Previous Section Index Home Page

Phil Hope: I welcome the hon. Lady to her new responsibilities on the Liberal Democrat Front Bench. The Olympic games offer many opportunities, including business opportunities for many social enterprises in
6 Feb 2008 : Column 945
the third sector. It has been estimated that Social Enterprise London could be a contender to bid for around £500 million of business related to the Olympic games. As well as resources for the third sector being safeguarded, there are opportunities for social enterprises in the sector to be deliverers of the Olympic games and the opportunities that they provide.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): But can the Minister ensure that young people and voluntary organisations in places that are affected by the Olympics, such as Slough, with the rowing at Dorney, will be able to make the most of the ambitions and the opportunities for sport and outdoor play that the games will bring to this country?

Phil Hope: My hon. Friend has a great track record on all these issues. I can assure her that the Olympic games will provide young people in particular with opportunities not only as volunteers—many of the 70,000 or 100,000 volunteers will be young people, which will provide them with new opportunities—but through the many voluntary and third sector organisations that will play their part in their local communities, thereby benefiting from the wave of excitement and interest that we have generated not just in this country, but across the world, as we host the most successful Olympic games ever.

Mr. Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): The Minister has given assurances that no more lottery money will be siphoned off between now and the Olympics to fund the building of infrastructure projects, but does that guarantee extend to the legacy? There is concern in some quarters that the legacy will be funded by future raids on the lottery fund.

Phil Hope: I think that I can give the hon. Gentleman those assurances. I remind him that we have managed successfully to safeguard that level of resourcing for third sector organisations from the Big Lottery Fund not just over the five years, but beyond the Olympic games. Again, however, I suggest that he talk to those on his own Front Bench, who would inflict £250 million of cuts on the voluntary sector with their proposals on funding the Olympics.

Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab): I welcome the benefits of the Olympics, but will my hon. Friend conduct a review of all the voluntary groups that have suffered from the diversion of funds to the Olympics? I understand that the Welsh Jazz Society, which is run by volunteers, is losing funding as a result of cuts to the Arts Council of Wales from the lottery. Can he look into that, please?

Phil Hope: I am not familiar with the specific project and funding that my hon. Friend describes, but I re-emphasise that we are protecting third sector organisations’ funding from the Big Lottery Fund. Indeed, the director general of the Big Lottery Fund said:

The Arts Councils and my colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have announced additional funding through the mainstream programmes, from which I am sure organisations such as the one that my hon. Friend described may wish to benefit.

6 Feb 2008 : Column 946

Mr. Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP): Many young people in the third sector throughout the United Kingdom are looking forward to participating in the Olympics. The Minister has given assurances across a range of issues in respect of grant assistance, but will he repeat those assurances for the regions, so that people in Northern Ireland will not be penalised for participating in and supporting the Olympic games?

Phil Hope: I am absolutely certain that the people of Northern Ireland will not be penalised; indeed, I hope to see athletes from Northern Ireland playing their part in the Olympic teams. Northern Ireland will benefit hugely from the Olympics, and that will involve not just the young people participating, but sport as a whole rising in popularity and participation, and bringing benefits to both the individuals concerned and the wider community.

Graham Stringer (Manchester, Blackley) (Lab): Is it not the case that Adam Blake’s report on the economic impact of the Olympics in the English regions and Wales and Scotland showed that, outside London, that impact will be wholly negative? What is my hon. Friend going to do to compensate for that?

Phil Hope: I do not recognise that claim, as I believe that there will be genuine social and economic benefits throughout the UK. Indeed, we now have new regional Ministers covering each of the nine English regions. I know that each of those Ministers will make it one of their priorities to ensure that the Olympics bring real social and economic benefits to every region throughout England and, indeed, throughout the UK.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con): The question on the Order Paper asks what assessment the Minister has made of the effect of the funding of the Olympics on voluntary organisations. I have listened to the Minister very carefully, but is he seriously trying to suggest that the redirection of money siphoned off for the Olympics will not impact on other good causes and on the voluntary sector? If he is, that does not match up with the experience of our constituents.

