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I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Truswell), whose constituency neighbours mine, for portraying the benefits of Leeds and Bradford. My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh), who was sitting behind me, also said, Dont forget Wakefield, meaning our commitment to the tourism industry there. That city is looking forward to its new Hepworth gallery, which will open soon. I agree that west Yorkshire in particular has tremendous assets, not least of which is the National Media museum in Bradford, which is the most visited museum outside London and contributes to our tourism economy.
The hon. Member for Bath said that the Government do not take tourism seriously. I wonder what he thinks about the £130 million in planned investment over the period 2008 to 2011 for Visit Britain and Visit England to market the UK. That is a tremendous level of investment. The Secretary of State meets his Cabinet colleagues on a regular basis. Particularly at this time, where the economy is concerned, we want to strengthen
Mr. Foster: I have listened extraordinarily carefully and I think that I heard what the Minister said. He asked me to say what I thought of this extra money that will be spent on promoting Britain in the run-up to the Olympics.
Mr. Foster: I say to the Minister that I am delighted that extra money will be spent, but I remind him that that extra money was nothing to do with the Government. That money came from top-slicing the already reduced budget of Visit Britain and from a contribution made by the tourism industry. Am I correct, or am I wrong?
Mr. Sutcliffe: I just go by the figures and I think that £130 million is considerable. I will speak to the Minister with responsibility for tourism, my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Barbara Follett), about that issue. Clearly, investment of £130 million is welcome; that is great. It is not a lack of commitment from the Government to support tourism
Mr. Sutcliffe: I believe that tourism is at the heart of the way we want to boost Britain. That is why we have the regional development agencies and devolution to ensure that we boost the opportunities for tourism. The best way to do that is through local communities, regional communities and the home countries promoting their areas. As I said, the Secretary of State meets on a regular basis with his Cabinet colleagues.
The issue of Stonehenge was raised earlier. As I understand it, there is a Stonehenge project board, jointly chaired by the Secretary of State and the Minister with responsibility for tourism, and decisions will be made very shortly. The Minister with responsibility for tourism is very impatient to make progress and I am sure that she will do so.
The hon. Member for Bournemouth, East raised the issue of gambling and the fixed-odds betting terminals. That is a very complex area and I will not spend too much time on it now. However, he will know that we need to look at what the Gambling Commission says about the FOBTs, that the Gambling Act 2005 was the first time that gambling had been looked at by Government since 1968, that the Budd report on gambling in 2000 was a key report, and that the Government have acted responsibly on gambling, particularly problem gambling.
We now come to the public service agreement targets, which the hon. Member for Bath raised. I have to say that it is disappointing that we have not met those PSA targets. However, although some targets were not met, improvements took place and he acknowledged that. Regarding the heritage targets, I understand that there have been some significant increases in the final out-turns, for instance in attendance by black and minority groups and also by lower socio-economic groups. For all adults, there were increases between 2005-06 and 2007-08. However, the hon. Gentleman is right to continue scrutinising us to see how we try to achieve these targets. He will know that as a result of missing the targets we had a review of what we were doing with Sport England. Again, I am grateful to him and to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East for supporting the changes that we have made to Sport England, and I know that he will ensure that we keep the governing bodies under scrutiny, so that they meet the challenging targets that we have set them.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey on the work that he has done in his own constituency on the development of grass-roots sport. I know that he feels very passionately about the issue, be it investment in grass-roots sport or the number of volunteers that we need. I think that the figure in the report is a reflection of what we are trying to achieve in London 2012. It is not about volunteering across the country; it is about the number of people who have applied via the website. We are looking for 70,000 volunteers, but I think that 170,000 people have applied.
The issue of volunteering is vital, as is the issue of coaching. If we do not recruit coaches at the right level, we will not be able to deliver what we want to achieve, in school sport in particular. I am putting a lot of effort into, ensuring that we invest in coaches. We are perhaps now seeing coaches in a different way in the UK. We want to have volunteers but we also want to see coaching progress, so that it can be seen as a career path, in the same way that it is seen as a career path in the United States, where school and college coaches are seen as key members of society.
I am happy to congratulate Airedale-Wharfedale girls cricket team. It is important that we support womens sport. That is why we supported the review of the needs of womens sport and why we are looking forward to that report when it comes, which will be pretty soon.
I also want to put on record my thanks to the England womens cricket team, and to Charlotte Edwards in particular because I think that it is her expertise and inspiration that have caused many girls to become involved in cricket. We look forward to the England womens teams performance in Australia, where they are at the moment.
