Kate Hoey: I thank hon. Members for a good general debate. I have taken on board all their comments.
In response to the criticismperhaps that is too strong a wordof the documents, I agree that documents sometimes come from Europe in a form that is not designed for easy reading; they would certainly not win a plain English award. My Department followed the guidance on what to provide to the Committee. At the moment there is no future work programme, but we shall keep the Committee informed of any proposals that emerge during the Swedish presidencythere will be a meeting of sports directors next Friday. I am happy to return to the Committee at any time to discuss sport because I am very keen, as is the hon. Member for Ryedale, that it should be discussed in the House as much as possible.
The hon. Member for Ryedale referred to the nandrolone report, which should arrive within a week. The United Kingdom's sports review group is following up that report and the Government will produce their response immediately afterwards. The hon. Gentleman will be the first person to see it.
I welcome the support from both sides of the Committee for what the Government have been doing to support the football authorities in their opposition to the way in which the Commission wants to interfere with the transfer system. We recognise that this issue concerns all hon. Members, particularly those whose constituencies are represented by smaller clubs. We shall continue to work closely with the football authorities and to use political muscle at whatever level is necessary to ensure a satisfactory outcome. I welcome the support of Committee members in that regard.
I also welcome hon. Members' support for our position on subsidiarity, and for the view that the Commission should become involved only where competency is clearly necessary. There is a general feeling among hon. Members that sport itself, particularly at grass-roots level, knows what is needed. First and foremost, decisions on how to run sport must be taken by the sporting bodies concerned. In answer to the question from the hon. Member for Ryedale, that is why we would not support a Commission levy on sport throughout Europe. The matter is not one for the Commission, which is why we in this country are working with the governing bodies of sport to ensure that more of the money from television reaches the lower levels of sport.
The hon. Member for Ryedale asked about work permits, and I am happy to discuss a review of work permits with the Department for Education and Employment. There are real problems in this regard. In respect of sports in which the top people are predominately from outside this countryI am thinking in particular of ice hockeywe must ensure that our young people have the opportunity to develop and to share in the success. We must get the balance right.
I say to my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet that, in terms of why a particular person was or was not allowed entry, some transfer decisions have given cause for concern. I draw his attention to an appeals committee set up by the DFEE, on which football is represented. In fact, it includes former football managers, which might help in respect of appeals. In only one case has it not approved of a DFEE recommendation. A mechanism exists, therefore, but I would like to consider how to make it better and more transparent.
We had an interesting contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for SelbyI shall have the pleasure of visiting his constituency fairly soonwho has a good knowledge of broadcasting. The European Union has approved our listed events, and we are committed to maximising the amount of sport on terrestrial television. As the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell) said, there is no doubt that sport itself benefits from coverage on terrestrial television. With regard to darts, to which reference was made, Sunday's BBC2 coverage of the Embassy world championships drew a huge audiencefar more than Sky's coverage of the other world championships. There is no doubt that many people who turn on the television to watch something else start watching darts and become interested.
I have always said that sport itself must take responsibility for looking to the longer term. Sporting bodies must decide to whom they should sell their rights, and they must be aware of the long-term repercussions of selling themselves short. What happened to the Rugby Football Union is a classic example in that regard, and it has learned the lesson. Governments can do only so much. Sporting bodies that are determined to secure a good future for their sport must take into account what happens at the very bottom, as well as the very top. One cannot be divorced from the other.
With regard to broadcasting, Sports Ministers work closely on such matters within the European structure. I shall take up the point that the right hon. Member for Fylde made about the complicated position of motor racing. That has not yet been discussed, and it would be helpful to know what other countries think about it.
In response to the hon. Member for Colchester, I do not know how many countries recognise darts as a sport, but I shall find out. My personal view is that it is a sport, and the English Sports Council has also recognised it as such. As the hon. Gentleman knows, sports councils, not Governments, recognise sports. I made it clear through my attendance at the world championships that I believe that darts is a sport. It is important that the four home countries' sports councils take the same view about a sport so, although the English Sports Council supports darts, there is work to be done in other parts of the UK. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will continue to contribute to that work.
Many citizens are not interested in what happens in Europe unless it affects them directly. The way in which sport impinges on people's lives in this country means that it is important that when the European Union gets involved, it helps and works with sport and does not try to take it over. That is the philosophy that the Government will continue to work strongly to support and that I, as Sports Minister, will promote in the various forums in which I take part.
I thank members of the Committee for a useful debate. If there are any points that I have not clarified, I shall write to the hon. Members concerned.
The Chairman: I thank the staff of the House for their assistance and assure the right hon. Member for Fylde that we will draw his remarks to the attention of the Clerk of the European Scrutiny Committee to see whether better briefing papers can be provided to Members.
Question put and agreed to.
Committee rose at thirteen minutes past Twelve o'clock.
The following Members attended the Committee:
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