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My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics rightly pointed out that we negotiated free expression for journalists attending this years Olympic games and free movement in China. Sport is an incredibly important way of bringing the world together, and we
can then discuss and address issues of common concern. The Government raise issues of Chinas approach to human rights around the world in all our meetings with Chinese counterparts. It would be wrong to confuse such issues with regard to the Olympic games this summer. We have known about the games in China for a long time, and we must work to make them as successful as possible, while using them as an opportunity to raise issues of concern to the whole world.
Geraldine Smith (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Lab): As we celebrate British tourism week, what can we do to encourage overseas visitors to visit not only London, but our coastal resorts? May we have a marketing campaign aimed at promoting those resorts?
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): As my hon. Friend knows, because I have met her and some of her constituents to discuss that matter, we are investing £45 million specifically to regenerate some of our coastal resorts that have not adjusted to changing patterns of domestic tourism. I hope that her area will benefit from that. London is a successful destination for many inbound tourists, but I agree that we must see it as a gateway through to the rest of this countrys fantastic resorts, countryside, heritage and history. We are doing that, using 2012 as a catalyst. Some 80 per cent. of our tourism income comes from people in Britain, so it is also hugely important to build on that.
Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): Forty per cent. of off-licences recently surveyed were selling alcohol to people who were under age and the Government claim that they will get tough. Will the Secretary of State confirm that, in 2005, the Government said that the Licensing Act 2003 would introduce the forfeiture of a personal licence for under-age sales at first offence? If that is the case, why is the Governments new tough action to move to forfeiture not after first offence but after second offence? What does he think of Conservative proposals to move it still further to third offence?
Andy Burnham: In publishing the Governments first review of the 2003 Act last week, I made it clear that there is a mixed picture around the country. Alcohol consumption has decreased in the past couple of years, but we did acknowledge problems, particularly the increase in the number of offences in the early hours of the morning. I do not think that there is any division in the House on sales to childrenwe all want the full use of the 2003 Acts powers to tackle that. It is right to say that some have used the freedoms that the Act grants but not necessarily all its powers. We sent a clear message last week in publishing our review that licensing authorities should use all the powers available to them and that they should particularly target the sale of alcohol to under-18s. I believe hon. Members on both sides of the House would support that.
T2.  Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab):
With the Welsh singer Duffy at No. 1 in both the singles and albums chart and the Welsh team having won the triple crown on Saturday and almost certain to win the grand slam this coming Saturday, may I urge the Secretary of State to give a rather more enthusiastic response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar)
on S4C? The Secretary of States predecessor suggested that he was open to the idea of S4C being devolved to the Welsh Assembly, so is it not time that we did that? In addition, will he sponsor me in Aprils London marathon?
My instinct is to preserve what is good about British broadcasting. I do not want to break it down and lose one of its great strengths, which is in bringing the whole country together. It reminds us what is great about this country, and it is right that it is a reserved matter so that we can consider it in the round at UK level. However, I am always ready to listen to representations from my hon. Friend, and I am happy to meet him to discuss the matter further if he wishes.
T3.  Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD): The Secretary of State said a moment ago that the Chinese had made a number of promises in order to secure the Olympic games in Beijing. Does he accept that they are not keeping them? They are not keeping their promises about free access for journalists or human rights. What will the Government do to ensure that the Chinese keep their promises rather than simply sign pieces of paper? Does he agree that athletes who want to make objections about human rights abuses should be able to do so?
Andy Burnham: The hon. Gentleman is right that promises were made, and it is incredibly important that they are kept. The Minister for the Olympics has just told me that she regularly raises the matter with the Chinese authorities and that she has also raised the unblocking of the BBC website with them. As we move towards the Olympic games in Beijing, it is important that we continue to make those representations and ensure that promises given are promises kept. I welcome the fact that the hon. Gentleman has raised this important matter. We must ensure that we have a successful Olympic games in Beijing, but also that we raise issues of concern as we approach the games.
T4.  Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) (Lab): A topical subject for my right hon. Friend is the opening of the Leigh sports village, which is enviable and a great asset for Greater Manchester. What can he do to ensure that funding is available for a sports village in Lancashire? There would be no better place for it to be based than Chorley.
Andy Burnham: It is a tremendous project that embodies how sport can regenerate an area that has had difficult times over the years, and it is a tremendous success. I hear what my hon. Friend says about the efforts to do something similar in Chorley. I think that he has ambitions for Chorley to be used as a base for the Olympics, and I want to work with him on that. The model that we have developed at Leigh can provide an excellent example of how to use sport to regenerate towns such as Chorley.
