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House of Commons

Monday 12 December 1994

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

PRAYERS

[ Madam Speaker-- in the Chair ]

Oral Answers to Questions

NATIONAL HERITAGE

National Lottery

1. Mrs. Angela Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will ensure that millennium fund projects are evenly distributed around the country.

The Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Stephen Dorrell): Under section 26 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 the Millennium Commission has been issued with directions as to matters which should be taken into account when distributing lottery proceeds. These include the need to ensure that major projects are supported in each country of the United Kingdom.

Mrs. Knight: My right hon. Friend will know of the considerable interest in the millennium fund. Is he also aware that in the midlands, and no doubt elsewhere in the country, there is concern that projects in London and the south-east will get preference? Can he assure me that that will not be the case? Can he also assure me that support will be given to projects which celebrate both the heritage and the future of some of our traditional industries--such as iron, steel, lace and engineering--upon which many parts of the country such as Erewash continue to depend?

Mr. Dorrell: I can certainly give my hon. Friend the assurance that she seeks. No preference will be given to projects based in London and the south-east; the Millennium Commission has made it clear that it will proceed without trying to distribute funds according to a quota and will judge each application on its merits, from wherever in the kingdom it comes.

The type of project that my hon. Friend outlined would be particularly appropriate in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and if local supporters put the idea to the Commission I am sure that it would be considered favourably. Her proposal has an attractive theme as it looks back over the past 200 years of achievement in those industries and forward to the prospects for those industries in the next millennium.

Mr. Enright: Will the Minister give particular consideration to Wakefield sculpture park which, with its Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth collections, is a leader not only in the United Kingdom but in the world?

Mr. Dorrell: The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the Yorkshire sculpture park, which is a


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major centre of excellence. I am not aware whether it has made a bid to the Millennium Commission. If it has, the bid will of course be carefully considered.

Mr. Robert Banks: Does my right hon. Friend agree that it will be important for elements of the celebration of the millennium to have a theme? Does he consider that the best theme for this country would be a celebration of music? To that end, will my right hon. Friend give thought to setting up a music palace in London, which could act as a central point and which could be replicated in all our major cities? We could then leave a mark which would establish the music industry as one of our great industries.

Mr. Dorrell: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that the Millennium Commission must back projects with themes which communicate a clear message about the things that we value when celebrating the millennium. As to whether music should be such a theme, my hon. Friend may wish to put that to the Commission. I suspect that he would need to be able to demonstrate the extra elements that the Millennium Commission could add to such a project in addition to the backing that would come from the Arts Council, which would perhaps be a more natural lottery distributor body to deal with that part of the performing arts spectrum.

2. Mr. William O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he last met the organisers of the national lottery to discuss the provision of outlets for the purchase of tickets; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Iain Sproat): The provision of outlets for the purchase of lottery tickets is an operational matter and as such is entirely the responsibility of the operator, Camelot plc, and the regulator, the Director-General of the National Lottery. The director-general meets Camelot regularly to discuss operational matters.

Mr. O'Brien: May I put it to the Minister that in many areas the organisation put in place by Camelot is not working, particularly in my constituency which covers the community council area of Normanton and Altofts with a population of about 25,000, and the neighbouring rural area of Sharlston with a population of about 27,000? There is not one outlet in that area where people may purchase a lottery ticket, so any of my constituents in the area wishing to purchase a lottery ticket must travel by bus to Wakefield or Castleford. As the arrangements made by Camelot are not working, will the Minister use his persuasive powers to ensure that my constituents and those in other areas will have an opportunity to purchase lottery tickets?

Mr. Sproat: I am sorry to hear that all is not completely well in the hon. Gentleman's constituency and I will ensure that his remarks are brought to the attention of Camelot. He may be aware, however, that by the end of this year a postal subscription service will be on offer, which should solve some of the problems. Although he has drawn attention to one or


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two things that have gone wrong, it is perhaps right to point out that 11,250 outlets are working extremely successfully.

