HC Deb 04 March 1996 vol 273 cc7-8
6. Mr. Anthony Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many good causes have been awarded funds from the national lottery in the west midlands. [16356]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Three hundred and thirty-one national lottery awards totalling £53,426,000 have been awarded in the west midlands.

Mr. Coombs

In contrast to the carping of Opposition Members, may I reassure my right hon. Friend that the national lottery is extremely popular in my constituency? Is she aware that the national lottery has meant that £25,000 has gone to Age Concern to fund anew its minibus for people in the area and that we are getting no less than £1 million for a regional sports centre between Kidderminster and Stourport? Will my right hon. Friend consider, through national lottery funds, funding for a permanent home for the Bewdley festival, which has become such a success in my area over the past decade?

Mrs. Bottomley

I am delighted to hear about the great contribution that the national lottery makes in my hon. Friend's constituency. His Age Concern project is one of 40 Age Concern projects that have received almost £2 million so far from the national lottery. There have been well over 840 awards for the arts—more will be announced tomorrow—throughout the country and particularly the west midlands. I shall pass on to the chairman of the Arts Council and its lottery board my hon. Friend's concern for his particular project.

Mr. Olner

The Minister will realise that Nuneaton rugby football club in my constituency will not be happy with her answer, as the club had a perfectly good bid turned down for no transparent reason. Is she aware that no lottery money has come to my constituency? Does she agree that a transparent answer should be given to organisations that have been refused bids? Does she further agree that people in the west midlands require a transparent answer as to why the millennium exhibition will be in Greenwich, despite the fact that the midlands' bid was better?

Mrs. Bottomley

The national lottery has been distributing grants for less than a year, but 176 awards amounting to more than £13 million have been made to football in that time. I very much hope that the club to which the hon. Gentleman referred will be one of the lucky ones in the year ahead.

Mr. Fabricant

While I understand the concern of the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Olner) about the Millennium Commission not putting the exhibition in Birmingham, was not the British Tourist Authority—which promotes this country's tourism overseas—right to say that Greenwich was the only possible location for the exhibition, which will receive international recognition? Does my right hon. Friend deplore, as I do, the claim that jobs will be lost in south-east Staffordshire, of all places, because the exhibition will not be held at the national exhibition centre?

Mrs. Bottomley

I am confident that the millennium festival in Greenwich will be a tremendous success, providing a national and international focus and an opportunity to gather together the nation to look forward to the next millennium. I appreciate the disappointment expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Fabricant), my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) and others about the Birmingham bid. There will, however, be good news tomorrow for the west midlands, which will receive a further 13 arts awards amounting to more than £3.5 million.