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House of Commons

Monday 22 July 2002

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]



Oral Answers to Questions


The Secretary of State was asked—

Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Bill

1. Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden): If she will make a statement on her policy towards the licensing of televising of sport in public houses under the terms of the proposed Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Bill. [68956]

The Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting (Dr. Kim Howells): As is the case with existing legislation, the proposed Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Bill will not include the licensing of the televising of sport in public houses in its definition of public entertainment. A publican, of course, already requires and will continue to require a normal domestic television licence.

Siobhain McDonagh: I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. However, given the licensing disparity between televised football and live music in pubs—the former is subject to no regulation but the latter is subject to a complicated regulation mechanism—will he encourage members of the Cabinet to look at introducing legislation in the Queen's Speech that will reform the public entertainment licence system and encourage live music and particularly young musicians in small venues?

Dr. Howells: We will certainly look at getting rid of the absurd two in a bar rule. I have looked long and hard at the evidence, but we have never received any to suggest that watching television in a pub causes the kinds of scenes that have sometimes occurred in pubs with live music. Nor, indeed, have we had any reports of disturbances caused by watching television in a pub—we have certainly received some reports of incidents

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following the playing of live music in pubs. Generally speaking, however, pubs are excellent venues for live music. We want to make sure that that continues to be the case and that there are more venues for live music, not fewer.

Mr. Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North): Following that very welcome answer, does my hon. Friend agree that the distinction between two musicians and seven musicians is irrelevant, and that the real issue is the amount of noise? A string quartet or an unamplified jazz group should be perfectly acceptable in a pub, should people choose to listen to them. Does he also agree that more venues for live music would give work to tens of thousands of amateur musicians and increase our country's cultural richness?

Dr. Howells: I am very much in favour of live music in pubs, but I am not in favour of any Minister in Parliament trying to define what constitutes jazz, folk music or any other kind of music. I have been the victim of one man with an amplifier that nearly blew my head off.

Mr. Speaker: Question 2. Mr. Mole is not here.


3. Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East): If she will make a statement on the changes in the number of lottery tickets purchased over the last two years. [68959]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): Total national lottery sales in the financial year 2001 to 2002 were £4,000—[Interruption.] I am terribly sorry, £4,983 billion—I am terribly sorry; wrong glasses—£4,983 million. In the last financial year, they were £4,834 million—a fall of 3 per cent.

Sir Teddy Taylor: As the national lottery is obviously a little less popular than it once was, would the Secretary of State remind the public that it performs a great service in providing about £2,500 to worthwhile causes every single minute of the day? In particular, would she bear in mind the fact that in the Republic of Ireland, where spread betting on lotteries was introduced, the income of the lottery has been reduced by more than 20 per cent? Could she therefore give a clear assurance that after the gambling review, the Government will not introduce spread betting in Britain, observing that that practice is purely gambling in bookmakers and does not give any help to worthwhile causes?

Tessa Jowell: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue, which I know he has pursued very energetically. He will know that Sir Alan Budd's review of gambling law recommended opening up the possibility of side betting on the lottery. We considered carefully the potential impact on lottery sales if that reform were allowed. In view of the risk to lottery sales, we did not accept that recommendation, so we will not introduce legislation to allow side betting on the lottery.

Alan Howarth (Newport, East): Does my right hon. Friend agree that lottery proceeds need to be considered together with grant in aid, money derived from local authorities, money from European sources, charitable

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donations and box office receipts if we are to form an overall view of cultural funding? In congratulating her on the settlement that she secured in the spending review, may I put it to her that it is extremely important, as she considers the array of causes that deserve her Department's support, that she should be able to do substantially more for heritage and national museums and galleries?

Tessa Jowell: My right hon. Friend is right to say that from the public's point of view, the source of funding is largely undifferentiated. The public are keen to ensure only that public money is well spent. My right hon. Friend is well aware that we have always sought to draw a distinction—not always an easy distinction—in relation to lottery funding, regarding it as additional to Exchequer funding, and not as a replacement or substitute for Exchequer funding. He draws attention to the spending review announcements made last week. I know that as a former Minister for the Arts, he will welcome, as the arts community has welcomed, the settlement that we announced for the arts.

My right hon. Friend will be aware of our determination to ensure that national museums and galleries have the necessary funding to maintain the popular public policy of free entry, which has seen the number of people going to our national museums and galleries increase, in some cases, by up to 75 per cent. He will also be aware of our clear aim to increase the level of investment in regional museums and galleries—a long neglected quarter. We will make as much progress in that as we can. My right hon. Friend is right to welcome the settlement. It is important to maintain a clear distinction between lottery money, which is by and large a one-off, and Exchequer funding, which ensures sustainability in the public interest.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney): Does the Secretary of State share my concern about recent media reports that village shops that do not sell many lottery tickets may have their terminals withdrawn? Is she aware that in rural areas such as mine, where often the shop serves a few hundred houses, sales may not be that great, but the lottery terminal has an important role in making sure that there is footfall into those shops and that there is custom? Will the Secretary of State have words with the lottery operator to make sure that it sticks to its licence obligations and maintains a thorough network of terminals?

