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European City of Culture

13. Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West): What progress she has made towards appointing the advisory group on choosing the European City of Culture 2008; and if she will make a statement. [16997]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): We are giving careful consideration to nominations and applications received for membership of the advisory panel, together with names identified from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Cabinet Office public appointments databases. We expect to make an announcement about the membership of the panel early next year.

Kevin Brennan: I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Will she acknowledge the growing recognition of Cardiff in Europe and beyond as a capital city capable of hosting major sporting events such as the rugby world cup, the Network Q UK rally, even the English FA cup final, and political events such as the European intergovernmental conference and the next Labour party spring conference? Will she acknowledge that Cardiff is capable of holding those major events and now could be the right time to give it a chance to host a major cultural event and be the European City of Culture?

Tessa Jowell: I certainly recognise my hon. Friend's passionate advocacy of Cardiff.


14. Mr. David Kidney (Stafford): What contribution her Department makes to promoting a reduction in levels of obesity. [16998]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): My Department accepts that physical activity has an important role to play in combating the prevalence of obesity. We are committed to increasing the number and quantity of opportunities for participation in sport and physical

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activity by all sectors of the community and to working closely with other Departments to help achieve those objectives.

Mr. Kidney: I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he accept that, perhaps with the exception of hon. Members, the country is getting fatter and that that is unhealthy? On a serious note, does he accept the Department's responsibility for promoting the health benefits of physical activity, and does he agree that that should include providing an attractive range of activities for young people and older people at convenient places and prices?

Mr. Caborn: I do. As someone who ran a local 10 km run yesterday—I did not quite beat the 60-minute target, but I made it in 60 minutes and 10 seconds—I fully agree with my hon. Friend's comments. My Department has established a monthly ministerial meeting of Ministers from the Department of Health, the Department for Education and Skills and the Home Office to consider sports issues and how to deliver other Departments' agendas. I believe that we can make an impact on the issue, and my hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that sport has a very important role to play in addressing it. The education White Paper's commitment to two hours per week of PE and sport for every child in primary school and right through secondary school is another major step in that direction.

Bob Russell (Colchester): Will the Minister confirm, however, that 75 per cent. of our young people do not have two hours of physical eduction per week within the school curriculum, and that the White Paper does not properly address that issue? If those two hours are not brought within the curriculum, obesity levels will increase, not decline.

Mr. Caborn: As the hon. Gentleman will know, and as the Prime Minister has said, the Government are mindful of the need to try to ensure two hours a week of physical education in primary and secondary school. Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, at a meeting with various people in education, the Prime Minister specifically made the point that it is a matter not only of incorporating that time in the curriculum, which could be done in many ways, but of ensuring that we rebuild out-of-school activities and the linkages to clubs. It is a very important objective that I as the Minister for Sport plan to accomplish with my colleagues in education and health.

James Purnell (Stalybridge and Hyde): Does the Minister agree that cricket is a particularly good way of tackling obesity, particularly now that it is a much more physical game than it was? Is he aware that Staley cricket club in my constituency, which provides exceptional out-of-school activities for dozens of young people, is under threat because of local property redevelopment? Will he join me in urging the council, the Cricket Foundation and local businesses to do everything that they can to preserve the future of Staley cricket club, so that it can continue to tackle obesity in my constituency?

Mr. Caborn: I agree entirely with my hon. Friend's comments. I cannot become involved in specific planning applications, but I understand his concern and hope that

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the matter will be viewed in a very positive light. Indeed, in 1997, we changed the planning rules to ensure that the number of closures of public sector sports facilities decreased considerably from the appalling number that we inherited from the previous Administration. If we are to address some of the issues of obesity raised in the White Paper, it is very important that we increase the number of sports facilities. Consequently, £600 million is to be invested in new sports facilities across the country under the new opportunities fund for PE and sport.

Sports Tourism

15. Mr. Brian Jenkins (Tamworth): What assessment she has made of the state of sports tourism in this country; and what proposals she has to increase it. [16999]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): Sports tourism is estimated to be worth around£2.5 billion annually. This year, for the first time, the Office for National Statistics is researching sports tourism to provide a clearer picture of its value. The British Tourist Authority's sports tourism team works hard to promote sports tourism. Sport, and particularly the Commonwealth games, forms a cornerstone of the BTA's 2002 marketing campaign.

Mr. Jenkins: I welcome that answer, but will my right hon. Friend explain why so many people in sport do not believe that the Government have taken it seriously enough to expand the industry? It seems that the Government think of sport as a game of football or cricket and do not recognise its wealth creation and revenue generation impact as an industry for this country. What proposals does he have to ensure that people understand that the Government recognise sport as an industry?

Mr. Caborn: I could not agree more. For the six months for which I have held this job I have consistently said that sport is not just an end in itself but a means to many ends. It is about social inclusion, wealth creation and regeneration, which I will be speaking about tomorrow. It is a tremendous medium through which we can affect many parts of our country's life and, indeed, deliver many of our Departments' programmes. We discussed a health initiative on an earlier question.

The people involved in the BTA advertising campaign include David Beckham, Michael Owen, Judi Dench, Steven Redgrave, Tim Henman, Nasser Hussain and Jamie Oliver. That shows that there is support across the board for such development.


The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Church Estate (London)

33. Mr. Chris Bryant (Rhondda): What recent valuation the Church Commissioners have made of the value of their property portfolio in London. [17017]

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Mr. Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners): The latest published valuations as at 31 December 2000 are in the commissioners last annual report, a copy of which is in the House of Commons Library.

Mr. Bryant: Does No. 1 Millbank still belong to the Church Commissioners? If so, would not it make more sense, considering the fact that many Members of Parliament still do not have a full office, to sell the building to the Parliamentary Estate?

Mr. Bell: It is an excellent building and would certainly command a great deal of money on the open market. Let me help my hon. Friend by saying that part of No. 1 Millbank has already been let to Members of the other place.

Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): Will the hon. Gentleman give a more specific answer on the value of the assets in London? We do not all have the annual report to hand. [Interruption.] I challenge anyone to produce a copy. How does the Church, with all its wealth, justify its decision that means that there will be far fewer affordable homes for tenants to rent and many more market-value properties? How does that square with the relief of poverty and the social obligations of the Church? Can an explanation be placed in the Library for what appears to be a completely unjust and unfair decision?

Mr. Bell: That seemed to be at least four questions in one. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the annual report, he will find a full valuation of our property portfolios—agricultural, residential and commercial—and the percentages for our various values and where we have invested. He will also find a list of the 20 most important values at the back of the report.

The hon. Gentleman referred to Octavia Hill estates. I am sure that he will be interested to learn that the Church Commissioners are forgoing £51 million in income over 15 years by not charging full market rents where they are free to do so.

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