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My hon. Friend should say what he means. Clearly, there are issues to address, and the whole purpose of this correspondence and these meetings, and the Burns recommendations in particular, is to do that. Progress has been madethere is now an independent chairman of the FA, which is a step in the right direction, and we have seen support for womens footballbut I
believe that more can be done. I am looking forward to raising these issues with these organisations in the very near future.
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): Ministers and officials regularly receive representations on listing issues, including funding, from a wide range of partners. More than £26.5 million was made available via English Heritage grant schemes in 2008-09 for the repair of listed buildings and other heritage assets.
Ann Coffey: I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. The current system of listing buildings can hold up development and lead to additional costs. In the case of Stockport college, in my constituency, that meant that a capital grant from the Learning and Skills Council for phase 2 development was almost entirely spent on improving two listed buildings with no educational benefit to any young person. That cannot be right. Will my right hon. Friend meet me to discuss my concerns about the current system of listing buildings?
Margaret Hodge: I am very happy to meet my hon. Friend in the near future to discuss the issues and I know that she has written to me about them. She raised two issues of substance. The first is the delay in considering the listing of buildings. We try to get the decisions out within six months, but that does not always happen and we should strive continuously to improve that. The second issue is the balance that has to be struck between ensuring that we protect our heritage, particularly buildings of historic and architectural value, and that buildings are fit for purpose and can be used, particularly by public bodies.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): Bearing in mind that Canterbury, Lincoln and Lichfield cathedrals aloneto name but threeare looking for more than £26.5 million, will the right hon. Lady accept that that is not an enormous sum in the face of the problem? Will she encourage her Treasury colleagues to reconsider allowing private owners to offset the cost of maintenance against tax, freeing more money for public buildings?
Margaret Hodge: I hope that the hon. Gentleman, with his great interest in these issues, will accept that the investment that we have made in churches and cathedrals over the past decade or so has been successful in dealing with some of the worst dilapidations that have occurred in those wonderful heritage assets. I assure him that I make constant representations to my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Treasury to see whether we can get some leeway to ensure that more resources are given to conserve our heritage assets.
Mr. Mark Hendrick (Preston) (Lab/Co-op):
Will my right hon. Friend resist any temptation to list Preston bus station, which has little or no architectural merit
and has had an application rejected in the past? The current application is being used purely as a tactic to stop the redevelopment of Preston city centre.
Margaret Hodge: I thank my hon. Friend for his question. That particular building has not been drawn to my attention so far, so I am grateful to him for doing so. I shall look in detail at all the representations I receive in coming to my decision.
Mr. Edward Vaizey (Wantage) (Con): Listed buildings are part of our national heritagea national heritage that the Secretary of State described last week in disparaging terms as the past, old buildings and monuments. Does that explain why the Ministers Department has cut funding to English Heritage by £100 million, more than halved lottery funding for heritage and withdrawn the draft Heritage Protection Bill?
Margaret Hodge: Let me talk first about heritage funding. I would have thought that Opposition Members would support the Government as we try to ensure that investment in our heritage goes to supporting the assets rather than the bureaucracy of particular organisations. Although it might be true that English Heritages funding has kept level over the past few years, the investment in our buildings has increased. We now invest some £600 million per annum in heritage across the piece. I do not accept the hon. Gentlemans assertion that there has been a decline in the funding of heritage. Indeed, I look forward to what he will say in his manifesto about the investment that we will have in heritage rather than the cuts that we will have in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and its bodies.
On the Bill that failed to get time in Parliament, I regret that that happened but I am taking forward a lot of the propositions in it. Earlier, we discussed the Bill on spoliation that my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) has successfully piloted through both Houses. We are managing to put other elements of the Bill into effect without the legislation, but we will continue to look for an early legislative opportunity both in this Parliament
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Siôn Simon): Professor Byrons wide-ranging recommendations require cross-Whitehall co-operation. My Department is working as part of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, as well as providing the new legislative framework we announced in Digital Britain to enable implementation of her recommendations.