Mr. Jeremy Hunt (South-West Surrey) (Con): Going back to the Licensing Act, if the problem was the signal that it sent to a minority of binge drinkers, does the Secretary of State agree that the solution is not to punish the majority of responsible drinkers, the 37 million who enjoy an innocent tipple or two? They should not be made to pay the price for the total failure of the Governments alcohol policy.
Andy Burnham: I agreed with the shadow Secretary of State until his last point. He expressed well the fact that a balance must be struck when dealing with problems that arise in an area. As I mentioned a moment ago, the Act provides many powers to do precisely that without penalising the vast majority of people, who want to enjoy a relaxed drink at a time of their choosing. He will have seen in our review last week that on average, opening hours have increased by only 20 minutes. There has not been a huge change in the time at which pubs and clubs close, but the Act has given some people the ability to enjoy a drink later than they previously could. Local licensing authorities should use the powers that they were given if there is clear evidence of a breach of licensing conditions or if public disorder arises from drinking establishments.
T5.  Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): The Secretary of State will know that the elitist snobs who run Arts Council England are spending more money on promoting contemporary Latin American art than on promoting Englands traditional, working-class folk dance and song. In view of the Secretary of States commitment to five hours of culture each week for schoolchildren, will he join me in meeting the English Folk Dance and Song Society to see how much Englands traditional folk dance and song can be included in those five hours?
Margaret Hodge: The hon. Gentlemans comments demonstrate why it is so important that politicians do not get involved in determining how the allocation of funding should be distributed between various organisations. That is why the arms length principle, which has been established for many years, is the best way to ensure that the most excellent of our artistic organisations get the funding that they require. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to meet me on the subject of English folk dancing, I shall be happy to do so.
T6.  Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con): The Minister for Sport will be aware that on Friday the Totesport Cheltenham gold cup, which is the highest quality steeplechase in the world of racing, will take place in my constituency. He will also be aware of the concern caused throughout racing by his announcement last week that the Tote would be sold on the open market. The Tote was set up 80 years ago purely to benefit racing. No Government have ever put any money into it. Is it not wrong that the Government should seek to obtain some £400 million from selling the Tote? If Europe is the problem, should not the Government go back to Europe and try to get the classic fudge that is always available? Will the Minister go back to Europe and say that this was about not state aid, but a small administrative change?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe):
I look forward to joining the hon. Gentleman at Cheltenham this week. He has worked very hard on the Tote and I
listen with great interest to what he has to say. He will know that we have to get the appropriate price for the Tote, but everything is on the table. He will be aware of my statement last week, and we now look forward to discussions with the Tote and anyone else who is interested to ensure that we can benefit racing in some way.
T7.  Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): If the Secretary of State is serious about British tourism weekI hope that he iswill he make representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to put a further tuppence on fuel duty, as that would single-handedly destroy rural tourism in North Yorkshire?
Andy Burnham: Decisions about taxation are, of course, a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to make in the Budget. He will come to this House later this week with those conclusions. I think that the hon. Lady might be overstating the case somewhat. The British tourism industry has posted some encouraging visitor numbers recently, despite the difficulties that were faced because of foot and mouth disease and last summers floods. Of course, a lot of issues can impact on our tourism industry and the hon. Lady is right to challenge me and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to do all we can to support the British tourism industry, particularly as it has faced challenges in recent times. I assure her that I shall continue to do that.
The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): The cost of the games remains within the overall funding package of £9.325 billion that I announced in March 2007. As the House will no doubt recall, that was confirmed in my written ministerial statement on 10 December 2007, which provided further details of the Olympic Delivery Authoritys baseline budget. The overall cost of the main venues remains broadly in line with the bid book that we submitted in support of our bid, taking into account the difference in time between the submission of the bid book and the games and therefore allowing for inflation, VAT and the provision of contingency consistent with industry best practice.
Mr. Evennett: I thank the Minister for that comprehensive answer. However, it was recently revealed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is spending an average of £1 million a week on consultants. My constituents are naturally concerned about that figure. Will the Minister assure me and the rest of the House that we are getting value for money from those consultants and that the budget will not spiral any higher because of increasing consultancy fees?
Tessa Jowell: I do not recognise the figure that the hon. Gentleman quotes, but I am happy to write to him on the issue. Certainly, in the early days of the Government Olympic Executive, consultancy was used while the units capacity was being established, but recruitment has now delivered high quality staff who have a key responsibility for making sure that the public investment in the games is safeguarded.
Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend confirm that a significant amount of money in the Olympics budget is devoted to making sure that volunteers from across the country can come to London and take part in the running of the Olympics? It would surely be unfair if a young person from the Rhondda found it more expensive to help out than a young person from Kensington and Chelsea.
