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House of Commons

Monday 25 June 2007

The House met at half-past Two o’clock


[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

Oral Answers to Questions

Culture, Media and Sport

The Secretary of State was asked—

London Olympics

1. Mary Creagh (Wakefield) (Lab): What role the arts will play in the London 2012 Olympics, with particular reference to community arts. [144644]

2. Mr. Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con): What plans she has for the cultural Olympiad; and if she will make a statement. [144645]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): Last Thursday, the London 2012 organising committee announced ambitious plans for a cultural Olympiad to showcase our arts and cultural sectors to the world. Based on our bid to the International Olympic Committee, the UK’s cultural Olympiad will be bigger than any other before it, and there will be many opportunities for individuals and communities to be involved.

Mary Creagh: I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. I am sure that he will want to join me in congratulating the South Bank centre and the Royal Festival hall on their magnificent reopening overture weekend, which really brought in the community. Events included every primary school child in Lambeth singing gospel, gospel choirs from all over the south-east singing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and an outdoor ballroom dance, in which I participated with my young son. Does my hon. Friend share my disappointment, however, and that of the chief executive, Michael Lynch, that, in a city in which more than 4,000 people received bonuses of more than £1 million last year, it has been so hard for the centre to fund-raise for the refurbishment from the City boys and girls?

Mr. Lammy: I join my hon. Friend in congratulating the South Bank centre on the most fantastic of openings. It was really inclusive to the wider London community and resulted in record numbers of people participating, including many who had never visited the centre before. She raises a serious question, however, and she is right to suggest that, at its heart, our arts ecology is based not only on public subsidy and the self-revenue that many of our institutions raise themselves, but on private and commercial giving. There is new money in the City, and all those in the arts community, working particularly with Arts & Business and similar organisations, want to find ways of tapping the money that has come into the City in the past few years.

Mr. Dunne: Last week, the Secretary of State described the cultural Olympiad as

Her views happily coincided with those of Dr. William Penney Brookes of Much Wenlock who is, I am happy to say, at last gaining recognition as the true inspiration for the modern Olympics. Apart from the funding for the opening and closing ceremonies, how much funding are the Government providing, and for which activities, to celebrate the cultural Olympiad?

Mr. Lammy: This is the biggest cultural Olympiad that has ever been proposed in an IOC bid, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to look at the proposals.
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Obviously, over the next few years, we will expect to see proposals coming forward from different parts of the regions. We have also said that there will be an international Shakespeare festival and an exhibition for which all our museums will join up. We have also said that there will be a legacy trust to provide up to £40 million of funding for events over the period. We also want to see private investment coming in.

Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow) (Lab): Notwithstanding the £40 million legacy trust, which is welcome, the organising committee is clearly saying in its document that there will be only start-up and limited funds for the second and third tier events, and that it expects existing arts bodies to fund those events. However, the Arts Council is facing a cut of £112 million over the next few years, and Grants for the Arts is also being cut. I find it difficult to understand how these two proposals sit together; perhaps the Minister will explain that to me.

Mr. Lammy: The cut in funding is from 2009. My hon. Friend should also remember that most arts organisations are receiving funds from the core grant, which has gone up 75 per cent. over the last period. We should be proud of that. I am sure that he would agree, given that his constituency is in the east end of London, that it is absolutely right that the young people in one of the poorest areas of London should benefit from lottery money in this way. We all have to play our part in ensuring that the Olympics are a success.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): May I help the Minister to answer the question from the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard)? He has referred to the £40 million legacy trust, which is welcome, but will he acknowledge that the figures from his own Department illustrate that the cut to the budgets of those lottery projects responsible for culture, the arts and heritage amount to more than £470 million up to 2012?

Mr. Lammy: Rubbish.

Mr. Foster: The Minister says, “Rubbish”, but those are figures from his own Department showing the total cuts. Is it not surprising, therefore, that we read in the document launching the cultural Olympiad that one of the projects, Artists Taking the Lead—

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Lammy: That is an example of the Liberal Democrats not being able to add up. Let me take the hon. Gentleman through this. In the first tier, the money for the opening and closing ceremony will come from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games budget, which is now £2 billion. We have also announced the legacy trust. We hope to see private and commercial investment, so I am pleased that Lloyds TSB has announced that it wants to sponsor the “live sites”, and that Youth Music has announced a £9 million investment in a music extravaganza involving young people. That is notwithstanding core funding. The hon. Gentleman knows that, and he ought not to persist with making up numbers as he goes along.