Mr. Jessel: I thank you for calling me, Madam Speaker, although I am not sure whether you will like what I am going to say. Will my hon. Friend see whether lottery tickets can be put on sale somewhere in the Palace of Westminster?

Mr. Sproat: As is often the case, my hon. Friend has suggested an interesting idea. I will certainly ensure that it is brought to the attention of the appropriate House authority.

3. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the anonymity provisions of the national lottery; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sproat: The anonymity provisions in the licence issued to Camelot to run the national lottery state that the identity of any person who has won a prize shall not be disclosed without the prior written consent of that person. The director general has informed me that he is not aware of any cases in which Camelot has not complied with that condition.

Mr. Greenway: Does my hon. Friend hope to win £18 million in the national lottery some day? If so, what would he do with the money, and is he satisfied that the current anonymity provisions in the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 would ensure that no one knew about his win?

Mr. Sproat: As I have said, there appears to be no doubt that Camelot has adhered to the provisions to keep winners anonymous. It may be, however, that others have not done the same. If, for instance, it was felt that complaints about what has happened in the press were proper, they could be made to the Press Complaints Commission.

4. Mr. Nigel Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how much money has been raised to date via the national lottery.

Mr. Dorrell: In the four weeks since it began, the national lottery has raised more than £53 million for good causes.

Mr. Evans: I am delighted with that response. I had rather hoped that this would have been the appropriate time for me to declare an interest, but unfortunately I am not the person who has won £17.8 million--and good luck to whoever it happens to be. As well as people winning prizes from the lottery, are not vast sums of money now set to be distributed to good causes and is it not appropriate that some of the rural areas of the United Kingdom should attract some of that money? On Friday I was talking to heads and governors of schools who would like to get funds for a swimming pool, which they would not ordinarily be able to build. Does my right hon. Friend agree that they may be able to look to the Sports Council for national lottery money to enable them to provide that facility?

Mr. Dorrell: I am sorry that my hon. Friend is not able to declare the interest that he wanted to declare. He has, of course, drawn attention to the principal


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benefit of the national lottery to the great majority, because it is raising sums of money for good causes which could not reasonably have been expected from any other source. My hon. Friend has also drawn attention to the opportunity that the lottery represents for a community in his constituency to realise a long-cherished ambition. The picture that he has drawn will be repeated many times in constituencies up and down the country.

Mr. Chris Smith: In four weeks, has not the Chancellor of the Exchequer already made £25 million for the Exchequer through his 12 per cent. tax take on the national lottery? Does that not make it even more inexcusable that, as a result of the Budget statement last week, the Arts Council and the Sports Council have less money in real terms than they had two years ago, especially when arts, sport and heritage are at the very heart of the appeal of the national lottery?

Mr. Dorrell: I am at a loss to understand the hon. Gentleman's argument. He seems to be saying that, as the lottery represents an unprecedentedly large addition to the resources available to the arts and sports world, there must be an equally large addition from taxpayers' funds. The Government have made it clear that the lottery money is additional to the Government's funding to the major beneficiaries. We have delivered on that commitment in the public expenditure settlement that I announced the week before last and, in addition, the lottery is unleashing an unprecedentedly large sum towards those beneficiary groups.

Listed Buildings

5. Mrs. Gorman: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many representations he has received about the criteria on which buildings are listed.

Mr. Dorrell: Very few; the listing criteria were fully restated in the recent planning policy guidance note No. 15, which was the subject of wide public consultation last year.

Mrs. Gorman: I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Is he aware of the number of farmers who have listed barns that they are not allowed to convert for housing or light industrial use, and who are confronted with the dilemma of maintaining a building that is extremely expensive to maintain to the standards of English Heritage and other organisations and being forced to foot the bill? Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the criteria in the light of the dilemma faced by farmers, many of whom are in my constituency?

