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Giving artists their fair share for streaming: we can work it out

When you listen to a song on Spotify, how much money is paid and to whom is it paid? Don’t know? Odds are, the artists and songwriters don’t know either.

Music streaming services have become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine life without them. However, streaming is still a relatively new technology, and the music industry is often slow to adjust to technological change.

When music was mostly bought on vinyl, cassette, and CD and there was an HMV on every high street, music contracts were purpose built. A chunk of money went to the shop for its overheads and profits, then a variable percentage was taken by the record company to cover distribution, packaging, breakage, and marketing costs, profits et cetera. A small percentage of the remainder then went to the artist, to the music publisher, and the composers based on contract. Plenty of music is still purchased in this way, and Record Store Day is a great reminder that the industry is going from strength to strength.

When music is downloaded or streamed the costs mentioned above are much lower - sharing a sound file costs the record company considerably less than shipping CDs. However, some artists claim these fees are still being deducted from artists’ profits, although these services are often obsolete.  How can a record company claim for packaging deductions of a digital download? How is ‘breakage’ on streaming relating to minimum guarantees actually calculated? And when managers try to find out who’s getting the money, how much these deductions cost, and what services they’re being charged for, they often don’t get the answers they need.

Some say that a contract’s a contract – if it becomes outdated, that’s no one’s fault and you’re still legally bound. This is an issue of transparency. Music is one of this country’s greatest exports, and yet we are falling behind many other places in the world. How can artists and managers go on to negotiate contracts that are fit for purpose in a global streaming market without understanding the agreements they already have? They still expect a percentage - but a percentage of what?

And they do need updated contracts. When an industry changes as much and as quickly as the music industry has in recent years, the accounting model needs to change too. As if the transition from physical to digital sales wasn’t complicated enough, streaming confuses matters even further.

Streaming doesn’t fit neatly into the pre-existing boxes. You’re not buying a track to play at your leisure in perpetuity whether in physical or digital format. When you stream it’s a one-off listen like when you hear a song on the radio. But it gives the listener more control than a radio play, because they choose what to listen to and when, although they don’t own it like a CD sale or a download.

With new technologies and no precedent, the music industry urgently needs to come up with a fair model for who gets paid what for streaming. But at the moment, each deal is different, and they are often kept secret by Non-Disclosure Agreements. Without basic transparency it’s difficult to decide what fair payment for music streaming would look like. Artists can ask for an audit, but this is too expensive for all but the most successful.

For emerging artists, this confusion can be a real threat. In their eagerness to make it, new talent can be ushered into contracts that don’t give them a decent deal. This is why, just last month, the Music Managers Forum, the Musicians’ Union, and the Featured Artists Coalition published a sample management agreement for those entering the industry. This gives newer artists and managers a starting point for negotiations on what a fair contract can look like.

Both pre-digital and streaming contracts need review, so the music industry needs to have an inclusive conversation to hear from the labels and the lyricists alike. And this is where politicians come in. It may not look like it from the Punch and Judy scenes of Prime Minister’s Questions, but brokering compromise is one of Parliament’s greatest strengths. In February of this year, Labour successfully pressured the Government into facilitating a code of conduct between search engines and the music and film rights-holders to help stop online piracy. Now we’re calling on the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, to do the same for transparency within the music industry.

A good code would be in everyone’s interest, helping improve the reputation of the music industry and the finances of composers, artists, musicians.

As The Beatles might have put it, “we can work it out”.

Music tourism is vital to the Welsh economy

Cardiff West MP, Kevin Brennan, is highlighting the importance of music tourism to Wales after a new report by UK Music shows the huge amount of income it generates.

The Wish You Were Here report shows that 402,000 music tourists visited Wales in 2015 to attend a live concert or music festival. These visitors generated a staggering £113 million in total for the local economy, and helped sustain 1,595 full-time jobs across Wales.

