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18 Mar 2009 : Column 259WH—continued

The average cost of a Performing Rights Society licence for a sports club is £369, but many sports clubs use music only incidentally and are at a loss to understand why they should pay £369 to hear programme theme tunes, or tunes during commercial breaks. Where clubs or other organisations choose to use music for income-generation purposes, it is reasonable for them to pay directly for that usage, but where the licence fee is
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payable because the club has a television or pay-per-view licence, the use of music is not of the club’s choosing and the broadcaster will already have paid for the rights. Such incidental broadcasting of music does not compromise the rights of copyright owners, so requiring sports clubs to purchase PRS licences in those circumstances is excessive regulation and means that there is double payment.

Unfortunately, things could get worse. The UK Intellectual Property Office is reviewing who should pay for Phonographic Performance Ltd licences. The PRS licence relates to songwriters, composers and publishers, whereas the PPL licence relates to the owners of the recorded music in question. The risk is that community sports clubs could end up having to pay for both licences. If 151,000 sports clubs were required to purchase PPL licences, at an average cost of between £104 and £163, the cost to voluntary sport would be between £15.7 million and £24.6 million. Such staggering sums could significantly undermine the work that the Government, Sport England and the clubs are doing to build the profile of sport and engagement in it, and to deliver the world-class community sports system that we want.

The Intellectual Property Office proposals need to be changed to reflect the absolutely legitimate concerns of grass-roots community sports. Instead of extending the requirement to acquire a PRS licence to PPL licences, it is firmly in the public interest to extend the recording rights exemption currently available to not-for-profit organisations with regard to the PPL licence to include copyrights vested in music and lyrics—in other words, the PRS licence. The organisations that we are talking about provide valuable community benefits and their use of music as defined in the exemptions does not compromise the interests of copyright holders. Extending the exemption currently available on PPL to PRS—rather than extending the requirements for sport clubs to take the PPL licence—would also remove the anomaly arising from the partial exemption that currently exists.

I suggest to my hon. Friend the Minister that the exemption should also be drafted to apply to amateur sports clubs, whether they are registered as charities or not. That is an important point because voluntary sports clubs are clearly a special case, as defined by the rental and lending directive. That has been recognised on numerous occasions both by the European Commission and the European Court of Justice.

The point about amateur sports clubs relates to what my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) said earlier. Many clubs are very small and it is not always realistic for them to go through the process of gaining charitable status. However, those clubs more than other types of club would probably suffer from the burden of having to purchase those licences. The proposed income threshold of £20,000 as the eligibility for exemption should be removed, otherwise it has been calculated that 37,750 sports clubs will need to purchase PPL licences. That would result in an estimated annual loss to community sport of between £3.9 million and £6.1 million.

Finally, I shall answer the obvious outstanding question: are there no circumstances in which sports clubs should be expected to pay for both licences to protect the interests of songwriters, composers and owners of recorded music rights? I agree that if a sports club runs a disco
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for profit, it should purchase licences. However, the way forward is to introduce a choice-and-purpose test as the basis for charging and to recognise, for example, that a rowing club that plays a CD when people are warming up is very different from a sports club that holds a disco to raise money for a summer campaign. There is a clear distinction. Under the choice-and-purpose model, equitable remuneration would be due where the user has chosen to use music to generate income. The CCPR and I believe that that would be compatible with the aim of the rental and lending directive and ensure a proper balance between the rights of copyright holders and the interests of users. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response to the points that I have raised.

11.12 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): I will, perhaps, have a bit more time to respond to this debate than to the previous one. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Ms Smith) for raising an important issue that concerns the role of sports clubs in our communities and for talking about the need to ensure that we protect and support those clubs in what they do.

On the Government’s aspirations to get more people participating in sport, we have set ourselves the ambitious target of getting 2 million more people involved in sport and physical activity by 2012. Community clubs play a vital role in achieving that through what they do already and what we hope they will do in working with schools to develop the five-hour offer. I agree with my hon. Friend: community sports clubs are fundamental to our ability to reach our 2 million target. I put on the record our thanks to many of the volunteers who run those clubs. They are the lifeblood of sport—the people who do all the work that players do not want to do, to ensure that clubs develop, grow and continue to operate.

