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Mr. Bradshaw: I will be happy to look into the points that the hon. Gentleman raises. As the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt) said, I have had only two days to get on top of the issues, so I hope that the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Peter Luff) will forgive me if I am not on top of every detail. I will ensure that I look into the one that he raises.
Anne Snelgrove (South Swindon) (Lab): May I also add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend? He was a superb regional Minister and I was proud to be his deputy. All of us in the south-west are delighted to see him elevated to the Cabinet.
He may be aware of an issue in Swindon that I have raised with several of his predecessorsthe digital switchover for the railway village. It is one of the poorest communities in Swindon and a conservation area, and the switchover faces extreme difficulties. Will he look into that?
Robert Key (Salisbury) (Con): I add my congratulations to the Secretary of State. May I say how welcome it is that we may now expect a large dose of culture in DCMS? Will he look at the situation in Salisbury and south Wiltshire, one of the last switchover stations? Is there any hope of accelerating digital switchover for people in rural communities who depend on it more than other people for any possibility of choice and diversity?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): The majority of UK Sport and Sport England funding is allocated to organisations such as national governing bodies rather than regionally. It is used to deliver the Governments key sporting objectives across the country, including in the north-west. Specific grants benefiting the north-west this year include more than £10 million of Exchequer funding for county sports partnerships and the English Institute of Sport in the region, and more than £1 million of UK Sport Lottery funding for major events, including the Paralympic World cup.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: The Minister will know that the previous Conservative Government set up the lottery with provision for grass-roots sports as one of its primary good causes. The sport industry in the north-west makes up 1.5 per cent. of the areas economy, butin my experience recentlyever-decreasing funds are dedicated to grass-roots sports. What may my constituents expect in sport funding for 2009-10? This is important, because grass-roots sport is critical.
Mr. Sutcliffe: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his involvement in sport. I remember as a new Member discussing with him sport in Macclesfield, many years ago. I do not accept that there has been a reduction in funding for grass-roots sportindeed, the opposite is true. In schools, we are trying to bring the two-hour offer up to five hours and encouraging sports clubs to work with schools, to try to bring them together to increase the number of young people taking part. We have also seen an increase in the number of girls taking part in sport at all levels. I also mentioned to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) the investment of more than £5 billion in the last 12 years. Rather than seeing a reduction in funding for community sports, we have seen a three-fold increase. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) will also be aware of the funding available not only through the governing bodies, but through Sport Englands rural and innovation funds. Many of the clubs that he mentions will be able to take advantage of that funding.
Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): We heard earlier how receptive councils will be to the Ministers advice and views on developing and enabling sport. Will he give advice to local education authorities in the north-west and elsewhere, such as Essex county council, that they should not sell off school playing fields, such as the field at Castle View school in Canvey Island, for development, but should retain those school fields for sport?
Mr. Sutcliffe: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will know that over the past 12 years we have safeguarded school playing fields, ensuring that they cannot be sold without procedures being followed and without Sport England being involved. There is a debate about playing fields as opposed to the provision of indoor sports facilities, which I accept. Our record shows that we have stopped the sell-off of playing fields that happened under the previous Government. We want to see more world-class facilities available to everybody.
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): One of the most successful funders of sport in the north-west, not mentioned by the Minister, is, of course, the Football Foundation. There were reports last week that the Football Association intends to cut the grant it gives the Football Foundation by approximately 15 per cent., or at least £2 million each year. Incidentally, that contradicts all the assurances that we were given as part of the 2018 World cup launch last week, which the Minister and I attended together. Given that the Government are the FAs funding partner for the Football Foundation, may I ask the Minister whether he agrees with this policy? If not, as I suspect, what is he doing to stop it?
