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Olympic Games

5. Mrs. Sharon Hodgson (Gateshead, East and Washington, West) (Lab): What assessment she has made of the opportunities for businesses in Gateshead and Washington arising from the 2012 London Olympic games. [29638]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): In excess of 500 contracts will be let in the course of preparing for the Olympics. To ensure that the economic benefits extend throughout the United Kingdom, including, I hope, to my hon. Friend's constituency, we have asked every regional development agency to develop an Olympics business plan.

Mrs. Hodgson: I will do all that I can to encourage businesses in my constituency to bid for work for the 2012 games. It would benefit my constituency if Gateshead international stadium, which is in my patch, could be used a training camp. I understand that the RDA, together with the central Olympics committee, is contemplating a clearance system to match countries with areas. Is there a timetable for that and, if so, can my right hon. Friend shed any light on it?

Tessa Jowell: I know that many hon. Members are keen to bring preparation camps to their own areas. As my hon. Friend rightly says, the local organising committee is developing plans for those. I am sure that Gateshead will, as usual, be at the forefront in offering its excellent facilities.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): If benefits will accrue to Gateshead and Washington in the way that the Secretary of State claims, can she assure me that the good people of that area will share equally in the cost with the benighted people of London?

Tessa Jowell: The right hon. Gentleman would benefit from reading the brief on the funding of the Olympics. Yes, the residents of Gateshead and Washington will contribute to the costs through the lottery. Because the greatest benefit will, beyond doubt, fall to London, it, in common with every other host city, will contribute through a levy on the council tax payer.

Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): Has the British Chambers of Commerce been in touch with its counterparts in Atlanta, Sydney or Athens to get any information about how businesses in those cities were able to use the Olympics, so that we might benefit from such information?

Tessa Jowell: We are drawing on all relevant experience of hosting the Olympic games and we have been directly in touch with, for example, Atlanta and Sydney. Perhaps Sydney is the best example of the way in which careful planning of the economic benefits can bring enormous gains in tourism and other sources of income for the local economy.

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): I am sure that the stadium in the constituency of the hon. Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Mrs. Hodgson) can play a part. However, will the
 
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Secretary of State take careful note of the fact that, in Aldershot, we have the most magnificent sporting facilities? The Army has provided many of them, either at taxpayers' expense or, more likely, at the expense of the regiments, battalions and corps. Will she ensure that the Government take advantage of all those facilities, which are available in close proximity to London, so that businesses in those areas can benefit as much as the young sportsmen and women and the facilities there?

Tessa Jowell: I shall ensure that the local organising committee has its attention drawn to the hon. Gentleman's paean of praise for his constituency.

Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): The business opportunities that my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Mrs. Hodgson) identified for the good people of Gateshead could be replicated in any of our constituencies. Does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agree that they could be further enhanced if we had a British Olympic football team? The football authorities have some concerns about such a project. Will she agree to meet them to hear at first hand and discuss their concerns?

Tessa Jowell: As my hon. Friend knows, the dispute is long-running and as yet unresolved. It is a matter for the local organising committee and I know that its chairman is as keen as my hon. Friend for a British football team to compete in 2012.

Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): Given that the level of expectation that the hon. Member for Gateshead, East and Washington, West (Mrs. Hodgson) expressed is replicated in constituencies throughout the country, and given the requirement to do so much more about sport and the pressure on the lottery already to pay for the games, is not there a danger that we will simply run out of money? What plans do the Government have to finance all that and so much else that was promised during the bid process?

Tessa Jowell: As the hon. Gentleman knows, and in the spirit of cross-party agreement on the Olympics, we sought to share information with the Opposition parties. The budget is clear and we keep it constantly under review. Of course, circumstances can change in relation to the costs of development and so forth. However, we believe that our budget is sound.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned funding expectation. That is a fair point. Apart from the Olympic budget, £1.5 billion in the next three years will go into school sport and developing sporting talent, and more than that will go into developing sporting infrastructure. The expectation that we are creating is being met by an unprecedented investment in developing the talent of young people who dream of being athletes.

Television Licences

6. Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South) (Con): Whether she plans to review categories of people required to pay the TV licence fee. [29639]
 
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (James Purnell): As indicated in the BBC charter review Green Paper, which was published in March, we believe that the current scope of licence fee concessions is about right. However, we are in the process of re-examining any anomalies in the existing concessions policy and our conclusions will be set out in a White Paper to be published early next year.

Richard Ottaway: The Department has sanctioned a fairly hard-hitting campaign to remind law-abiding students with televisions in their rooms at university or college of the need to hold a TV licence. Will the Under-Secretary explain why those detained in Her Majesty's prisons with televisions in their cells do not have to hold a television licence? He claimed to be tough on crime and the causes of crime. Will he therefore at least treat prisoners in the same way as our young people?

James Purnell: We are considering all the different concessions as part of the review for the White Paper. If the hon. Gentleman writes to me, I will be happy to consider his comments. We will make announcements in due course and at the right time, when we publish the rest of the White Paper.

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend congratulate Michael Grade, the chairman of the BBC, on ditching the repulsive "Get one or get done" licensing campaign, with its odious combination of threats and snooping, and on replacing it with a much more user-friendly licensing campaign? Will he also thank him for listening to the voices in the House of Commons on this matter?

James Purnell: I will be happy to congratulate the chairman of the BBC on that, but I believe that congratulations are also due to my right hon. Friend's Select Committee, whose members pressed the chairman to make that change in the first place.

Mr. Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP): The Minister will be aware of the continuing increase in television licence fee evasion in parts of the United Kingdom, especially Northern Ireland. Will he carry out a review of TV Licensing to ensure that it becomes more open about the areas in which evasion occurs and outlines the action that it intends to take to ensure that the evasion ceases?

James Purnell: Evasion has fallen across the rest of the country, but I am aware that there is a problem in the hon. Gentleman's constituency and in the neighbouring areas. I am happy to write to TV Licensing about this problem and then to write to the hon. Gentleman with its views on what it intends to do about it. However, the enforcement of TV licence regulations is a matter for TV Licensing, not for the Government.

Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): When my hon. Friend undertakes his review, will he look carefully at the rights of my constituents and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Ben   Chapman) on the west of the Wirral? No one in those areas can receive public service broadcasting, particularly the news, through the terrestrial services in
 
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English. Do not those people have rights? This is not a technical issue but one of expenditure. Perhaps the answer will lie in the digital switchover, but will the Minister ensure that those people's rights are fully met?

James Purnell: I am happy to ensure that the interests of my hon. Friend's constituents are taken fully into account in the switchover. Only by switching off the analogue signal will we be able to increase the coverage of the digital signal that will give people far more choice and access to the services that are relevant to them.


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