Damian Collins


Damian Noel Thomas Collins (born 4 February 1974) is a British Conservative Party politician.[1][2] He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Folkestone and Hythe since the 2010 general election. From 2016 to 2019, Collins was Chair of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.[3][4]

Damian Collins

Collins in 2020
Chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
In office
19 October 2016  6 December 2019
Preceded byJesse Norman
Succeeded byJulian Knight
Member of Parliament
for Folkestone and Hythe
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byMichael Howard
Majority21,337 (36.1%)
Personal details
Born
Damian Noel Thomas Collins

(1974-02-04) 4 February 1974 (age 47)
Northampton, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Sarah Richardson
Children2
Alma materSt Benet's Hall, Oxford
Websitedamiancollins.com

Education


Collins was educated at St Mary's Roman Catholic High School, a state voluntary aided comprehensive school in the village of Lugwardine in Herefordshire, followed by Belmont Abbey School, a former boarding independent school in Hereford, where he studied for his A Levels. He then studied Modern History at St Benet's Hall at the University of Oxford, graduating in 1996.[5][6][7]

During his time as a student, Collins was captain of the St Benet's Hall team on two episodes of University Challenge in October 1994 and January 1995, during Jeremy Paxman’s first series of the show.[8] In 1995 Collins was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association.[9][10]

Early career


After graduating from the University of Oxford Collins joined the Conservative Research Department in 1996. In 1999, Collins left Conservative Central Office to join the M&C Saatchi advertising agency and in 2008, Collins joined Lexington Communications as Senior Counsel.[11][12]

Political career


Conservative activism

From 2003 to 2004 Collins was the Political Officer of the Bow Group think tank, and contributed to its 2006 publication Conservative Revival: Blueprint for a Better Britain (Politico's Publishing, 2006).[13][14]

At the 2005 general election, Collins stood as the Conservative parliamentary candidate in Northampton North, where he finished in second place to sitting Labour MP Sally Keeble who was re-elected with a majority of 3,960 votes.[15] In May 2006, Collins was included on the "A-list" of Conservative parliamentary candidates, created following the election of David Cameron as Leader of the Conservative Party.[16]

On 13 July 2006, Collins was selected as prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe in Kent, succeeding as Conservative candidate for the seat to Michael Howard, a former Home Secretary and Leader of the Conservative Party, who had announced his decision to step down from the House of Commons.[17][18]

Member of Parliament

Collins made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 27 May 2010 in the Queen's Speech debate. He spoke about the new Conservative-Liberal Coalition Government’s energy and environmental policy, and his support for a new nuclear power station at Dungeness in his constituency.[19]

On 12 July 2010, Collins became a member of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.[20]

On 10 September 2012, Collins was made Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers.[21] In July 2014, Collins was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond.[22]

In the 2016 EU referendum, Collins campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union.[23] He subsequently supported delivering the result of the referendum, for the UK to leave the EU, describing himself in July 2019 as "someone who voted Remain, but has always upheld the pledge I made at the last general election: to honour the result of the referendum."[24]

In 2016 Collins was elected as Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee and was re-elected unopposed following the 2017 general election of the newly renamed Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.[25][26][27] He remained Chair until the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November 2019.[28]

Select Committee inquiries

During his tenure as Committee Chair, Collins led several parliamentary inquiries:

Disinformation and fake news

Collins launched a high-profile inquiry into disinformation and fake news in the wake of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, which also investigated the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and concluding that “legal liabilities should be established for tech companies to act against harmful or illegal content on their sites."[29][30] This led to the UK Government publishing the Online Harms White Paper.[31] The Select Committee's inquiry featured in the 2019 Netflix documentary film The Great Hack.[32]

Immersive and addictive technologies

The committee's subsequent report on immersive and addictive technologies recommended a review of the Gambling Act 2005 in parliament to define loot boxes as a game of chance, and that “the malicious creation and distribution of deepfake videos should be regarded as harmful content” under the new Online Harms regime.[33]

Homophobia in sport

An inquiry into homophobia in sport concluded that “despite the significant change in society’s attitudes to homosexuality in the last 30 years, there is little reflection of this progress being seen in football”, recommending that “Football clubs should take a tougher approach to incidents of homophobic abuse, issuing immediate bans” and “It should be made clear that match officials should have a duty to report and document any kind of abuse at all levels."[34][35]

Doping in sport

An inquiry into doping in sport was launched following journalistic investigations from the Sunday Times and on ARD about the prevalence of doping in sport and the responsiveness of the World Anti-Doping Agency, UK Anti-Doping, and the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).[36]

