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I call not only on the Government in London but also on the Assembly in Cardiff to understand the close nature of the links between north and mid-Wales and Liverpool. There is a proposal that certain medical treatment for the people of north and mid-Wales will

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not be provided in Liverpool and those people will need to travel to Cardiff and Swansea. Now, I admire Cardiff and Swansea, but a journey for a patient from north Wales to either takes something like five hours. From north Wales to Liverpool is just over an hour. A big contention now is whether neurological surgery and treatment should be continued at the Walton Centre in Liverpool. Then there is a problem for children at Alder Hay, Broadgreen and other hospitals losing their Welsh links. How important it is that we preserve these links and that north and mid-Wales keep these health and education links with their capital of Liverpool.

There is a new era of opportunity in the building of this link. Mike Storey was an outstanding leader of Liverpool City Council. Just before he retired he organised an apology from the city of Liverpool to the people of Wales for the drowning of the Tryweryn Valley to provide the reservoir. That drowning was a thoughtless gesture; all the MPs for Wales were against it, but it went through. Now, Mike managed to get a unanimous vote from Liverpool City Council, which began to build a bridge. I am only sorry that one effort of mine failed, which was to get the National Eisteddfod of Wales to be held in Liverpool preceding the European year of culture there.

There is an opportunity to keep and appreciate these traditional links. So many Welsh people have contributed a great deal to Liverpool, and Liverpool has contributed so much to the people of north Wales. I hope that the year of Liverpool being the Capital of Culture in Europe will also be a year when these links are reinforced, and there will be a great new happiness in our relationship.

8.07 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I join others in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, and thank him for initiating this important debate this evening. In just 22 days, Liverpool will join an impressive clutch of cities that have previously secured this accolade, including capital cities such as Athens, Paris, Berlin and Stockholm. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool said, there were few in the city who did not join the impressive coalition forged to bring the bid forward. That number included some 20,000 schoolchildren.

I pay particular tribute to Professor Peter Toyne and the energy and skill that he deployed. I also pay tribute to the then leader of the city council, Mike Storey, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, referred, and the then chief executive, David Henshaw. When they were singing from the same hymn sheet, they were formidable indeed. Their starting point in placing that bid forward was economic and social disadvantage. You do not receive European Objective 1 status, as Merseyside did in the mid-1990s, unless your economy is performing 75 per cent below the average European Union economic activity per head. Since then, more than £2.4 billion has flowed into Merseyside— £463 million from the private sector, with a further £350 million to come via Objective 2 funding.

For several years, I served as a non-executive director and chairman of Merseyside Special Investment Fund. Set up in 1996, MSIF has backed 1,136 businesses,

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created 6,136 jobs and preserved a further 4,439. It has invested over £93 million and has brought in more than £192 million in private sector funds as investment. In addition, the Capital of Culture is expected to create a lasting legacy of some 14,000 jobs. The right reverend Prelate talked about the city’s motto being, “God has given unto us this leisure”. Happily, He is also now giving us jobs and work, which were part of the problem that the city faced in the 1980s and 1990s.

In declaring the chair that I hold at Liverpool John Moores University, I have nothing but praise for the hugely important role that our three universities have played in the city’s regeneration. It is good to see the noble Lord, Lord Owen, who is chancellor of Liverpool University, in his place this evening. Part of John Moores University’s contribution to Capital of Culture is its prestigious Roscoe lectures, which attract thousands of people. Lecturers have included the Dalai Lama, the President of Ireland, the Chief Rabbi and many other celebrated figures. This year they have included His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the President of Ghana, and next year’s lectures include one by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York.

The greatest lesson that Liverpool should learn from its success in becoming the Capital of Culture is that when it unites, it is invincible. The entire city now needs to show the same intense, united sense of purpose and utter commitment in ensuring that this opportunity bears many long-term fruits. Liverpool’s cultural achievements speak for themselves. Its theatres, museums, galleries, orchestral achievements and literary heritage make it the best cultural centre outside London. A new Museum of Liverpool is under construction; a renovated and expanded World Museum is attracting record numbers of visitors; the new International Slavery Museum is already open; and the spectacular 9,000-seater waterfront stadium, the Liverpool Echo Arena, will open early next year. Europe’s biggest retail development is under way; the cruise liner berth will become a full terminal; and the 2007 Turner Prize has arrived at the Tate of the north—the first time this prestigious event has been held outside London. There will be a rollercoaster of public lectures, public art, street theatre, exhibitions, community festivals and exhibitions. A winter arts festival begins in January. The largest programme of public and community art ever undertaken in the UK is under way and 400,000 Merseysiders will have been involved by the end of 2008. As the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, and others have said, that will play out right across the region.

