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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Win Griffiths): Give us a song.

Mr. Hain: I think that that would be even more horrific than my speeches in the Chamber.

Mr. Evans: Impossible.

Mr. Hain: We are seeing a new wave of pop music in Wales. It is partly because of the activities of the Arts Council of Wales in recent years that a new wave of popular music has come through such excellent institutions as the Pontardawe international music festival, which takes place in my constituency. It is supported by the Arts Council of Wales. We have seen that new wave of culture coming through Wales, and we are determined to encourage it. Given the Bill's provisions and much better auditing arrangements, that momentum can continue.

Mr. Rowlands: Does my hon. Friend believe that an elected Welsh assembly would do anything less--indeed, it could possibly do a great deal more--to promote just such festivals as he describes? Is that not a case for greater democratic accountability?

Mr. Hain: Indeed. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point, because, in the context of arts provision and policy, one of the central objectives is that the assembly will enable us to involve all of Wales in influencing the overall policy for the arts and sport rather than having a limited group--under the Conservatives, some might have said an elite in Wales--influence its direction. We will have people from all over the country.

I hope that we shall see in the assembly young people who will support some of the excellent new Welsh pop bands, such as Catatonia, the Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals, and the Stereophonics. Indeed, I was delighted to congratulate the Stereophonics on receiving an award at the Brit awards the other week. I did not have a bucket of water poured over me; they were delighted to see me. They are part of the new wave of music that is putting Wales right at the top of the pop agenda and on the international stage. As my hon. Friend said, the Welsh assembly will give greater strength and recognition to the new wave of pop music, with Wales leading the world not just in a democratic transformation but in the transformation of our popular culture. I am sure that the Bill's provisions will encourage that process. The amendments that the Opposition are tabling so destructively will undermine the whole popular movement for music in Wales.

The hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale made a wide-ranging point, but I need to respond to it. He said that the Government were striking music, arts and sport--all of which are covered by the Sports Council for Wales and the Arts Council of Wales--from the national curriculum.

Mr. Win Griffiths: Never.

Mr. Hain: As my hon. Friend reminds us, that would never be possible under this Government. We are

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reviewing the way in which the national curriculum is delivered in the classroom. We are saying that arts, sport and music must continue to be taught in primary and secondary schools. We have always valued the curriculum Cymraeg, the broader provision of education, and that is especially true of music, sport and the arts, where Wales prides itself on being ahead of England in the ability of our schoolchildren to perform in those areas.

Mr. Öpik: I apologise for being absent briefly from the debate.

Is the Minister seeking to help Wales to hit above its weight in the arts and sport, in the same way that Barnsley has scored an historic victory over Manchester United in the FA cup tonight?

Mr. Hain: I am interested in that information, because, as well as being vice-president of Neath rugby club, I am a Chelsea fan. It is nice to hear that result, if the information is correct.

In respect of arts policy and sports policy--in regulating the Sports Council for Wales and the Arts Council of Wales, overseeing their objectives and holding them to account--the assembly will ensure that Wales is put on the international stage. It will allow our sportsmen and women, our artists, pop musicians, male voice choirs, opera stars and the rest to have the backing of a national assembly for the first time, ensuring that their voices are heard across Europe and, indeed, the world.

Mr. Livsey: Does the Minister agree that it is nothing short of a tragedy that, particularly in sport in Wales, we no longer have teachers who are thoroughly involved in getting on with the business of teaching youngsters sport? One of the consequences of that is, perhaps, less than good performances by some of our national teams.

Mr. Hain: I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman. It is important to their development. Proper rugby coaching in schools for those children who want it, boys and girls, would help Welsh rugby. I should like to see much better provision for sport in schools. I am discussing with the Sports Council for Wales and the Cricket Council for Wales how we might take that forward, possibly in co-operation with the private sector, but I hasten to say that that is not a matter for debate this evening.

We seek to lighten the burden on teachers of the over-restrictive and over-centrally directed imposition of the national curriculum, which makes it impossible for teachers to deliver on the core skills of numeracy and literacy in which Wales, as the rest of Britain, has fallen behind in recent years.

We are seeking advice from the Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales on how to introduce a new curriculum which will protect traditional subjects, such as the arts, music and sport, but allow an iron focus on the essential core skills of literacy in English and Welsh, and numeracy, without which our children cannot achieve their full potential in school.

Mr. Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent): Does my hon. Friend accept that one of the best things that can happen to schools is for them to be able to build on the kind of services that are provided by peripatetic teachers? The fewer peripatetic teachers there are, the poorer the

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standard of music will be. Does my hon. Friend accept that some schools now face difficult decisions because of the lack of cash for peripatetic teachers to ensure that we in Wales can build on what we are best at? Our schools have some of the best youth brass bands and orchestras in the United Kingdom, but they require cash.

Mr. Hain: Peripatetic teachers are vital, whether in respect of brass bands or music generally, or of the arts, but particularly in respect of music. The same principle could be applied to sport and I agree that that needs cash. That is one of the many reasons why the Government have introduced an extra £50 million funding for education to go straight into schools budgets in local education authorities throughout Wales, including in my hon. Friend's constituency.

I have in part responded to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), but I should just like to add to that before I conclude my remarks--much, I am sure, to the relief of the Committee. My hon. Friend asked why we were not subjecting the Arts Council of Wales and the Sports Council for Wales to the full rigours of accountability. We are doing that. They will be accountable to the National Assembly for Wales under the Bill. That will subject them to accountability by elected representatives from all over Britain.

Under clause 29, we have made it clear that royal charter bodies can only gain functions; they cannot be taken away. For those reasons and all the others which I mentioned this evening, I urge the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale to withdraw the amendment. I am sure that the arts and sports policies in Wales will be all the better if that is done.

Mr. Collins: We have had an extremely enjoyable debate. I particularly enjoyed the reference from the Minister, who will probably go down in history as the first Minister to have filibustered his own Bill, to the idea that the Conservative amendments would undermine the popular music movement across Wales. I know that the Conservative party is on the verge of once again becoming influential, but the idea that, throughout the Principality, electric guitars are being unplugged and drums thrown down as word of the amendments spreads across the land stretches credulity a little, even as far as the Minister is concerned.

We heard speeches by Labour Back Benchers and from Plaid Cymru, and excellent speeches by my hon. Friends, all of which made the argument. I am delighted that the Minister said that the Government agree with the purpose of the amendments. As he has said that he intends to look at ways of implementing the purpose of the amendments, and despite his evident enthusiasm for a vote, which extended almost to the point of goading, we shall deny him the opportunity of a vote. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 13 agreed to.

It being Ten o'clock, The Chairman, pursuant to the Order [15 January] and the Resolution [this day], put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.

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Clauses 137 to 140 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

It being after Ten o'clock, The Chairman left the Chair to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

To report progress and ask leave to sit again.--[Mr. Jamieson.]

Committee report progress; to sit again tomorrow.

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