My hon. Friend has raised a number of points that are causing concern to community sports clubs—not least, the issue of water rates. In the same way that she was aware of the matter in her constituency, I am aware that in my constituency there have been problems relating to increased water bills because of the new way of dealing with surface water charges. Out of the water companies involved, she is right to say that United Utilities is the one that is most vigorous in applying such a strict interpretation of Ofwat guidance. We have found that, occasionally, how United Utilities was measuring the available space was wrong, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I met Ofwat to make sure that we knew exactly what the circumstances were. United Utilities has a moratorium for 12 months and we have spoken to the water companies about what needs to happen in the long term. I am hopeful that that issue will be resolved and that small clubs in particular will not be inconvenienced or penalised. We will return to that matter and I will keep hon. Members informed about our progress.

Mr. Andy Reed: I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister for taking that issue up and making some progress with it. Although I recognise that the moratorium will probably help in the short term, will he give some reassurance on what the timetable is for a likely resolution to the problem? As I am sure he knows, such matters
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hang over club treasurers every year because people are trying to budget already for the next financial year and the one after that. Some reassurance on the time in which a positive resolution can take place would be helpful.

Mr. Sutcliffe: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention; he is heavily involved in sport right across the country. We have asked Ofwat to look at the matter with some urgency and to make sure that there is a consistent approach across the different water companies in relation to the measurement. Ofwat believes that the new way of measuring is right, but there are issues. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough talked about exemptions for churches and Ofwat is aware of that. As I have said, Ofwat is talking to the water companies to try to ensure a consistency of approach and it is trying to do that as quickly as possible. I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I will be able to report to the House on what progress has been made. I confirm that Ofwat in particular is taking the issue up and is pursuing it with great speed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough will know that the Government have invested a tremendous amount of money into small clubs through the community amateur sports club scheme. We want more clubs to take part in that scheme. I accept the point about small clubs. Applying for charitable status is difficult, but we encourage more clubs to use the CASC scheme on the basis that more than 5,000 clubs have registered for the scheme so far and more than £50 million has been saved by clubs since its inception. It is a great scheme and I hope that hon. Members will encourage more clubs to join it.

Ms Angela C. Smith: My point was that we need a new category of community buildings to make sure that sports clubs are charged for utility services that are not calculated on a commercial basis. It seems unfair that community clubs should be charged at the same level as commercial clubs for utility services. Would that not be the best solution to the problem that we are talking about?

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have some sympathy with what my hon. Friend says, but far be it from me, as Sports Minister, to impinge on the jurisdiction of colleagues in other Departments. As I said, I have some sympathy with what she has said, but we should reflect on the new changes in the sporting environment that we have instituted as a Government—for example, the Youth Sport Trust deals with school and youth sport, Sport England deals with whole sport plans though governing bodies, and UK Sport deals with professional and elite sport. An opportunity is needed to consider how we can support various sectors, particularly community sport, in the light of whole sport plans.

I will take away the issues that my hon. Friend has raised today and consider in greater detail how we can ensure that community clubs fit into those structures. As my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) said, there are variants—the term “sports club” can mean different things to different people. We have to strike a balance and make sure that the clubs about which my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough is talking—the small dedicated clubs that
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are below a certain threshold—are looked after and protected by the sports themselves to start off with. However, anything that we can do to help should be done.

Mr. Andy Reed: I wish to make an important point. As my hon. Friend knows, I have a long history of involvement with the CASC scheme—I introduced a ten-minute Bill on it seven or eight years ago. We have a fantastic opportunity to build on the scheme, but there are other areas that we need to deal with—for example, the campaign that has been run on gift aid for junior subscriptions. Community sports clubs always seem to fall into a strange category that does not really relate to any of the other categories. It would be useful if we, as the sporting community, could finally get some agreement across Departments about where community sports clubs generally sit in relation to all the different categories. CASC has helped with some tax issues and with rate relief, but community sport still falls between the arts, sport and other community organisations in relation to other matters.