BBC

The committee's inquiry into equal pay at the BBC revealed evidence of pay discrimination at the BBC, and its report on TV licences for the over-75s criticised the BBC's decision to no longer fund all of these.[37] The report held responsible both the BBC and the Government for opaque BBC Charter renewal negotiations in 2015, having led to the BBC becoming responsible for "administering the welfare benefits that should rightly only ever be implemented by the Government" which the BBC then found it could no longer fully fund due to the "disturbing picture of the BBC’s overall finances."[38]

Reality TV

After the death of a guest following filming for The Jeremy Kyle Show and the deaths of two former contestants in the dating show Love Island, Collins launched a parliamentary inquiry into reality television.[39] Jeremy Kyle refused to appear in front of the committee.[40] Following Collins’ recommendations, broadcasting regulator Ofcom proposed new rules "to require broadcasters to ensure they take ‘due care’ of people participating in television and radio programmes."[41][42]

Sports governance

In January 2015, following a panel at the European Parliament hosted by MEPs Ivo Belet, Marc Tarabella and Emma McClarkin, Collins launched campaign group New FIFA Now with former Football Federation Australia Head of Corporate and Public Affairs Bonita Mersiades and businessman Jaimie Fuller, calling for an independent, non-governmental reform committee to address allegations of corruption and promote financial transparency at FIFA.[43][44][45]

In May 2020, Collins warned that the COVID-19 pandemic had "badly exposed the weak financial position of clubs in the English Football League (EFL), many of whom were already on the edge of bankruptcy", calling along with the Football Supporters’ Association for a new Football Finance Authority.[46][47]

Digital regulation

In November 2018, for the first time since 1933, when the Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform included parliamentarians from India, Collins invited parliamentarians from around the world to the House of Commons in London to form an ‘International Grand Committee’ to discuss disinformation and data privacy.[48][49] The attending MPs from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia and Singapore, and their UK hosts, invited Mark Zuckerberg to testify. Zuckerberg declined to attend, either in person or by video call, and so was represented by Lord Richard Allan, Vice President of Policy Solutions at Facebook.[50] The International Grand Committee reconvened in Ottawa in May 2019, under the chairmanship of Bob Zimmer MP, Chair of the House of Commons of Canada Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics; in Dublin in November 2019, under the chairmanship of Hildegarde Naughton TD, Chair of the Dáil Éireann Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment; and virtually in December 2020, under the chairmanship of Congressman David Cicilline, Chair of the US House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law.[51][52][53]

Collins has called for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories to be defined as a category of harmful content in the UK Online Safety Bill, that social media platforms would have a responsibility to protect their users from viewing and sharing.[54] In March 2020 Collins co-founded a fact-checking service called Infotagion to counter COVID-related disinformation, and in September 2020 joined the Real Facebook Oversight Board.[55][56][57]

Collins supports reforms to UK electoral law to ensure that analogue campaign transparency laws apply online; that online political donations are transparent and traceable; and that deepfake films released maliciously during election campaigns should be classified as harmful content that social media platforms are required to remove and prevent further distribution.[58] Collins has said that he believes social media platforms facilitated the storming of Capitol Hill on 6 January 2021.[59]

Collins was critical of Facebook's decision to withdraw news services in February 2021 following a dispute with the Australian Government.[60] Collins supports competition regulation to curb social media's market power.[61]

World War One remembrance

Collins chaired charity Step Short, which was set up to renovate the Road of Remembrance in Folkestone, through which millions of men marched to boats taking them across the Channel to fight in France and Belgium during the First World War.[62][63] To mark the Centenary of the First World War, the charity raised funds for a new memorial arch.[64] The Step Short Memorial Arch was unveiled by Prince Harry in 2014.[65] Ownership of the Arch has since passed to Folkestone and Hythe District Council.[66]

Parliamentary voting record


According to parliamentary monitoring website, TheyWorkForYou, Collins has voted the same way as other Conservative MPs on the vast majority of issues. As of May 2021, his voting record shows the following trends:[67]

  • generally against UK membership of the EU
  • generally against a right to remain for EU nationals already living in the UK
  • almost always for equal gay rights
  • consistently for reducing the rate of corporation tax
  • consistently for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
  • generally against measures to prevent climate change
  • generally against a banker’s bonus tax
  • consistently against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000
  • consistently for raising the threshold at which people start to pay income tax

Personal life


Collins is married to Sarah Richardson,[68] who served as Lord Mayor of Westminster from 2013 to 2014.[69] Collins and Richardson have two children.[70] Collins is a Roman Catholic.[71]

Collins is the biographer of Sir Philip Sassoon in Charmed Life: The Phenomenal World of Philip Sassoon (William Collins, 2016) and wrote the chapter on David Lloyd George for Iain Dale’s The Prime Ministers (Hodder and Stoughton, 2020). Both were, respectively, Collins’ predecessor as Member of Parliament for Hythe, and Prime Minister, during the First World War.[72][73]

