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21 May 2007 : Column 965

Tessa Jowell: There was quite a lot of domestic strife in that contribution, so we shall stay well clear of that. I am delighted, however, that more is being done to engage more women in Malmesbury in sport. I am sure that they, too, will share in the Olympic spirit.

Helen Southworth (Warrington, South) (Lab): Women’s and girls’ football is increasingly rapidly in both popularity and success. Will my right hon. Friend do something to help girls such as Hannah Dale in my constituency? Hannah is a mad-keen footballer and a startlingly good player. Since her 11th birthday last summer, however, Football Association rules have banned her from playing with her local team just because she is a girl.

Tessa Jowell: I commend both my hon. Friend’s and Hannah Dale’s efforts to reverse that old-fashioned regime. It is worth noting that only 1 per cent. of women play football, compared with 13 per cent. of men, but the rate of growth in women playing football is 35 per cent. a year. The inequalities that I referred to in relation to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley (Barbara Keeley) also apply in relation to football. Hannah Dale, Minnie Cruttwell and many other promising young women footballers around the country find their careers stalled. When facing the top brass of the FA, they were more powerful advocates than, I suspect, anyone in the Chamber could have been. We hope that the FA will realise the urgency of the issue and the public support for a change in the rules to open up opportunities for Hannah and many other young women like her.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): Given that it is now 30 years since Virginia Wade won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon, and that very belatedly indeed the All England Club has recognised the unanswerable ethical case for equal prize money, in what way is the right hon. Lady using her very considerable powers of influence to encourage far more women to take up the game of tennis and to increase access to the sport for girls at state schools, and thereby perhaps to maximise the chance that before too long we might have another ladies’ Wimbledon winner?

Tessa Jowell: Those of us on this side of the House would find very little difficulty in disagreeing with anything that the hon. Gentleman says sitting on that side of the House. The fact that a very substantial number of school sports colleges now offer tennis is one of the best ways of getting young people from state schools to play those sports—tennis, rugby, rowing, sailing and so forth—that for too long have been limited, or overly-limited, to young people from private schools. Opening up opportunity is how we get more champions.

Lottery Funding

5. Paul Holmes (Chesterfield) (LD): What assessment her Department has made of the impact of the increases in the budgeted costs of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games on lottery good causes funding for heritage. [137930]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): The Heritage Lottery Fund will contribute an additional £90.2 million towards the costs of the Olympics over four years, subject to parliamentary approval. The Heritage Lottery Fund should still receive more than £700 million of new lottery money between 2008-09 and 2011-12.

Paul Holmes: Over the past six days, I have met a variety of organisations—Heritage Link, the Arts Council of England, the Voluntary Arts Network, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Central Council of Physical Recreation—all of which, whether they are from the heritage sector or other sectors, share the same concern about the impact of the Olympics’ smash-and-grab raid. How can there be a cultural Olympics and a growth in grass-roots sport if the funding is taken away?

With regard to the heritage sector specifically, will the Minister guarantee that there will be no further cuts in heritage funding and that there will be a favourable funding settlement for the heritage sector in the comprehensive spending review to compensate for the lottery cuts?

Mr. Lammy: The hon. Gentleman knows that I cannot give any assurances about the comprehensive spending review. What I can say is that overall, looking at the contribution that the HLF has made and at our grant in aid to English Heritage and the other parts of the heritage sector—museums and archives—we are spending more on heritage in this country than ever before.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): But the fact is that English Heritage is extremely concerned about what it is receiving and many deserving causes, particularly people charged with maintaining historic churches, are finding this a most anxious time. The fact of the matter is that the Minister and the Secretary of State have not been able to give the reassurances that we seek. Will he now give them?

Mr. Lammy: I say to the hon. Gentleman, particularly in his capacity as chair of the all-party group on arts and heritage and in light of his many years of lobbying on the issue, that there are, of course, sensitivities within the heritage sector at this time, but it would be unusual if there were not sensitivities in any sector leading up to a comprehensive spending review. We have seen a huge success in the open days across the heritage sector, with huge new buildings being revived and brought into contact with people who were not able to visit heritage institutions in the past. We want to build on that success and, quite rightly, that is the case that we are making to the Treasury.