The statistics in full show how important music tourism is to Wales

  • £113 million generated by music tourism in Wales in 2015
  • 402,000 music tourists attending music events in Wales in 2015
  • 1,595 full time jobs sustained by music tourism in 2015
  • 617,000 total attendance at music events in Cardiff in 2015
  • 293,000 music tourists generated £52 million in Cardiff last year

Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West said: "Cardiff’s contribution to music is immense. Not only has the city helped nurture the talents of Welsh bands like the Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals and Stereophonics but venues like the Motorpoint Arena, St David’s Hall, Wales Millennium Centre and Millennium Stadium play host to live music events that bring people from all over the world to the City. I welcome UK Music’s report which highlights the huge importance of music and its impact on the tourist economy in Wales."

Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff Central said: "Cardiff is the home to many great music venues – ranging from Clwb Ifor Bach to the Principality Stadium. I'm really pleased that our contribution to music tourism is supported in UK Music’s report. That a massive 293,000 music tourists came to our city for live events and gigs, spending £52 million is something that policy makers should acknowledge and find ways to maintain and grow."

Jo Dipple, UK Music Chief Executive said: "The appetite for live music has continued to grow. Last year overseas music tourism increased by 16%, whilst British music events were attended by a staggering 27.7 million people in 2015. What this report shows, unequivocally, is the economic value of live music to communities, cities and regions."

The Bookseller: Disappointment over 'basic' Taskforce dataset

Data about public libraries in England has been made available by the Libraries Taskforce, six months after it was originally intended for publication. However the data published is just a simple list of the names, addresses, websites and contact emails for public libraries that were open as of 1st July 2016.

Campaigners, library bodies and the shadow culture minister have all criticised it as "disappointing". Kathy Settle, c.e.o. of the Taskforce, has said that this dataset is merely the "first step" in creating a core dataset for libraries.

Kevin Brennan, shadow culture minister, told The Bookseller that the data is "extremely basic" and "very disappointing". "What we need is data that tells us what’s happening to library services in communities and whether Councils are fulfilling their statutory requirements to provide an efficient and comprehensive library service", Brennan said. "Labour is calling on the Government to release the rest of the Libraries Taskforce data, including opening and staffing hours, as soon as possible.”

BBC: Womanby Street live music venue campaign backed by MPs

Speech in debate on local and regional news

Local and Regional News
30 March 2017

Volume 624

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Nuttall. It is also a pleasure to sum up for Her Majesty’s official Opposition.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) on her speech and on persuading the Backbench Business Committee—I thank it, too—with other colleagues to grant this debate. ​She made an extremely passionate case for local media. Her proposal about the importance of treating local media as a community asset was echoed by others. She also talked about models and ways that we can take that forward in the future.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Jason McCartney) told us about his career as a local journalist. I am surprised he did not get a Pulitzer prize for his reporting of the football in Bishop Auckland, but he made some sensible suggestions on the way forward for local media, and his speech will bear careful study by the Minister following the debate.

We also had a very good speech from the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts). She listed Welsh language titles during the course of her speech. Fortunately for Hansard Reporters, the Welsh language is highly phonetic, unlike the English language, so they will have no problem whatever in spelling all the names of the publications she mentioned in the course of her speech.

We also had a very good speech from the hon. Member for Castle Point (Rebecca Harris), who said how blessed she was with the richness of local media provision in her constituency. She castigated the local press for their accurate reporting of age, and I think we all had a tinge of sympathy with that pertinent point.

My hon. Friend the Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) made a strong case for local papers and told us about his column in a socialist publication. It did not sound like it had a mass circulation, but he did have the consolation that he was trying to form a mass movement.

Kelvin Hopkins: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The paper did not have a mass circulation. It had a rather limited circulation, but it was not a commercial paper, so it was not in any way undermining journals across the country.

Kevin Brennan: I am sure the press barons of this country are mightily relieved to hear that.

