizens Programme. It is a fantastic initiative which could give thousands of children the chance to take part in a range of cultural activities, such as free visits to local plays, behind the scenes access to museums and galleries, and exclusive trips to world class venues, so they realise that culture is just as much for them as for anyone.

It will be led by Arts Council England, with support from Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We are going to begin running pilots from next month, with 600 disadvantaged young people. The idea is to provide fun experiences that increase confidence and lead to permanent engagement.

I am delighted that one of these pilots will take place here in North West England, in Liverpool and Blackpool, partnering with Curious Minds.

To support that aim of getting culture into everyday life, we are looking at how to incorporate it into the National Citizen Service, in which more than 200,000 young people have taken part since 2011. I’ll be visiting an NCS centre in Liverpool later today.

I hope that many of the kind of the kind of organisations here today and across the DCMS portfolio will want to take part. The deadline is tight and bids must be in by this Thursday. But Liverpudilans have never been shy of creativity, so please do get involved!

My department received a massive injection of talented staff and brilliant ideas – as well as a great minister in Rob Wilson – when we assumed responsibility for the Office for Civil Society.

OCS has a plethora of projects designed to help everyone, no matter what their background, to thrive. Art and culture can play a central part in most of them.

An £80 million fund will help local commissioners create Social Impact Bonds to address deep-rooted social problems. The Bonds will focus on six key themes: drug and alcohol dependency, children’s services, early years, young people, older people, and healthy lives.

The Affordable Lending portal – a partnership between private and social sector bodies – will make it easier to access loans from responsible lenders.

Big Society Capital is a social investment fund that has already helped hundreds of organisations.

The Centre for Social Action has to date supported more than 80 organisations in expanding opportunity, specifically for young people.

And by the end of this Parliament the number of Community Organisers will be increased from 6,500 to 10,000.

So, these are some of the things DCMS is going but it really is a challenge for the whole of government.

That is why I will be working closely with the new Education Secretary Justine Greening to make sure that no child is left out of this country’s magnificent and extraordinary cultural inheritance. Education is, of course, vital to expanding people’s horizons and developing lifelong passions.

I will also work closely with Liz Truss at the Ministry of Justice to see how arts and culture can be part of prison reform.

This is really part of being a government that works for everyone.

And the arts can do wonders for mental and physical health as well as for people with long-term conditions like dementia and Parkinson’s.

Arts Council England is already helping make culture available to all by making a fundamental change in its approach to diversity.

Every organisation it funds is now expected to make their work better reflect the communities they serve. Under a banner called The Creative Case for Diversity, Arts Council England will monitor progress and this will influence their funding decisions.

The Government is also looking at how we can tear down the barriers to a career in the arts.

A new experience that reaches someone who would not otherwise enjoy a rich cultural life changes that person’s world. That sort of experience has immeasurable value, but can also have a cumulative impact that can effect change on a local and even national scale.

Culture can help regenerate villages, towns and cities.

Places are not simply somewhere to build a factory. To have heart and soul, they need galleries, music centres, cherished heritage sites, libraries, and museums and sports facilities. They need to be like Liverpool.

The Government is working hard at rebalancing funding between London and the regions. The Great Place Scheme will bring together national arts and heritage Lottery funders with councils, cultural organisations and universities to ensure that culture forms a core part of local authorities’ plans and policies.

Next year, Hull will be UK City of Culture.

That status helps bring communities together, attracts visitors, raises the profile of culture, and develops lasting partnerships.

And the Great Exhibition of the North in Summer 2018 will showcase the exceptional art, culture and design of the North of England.

So places can be regenerated by culture – but only because of the effect on individuals. Culture, media and sport have real, lasting impacts that benefit all of us.

Let me end by quoting a Liverpool parent who I hope would support that view. They said,

“… an event like going down to the birthday concerts and taking family, you know? This year’s one, oh I was in tears. You’d have to be pretty cold to say it didn’t make you well up, or make you proud, because it does, it really, really does.”

So said a parent whose child played at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall thanks to In Harmony.

I am incredibly privileged to have this role because it means that I can do my bit to ensure that many, many more people have cause to shed tears of pride.

I expect every organisation and individual that DCMS supports to put their shoulder to the wheel – and I invite anyone else who can help to join us on this journey. I will be making sure the whole of government is involved.

The prize is huge: massive benefits for society, which will stem from thousands upon thousands of individual experiences of the joy of arts, culture and sport – a joy that no-one should be denied.

Thank you.