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Mr. Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab): I am sure that my hon. Friend is as pleased as I am about the successful opening in Greenwich yesterday of one of the principal Olympic venues: the O2, which will host both the gymnastics and basketball finals and provide a remarkable entertainment complex with music and other artistic activities. Is not that a symbol of the success of this Government in driving forward projects that will enrich the capital’s cultural and sporting future, in contrast to the negative views of the Olympics from the Opposition?

Mr. Lammy: I thank my right hon. Friend for that contribution. Our capacity to develop and take forward venues in the way that we are demonstrating was precisely what impressed the International Olympic Committee.

Stewart Hosie (Dundee, East) (SNP): The Minister may be aware that part of the Dundee city art collection was recently on display at the Fleming galleries in London. He will also be aware that there are a large number of high quality civic and municipal collections around the country. As part of a value-for-money exercise, are there any plans to bring parts of those collections to London for display during the Olympic games, not only so that they can come out of storage and stop being a secret, but to promote all the areas from which those collections come?

Mr. Lammy: That is a good idea, and I hope that the international museums exhibition proposed by our national museums might include it. Discussions have taken place with the Scottish Arts Council, and I shall refer the hon. Gentleman’s proposal to it. That is precisely the kind of grass-roots proposal that we would hope to see the legacy trust and others fund.

Football Governance

3. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): What recent discussions she has had with the football authorities on governance. [144646]

The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): I have met representatives of the Football Association to discuss governance of football on a number of occasions, most recently on 7 March. The broad proposals outlined by Lord Burns in his review of the FA were approved by FA shareholders on 29 May. I welcome those reforms, which will make the FA more representative of 21st century football, putting it in a much stronger position to govern the game.

David Taylor: The Stevens inquiry into corruption has shrunk to investigating just 17 transfer deals while wide concerns about the vulnerability of clubs to takeover by international moguls and politicians remain unaddressed. Do Manchester City supporters, for instance, have any protections against the attentions of the unsavoury Thaksin Shinawatra, or is it for ever the fate of football fans to be fleeced by flaky foreign financiers?

Mr. Caborn: My hon. Friend’s question reflects a little feeling, which I understand. Let us make no mistake: commercialisation and foreign investment
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have helped the premier league; it is the best in the world, and is watched by just under 1.5 billion people around the world every weekend; it is a great product. My hon. Friend is adding his voice to the concern expressed, with some reason, because we must make sure that the premier league does not turn into a billionaire’s playground. The grass-roots communities from which those clubs came must be respected. I hope that it is not just lip service that is paid to the fans’ organisations, to which he refers, but that clubs consider their views when making decisions.

Mr. Andrew Mackay (Bracknell) (Con): Will the Minister confirm that the sport is brought into disrepute when clubs go into rather phoney receivership—like Mr. Ken Bates and Leeds United—after they have been relegated and do not have their 10 points deducted the following season? What can he do to put that right?

Mr. Caborn: I am meeting the Football Association, the Football League and the premier league later this week to discuss ownership and some concerns, which the right hon. Gentleman rightly raises. There is a meeting in the Treasury tomorrow with a number of my hon. Friends and Treasury officials to consider share ownership and how certain actions have been taken. I do not want to comment on any individual action or club, but I do want to respond by saying that many share his concern and we are giving that issue serious consideration.

Mr. Jim Devine (Livingston) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend join me in condemning football clubs that are charging above-inflation increases for tickets? Only last week, Heart of Midlothian announced a 50 per cent. increase in ticket prices for some of its games. Does he agree that that reinforces the need to have supporters trusts and representatives of football fans on the boards of football clubs?

Mr. Caborn: Again, I have a lot of sympathy with the question. Football trusts are developing up and down the land. However, it is important that club owners take ticket pricing into consideration. Because of the fairly hefty increase in television fees, in particular in the premier division, I have appealed to football clubs in England to consider their fans by at least freezing, if not reducing, some ticket prices. Some clubs have done that, especially in the north-west.

Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Surely the Sports Minister does not believe that football is squeaky clean. With football having proved itself incapable of looking after its interests fairly, is it not time that we had a royal commission on professional football?

Mr. Caborn: I do not think so. Let us keep things in proportion. As I said, we are running the most professional league in the world. There are 40,000 football clubs in England. It is by far the largest participation sport. It is governed by the Football Association, which has brought new governance into play. The conduct of clubs is being scrutinised more closely than ever. In July, the European Union will produce a White Paper on sport, which will address some of the issues at a European level, where they have to be considered if action is to be taken to curtail some of those excesses that have emerged in the game.