My hon. Friend the Member for York Central (Rachael Maskell) spoke with a great deal of wisdom about the role local media can play in local emergencies. She described how in the floods, the local media were a very important public service and not just reporting organisations. She was also the first Member today to mention the importance of photographers. She emphasised the value of adopting a co-operative model for local media not just when they get into trouble, but before that so that it is not just a response to a crisis. I thought that was an interesting point.

The hon. Member for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Corri Wilson) expressed concerns about the monopoly of media ownership, about which she made some good points. Speaking from the Scottish National party Front Bench, the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows) spoke about the “Scottish Six”, BBC funding and the new channel that will be on the BBC in Scotland. I am on record being highly critical of the amount of money given to Wales in that same announcement. Scotland got £20 million and Wales should have got £12 million, but we only got £8 million. Additional investment is nevertheless important. She also mentioned Gaelic language provision. I am an avid ​watcher of BBC Alba when it covers the Guinness Pro12 rugby matches. Despite the commentary being in Gaelic, I think I can pick up enough of it to understand what is going on. She made a useful contribution to the debate.

I was quite surprised that we were not joined by the right hon. Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne) this afternoon.

Jason McCartney: He is too busy.

Kevin Brennan: Perhaps he is too busy, as the hon. Member for Colne Valley says—we know that he has many jobs that he has to perform. I understood that the right hon. Gentleman’s purpose in taking the editorship of the Evening Standard was to bring that experience from outside the Chamber into Parliament. I would have thought that this afternoon’s debate might have afforded an appropriate opportunity for him to allow us the benefit of his wisdom and knowledge on this subject.

Kelvin Hopkins: My hon. Friend is making a very good point. I wonder if he might inquire if the right hon. Gentleman has joined the NUJ.

Kevin Brennan: I think it is more likely that he has bought the NUJ rather than joined it, having looked at his entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Nevertheless, we miss him. I hope that the Minister, who I know is very friendly with the right hon. Gentleman, will send him our warm regards and our regret that he was unable to join us. I am sure he is very fruitfully engaged elsewhere, rather than being here in this debate in Westminster Hall this afternoon in our House of Commons.

I should also thank the Minister for kindly gracing us with his presence, albeit slightly late. I am sure there was a very good reason why he was not able to be here. As a man known for his humility, I am sure he will explain that to the Chamber when he gets up to address us after I sit down.

[Mike Gapes in the Chair]

Since other Members have given us the benefit of their experience, I will do the same. I started off after university as a news editor of a local community paper in my home town of Cwmbran. It was a fairly humble publication called Cwmbran Checkpoint, but nevertheless we did a lot of journalism of the kind that Members have talked about—reporting on local council meetings, holding the local council to account and publishing stories of local interest.

Of course, the media have been transformed in the 30 or so years since I performed that humble role—much more humble than that of the right hon. Member for Tatton, obviously. We had golf ball typewriters, we laid out the text using wax rollers and we had Letraset to make headlines. It was very different back then in the analogue world—the Minister is far too young to know anything about that, but he can read about it in the history books. It was a very different world than we have now. Hon. Members have rightly pointed out that the technological revolution that has taken place over the last few decades has transformed media and had a big impact on local media in particular.​
We have all agreed this afternoon that regional and local media are crucial to the strength of our communities and the health of our democracy. It is, therefore, a pleasure to speak in this debate in the week celebrating Local News Matters. Whether on paper or on screen, local news has a wide readership, reaching 40 million people a week. People continue to trust local journalists, perhaps a bit more than they trust national journalists. In some ways, perhaps there is an analogy with politics: people are generally in favour of their local MP but not necessarily in favour of politicians in general. The same impact is seen sometimes in local journalism.

I am sure that every hon. Member—we have heard from many this afternoon—is able to name local papers, news websites, radio stations and even, these days, local TV stations in their constituencies that help create a sense of local pride and identity, and inform residents about local issues. In my city of Cardiff, there are many outlets, including Radio Cardiff, Wales Online, the Western Mail and the South Wales Echo, not to mention the local BBC productions and Welsh-language publications such as Y Dinesydd, all of which make an important contribution at a local level.