Mr. Dorrell: My hon. Friend is right to point out the importance of ensuring that in the enforcement of the listing regulations-- [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker: Order. Has the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) anything to raise? If he has, I will deal with it in a point of order after questions. The question was in perfect order.

Mr. Dorrell: My hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) is right to emphasise the importance of ensuring that the listing system is applied in such a way as to ensure that, while we respect the ancient buildings that are listed, the enforcement


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mechanism is sufficiently flexible to allow those buildings to be put to modern, effective use. That principle is made clear in the policy guidance to which I referred.

Mr. Tony Banks: Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) cannot go around cladding her Tudor house and hoping to get away with it? Will he also bear in mind that, in terms of listing, a number of modern buildings in London need to be listed and protected? Will he make it clear that any change in the listing of that wonderful art deco building, the Hoover building on the Great West road, will be resisted?

Mr. Dorrell: We shall continue to operate the listing system in such a way as to ensure that proper respect and attention is paid to buildings of architectural importance. We shall also ensure, however, that once a building is listed it is not preserved in aspic but that the listing system is applied sufficiently flexibly to allow the building to be put to economic use in the modern world.

Mr. Steen: Listing commercial buildings without regard to economic consequences is a form of sequestration by the state without compensation. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the value of Castrol house in Marylebone road has plummeted since it was listed by the Department of National Heritage? The building is out of date and has reached the end of its life, but modern facilities cannot be put in, it cannot be let, it cannot be sold and it cannot be pulled down.

Mr. Dorrell: My hon. Friend is right that the listing of a building has economic consequences. It is important, therefore, to ensure that the system which lies behind the initial decision to list is sufficiently flexible to allow the heritage and economic questions to be held in the balance, and a proper and balanced judgment reached. That does not always mean preserving the building exactly as it is, but it certainly does mean respecting ancient buildings which are determined, according to the listing criteria, as being of national importance.

Battersea Power Station

6. Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage which parties are involved in discussions on the future of Battersea power station; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sproat: The London borough of Wandsworth and English Heritage are taking part in discussions on the future of Battersea power station with the owners, and with other parties.

Mr. Cox: I note that reply, but is the Minister aware of the feeling in the London borough of Wandsworth that the destruction of the internal fabric of Battersea power station is an utter scandal, because that power station has been a major feature of the national heritage of this country? In view of the development, which was fully supported by the Conservative Government and the London borough of Wandsworth, by a developer whose ultimate aim was extremely dubious, close attention will be paid to the Minister's reply today as to the involvement that Wandsworth council will now


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have. Local people have no confidence in anything in which Wandsworth council is involved relating to the Battersea power station project.

Mr. Sproat: The hon. Member is right to be concerned about what is happening to that listed building. Two of the classic pieces within the power station--the directors' staircase and the control room--are in perfect condition. The building was last examined on the afternoon of Tuesday 6 December and will be examined again before Christmas. Its condition is fine at present, but we shall be keeping a close eye on it because we share the hon. Gentleman's concerns.

National Lottery

7. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what is his latest estimate of the percentage of national lottery funds that will be devoted to charities.

Mr. Sproat: In common with the other four beneficiary areas, 20 per cent. of the national lottery proceeds for good causes will be devoted to charities.

Mr. Flynn: Nought out of 10 for that answer--the question involved only charities, not good causes. Is not the donor fatigue suffered by charities such as Children in Need and others a result of misleading adverts by the national lottery suggesting that large amounts of money would go to charity? Would it not be better for charity givers to buy lottery tickets from the St. David's Foundation in Gwent, where 100p in every £1 goes to charity and not merely a few pence, as with the national lottery, from which no money will go to charity until 1996 anyway? Is it not true that the charity money from the national lottery will be very little, very late?

Mr. Sproat: No, I do not agree with that. So far, £53.4 million has come in for good causes, of which the charities will receive their 20 per cent. If people want to give money to charity as well, they can continue to do so. I think that most people in this country will very much welcome an extra source of funding for charities.

