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Donington will and must succeed. We are putting all our support into it. My right honourable friend Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Transport, visited Donington recently. He is also an east Midlands Member of Parliament, which is no disadvantage when one is talking about an event that has such a significant impact on the local economy. It is important that we recognise our support for Donington. Over the past five years, we have invested £11.5 million in the motor sport industry through programmes such as the learning grid in education and training initiatives, the establishment of a motor sport academy and the energy-efficient motor sport programme to put energy efficiency at the heart of the modern sport. That gives great relevance to what we are all interested in—the improved energy efficiency of all transport in the United Kingdom.

We all recognise that the commitment of 10 years for the Grand Prix is a vote of confidence that Donington Park will prove to be up to the mark when the final tests are made and that we will be in a position to ensure that the circuit and the facilities are at the highest level.

I have been reminded that one of the most significant of all victories was Ayrton Senna’s in 1993, which has always won great plaudits for the skill deployed on that occasion in somewhat difficult weather conditions. Like everyone in this House who knows anything about motor racing, I have the greatest respect for Ayrton Senna, but I hope that the first Grand Prix at Donington will have a British winner. That will certainly enhance the occasion for all of us.

Donington Park has a great history of hosting motor sport events and currently attracts large numbers of people. There is substantial investment required to bring it up to the level now required for a modern Grand Prix. We understand from ING, which is not an innocent of the world in raising money for major

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sporting venues, that the money will be raised for Donington and the necessary resources are in place. The track is not the issue. The issue is the costly additional facilities required.

We certainly stand by to help—not directly financially. Motor sport is an independent operation in this country, as most sports are. The Government can give degrees of support and help, as with Silverstone in the past. However, no one in this debate or in the industry argues for direct state support. We do not want a state-sponsored motor industry, but the Government can give necessary assistance and support in judicious ways, particularly by emphasising how important the industry is to the development of our society and economy. I continually emphasise that the Government will do all they can to build upon the high levels of technology deployed by the industry. In these days of loss of confidence, which is bound to attend difficult economic circumstances, the British people ought to take pride in an industry which is so dominant in the world. My noble friend Lord Rooker emphasised that seven out of the 10 major teams are based in the UK. That is only possible with a high level of research in the industry. It also means that we must produce engineers from higher education who can play their part.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked specifically whether the Government would give support. The Government will continue to give the support that we have done in the past. We see our role as facilitating and encouraging the Motor Sports Association and the owners of Donington to be proactive about attracting money from various funding arrangements to guarantee the finances they need. The Government also have a part to play with skills, education and infrastructure. My noble friend Lord Rooker identified how significant the industry is, with the number of companies involved

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in motor sports and the spin-offs from the technological breakthroughs it makes. I emphasise that the industry has an annual turnover of £7 billion, with 50,000 full- and part-time workers, including 30,000 engineers. That is a significant part of our economy. It would be a blow if the Grand Prix were not held in this country, and we will do our best to ensure that it will be. Officials and Ministers have been co-operating with local interests to ensure that Donington is successful.

I am conscious that I have strayed a little beyond my time; I apologise to the House. We want to see the continuation of the proud tradition of the British Grand Prix in this country. We are delighted that Donington has secured the right to host this event for the next 10 years. That is a real vote of confidence and gives Donington—

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I said in my speech that it is now 17 years.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am sorry, I misheard the noble Lord. The 17-year period is an added incentive for those who wish to invest in Donington. As I indicated, we stand ready to help in all practicalities.

The decision on the Grand Prix was taken by those with private interests in the sport, but they should not have the slightest doubt that the Government regard the Grand Prix as a very important part of the sporting calendar. It is part of our decade of sport and we trust that it will continue to be a feature of the British sporting landscape over the next decade and beyond. On behalf of the Government, my colleagues and fellow Ministers, I accept the invitation to the event on 6 July. I know that the motor sport industry will put on an excellent show demonstrating its value to the nation and the excitement of this dramatic sport.

House adjourned at 5.21 pm.

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