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Athletics (North-East)

4. Mr. Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow): If she will make a statement on Government-funded provision for athletics in the north-east. [129554]

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): Since 1998, a total of just under £2.8 million has been awarded to athletics in the north-east by Sport England from Exchequer or lottery programmes, comprising four community capital programme awards totalling just over £2.5 million, one award of £50,000 through the community athletics refurbishment programme—part of the legacy money given to UK Athletics—and 33 Awards for All grants totalling £113,000.

Mr. Hepburn : I know that the Minister is looking forward to doing the great north run next week. When he does so, he will pass Gateshead stadium, which he will see is in dire need of investment. Is he aware that the stadium has been turned down for an £11 million lottery bid, while at the same time the Duke of Northumberland, one of the richest men in the north-east, received an £11 million grant from the lottery for some old painting that he did not want any more? When the Minister is up there, will he intervene in this matter and get some public resources in so that we can get this worthwhile scheme going?

Mr. Caborn: I can assure my hon. Friend that when I am doing the great north run on Sunday, I shall be keeping my eyes in front and looking for the 13-mile marker. Seriously, though, my hon. Friend raises an important question. Sport England's review has been looking at the facilities for elite development, and it took the decision in July to review that. I was up there a few weeks ago, and it was pleasing to see how all the parties involved have come together. A meeting was called by Sport England, which has given a commitment that there will be some elite facilities there, and the development agency, the Government office and the universities are all now involved, together with the local authorities. I hope, therefore, that in the next few weeks or months, there will be a resolution to the problem to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire): Notwithstanding what the Minister has just said about

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funding for athletics, I assure him that athletics clubs in the north-east, in common with sports clubs throughout the country, will react with shock-horror at his decision, as outlined to me in his letter of 20 August, that clubs will have to pay the full fee for alcohol licences in future. In Committee on the Licensing Bill, his predecessor, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), said in response to the three amendments that I had tabled to reduce licensing fees payable by voluntary sports clubs in the north-east:

Mr. Speaker: Order. The question is out of order, so I cannot allow the Minister to answer.

Lottery Funding

5. Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire): If she will make an assessment of the criteria used by the lottery funding bodies to distribute their resources to applicants. [129555]

The Minister for the Arts (Estelle Morris): The criteria vary from distributor to distributor, but they are based on national lottery financial and policy directions issued to distributors by the Department, and on distributors' own strategic plans and funding policies.

Mr. Luff : Does the Minister share my concern that the current use of highly selective types of disadvantage and deprivation by many lottery funding bodies to target their funding is causing frustration, disillusion and even anger among many other groups facing similar levels of deprivation, but who feel excluded from access to lottery funds?

Estelle Morris: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this matter with me. He has sent a letter to the Department, which we will reply to shortly. I took the trouble to look into the background of that letter, because I thought that it may have been the reason for his question. On the face of it, the matter that came before his constituent has been clumsily dealt with by Awards for All in the west midlands. I agree with the hon. Gentleman about that. I have no control over what Awards for All writes in letters, but had I been the hon. Gentleman's constituent and read about the priority for funding as explained to him, I may have had the same response as he had. I hope that that message gets back.

The letter to the hon. Gentleman's constituent was clumsily written, but the policy is not clumsy or ill-thought-out. It is important that all lottery distributors examine how money is being distributed and ensure that under-represented groups are assisted to make better quality applications or to get their fair share. The letter was a reflection of that. The groups that were highlighted in the letter have been significantly under-represented in applications and awards from the Awards for All lottery fund. The issue could have been described in a much better way that would not have antagonised people.

Groups other than those highlighted receive funds from Awards for All. May I compare the hon. Gentleman's constituency with mine as an example? His

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constituency has had £500,000 in 147 awards, whereas my constituency has had £31,000 in eight awards. On that basis, perhaps it is me rather than him who should be complaining about the criteria and the priorities.

Tony Lloyd (Manchester, Central): Will my right hon. Friend pause to consider the winner of last night's "Restoration" programme? Victoria baths, which lies between my constituency and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), was refused lottery funding on a number of occasions. That does not necessarily reflect on the lottery per se, but it shows that the people sometimes have very different priorities from those of the lottery. Will she join me in congratulating Gill Wright and all the many people who made the bid for Victoria baths so successful?

Estelle Morris: Of course I will join my hon. Friend. With my connections, affection for the city and knowledge of the area, I am delighted that the people expressed that view. In the consultation paper on the national lottery, we are looking for ways in which the general public can make clear their priorities. Perhaps there is a message from last night, which may reach the ears of those who make the decisions. If so, I would be thrilled.