The Minister will be aware that at midnight a new and violent video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, is to be released. It contains scenes of such brutality that even the manufacturers have put warnings in the game telling people how they can skip particular
scenes. Given the recommendations of the Byron review, specifically paragraphs 32 and 33, what steps do the Government propose to take to ensure that such violent games do not fall into the hands of children and young people? This is not about censorshipit is about protecting our children.
Mr. Simon: The clearest recommendation of the Byron review is that content suitable for adults should be labelled and sold as such, and that it should be an offence to sell such content to children. That is the case under current law and it will be the case when the law changes under the digital economy Bill. The game to which my right hon. Friend refers is certificate 18 and should not be sold to children. The Governments job is to ensure that what adults should be able to get is clearly labelled, and that children are not in danger of being subjected to adult content.
Mr. Tom Watson (West Bromwich, East) (Lab): I have seen the content of the video game. It is unpleasant, although no worse than in many films and books. The game carries a content warning. It is an 18-plus game, and carries the British Board of Film Classification 18-plus rating as well. Does the Minister agree that it would be better for Members of the House to support the many thousands of game designers and coders, and the many millions of game users, rather than collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic over the use of video games?
Mr. Simon: I was in Dundee last week visiting the video games industry, and I certainly agree that it is a large and important industry in which we have a national competitive advantage. It is important that all Members of the House and the Government continue to support it.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Siôn Simon): I meet lottery distributors regularly. The Big Lottery Fund and its predecessors alone have made grants totalling £450 million to community buildings across the UK.
Mr. Bellingham: During this week of remembrance, does the Minister agree that a group we should not forget is the one looking after the interests of many veterans, both young and oldnamely, the Royal British Legion? Can he tell the House why numerous British Legion bids to the national lottery for new premises or repairs to existing premises have been turned down?
Mr. Simon: As the hon. Gentleman knows, I cannot comment in detail about individual bids. I can tell him that the money currently used to support veterans, partly in the way he describes and partly, for instance, in enabling them to take trips back to their battlegrounds with their comrades in their declining years, would unfortunately all be cut under the rather ill-thought-out plans of members of his Front Bench.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): Under this Government, there has been record investment in school sportmore than £2 billion since 2003. From an estimated one in four young people doing two hours a week of sport in school in 2002, 90 per cent. are now doing two hours, and more than half are doing three hours. We have raised admission to offer every young person five hours per week, with three hours for 16 to 19-year-olds; 32 per cent. already do that amount, and we are making access to regular competitive sport a key part of our proposed new pupil guarantee.
Mr. Sutcliffe: We fund school sport in a variety of ways, including direct funding from Government. The hon. Gentleman will congratulate the Government on the £100 million we are spending on school sport, although he may be embarrassed by the performance of the previous Conservative Government on school sport. I hope he will support all the initiatives that we are taking forward.
Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): Regarding the Ministers target for 16 to 19-year-olds, will he confirm that currently 63 per cent. of 16-year-olds and 81 per cent. of 19-year-olds are not meeting the target? With fewer than 1,000 days to go before the target is meant to be achieved, what new policies does he have? Will he at least look at young offender institutions, where the target is already being exceeded?
Mr. Sutcliffe: I was previously the Minister with responsibility for prisoners and young offenders, so I am pleased that sport is taking place in young offender institutions. I am able now, in the role of Minister for sport, to make sure that a growing number of children participate in school sport. The 16 to 19 age group is difficult but we are making sure, through investment in whole sport plans, that governing bodies tackle those areas where there are difficulties in recruiting people into sport. The good news is that we are offering a diversity of sport. Gone is the stereotyping whereby boys played cricket, football and rugby, and girls played netball and hockey. We are offering many more sports so that young people have alternatives and can have a go at different sports, rather than only the traditional ones, because there are many other things that young people can do.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): In the run-up to the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, as part of our legacy promises, we want to create a world-class system of PE and sport for young people in England. We have raised our ambitions to offer every child five hours of high quality PE and sport per week, with three hours for 16 to 19-year-olds. Between 2008 and 2011 we are investing over £780 million through the PE and sport strategy for young people, bringing total Government investment to more than £2.4 billion since 2003.