However, as we have heard, research by the Press Gazette suggests that local and regional news provision is reducing. Since 2005, 200 newspapers have ceased circulation and the number of journalists has more than halved. We can all wax lyrical about our constituency’s local news provision and its contribution to our local communities, but the reason we are having this debate is that the future of those outlets is far from secure. There are fewer local papers, fewer local journalists and fewer local editorial teams, being run by an ever smaller number of conglomerates. As we have heard in the debate, about three quarters of the local press is owned by a mere four companies.

It is not just about the number of papers and reporters. There is also the issue of independence and the resources available to journalists and editors to hold authorities to account at a local level. Research by Cardiff University that followed the trends in local journalism in Port Talbot from 1970 to 2015 found that over time, as hon. Members have mentioned, fewer and fewer stories were informed by journalists attending meetings in person, while the use of managed media sources, such as press releases, rose to more than 50%. Journalists increasingly quoted high status sources, with less input from members of the public. Naturally, that affects the ability of local media to scrutinise those who make decisions about their communities.

I do not think anyone is suggesting that we can turn the clock back to the days when I and others started out—to an analogue age when local newspapers were pretty much the only source of local information. Modern technology, starting a long time ago with TV and radio and now with online media sources, social media and so on, offers huge opportunities for the democratisation of news and the diversification of views, but also for the potential proliferation of fake news, as hon. Members have mentioned. Even though we cannot turn the clock back, we need to ensure that current and future technological developments are working to benefit everyone.

Local and regional news provision is transferring from one format to another, but local and regional services on TV and radio need support too. The National Union of Journalists has been mentioned several times ​in the debate. It undertook a survey of the closures of BBC district offices covering local TV and radio. I would like to share the results of that with the House today. Pointing out that the BBC is due to announce another round of cuts to the regions in the near future of perhaps £15 million out of a budget of £150 million, the survey’s results show that, over the past 10 years, more than 20 district offices have closed, and that, once the district office closes, the designated reporter is often close to follow. In many towns, the nearest BBC reporter is now over an hour’s drive away, which makes localised news coverage increasingly difficult.

For example, 10 years ago, BBC Radio Gloucestershire had three reporters: one for Gloucester and Forest of Dean, one for Cheltenham and Tewkesbury and another for Stroud and the Cotswolds. Now, only one reporter covers all six constituencies in that area, and the post has been vacant since the end of September. There is no longer a day reporter covering drive-time stories. Instead, there is only an early reporter working from a satellite car for the breakfast show and a late reporter covering stories for the next day. Likewise, 10 years ago in Lancashire, there were four district studios. Now there is only one, and only two full-time and two part-time reporters. The Newcastle, Durham, and Sunderland offices all closed in 2011, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland is fully aware.

News services that have moved or begun online often have issues too. Companies are struggling to replace lost print revenue with new profits generated online. A News Media Association survey found that 81% of media organisations’ revenue comes from print readership and only 12% from digital. However, the industry continues to close its newspapers in favour of digital formats. When one visits a modern local newsroom, as I am sure many hon. Members here today have done, one is struck by the extent to which stories and deadlines are driven by online clicks, with advertising revenue related to those trends. That sparks fear of a genuine danger that clickbait journalism will be encouraged and will replace real local reporting. It would be a genuine shame if all our local news outlets eventually mirrored the Mail Online sidebar of shame in their approach to reporting. That is the fear and the potential danger of that approach.