Mr. Sutcliffe: My hon. Friend is talking about the CCPR campaign “Subs for Clubs”, which has been taken up at our annual visit to the Treasury. It is on the list of issues that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport wants to have agreed. As yet we have won the argument, in the wider sense, but not the money, which is slightly frustrating. However, generally, and not just because of today’s debate, I shall reflect on what we can do about the smaller clubs, because of the services that they provide throughout our communities.

One big task that we must undertake is to increase the number of coaches. They are expensive and small clubs cannot afford them, so we shall have to consider methods of funding, and how small clubs can become involved with increasing the number of coaches in the wider range of sports that we shall have to offer for people to enjoy.

Ms Angela C. Smith: I agree on that point. The CCPR would say that one of the issues is that sports clubs’ heavy use of volunteers is often focused on administrative and organisational needs, taking the focus away from their meat and drink, which is coaching and encouraging kids and adults to participate in competitive sport.

Mr. Sutcliffe: My hon. Friend makes an important point. As with most voluntary organisations, the difficulty comes with the chase for money from different pots, and the need to spend time bringing in funds, when what the members really want to do is help players and youngsters to perform on the pitch.

Mr. Paul Truswell (Pudsey) (Lab): Is not the other crucial point that my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Ms Smith) is making that there is little point in the Government’s teeming money in through whatever mechanism we are talking about if it is then ladled out from clubs through utility and licence costs, and the various other continuing cost outlets that my hon. Friend wants to close?

Mr. Sutcliffe: Yes; you, Mr. Wilshire, have heard Governments talk about joined-up government, and we all believe in that. The reality is that sometimes the silo
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effect operates with unintended consequences. That is something that we want to think about, particularly in the present difficult times. Most clubs, in the present economic circumstances, are as fearful as everyone else, and we must find ways to support them.

A good example of such support is the action that we have taken on free swimming. We managed to get several Departments to work together on free swimming for the over-60s and the aspiration towards free swimming for under-16s. Each Department could understand the impact that that programme would have on its intended objective and how everyone could benefit. I agree that we need to take a view across Government, nationally and locally, to see what can be done to ensure that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Truswell) says, while we pour money in to support sport we do not let it go out again because of taxation or utility or other costs.

Whole sport plans will be important, because the national governing bodies will deliver. We want, through the new strategy, to deal with issues about the capacity of governing bodies. I believe in the whole sport plans and I intend to have meetings with several governing bodies soon, as we start to develop and make progress with the plans, about issues such as how the money is getting to the smaller, junior clubs that are the grass roots and that help all sports to develop. I want to know what the governing bodies are doing to ensure that we can attend to the relevant questions.

In the time that is left I want to comment on points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough about music licences and performing rights. She is aware of the balance that is needed in matters of copyright and protection for people’s creative abilities. However, she is also right that there are circumstances in which those matters should be taken care of for smaller clubs, or clubs that have difficulties. She has mentioned issues arising from PRS and PPL licence rights. I know that she is aware of the consultation on PRS licences; I understand that comments about the draft code should be made by 1 May. I shall reflect on what my hon. Friend has said today about what responses we can make to the issues that she has raised.

As Minister with responsibility for licensing, I am always aware of relevant matters in the creative world such as temporary event notices or such things as my hon. Friend has discussed. It is necessary to find a balance that covers the possibilities and includes the views of people who are in proximity to clubs when events take place. My hon. Friend is right to say that those are often small occasions that provide opportunities for people to get into the clubs. We intend to respond, across Government, to the consultation that closed on 11 March. Ministers will consider the responses, and I undertake to work with colleagues in other Departments to see what we can do to bring about a positive response, as my hon. Friend discussed.