David T.C. Davies: I wonder whether the Minister shares my concern that some of the money that could be spent on building good sports facilities for young people is being spent on paying very large salaries and expenses for people running the Olympic games, and some of the money finding its way into schools is being spent on computer games consoles. Does he think that that is a good use of public money?
Mr. Sutcliffe: Investment in the Olympics is superb and the whole country will benefit from the Olympic games being held in London. The people contributing to the success of the building of the stadiums and the people involved in organising and running the games are doing a fantastic job. The inspiration from the Olympic games as well as the decade of sport that we are undertaking will mean that young people from all over the UK benefit from sport and have the opportunity to lead healthier lives.
Sir Peter Soulsby (Leicester, South) (Lab): I welcome the Ministers statement in response to the question. Does he agree that it is particularly important to give support to sport for young people with special needs? Will he join me in welcoming the work of the Special Olympics movement in the UK and the very successful Special Olympics that were held in my constituency in Leicester this year?
Mr. Sutcliffe: I am happy to praise the Special Olympic movement and Leicester, the people of Leicester and my hon. Friend for the work that they carried out in order to hold successful games in July. My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Olympics was at the opening ceremony and I was heavily involved in the organisation of the games. It shows that sport should be available to everybody. The Special Olympics is a movement that I want to support to make sure that sport can reach all parts.
Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking) (Con): May I stress to the Minister the importance of team sport, especially for young men? Those who play team sport in our young offender institutions are less likely to reoffend when they come out. Given the importance of team sport, what can he tell us about promoting team sport, especially among young men?
It is important that we promote sport in all its forms because sport can raise individual self-esteem, teach people about team work and help us with other life skills that we need. We have made it the responsibility of sports governing bodies to develop and grow their sports. They know their sports best. We are looking to them and we will measure how successful they are in
making sure that team and individual sports grow, so that everybody has the opportunity to reach our ambitious target of 2 million more people being involved in sport and physical activity by 2012.
Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West) (Lab): Racism in sport is one thing that can put off young people and others. The Commission for Equality and Human Rights seems completely uninterested in doing anything whatever about that under the useless Trevor Phillips. Can the Minister do anything to encourage the CEHR to take the issue seriously?
Mr. Sutcliffe: I congratulate my hon. Friend on being a marvellous advocate for sport free of racism. I am concerned about his feelings and will write to him in due course and make sure that we raise the issue in the appropriate places.
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Margaret Hodge): The number of overseas tourists who visited England in each of the past three years is as follows: in 2006, 27,586,288; in 2007, 27,794,425; in 2008, 27,291,584. Figures for 2009 show a downward trend in numbers, reflecting the global recession and particularly a downturn in business tourism. However, spend by those tourists is up by 2 per cent. compared to last year. In the month of July, domestic tourism increased by 20 per cent. compared with July 2008, which is the best figure we have had for quite a long time.
Mr. Swire: I am glad to say that many of those tourists from overseas are coming to this country, not least on account of the euro, and coming to the south-west, where we have a huge amount of furnished holiday lettings. The Minister will be aware that the Government have said that the furnished holiday lettings tax regime needs to change. Why does she think that it needs to change, with the European view having been taken on so quickly? Has she heard from her European counterparts about whether they wish to implement those tax changes?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): We understand that in June this year, CGA Strategy, the pub and drinks market analyst that tracks the pub closure rate on behalf of the British Beer and Pub Association, estimated that 2,377 pubs had closed over the previous 12 months.
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