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Playing Fields

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the Playing Fields Monitoring Group will be publishing statistical information concerning playing fields. [73447]

Tessa Jowell: The Playing Fields Monitoring Group has today published for the first time statistics which clearly show that Government policy is already protecting playing fields that schools and local communities need. The statistics are available from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's website at:

Out of 875 planning applications to change the use of playing fields referred to Sport England in 2000–01, only 39 which were deemed to represent a net detriment to sport were approved. Indeed, 92 per cent. of the 1,765 playing field planning applications referred to Sport England over the last two years were either not detrimental to sport or did not proceed—ensuring that sport is the winner in the vast majority of cases.

This Government is committed to the protection of playing fields and will continue to look closely at how current protective measures are working as well as publishing figures through the DCMS Playing Fields Monitoring Group. I should like to pay tribute to the assistance that the Central Council of Physical Recreation and the National Playing Fields Association are providing to the work of the Group.

Sport Expenditure

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the Government's expenditure plans are for sport following the 2002 Spending Review. [73448]

Tessa Jowell: Increasing opportunities for all to participate is key to the Government's strategy for sport. As a result of the Spending Review, the Government will channel £6 million into talent scholarships up to 2005–06. When combined with funding from other sources, these will provide quality-assured support to 2,000 young people in higher education.

The Youth Sports Trust has already produced web-based guidance for local coordinators and teachers. Now, for the first time, they have a clear framework for responding to the needs of talented young sportspeople of different ages and abilities. Next year, we will build on those foundations. We will expand the website into a one-stop shop for teachers, coaches, mentors and parents; develop a national support network based around specialist sports colleges; introduce a full programme of summer schools and performance camps for different ages and abilities; and ensure a much stronger emphasis on sporting talent within all parts of our national strategy for gifted and talented education. For the first time, teachers and coaches will be working together to ensure that all of our talented young sportsmen and women reach their full potential while continuing to receive a broad and balanced education.

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As a final rung of the talent development ladder, over £25 million over the next three years will enable the key recommendations of the Coaching Task Force to be implemented. This investment will create 3,000 full-time, qualified Community Coaches to help develop sports skills across the country by 2006, with particular emphasis on improving opportunities for those in areas of deprivation.

For the first time, nationally-recognised qualifications will be established to give coaches a professional career pathway, and we will create new opportunities to enable skilled coaches in a number of disciplines to be deployed across the country.

There will also be support for governing bodies of sport to help them make the most of our new coaching initiatives. This will ensure that new coaches work in partnership at local level with clubs, schools and other regional organisations supporting sport.

Complementing this, £ 4 million of funding for the Step into Sport programme will enable more than 60,000 young people to achieve awards for leading sport. By developing a sense of teamwork, responsibility and self-esteem while serving their schools and communities, the young sport leaders of today will form the volunteer and coaching base of our sporting future.

These and other programmes stand to benefit more from the extensive reform of Sport England that is now under way. I expect substantial savings to be made and these resources to be directed into our priority programmes for sport.

Finally, the Government is committed to ensure that funding of the World-Class Performance programme in the four years leading up to the Athens Olympics remains as high as in the run-up to Sydney, our most successful Olympics since London in 1920.

Criminal Records Checks

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will share information with other countries about UK citizens who have been convicted of offences against children within sport. [68831]

Hilary Benn: I have been asked to reply.

If a person is convicted of a relevant sex offence against a child they become subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 1997.

New provisions in the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000 (including regulations made under the power contained therein) provide that if an offender subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 leaves the United Kingdom for eight days or longer, he must notify the police at least 24 hours prior to his departure: of his date of departure; the country to which he is travelling; the identity of the carrier he intends to use; his point of arrival in the country; details of his first night's accommodation; if he intends to return to the United Kingdom; and if so, the date of his return and point of arrival.

On such a notification, the police will assess the level of risk the offender poses and then make a decision over whether to pass on this information to the authorities of the destination country or not.

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Employment Relations Act

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, when he expects an announcement to be made about granting the clergy the rights and privileges given to workers under the Employment Relations Act 1999. [73304]

Mr. Bell: The Church of England is currently considering issues raised by the Department of Trade and Industry's "Discussion Document on Employment Status in Relation to Employment Rights". It will make a formal response by 11 December.


Central Office of Information

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he expects to publish the Central Office of Information's annual report and accounts 2001–02. [73438]

Mr. Alexander: I have today laid the COI annual report and accounts 2001–02 before Parliament, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Public Appointments

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what rules govern appointments to non-departmental public bodies; and what have been the (a) ethnic, (b) gender and (c) party breakdown of these appointments in (a) 2001 and (b) 2002. [72445]

Mr. Alexander: Appointments to non-departmental public bodies made by Ministers are subject to the Commissioner for Public Appointments' code of practice, and regulated accordingly. Appointments to tribunals follow the code of practice as best practice, but are not regulated by the Commissioner. It is Government policy that appointments to non-departmental public bodies, not made by Ministers, also follow the code as best practice.

The Commissioner for Public Appointments issued the seventh annual report on 17 July 2002. Included in this publication are tables showing details of gender, ethnicity, disability, and political activity of those appointed for regulated appointments made in the year ending 31 March 2002, and a comparative set of figures for the previous five years. Additionally, the Cabinet Office's annual publication, "Public Bodies", includes details of diversity in public appointments as a cumulative total rather than for those appointments made in any one year. "Public Bodies 2002" will be published shortly.

Public Consultations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what public consultations have been commenced by his Department since 1 April; and what the (a) closing date and (b) website address of each were. [72070]

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Mr. Alexander: The following formal national public consultations, which are subject to the Code of Practice on Written Consultation, have been commenced by the Cabinet Office since 1 April 2002:

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