Mr. Hendry: Will my hon. Friend give consideration to what should be done when the jackpot is not won and is rolled over for a second week? Does he agree that it might be better to give half the sum to good causes and charities and perhaps a quarter to smaller prizes, leaving a quarter or a third to be rolled over to the next week's jackpot? Would that not make it more attractive to punters and result in more money going to good causes?

Mr. Sproat: I do not think so. The House of Commons made a decision on the matter last year. I take my hon. Friend's point, but if there is a very big prize, many more people buy tickets, which increases the turnover and means that good causes receive more money in the end.


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Arts (North-west)

8. Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he last met the chair of the North West regional arts board to discuss the level of financial support for the arts in the north-west.

Mr. Dorrell: I have had no such meeting. Decisions on the allocation of grant in aid to the regional arts boards are a matter for the Arts Council.

Mr. Miller: Does the Minister agree with me about the importance of theatre and the arts in the regions? If he does, what is he doing about the serious problems facing theatres such as the Liverpool playhouse, which is suffering a large deficit? Does he not think that he should take direct action in the interests of protecting arts in the regions?

Mr. Dorrell: I very much agree with the point made by the hon. Gentleman about the importance of the arts in the regions. That is why I was pleased to go to Manchester last week to celebrate the success of the city of drama year in Manchester--some fine and important drama was being celebrated there. The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about Liverpool and I share his enthusiasm for ensuring that the city of Liverpool has a vigorous artistic, theatrical, musical and cultural life. That is delivered partly by state funding, which is why we have increased the money available to the Arts Council, and partly by ensuring that there is extra business support and extra support from people who visit the city as tourists and contribute to the city's artistic life through the box office. As Secretary of State for National Heritage, I intend to pursue all those avenues, not just one.

Mr. Hawkins: Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the places where arts in the north-west are particularly strong is Blackpool, particularly at the Grand theatre, one of Frank Matcham's masterpieces? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important for his Department to continue with strong support for the arts in the north-west, exemplified by the support that he and his predecessor have given to theatres such as the Grand theatre, Blackpool? I hope that he will confirm today that he is able to continue to do so.

Mr. Dorrell: I can confirm that the Arts Council has continued in the current year to give very large sums of its budget to North-West regional arts. Indeed, it is the largest recipient of Arts Council grant outside London. That reflects the importance that the Arts Council attaches to stimulating and catalysing an active artistic life in the north-west of England. I stress to my hon. Friend the point that I made to the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller): this is a matter not just of public subsidy, but of using all the weapons at our disposal to ensure that the artistic life of the nation thrives and expands.

Mr. Maclennan: We recognise that the Secretary of State regards his business and his job as serious and important. Could he also tell us whether he enjoys the arts?

Mr. Dorrell: I enjoy the arts in all their many and various forms; but my job is to allow others to enjoy them, rather than regarding them as a private passion.

Mr. Fisher: Will the Secretary of State now deal with the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere


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Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) put to him about the size of the deficits of the major regional theatre companies? I am sure the right hon. Gentleman understands that those deficits cannot be met by his recipe of increased box office receipts or by sponsorship. Those might help with running costs and yearly costs, but the deficits are enormous. Our major regional theatres have cumulative deficits of more than £7 million. That is a testimony to the Government's lack of a policy and lack of concern. The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away from his responsibility for dealing with those deficits.

Mr. Dorrell: I am at a loss to understand how I am supposed to deal with the issue of deficits separately from that of running costs funding and the expansion of the arts economy to which I have referred. The way to solve a deficit is by ensuring that activity grows, generating revenue from the taxpayer, through the Arts Council, from the box office, and from the business community. That is our strategy; that is how we deal with deficits.

National Lottery

9. Lady Olga Maitland: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to keep under review the national lottery policy of only giving awards for capital projects.

Mr. Sproat: I shall be keeping all the section 26 directions under review.