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London Olympics

4. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): What the legacy plans are for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. [144647]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): Legacy is one of the central reasons why we bid for the 2012 Olympics. Last week, to coincide with the visit of the international Olympic evaluation commission, I published our legacy promises document, which is not of itself new policy, but brings together existing policy in relation to sport, regeneration, young people, the environment, and the wider benefits to the United Kingdom of hosting the Olympic games.

As soon as I leave the House today, I will be going to the west midlands. There tonight, with Seb Coe, in the first of a series of public meetings around the country, we will be setting out our vision for an enduring legacy from 2012 from which the whole country will benefit.

Derek Wyatt: I thank the Secretary of State for that. There are five rings in the Olympic flag, representing the five continents. Only two and a half continents have yet had an Olympics. If by 2024 or 2028 the games have not gone to Africa, south America, India or the middle east, what is the point of them? I wonder whether she could widen the remit of the legacy to include what legacy we will give back to the IOC for the games.

Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for that question. It is important. It is crucial that major global sporting events, such as the Olympics, should not be affordable only by rich cities in the developed countries. As part of our commitment to the IOC, in what has been called the Singapore manifesto, we will initially work in five countries, taking the benefits of sport to young people in different circumstances. The five countries are Zambia, Azerbaijan, Palau, Brazil and India.

I personally have had the privilege of working as a volunteer on two programmes in connection with the development of the Singapore manifesto. It is clear about not just the global reach of football into communities and the developing world, but the power of sport to address many of the poverty and deprivation issues that children in the developing world face.

Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Given the capacity constraints and doubtful legacy effects of holding the equestrian games in Greenwich park, will the Secretary of State agree to meet me and a small delegation to discuss their relocation to Boughton house in Kettering?

Tessa Jowell: I understand the hon. Gentleman’s wish to pursue the interests of his constituency, but I am afraid—for him, although not for Greenwich and the Olympics in London—that the IOC is very content with the location of the equestrian events in the magnificent setting of Greenwich park.

Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab): Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that she will do all that she can to ensure that the legacy
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plans for the 2012 Olympics will not include the unnecessary and untimely deaths of exploited migrant construction workers?

Tessa Jowell: Yes, I certainly accept the intention behind my hon. Friend’s important point. He will know of the principles of good practice that the construction contracts to be let by the Olympic Delivery Authority contain. A project on the scale of the Olympics has the opportunity to set good examples for good practice in a variety of areas, not least construction.

Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): Only yesterday the chairman of the Central Council for Physical Recreation wrote to The Independent on Sunday, which made it its letter of the week, to say:

How on earth will all the legacy commitments be financed?

Tessa Jowell: Well, the chairman of CPRE will continue to lobby —[ Interruption. ] I am sorry, I meant CCPR—an easy mistake to make. The chairman of CCPR will continue to lobby, not always on the basis of the best facts. Whether it be school sports, participation, improved facilities or elite sport, this Government’s record is unprecedented in terms of additional investment in sport. We are already seeing the results in schools, in more people taking part in sport and in the success of our elite athletes. That is because this Government see sport as being at the heart of the life of our nation, and that is why the Olympics are so important.

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): Can my right hon. Friend explain what the legacy will be for one of our most successful sports—shooting—with a venue that will cost £20 million to put at Woolwich and some £10 million to bring it down afterwards, when the sporting bodies want it at Bisley? What is the legacy for shooting? Why is it not common sense to put it somewhere people want it?

Tessa Jowell: My hon. Friend will be aware that legacy plans for all the venues are carefully scrutinised by the IOC. In some cases, the legacy plans will continue to be developed in the five years between now and the Olympics. I am confident that the legacy from the shooting facilities will be as good as any legacy for any of the other Olympic venues.

Mr. Brian Jenkins (Tamworth) (Lab): My right hon. Friend will realise that the greatest legacy that the Olympics could give this country is greater participation in sport by all our citizens, especially young people. What is her Department doing to ensure that local authorities are spending the money that the Government send down to them to engender and develop more sporting facilities, especially in places such as Tamworth in Staffordshire?

Tessa Jowell: I have visited some of the facilities in my hon. Friend’s constituency. With the work of Sport England, supported by a review of local authority facilities by the Audit Commission, there is now a fresh
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impetus and a programme of development of sports facilities, upgrading and refurbishment. Local authorities are working with Sport England to ensure that facilities are fit for purpose, because too many sports facilities in this country, particularly those run by local authorities, simply are not up to the job that we want them to do.

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