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Participation in Sport

6. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Lab): What assessment he has made of his Department's progress in increasing the level of participation in sport since 1997. [318855]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The number of adults regularly playing sport has increased since the figures were first collected in 2005 by more than 600,000 to just under 7 million. There has also been a dramatic turnaround in school sport. In 2003, only one in four children got at least two hours of quality physical education. Today, 90 per cent. do and more than half are doing at least three hours a week.

Derek Wyatt: I thank the Secretary of State for those figures, which are impressive. However, does he think that we would have made even more progress if we had had a separate Department for sport and health?

Mr. Bradshaw: No. I think that the structure of governance that we have at the moment, which we introduced in 1997, is a very good one. That does not mean, however, that there are not very good arguments for my Department working much more closely with the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families, as we have been on the whole public health, sport and physical activity agenda. We have been seeing the fruits of that co-operation and we will see further fruits of that co-operation in the weeks to come and in our manifesto.

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Christopher Fraser (South-West Norfolk) (Con): The school sports partnership impact study found that declining participation was especially marked among the 16-to-19 age group. What progress has been made in reducing the number of 16-year-olds who drop out of sport?

Mr. Bradshaw: The challenge that the hon. Gentleman puts his finger on is that it is more difficult, obviously, when young people are not necessarily in full-time or compulsory education to devise a curriculum that ensures that they take part in physical activity. However, strenuous efforts are going on at local level through the school sports partnership and other sports bodies to address the particular concern that he raises. I will happily write to him with the latest figures on participation among 16 to 18-year-olds if that would be helpful.

Travelling Circuses

8. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): What progress has been made in discussions between his Department, the local authorities committee on regulatory services and representatives of the circus industry on reform of the licensing regime for travelling circuses; and if he will make a statement. [318858]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): We have convened a working group of stakeholders, which includes local government and circus representatives, to develop options for what is called a portable licence for travelling circuses. The group met on 23 February and hopes to conclude its work by late spring, after which there will be a public consultation on possible options.

Peter Luff: I hope that the Minister will pass to her colleague the Under-Secretary my gratitude for this progress-perhaps belated progress, but progress none the less-that is being made. If I may take a liberty, may I adapt her party's election slogan and say that if she keeps up momentum, we might be able to look forward to a future circus for all?

Margaret Hodge: I note what the hon. Gentleman has said and I congratulate him, because he has taken a close interest in these matters. I think that his lobbying has finally been successful. I know that the group is meeting again at the end of March and I hope that the consultation will then be produced immediately after the election and that the new regulations can be brought into force quickly.

Media Images (Women)

9. Mr. Andrew Pelling (Croydon, Central) (Ind): What recent discussions he has had with media representatives on the portrayal of women in (a) publications and (b) broadcasts. [318860]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): We have regular discussions with the independent regulators-Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority-and keep these matters under constant review.

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Mr. Pelling: I was encouraged by the positive response from the Leader of the House when I raised a similar issue on Thursday. Has the Minister been able to take cognisance of the report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which suggested joint working between advertisers, media, Government and physicians to deal with this very important issue?

Margaret Hodge: I noted the hon. Gentleman's comments to the Leader of the House last week. This is a very important issue and it is very difficult to find specific influences on outcomes for children and their behaviour. We have also had the report from Linda Papadopoulos last Thursday, which we are studying to see whether there are implications to which we need to have regard and whether we need to take further action.

Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington) (Lab): Is the Minister aware of the quite widespread concern among women, particularly mothers, about the proliferation of lads mags? The concern is not that they exist, but that if one goes into a newsagents with one's child to buy some sweets, one finds them at the child's eye level, often displayed in prime position. What can be done to toughen the regulatory regime to ensure that those magazines are put on the top shelf where they deserve to be?

Margaret Hodge: I am, indeed, aware of those concerns, and I know that the vast majority of lads mags are on the top shelves. The last figures I saw suggested that 58 per cent. were put on the top shelf. Until now, this has been a matter for self-regulation, but we keep it under constant review; it is an issue on which all Members of the House share concerns.

Live Music (Small Venues)

10. John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): What progress has been made in encouraging the performance of live music in small venues. [318861]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): Small venues are using the new minor variations process to add live music to their licences, and we have also been encouraging the use of the existing incidental live music exemption. The Government are also consulting on a proposal to exempt small live music events from the Licensing Act 2003.

John Hemming: I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Will the Government be supporting the Live Music Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), which will assist venues that do not serve alcohol, such as village halls and school halls, in that regard?

