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19 Jan 2009 : Column 1084Wcontinued
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what timetable she has set for the designation of regional development agencies as regional planning bodies. 
John Healey: Under the provisions set out in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, there would be no regional planning bodies. Regional development agencies and local authority leaders boards would be jointly responsible for producing and revising regional strategies.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much (a) the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and (b) agents working on behalf of the VOA have spent on the automated valuation model since September 2005. 
John Healey: Since September 2005 approximately £6.2 million has been spent by (a) the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to secure the investment in its automated valuation model (AVM).
This includes payments made to the VOAs IT supplier, Capgemini, a proportion of which covers their expenditure with third party IT suppliers (under separate contracts). As the VOA is not party to these separate contracts, it is not possible to provide the amount spent by (b) agents working on their behalf. Staffing costs associated with developing and maintaining the AVM are not recorded separately.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect on rural communities of the Vital Villages programme. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: I have been asked to reply.
DEFRA sponsored the Countryside Agency, now partly superseded by the Commission for Rural Communities. The Countryside Agency ran the Vital Villages programme from 2001 until 2004. In 2005, they published Judging the success of the Vital Villages grants programme. It concluded that it had been a successful scheme which had achieved its aims and brought a wide range of benefits to people in rural communities. Consequently, the lessons learnt from this programme are now being mainstreamed by Government and the third sector at the central, regional and local levels.
7. Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has for elite athlete funding in the next three years. 
Andy Burnham: In December, UK Sport announced a total of £292 million of funding for 19 Olympic and 15 Paralympic sports covering the next four financial years up to and including the London Games.
Allocations to the remaining eight Olympic and four Paralympic sports will be announced by UK Sport at the end of this month.
We remain committed to realising a further £50 million from the private sector to support this unprecedented public sector investment.
8. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with European Commission officials on transferring the Tote to the horseracing industry; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: I have had no recent discussions with the European Commission about transferring the Tote to the horseracing industry.
9. Alun Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on ensuring that audio description is available via a single button on set-top boxes in advance of digital switchover in South Wales. 
Andy Burnham: Revised core receiver requirements for equipment provided as part of the Digital Switchover Help Scheme were published on 11 November 2008. One button access to audio description from the remote control handset is now a mandatory requirement for the most costs effective option offered under the scheme.
10. Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress his Department has made on its programme for free theatre. 
Andy Burnham: Arts Council England announced on 17 December that approximately 618,000 free theatre tickets for under 26-year-olds would be available between February 2009 and March 2011. Over 200 venues will be involved in the scheme, which is due to officially launch on 16 February. My Department is supporting this initiative which will help theatres fill their seats while building the audience of the future.
19. Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on his free theatre policies; and if he will make a statement. 
Barbara Follett: Arts Council England announced on 17 December that approximately 618 000 free theatre tickets for under 26-year-olds would be available between February 2009 and March 2011. Over 200 venues will be involved in the scheme, which is due to officially launch on 16 February. My Department is supporting this initiative which will help theatres fill their seats while building the audience of the future.
11. Mrs. Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people participated in regular sport in (a) 2008 and (b) 2007. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: DCMSs Taking Part survey measured participation in regular Sport and Active Recreation as part of PSA3.
21.5 per cent. of the population participated for 30 minutes, at least three times a week in 2007, rising to 22.5 per cent. in 2008.
12. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on the find your talent initiative; and if he will make a statement. 
Barbara Follett: Work in the 10 Find Your Talent pathfinder areas was launched in September 2008. Pathfinder areas are now all embarked on a three year programme to trial the best ways to deliver five hours high quality cultural experience to every child in their area.
13. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with representatives of broadcasting companies on language standards in broadcasting. 
Andy Burnham: I regularly meet representatives of broadcasting companies to discuss a range of issues.
Content standards are a matter for broadcasters and regulators working within the overall framework set by the Communications Act 2003 and the BBC Charter and Agreement.
14. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations he has received on the impact on sports clubs of changes in the method of calculation of water rates. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department is aware of this issue and I willalong with my hon. Friend the Minister for the Natural and Marine Environmentbe seeking a meeting with Ofwat to establish what options are available to ensure community sports clubs are not disproportionately affected by these charges.
I have also asked Sport England and the Central Council for Physical Recreation to see whether there is any systematic help they can provide to ensure community sports clubs' water charges have been calculated correctly.
15. John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he is taking to increase the opportunities for the development of young sporting talent; and if he will make a statement. 
Andy Burnham: We are passionate about developing our young talented sports people including those with disabilities. The Government support Sport England, the Youth Sport Trust and UK Sport who work with schools, clubs and national governing bodies to identify, support and provide guidance to talented young athletes. £2.3 million per year through the Gifted and Talented programme and £3 million per year through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme will provide a strong structure to help young people fulfil their potential and progress as far as possible along their chosen sporting pathway.
16. Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the provision of stadiums for major events in the south-west. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government study Hosting the World Cup, published in February 2007, contains an assessment of the provision of football stadiums across England.
I have made no further assessment of stadiums for major events.
17. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he next expects to meet local authorities to discuss measures to encourage sport in schools. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: I regularly visit local authorities to see their excellent work for children and young people's PE and sport.
Local authorities have an important role to play in delivering the PE and Sport Strategy for Young People and free swimming for under 16s. They and primary care trusts, working through Children's Trusts, have the lead in planning, resourcing and co-ordinating services for children and young people. Therefore they will provide close support to school and county sport partnerships in schemes such as the Sport Unlimited Workstrand within the strategy.
Officials and our delivery partners will continue to work closely with local government to increase sporting opportunities for children and young people.
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the Answer of 12 January 2008, Official Report, column 415W, on
betting shops, how many premises licence applications for betting shops have been refused by local authorities on the grounds of proximity in relation to existing betting shops in the locality in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Local authorities are not permitted to refuse applications for premises licences on the grounds of proximity in relation to existing betting shops in the locality. They must base their decisions on the licensing objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, guidance issued by the Gambling Commission, and their own three year licensing policy statement.
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what (a) administrative and (b) financial support his Department has provided for the Broadband Stakeholders Group since it was established. 
Andy Burnham: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has not provided any administrative or financial support for the Broadband Stakeholders Group, but DCMS officials maintain close working relations with the group and attend some of the group's meetings.
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of his Departments staff have provided support to the Convergence Think Tank. 
Andy Burnham: Five members of the Departments staff worked full-time on the Convergence Think Tank project and one half-time. Additional support was provided by other officials prior to the commencement of the project and subsequently by the Departments corporate services on an ad hoc basis, but was not recorded separately.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what undertakings his Department gave to the England and Wales Cricket Board on Chance to Shine funding during the formation of the National Sports Foundation; and what steps his Department has taken to fulfil these undertakings as part of the new Sport England Strategy. 
Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 12 January 2009]: Sport England invested £2 million in the Cricket Foundation's Chance to Shine programme between November 2005 and March 2007. The formation of the National Sports Foundation led to an agreement that Chance to Shine would receive investment of £2.5 million for the 2007-08 financial year. The National Sports Foundation has now been wound-down and its funds integrated with the new Whole Sport Plans. As a result Chance to Shine will be funded through the ECB's Whole Sport Plan. The details of this plan, like the plans of all national governing bodies, are still under discussion and will be finalised in due course.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which (a) food and (b) drinks suppliers have been used by his Department in each of the last three years; and how much his Department paid to each such supplier in each of those years. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department has a contract with an external catering company who procure food on our behalf.
The breakdown of the suppliers is as follows:
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