Be it in print or on screen, the trends that I and others have outlined are of course long term and have been developing over decades. I mentioned the NUJ’s survey of the closure of BBC district offices. Other public service broadcasters are also crucial to regional and local news. The Welsh language TV channel, S4C—Sianel Pedwar Cymru—focuses on Welsh issues and consistently features local news and views from around the country. Again, rather than wholeheartedly supporting the channel, the Government’s policies are creating uncertainty about its future. In my letter to the Minister on St David’s day, I asked the Government at least to freeze S4C’s funding until the independent review of the channel is completed, and to announce the review’s terms of reference. Instead, they have offered only a six-month freeze and further talks mid-year, and they still have not launched the review. I am afraid the UK Government are dragging their feet on setting up the review, and we want to know why. S4C and Welsh audiences deserve better.​

This gives me the opportunity the right to put the Minister right on his somewhat ludicrous rewriting of the history of the establishment of S4C, which we have heard him rehearse several times in the Chamber recently. Yes, it was established under Mrs Thatcher’s Government, but only after a long and bitter campaign by Labour and Plaid Cymru, which forced them to withdraw proposals that would have breached their own manifesto.

The Minister for Digital and Culture (Matt Hancock): Oh, give over!

Kevin Brennan: The Minister says, “Oh, give over!” from a sedentary position. Given that he has decided to challenge my assertion, let me read him the Cabinet note from 18 September 1980. The then Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw, said

“that the Government would withdraw its plans to share Welsh language programme, between two television channels. Instead the programmes would, for an experimental period of three years, be broadcast on one channel, as had been proposed in the Party Manifesto. He still thought that the previous plans were preferable but he had agreed to change them in response to representations, put to him by Lord Cledwyn and others, of the views of informed and responsible opinion in Wales.”

Lord Cledwyn was, of course, Cledwyn Hughes, the former Labour Welsh Secretary. I forgive the Minister, because he probably was not even born at the time of that great struggle, but it is wrong for him to glibly assert that S4C was established without a bitter fight, which some of us remember well.

Helen Goodman: Just to reveal how old I am, my first job was working for a Labour Member of Parliament in 1979-80, Phillip Whitehead, who was on the Committee for that Bill. What my hon. Friend says is absolutely right: there was a significant Labour campaign to achieve that.

Kevin Brennan: There was, and I acknowledge Plaid Cymru’s contribution to that campaign. It is only right to put the historical record straight, rather than allow the hares that the Minister set running—

Matt Hancock: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Kevin Brennan: My dream has come true!

Matt Hancock: I am always very happy to contribute to the hon. Gentleman’s dreams. To deal with this one right now, I am absolutely delighted that the hon. Gentleman has welcomed the Conservative Government’s establishment of S4C and has accepted that, in fact, it was introduced by a Conservative Government. We, as Conservatives, welcome the cross-party support for it.

Kevin Brennan: Let me quote from another document from 1980. Wyn Roberts, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to the Welsh Office, said:

“I travelled home yesterday with Lord Garonwy Roberts who told me that the Shadow Cabinet last week”—

that was the Labour shadow Cabinet—

“decided to put forward an amendment to the Broadcasting Bill in the Lords to concentrate all Welsh language programmes on the Fourth Channel…If the Lords were to carry the amdmt. it would clearly weaken our position very considerably.”​
It was that pressure that led to the Government having to fulfil their commitment, which they wanted to renege on at the time.

I will not test your patience any further, Mr Gapes. As a former history teacher—[Interruption.]

Mike Gapes (in the Chair): Order. I would be grateful if the Minister confined his remarks to his winding-up speech.

Kevin Brennan: I accept your ruling, Mr Gapes, although I enjoy the Minister’s sedentary remarks. They liven things up considerably.

That is evidence that S4C is not a priority for the Government. Meanwhile, the Welsh Government are providing a grant to it and supporting Welsh-language papers—the papurau bro, as the hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd called them. That is because that Government understand the importance of local news to communities.

I do not want to paint too gloomy a picture. Regional and local news outlets continue to break very important stories, often of national significance, while both entertaining residents and informing them of community events and developments, but they do that despite rather than because of the Government’s action. I encourage the Minister to do more after this debate. He has had encouragement from both sides of the Chamber to do something.

