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I am glad that the hon. Gentleman mentioned the funding settlement for the Department; my right hon. Friend the Minister of State also mentioned it a moment ago. Like her, I pay tribute to
the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury for securing such a marvellous settlement for the Department. The Department has more funds; it can prioritise and ensure that the Olympics bring more tourists into this country. Like everybody else, the tourism authorities in this country have to prioritise and make sure that they spend their funds as wisely as possible. That is what they will do.
T3.  Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) (Lab): Sport is topical at the moment. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the most important thing is to get people to play sport and that they have to have facilities? Will he ensure, through his good offices, that funding will be available for sporting villages, which Chorley sorely lacks at the moment?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): I heartily agree with my hon. Friend; a sports village in Chorley would be more than welcome. We are happy to work with him and the agencies to ensure that we have the sporting infrastructure to build on the £4 billion of investment in sport that there has been in the past 10 years. The Government cannot be accused of not investing in sport. We want to do more and to get more people actively involved.
Mr. Jeremy Hunt (South-West Surrey) (Con): I believe that the Secretary of State is an Everton fan, so he will know the importance of stable management at the top of clubs. No doubt he will be as bemused as we are that he is the third Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in just eight months. However, we warmly welcome him to his post.
The Secretary of State said that he fully endorsed the McMaster report. One of its recommendations is that the Arts Council should have a representative in the recruitment processes for every organisation that he funds. Is that not an appalling imposition of central control that completely breaches the arms-length principle of arts funding and is completely against the spirit of letting a thousand flowers bloom?
Andy Burnham: I thank the shadow Secretary of State for his kind introduction. Mr. David Moyes is probably a fine example to everybody in Government of stability and making the right decisions for the long term.
I spent the weekend studying the McMaster report in some detail. It articulates the right way forward at this precise moment in time for arts in this country. It does not involve a debate between access on the one hand and excellence on the other, but is about having the two together so that the highest quality art can be made available to as many people as possible. Not every recommendation in the report falls to the Governmentsome of them are for arts organisations and the Arts Council to consider and take forward. It is a good principle that those who care about and are passionate about the arts are involved in the decision-making process.
I appreciate that the Secretary of State is new to his role, but may I ask him about an important point in the McMaster report, which specifically says
that the Arts Council should have a representative involved in the recruitment processes of all the organisations that it funds? As he will appreciate, such a representative would have enormous weight in that process because of the money that the Arts Council wields. Would not that mean a huge increase in the Arts Councils central control of the way in which its funded operations operate and, among many good recommendations in the McMaster report, be a bad step backwards?
Andy Burnham: I hear what the hon. Gentleman is saying. If he has genuine concerns about that particular part of the McMaster report, I would be happy to discuss it further with him. I read it not as an attempt to extend the reach of the Arts Council into every organisation, but as a sensible attempt to ensure clarity throughout the system and consistency in how decisions on arts funding are taken. However, there is, of course, an opportunity for debate to take place about this very important report for the future of the arts. If the hon. Gentleman has a different view, I would be happy to discuss it with him, but I am very encouraged and enthused by what Sir Brian McMaster has put forward to the Department.
My right hon. Friend rightly talks about the encouragement of diversity in our arts. The Arts Council North West has threatened LipService, the radical and innovative theatre company, and Queer Up North with cessation of funding. He may be right that the Government should not directly influence the views of the Arts Council, but should not they be saying to the Arts Council that it is unreasonable of it not to give adequate notice of or to have proper discussion about when it is going to withdraw funding, because that is the real issue about the incompetent way in which this years funding proposals have been taken forward?
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): First, I say to my hon. Friend that final decisions have yet to be taken and we will know what they are by the end of this week. Secondly, he is right to say that proper notice should be given, and the Arts Council intends to work through that with individual arts organisations. Thirdly, the Arts Council takes diversity in funding of the arts extremely seriously, as we do, and we will have to see whether that is reflected in its decisions; I hope and believe that it will be.
T5.  Mr. Adam Holloway (Gravesham) (Con): The Minister will be aware of the iconic Angel of the South sculpture proposed for the Ebbsfleet area. This morning, the five finalist artists have been chosen. How much say does he think that local people should have in the final choice?