If, as my hon. Friend suggested, there is a need for primary legislation, there will be a difficulty because of the time scale of the current Session, but that should not prevent people from considering what is possible. I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate. She made some important points, to which I shall give consideration.

11.25 am

Sitting suspended.

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Health Inequalities

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair]

2.30 pm

Mr. Neil Turner (Wigan) (Lab): I think that this is the first time that I have had the pleasure and honour of serving under your chairmanship, Mr. Jones. It is a great pleasure to be under your tutelage and guidance for this one and a half hour debate that I have managed to secure on primary care trust health funding.

It would be remiss if we did not first put into context just where we are at present and how far we have travelled in the past 10 or 11 years. We should remember that just before the 1997 election, my party said that we had 24 hours to save the national health service. When we look back at some of the things that have happened since that time, we can see that it was not an idle boast and that we have actually achieved it.

One of the first things that we did, of course, was to ensure that we increased the pay of nurses, doctors, auxiliaries and technicians, so that they no longer had to scratch around looking for jobs and additional work outside the health service. We put in place proper career structures, so that they could see that there was progression from one post to another right the way through, and, much more important than all of that, we put many more staff in all sections and categories in the NHS.

The effect of those changes has been dramatic: waiting lists are down dramatically and waiting times have almost been eliminated. In Wigan borough, the time between going to a doctor and seeing a consultant is down to 18 weeks. I doubt whether it could get much shorter than that.

When we compare the present with the years between 1979 and 1997, we see that improvements have been made. Forty-hour waits on trolleys in accident and emergency were not unusual. They were highlighted in the papers all the time. People were forced to go to private practice not because they wanted to but simply because they could not bear to see themselves or their families continue in ill health and in pain. They could not wait the two to three years that it often took before they could see a consultant, let alone get treatment. We had the unenviable and disgraceful situation of workers in other areas going out on strike to support nurses who were trying to get a decent wage for themselves. All that happened between 1979 and 1997, and we have managed to overcome it.

Probably the worst thing of all was the Black report, smuggled out on the eve of a bank holiday, so that it would not get into the papers and would not be discussed, even in Parliament. When it came out, it was totally ignored by the Government of the time. Why was it ignored? Because it showed the disgraceful health inequalities that existed in our country. Not only that, it demanded action.

The improvements at every level since 1997 are absolutely huge. Let me list a few of the improvements that we have seen in the Wigan borough. We have a walk-in centre at Leigh and a new A and E and trauma centre at Wigan hospital. We have a new cardiovascular unit, and
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an orthopaedic centre at Wrightington hospital. Just to remind Members, Wrightington was where the first ever hip replacement operations in this country were carried out. It is a world centre for orthopaedics and it has been improved. We have the Thomas Linacre out-patient centre, and, if all that does not work, we also have a new mortuary.

All those new facilities and all the additional staff—consultants, doctors, nurses, technicians and auxiliaries—have led to dramatic improvements in the health of the people of Wigan and the entire country. We have also seen improvements in primary care, which is vitally important. We have new general practitioner-led health centres, which do away with GP surgeries in two-up, two-down houses with no parking facilities, no disabled access and no facilities to do anything other than the most basic of investigations.

There are new polyclinics. One is at Boston house, only a quarter of a mile from where I live. A renal dialysis unit, physiotherapy and mental health services, GPs and pharmacists are all in one centre. People can go there and get proper treatment in one place. Other polyclinics are at Clare house, and in Ince and Leigh, and there are many more to come. They are hugely important in improving access to primary health care and the level of service. They offer a massive range of services that will improve people’s health—there is absolutely no doubt about that.

However, we know that despite all those improvements, health inequalities still exist. Not only do they still exist but they have not really improved much in the past 10 years. Both the Secretary of State for Health and the Minister are anxious to do something about that, and we want to help them to reduce health inequalities dramatically. When the current Secretary of State was appointed, he made it an absolute priority. He often quotes the statistic that for every station one passes on the Jubilee line going east from Westminster, people’s life expectancy decreases by one year. He stated:

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