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8. Mr. Adrian Sanders (Torbay) (LD): What assessment he has made of the effect of the administrative burden of the licensing applications procedures under the Licensing Act 2003 on small businesses applying for such licences. [259234]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): The Licensing Act has resulted in a considerable reduction in red tape. Administrative savings are estimated at £99 million per annum, with benefits not just for business but for the third sector and non-profit-making clubs. Although we do not have specific data on the impact on small businesses, they represent the majority of applicants and will thus be major beneficiaries of these savings.

Mr. Sanders: I recently met licensees from my constituency and, almost to a man and woman, they complained about the amount of bureaucracy that the Act has introduced. Does the Minister have any plans to review the whole licensing process in order to reduce the amount of bureaucracy that small business people are facing?

Mr. Sutcliffe: We are always looking at what we can do to reduce bureaucracy, and the DCMS has a proud record of reducing it across the piece. There is an issue for pubs, however, and I know the hon. Gentleman cares about that as he is a member of the all-party beer group and signed an early-day motion on the issues raised. He will be pleased to learn that the Government are providing real help for businesses, and particularly
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for pubs that are tied houses. We have made sure that the enterprise finance guarantee scheme, whereby 75 per cent. of the loan is met by the Government, will be applied to tied houses so that such pubs can benefit from real help from the Government and banks. There are a number of other measures: we are supporting organisations such as CAMRA—the Campaign for Real Ale—and making sure we take steps to ensure that pubs are an integral part of our communities.

Mr. Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth, East) (Con): The hon. Gentleman mentions the Licensing Act. Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether your drinking habits have changed over the past 10 years, but that is certainly the case for a growing minority of younger Britons. A decade ago, the Government promised a renaissance in the approach to licensing and responsible drinking: town centres would be tamed, binge drinkers would be brought to heel, and councils would be empowered to create the so-called new café culture of Britain. The reality could not be further from that. Does the Minister agree with the Opposition and with recent reports which show that since 1997 teenage lawlessness has increased by 300 per cent., one in three girls now admits to binge drinking and there is a 30 per cent. increase in alcohol-related obesity? All this proves that, under this Government, binge drinking is slowly becoming the norm. Labour is giving Britain a beer belly and a worrying taste for alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour.

Mr. Sutcliffe: It would help if the hon. Gentleman did his research, as we all know that Mr. Speaker is, in fact, a teetotaller. I certainly do not recognise the picture the hon. Gentleman paints. The Licensing Act gives people the opportunity to have a drink at the time they choose, with local government and the police being able to make sure that is properly monitored. Also, most of the licensee trade supported the principles of the Act.

Topical Questions

T1. [259248] Lynda Waltho (Stourbridge) (Lab): If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Andy Burnham): I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in congratulating Kate Winslet, Danny Boyle, Simon Chinn and all those in the British film industry whose exceptional talent was rewarded at the Oscars a week ago.

Last week, I announced a new partnership between UK Sport, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the British Olympic Association, fulfilling the Prime Minister’s wish for a private sector fundraising drive to supplement the unprecedented public support for our elite athletes as they prepare for the London 2012 games and subsequent Olympic and Paralympic games. Next week, we will announce our conclusions following the Government’s consultation on implementing the European Union audiovisual media services directive.

Lynda Waltho: My right hon. Friend will be aware of the world-renowned Stourbridge glass collection, based at Broadfield House in Dudley, but he might not be aware that at a meeting tonight, the Tory council will
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propose the disposal of the site. What can he do to protect this national treasure and my constituents from the philistines who run the council and threaten our black country heritage?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Barbara Follett): As my hon. Friend will know, museums are a discretionary local authority service and their funding is a matter for democratically elected councillors—although in this case the local people may wish to hold them to account. That said, I am keeping a close watch on the situation, and I am glad that my hon. Friend has met the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and that it is working closely with Dudley metropolitan borough council on the relocation of the Stourbridge glass collection to the Red House Glass Cone trust.

T3. [259250] Mr. Mark Lancaster (North-East Milton Keynes) (Con): I am sure that the whole House shares the Secretary of State’s vision for a digital Britain, but may I draw his attention to the specific problems that Milton Keynes has with broadband? The area is suffering from being at the cutting edge of 1970s technology: our copper wires mean that broadband speeds are incredibly slow and that some areas get no broadband at all. Will he get his officials to look into this specific problem for the city and write to me with his potential solution?

Andy Burnham: I shall certainly draw the hon. Gentleman’s remarks to the attention of Lord Carter. I am sure that we can examine the particular local issues that his area faces as part of the “Digital Britain” work—I shall do so and I shall write to him.

