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Young People (Summer Activities)

3. Ms Barbara Keeley (Worsley) (Lab): What plans her Department has to fund programmes of summer activities for young people in 2005. [10625]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): There will indeed be programmes for young people, focusing on sport, creativity and other activities organised during the summer holidays. They will be funded by Departments across Government and also by the lottery. My Department is working closely with the other Departments. There is evidence to show that, among other things, such programmes have an impact on reducing crime among young people. The issue of young people increasing their opportunities through sport was at the heart of the powerful message that we delivered in support of our Olympic bid in Singapore last week. It was a message that was delivered
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with the support of 30 young people from the east end of London of 20 different nationalities, each of them aspiring to be a gold medallist in London in 2012. It is a proud ambition and one that we want to support with everything that we can. I thank right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House for their support for our Olympic bid. The cross-party support on which our bid is founded was important in securing success.

Ms Keeley: In Salford on 31 July, our young people will be inspired both by watching the triathlon world cup event at Salford Quays and by taking part in their own activities, which are organised round the main event. Given what my right hon. Friend has just said, does she agree that the 2012 Olympics in London offer not only a marvellous spectacle of sport and athletics for all, but the chance to inspire our young people to become more involved in athletics and sporting activities?

Tessa Jowell: My hon. Friend is right. From memory, the facility to which she refers at Salford Quays was used during the Commonwealth games and is a good example of the legacy use that enables us to continue to host major championships in future. She is also right about our ambition for young people. That ambition is redoubled with the success of our Olympic bid, which is much more than an infrastructure project building new facilities for the east end of London that will serve for decades to come. It has nothing short of the power to transform the ambitions of young people throughout the country.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): I have a faint and distant interest. Two sports—rugby and cricket—are English sports that were invented here. Yet somehow two piffling nations in the south Pacific seem consistently able to beat us. Is it not time that we concentrated on those two competitive sports and funded the young? That is how the Antipodeans consistently win in both sports. Can funding continue and increase in spite of, and perhaps in a way because of, the Olympics?

Tessa Jowell: The hon. Gentleman is right to commiserate, but I take him back less than two years to our success in the Rugby world cup, which inspired young people throughout the country who had never before played rugby to give it a try. We do not pluck young champions or winning teams from the air. That is done over years and years through sustained investment, bringing on talent and removing the obstacles to it. That is what we are doing through the school sport programme and talent identification, and the Olympics is a further opportunity.

Mrs. Claire Curtis-Thomas (Crosby) (Lab): Outside my home in Crosby, there are 100 nude men on the beach, attracting an enormous amount of interest from young and old alike. They are, of course, the magnificent Gormley exhibition, which may attract 1 million visitors to the area this year. Young children have been out there already and the exhibition has become a major interest for art clubs and lovers of art throughout the country. Would my right hon. Friend
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consider coming to visit Crosby, as we would dearly love to keep those statues there and raise the funds to do so with her assistance?

Tessa Jowell: As an enormous fan of Anthony Gormley's work, I certainly plan to go to Crosby to see the 100 nude men. I have an enduring memory of "Asian Field", one of his great works that was exhibited on the seventh floor of a car park in Chongqing in China. Even in those circumstances, it was an extremely moving piece, so I thank my hon. Friend for her invitation, which I accept.

Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con): I echo the Secretary of State's comments about the importance of winning the Olympic bid in encouraging young people's involvement in sport. I repeat my congratulations to my noble Friend Lord Coe and his bid team on securing the Olympic games for London in 2012. However, when the Government are looking at encouraging young people's involvement in sport, I urge them to remember that it is not just the Olympics but the Paralympics that will come to the United Kingdom. What specific plans do they have to provide extra funding for sports clubs for disabled young people in the run-up to London 2012?

Tessa Jowell: The policy is one of no discrimination between able-bodied and disabled athletes. If the right hon. Lady cares to look the successful athletes supported by the talented athletes scholarship programme she will find that able-bodied and disabled athletes are funded. The position is similar for our 2012 scholarships. At every level, the intention is to ensure that the opportunities available to able-bodied athletes are available through funding to disabled athletes who have the ambition to compete in the Paralympics.

Cultural Participation

4. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): What assessment her Department has made of whether the Government are on course to achieve their targets on cultural participation and attendance of under-represented groups. [10626]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): The Department has met early its target to increase the number of under-represented visitors to national and regional museums and the historic environment by March 2006. Based on the latest survey information, only one of the six arts attendance and participation targets will be met by March 2006. I have asked Arts Council England to put in place a remedial action plan.

Tom Brake: I thank the Minister for his honest answer. Can he explain why his Department's annual report said that the Government were on course to meet those targets, when in fact the Government have gone backwards on two of four targets, no progress has been made on the third and only limited progress on the fourth? When does he expect to hit those targets and why is Arts Council England, whose salary costs have gone up by 60 per cent. and which is a joint partner in the delivery of the targets, making so little progress?
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Mr. Lammy: It is important to remember that we are the first Government to set targets in this area. There has been an increase in the number of people from the poorest socio-economic groups going to our museums. There has been an increase in the number of black and ethnic minority people visiting heritage sites, historic houses and so on and there is increased participation by the poorest groups in our regional museums. I have asked the Arts Council to put in place a plan to ensure that it meets those targets by March 2006, and I will meet it shortly. It is disappointed at progress so far, but it intends to meet those targets.

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): The Minister is right that progress has been made, but the fact remains that the targets are not being met. Will he look at two areas where there could be an increase: first, in representation, with public appointments to encourage more black and ethnic minority people to become involved in the process; and, secondly, the way in which the Arts Council deals with the allocation of funds for ethnic minority groups? I have written to him about the Emmanuel gospel choir in my constituency, and there is a round robin going between his Department and others. Surely, one way in which to increase confidence in the black and ethnic minority community is to ensure that the process is as consumer-friendly as possible.

Mr. Lammy: I know of the excellence of the Emmanuel gospel choir and I am sure that the meetings that I know my hon. Friend is keen to take up with the Arts Council will bear fruit. I remind him that the Arts Council has been able to increase the amount of money given to black and ethnic minority groups to 10 per cent. of the overall spend. We must applaud that recent progress. But my hon. Friend is right. We want to see progress across the board. That is why it is important that the schemes that the Arts Council has put in place, such as the decibel scheme, to get money down to the grass roots and build capacity in our arts organisations, are supported.

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