Lady Olga Maitland: I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Is he aware that small organisations--charities and good causes--do not necessarily need money for capital projects? They need support for sustainable activities. Crossroads, in my constituency, and voluntary "sitters" organisations, need administrative help to sustain their work of serving the community.

Mr. Sproat: My hon. Friend makes a good point. At this moment discussions are taking place between the Home Office and the National Lottery Charities Board to decide on the exact split between capital and revenue. My hon. Friend is entirely right to say that the charity sector will get, and deserves to get, much more revenue funding than capital funding. I shall see that her interesting comments are passed on to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. Maxton: Although most of us would accept that the provision of sports facilities is essential and should come from the national lottery, would it not be useful if some of that money were allocated to specialised training and support for our elite young sportsmen, who find it very difficult not just to secure the use of facilities but to get time off work and proper coaching?

Mr. Sproat: That is a good point. The Sports Aid Foundation already gives some money to elite athletes, though not a great deal, I agree. We are looking at ways in which capital projects could have a revenue tail, so that there could be revenue funding for the sort of thing that the hon. Gentleman has in mind. I have also asked that the new United Kingdom Sports Council, when it gets going next year, should look into this sort of issue as a matter of priority. I certainly take it very seriously.


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Cross-media Ownership

10. Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representations he has received about the Government's review of cross-media ownership.

Mr. Dorrell: I have received 64 written representations from a wide range of individuals and organisations. These have been supplemented by a number of meetings at ministerial and official levels.

Mr. Lidington: Does my right hon. Friend accept that the making of programmes for broadcasting is now a very competitive international industry, and that there is therefore a strong case for relaxing the present rules on cross-media ownership to enable British companies to compete effectively in that international market?

Mr. Dorrell: That view has been argued by some in the context of the review, and we are currently examining that argument along with many others. Whatever happens in future to the cross-media ownership regulation, the programme-making industry in Britain will continue to grow substantially. It provides a major opportunity for Britain in business terms, because of the employment that it creates and the wealth that it generates. It is also important in terms of the wider exposure that it gives to our way of life and ideas. The programme-making industry is one of the success stories of recent years, and whatever emerges from the cross- media ownership review should be determined, at least in part, by a commitment to ensure that that continues.

Mr. Grocott: Before the Secretary of State makes any further decisions on media ownership, would it not be a simple matter of prudent common sense to have a thorough review of the disastrous decision on media ownership that was made by his predecessor almost 12 months ago today when he relaxed the rules on the ownership of television companies? The consequences of that have been a massive 51 per cent. increase in profits by Carlton since it took over Central, bosses making a great deal of money, studios closing, many people losing their jobs and many others moving to short-term working. In view of that, does it not make simple common sense to ensure that, before changes for the future are made, one looks to the mistakes that one has made in the past?

Mr. Dorrell: It is an interesting reflection on the hon. Gentleman's presentation of his case that he spoke about the impact of the change on the company, the shareholders, the directors, the employees and the company's cost base, but did not volunteer a word about the impact on the viewer. It is the viewer who should be the driver of our policy on cross- media ownership.

Mr. Fabricant: Does my right hon. Friend agree that some British companies are suffering disadvantages compared with companies in Europe? Does he not think it better that, if there is to be an expansion of cross- media ownership and the communications industry, it should be by British companies, and specifically not by Italian and German companies?

Mr. Dorrell: My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the opportunities for British companies to expand and fill the fast-growing international market for programme making. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington), I spoke about our success in


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that endeavour to date and about my commitment to ensuring that whatever emerges from the cross-media ownership review should be consistent with our continued future success in that sector.

Mr. Allen: Does the Secretary of State accept that we understand why he wishes to delay the cross-media ownership review further? Given the media coverage that his Government are getting at the moment, he does not want to upset anyone in the media. Will he look at two areas in the review? First, rather than imposing an inflexible solution, will he consider talking to those in the industry to see whether there is a possibility of securing agreement throughout the different branches of the media? Secondly, will he consider the viewers, readers and listeners who are the consumers of these various products and understand that they want clear plurality and diversity--a choice of different mediums? Will he ensure that whatever emerges from the review he will sustain that choice?