Just achieving Capital of Culture status does not, of course, guarantee renaissance. It did not in Patras and it was only of limited value in Cork, but Glasgow—Capital of Culture in 1990—genuinely became miles better. That will happen in Liverpool, too, if the city unites to make it happen. The objective must be a legacy of long-term growth and sustainability.

8.12 pm

Lord Grantchester: My Lords, I add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Harrison on securing this debate, as next month Liverpool approaches the opening

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of a year’s activities and initiatives celebrating European Capital of Culture. I declare an interest in that my mother’s family is the Moores family; I refer especially to my late grandfather, Sir John Moores, who was instrumental in developing cultural life on Merseyside over many years. He initiated the John Moores exhibition to encourage young artists and to promote art outside London. That exhibition alternated each year with the Peter Moores exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery; remarkably, 2008 is the 25th John Moores exhibition, celebrating 50 years of encouragement to aspiring artists. The Moores family were also instrumental in bringing the Tate to Liverpool and in helping the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Today, James Moores and his sister Portia have raised the bar in artistic activities on Merseyside, reinvigorating the John Moores exhibition and initiating the biennial.

I also pay tribute to other leaders who have tirelessly promoted Liverpool: Loyd Grossman, chairman of Culture Northwest and of National Museums Liverpool, who spearheaded, with Dr David Fleming, a £68 million development programme for the museum; Bryan Gray, chairman of the Northwest Regional Development Agency; Warren Bradley, leader of the council; Phil Redmond, the entrepreneur; and many others.

Liverpool 08 will use culture to transform national and international perceptions of Merseyside. It is the first opportunity since 1990 for a British city to host the European Capital of Culture. It will happen; it will be fantastic; it will be delivered on time and on budget. Liverpool will be a credit to the nation and to Europe and Liverpool 08 will be a catalyst for the city’s regeneration, both in buildings and in institutions. National Museums Liverpool, which includes the Walker Art Gallery, the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Lady Lever Art Gallery, the National Conservation Centre, the new International Slavery Museum, among others, and the Liverpool and Merseyside record offices and St George’s Hall have all benefited from over £100 million of spending. Liverpool’s tourism infrastructure will also be enhanced with developments such as the Liverpool One shopping centre. Liverpool has already gone from being 16th to the fifth most visited city since winning the bid. Visitor numbers at the National Museums have already risen from 700,000 in 2001 to almost 1.7 million this year.

Liverpool 08 is not just about buildings; it is also about rebuilding communities. At the heart of Liverpool 08’s contribution to the Cultural Olympiad will be the flagship Portrait of a Nation initiative, a campaign run by the Liverpool Culture Company.

Liverpool is also the centre of the pools industry, whose influence on British culture has helped to make football our national game. Merseyside celebrates two of the greatest football clubs, Everton and Liverpool; it is regrettable that Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, respectively from Liverpool and Everton, were missing extensively throughout England’s failed campaign for Euro 2008. Nevertheless, 2008 celebrates 80 years since Everton’s Dixie Dean’s unsurpassed record of scoring 60 goals in a season, which will be remembered through biographical plays and events. Everton Football Club will celebrate 130 years of success and the Football League will be 120 years old.

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Liverpool 08 is not just good news for the people of Merseyside; it is also good news for the north-west. Cheshire will host the Cheshire Year of Gardens 08, which has been mentioned, with a year of programmes building on the success of the Royal Horticultural Society’s July event at Tatton Park and its partnership development with Ness Botanic Gardens. I am sure that the Minister will join us tonight in recognising and promoting Liverpool 08 as an event of national significance. The Government have been instrumental in funding and attracting support and will continue to work hand in hand with the Liverpool Culture Company, the council and their partners to deliver the best ever European Capital of Culture.

