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Mr. Smith: As the hon. Gentleman will know, UK Athletics is preparing, with the Lee Valley regional park authority, a lottery application for funding to assist with the creation of Pickett's Lock. No Exchequer money is earmarked for that purpose, nor should it be.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the past two or three minutes since the Tory Front-Bench spokesman sat down, at least two Tory Members have spoken--and they both want money? They want money for Stonehenge and money for Pickett's Lock and they are the same people who marched into the Lobbies not only to close school playing fields, but the pits as well. The result is that we lost all the miners' welfares that produced all the fast bowlers that worked down the pit and played in the Bassetlaw league with me before going on to play for England. Now they have all gone.
Unlike Tory Members, I support public expenditure. When my right hon. Friend talks of the language of priorities, will he bear it in mind that we want baths at Bolsover--write that down--and that I will do the Pavarotti at Bolsover castle?
Mr. Smith: I am delighted that my hon. Friend is in fine fettle and that he will ensure that Bolsover receives the best possible service in arts and sport. I am sure that we shall all make sure that that happens.
My hon. Friend rightly points to a fundamental dichotomy in the views of Tory Members. The shadow Chancellor keeps on telling us that he wants to spend less public money and that he wants to cut public expenditure--I am sure that he would make the Department for Culture, Media and Sport one of the first Departments to bear the brunt of his axe--while other Tory Members get up to demand more spending. There is something wrong there.
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham): Can the Secretary of State tell us whether his core script for what Mr. Gould now calls a tarnished brand includes financial provision to pay for the losses of the dome in its remaining months of trading? If the Secretary of State is going to tell us that there is no money in his budget and no money from the lottery, is he worried that the New Millennium Experience Company is trading while insolvent?
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax): I too congratulate my right hon. Friend on obtaining this huge amount of real money, especially the increase for English Heritage. He will be aware that my constituency has a high proportion of listed buildings, which are extremely expensive to look after. Will he agree to review all of Calderdale with a view to seeing how we can keep our wealth of heritage in good condition? Will he accept my invitation to visit Piece Hall, which is a unique asset that is about to make a bid to the English Heritage lottery fund?
Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove): Following the question of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood), can the Secretary of State tell us more about the dome's financing? Why has his Department yet to announce which rival bid is going to be accepted for the dome? Has that announcement been postponed because the reality is that there will be no recompense to the public purse when the dome is sold, as the money will all go towards paying off its debts? Will the Secretary of State confirm that?
Mr. Smith: That question has nothing whatsoever to do with the statement about Exchequer expenditure. Analysis of contending bids for the future life of the dome--a process in which I am not involved at all, as the hon. Lady knows, having been present at the sitting of the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport at which I gave evidence--is due to reach a conclusion later this week.
Mr. Barry Jones (Alyn and Deeside): My right hon. Friend appears to have carried out a smash and grab raid of no mean proportions on heavily guarded Treasury funds. In the rough old world of politics and the bitchy world of arts politics he should receive great credit for that.
What has my right hon. Friend done, and how will his statement help, to assist the beleaguered regional orchestras of Britain, not least the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, to which I subscribe and of which I am a life member? Does my right hon. Friend know that Peter Johnson, the chairman of the orchestra, has laboured manfully against heavy financial problems to keep that great world class orchestra on the road? Will the stabilisation fund now be bigger? How will my right hon. Friend link the future of that great orchestra to the schools of Liverpool, where there are great social problems, but where the orchestra is giving the lead to develop a great society and helping to regenerate Merseyside's economy?
Mr. Smith: I have to disagree about this being a smash and grab raid. It is, of course, a prudent and sustainable increase in spending resulting from the Chancellor's prudent handing of the economy over the last couple of years.
The Arts Council put in place a substantial package of support for regional orchestras as a result of the previous comprehensive spending review settlement that we made available to it, which included wiping out historic deficits, using stabilisation programmes, and a forward plan of financial assistance to each orchestra. That included the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. I know that there is discussion about the precise nature of the stabilisation programme and how it will affect the Liverpool Phil. I hope that the programme will be happily agreed by all sides and that the Liverpool Phil will be able to survive and thrive well into the future. In taking a lead in working with schools in Liverpool, the Philharmonic is charting
Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West): Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is important that arts provision is not concentrated in the great cities, and that some goes out to smaller towns and villages? Does he agree that the work of travelling orchestras, such as the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra, is particularly important, and that their work is more expensive than that of static orchestras and therefore requires greater provision? Does he share my regret that it was under his Government that the Bournemouth Sinfonietta was forced to close for lack of funds? Will he join me in supporting the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra this week at the Promenade concerts, and will he show his support in a rather more tangible form in future?
Mr. Smith: The hon. Gentleman is of course right that funding should be available not only in cities but in rural areas. That is entirely understood and put into practice by the Arts Council. Its support for the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra is extremely welcome, and it takes into account the particular needs of orchestras that conduct touring work. I went to the Proms last Sunday evening and will go again on Thursday evening, and I regret that I will be unable to go a third time in one week.
Mr. John Cryer (Hornchurch): Is my right hon. Friend aware that outer London has been denuded of theatres, cinemas and art galleries for many years? In Hornchurch, however, we have the Queen's theatre, which is the most successful of its kind in the entire country. Despite money from the London Arts Board, the theatre still has a shortfall. When can it look forward to receiving some of the Government's welcome largesse?
Mr. Smith: My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the excellent work of the Queen's theatre in Hornchurch. I suggest that he discusses the matter with the London Arts Board, which will be in a position to make decisions in the next year or two.
Mr. Christopher Fraser (Mid-Dorset and North Poole): Despite the initiatives announced by the Secretary of State, the figures show that sport, tourism, heritage and the arts seem to be the losers in the comprehensive spending review. Does not the right hon. Gentleman consistently punch below his weight when it comes to departmental spending?
Mr. John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington): May I declare a non-pecuniary interest as vice-president of Hayes football club. As my right hon. Friend will know, we reached mid-table in the nationwide conference last season and fully expect to be promoted to the league in the coming season. Just in case some mishap prevents us from being promoted, will he assure me that conference clubs will be able to share in the resources of the Football Foundation and, more importantly, in the decision-making processes of bodies such as the Football Association council?