Former culture secretary John Whittingdale has become the chair of the All Party Writers Group, for a second time.
A raft of other changes within the (APWG) include Lord Tim Clement-Jones and Pete Wishart MP (former chair) becoming co-vice chairs. Lord Dubs has become treasurer while Baroness Benjamin remains as secretary.
Whittingdale acted as secretary of state for culture, media and sport from 2015 to 2016 and was appointed to chair of the APPG before in 2010 before being replaced by Wishart last year. He is now listed on the group’s website as chair.
The MP for Maldon, in Essex, revealed that his immediate concerns are protecting writers’ rights are “not harmed by Brexit”.
He said: "I am delighted to have been elected as chair of the All Party Writers Group. Immediate priorities are to ensure that creators are not harmed by Brexit, this will mean scrutinising how we adapt EU laws on copyright into our own legislation with the Repeal Bill and seeing where we can adopt the progress for creators that the UK drove the EU to achieve in the first place.”
“We must also work to better understand the situation of the working life of an author and how we can ensure creators are fairly rewarded for their work."
Whittingdale served as political secretary to then prime minister Margaret Thatcher from 1989 to 1990, and has also served as shadow secretary of state for trade and industry and shadow culture secretary. In July 2005 he was elected chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, where he presided over reports into libraries and copyright. He has also been seen as a critic of the BBC and argued in a report last year that the corporation needed to be "more distinctive".
The group revealed in May to The Bookseller that it had cancelled its summer party in June because of the general election. Barbara Hayes, who has been an administrator for the APPG since it began 10 years ago, said the event had been cancelled for "pragmatic" reasons because the anticipated information-sharing between politicians and authors could not take place. Many of the politicians, Wishart MP were away canvassing and it was not possible to reconvene later in the summer.
The All Party Parliamentary Writers’ Group was established to protect and promote authors’ rights and has around 60 members altogether from the House of Commons and House of Lords. For more information, visit the website.