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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 17 March 2005


Finance Bill

The Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo): It is expected that the Finance Bill will be published on Thursday 24 March. Explanatory notes on the Bill's clauses will be available in the Vote Office (and the Printed Paper Office, House of Lords) and the Libraries of both Houses on that day. The explanatory notes will be available from the Stationery Office bookshops and on the Treasury's website at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.


DCMS Five-year plan

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): I am publishing today the Department's five-year plan, "Living Life to the Full". Copies will be deposited in the House Libraries and the plan will be available on the DCMS website.

The plan sets our course for the next five years and builds on the significant progress that we have made in recent years. It sets out our achievements, our goals and the practical steps we will take to achieve them in the years ahead.

The fabric of this country and the quality of life we all experience are improving rapidly. The average proportion of household income spent on leisure nearly doubled between 1977 and 2002. We all expect more choice and higher quality. At the same time, opportunities are expanding to enjoy the arts, visit museums and galleries, to play sport, to travel, access the world's best media and prosper in the creative industries.

We have come a long way. In 2001 we introduced free admission to national museums and galleries—resulting in a record number of visits—34 million last year. Creative partnerships—bringing the experience and stimulation of culture to young people in deprived areas—will see 450,000 young people involved by this time next year. We recently published the BBC Green Paper setting out the framework for a strong BBC independent of Government. We are investing £1 billion in sports facilities to benefit every community. Working in partnership with the Department for Education and Skills we have ensured that more than half of all children in school do a weekly minimum of two hours' PE and school sport, up from a quarter in 2002. We are putting our wholehearted support behind London's bid to bring the Olympics to this country in 2012.

But there are still too many people who do not know about the opportunities available to them or who are not able to afford the cost of their talent. There are
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parents who cannot afford to support their children in making the most of their creativity and skills; adults who do not know how to get involved in local cultural and sporting opportunities; young people who miss out on formative experiences.

In the plan we make 10 commitments covering the key areas where the Department, working together with our partners in our sponsored bodies, in local government, in the voluntary and private sectors, can make a real difference.

We will work to build a comprehensive offer to young people on culture—known as creative sparks. We will review how national lottery money has been spent so far on arts, sport, heritage and film projects, and then consult about how proceeds should be spent in these areas after 2009. We will continue to improve our support for elite athletes, rewarding success with the talented athlete and 2012 scholarships. We will persuade nearly half a million adults per year to become physically active. We will complete our programme to replace outdated licensing and gambling laws, balancing personal freedom and prosperity with strengthening protection for the vulnerable. We will provide a virtual high-street for tourism and leisure offering an information and booking service to online users.

The title of the plan is "Living Life to the Full". Quite simply that is what our sectors can offer—the ability for everyone to live their lives and develop their talents to the fullest extent. So the aim of our five-year plan is straightforward, yet ambitious—making the quality of life in this country world-class and giving everyone the chance to taste it.


Revised Spatial Strategy (East Midlands) and Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-regional Strategy

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill): My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is today publishing the revised regional spatial strategy for the east midlands (RSS8) and the Milton Keynes and south midlands sub-regional strategy (MKSM SRS). This follows public examinations on the draft revised RPG8 and the MKSM SRS and subsequent public consultations on proposed changes to both documents.

Copies of the revised RSS and MKSM SRS, together with the related statements of changes and summary of representations, are available in both Libraries of the House. These have also been provided for all the region's MPs, MEPs and local authorities. Documents are also available via the ODPM and regional government office web-sites: www.odpm.gov.uk; www.gose.gov.uk; www.go-em.gov.uk; www.go-east.gov.uk

Regional spatial strategy for the east midlands (RSS8)

RPG8 was issued by the Secretary of State in January 2002 to provide a broad development strategy for the east midlands up to 2021. This also represented the "spatial" element of the east midlands integrated regional strategy (IRS) and provided the framework for meeting the region's development needs in a way that promotes a more sustainable pattern of development.
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The revised RSS, issued today, is more concise, more regionally specific, more focused on delivery and has cross-references to national policy rather than repetition. However the RSS also incorporates relevant parts of the MKSM SRS, including increased housing figures for Northamptonshire. Elsewhere in the region housing provision figures were not reviewed but these will be re-examined in the next RSS review, which will be conducted under the spatial planning principles required by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act.

Other new elements in the revised RSS include:

Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy

This relates to one of the four growth areas set out in the Government's sustainable communities plan published in February 2003, and covers Northamptonshire and parts of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Its largest urban centres are Milton Keynes, Northampton, Luton-Dunstable-Houghton Regis and Bedford-Kempston.

One of the key objectives of the plan is to increase housing supply and particularly to facilitate the building of more affordable houses in the area. The final sub-regional strategy, being published today, sets out the scale and form of development up to 2021 and will provide strategic direction for local authorities, local delivery vehicles and other delivery bodies.

The strategy incorporates amendments following public consultation on the Secretary of State's proposed changes to the draft strategy prepared by the regional assemblies for the east of England, the east midlands and the south-east. The strategy has also taken account of the recommendations of the independent panel following the five week public examination held in March and April 2004.

Key issues that emerged from the public consultation include:

The Secretary of State has carefully considered these issues along with all representations submitted, and has made a number of amendments to the final document in response.
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The sub-regional strategy constitutes revisions to the regional spatial strategies for the south-east, east of England and east midlands and will therefore form part of the statutory policy basis for the preparation of local development documents by local planning authorities within the sub-region. It is at this stage that detailed site specific proposals will be brought forward and this process will provide further opportunities for public consultation and stakeholder involvement.

Increasing the supply of homes and affordable housing in the wider south-east is essential to promote sustainable communities, and it is critical that the scale of growth is itself sustainable. This means that new communities must have the infrastructure that they need such as schools, transport and health facilities. The sub-regional strategy will help ensure that brownfield land is used first, improve the environmental efficiency of homes, and create new green spaces and places that will stand the test of time.

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