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The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): Security arrangements for the Commonwealth games are being reviewed, following the events of 11 September. They will be kept under constant review between now and the games. Greater Manchester police are in daily contact with the Commonwealth games organisers, the relevant local authorities, other emergency services and all other relevant parties in respect of security planning for next year's games. Greater Manchester police are confident that all planning is on track and will deliver a safe games for athletes, spectators, VIPs and the residents of the Greater Manchester area.
Mr. Hendrick: I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Does he agree that it is important for the games to go ahead, if possible, without terrorist incidentfirst, because of the obvious economic benefits to Greater Manchester and Lancashire, and secondly, to show the world that the UK, and Britain in particular, is capable of hosting a major world sporting event that requires new stadiums?
Mr. Caborn: I have no doubt that that will happen. We will produce a Commonwealth games of which not only Manchester and the north-west, but the UK and the Commonwealth will be proud. I pay tribute to Charles Allen and Francis Done, the chairman and chief executive of Manchester 2002, and their team for the tremendous work that they are doing. Now that they have a robust financial structure, which was put into place on the recommendation of Patrick Carter, we can deal more effectively with issues such as 11 September. As we now have more credibility, more sponsors are coming forward. That shows that the plan undertaken by Patrick Carter and the work done by him are paying dividends in many ways.
Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): Does the Minister accept that since 11 September the cost of policing the Commonwealth games will be higher than it would have been before, and is likely to be more than £8 million out of the budget of Greater Manchester police? Will he undertake to make representations to the Home Office and his colleagues there to ensure that the people of Greater Manchester do not bear the burden of the cost of that policing? Will he ensure that the Home Office takes on the whole of that cost, to ensure that my constituents and others across Greater Manchester do not suffer from a diminution of police resources?
Mr. Caborn: No request has been received by the Department. The hon. Gentleman would not expect meto go into detail about security planning for the Commonwealth games, but from the contingency fund of £25 million that we put into the finances, we have been able to cater adequately for what the police believe would be the worst-case scenario. As regards the knock-on effect
Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale, East): I thank my right hon. Friend for his reassurance. In Manchester five years ago, we learned something of the devastation that terrorism brings when an IRA bomb exploded at the heart of our city. Although it is important to take every precaution, will my right hon. Friend join me in emphasising that next summer in Manchester there will be a warm welcome for thousands of competitors and spectators from across the world, and an opportunity for them to enjoy the competition and the friendship that these important Commonwealth games will bring?
Mr. Caborn: I hope that that sentiment will be echoed on both sides of the House and in the national press, because it is certainly recognised in the north-west. There has been a tremendous take-up of tickets that are available now, and a lottery for that area will start in the next few days. Some 12,000 people have already volunteered, and people are volunteering at the rate of 200 a week. There is a real appetite for the games' success and I have no doubt that Manchester and the north-west will ensure that, contrary to what the hon. Member for South Suffolk(Mr. Yeo), the shadow spokesman, said[Interruption.] I am having difficulty in getting his attention. He has just been critical of facilities in the UK and has run down the UK. Now, he cannot even listen and support Manchester in hosting one of the best international events to take place in 2002. His performance at the Dispatch Box is quite disgraceful.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): I welcome the publication of the report of the regional museums taskforce, which contains a convincing analysis of the problems and opportunities of museums and galleries in the regions. I have asked Lord Evans of Temple Guiting for advice, by the end of the year, on ways in which Resource should begin to implement the report's recommendations on the basis of funds already allocated to it for supporting regional activities.
Shona McIsaac: I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Has it been brought to her attention that the award-winning national fishing heritage centre in Grimsby closed its doors last week for six months because of funding difficulties? I heard the glimmers of hope that she gave in her reply, but that excellent regional museum needs help sooner rather than later.
Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for her question. It is important to recognise that 2,000 museums and galleries throughout the country are funded in large part by local authorities and in much smaller part by my Department. Lord Evans's report proposes a new relationship between regional centres of excellence and smaller, satellite museums in order to improve their
Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): Will the Secretary of State consider museums that although are not in the national top 12, for which her Department has done a much appreciated deal allowing them some support in return for free admission, are none the less national museums in the first or second division rather than the premiership? In the borough for which she and I share responsibility there is the Design museum, which is unique in the United Kingdom. Is she willing to accept representations on ways in which that tier of national museum could be assisted if it, too, were willing to take the same approach to admission fees?
Tessa Jowell: I recognise the contribution that the Design museum makes to the life not just of Southwark but of London as a whole. However, I would not want to mislead the House by pretending that we are in a position to provide the necessary support to all museums and galleries to enable free entry, as is the case with those that my Department supports directly. At the beginning of next month, we shall see the completion of the programme that was introduced by my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury(Mr. Smith). I hope that Members on both sides of the House will continue to make representations about the case for improving access to less recognised museums, which are often the focus of local communities and represent their own kind of excellence.
Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton): The Commonwealth games will be an important event for my constituency in Greater Manchester. Will the Minister encourage Commonwealth countries to maximise their participation by reassuring them of the safety aspects of the games?
The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): We have received more than 1,500 representations about the recommendation that jackpot gaming machines should not be allowed in such clubs. We have not yet reached conclusions on this or the other recommendations in the report. However, we shall consider very sympathetically the strong points made to us that recommendation 70 would have a damaging impact on many clubs and the communities they serve.
John Barrett: Does the Minister agree that the way to tackle the concerns about children having access to gaming machines is not in the way proposed, because a number of clubs have membership that is exclusively for the over-18s or can make other provisions?
Mr. Caborn: We have to be very careful about such judgments. As I said, I have received more than 1,500 representations from Conservative, Liberal and Labour clubs, as well as from the CIU, Miners Welfare and the Royal British Legion. Many of them cater for families, which we must acknowledge and welcome, however, we must ensure that we take the Budd report's concerns on board and also ensure that children do not have access to jackpot machines. If the Government are clear about that central question, the report's major concern will be answered. Although we have not made a decision, we are mindful that almost £250 million goes into the clubs' financial infrastructure, and to withdraw that would have serious repercussions across many communities the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.