Mr. Adrian Sanders (Torbay): We could argue until we are blue in the face about the distribution of lottery funds. Is not the issue the reduction in sales of lottery tickets, as a result of which less money is available to distribute? When the lottery began it was supposed to be a competition with one big jackpot. Since then it has fragmented. What proposals does the Minister have to increase lottery sales that do not involve further fragmentation?

Estelle Morris: Ours is still the most successful lottery in the world. Since it was launched in the mid-1990s, £14.77 billion has been raised. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the pattern of sales and receipts for lotteries elsewhere in Europe and beyond, he will find that sales fall off and plateau after a number of years, and new games are needed. I have no plans to launch new games because that is not my responsibility, but the hon. Gentleman will know from an announcement made last week that Camelot has launched its first new game for some years, and it plans to diversify the games over the next few years to increase funds. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that more sales mean more money for good causes.

Olympic Bid

6. Mr. Colin Challen (Morley and Rothwell): What benefits for UK regions she estimates will accrue from the London Olympic bid. [129556]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic games in London in 2012 should provide benefits throughout the UK as a whole. Some events, such as sailing and shooting, require specific venues and are therefore likely to be staged outside London. The Olympic football competition is also likely to be held in

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stadiums around the country. In addition, there will be opportunities to secure investment in improved sporting facilities around the country by some of the visiting teams as they arrive for training and preparation in the year leading up to the games. We intend to do all we can to ensure that as much of the country as possible benefits from the opportunities that the games will create.

Mr. Challen : I thank my right hon. Friend for that helpful reply. I am sure that the whole country will take great pride in a successful London bid for 2012, but that pride might just turn to resentment if people in the regions feel that more money is being sucked into London's infrastructure when London already receives more per capita funds by a mile than any other region. I am particularly anxious that lottery money used for the bid should be seen to be distributed equitably. As my right hon. Friend knows, a number of Members on both sides of the House have campaigned for a fairer share of lottery money, and I hope that she will give special attention to that aspect.

Tessa Jowell: I shall certainly do that. I pay tribute to the efforts, led by my hon. Friend, to focus on the problem that lottery money is not always distributed equitably.

As for the balance between London and the rest of the country, it should be remembered that a substantial part of the estimated cost of hosting the games will be met from London as well as the lottery and income from the International Olympic Committee. While preparing the detailed case for bidding, however, the Government consulted all the regional development agencies to test the very issue raised by my hon. Friend. The response was unanimous across the country: RDAs recognised that hosting the games in London had the potential to benefit every region if it was done properly. We need to ensure that those benefits are realised in practice wherever people may be.

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire): I can confirm that the official Opposition support the bid and expect the UK regions to benefit if it succeeds. But should not the House be more than a little concerned about the fact that the Government have still not appointed a chief executive officer, while Paris has more than 100 people working full-time on its bid? It appears that our preparations are behind even those of Havana. If the Government are serious about the bid, should not senior Ministers be treating the matter with far more urgency?

Tessa Jowell: I welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his Front-Bench responsibilities. I also welcome the cross-party support for the bid. However, it is not the Government's job to appoint the chief executive of the bidding company; that is the job of the bidding chair, and she has that process in hand. She is determined to recruit the best possible person—[Interruption.] That is a judgment that she will make, with great respect. On Friday she announced the names of board members, and I think all who have seen them will recognise the strength of the sporting interests involved and the commitment to representing and promoting regional interests, as well as drawing on the experience of the very successful Commonwealth games in Manchester last year.

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Therefore, progress is being made, greatly helped by the very detailed preparation that was undertaken in advance of the Government's decision to bid. In addition to the announcement of the board, the bidding chair has announced the name of her chief operating officer, so the organisation is being put together. The work is proceeding and the important thing now is that hon. Members on both sides of the House do not simply talk about support, but deliver it in practice at every turn.

Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): Can my right hon. Friend shed some light on why neither of the two candidates for the post of chief executive took the job? Can she explain why that was the case?

Tessa Jowell: No, these are decisions for the chair of the bidding company and I do not think that it is right that I should speculate on the reasons why Barbara Cassani is continuing to interview candidates for chief executive.

Bob Spink (Castle Point): Does the Minister accept that the eastern region and Essex in particular have a major part to play in the London Olympic bid? Will she ensure that the Government bring forward resources and co-operate with Essex to ensure that Essex can benefit from the bid and that the bid is successful?

Tessa Jowell: I understand why the hon. Gentleman, as a diligent constituency MP, wishes to highlight the interests of his constituents but I do not have anything to add to the answer that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Rothwell (Mr. Challen), which is to state in broad terms the Government's commitment to ensuring that the whole country benefits as much as possible from the investment in the Olympics.

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