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Departmental Policies

Mrs. Hodgson: 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 Gateshead, East and Washington, West constituency, the effects in Gateshead, East and Washington, West of changes to her Department's policies since 1997. [22284]

Mr. Lammy: 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 Gateshead, East and Washington, West 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 sport and physical activity, we have invested in over 4,000 new and refurbished public sports facilities nationwide. Sports facilities in the Gateshead and Sunderland area have benefited from 42 awards from Sport England and the Big Lottery Fund to the total of £19.7 million.
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We have increased our national funding to the arts in real terms by 60 per cent. from £199 million in 1998–99 to £412 million in 2005–06. Between 1998–99 and 2005–06 funding to Arts Council England, North East increased from £5.7 million to £14.4 million. In 2005–06 the total Arts Council England investment in the North East, including grant-in-aid and lottery expenditure, will be £17.7 million. Gateshead, East and Washington, West has benefited from grants to arts projects, organisations and individuals in the areas, ranging from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art to the Gateshead NHS Trust which received £30,000 from public art commissions for the new NHS treatment centre in Gateshead.

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 Gateshead, East and Washington, West will be among those who benefit from Culture Online. Between 2002 and 2004, £13 million was allocated to fund 20 Culture Online projects.

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 Pensions records, the number of households in Gateshead, East and Washington, West with at least one person aged 75 or over claiming the winter fuel payment in 2004–05 was 4,560.

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 antisocial behaviour.

The Gambling Act 2005 will, when implemented, transfer responsibility for licensing gambling premises to local authorities. Local people and businesses will be
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able to make representations about applications for licences and local authorities will be able to decide not to issue licences for casino premises. These changes will give local communities, including those in Gateshead, East and Washington, West, a greater say in the regulation of gambling in their area.

Tourism in Gateshead, East and Washington, West has benefited from Government-funded marketing activity, primarily £50 million in grant-in-aid per annum to VisitBritain. 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 One North East. 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 Gateshead, East and Washington, West.

English Heritage has awarded grants worth £40,875 to Gateshead, East and Washington, West since 2 May 1997. The sum represents a single grant made to the Bowes railway Engineering Company near Gateshead.

In 2002 the Department, working through the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, began investing in regional museums for the first time with the Renaissance funding programme. Since 2003, the North East Regional Museums Hub, led by Tyne and Wear Museums, working in partnership with the North East Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (NEMLAC) has invested £4.7 million in museums in the north east. As a result, 88 per cent. of schools in Gateshead LEA, and 68 per cent. in Sunderland LEA have participated in museum based learning at Tyne and Wear museums. And since April 2005, museum hub outreach officers in Gateshead and Sunderland have worked with 2,073 people, including partnering with lads and dada groups, women's mental health groups and disaffected young people.

In common with all those in the United Kingdom, the public library branches under the administration of Gateshead and Sunderland councils within Gateshead, East and Washington, West are connected to the internet
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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. Gateshead council has gained two awards through the DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund in 1997–98 (£65,000 towards a total project cost of £130,000) and 2000–01 (£23,605 towards a total project cost of £34,688).

Information from the national lottery distributors indicates that since 2 May 1997 Gateshead, East and Washington, West has benefited from over 235 awards totalling over £8.9 million. Of these, 49 awards worth over £6 million were made by the 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.

Departmental Spending

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much the Department spent on items of art in 2004–05. [23476]

Mr. Lammy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, via the Government Art Collection (part of the Department), spent £295,500 on works of art in the 2004–05 Financial Year.

Departmental Sponsorship

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list formal consultations being sponsored by her Department and its agencies; and what the (a) commencement date and (b) deadline for responses is in each case. [22563]

Mr. Lammy: My Department is sponsoring the following current formal consultations:
Title of consultationCommencement dateDeadline for responses
Commission proposal for the 'Citizen's for Europe' Programme-2007–20135 August 200528 October 2005
The 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event
of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999
6 September 20052 December 2005
European Commission's Communication i2010: Digital Libraries24 October 200513 January 2006

There are no current formal consultations being carried out at the Royal Parks Agency.

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