T6. [259253] Mr. Virendra Sharma (Ealing, Southall) (Lab): Will the Minister update the House on the expected benefits of the 2012 London Olympics for my constituency, the London borough of Ealing and west London in general?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): We are hoping that the whole country, including my hon. Friend’s constituency, will benefit from the impact of the games in London in 2012. He will know that not only will the east end of London be regenerated, but there will be an opportunity for sports and the legacy of sport to be available to all our constituents. I hope that he and other colleagues in the House will ensure that all our constituencies fight to ensure that benefits of the Olympics are seen not only in London—as we know they will be—but throughout the UK.

T4. [259251] Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): In 2005, the Government launched a £6 million quality and innovation fund, the purpose of which was to provide subsidised theatre tickets and to involve young people in the arts. Can the Secretary of State say why that was cancelled and whether the cancellation was linked in any way to the much smaller fund of £2.5 million available for free theatre tickets?

Barbara Follett: In response to the last part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, no it was not. The fund was cancelled in 2005-06 because of other Government
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priorities, but we have used the cancellation to reprioritise and to put money into things such as the Find Your Talent scheme.

Mrs. Joan Humble (Blackpool, North and Fleetwood) (Lab): Is my hon. Friend aware that because of recent grant aid to two theatres just outside my constituency, young people there now pay much reduced prices to go to the theatre? Is she aware that Thornton little theatre invited young people in over half term with reduced tickets and the splendid Grand theatre in Blackpool invites young people in not only as members of the audience but as performers? Will she monitor this excellent scheme and ensure that as many young people as possible can go to the theatre and enjoy themselves?

Barbara Follett: I am really glad to hear from my hon. Friend about the success of this scheme in Blackpool. I know that the Blackpool Grand is doing excellent work, and in fact it is staging a free burlesque show for all under-26-year-olds tonight. I know too that it is my hon. Friend’s birthday tomorrow, and I am only sorry that she and I are not young enough to benefit from that very good scheme.

T5. [259252] Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con): What are Ministers going to do to rescue small sports clubs from the disaster of the Licensing Act 2003, which has meant their licensing fees go up from £25 to the best part of £1,000?

Mr. Sutcliffe: I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says. Small sports clubs benefit from CASC—community and amateur sports clubs—status and a variety of Government schemes. If he wishes to give me a specific example, I would be happy to meet or correspond with him about it.

Mr. Andy Slaughter (Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush) (Lab): When my hon. Friend next meets the Film Council, will she urge it to promote lower budget British and European films over US blockbusters as that will both increase the number of film crews employed and ensure reciprocity so that British film crews have the same opportunities to work as American crews enjoy here?

Barbara Follett: As my hon. Friend knows, the Government provide support for UK film makers through the UK Film Council’s lottery-backed funding schemes, such as the new cinema fund and the development fund. However, I would be happy to meet him to discuss possible new support mechanisms for smaller films as I agree with him about the dominance of the blockbusters.

T7. [259254] Mr. Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): May I take the Secretary of State back to his answer to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn)? I too welcome the access services review that Ofcom is undertaking. He will be aware that the new chairman of Ofcom, in her evidence to the Select Committee, said that improving accessibility would be one of Ofcom’s top three priorities. When Ofcom has completed its review and if any of its recommendations to improve accessibility require legislation, will he commit to taking steps at the earliest opportunity to bring that legislation before the House?

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Andy Burnham: That is a very good question, and I will give that commitment, subject obviously to other pressures on the timetable. We would want to bring it forward as soon as possible. Indeed, why wait for legislation? Sky took action independently and unilaterally last week. Even though times are difficult, other broadcasters could go further voluntarily, and I would urge them to do so. They have established audio description services now, and they could be extended without the need to wait for legislation. I hope that others will follow the lead that has been set.

Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): Is my right hon. Friend aware of the disgraceful situation that has arisen around the Everton-Stoke City match, which was due to be played on 14 March? Because of a British National party rally and leafleting campaign, the match was moved back 24 hours, and then moved back again after the BNP cancelled the rally.

Andy Burnham: I should perhaps declare an interest as one of those who would have been affected. I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised the issue, because we faced the prospect of 30,000 Everton and Stoke supporters being left out of pocket or at least seriously inconvenienced by that change. Football supporters get messed around enough by the timetabling of the fixture list, without political parties adding to the problems. Merseyside police advised the BNP of the clash and asked it to reschedule its march. It was a disgrace that the BNP did not do so, and it proves what a shower its members are that it rescheduled only after media pressure last weekend. Football supporters should know where the BNP stands in relation to the interests of football supporters. I am glad that we managed to resolve this particular situation, but I want the Association of Chief Police Officers to issue guidance to political parties to the effect that they should always avoid holding major events with policing implications on days for which football fans have already bought tickets for long-standing fixtures.

T9. [259316] Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): The Minister responsible for gambling will know that companies such as Ladbrokes and Betfair are trying to access European markets and break down state monopolies in some EU countries. Surely if the single market is to mean anything at all, British businesses should be able to access those European markets. Will the Minister explain what he will do to help those businesses to access those markets?