Phil Hope: One of the benefits of discussions in the Chamber is the ability to provide reassurances; in this case, I reassure the hon. Gentleman and his constituents that we have secured £2 billion over the next five years—and beyond into the legacy of the Olympics—so that voluntary sector organisations will receive the resources that they need to carry on the great work that they do in many disadvantaged areas of the country. I repeat my plea: the hon. Gentleman should talk to his Front Benchers, as it is his party’s proposals that would cut £250 million—

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Third Sector

5. Mrs. Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): What assessment he has made of the role that third sector organisations play in campaigning for social change; and if he will make a statement. [184604]

6 Feb 2008 : Column 947

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): Third sector organisations play an essential role in campaigning for change in laws and attitudes. Whether it is large charities that have campaigned around issues from disability to child protection or small charities that wish to speak out on local issues, their work plays an important role in speaking up for those who would otherwise not have their voice properly heard.

Mrs. Moon: Given that suicide among young people aged 14 to 25 accounts for 20 per cent. of all deaths in that age range—it is second only to accidental death—and that 19,000 young people attempt suicide each year, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is most important that organisations such as the Samaritans continue their campaigning work to bring that issue to public attention and provide the strategies to help and support young people to avoid suicide, and to inform the Government about how serious this issue is for young people?

Edward Miliband: I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the Samaritans for their work in my own local area and across the country, including in my hon. Friend’s constituency. She is absolutely right that the particular insights that the Samaritans gain into the problems of the people who come to them put them in a unique position to campaign on the issues that really matter for such people. We should welcome their work and enable it to continue.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): As the Secretary of State has rightly paid tribute to the Samaritans and other voluntary organisations, can he please drop this ghastly jargon of “third sector”?

Edward Miliband: I know that some hon. Members and people outside the House feel strongly about this matter. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I did not invent the term, which is used by the sector itself. Debate about it will no doubt continue.

Community Assets Programme

6. Dr. Phyllis Starkey (Milton Keynes, South-West) (Lab): If he will make a statement on the scope of the community assets programme. [184605]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Phil Hope): The £30 million community assets programme aims to empower communities by providing grants to improve public assets so that they can be transferred to community ownership. The need for the programme was established following extensive consultation with the third sector on its priorities.

Dr. Starkey: My constituency in Milton Keynes has a pressing need for more youth facilities. Will the Minister explain whether it would be possible for young people in the community to be actively involved in the groups putting forward bids for these community assets?

Phil Hope: I can give my hon. Friend the good news that young people or youth organisations will be able to bid for these resources if they wish to run some sort
6 Feb 2008 : Column 948
of youth provision of their own in the community. I have further good news for her: the Bill on unclaimed assets that is currently going through Parliament will release a huge amount of resources so that in every community across the country, young people will have new facilities, new centres and new opportunities to create social enterprises that will meet their own needs and the wider needs of the local community.

County Palatine

7. Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): How much in the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’s fund is available for distribution to good causes in the County Palatine. [184606]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): For 2008, the Duchy of Lancaster benevolent fund has budgeted to distribute £375,000 to good causes, up from £345,000 last year, of which £290,000 will be allocated to the County Palatine and the balance to other geographical areas where the duchy has links.

Mr. Evans: One of the more delightful responsibilities that the Chancellor of the Duchy of the Lancaster has is for that fund. It does a lot of good work, particularly for smaller organisations and charities, and for MPs who represent the County Palatine. Can he ensure that it receives more publicity, so that more organisations are able to benefit from the funds available?

Edward Miliband: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question and for advance notice of it. I have talked to the chief executive of the duchy and we will work on ensuring that there is widespread publicity about the money available. Small organisations can bid for that money, and it is important that all those who can benefit know about it.

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister was asked—


Q1. [184584] Mrs. Ann Cryer (Keighley) (Lab): If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 6 February.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

Mrs. Cryer: My right hon. Friend must be well aware of the concern in this House and beyond regarding the stories that are circulating about bugging and surveillance. Can he assure me that the inquiry that he has announced will be thorough, will examine all the issues of concern, and will report back promptly to the House? At the end of the day, our constituents must be assured that they can talk to us in confidence.