Mr. Edward Vaizey (Wantage) (Con): I am sure that the Minister and the whole House will want to join me in expressing our enormous regrets at the loss of the Cutty Sark this morning. Does not the outpouring of grief that we feel show how important our heritage is? This is absolutely the wrong time to cut heritage grants. What assurances can he give us that he will redouble his efforts to get a better settlement for heritage in the forthcoming comprehensive spending review?

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Mr. Lammy: I join the hon. Gentleman in expressing what I am sure is the whole House’s concern about what happened to the Cutty Sark this morning. The Secretary of State and I will go to the Cutty Sark after questions today. It is a hugely important part of our national maritime heritage, and we hope, as does everyone, that it will be restored for the third time for the country to enjoy.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I cannot pre-empt the Chancellor from the Dispatch Box and commit the Department’s heritage spending over the next period. What I can say is that it is right for us to build on success. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we give English Heritage £130 million a year, and that the successful listed places of worship scheme has brought £56 million back to our churches. I can also say that the Heritage Lottery Fund will still have £700 million to spend between 2009 and 2012, of which we can all be proud.

School Sport Facilities

6. Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): What discussions her Department has had with colleagues at the Department for Education and Skills on the community use of school sporting facilities. [137931]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): The Government recognise that education facilities are playing an increasing role in the delivery of community sports facilities. The £45 billion building schools for the future programme will rebuild or remodel the entire building stock of England's secondary schools over the next 10 to 15 years, and will give schools an opportunity—as part of the extended schools provision—to provide wider community access to their facilities, including sports provision. My Department has a very constructive engagement and relationship with the Department for Education and Skills.

Mr. Reed: Given the golden opportunity for community sport that is offered by that £45 billion, and by the £500 million of New Opportunities Fund money that is being invested in schools, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the remodelling and rebuilding is adequate for the purpose? What discussions has he had about removing the additional problem of VAT on community use outside the academy system?

Mr. Caborn: In 2001, 2 million young people were benefiting from two hours of quality physical activity such as sport. Last year the figure rose to 5 million, which means that young people in the education system are now spending 6 million hours per week engaged in sport or other physical activities. That success is being extended to out-of-school activities: we are committed to an extra two hours of out-of-school physical activity per week for every child aged between five and 16. All that will be assisted by many of the facilities being built as part of building schools for the future.

As my hon. Friend knows, the Chancellor has made announcements about VAT. I hope that we shall be able to make progress on an issue that I know has been of concern for some years.

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Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Idsall school in Shifnal, in my constituency, has set aside a large piece of land next to the school for a community swimming pool. What funds are available for community swimming pools, which can be of value not only to local schools but to the wider community?

Mr. Caborn: I have no information about that specific pool, but I hope it is included in the strategy that is being developed by the governing body, the Amateur Swimming Association, with Sport England. We want development to be consistent, and to ensure that swimming pools and, indeed, all other facilities are built and refurbished in the areas where they are needed. If the pool is included in that strategy, it will be covered by the funding package that has been agreed with the ASA and Sport England. The aim is to create and fund such facilities with the help of the community and, in some cases, the private sector.

Mr. Brian Jenkins (Tamworth) (Lab): May I recommend dual use? For four decades a Labour county council and a Labour borough council in my constituency used such school facilities a great deal. Does the Minister realise, however, that the burden on school swimming pools in Tamworth has increased dramatically since the Conservative council sold the business for £1 to a private developer and a private operator, which has subsequently gone out of business? Now, those who use the pool, including schoolchildren and pensioners, must fall back on the only provision available under existing school arrangements.

Mr. Caborn: Again, I do not know about the specific circumstances of that matter, but if my hon. Friend writes to me I will look into it. However, it is unfortunately the case that Conservative and Liberal administrations are at the forefront of shutting down sports facilities around the country—but what is new?

Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): If £45 billion is being spent on these measures, why is Southfield school for girls, a dedicated sports college in my Kettering constituency, struggling fully to fund a new sports hall? Will the Minister enter into dialogue with his colleagues at the Department for Education and Skills to ensure that Kettering schoolgirls get the funding that they deserve for sport in their schools?

Mr. Caborn: Very much so—and the example that the hon. Gentleman gives is the exception and not the rule because the vast majority of the 450 sports partnerships that are operating around England are highly successful. They are delivering an output that is second to none—I have given the statistics on that—and I do not believe that any country in the developed world has more physical activity and sport on its school agenda than has been the case in England over the past five or six years. However, I will look into the issue that the hon. Gentleman raises and get in touch with him about it.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend investigate how many local authorities are under-using facilities that have been provided for dual use with education? Unfortunately, Staffordshire is not alone in its mismanagement of vital
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facilities, and a certain amount of imagination and urgency would improve the management of them and provide much wider cover for children.