Tessa Jowell: Let me answer that question in two parts. Certainly, the Olympics will act as a catalyst for an enormous increase in voluntary activity right across the country; that is clear. We want to support that and to support communities in doing it, whether through schools, clubs for elderly people or sport clubs. There is also the issue of the 70,000 volunteers that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will require for the games. I join my hon. Friend in underlining the importance of recruiting those volunteers from across the country; that is consistent with our message that the Olympics are the UKs games in London.
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): As both a London MP and the Minister for the Olympics, the right hon. Lady is well aware of the current controversy about the closure of local authority swimming baths and the lack of 50 m pools in London; it has much fewer than any other capital in western Europe. Will she confirm to the House today that she will be able to draw on lottery cash when she puts together her plans for the Olympic sporting legacy, and that she intends to put swimming at the centre of that sports legacy?
Tessa Jowell: The hon. Gentleman will know that last week, the schedule of over 600 venues for training camps, approved by international federations, was published by the organising committee. The camps are all over the country, which is a mark of the very high standard of facilities in the UK. On his specific point about swimming, there are risks in making generalised commitments about the retention or otherwise of individual swimming pools. I am sure that he and I share the aim of ensuring that more young peopleand indeed people of all agestake part in swimming. We know that modern facilities and coaching are the best way of attracting people to take up new sports. I do not think that we should necessarily hang our hats on the retention of every swimming pool, but we should continue the drive, which has been so successful since 1997, to refurbish and increase the number of facilities. That is why more children and young people are playing sport.
Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD):
The Minister rightly says that one of the important reasons why we are expending so much money on the Olympics is to ensure the legacy, and not just deliver the games. However, a far greater amount has now been taken from the lottery
to meet the costs. The amount is equivalent to a £1 million cut in every single right hon. and hon. Members constituency. That will seriously damage the ability to provide support for grassroots arts, culture and heritage, and to provide the necessary legacy. Will she tell the House what she personally has done to persuade the Chancellor, in his Budget on Thursday[Hon. Members: Wednesday!]sorry, Mr. Speaker; Wednesdayto change the taxation of the lottery, so that more goes to the Treasury and back to good causes?
Tessa Jowell: The hon. Gentleman knows very well that discussions are under way. At the time of the Payments into the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund etc. Order 2008, the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell), made it clear, without pre-empting the outcome, that there was a commitment to looking at gross profits tax as an alternative tax regime. In addition, the new lottery licence is expected to increase the income available for good causes. The hon. Gentleman has been thoroughly briefed on the issue, so he will know about the efforts that were made, successfully, to ensure maximum protection for good causes. I know that, like me, he will recognise that between now and 2012, the Olympics is a legitimate, additional good cause. Nothing will impel young people to take up sport in quite the same way as the Olympics in London in 2012.
The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): The shooting facilities for the games at Woolwich will be temporary. LOCOG is looking at ways to ensure that the design and construction of the facilities there will be relocatable and therefore reusable. In addition, LOCOG is committed to the distribution of the equipment after the Games. As for Woolwich itself, over the months and years ahead LOCOG and the Olympic Delivery Authority will discuss further with the Royal Artillery barracks, the Home Office and Greenwich council what is practical in terms of legacy at Woolwich after the games.
Mr. Bellingham: I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but is she aware that the £25 million to be spent at Woolwich will leave no legacy, because those ranges will be dismantled? It is difficult to envisage that they could be transported somewhere else. Why cannot the shooting sports events take place somewhere else? What will she do to help British pistol shooters who want to train for their sport prior to 2012?
In some cases, yes. However, there has been an enormous write-in campaign on the subject by Members in all parts of the House, and I am aware of the active lobbying that has taken place. The judgments about the suitability of Woolwich were taken by the organising committee, now the governing body, and the international federation and the International Olympic Committee, who made clear their view that if the facilities were more compactthat is, nearer the main
parkour bid would be more likely to succeed. There is a not a need for legacy from shooting in the same way as other sports, as there is a world class facility at Bisley. However, to some extent legacy will be provided by the fact that the facilities of Woolwich will be relocated. The decision has been carefully reached and my understanding is that it is broadly supported by those in the shooting federation who had been arguing for an alternative.
Mr. Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op): The legacy from the Olympics will include a substantial regeneration of a major part of five London local authorities, some of the most deprived areas of the country, in the lower Lea valley. What opportunity has my right hon. Friend had to speak to the Lea valley authority and the local authorities concerned about expanding that regeneration to other parts of the Lea valley?
Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for that question. As one of the MPs in one of the constituencies, I pay tribute to the work that he has done to secure regeneration in his constituents areas. I have had a number of meetings with the local authorities and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. As he knows, we are about to launch the consultation on the master plan, already thinking about the governance and the running of the Olympic park and the area around it after the games are over. The Olympic park regeneration will bring about major regeneration, inward investment, a broadcast and media centre one and a half times the size of the Canary wharf tower
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