Margaret Hodge: The hon. Gentleman touches on a matter that we all feel is extremely importantthat local people should be engaged in the decision-making process on public art ventures in localities. The art is for them, will be enjoyed by them, and will give an identity to the place in which they live. They should therefore feel that they too are engaged in the decisions about which artist is commissioned and which particular bit of sculpture they have.
T8.  Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): Has the Minister had a chance to discuss proposals by the British Council to downgrade activities and funding for the promotion of British art abroad and instead to spend the money on more conferences, multi-resource interactive facilities, networking and so on? Does she agree that it is essential that we promote the best of British art abroad, and will she make that clear to the Foreign Office and to the British Council?
Margaret Hodge: I totally agree with the right hon. Gentleman. It is crucial that we promote the best of British arta field in which we are so greatabroad, not just because of what it says about Britain, but because of the role it plays more broadly in the creative industries. The Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary and his Ministers believe, as we do, that that is important. I am aware of the proposals made by the British Council to change the way in which it works in the arts field, and we are in discussion with the council to ensure that it meets the right hon. Gentlemans aspirations and ours.
Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): I welcome the Secretary of State to his new role, and I also welcome his praise for the McMaster report, including its recommendation to reduce targets. Is he aware that his new Department has failed to meet its target to boost participation and attendance at artistic events? If there are no longer to be targets in that area, can he assure us that he will continue to work to ensure that we see an increase in attendance, and not a reduction, as in the past 12 months?
Andy Burnham: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words of welcome, and I also thank him for his support for the McMaster report. It is important for the arts world to hear that there is consensus in the House on these matters.
I was considering the spending review from a different vantage point only a few days ago, but we are trying to create a framework in the review whereby the level of ambition in a target is set at a local level, so that local organisations have ownership of that target and can believe that setting such a target is the right thing to do. Such targets can be made part of the local area agreements that local authorities are currently striking. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that there should be no let-off in our ambition to get people into the arts, but it is also right that we hear the complaints made about having too great a reliance on targets, and that we free up organisations up to fund what they want to do.
Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab): May I draw the Secretary of States attention to an exchange I had with the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on 17 December, in which I alleged that there is cultural impoverishment of many schoolchildren because they are denied access to and experience of quality opera, ballet and classical music? Will he ensure that that issue does not fall between two ministries? We must really address this matter of cultural impoverishment. Will he allow me to bring the English Youth Ballet and the national chamber music school, Pro Corda, to see him and an education Minister to see how we can remedy this wrong? It is working class children in particular who are denied access to such quality culture.
Andy Burnham: My hon. Friend is on the right theme as far as I am concerned, because the issue is a passion of mine. We can look forward to significant progress in this area with the development of what we call the cultural offer, whereby we make available a much wider range of cultural and artistic opportunities to young children at school. Some arts organisations, such as the Royal Opera House and others, are doing a great job in forging links with schools and making new opportunities available. I will be happy to meet my hon. Friend to see whether we can take that agenda still further forward.
The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): The London 2012 Olympics will be the first ever games to build legacy in from the outset. That legacy is built around the five main themes of sport, regeneration of the east end of London, opportunities for young people, sustainability and the UKs profile in the world. We will shortly publish the detailed access plan, which will describe how each of those specific commitments will be realised.
I have had extensive discussions with a wide range of interested parties about how we maximise the legacy. We have also extended an invitation to people in every region of the country through two 2012 roadshows, the UK School Games and, as recently as two weeks ago, the launch of the new business opportunities network; £6 billion and 75,000 contracts will be available for British firms to bid for throughout the country.
Mr. Harper: I thank the Minister for that answer. She will know, obviously, that the Olympic village will have 3,600 new homes. In the spirit of the Paralympics, will she tell me how many of those homes will be fully accessible for disabled people?
Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD):
The Minister has committed to use the Olympics to help to create a £100 billion tourism industry in the UK by 2010. Indeed, even more ambitious figures have been put forward. However, the most recent DCMS figures on tourism productivity show that the Governments
original estimates were wildly over-optimisticto a factor of 12. Does the Minister agree that the £9 million cut to VisitBritains budget means that it is now impossible to achieve a sustainable Olympic tourism legacy?
