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The Minister for the Arts (Estelle Morris): In February 2004, my Department appointed Jude Kelly, one of the most respected people in contemporary British theatre, as chair of the culture and education committee for London's Olympic bid. Since then, in consultation with the arts community, she has developed an ambitious and exciting cultural programme for the 2012 Olympiad.
Jim Knight: I thank the Minister for her reply. The 1948 London games was the last time when medals were awarded for disciplines such as art and poetry, as an expression of the importance of the arts within the Olympic ideal. I am not suggesting that we return to that, but may I encourage her to maximise the opportunity of the cultural Olympiad to engage with the public beyond those interested in sport, and particularly in developing cultural exchanges as part of the Olympics with host venues such as Portland?
Estelle Morris: I am most grateful for my hon. Friend's comments. He is absolutely right. The Olympic ideal is about mind, body and spirit, and art and culture has a lot to contribute to that. When the candidate file is looked at and when the bid is closely examined, we will have every right to be very proud of the cultural part of the bid that the United Kingdom is putting forward. If we consider Sydney, we see that what is left of its cultural bid has served that community very well. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments and for the support that he has given to the cultural bid in his constituency.
Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)
(LD): Can the Minister assure us that in the run-up to the selection date in July, let alone beyond, we are selling the point that London is the most cosmopolitan city in
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Europe and that every cultural communitythe four British culture communities and all the othersis engaged as part of the support for the bid? It will be of huge benefit to us as a country and of huge benefit to each of those many, many, many tens of communities that are in this city already.
Estelle Morris: The hon. Gentleman is right. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made that point at the conference that was held this morning. The strength of the bid is London at its centre, but it is important not to forget the impact that it will have on the rest of the nation. The diversity and richness of London's cultural activities only enhance the strength of the bid.
Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con): Is the Minister aware of mounting concern about the cultural implications of the Government's plans to fund the Olympic bid? Even the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee says that they are funding it by
Does the Minister agree on reflection that my party's policy of putting £340 million of Treasury funds into the Olympics by forgoing lottery duty, which would avoid existing good causes such as arts and heritage losing up to £64 million a year, would be a fairer and more transparent way of funding the Olympic bid and the associated cultural events? When, therefore, will the Government commit themselves to funding the Olympics properly and guarantee the cultural sector that it will not suffer as a result of the games?
Estelle Morris: We have been grateful for the support of Opposition parties throughout the Olympic bid so far, but I understand that the hon. Gentleman is volunteering the Exchequer to fund it. It is absolutely right to get resources for the bid from several different sources, and I have no problem with the special lottery game for the Olympics that will be launched shortly. He is absolutely right that some parts of the arts sector might lose money in the long term, but that is only a guess. It may well be that more people will buy lottery tickets, which would mean that there would be sufficient money to support not only the Olympic bid, but the arts.
The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn):
UK Sport has administered a modernisation programme since April 2001, which was designed to help national governing bodies of sport to become more efficient and effective in all aspects of their work. To date, Exchequer funding of £10 million has been made available to support a number of projects of differing size and complexity across a wide range of governing bodies. From April this year, the national governing bodies of UK-wide priority sports will be invited to embed their modernisation action plans in one-stop plans and will no longer be required to submit separate applications for modernisation funds.
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Mr. Reed: I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. It is important for national governing bodies to modernise the way in which they deliver services and look after their athletes. Is he aware of the Loughborough sports project, which would enable many national governing bodies to come together to share services, especially back-room services? Will he comment, and perhaps write to me, to tell me how the bid from Loughborough is going and when we can anticipate receiving money from modernisation funds to match that which we have already secured in the region, especially from the East Midlands Development Agency?
Mr. Caborn: I congratulate my hon. Friend on his role in Loughborough and wider sports, because he is keen to ensure that the modernisation programme is carried forward. It is pleasing that several governing bodies are co-operating and coming together to consider how they can develop sport in a more holistic way. I hope that that will increase participation in sport, which we would all welcome. Of course the big four governing bodies are working together, but for the small and medium-sized governing bodies, I think that the suggestion from Loughborough is imaginativehe knows that I support it. Financing is a matter of priorities. I hope that the project can go ahead, but as I think he knows, the decision is one for Sport England.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): The charter review process was launched in December 2003 and is continuing. It has been open and transparent throughout and has benefited for the first time ever from wide consultation with the public. There has also been consultation with the industry and in-depth research and advice from Lord Burns and his independent panel. I hope to be in a position to publish a Green Paper in the next two months.
John Robertson: I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. She knows that the BBC's fair trading commitments are regulated internally. However, it has been suggested that that leads to a conflict of interest on occasions, especially regarding the value of the licence fee and getting a fair deal for the contributor or the supplier. There is also unnecessary bureaucratic expense. Does my right hon. Friend believe that external regulation of the BBC's fair trading commitments could solve that problem and, if so, will she consider it as part of the charter renewal?
Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire)
(Con): How does the Secretary of State think the BBC's claim for a new royal charter is enhanced by a programme such as CBBC's "Dick & Dom in Da Bungalow"? Perhaps, if she is not familiar with the programme, I can invite her
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back to my office to see the website, where she can join me in playing "How low can you bungalow?", a test to find one's response to grossly embarrassing personal situations, largely of a lavatorial nature. The right hon. Lady can also view "Pants Dancers in the Hall of Fame", which is photos of children with underwear on their heads, and play "Make Dick Sick", a game that speaks for itself. Finally, there is "Bunged Up", in which one plays a character in a sewage system, avoiding turtle poo coming from various lavatories. Is that really the stuff of public service broadcasting?
Mr. John Grogan (Selby) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend agree that there are many advantages in a 10-year BBC charter, rather than the five years being mooted in some circles, to span digital switch-over and allow the BBC to plan for public service broadcasting in the post-digital world, not least because it takes three or four years of production to get some programmes, such as the excellent Auschwitz documentary on BBC 2, from the ideas stage to broadcast?
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