Mr. Sutcliffe: At a meeting of the Football Foundation board, the issue was raised of the potential reduction in funding to grassroots sports. It is not something that I would be very happy about. I am told that it is only a proposal at this stage, but the hon.Gentleman is quite right to raise it and I shall be raising it with the FA as soon as possible
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): Through the PE and school sport strategy, £1.5 billion was invested in the five years to 2008. A further £783 million has been committed for the next three years. That has already helped to ensure that 90 per cent. of schools now provide cricket to their pupils. The chance to shine programme has also played a significant part in bringing the sport to young people, with 20,000 sessions delivered across 2,000 schools in 2008. In addition, Sport England has awarded nearly £38 million over the next four years to the cricket programmes.
Tony Baldry: The cricket boards chance to shine programme is an excellent initiative, but it is able to get into only about a third of all state schools. Of the competitive matches it has organised, only a tiny percentageabout 4 per cent.are played with cricket balls. How on earth are we going to beat the Windies, India and Australia in the future when so few youngsters are playing competitive cricket and when, of those who are playing competitive cricket, only a tiny proportion are learning to play with cricket balls?
Mr. Sutcliffe: I share the hon. Gentlemans concern. I had the misfortune to be at Lords on Friday to see England being beaten by Holland. Thankfully, England managed to rectify the situation against Pakistan yesterday. I think that the hon. Gentleman is right, and what we are trying to do with the investmentcricket gets the biggest investment of Sport England moneyis to ensure that we have the best coaches and the best opportunities, particularly for school children. We are trying to get school children and the clubs together to ensure that that coaching continues. The way in which that coaching is provided is surely a matter for the England and Wales Cricket Board and not for the Government.
Mr. John Grogan (Selby) (Lab): In inspiring young people to take up cricket, is it not a great shame that alone of the major sports there is no live coverage of it on free-to-air TV, particularly in a summer when there are the Ashes and the Twenty20 world cup? Is this not something that the David Davies review of listed events should consider seriously?
Mr. Sutcliffe: Certainly. I congratulate my hon. Friend, who is a keen supporter not only of mens cricket but of womens cricket. He will congratulate the England womens team that won the Ashes in Australia and will hopefully do very well in the world cup that is now taking place. We asked the David Davies review of listed events to ensure that we look at all the things that need to be considered. When that report comes to us shortly, the Secretary of State and I will make recommendations, which will then go out to consultation.
Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): Does the Minister agree that if cricket is to flourish, particularly in state schools, we need close links with clubs and a commitment from teachers to stay on after hours to coach and take teams? What discussions has he held with his colleagues in other Departments to make sure that those people are able to commit their time?
Mr. Sutcliffe: One of the good things about sport is that we work with colleagues right across Governmentwhether it is cricket or swimming, we are showing the impact that sport can have on other programmes for individual development. Specifically on cricket, the increase in school sport from two hours to five hours can be delivered only by clubs working closely with schools. Yes, PE teachers, and teachers, are important, but we also have specialist sports colleges and competition managers in schools. We need to encourage more coaches at different levels. We certainly want volunteer coaches, but we also want coaches for specific sports, including cricket, which is why we set up investment to offer 5,000 young people the opportunity to become cricket coaches.
Mr. Brian Jenkins (Tamworth) (Lab): The Minister realises of course that for young people to play cricket there must be cricket clubs. What advice can he give Wilnecote sports and social club, which runs two teams, but is suffering from a high level of vandalism and needs £20,000 to build a perimeter defence to reduce it? The club has made applications to our local council, which has reserves of 200 per cent. in its annual budget but refuses to pass on to local clubs the money the Government have sent down. Of course, it is a Conservative local authority. What advice can my hon. Friend give?
Mr. Sutcliffe: I hope the local authority will support its local sports clubs. Whether it is cricket, football, rugby or hockey, the role of the local sports club in our communities is vital. Clubs do work that is usually unpaid and usually done by volunteers, but the impact on our communities is large. The amount of vandalism we see in many sports fields and clubs is regrettable. Sometimes, volunteers are sickened by the mindless vandalism that takes place. If my hon. Friend needs my assistance to speak to the local authority about the specific case he raises, I am happy to provide it. The authority should understand the significant contribution that the local club is making.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Barbara Follett): The new planning policy statement will be published in draft this summer and consulted on immediately afterwards, with a view to its coming into force early next year. I know that the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr. Vaizey) will now take me to task because I promised that it would be available by Easter, but we believe that it is important to get it right.