Mr. Sutcliffe: The hon. Gentleman is a member of the all-party racing group and is well versed in these issues. He knows that we have been talking to Ladbrokes, Betfair and other betting companies about how to access foreign markets, and the European markets in particular. We continue to work with Governments in Europe to try to put the pressure on. Obviously, when the European treaty is ratified, there will be an opportunity to open up the market.

Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge) (Lab): At the beginning of the Olympics process, we were given assurances that the benefits—not least the economic benefits—would spread across all regions. Will my hon. Friend publish a list of companies in the north-east of England that have so far won contracts for the Olympics project and the total value of those contracts?

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Mr. Sutcliffe: My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics has made sure that there is transparency in all these things, including the openness of contracts. A list will be published shortly. We are keen to make sure that for the whole of the UK not only are there contractual benefits for businesses, but that people from my hon. Friend’s constituency, for example, will be able to volunteer, and hopefully some athletes from his constituency will be in the Olympic games. We want to make sure that, although the games are important for London, they are successful for the whole of the UK.


The Minister for the Olympics was asked—

International Inspiration Programme

1. Kerry McCarthy (Bristol, East) (Lab): What role the International Inspiration programme will play in delivering the London 2012 Olympics programme objective to promote sport excellence and participation in other countries. [259256]

The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): International Inspiration is a promise that we made in Singapore when we won the right to host the 2012 games. The purpose of the programme is to ensure that a generation of young people are inspired through sport in developing countries around the world. The programme is already operating in five countries. Soon that number will be eight and it will increase. I take this opportunity to thank our partners in the programme—the British Council, UNICEF, the premier league, UK Sport and the Department for International Development—for their contributions.

Kerry McCarthy: I was recently in Zambia, where I visited a boys school in Lusaka which is part of the International Inspiration programme. We were impressed on that visit to see just how engaged the young people were in sport. One of the things that particularly impressed me was the fact that children with disabilities in the school were as involved as the more able bodied children. Is that part of the International Inspiration programme, and what can we do to support it?

Tessa Jowell: I thank my hon. Friend for her question and for her visit to the programme in Lusaka. I can assure her that in International Inspiration right across the world, disabled children are equal participants with children who do not have disabilities. Given that the focus of the Zambia programme is the reduction of HIV/AIDS, I hope my hon. Friend may look at the opportunities for twinning between organisations and schools in her constituency and the International Inspiration programme.

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): Is the Minister aware that those of us who remember the 1948 games—the last London Olympics—which were run on a shoestring, remember them because they were an international inspiration programme? Sport was first, second and last, and money was very much further down the list. There is a fear that the London Olympics are so costly and the focus is so much on money that sport will take a back seat.

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Tessa Jowell: I can assure the hon. Gentleman that our objective is to ensure that these are the greatest Olympic games ever, as a sporting event, a cultural event and a paralympic event. Of course, it is also important to make sure that the regeneration objectives in east London are met. Of every pound being spent on developing the Olympic park, 75p is being spent on regeneration. The games will be good value for money, a great national party and an opportunity to celebrate the success of our athletes and para-athletes.

Legacy (Essex)

2. Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford) (Con): What legacy effect she expects the holding of London 2012 Olympics events in Essex to have on levels of participation in sport in Essex. [259257]

Tessa Jowell: The Government have the big ambition of making sure that the opportunity of the Olympics inspires 2 million people to be more active by 2012. In the case of 1 million of those, that will be through sport. Our investments are already making a difference in Essex, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, with an increase in participation between 2005 and 2007-08 that is ahead of the national increase in participation. In addition, Essex will have the opportunity to motivate its residents by using the significant hosting role of the Olympic mountain biking event at Hadleigh Farm as a way of making sure that even more people get active.

Mr. Burns: There is growing concern in my constituency that there will not be much of a legacy in Chelmsford. Will the Minister come to my constituency so that she can explain to my constituents what legacy the 2012 Olympics will be in Chelmsford?

Tessa Jowell: The legacy can be achieved in several ways. First, there is the significant number—more than 60—of training camps in the eastern region; secondly, the hon. Gentleman can make sure that he encourages businesses of all sizes in Chelmsford to bid for the contracts that will be let through the CompeteFor network as part of the Olympics. Furthermore, his constituents could put themselves forward as volunteers, and it could be ensured that the tourism benefits are maximised. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could also persuade Essex county council to be rather more enthusiastic about free swimming than it has been to date.

David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Will the Minister care to deny the scurrilous rumours that, to encourage the people of Essex to be more involved, it is intended that the sports of putting the medallion and throwing the white high heels should be included?

Tessa Jowell: I completely, utterly and comprehensively do not recognise an Olympic event there.

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