The BBC has announced the local democracy reporter programme, which hon. Members have referred to, and which is going to cost £8 million of licence fee money. BBC reporters will work with local papers. Superficially, that is a welcome initiative, but in effect the Government are outsourcing a complex issue to another body rather than taking charge of the situation. Against that background, we support the call for the Government to carry out a national review into local news and media plurality. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will commit to undertake such a review? Other hon. Members have also called for one.

The NUJ’s research, “Mapping changes in local news 2015-2017: more bad news for democracy?”, which was published this month, shows a net loss of nine regional papers since 2015, and a loss of more than 400 local journalism jobs over a 17-month period. In 2015, two thirds of local authority districts, encompassing more than half the UK’s population, no longer had a local daily newspaper. Between November 2015 and March 2017, the number of local monopolies rose to 170 out of 380 in Wales, England and Scotland.

The Government are in a unique position to pull together views from across the industry—from multinationals to trade unions, civic society groups and the mutual sector—to judge the effect that these changes have on society and to discuss potential solutions. I would be interested if the Minister can tell us how he will respond to the demands set out in early-day motion 1109. Will the Government undertake to launch some kind of national review into what is going on? Setting party politics aside, we are all in agreement about the importance of local news in all its formats. It is crucial to safeguard these precious community assets into the future. The Government have a role to play, and we would be interested to hear from the Minister what role he will play in achieving that.​

The Minister for Digital and Culture (Matt Hancock): I apologise for my earlier interruptions, Mr Gapes, but I wanted to correct that one point before I started my full response to this very thoughtful and interesting debate. I thank the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) for securing this important debate on the future of local and regional news providers.

Kevin Brennan: I do not want to labour the point too much, but while the Minister is in the mood for apologising, perhaps he could apologise to the House for being late to the debate.

Kevin Brennan in debate on Local and Regional News (
Hansard Link)

Keep calm and carry on

I didn’t directly witness the horrific attack in Westminster this week, but it is a near miracle that I didn’t.

My office is on the 5th floor of Portcullis House, the modern building that directly overlooks the place where the attacker crashed his car into the railings of the House of Commons, and New Palace Yard where he fatally stabbed a Police Officer and was then shot dead.

Literally seconds before the attack the Division Bell rang to call MPs to vote, and I left my office to take the lift to the ground floor, and walk through the tunnel under the road where unbeknownst to us the attack was unfolding overhead.

I emerged into the New Palace Yard seconds before the shots were fired, but then entered the Commons building to go to vote and did not hear the gunfire. Moments later however as I walked into the voting lobbies we were told that an incident was ongoing and to remain where we were.

Some colleagues arrived and reported that they had seen what had happened, a Police Officer under attack and the assailant shot just a few yards from where I had just been walking.

We remained on lock down in the House of Commons chamber and the surrounding lobbies for the next four hours, as news seeped in about the other aspects of the attack, and the carnage on Westminster Bridge.  The atmosphere was one of resolute calm, and sadness as we learned of the deaths and injuries outside.

PC Keith Palmer was one of the officers I pass and say good morning to everyday as I enter the gates of Parliament and use my pass to access the estate. He was one of the unarmed officers who check passes and give directions to the many tourists who visit Westminster and wander up to have their photos taken with Big Ben in the background.  He gave his life bravely defending democracy.

Since 9/11 there are many more armed officers standing nearby ready to deal with any serious threat. Sadly PC Palmer was fatally stabbed before those officers were able to shoot his attacker. There will be a full enquiry into how the stabbing happened, but it is hard to see how you can stop a person with murderous intent driving a vehicle into innocent pedestrians.

Sadly it is an experience which occurred in 2012 in my constituency of Cardiff West when a mentally ill individual drove a vehicle at pedestrians, killing my constituent Katrina Menzies and seriously injuring several others.

You can put up barriers around obvious targets like Parliament, but unless you have advance intelligence, you cannot prevent a deranged and crazed individual from driving at a crowd of pedestrians.

