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Departmental Policies, (South Shields)

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the South Shields constituency, the effects on South Shields of his Department's polices and actions since 2 May 1997. [153091]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 13 March 2001]: Since May 1997 my Department has introduced and developed a variety of initiatives which will impact on my right hon. Friend's constituency which promote our objectives of access, excellence, education, and creativity and employment. We have published our strategies to take this forward in "Tomorrow's Tourism" and "A Sporting Future for All", which was recently followed up by the Government's Plan for Sport. We have tackled the issue of social inclusion taking forward the recommendations of Policy Action Team 10 on Arts and Sport and developing social inclusion policies across all our areas which is recognised within the most recent progress report Building on PAT10.

We have given more support to the cultural and sporting infrastructure. The Spending Review 2000 secured a doubling of the budget for sport and the largest ever increase for the arts: an increase of 80 per cent. from £186 million in 1997-98 to £336 million in 2003-4. In taking forward our aim to develop the educational potential of culture and sport £40 million has been allocated to developing creative partnerships; we have established through lottery funding, the £30 million National Foundation for Youth Music; and secured an additional £130 million for primary schools sports and arts facilities through the Space for Sport and the Arts programme. With £120 million of central Government and Lottery funding we will be providing a school sports co-ordinator in one in four secondary schools to work with local primary and special schools to improve sporting provision and physical education for children in the most deprived areas. We have delivered free access to national museums for children and the over 60's and additional money will be provided to allow this to be extended to everyone in December 2001. We have commissioned a taskforce which is currently considering the issues facing non-national museums in the regions.

We have made improvements in the way the Lottery is spent to ensure a fairer distribution. The introduction of the New Opportunities Fund for spending on health, education and the environment has made a real difference to communities everywhere. For instance it has invested £120 million to support the people's network, which will

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enable all 4,300 public libraries to offer free public internet access through UK online learning centres; and a further £50 million to stimulate development of content to support the Network.

We have set up a regional cultural consortium in each of the English regions outside London to champion culture and creativity, including heritage, sport and tourism, and to draw up regional cultural strategies identifying regional objectives and priorities.

We have published a Green Paper "Culture and Creativity: The Next Ten Years", setting out how individual creative talent can be given the support it needs from childhood to flourish; how artists and cultural institutions can be freed from bureaucratic controls; and how the freedom to explore and enjoy creativity and culture can be made available to all.

Through their commitment to public service broadcasting, the Government have helped to foster an environment in which a creative, commercially successful broadcasting industry provides a wide range of UK-made, high quality, original programmes catering for all viewers and listeners. We have ensured a secure funding base for the BBC and S4C, while giving them the freedom to develop commercial operations which complement and support their public service remit. We have made clear in the Communications White Paper that public service broadcasting will continue to have a key role to play in the digital future. The Government have introduced free television licences for people aged 75 or over from 1 November last year.

My Department sponsors the British Tourist Authority (BTA) which continues to promote Britain effectively as an attractive tourist destination for overseas visitors. The BTA's successful marketing activities are aimed at bringing benefits to all parts of the UK, including South Shields.

In delivering these initiatives we aim to make cultural and sporting activities inclusive ones, boosting participation and improving the quality of life for all.

South Shields

According to the information supplied to us by the distributing bodies for the national lottery awards database, there have been 95 national lottery awards to South Shields, totalling £3,469,732. This includes two awards from the Millennium Festival totalling £100,000.

Thirty-Six Millennium Award Winners have been identified from South Shields and between them they have received grants totalling £82,128.

Information on the number of beneficiaries of free television licences by constituency is not available, but estimates based on the 1991 Census indicate that there were approximately 5,800 people aged 75 or over living in the South Shields constituency.

English Heritage have offered Marsden Limekilns £5,000.

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There are of course other initiatives in the wider context of the region which may have an effect on the South Shields constituency. These are:


Gillian Merron: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support his Department gives to supporting and promoting poetry. [156219]

Mr. Alan Howarth: My Department has supported a range of poetry initiatives including National Poetry Day, Poems on the Underground and the T. S. Eliot Prize.

In 2000-01, the Arts Council of England spent £1.649 million directly on literature. Of this nearly two-thirds has been spent either directly or indirectly on promoting and supporting a variety of poetry organisations including the Poetry Society and the Poetry Book Society, poetry publishers including Carcanet Press and Anvil Press Poetry and poetry magazines including PN Review.

The Arts Council recently announced the biggest ever increase in literature funding from 2002-03. This increase includes a 57 per cent. increase for the Poetry Book Society and a 42 per cent. increase for the Poetry Society.

Poetry has also benefited from support to cross-artform initiatives such as the New Audiences programme and the National Lottery which awarded the Poetry Society £450,000 for an initiative which employed poets throughout England to encourage the reading and writing of poetry.

Finally, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts is making awards directly to individual poets to support their creative development. To date, it has awarded Carol Ann Duffy, Lavinia Greenlaw, Gwyneth Lewis and Tom Paulin nearly £300,000 to enable them to create new work and develop their talent.

Trafalgar Square

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to preserve the Standard Units of Measurement embedded in the north wall of Trafalgar Square when the new steps are built; and if he will make a statement. [156018]

Mr. Hill: I have been asked to reply.

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Trafalgar Square is now a matter for the Mayor of London. He took control of the Square on 1 October last year. I understand from TfL who are to manage the works associated with the "World Squares for All" project that the Standard Units of Measurement will be preserved. The wall plaques will be re-sited in the wall to the east of the new staircase and the foot marker plates can be inset into the bottom step of the new staircase.


Baton Rounds

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the development of a new baton round. [156852]

Mr. Straw: The then Under Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar), announced on 10 June 1997, Official Report, column 372W, that the Government had put in hand a programme to develop improved baton round equipment with reduced injury potential. A new baton round, designated the L21A1, is now available and has been issued to police forces in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and to the Army. The existing baton round will be withdrawn once all personnel have been trained in the use of the new round. It is planned to begin to deploy the new round on an operational basis from 1 June. Revised guidelines for the use of baton rounds in situations of public disorder which apply in the same terms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were issued to the police on 1 August 1999.

Used, as it will be, with a new optical sight, the new baton round is more consistently accurate than the old, and the probability of it causing serious or life-threatening injury has been reduced. This has been verified by an independent medical assessment, a copy of which has been placed in the Library today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. Although there will be smaller risk of serious injury or death when the new baton round is used, that risk has not been eliminated, and the new round, like the old, will be used in situations of public disorder only in accordance with the existing strict guidelines. Details of use in Northern Ireland will, as now, be reported on every occasion and be copied to the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and to the new Policing Board when it is established.

In addition to its possible use in situations of public disorder, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) considers that the improved accuracy of the new baton round makes it suitable for use in dealing with people who are posing an immediate threat to life in circumstances in which use of a firearm would otherwise be necessary.

The Government share the view of the ACPO and of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland that efforts should continue to find an acceptable, effective and less potentially lethal alternative to the plastic baton round. A research programme to that end has been embarked upon, and a document reporting the outcome of its first phase and setting out the next steps in the work programme has also been placed in the Library today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

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