The Prime Minister: The inquiry will be detailed; it is under a very distinguished chairman, Sir Christopher
6 Feb 2008 : Column 949
Rose; it will report back quickly; and the Justice Secretary will make a statement to the House of Commons. It is right to put in context what has happened over the past few days, and to say that we all benefit from the work of the police and security services and the surveillance necessary to defend our security, preserve our freedom and in some cases save lives. In addition to the inquiry being held, however, protections are in place under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, including authorisation by a senior officer, the right to appeal, oversight by an independent tribunal and the annual reports on the number of intercepts and surveillance operations taking place. The Justice Secretary has said that he was not aware of any information regarding covert recording or anything like that until last weekend. Where there are questions, however, it is right to investigate. In the meantime, it is right for us not to add to the game of speculation, nor to presume the results of the inquiry.

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): Can the Prime Minister tell us how many reviews he has set up since becoming Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister: I have set up quite a number of reviews and it is right to do so. We are in the process of making the changes that are necessary for the future of this country. We will report today on one of the reviews, the Chilcot review, and I hope that there will be agreement that that was the right thing to do.

Mr. Cameron: The Prime Minister has established 52 reviews—one every four days. It is no wonder that he does not have time to open his post. They include reviews of behaviour partnerships, physics and even sunbeds—I presume that that is to keep the former Welsh Secretary busy now that he is not in the Government. The former Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), says about the reviews that the

in government—

He specifically mentions hospitals, schools and local government. Who is the source of this dithering, or does the Prime Minister need a bit more time to find out?

The Prime Minister: I would just repeat the words of the former Chancellor: too many soundbites, not enough substance. When it comes to the reviews, we are reviewing the policy of super-casinos—that is what the public want us to do; we are reviewing the policy on cannabis—that is what the public want us to do; we are reviewing the policy on affordable housing to build eco-towns—that is what the public want us to do. I do not think that the Opposition understand that the world is changing around us. We need to review the right things to do. We are doing that. As a result, we are the party that has created 3 million jobs, the party with low inflation and low interest rates, and the party that is investing in education and health.

Mr. Cameron: When will the Prime Minister understand that it is not reviews but decisions that people want? Let us look at the list of policies that the former Home
6 Feb 2008 : Column 950
Secretary says are incomplete. These are the policies that the Prime Minister’s former Cabinet colleague says he is dithering about: local government, trust schools, foundation hospitals, housing, disability—[Hon. Members: “Reading!”] I have to read, because there is such a long list of things that the Prime Minister is dithering about. He talks about soundbites, but he cannot even think of his own: he has to borrow them from the former Chancellor.

Let us take just one example—A-levels. The Prime Minister’s Schools Secretary says that there will be an open-minded review, and that he cannot guarantee their future. Will the Prime Minister contradict his Schools Secretary, and tell us that A-levels are here to stay?

The Prime Minister: Let us look at what we are doing on education. The right hon. Gentleman says that it is wrong for us to have a review. We are proposing education to the age of 18; he is against it. We want education for all; he wants education for some.

We are proposing diplomas. We have said we will make a decision in 2012, and that A-levels will continue to exist. That decision will be made in 2012, and it is the right decision for the country: to build on diplomas with A-levels. The right hon. Gentleman is opposing it.

We are proposing that the number of apprenticeships be doubled. The Conservatives are not supporting that policy of the Government. We are proposing additional expenditure on education and school buildings. The right hon. Gentleman is proposing to transfer the money to another programme.

We are the party that is investing in the future. We are the party for the long term. The right hon. Gentleman’s is the party of the short-term gibe.

Mr. Cameron: I think the Prime Minister had been practising that soundbite all week, and do you know what? It is still rubbish.

Never mind the smokescreen. It is a simple question. I want A-levels to stay. I think they are a great qualification. What does the Prime Minister want?

The Prime Minister: A-levels are staying. We made the decision that until 2012 diplomas would go side by side with A-levels, and then we would make a decision about the future. That is right for the country.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman again: does he support education to the age of 18, as we do? Yes or no? We are for education for all. The right hon. Gentleman is for education only for some.

Mr. Cameron: Everyone wants more children to stay at school until they are 18. Everyone wants better vocational education. But the Prime Minister has a very simple question to answer. He just said that A-levels were safe until 2013, but we want a guarantee beyond that. We want to know that A-levels will stay for good. The Schools Secretary cannot guarantee their future, the head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority says that they will be out of the door, so let us try it one more time. Will the Prime Minister confirm that A-levels will stay for the long term?

Next Section Index Home Page