References


  1. "Damian Noel Thomas Collins". Who's Who.
  2. Blundell, John, ed. (2013). Remembering Margaret Thatcher: Commemorations, Tributes and Assessments. New York: Algora Publishing. p. 118.
  3. "Damian Collins elected Chair of Culture, Media and Sport Committee". www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  4. "Dissolution of Parliament". www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  5. "Catholic Herald's article 'Politics makes a difference'". Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  9. "About Damian Collins". Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  10. "Past President's of the Oxford University Conservative Association". Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  11. "Royal Television Society article: 'Damian Collins: The MP influencing the TV sector'". Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  12. "PR Week's article: 'Public Affairs: The Week in Lobbying'". Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  13. "People: Damian Collins MP". www.sportindustry.biz. Sport Industry Group. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  14. Philp, Chris (2006). Conservative Revival: Blueprint for a Better Britain. London: Politico's Publishing Ltd. p. 170. ISBN 184275159X.
  15. "Election 2005 | Results | Northampton North". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
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  19. "Hansard Volume 510: debated on Thursday 27 May 2010". hansard.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  20. "Hansard Volume 513: debated on Monday 12 July 2010". hansard.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  21. Walker, Stephen (12 September 2012). "NIO roles for Damian Collins and Alec Shelbrooke". BBC News.
  22. "FULL PPS RESHUFFLE LIST". Guido Fawkes. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  23. Collins, Damian. "Vote Remain in the referendum on 23rd June". Twitter. @DamianCollins. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  24. Collins, Damian (6 June 2019). "Only Boris Johnson can restore trust and excitement in our politics". The Times. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  25. "Damian Collins elected Chair of Culture, Media and Sport Committee". www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
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  32. Cadwalladr, Carole (20 July 2019). "The Great Hack: the film that goes behind the scenes of the Facebook data scandal". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  33. House of Commons, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (9 September 2019). "Immersive and addictive technologies" (PDF). www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  34. House of Commons, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. "Homophobia in Sport inquiry". www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  35. House of Commons, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (7 February 2017). "Homophobia in Sport" (PDF). www.parliament.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  36. House of Commons, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (27 February 2018). "Combatting doping in sport" (PDF). www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  37. House of Commons, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (23 October 2018). "BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2017–18: Equal pay at the BBC" (PDF). www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  38. House of Commons, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (11 October 2019). "BBC Annual Report 2018-19 and TV licences for over 75s inquiry". www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  39. House of Commons, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (6 November 2019). "Reality tv inquiry". www.parliament.uk. UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  40. "Jeremy Kyle declines DCMS inquiry appearance". BBC News. 18 June 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  42. "Protecting participants in TV and radio programmes" (PDF). ofcom.org.uk. Ofcom. 29 July 2019.
  43. Fuller, James (2 December 2020). "New FIFA Now". safebettingsites.com. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  44. "Parliament's FIFA smackdown". POLITICO. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  45. Collins, Damian (19 July 2015). "Fifa Reform Must Be Taken Out of Blatter's Hands". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  46. ""A way forward for football" - Damian Collins MP". Football Supporters' Association. 22 May 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  47. "Football Spectator Attendance: Covid-19 - Monday 9 November 2020 - Hansard - UK Parliament". hansard.parliament.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  54. Collins, Damian (18 November 2020). "Anti-vaccination disinformation is harmful and must be addressed in the government's Online Harms Bill". Politics Home. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  55. "Sharing fake news on coronavirus should be an offence, Tory MP warns". ITV News. 29 March 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  56. "Home". Infotagion. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  57. "While Facebook works to create an oversight board, industry experts formed their own". NBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  59. Collins, Damian. "Social media failed in duty of care over Capitol Hill riot". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  60. Collins, Damian (19 February 2021). "Facebook's contempt for free press and disregard of legislative democracy should concern us all". Politics Home. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  61. Collins, Damian (15 October 2020). "It's time to protect journalism from big tech". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
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  64. Leclere, Matt (27 June 2014). "New First World War memorial Arch in Folkestone by charity Step Short completed before Prince Harry visits town". KentOnline. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  65. "Prince Harry unveils WW1 Memorial Arch in Folkestone". BBC News. 4 August 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  66. "Continuing the legacy of the Step Short memorial arch". folkestone-hythe.gov.uk. Folkestone & Hythe District Council. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  67. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24744/damian_collins/folkestone_and_hythe/votes
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  72. Collins, Damian (2016). Charmed Life: The Phenomenal World of Sir Philip Sassoon. London: William Collins. ISBN 9780008127602.
  73. Dale, Iain (2020). The Prime Ministers: 55 Leaders, 55 Authors, 300 Years of History. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 9781529312140.