Tessa Jowell: No, I do not accept that at all. The estimate of the tourism premium from the Olympic games is about £2 billion. Every regional development agency has developed its own Olympic plan. Plans for the development of tourism and the realisation of the tourism potential are critical parts of those Olympic plans. No doubt has been cast on the feasibility of whether those plans will deliver the Olympic tourism premium.
The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): On 10 December 2007, I announced public funding for the Olympic Delivery Authority of £6.09 billion plus a contingency of just over £2 billion against the known programme-wide risks and risks outside the ODAs control. That amounts to a total public funding commitment of just under £8.1 billion to build the venues and infrastructure needed for the games. Recent scrutiny of the programme and the budget shows that the ODA remains on budget and on-track to deliver in line with my announcement of last March.
Richard Ottaway: While I share the Ministers enthusiasm for the Olympics, does she share my belief that the finances need to be utterly transparent? Last November, the permanent secretary in her Department said that most, if not all, of the contingency fund would have to be spent because of the complex and high-risk nature of the project. In the circumstances, would it not be helpful to set out how she envisages that the contingency fund will have to be spent and to publish a revised budget?
Tessa Jowell: There is no need to publish a revised budget. The point that the permanent secretary made to the Select Committee on Public Accounts was accurateat this stage in the development of a highly risky construction project, the only safe assumption is that the contingency will be fully used. However, the further assessment of the budget for the ODA has shown that there is an 80 per cent. probability that the Olympic park will be developed for less than £8.1 billion, a figure that includes the contingency. The finances are under control and transparent, and I have made clear commitments to ensure that the House is updated on the budget at six-monthly intervals.
Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): In Athens, rising security costs were the key reason why the budget overran so disastrously. Given that myriad organisations are involvedthe Army, the police, the security services and the private sectorand that there will always be a temptation for the police to put a number of desirable items in their budget through on the Olympic balance sheet, what precise control mechanism are the Government putting in place to ensure that that does not happen here?
Tessa Jowell: The hon. Gentleman asks an important question and we are determined that the Olympic security budget will pay for costs that are directly incurred by the Olympics rather than other matters. He knows that there are three responsible elements: the organising committee for the games, the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Home Office, which takes the lead. He also knows that the governance arrangements for security to ensure the effectiveness of the plan and proper cost control are in place. We expect the Olympic security plan to be completed and published in the next few months. However, it must be subject to continual review and updating between now and 2012.
The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): The east midlands strategy for the 2012 games has made some significant commitments, including to increased participation in sport, raising the profile of tourism in the region and providing support to businesses to enable them to win 2012 contracts. Already, 17 of the contracts have been let by the ODA to firms in the east midlands. There will be further opportunities for the east midlands to get involved in the cultural olympiad and in volunteering. However, none of that will happen by chance and I extend an invitation to the hon. Gentleman and all his colleagues to utilise fully the many opportunities for his constituents in the east midlands to be part of the 2012 games.
Mr. Bone: I asked about Northamptonshire rather than the east midlands, but is it not it a fact that there will not be a legacy for the east midlands? The Olympics are a good thing to have and will be a great success for this country, but we must not pretend that there will be a legacy for anywhere north of Watford.
Tessa Jowell: It is not the case that there will be no legacy for the east midlands and for the hon. Gentlemans constituents in Wellingborough. There are opportunities for engaging in volunteering and potentially developing training camps. An economic legacy derives from bidding for Olympic contracts. The opportunity to ensure that the hon. Gentlemans constituency benefits is in his hands.
Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend know that, in Northamptonshire, we are setting up a champions fund to pay for young athletes to be trained for the Olympics? Does she agree that one of the great legacies that we in Northamptonshire are creating for ourselves is ensuring that we have more highly trained, elite athletes, who can take part in the Olympics and other international and national games?
Tessa Jowell: That is absolutely the point. I pay the warmest tribute to my hon. Friend, who has shown genuine leadership in Northampton in bringing together businesses and local organisations in pursuit of the Olympic potential for young people in her constituency. I congratulate the young athletes in the talented athlete programme and I commend the Northamptonshire champions fund, of which she has been such a powerful advocate.
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