Mr. Bradshaw: We think that there are a number of problems with the Bill, partly because there has been no formal consultation on its proposals. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the proposals in the Bill are strongly opposed by the Conservative-controlled Local Government Association and by LACORS-Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services. Without such proper consultation, we would be very worried about the legal robustness of such legislation. Also, we do not think that the focus on the old two-in-a-bar rule, which
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the Liberal Democrats and the music industry campaigned against for many years, is the right way forward. We think that our proposal is sensible and that it balances the needs of the music industry, of young musicians to get experience of performing and of local residents and councils regarding undue noise and disturbance.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North) (Lab): Is it not sensible to apply restrictions on the volume of sound that is produced in small venues rather than on the nature of music or sound being produced? The situation is such that a single musician, heavily amplified, can make more noise than a jazz big band; I think that is a great shame.

Mr. Bradshaw: Yes, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why we believe that the approach proposed by the Liberal Democrats through the Bill that originated in the other place is not the way forward to address this problem.

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): I thank the Government for the action that they have taken to relax licensing requirements for charitable events, but will the Secretary of State give further, strong guidance to local authorities that are still being over-officious in preventing small and medium-sized charity events from proceeding?

Mr. Bradshaw: Yes. One of the main problems in this area is not that existing guidance and legislation are flawed, but that they are implemented differently by different local authorities. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to put his finger on the problem that some local authorities are much more sensible and proportionate in their enforcement of the rules and guidelines while others are much more, as he calls it, officious. Authorities should look to adopt the best practice guidance, which respects the needs of local communities for peace and quiet but does not stifle opportunities for young, creative musicians to perform and practise.

Mr. Edward Vaizey (Wantage) (Con): The Government are fond of saying that there has been an increase in live music since the Licensing Act came in. One reason for that is that the number of events that need to be licensed has increased, and another is the coming on stream of the O2 arena and Wembley stadium. Is the Minister aware that the UK Statistics Authority has said:

Can he confirm that the UK Statistics Authority has written to him in those terms and that he will exercise caution in using those figures in future?

Mr. Bradshaw: Unlike the Conservative party, we always take very seriously what the UK Statistics Authority says, and I shall do so. Certainly on the information we have, I do not think anyone challenges the fact that there has been significant growth in the amount of live music, but the hon. Gentleman is right to identify the fact that it has been concentrated in medium and larger-sized venues. Similar growth has not been seen in smaller venues, which is exactly why we are proposing to extend the exemption to them.

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Again, however, I am afraid I am still completely confused about the hon. Gentleman's policy. On the one hand, he told the Performers Alliance, at a reception at Parliament recently, that he supported Lord Clement-Jones's Bill; but on the other, the Conservative Local Government Association is vehemently opposed to any exemption for licensed premises.

Cultural Olympiad

11. Ann Winterton (Congleton) (Con): What recent progress has been made on the programme for the Cultural Olympiad; and if he will make a statement. [318862]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): Three major cultural projects have been launched so far, and nearly 150 projects have been awarded the Inspire mark. More than 1,400 open weekend events were held during 2008 and 2009. In July 2009, the Cultural Olympiad Board was established, placing delivery of the Cultural Olympiad in the hands of our world-renowned cultural sector.

Ann Winterton: Does the right hon. Lady believe that further progress could be made if the rather pompous title "Cultural Olympiad" was dropped for something in plain English that describes to the general public what it actually means? Will she ensure that if there is a lasting cultural legacy from the Olympics, it is spread throughout the United Kingdom and not just confined to London?

Margaret Hodge: I have a lot of sympathy with the views of the hon. Lady-

Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): On this issue.

Margaret Hodge: On this issue. It is for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the Cultural Olympiad Board to look at the name, and I know that Tony Hall, as chairman of the board, is suggesting a new title.

I also have a lot of sympathy for the view that the benefits of the Cultural Olympiad-as it is known now-should be shared throughout the country. Many of the events to date have been outside London, and we need to do more and more to make sure that they take place throughout Britain.

Broadcasting (Impartiality)

14. John Robertson (Glasgow, North-West) (Lab): What recent discussions he has had with broadcast media industry representatives on the impartiality of news and current affairs programmes. [318866]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): Impartiality is an essential element of Britain's broadcasting culture. The suggestion that the requirement for impartiality in broadcasting should be lifted that has been made by the Conservatives and some of their friends in the media would be a regrettable, even dangerous, step.

John Robertson: I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. I know he agrees that some people in the House would like to get rid of the impartiality rules for everybody except the BBC. Does he agree that that should not
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happen? The only thing we want in relation to Fox News is for hunting not to be repealed.