Mr. Caborn: My hon. Friend might well have a point. As I travel around the country I talk a lot to those involved in the partnerships—such as the schools—on how they have been constructed. There is often a problem in having community use in school hours. There is an issue to do with the separation of the children from the general public, and the physical nature of the activities can create problems, as can the location of schools. I was in the east end of London last week, and I came across that. We are consulting on building schools for the future and Sport England and trying to introduce best practice, so I hope some such problems will be resolved in the future.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): As the Minister appears to place such great emphasis on sport facilities in schools, how does he feel about the new school that was opened without any playing area, and about the fact that Sport England’s budget has been cut owing to the lottery contribution to the Olympic games?

Mr. Caborn: I do not think that those two things are coupled, so let us park the last point and instead deal with the first one. It is my understanding that the decision on the playing area was made after dialogue between that school’s authorities, the local authority and Sport England, so the school took that decision—and I assume that it will be using indoor sports facilities rather than outdoor. It took that decision on behalf of its pupils.

Sports Policy

7. Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): When she last met representatives of sports governing bodies to discuss sports policy matters. [137932]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I meet regularly meet representatives of the sports governing bodies to discuss sports policy matters. The most recent meeting was on 16 May.

Ms Keeble: As my right hon. Friend will know, the sporting bodies are spending a lot of time and money on tackling ticket touting, especially on the internet, and on sports betting. What is he doing—perhaps by way of regulations—to support the sporting bodies that so that money that goes on what are in some respects frauds on the public can instead go on increasing community access to sport?

Mr. Caborn: Both of those issues were taken up at the meeting that I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had with the five governing bodies. I am pleased that the Gambling Commission has today published its report on sports betting integrity, which is very important not only here in the UK but internationally. I know that all sports are taking that very seriously. All the main governing bodies have signed up to the 10-point charter on the integrity of sports betting. The issue of ticket touting was raised because there is great concern that
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money is seeping out of sport and into the private sector and that that could be damaging to sport. We had a long discussion. We believe that action now needs to be taken and we are in dialogue. The voluntary approach has not been as successful as we wanted. We are looking at whether the crown jewel sports events can be used as pilots, and I hope that we can make progress in the not too distant future.

Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): I spent the morning at Bisley for the launch of national shooting week, as the sport’s governing bodies provided an opportunity for MPs on both sides of the House to meet some of the young competitors hoping to compete in the London 2012 Olympics and in the Commonwealth games. They all raised one particular issue with me—the absurd position in which they find themselves, as they are supported by public money on the one hand but banned from carrying out that activity in this country on the other. I first raised that issue with the Minister for Sport 18 months ago, and he said that progress had been made. What has happened?

Mr. Caborn: To make it clear, there will be 17 disciplines in the Olympics, on 14 of which Team GB can proceed unhindered. There are three disciplines about which we have written to our colleagues in the Home Office, because Dunblane and the action taken in response are still with us. The hon. Gentleman knows that we put legislation on the statute book, and it was absolutely right to do so. We have asked, as we did for the Commonwealth games in Manchester, whether we could facilitate the practise of those disciplines. We could do so for the Commonwealth games, and I have no doubt that we will try to do so for the Olympics. Nevertheless, we have written to the Home Office, and asked it to review the issue, and it will come back with a response. The hon. Gentleman has met all those governing bodies, but it might not be a bad idea if he got the leader of his party to meet them. He is like the Scarlet Pimpernel—they seek him here, they seek him there, and the sport seeks him everywhere. He has not responded to any governing body—

Mr. Speaker: Order. These are not matters for the Minister.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): One matter that is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend and the team is the question of Bolsover baths. I assure him that there is great excitement in the town and the local authority, given the efforts that we have made in recent times. Will he give me an update on the situation, or will I have to ask him in July after we have a new Prime Minister? Will he be there?

Mr. Caborn: I can answer my hon. Friend’s first question far better than I can answer the last one.

Mr. Skinner: We have made representations for continuity.

Mr. Caborn: Those representations have been taken seriously, as my hon. Friend knows, by the ministerial team. I hope that an announcement will soon be made by Bolsover council that there will be a 25 m swimming pool in Bolsover in the very, very near future.

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