I congratulate the support shown by DCMS. I encourage it to see what more it could give and especially to look at ways in which to answer the council’s request to capitalise £20 million of revenue funding to avoid public sector funding restrictions. DCMS must also encourage other departments to support Liverpool 08, as the programme touches on many broader themes, such as regeneration, health, education, neighbourhoods, crime, diversity and youth policy. I encourage DCMS, with the Government Office for the North West, to co-ordinate a programme of ministerial visits to Liverpool throughout the year. It will be an experience to savour.

8.18 pm

Lord Owen: My Lords, I rise to associate myself with this excellent debate and to say, as chancellor of the University of Liverpool for the past 11 and a half years, what a great privilege it has been to help Liverpool build itself up, as it has done so rapidly. I am also grateful to the vice-chancellor of the university, Drummond Bone, for the work that he has done on the Cultural Company, and to all those people who put a tremendous amount of effort into making the year the success that I am sure it will be. The University of Liverpool’s Victoria Building is going to be renewed and replenished during the year and will be open in part to the public—that building gave the name to “red-brick universities”, which has gone right around the country. Liverpool is a great city and has wonderful things for people to come to see, but I hope that people will go a little bit further and on to Crosby beach to see the Gormley statues in the sea—that is one of the most remarkable sculptural exhibitions that I have ever seen. I wish the city every success.

8.19 pm

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, particularly on opening this short debate with what I can only describe as a lyrical overture. Almost everyone in the Chamber has been claiming some part of what is going to be the great success of Liverpool—the north-west, north Wales and, no doubt soon, London.

If I may so, there is a striking difference between the two great events that we are celebrating; one the Capital of Culture event next year and the other the London Olympics four years later. It is worth pointing out that the London Olympics will be hugely commercial, will have vast sums spent on it, will have professionally trained sports men and women and will, at the end of the day, be able to offer huge rewards to those who are successful. Liverpool, by contrast, has the story of a

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community coming together to contribute to the success of Liverpool as Capital of Culture. Briefly, looking at the extraordinary renaissance of Liverpool since the early 1980s, the church—at that time led by Bishop Sheppard of the Anglican community and Archbishop Worlock of the Catholic community—played a huge part, setting at rest what previously had been the fierce racial riots in the city, when we reached the very bottom. Since that time, there has been a tremendous outpouring of community inspiration and spirit in Liverpool, the reviving of singing and poetry reading in the pubs, and recognising the tremendous contribution of the universities. In that context, I would particularly congratulate the noble Lords, Lord Alton and Lord Owen, on the fantastic work that the universities have done, making themselves available to the whole city. Those are not the universities of a small elite, those are universities that belong to and feed into the community.

In conclusion, I am delighted that we now have a new dynasty; the dynasty of my noble friend Lord Rodgers. Of course, there is the famous dynasty that the grandfather of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, represented; that of the Moores, who made huge contributions to the city. This is a wonderful example of a citizens’ City of Culture, a citizens’ contribution to the renaissance of a great part of this country. I hope strongly that it will be a great success—I am sure that it will be—and that this little debate will have sent it off into the finest waters.

8.22 pm

Lord Lloyd-Webber: My Lords, I have just returned from two of the most thrilling days of my life, working with young people in Liverpool, which is why my speech tonight is unpremeditated. It is the most fantastic and thrilling city. There is a joy in going around both the cathedrals, then looking at a church like St Agnes in Sefton Park and the Unitarian church next door and thinking, “Oh yes, it’s fabulous”, as are the city’s architecture and young people.

We had the most wonderful time working together on a musical about Northern Ireland, funnily enough, which was interesting. The kids knew a lot about history, but in one sense there was something a little lacking. One wondered whether one could take the whole thing further, because the joy of working in Liverpool is that it is multicultural and it has everything going for it. In the wonderful Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts—LIPA—you get a sense of everyone wanting to come together. They are very well funded there, but the city, too, wants to go another notch further. This is a city that will explode if it is given a little bit more encouragement. The architecture is thrilling—those of us who love churches know what is there—but the extraordinary nature of what is going on there has something of a lid on it. If the Government would give it a nudge, the lid would come off and it would be a cauldron of absolute joy and art.

8.23 pm

Lord McNally: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, must have a warm glow about the debate that he has initiated, not least with the talent encouraged

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to contribute in the gap. The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber, should not worry—sometimes the impulsive speeches are the best of all. I am certain that Liverpool will be happy to have that endorsement from such a source.