Mr. Bradshaw: I think my hon. Friend is absolutely right. When one looks at all the surveys of public attitudes towards broadcasting in this country, one sees that one of the things the public greatly value is the requirement on broadcasters to be impartial. It would be a retrograde step and a dangerous step for democracy, when we look-as my hon. Friend has-at the landscape in the United States under proposals similar to those the Conservatives would like to introduce in the UK. It is bad for democracy, bad for the quality of broadcasting and the public will not like it.

National Lottery Funding (Sport)

15. Mr. David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) (Con): How much national lottery funding has gone to sport since 2005. [318867]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): Since April 2005, the national lottery has raised £1.1 billion for the sport good cause. In addition, in that period the Big Lottery Fund distributed more than £700 million of lottery money to projects focused exclusively on community sport and physical activity. The Big Lottery Fund has also funded many other community projects that include some element of sport and physical activity.

Mr. Evennett: I thank the Secretary of State for that response. However, is he aware that many people in my constituency feel that the proportion of national lottery money going to sport has been inadequate and that Ministers and the Government have funnelled lottery funding to their pet projects at the expense of sport?

Mr. Bradshaw: I believe that hon. Members on both sides of the House are aware that we have the Olympics games in 2012, so, yes, of course a proportion of the funding that used to go not just to sport but to other good causes has been diverted to the Olympics, but that is absolutely right. We want the Olympics to be a great success, but when they are over in 2012, that funding will return to those original causes. The hon. Gentleman must answer the question about the impact of the Conservative party's policy of withdrawing the funds derived from the Big Lottery Fund and instead going back to the four original pillars, which would hit community, sports and leisure projects in his constituency.

Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I do not know whether the Secretary of State wants to come round to this side of the House, because he seems to be asking the questions rather than answering them. Could he answer this one? Representatives of Northamptonshire county cricket club came to see me on Friday. It is one of the less prosperous county cricket teams and its representatives are very concerned about the money that they will lose if Sky loses the right to the exclusive use of cricket on the media. I know that this has been discussed before, but substituting lottery money for Sky money does not work. Does he have an opinion on this? What does he think the balance is on this matter?

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Mr. Bradshaw: The hon. Gentleman accuses me of asking the Conservative party questions, but, a few weeks before a general election, I think that both the House and the public have some entitlement to know what his party stands for. Its policies are totally confused across the entire responsibilities of this Department, just as they are nationally. Not only his leader, but Opposition Front Benchers wibble and wobble all over the place on policy. [ Interruption. ] Exactly as my hon. Friends say, their policy changes every day. I simply say to the hon. Gentleman, who, I know, likes taking orders from Sky and Rupert Murdoch, as does his party, that he should be-

Hon. Members: Withdraw!

Mr. Speaker: Order. May I say very gently to the Secretary of State that I am sure that he will now return to the matter of Government policy?

Mr. Bradshaw: The hon. Gentleman was asking me about listed events and the impact that listing cricket as an event-for example, the test match home series-might have on community cricket. I think that many hon. Members think that the impact of that has been somewhat exaggerated. I simply gently point out to the hon. Gentleman that, just as he has the concern of a certain broadcaster at heart, millions of people in this country value cricket going back on to free-to-air, terrestrial television. We speak for them; the Conservatives speak for vested interests.

Mr. Bone: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: No, not now; after questions.

Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove) (Con): In the light of the UK's performance at the winter Olympics, does the Secretary of State wish that we had spent more of our money on elite sporting performance in winter Olympic sports?

Mr. Bradshaw: The hon. Lady is rather negative about the UK's performance at the winter Olympics. We actually won our first gold medal in a single event for 30 years-since Robin Cousins-so it was our best performance for several years. But of course, these funding decisions are not taken by Ministers in this Government, although she might like that to be the case under a Conservative Government. We believe in the sports bodies making the decisions about where funding goes. Of course, they will review whether the funding that they put into certain winter Olympic sports represents good value for money, and they will make decisions about future funding based on those talks.

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): The Secretary of State was alluding to the 2012 Olympics and the legacy that we will receive from it. Will he inform the House exactly how much the games will cost NHS London? I asked the same question of the Secretary of State for Health the other day, and he indicated that it would be £41 million. [Interruption.] Will this Secretary of State give us the documents, so that we know how much the Olympics will cost NHS London?

Mr. Bradshaw: I am afraid that, because of all the noise, I did not hear the specific question, but if the hon. Gentleman will write to me, I will happily write a reply to him.

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