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FA Cup Final

12. Mr. Huw Edwards (Monmouth): What discussions he has had with officials of the millennium stadium, Cardiff about the hosting of the FA cup final. [141884]

The Minister for Sport (Kate Hoey): I have had no discussions with the officials of the millennium stadium on the issue. The arrangements for the FA cup final are a matter for the Football Association and the stadium authorities.

Mr. Edwards: Does my hon. Friend agree that the millennium stadium, Cardiff is a world-class venue and a worthy place at which to bring the FA cup back to Wales for the first time since Cardiff City beat Arsenal in the 1927 cup final?

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Kate Hoey: I shall remember that fact. I am very confident that, should the millennium stadium be the venue for the FA cup final, it will be a wonderful venue. As my hon. Friend says, it is a wonderful stadium: indeed, it was a terrific venue for the rugby world cup final just last year.

Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester): Does the Minister agree that the best solution is to get the FA cup final back at Wembley?

Kate Hoey: Clearly the hon. Gentleman is aware that, once the new Wembley stadium is built, the FA cup final will come back. However, at this stage--the FA would have to give us the final version on this--it is not suggested that the FA cup final will be played there again until the new stadium is built.

Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries): In view of Murrayfield's outstanding success earlier this year in hosting the rugby league world cup final, it is a great honour for the millennium stadium to be hosting the FA cup final. Keeping it in mind that the Football Association will have to look for alternative venues for the next two or three years, does the Minister not believe that it is a good idea for Murrayfield again to be consulted on the potential for hosting the FA cup final in that time?

Kate Hoey: I share my hon. Friend's praise for Murrayfield--in particular for its hosting of the rugby league cup final, which I was privileged to attend. However, where FA cup finals are held is a matter for the FA, which will consult various bodies and supporters around the country. I am sure that it will make a decision that is in the best interests of football and football supporters.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath): I am not decrying the attractions of either the millennium stadium in Cardiff or Murrayfield as hugely successful rugby venues. However, does the Minister agree that it is now a huge embarrassment for the Government that Wembley's future has once again been thrown into turmoil? We know, as do the public, that there is a huge difference of view on that matter between the Minister for Sport and the Secretary of State. Is not this yet another fiasco, following the shambles of the dome? We want athletics back in the new Wembley stadium. Will the Minister now ensure that her views prevail over those of her boss?

Kate Hoey: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have read the statement issued by the Football Association on Friday, which the Government welcome. The FA will assume greater day-to-day control over the redevelopment of Wembley, and it will focus more on the core aspects of building a football stadium, which is what football supporters and the country want. The Government are committed to ensuring that a wonderful stadium is built at Wembley. We also want to ensure a long-term future for athletics in this country, and we are keeping in touch with the FA and with UK Athletics. The FA has now decided to scale down the project, and to look at the matter again. It is going to take hands-on control, which I welcome.

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National Lottery Licence

13. Mr. David Amess (Southend, West): What the timetable is for awarding the next licence to run the national lottery. [141885]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith): The award of the next licence to run the national lottery is a matter for the National Lottery Commission. The commission expects to announce the outcome of the bidding process for the new licence later in the month.

Mr. Amess: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, given that the previous Conservative Government successfully set up the national lottery, it would be a tragedy if this incompetent, rotten Labour Government were to kill it? Will he assure the House that, if the contractor should change, the national lottery would not be suspended, even for a short while?

Mr. Smith: No, I do not agree with the assumptions on which the hon. Gentleman's question is based. Yes, I can give him the assurance that he seeks.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey): Does the Secretary of State now regret how warmly he welcomed the original and unlawful decision to kick Camelot out of the competition? If anyone can sort out this mess, I suppose it is Lord Burns. Is not the fact that the award of this important contract is now six months late yet another unsightly scratch on the Secretary of State's increasingly battered Teflon coating? Will he take this opportunity to reflect on a year in which he has messed up the national lottery, messed up Wembley stadium, and wasted hundreds of millions of pounds on the dome? Will he now say, "I'm sorry. It's my fault. I'm just not up to the job."?

Mr. Smith: No, Mr. Speaker.

Tate Modern

14. Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford): What his latest estimate is of the number of visitors to Tate Modern. [141886]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith): At the close of business on Sunday 10 December, Tate Modern had attracted 3,721,254 visitors.

Joan Ruddock: As one of the 3 million-plus visitors, may I tell my right hon. Friend what a hugely enjoyable experience a visit to Tate Modern provides? Does he agree that this is a complete vindication of the Government's policy to provide free entry for all to the new gallery--a policy in marked contrast to that pursued by the previous Government?

Mr. Smith: Yes. The wonderful thing about Tate Modern is not just that it has attracted so many visitors, or even that their experience has been excellent, but that the whole spectrum of society is reflected in the people going through the doors. They are from all parts of the country, all incomes and all backgrounds. That is

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very welcome, and it is thanks to a Labour Government that entry to Tate Modern is free to everyone. We are very proud of that fact.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross): In responding to the message of Sir Nicholas Serota in his Dimbleby lecture, to the effect that modern and contemporary art are not only appreciated by millions of people in this country but are not accessible to people in other parts of the country-- Sir Nicholas drew particular attention to the inadequacies of our regional museums in this respect--will the Secretary of State indicate what remit he is giving to his newly appointed committee, under the chairmanship of Resource, to encourage it to look at the need to sponsor and promote our contemporary arts in Britain?

Mr. Smith: As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have asked Resource to establish a working party to look particularly at the needs of regional museums. That working party will include Sir Nicholas Serota as one of its members. I have asked it to look widely at the issues involved, but have asked that its first priority should be to consider the deployment of the £10 million a year extra for regional museums and libraries that we are making available under the new spending review. I have also asked the working party to consider how it may be possible for the nationally funded museums and galleries to assist the regional museums through exchanging and sharing personnel, good practice and exhibitions.

English Heritage

15. Mr. Bill O'Brien (Normanton): If he intends to increase the allocation of resources to English Heritage; and if he will make a statement. [141887]

The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Alan Howarth): English Heritage will receive grant in aid of £112.7 million in 2001-02. In 2002-03 it will receive £119.7 million--an increase of 3.62 per cent. in real terms--and in 2003-04 it will receive £121.7 million, an increase of 2.78 per cent. We have been glad to make this additional funding available.

Mr. O'Brien: I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and for the information that English Heritage is now to receive increases in its allocation. My concern was heightened when I was making representations on behalf of St. Peter's church in Horbury in my constituency and learned that, over the past four years, there has been no increase in the allocation to English Heritage. Churches such as St. Peter's miss out because of that restriction on finances. I realise that English Heritage has a difficult task, but I am pleased that we are now ensuring that increased resources are to be made available.

Mr. Howarth: My hon. Friend has championed the need for St. Peter's, Horbury to receive funding so that that magnificent grade 1 listed church can be repaired. He has made it very plain to me how disappointed he has been that, so far, that application has not been successful under the joint places of worship scheme, which has been heavily over-subscribed. It is run jointly by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Heritage Lottery Fund has chosen to increase the funding that it

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puts into the scheme, and English Heritage has kept its funding constant, as my hon. Friend says. However, we have made additional funding available for the future, and I very much hope that my hon. Friend's wonderful church will, at long last, be able to secure the funds needful for its repair.

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