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24 Apr 2006 : Column 900W—continued

Television Advertising

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many times (a) ITV and (b) Channel 4 have exceeded agreed limits for the quantity and length of advertisement breaks on television in each of the last eight years. [64648]

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James Purnell: The matters raised are principally the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) as independent regulator. Accordingly, my officials have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to respond directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the chief executive's letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on her Department's policy on the ownership of the warships which were previously in the ownership of the Warship Preservation Trust Ltd. [65401]

Mr. Lammy: Following the liquidation of The Warship Preservation Trust Ltd. in February 2006 and the subsequent disclaimer of the ships both by the Liquidator and the Treasury Solicitor (in her capacity as the Crown's Nominee for dealing with bona vacantia), the ships are now effectively ownerless and fall under the control of The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, in whose possession they are. It will be for the company to decide how to deal with them. The National Historic Ships Unit of the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships is in direct and regular contact with The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, and is advising them on policy with regard to a long-term solution. The Department is monitoring the situation.

Water Safety

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the outcomes were of the recent meeting of the Water Safety Forum, with particular reference to adult to children supervision ratios in swimming pools. [65113]

Mr. Caborn: The issue of guidance relating to child admission and parental supervision in public swimming pools has been considered by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) at recent meetings.

The NWSF's investigations are ongoing and researchers are consulting with pool users and parents before final conclusions can be drawn.

However, the work to date has suggested that any guidance issued and followed by pool operators needs to be done on a site specific basis and supported by a site specific risk assessment before any admission ratios are set.

Departmental Policies

Rosie Cooper: 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 west Lancashire constituency the effects in west Lancashire of changes to her Department's policies since 1997. [64233]

Mr. Lammy: The Department's policies and actions have had a significant impact on west Lancashire since 2 May 1997. Our 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. Here is a non-exhaustive outline of the effects on the constituency.
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In sport, over £3 billion has been invested from the lottery and Exchequer since 1997 to help us achieve our vision of an active and successful sporting nation. We have put in place the first ever comprehensive national school sport strategy which will have benefited from £1.5 billion of joint investment from DCMS and DFES by 2008. To help achieve our challenging targets for increased participation in sport and physical activity, we have invested heavily in our local and community sporting infrastructure, including thousands of new and refurbished public sports facilities. In west Lancashire, sports facilities have benefited from nine Sport England lottery grants totalling £2,347,120.

In addition, west Lancashire has received £192,501 from Awards for All, supporting 51 projects benefiting sport. The Glenburn School Sport Partnership, comprising four local secondary schools and 31 primary schools, has also received £185,063, and an award to the value of £674,259 for September 2005 to August 2008.

In the arts sector we have increased national funding, 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 investment in the north west region, through Exchequer funding, increased from £7.6 million to £19.6 million, with a total investment of £34.8 million in 2005–06 (2005–06 includes lottery figures). West Lancashire has benefited from grants to arts projects, organisations and individuals, including £17,000 to the Chapel Gallery's education and outreach programme; and £5,000 to Open Arts, based in Skelmersdale.

In the museum sector we have supported the leading north west museum services through the Renaissance in the Regions Programme", that will invest £1.7 million regionally in 2006–07. West Lancashire also benefits from its geographical proximity to National Museums Liverpool and the free access for all visitors that is on offer.

In heritage, English Heritage offered grants worth £257,555 to a combination of St Thomas the Martyr, Upholland; St John the Baptist, Burscough; Scarisbrick Hall, Ormskirk; and St Michael and All Angels, Dalton, Skelmersdale. In addition English Heritage also gave £75,000 to a Heritage economic regeneration scheme in Ormskirk.

In libraries, in common with all those in the United Kingdom, the public library branches in west Lancashire 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 overall improvement across the public libraries sector in England.

In broadcasting, 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, including those in west
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Lancashire. 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.

Furthermore, in November 2000 we introduced free television licences for people aged 75 or over. Precise information on the number of beneficiaries by constituency is not available, although as an indicator, according to Department for Work and Pensions records, the number of households in the west Lancashire constituency with at least one person aged 75 or over claiming the winter fuel payment in 2004–5 was 4,975.

In the creative industries, since 2004 funding has been given to help finance film projects in Ormskirk, Parbold and Merebrow, enabling the production of short films, screenings and digitisation projects, and travel bursaries to international film festivals for sales opportunities. The awards have been in excess of £4,500.

In tourism, west Lancashire 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 the North West RDA. 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 west Lancashire.

The Government have also implemented the Licensing Act 2003, the biggest overhaul in licensing law for 40 years. It contains vital measures in the battle against alcohol related crime and disorder while allowing the majority of responsible adults the freedom to enjoy their leisure time. It gives police and local authorities the power to take tougher action against under-age drinking, antisocial behaviour, and to protect residents whose lives have been blighted by disturbance and noise. It will also provide greater choice for consumers, bring regeneration, and increased employment opportunities.

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

Finally, information from the national lottery distributors indicates that since 2 May 1997 west Lancashire has benefited from over 246 awards totalling over £7.9 million.

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