Of course it wasn’t just MPs caught up in the lockdown. Thousands work on and around the Parliamentary estate, and Wednesday is the busiest day for visitors due to Prime Minister’s Questions. Amongst those on lockdown for hours were several school parties. As a former teacher I could not help but think of the teachers with the French children who came under attack, but also of the teachers on the parliamentary estate with very young children who acted professionally to the youngsters in their care throughout.

The sad truth is this is not the first attack in Westminster, London or the UK as a whole, and it will not be the last.

During the Second World War Hitler’s Luftwaffe destroyed the Commons chamber, but MPs carried on meeting in the Lords. It was rebuilt but Churchill and Attlee agreed to incorporate the broken archway at the entrance of the Commons chamber as a reminder. In the 70s an IRA bomb went off in Westminster Hall, and in 1979 – Airey Neave MP was murdered yards from Wednesday’s attack by an INLA car bomb.

In July 1990 in East Sussex, Ian Gow MP, was killed by an IRA car bomb, and of course last year Jo Cox MP was murdered in her constituency by a right wing extremist. I was in Westminster in July 7th, 2005 when bombs went off across London in the 7/7 attacks. No doubt we will face future attacks too.

But on Thursday at 9.30am the Commons met as usual. We observed a minute’s silence and got on with our normal business.

Democracy is frustrating and imperfect, but it is a stronger idea than terrorist violence, and the democratic thing to do in the face of terrorism is to keep calm and carry on.

Contribution to statement on the attack in Westminster

London Attacks (23 March 2017)

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): Like many Members, in the 16 years I have been a Member, I have walked every day through Carriage Gates and said a small prayer for the safety of those who stand there to protect us. From now on, I will add a prayer for the soul of PC Keith Palmer.

Among the bravery and professionalism we saw yesterday—I say this a former teacher who took children on many school trips—were the actions of the teachers, both those injured in the attack and those who were in the House during the lockdown, who kept the children educated, entertained and calm, on a day and on a school trip when they saw, witnessed and heard of things that they should never have to see.

The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. It must have been particularly difficult for those children who were here and caught up in this. We should commend the work of their teachers in offering that reassurance and calm. We must particularly recognise the role of the French teachers of the French group. The last thing people expect when they bring a group of young people to visit another country is something terrible like that happening. They will have acted to support the other members of that group who went through that trauma, and will continue to do so.

Tories want to make appointing Theresa’s Geezers easier

The failure to appoint a member of the BBC board to represent Wales is symbolic of increasing arrogance by Tory Ministers over devolution and public appointments.

In Government Labour reformed public appointment procedures to stop the practice that existed pre-1997 of Tory Ministers appointing their friends to taxpayer funded positions without any independent scrutiny. Under Labour Ministers could still take the final decision but candidates would be assessed independently to provide a properly qualified shortlist from which Ministers could choose.

This Tory Government is watering this down so that Ministers can choose the assessors and appoint people not deemed to be up to the job by overruling the panel. They can even get rid of open competition altogether.

The Prime Minister wants to make appointing ‘Theresa’s Geezers’ easier.

Ministers are already stretching their existing powers to the limit. In December Matt Hancock refused to appoint an ethnic minority candidate who was recommended by the appointment panel despite a lack of diversity to the Channel 4 board.

Now Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has tried to foist the weakest candidate for Welsh representation on the BBC Governors against the wishes of the Welsh Government who understandably want the strongest possible candidate.

The respect agenda espoused by David Cameron – appears to be dead. By refusing to appoint either of the top two recommended candidates, Karen Bradley has scuttled the whole process and a new recruitment effort will have to be made.

This will leave Wales without a representative on the BBC board for months, during a crucial period when article when Article 50 will be triggered with all its implications for the devolved nations.

The smug arrogance of the Tory Ministers was there for all to see in the Budget. The news over public appointments is another symptom of Tory disdain for due process.