I thank the Minister for her reply, but does she not appreciate that there is some urgency about not only the reforms and proposals on the PPS, but also the Heritage Protection Bill that the Government should have brought in last year but did not? There is a whole swathe of legislation that we were told would be brought in because we did not need primary legislation, such as reform of secondary legislation to deal with the Shimizu judgment, the heritage partnership
agreement, the guidance for investment in and promotion of historic environment records and improved protection for world heritage sites. When will those matters be dealt with?
Barbara Follett: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question and I appreciate his concern. My Department and I have been working with heritage groups to address exactly the matters he has raised, not all of which need primary legislation. I should be happy to copy him into the work we are doing in those areas.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): Would the Minister be kind enough to tell the new Secretary of StateI welcome him warmlythat one of the biggest disappointments in his excellent predecessor was that he did not bring in the heritage Bill? May we have some real action on that now? There is plenty of parliamentary time.
Barbara Follett: I share the hon. Gentlemans disappointment and the disappointment felt in the whole House about that; we argued with L Committee and fought for the Bill and I shall continue to do what I can to advance heritage protection. I know that my about-to- be right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will do the same.
Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex) (Con): Does the hon. Lady agree that the Government have been short-sighted, mean-spirited and lacking in vision on their duty of care towards the maintenance of the royal palaces? At what stage will the Government agree to play their part in maintaining those vital historic places?
Barbara Follett: I am afraid that I cannot possibly agree with the hon. Gentleman. I know that the predecessor of my about-to-be right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had a meeting with representatives from the royal palaces last week, and I will follow the matter up with the new Secretary of State.
Mr. Edward Vaizey (Wantage) (Con):
I am flattered that the Minister knew that I would intervene on this questionand, indeed, knew that one of the things for which I would take her to task was the fact that the planning policy statement has been delayed since Easter. Was she also aware that I would take her to task for the fact that the Government have cut £100 million from the heritage budget over the past 10 years? Was she aware that, like my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack), I would invite her
to ask the new Secretary of State, whom we all welcome to his new position, to speak to the Prime Minister, so that we can bring forward a heritage protection Bill that has the support of all parties in this House? It would have the added benefit of giving a Government who are currently focused on their own preservation something else to focus on.
Barbara Follett: I am glad that I can read the hon. Gentlemans mind. Like him, I am extremely concerned about conserving our heritage, not least because I am Minister for tourism, and people come to look at our marvellous and unique heritage. I will work with the new Secretary of State on that. I realise that there have been cuts, but I ask the hon. Gentleman to pause and consider what his own party has promised in the way of cuts, and what he would do with heritage if those cuts were made.
8. Mr. David Crausby (Bolton, North-East) (Lab): What recent assessment he has made of the effect on visitor numbers of free access to national museums and galleries; and if he will make a statement. 
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Barbara Follett): Visits to national museums and galleries are at a record high for the third year running, with more than 40.3 million such visits recorded last year. Since the Government introduced the free admission policy in 2001, visits to previously charging museums have more than doubled, from 7.2 million eight years ago to 16 million last year.
Mr. Crausby: On Friday my grandson Charlie enjoyed the delights of Boltons excellent free aquarium and museum. Does my hon. Friend agree that the pleasure of museums should not be confined just to rich children, any more than membership of this House should be confined to rich adults?
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): My Departments responsibilities are set out in our website. They have an important part to play in sustaining and boosting Britains economy, helping define our national identity and improving peoples health and well-being. I look forward to working with my ministerial colleagues and Members in all parts of the House to continue to maximise the public good of the arts, culture more generally, sport and media in all our lives.
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