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Sand Dredging

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with secretaries in the National Assembly for Wales with regards to the practice of sand dredging off the Welsh coast. [35633]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I regularly meet Assembly Secretaries; we discuss a range of issues.

The Assembly issued a draft marine aggregate dredging policy for consultation last year. The 1,200 responses received are being considered and a final version of the document will be published in due course, setting out a framework within which the Assembly will determine applications to dredge for sand.


Public Libraries

13. Mr. Miliband: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many public libraries are not on-line. [34241]

Dr. Howells: 67 per cent. of all UK public libraries now offer public internet access. All will do so by the end of the year. £120 million of lottery money is being made available to equip libraries with ICT to support learning and to train library staff.

15. Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to improve public libraries; and if she will make a statement. [34243]

Dr. Howells: The Government have encouraged better planning and accountability in public library services through the introduction of Annual Library Plans and a more rigorous enforcement of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. Standards of service for library authorities were introduced from 1 April 2001.

Through the New Opportunities Fund Community Access to Lifelong Learning Programme, £120 million of lottery funding is being made available to enable all public libraries to offer public internet access and ICT learning facilities by December 2002. The DCMS/ Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund made available over £2.3 million in 2000–01 for British history and reader development projects.

25. Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent assessment she has made of library provision within East Sussex. [34254]

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Dr. Howells: East Sussex along with all other English library authorities submitted their Annual Library Plan at the end of September 2001. Individual and confidential feedback was given to each of the 149 library authorities in December, and a general appraisal of all the plans will be published in the near future. A copy of this appraisal will be placed in the House Library.

Museums (English Regions)

14. Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will include millennium landmark projects in discussions on supporting museums in the English regions. [34242]

Tessa Jowell: Recommendations for a new framework for museums and galleries in England's regions were set out in Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries' report "Renaissance in the regions: a new vision for England's museums", published last October. Although that report was concerned only with museums which have been recognised through Resource's Museum Registration Scheme, we anticipate that the new framework should allow museums to form partnerships with other relevant organisations. Such partnerships might include millennium landmark projects.

BBC (Finances)

16. Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans the Government have to change the financing arrangements for the BBC. [34244]

Tessa Jowell: I have no plans to change the financing arrangements for the BBC.


17. Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the safety of sports diving, with specific reference to the recent deaths of divers at the Dorothea quarry. [34246]

Mr. Caborn: The Government recognise that all sport contains an element of risk, and it would be neither possible nor, in many cases, desirable to remove that challenge. The sport of sub-aqua diving is an adventure sport and therefore subject to such risks.

However, it is essential to look at how sport can reduce and manage unnecessary risks and, in particular, reduce the incidence of serious illness, injury, permanent disablement or death. The recognised governing body of the sport of sub-aqua diving in the UK, the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) has compiled recommendations for safe diving practices. The Government would expect those taking part in diving activities to heed the guidance produced by the sport's governing body to ensure their safe participation.

I understand that the police, in liaison with other agencies are making inquiries into the incidents at the Doreathea quarry. I would not want to say anything further that might prejudice those inquiries.

Sport is a devolved matter and as I understand it the Minister for Sport in the National Assembly for Wales would welcome the opportunity to discuss the hon. Gentlemen's concerns with him.

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Olympic Games 2012

18. Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support the Government will give to an English bid to host the 2012 Olympic games. [34247]

Mr. Caborn: The decision on whether or not to launch a bid for the Olympic Games is a matter principally for the British Olympic Association which has yet to decide whether to make a bid for the 2012 Games. The issue of whether there should be any Government support for such a bid will only be taken once the decision to bid has been made.

My Department in conjunction with the BOA, UK Sport, London Development Agency and Sport England has commissioned Arups to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of a possible London bid for 2012. That consultancy will include an assessment of the level of public and private funding that would be required to mount a successful bid and, if successful, to stage the Games.

English Heritage

19. Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the review of English Heritage. [34248]

Tessa Jowell: The review of English Heritage was announced on 16 October 2001 and is being undertaken as part of the Department's programme of quinquennial reviews of its public bodies. A public consultation exercise has been carried out and we are evaluating the many helpful responses that were received. The review will be completed and published later this year.


20. Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans her Department has to encourage and extend best practice in the UK tourism and hospitality industries. [34249]

Dr. Howells: My Department is working closely with the Best Practice Forum, which was launched on 25 September 2001 to identify, encourage and spread best practice throughout tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses in England. The programme includes a £500,000 research study of best practice in the UK and abroad as well as access to best practice clubs and master class seminars.

In addition, seaside resorts continue to represent a very important sector of our domestic holiday market and sharing good practice between resort destinations is essential to their future success. The English Tourism Council's Sea Changes report, published in response to the Government's tourism strategy, highlighted a variety of areas of good practice within resorts, including examples from Blackpool.


21. Mr. McWalter: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what activities and funding decisions by her Department provide support for philosophy as a cultural activity. [34250]

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Dr. Howells: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport funds both directly and indirectly many organisations that engage in philosophical activity through their programming, performance or exhibitions. The exploration of philosophical themes is an important part of many cultural bodies' work and it is a matter for them as to how best to approach the subject. Support for philosophy as an academic discipline is a matter for the Department for Education and Skills.


22. Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to establish a centre of excellence for British athletics. [34251]

Tessa Jowell: In line with the requests of UK Athletics, a network of 11 regional indoor athletic tracks is being developed as part of the United Kingdom Sports Institute. These facilities will also include state of the art sports medicine and sports science support. With the exception of the facilities in Northern Ireland the sites are all due for completion by the summer of 2003 at a cost of over £50 million and will help our top athletes and their coaches compete and win at the highest level.

Local Sports Clubs

23. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the Government's plans for local sports clubs. [34252]

Mr. Caborn: Local clubs remain at the heart of the Government's sports strategy. As I outlined in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle), Official Report, 25 February 2002, column 433, DCMS is taking forward work to advance the interests of local clubs as the Government consider the responses to the Treasury consultation document, "Promoting Sport in the Community".

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