Tessa Jowell: As to the conduct of the lottery operator in accordance with its licence, the relationship is between the National Lottery Commission and Camelot. Yes, I am aware of the proposals by Camelot to withdraw terminals from a number of shops on the ground that they do not yield the maximum ticket sales. It is important to remember that, as with most of Camelot's decisions, that is a commercial decision. It is also important to remember that, as hon. Members on both sides of the House will understand, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of shops that are queueing to be awarded the licence to run a terminal. It is good for trade, as the hon. Gentleman makes clear. The important point is that we have secured protection for precisely the kind of communities to which he refers, and Camelot has agreed that in about 1,000 areas, considerations other than mere profitability will be brought to bear. Hon. Members who may be concerned

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should remember that even in isolated communities where there may be a threat of withdrawing the operating licence from one retailer, it is highly likely that there are other retailers in the same area who will be awarded a substitute licence because of the volume of demand to engage in such a highly profitable activity.

Motor Sport

4. Tony Cunningham (Workington): If he will visit MSport to discuss the promotion of motor sport. [68960]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): I will be going to the north-east to visit Cumbria and my hon. Friend's constituency before the end of the year to see the very exciting MSport scheme, which I understand employs between 150 and 200 highly skilled people and plays a major role in the economy.

Tony Cunningham: I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. I am sure that Malcolm Wilson, the head of MSport, and the highly skilled work force at the facility will be absolutely delighted that he is coming to visit. The facility is superb; it is the headquarters of the Ford rallying team worldwide, and as he says, it has a highly skilled work force. Does he agree that motor sport plays a vital part in the economy not only nationally, but locally? Will he join me in congratulating the MSport team, which recently won the Kenyan safari rally with cars that were, of course, built entirely in my constituency?

Mr. Caborn: Before the sketch writers start writing, let me say that I should have referred to the north-west and not the north-east. I always get mixed up about Cumbria; in my days in regional policy, it used to be in the north-east, until we changed that in 1997, so I correct the sketch writers before they mention that tomorrow.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the success that our teams are having in both Formula 1 and rallying. The UK has seven of the top 11 teams in Formula 1 and four of the seven top rally teams, which shows that our engineers, mechanics and designers—and indeed our drivers—are probably the best in the world. I congratulate him on the support that he gives to the Ford company. Since its takeover in 1998, it has done a tremendous job for the economy and in the success that its teams have had around the world, including in rallying.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield): May I join my right hon. Friend in congratulating MSport and the Ford rally team on their success, which, as he says, is another example of Britain's pre-eminence in motor sport generally? Does he agree, however, that although we currently lead the world in this field, there are signs of challenge from abroad? Will he explain to the House some of the practical steps that can be taken to ensure that British engineering, the British motor sport industry and British motor sport generally remain world class and ahead of the field?

Mr. Caborn: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Over the past two or three years, we have seen the industry and the sport come together, especially in Formula 1, which I am very pleased to support. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry takes

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the same view—so much so that we will have a conference on 5 August with the industry and the sport to take forward the propositions that she has put to them.

On the rallying side, a lot can be gained by bringing sport and the industry together. My hon. Friend is right that a lot of people out there would like to get their hands on the centre of excellence here in the UK, which plays a tremendous role in the automobile industry not only in motor sport, but in the luxury and volume car markets. As we have said before, what happens today in Formula 1 happens in the luxury car market tomorrow and in the volume car market the day after. We must be ever mindful of that and I know that he is playing a major role as far as Formula 1 is concerned in making that happen.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York): As the former Conservative candidate for Workington, I should like to add my personal congratulations to MSport. Obviously, as we stand today, we have the world's pre-eminent motor sport industry. Does the Minister regret that the lead Department for the future of the sport now appears to be the DTI and that his own Department is playing second fiddle?

Mr. Caborn: Ford was much more successful than the hon. Lady in using Workington as a launch pad to success. The matter is not about having a lead Department, but about partnership—something that is obviously very difficult for Opposition Members to understand. Departments can work together, although a lead Department is needed. Anybody who asks questions of the industry and the sport will find that they are saying very clearly that what is happening is very welcome. I do not know anybody in the industry or the sport who is criticising the role that the Government are playing in bringing those partnerships together. As I said, that is something to encourage, and I hope that she will encourage it, rather than knock it and shout from the sidelines. If all of us got behind our industries, such as Formula 1 and the rallying industry, the message of unity and partnership that would be sent out would be far better than denigration.

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