My parents were born in Oceanic Road, Old Swan, at the turn of the previous century, and I was brought up on stories of Liverpool before the First World War. Liverpool was the first big city that I went to from Blackpool. When I was Member of Parliament for Stockport in the very early 1980s, I went across to a conference about Liverpool sponsored by Granada. It was one of the most depressing conferences that I had ever been to. The bleakness outside of depression and recession and the feeling that the city was going nowhere was very depressing indeed.

That is why the City of Culture and the run-up to it has been so very encouraging in the way that all parts and all sides have come together. Here, in the All-Party 08 Group, Members of both Houses of Parliament, including Michael Howard from the Conservative Party, the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and all the Merseyside MPs, are working hard to give back-up.

It is no secret that when Liverpool won the City of Culture nomination, there were those, certainly in the national press, who sat back and waited to light the blue touch paper, thinking that somehow Liverpool would snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Liverpool has proved them wrong. It has overcome that. Those in our national press who make a sport of telling the worst of Liverpool should look at what has been achieved in recent years. As many speakers tonight have said, a genuine renaissance is going on in the city.

I remember doing some work there in the late 1980s. In some ways, the press image was justified, because you came out of Lime Street station and on your right was a hotel that had been derelict since the end of the war and opposite was the shuttered and darkened St George's Hall. Last year, I had the pleasure of going to hear the Prince of Wales give his Roscoe lecture, which the noble Lord, Lord Alton, mentioned, in the magnificent surroundings of the restored St George's Hall. The amazing waterfront has been restored and much else in the city.

What stuck in my mind about Liverpool winning the City of Culture was that someone from the panel that chose it said to me that one of the most heart-warming things about the presentation was when the selection panel went into an empty room and it then filled with young people from all parts of Liverpool and of every nationality, bringing home the message of a world in one city. The interesting thing about the City of Culture is that Liverpool has promoted not just high culture—important, because it has a world representation—but community culture. The breadth of the project is bringing home all of Liverpool's strengths.

Liverpool sometimes has a certain persecution complex. I hope that Liverpool will listen tonight to a message from London, from the House of Lords, that there is enormous good will and a great deal of admiration for

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the way in which the city has come together—all parties, all communities—and that there is now a real sense of expectation that we are on the verge of a great year for Liverpool and a great future for that city.

Baroness Uddin: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I ask the House’s indulgence and ask whether he is aware of the Abdullah Quilliam Society, given the long presence of his forefathers in Liverpool. Does he feel that, given the multicultural and multifaith nature of society as it is today in Liverpool, and given the work of Abdullah Quilliam in Liverpool, in particular, it would enrich the European Capital of Culture if there were proper and appropriate recognition of his work?

Lord McNally: My Lords, I certainly agree. That was well done. If we had a Speaker in this House, the noble Baroness would be in trouble, but fortunately we do not.

8.29 pm

Lord Howard of Rising: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, for initiating this debate and say how much I enjoyed his wonderful enthusiasm for the City of Liverpool—and that of many other noble Lords. As a frequent visitor to Liverpool over the years, and having seen its renaissance at first hand, I have an especial fondness for the city and wish it the utmost success in its year as the European Capital of Culture.

Being named as the capital of culture will put Liverpool on the heritage map and alert people to the city’s status as a world heritage city. Liverpool has more museums and art galleries than any other British city aside from London—something which is not as well known as it should be. This will help to widen the knowledge of Liverpool.

There are expected to be considerable financial benefits. As capital of culture, Liverpool is expected to bring in £2 billion of investment to the cultural sector and create 14,000 new jobs—as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, pointed out. It is expected that nearly 2 million extra visitors will come to Liverpool for the festivals and events in 2008.

The positive effects have already started. Liverpool’s housing market has soared. Figures from Hometrack show that demand for property in the city rose after the announcement. There was a 10 per cent increase in June alone—a pattern quite different from some other northern cities. The 2008 celebrations should generate extra spending of £50 million.

Without wanting to upset the many noble Lords who have spoken this evening, I must say that Liverpool’s celebrations will be expensive. Recently Liverpool councillors were so concerned about the increasing cost that they appealed to the Department for Communities and Local Government to avert what one Labour councillor called a serious financial situation. The appeal failed. If Liverpool is unable to pay for the substantial cost of its award, will the Minister tell us whether the Government will pick up the bill?

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