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17 Mar 2005 : Column 368W—continued


Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether her Department will be represented at the Factual TV Commissioning Conference being held as part of the BBC Charter Review in London on 18 March; and if she will make a statement. [221319]

Estelle Morris: DCMS will not be represented at the Factual TV Commissioning Conference being organised by Broadcast, which has no direct links to Charter review. However I am grateful for all the input we have received from members of the broadcasting industry to BBC Charter review.

Departmental Accounts

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether Ministers in her Department have issued written instructions to override her Department's accounting officer's objections since 1997. [221106]

Mr. Caborn: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 14 March 2005, Official Report, column 80W by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

Departmental Estate

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the estimated (a) market value and (b) annual rental value is of each property owned by her Department; who the occupier is of each property; and if she will make a statement. [221010]

Mr. Caborn: DCMS does not own any property that is able to earn rental income.

Departmental Policies (Tamworth)

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will set out, with statistical evidence relating as closely as possible to Tamworth constituency, the effects on the constituency of changes to her Department's policies since 1997. [221929]

Mr. Caborn: The Department's aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries. The Department's policies and actions have had a significant impact on Tamworth since 2 May 1997.

In 2002 we launched the first ever comprehensive national physical education, school sport and club links strategy with an investment of £459 million. To achieve our challenging targets for increased participation in
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sport and physical activity, we have invested in thousands of new and refurbished public sports facilities. Sports facilities in Tamworth have benefited from two Sport England Lottery grants totalling £582,152.

We have increased our national funding to the arts in real terms by 60 per cent. from £199 million in 1998–99 to £367 million in 2004–05. Between 1998–99 and 2003–04 Arts Council England, west midlands grants increased from £5.6 million to £32.5 million. In 2005–06 the total Arts Council England investment in regularly funded organisations will be £35.4 million. Tamworth has benefited from grants to arts projects, organisations and individuals, including Black Country Touring and Arts Alive.

Schools in Tamworth also benefit from the Staffordshire Youth Music Action Zone, known as Make Some Noise. Since its establishment in 2001 Make Some Noise has received three grants totalling £804,800 enabling it to reach 6,000 young people through local music projects and events.

Culture Online was launched in 2002 to increase access to, and participation in, arts and culture. Many of its projects are aimed at children of school age and at audiences that might not otherwise participate in arts and culture, including those who do not easily have access to arts and culture, people from deprived communities and people with particular educational or physical needs. People in Tamworth will be among those who benefit from Culture Online. Between 2002 and 2004, £13 million was allocated to fund 20 Culture Online projects.

Renaissance in the regions has funded the appointment of a museums development officer to support museums in the west midlands regional hub. It has provided £90,000 in 2004–05 for additional museums development support through the museums development fund and the hub's regional development fund to the Marches Curators group, of which Staffordshire is a part. This will be increased to £155,000 in 2005–06. Training courses in leadership and conservation have been organised through the hub and a member of Tamworth council's staff has been seconded to Birmingham city council as part of a skills sharing initiative.

Through our commitment to public service broadcasting we 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 Channel 4, while giving them the freedom to develop commercial operations which complement and support their public service remit The Communications Act 2003 includes provisions to ensure that public service broadcasting will continue to have a key role to play in the digital future.

In November 2000 we introduced free television licences for people aged 75 or over. Information on the number of beneficiaries by constituency is not available. However, according to Department for Work and
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Pensions records, the number of households in Tamworth with at least one person aged 75 or over claiming the winter fuel payment in 2003–04 was 3,865.

We have changed the licensing laws to allow people to hold and attend commercial dances on Sunday, to make it easier for restaurants to open an hour later, and to relax the alcohol licensing hours from 11 pm on new year's eve to 11 am on new year's day in all future years; and we have given the police greater powers to take action against under-age drinking and disorderly and noisy licensed premises. The Licensing Act 2003, when fully implemented, will introduce a streamlined, consistent and fair licensing regime for the provision of alcohol, public entertainment and late night refreshment. It will provide greater choice for consumers, bring regeneration and increased employment opportunities and protect local residents whose lives have been blighted by disturbance and anti-social behaviour.

The Gambling Bill will, when implemented, transfer responsibility for licensing gambling premises to local authorities. Local people and businesses will be able to make representations about applications for licenses and local authorities will be able to decide not to issue licenses for casino premises. These changes will give local communities, including those in Tamworth, a greater say in the regulation of gambling in their area.

Tourism in Tamworth has benefited from Government-funded marketing activity. In April 2003 we established VisitBritain with a new domestic marketing remit for England, and we gave strategic responsibility for tourism development to the regional development agencies, including Advantage West Midlands. These changes, together with VisitBritain's successful marketing activities in promoting Britain abroad as an attractive tourist destination, benefit all parts of the country, including Tamworth .

In common with all those in the United Kingdom, the public library branches in Tamworth are connected to the internet through the People's Network which was funded through a £120 million Lottery grant and which has put all the United Kingdom's public libraries on-line. In addition, the Department is funding the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council with £5 million over three years to implement the Framework for the future action plan and library improvement programme, which is designed to encourage improvement across the public libraries sector in England.

The Department has been an energetic advocate of the community value of public libraries. In 1998–1999 the DCMS/Wolfson public libraries challenge fund allocated funding to the community learning network partnership in Staffordshire. This award of £49,000 was granted in order to assist the provision of Open for learning" centres in libraries across Staffordshire to support self-study and distance learning. Tamworth Library was one such Centre and received a proportion of the funding.

Information from the National Lottery distributors indicates that since 2 May 1997 Tamworth has benefited from 175 awards totalling just over £4.8 million. Of these, 23 awards worth over £800.000 were made by the
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new opportunities fund which was established by the Government in 1999. The new opportunities fund merged with the community fund in June 2004 to form the Big Lottery Fund.

Gambling Bill (Hospice Lotteries)

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to ensure that the provisions contained in the Gambling Bill do not adversely affect weekly lotteries operated by the hospice movement. [221716]

Mr. Caborn: We have already brought forward amendments to the Bill, following representations by a number of hospice charities which now promote ticketless lotteries", to ensure that they will not have to change current practice. The Bill approved by the Commons on 25 January incorporates these amendments.

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