Mr. Dorrell: Yes and yes.

12. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement on his consideration of the problems of cross- media ownership and predatory pricing.

Mr. Dorrell: The Government are actively considering the way ahead on media ownership, and will make an announcement in due course. Alleged predatory pricing is a matter for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Dalyell: What possible purpose do the right hon. Gentleman and the President of the Board of Trade imagine that Mr. Murdoch has in mind other than putting in jeopardy The Guardian or The Independent or even The Daily Telegraph by pricing his copies of The Times at 20p?

Mr. Dorrell: With all respect to the hon. Gentleman, I am not sure that Mr. Murdoch's motives are my concern. My concern is the enforcement of the law and the application of principles of public policy. The suggestion that Mr. Murdoch has been engaged in predatory pricing of The Times was examined by the Director General of Fair Trading within the terms of the law and he concluded that there was no evidence to support that. That seems to me, within the law as it stands, to dispose of the issue.

National Lottery

13. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make it his policy that money from the national lottery will not affect the provision of public funds to sport and the arts.

Mr. Sproat: It is not intended that the money provided by the lottery should substitute for that provided by the Government in other ways.

Mr. Cunningham: Does not the Minister understand that companies such as the Coventry Theatre in Education and the Coventry Belgrade theatre could be in jeopardy because of the series of cuts imposed by the Government


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in recent years? Will he speak to the West Midlands Arts Council and ensure that the future of those two companies is secured?

Mr. Sproat: I shall certainly draw the hon. Gentleman's comments to the attention of the board he mentioned.

Sir Donald Thompson: Will my hon. Friend also remember the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, a body about which none of us has anything but good to say? It has great experience and expertise and has a number of projects in the pipeline. Will he ensure that neither the public purse nor the national lottery do anything but add to the work that the foundation has done so well and should continue to do with a bigger budget?

Mr. Sproat: I certainly agree with my hon. Friend. The Foundation for Sport and the Arts and Mr. Grattan Endicott and his board have done a wonderful job, giving some £40 million to sport and £20 million to the arts. Long may that continue.

Sports (Young People)

14. Mr. Hain: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will make a statement about sports provision for young people.

Mr. Sproat: The Sports Council provides financial and other assistance to enable governing bodies of sport, local sports clubs and schools to enhance their sporting provisions for young people. One of the objectives of my current proposals for restructuring the council is to strengthen the links between governing bodies and schools so that young people have wider opportunities to develop their sporting skills.

Mr. Hain: Does the Minister accept that those are mere words because the figures show that the number of physical education teachers has been cut by more than 40 per cent? There are also reduced facilities because of opting out and cuts in local government provision. Why do not the Government invest in a major national programme to boost youth sport? If we did that, as the Australians do with their cricket academies, we might start winning some test matches and other sporting events that appear to be beyond our grasp at the moment.

Mr. Sproat: I have been following with great interest the hon. Gentleman's series of questions on PE teachers to the Welsh Office and the Department for Education, which he has tabled over the past few weeks. He certainly has a serious problem in his sights. He knows the answers--such as, more teachers used to take sports but now PE teachers tend to do that; that there are fewer pupils, and so on. However, I hope that the future of PE training will be looked at in the joint paper being prepared by my Department and the Department for Education.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman's point about Australia and I am going there some time in January to look at exactly what the Australians are doing and to see what lessons we can learn.


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National Lottery

16. Mr. Gunnell: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to meet the revenue consequences of capital projects funded through the income from the national lottery.

Mr. Dorrell: It will be for applicants for lottery funds to demonstrate that they will be able to secure on-going revenue funding for their capital projects. It is important that projects can show that they are financially viable and that they command wide support. However, in exceptional circumstances, distributing bodies do have the power to give revenue grants to lottery funded capital projects. This will ensure that good projects do not founder for lack of funding.


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