The hon. Member for Bath asked me to recommit, as it were, the DCMS view on the national lottery, the community amateur sports clubs scheme and taxation issues such as gross profit tax. Those are issues that we continue to pursue with the Treasury and clearly a balance must be struck when it comes to the final decisions. Both at the pre-Budget report and at the Budget, we will be pressing those issues again.
Mr. Foster: Given that that issue was not referred to at all in the pre-Budget report, can the Minister at least assure me that, between now and the Budget, discussions will continue and therefore that we must not assume that it is dead and buried?
Mr. Sutcliffe: Very much so. We continue to work with the Central Council of Physical Recreation and a variety of other organisations to push the Treasury. To be fair to the Treasury, it hears what we say and it then has to make the final decision, with regard to the overall position of the economy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey raised the issues of specialist sports colleges, competition managers and school sports partnerships, which have been vital and effective in developing sport and competition in schools. He was also right to raise the issue of the Building Schools for the Future programme. It is of concern to me and he will be pleased to know that we are having a seminar very shortly with the relevant governing bodies about how we can develop BSF by ensuring that the sporting provision is there.
On the issue of elite sport, my hon. Friend talked about there being perhaps too much passion shown by individuals, so that there are concerns about people pushing themselves too hard. I am pleased to say that that issue is also being looked at, through UK Sport. The way we deal with our elite sportsmen and sportswomen, particularly at a young age, is vital. We must ensure that people do not burn out, which I think is what happened in the past. Now people are channelled into the right levels, so that they receive the support and expertise in playing the games that they do.
Mr. Ellwood: We have rightly paid tribute to the success of our Paralympic team in Beijing, which came second in the league table of medals, which was fantastic. I had the pleasure of sharing a bungalow complex with Tanni Grey-Thompson when I was at Loughborough university and she certainly epitomises the success of Britain and encourages others to participate in sport.
I want to ask the Minister whether he is concerned about the tributes that were made in the new years honours list. There was a definite disparity between the honours given to those in the Olympics for their successes and those given to the equally successful members of the Paralympics team.
It is difficult for me to comment on that in detail, because the honours system is an independent system. The Government make recommendations. We recommended a number of sportsmen and women from both the Olympics and the Paralympics. At the end of the day, however, it is an independent body that decides the honours. I am pleased to say that a large number of Paralympians were congratulated and honoured. That
is an issue that the hon. Gentleman may want to take up with the honours committee, but I do not think that it is something that I should comment on in detail.
UK Sport and Mission 2012 are important. Mission 2012 is a new way of looking at elite sport and how elite sport can develop. What UK Sport did certainly helped us to reach the position we did in Beijing and it will develop our sport further for the London Olympics.
I am grateful for the acknowledgement by the hon. Member for Bath of the committee that the Secretary of State has set up to examine television coverage of sport. I know that that is a very emotive issue and many parliamentary colleagues have raised questions about cricket and other sports being on terrestrial television. We look forward to the findings of that committee. I also welcome the fact that today the CCPR has made an announcement on the discussions that it has had. Clearly we need to look at the details of the proposals, but I am happy to support anything that helps that situation.
Across the areas of the Departments work, we have a fantastic impact on peoples lives. One matter that the hon. Member for Bath raised, on playing fields, gives me slight concern. I am happy to support the work of Fields in Trust, or FIT, but this issue is about not just playing fields, but sports provision. We have talked to many of the governing bodies in sport about that. We want to retain playing fields, and we have put safeguards in place. On the change from 0.4 to 0.2 hectares, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we intend to make an announcement on that in due coursethat is the new phrase that I shall use todaybut that will be very soon. When that announcement is made, I believe that we will be in the right place for him to give me the
congratulations that I will deserve. This is not just about the quality of playing fieldsit is also about the quality of sports provision.
I hope that I have mentioned most of the points that hon. Members have raised. We appreciate the work that has been done by all those involved in the DCMS and by all the Members of Parliament who support and contribute to that work.
Mr. Ellwood: Before the Minister sits down, I should like to make one more important point, as there is time to do so. I understand that some councils have decided to close their tourism operations and get rid of their directors of tourism so that they can shift the money that they will save to other local authority objectives in order to meet Government targets, for which they will then be financially rewarded. I shall not cite which councils they are, because it is important for the Government to have the opportunity to reconcile the dilemma that we are facing. It is madness for certain councils to choose not to have a tourism strategy and to close departments in order to chase targets on recycling, for example. Of course, those targets are important, but they should not have a detrimental impact on tourism.
Mr. Sutcliffe: I agree that it is unfortunate if that is happening, and I shall take it up with the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage, who has responsibility for tourism, if there is a problem.