HC Deb 04 March 1996 vol 273 cc4-5
3. Mr. Nigel Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representations she has received about the siting of a national stadium in Manchester for the Commonwealth games in 2002. [16353]

11. Sir Thomas Arnold

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what discussions she has had with the Sports Council about the siting of a major national stadium in Manchester. [16361]

The Minister of State, