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House of Commons

Monday 21 May 2007

The House met at half-past Two o’clock


[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

private business

Transport for London Bill [ Lords]

Read a Second time, and committed.

Oral Answers to Questions

Culture, Media and Sport

The Secretary of State was asked—

UK School Games

1. Gordon Banks (Ochil and South Perthshire) (Lab): If she will make a statement on plans for the UK School Games. [137925]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): In 2006, the UK School Games in Glasgow involved more than 1,000 young athletes, and saw 98 personal bests and four new records.

This year’s event in Coventry has eight sports for 1,300 competitors—300 more than last year. They are young, talented athletes. Seventy volunteers will also be drawn from throughout the country. I am delighted that, this year, table tennis for disabled athletes will be one of the competitions.

Gordon Banks: I thank my right hon. Friend for her reply. I am pleased that the UK School Games move around the UK and open up opportunities. What possibility do this year’s and future UK School Games offer of promoting the opportunity for athletes to partake in the 2012 UK Olympics?

Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. Obviously, young people who take part in the UK School Games compete at higher levels than they have ever done before. At every stage of a young person’s participation in sport, there is more opportunity for competition. It is fair to say that every UK School Games between now and 2012 will be a training ground for our young athletes, many of whom benefit from the talented athlete scholarship scheme—TASS—or other schemes for promoting young talent. We hope that all those young athletes will win medals and be on the podium in 2012.

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Music Copyright

2. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): What discussions she has had with the creative industries on the music copyright period. [137926]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I hold regular discussions with the music industry about a range of issues, including copyright, in conjunction with Ministers from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Derek Wyatt: I hope that my hon. Friend will not mind if I congratulate Wasps and Leicester on their sensational final yesterday.

Given the Gowers report on copyright and the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s report on the subject, which are at separate ends of the spectrum, is a White Paper on the matter due this side of Christmas?

Mr. Woodward: First, I congratulate the Select Committee on the excellent report it produced last week. In the course of considering new media, it also examined copyright. It is a complex issue, which has been examined in detail, not least in the Gowers report. Although we will obviously spend the next few weeks considering the Select Committee’s recommendations, we are not yet persuaded that extending copyright for performers is in their best interests.

Mr. John Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford) (Con): I thank the Under-Secretary for his remarks about the Select Committee report, which unanimously recommended an extension in the term of copyright to 70 years. When he considers the matter, will he bear it in mind that the beneficiaries of a copyright extension will not only be friends of the Prime Minister, such as Cliff Richard and the Bee Gees, but thousands of musicians? Perhaps he will especially bear in mind the remarks of Fast Eddie Clarke of Motörhead, who wrote to me and said:

Mr. Woodward: I take the hon. Gentleman’s points, and we are concerned about the central matter, which is whether extending copyright would benefit musicians and performers, whom I personally regard as equivalent to any other artists involved.

Let me make two observations. The Select Committee report was not entirely fair to Gowers, who considered more than the economics of the case. He also examined fairness. It might be worth reflecting again on the Gowers report and noting that extending copyright from 50 to 70 years or longer would rarely benefit the musicians. Indeed, the British Phonographic Institute’s work through PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that probably less than 1 per cent. would go to those musicians. More significantly, the trade balance would be in deficit because the artists in the United States would benefit from changes to copyright law here, and that would have a disproportionate effect on our artists elsewhere, with their great international reputations.

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Mr. Bob Blizzard (Waveney) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the position under current law is unfair and illogical? The people involved in creating a recording—composers, sleeve note designers, even those who write the sleeve notes—benefit from a term of life plus 70, while the musicians benefit from a term of only 50 years. That cannot be justified. If my hon. Friend agrees, will he take discussions forward with the Department of Trade and Industry so that we can lead the way in Europe and get this changed?

Mr. Woodward: My hon. Friend makes an important contribution to the debate. I will continue the dialogue with the industry, which I believe really matters. The issue is fairness, which is why my hon. Friend makes a moral argument, but I think that we should be fair to the Gowers report. The critical issue is the contractual arrangements between record companies and artists. For any extended term, many of those rights are signed away with the record companies. My hon. Friend should look again at Gowers, especially the conclusion in box 4.2:

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): The Minister is absolutely right that a blanket extension would benefit super-rich stars, record companies and people who are already dead, but does he agree that there is a very serious issue for large numbers of backing musicians and people such as Eddie Clarke, who is my constituent? Does he further agree that the best solution would be a restricted extension on a use-or-lose basis for people who individually apply?

Mr. Woodward: The hon. Gentleman also makes an important contribution and I am certainly prepared to consider it. A comparison is often made with the United States, where the extension of term is to 95 years, yet within the US, 70 per cent. of eating establishments and 45 per cent. of shops, for example, pay no digital rights whatever. Performers get royalties only on digital radio. If we were to borrow the US system and incorporate it into the UK—if that were possible within the competence of the European Union—it would mean a loss to our artists of more than $25 million a year.

Arts Funding

3. Mr. Rob Wilson (Reading, East) (Con): What recent assessment she has made of the effect of expenditure on the Olympic games on arts funding; and if she will make a statement. [137927]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): The Government announced on 15 March that, subject to parliamentary approval, Arts Council England would contribute a total of £112.5 million towards the cost of the Olympics over four years. The Arts Council should still receive nearly £500 million of new lottery money between 2008-09 and 2011-12.

Mr. Wilson: The cuts in lottery funding for good causes could not have come at a worse time for my Reading, East constituents. The slashing of the European social fund grants budget in the south-east and the
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Government’s decision that only 2 per cent. of it will be replaced by community grants means that we will be hit by a double whammy of cuts in arts funding and cuts in small community grants that help hard-to-reach local groups. How will the Minister ensure that important local groups continue to be supported?

Mr. Lammy: It is important that the hon. Gentleman understands that core funding for the arts continues and has risen by 75 per cent. He should also take comfort from the Big Lottery, which has made it clear that voluntary organisations and the third sector are to be protected. That will benefit his constituents.

Ms Celia Barlow (Hove) (Lab): My hon. Friend will be delighted to hear that my home city of Brighton and Hove was mentioned at the south-east launch for the Olympic games last week. It is currently hosting a cultural festival, which is in full swing and well worth a visit. It also hopes to hold a cultural festival in 2012. Does the Minister agree that, with its close proximity to London and its future sporting venues, it would be ideal for a sporting event?

Mr. Lammy: I congratulate everyone in Brighton on the festival’s continued success, which I understand is attracting £20 million of inward investment to the city. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State might also want to discuss with the local authority the possibility of Brighton hosting one of the training camps for the Olympics.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): If the arts have to suffer a funding cut due to the Olympics, will the Minister confirm that one of the projects that will be cut is the Decibel Penguin prize, a short story competition that he launched and that has fallen foul of the Commission for Racial Equality because it discriminates against white people? Will he confirm that the prize will never see the light of day again?

Mr. Lammy: The manner in which the hon. Gentleman puts his question is rather unfortunate. The Decibel programme, across the Arts Council, has been successful in bringing black and ethnic minority people into the arts and encouraging and supporting them. It is a great shame that the hon. Gentleman degrades the success of the programme in that way.

Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab): An important part of the Olympics will be the cultural Olympiad, and Wakefield is blessed in having two fantastic venues: the Hepworth gallery, the launch of which my hon. Friend the Minister attended and which will open in 2009, and our wonderful Yorkshire sculpture park, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited to see the Andy Goldsworthy exhibition. Will my hon. Friend write to me with the results of the meetings between the sculpture park’s director and departmental officials about the costs of the park? The grant is just over £1 million a year for looking after 500 acres of historic landscape and many historic buildings and getting international artists such as Andy Goldsworthy along, which represents very good value for money. The park needs a one-off injection of funds to help Yorkshire and Wakefield fully to participate in the cultural Olympiad.

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Mr. Lammy: I thank my hon. Friend for that. The achievements in her constituency represent a stunning success, and I was pleased to visit it a few months ago. I will look into the matter she has raised, and I will write to her.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): The Minister has referred only to Arts Council England. Will he confirm from his own departmental figures that the total cut in funding to the arts across the United Kingdom to pay for the Olympics will be well over £200 million? Will he also confirm that there is very little additional funding—only £28 million—coming back from the legacy fund, much of which will come from the lottery anyway? How does he square that huge cut in arts funding with the Prime Minister’s comment that the arts are of “fundamental importance” to the country?

Mr. Lammy: When we came to power, the arts were on their knees. The National Theatre was surviving on a diet of musicals, orchestras were going bankrupt, and regional theatres were having to close. Core funding for the arts has now increased by 75 per cent., and we are proud of that achievement. There is no bigger good cause than the Olympics, which will lift the aspirations of one of the poorest parts of London and of young people across the country as we aim to put on the best Olympics that the country has ever seen. The hon. Gentleman cannot support the Olympics while offering no proposals of his own for their funding.

Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): There is no doubt that funding for the arts is crucial to this country. In regard to the assessment of the impact of the increased spending on the Olympic games, will my hon. Friend assure the House that working class communities will not suffer as a result of that spending, especially at a time when some of those in the Government are rediscovering their working class roots?

Mr. Lammy: My hon. Friend is absolutely right to emphasise the participation of working class people—people in the lower socio-economic groups—in the arts. That is why the Department has public service agreement targets. It is also why we were keen to establish free museum entry, for example, which has resulted in as much as a 100 per cent. improvement in the participation in the arts by people in the poorer socio-economic groups.

Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con): When the Secretary of State announced the latest raid on the lottery to pay for the Olympics, she described it as a “temporary diversion” that would be repaid through the sale of land. Since then, however, she has described the money as venture capital, but we have had no details of what the good causes can expect to receive. In fact, my written parliamentary questions on the issue have gone unanswered for a month, so no luck there. Will the Minister tell the House exactly how much the arts and the other good causes will eventually receive back? Will it be a fixed amount? Will it be a percentage share? Or is it simply the case that, two months after the announcement, neither he nor the right hon. Lady has any idea because they cannot secure an agreement from the Chancellor?

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Mr. Lammy: Grow up. It is ironic that the Tories have a problem with investment. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as everyone else in the House that no one can predict property values in 2012. We have made a pledge, however, that the money should come back to the lottery good causes after it has gone to the Olympic Delivery Authority. We will stand by that pledge.

Sport and Physical Activity

4. Barbara Keeley (Worsley) (Lab): What recent assessment she has made of levels of participation of girls and young women in sport and physical activity. [137929]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): Certainly, more sport is being played generally, but marked inequalities still exist in women’s and girls’ participation and achievement. Through our national physical education and school sport strategy, which is engaging schools and their governing bodies throughout the country, we are working to address that. I am sure that my hon. Friend will join me, however, in welcoming Sport England’s £350,000-plus grant to the Wigan community sport network to help boost young women’s participation in sport in the area. I know that her constituents will benefit from that.

Barbara Keeley: I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. I understand that physical activity among girls and young women starts falling off at age 10, and then falls off considerably. In my constituency of Worsley, the proportion of all our young people taking part in physical activity is already lower, at one in five, than the national figure of one in three. I am concerned that there is not a healthy level of physical activity among girls and young women in my constituency, because they do not participate. Is there now scope for initiatives targeted at girls to ensure that they understand that sport is fun, and to ensure that they find sport and physical activity as accessible as boys and young men obviously do?

Tessa Jowell: The answer to my hon. Friend’s question is yes. Several specific initiatives exist not just to engage girls in the conventional school sports, but, for instance, to introduce dance to the school physical education curriculum, with a high level of participation among girls. Such initiatives also take account of girls’ ambivalence about sport if they must wear clothing in which they feel uncomfortable. A range of things must be done to engage girls in such activity. Progress has been shown, but it is still slow, and we want to ensure that inequalities are properly addressed.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): The Secretary of State will know that 19 per cent. of women take part regularly in sport, compared with 25 per cent. of men. Does she agree that a good way of correcting that imbalance would be through community leisure centres, such as those in Malmesbury, Wootton Bassett, Calne and Cricklade in my constituency, which were nearly closed by the Liberal Democrat council, until it was swept from power on 5 May? Now that we have a Conservative district council, I very much hope that the centres will be maintained. Does she agree, however, that it would be terrible if the funding of those leisure centres was cut in any way because of the money being transferred to the Olympics?

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