Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-119)


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 industries.

  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 faring?

  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 other partners.

  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 Airport.

  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 casinos?

  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.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 6 February 2008