Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-119)|
MP AND MR
25 OCTOBER 2007
Q100 Chairman: Lots of announcements
to come. One small technical point. When you gave evidence to
our inquiry into collections you said that the DCMS grant-in-aid
to the 17 sponsored museums and galleries is £335 million
in the current financial year. You have since announced that grant-in-aid
for England's national museums and galleries will increase from
£302 million this year to £332 million in 2010-11. So
your latest announcement is promising a smaller figure in 2010-11
than the one you gave us.
James Purnell: That is because
the original figure included capital and the second figure you
quoted was only resource. We have not yet made our capital announcements.
Q101 Chairman: Another announcement
still to come.
James Purnell: The two figures
are entirely consistent.
Q102 Paul Farrelly: May I ask you
when you expect to publish your creative economy Green Paper?
James Purnell: We will be doing
that soon as well.
Q103 Paul Farrelly: Before Christmas?
James Purnell: We will do it when
it is ready. We are trying to do it before Christmas but I want
to make sure we get it right. It is progressing very well. The
creative economy programme has been a huge success but even in
the period of the creative economy programme, for example, YouTube
has gone from not existing to being a massive company. That shows
the huge amount of change that is going on. We want to make sure
we get the proposals right and we are working very seriously on
them at the moment.
Q104 Paul Farrelly: Coming from North
Staffordshire and the Potteries it would be remiss of me if I
did not make a plea that ceramics is in as a creative industry.
That is all about design and intellectual property which increasingly
is ripped off on an industrial scale by China who send their salesmen
out within four weeks of new designs coming out. It is an intellectual
property issue and Will Hutton, whom I used to work with on The
Observer, has been working on the Green Paper and has also
been working in North Staffordshire. It would be remiss on that
score for ceramics to be excluded.
James Purnell: Will mentioned
that to me only this week. You will be glad to know that is being
taken forward. That is a very good example of industries where
there will be places in the world which have low-cost bases where
the UK can really succeed in the creative industries by being
high value-added, by having the greatest creative skills and that
is as true of ceramics as it is of any other sectors of creative
Q105 Mr Evans: Tying all the arts
heritage and culture together with all the theatres, etcetera,
that we have here I remember from the Lyons Review that at one
stage they were looking at a bed tax on hotels. Are the Government
still looking at that possibility or has it been killed off?
James Purnell: That is clearly
an issue for the Treasury rather than for us, but I do not believe
that is something which is under active consideration.
Q106 Mr Evans: But your Department
will have an input into that discussion.
James Purnell: Absolutely and
we have made our views clear on that in the past.
Q107 Mr Evans: Clearly that is important
as well for international visitors coming in but also, when they
do come in, one of the first things they see is Heathrow Airport
in a lot of cases. Do you have a view as to what role that airport
must play in welcoming visitors and how do you think that it is
James Purnell: Generally it is
very important that we have a good welcome for people and that
will be particularly important in the run-up to 2012. We have
a group, which is in the document which John had in front of him
earlier, which is looking at that welcome. One of the things it
is looking at is Heathrow, working closely with the airport and
Q108 Mr Evans: As you know, Heathrow
has come in for a caning recently, not just on security issues
but queues generally everywhere, both going to the airport to
get out and coming back in. We have heard some horror stories
recently about people at passport control having to wait over
an hour to come in. That is surely not something we would want
to be the first thing they see when they come to the United Kingdom.
James Purnell: No, we want to
have a good welcome for people and that is exactly why that group
has been set up. We have to put that in context in the sense that
there are growing fears about security, about international terrorism
and they clearly need to balance that. There is a very good group
which now works between the tourism industry, us, immigration
officers, to make sure we can balance the goals of security and
a good welcome for people and that is a very important thing.
Q109 Mr Evans: Getting that balance
right. How long on average do you think somebody should queue
before they enter the United Kingdom?
James Purnell: I am responsible
for many things but I do not have a performance indicator on queues.
Q110 Mr Evans: No, but if somebody
is waiting over an hour it does have an impact.
James Purnell: You clearly think
that is unacceptable.
Q111 Mr Evans: You do not. Do you
think that over an hour is acceptable?
James Purnell: I do not run Heathrow
Q112 Mr Evans: No, but do you think
waiting over an hour to come into the UK is acceptable?
James Purnell: It is very easy
to lecture people; I am not in that market.
Q113 Mr Evans: I am not lecturing,
I am asking. Do you think it is acceptable?
James Purnell: You clearly are
lecturing and you can do that if you want to.
Q114 Mr Evans: Do you think it is
acceptable for somebody coming into the UK to wait over an hour
to come in under normal circumstances?
James Purnell: It is important
we give people a good welcome and I personally do not like getting
into lecturing people over things for which I am not responsible.
Q115 Chairman: Can we move onto another
subject? I am not sure you will find it any easier as it is one
which has been difficult for your Department, gambling. Firstly,
the focus of attention has been largely on the issue of casinos.
Can you tell us where we now are in terms of the Government's
intentions to allow one regional, eight large and eight small
James Purnell: Yes, I can. We
have announced a review of regeneration in East Manchester and
that will report in the autumn. We have also written to the 16
local authorities which are getting large and small casinos to
see whether they still want to proceed. There have been local
authority elections since those awards were made. We have not
had answers from all of them yet; we have extended the deadline
for them to do so. We expect to move forward on that shortly.
Q116 Chairman: In terms of the eight
large and eight small, are you still intending to go ahead with
that and are you therefore simply looking at whether or not the
places originally identified are still the most appropriate or
are you actually considering whether or not to proceed in principle?
James Purnell: There was political
consensus around the 16 when it went through and we will make
decisions in the light of the answers we get from the local authorities.
It would not be right to prejudge that.
Q117 Chairman: You are expecting
that the Order at least to allow large and small casinos will
be placed once the review is finished.
James Purnell: As I said, there
is political consensus around that but I am not going to prejudge
either the review on regeneration in East Manchester or what the
local authorities say to us and we will make a statement on that
in due course.
Q118 Chairman: As far as the regional
casino is concerned, there are still several authorities, Blackpool
being perhaps the most obvious, who hope that the prospect of
a regional casino is not dead. Do you think that there will be
any regional casinos in Britain any time within the next decade?
James Purnell: As I said, I am
not going to prejudge the regeneration review. The decision to
have one was one which was encouraged by the Conservative Party
in the wash-up before the previous election so clearly we were
working within that framework. We do want to look at that report
before we make any decisions.
Q119 Mr Evans: So there is still
some chance that there may be a super casino in the United Kingdom
in ten years.
James Purnell: We will look at
the regeneration review and make our views clear after that.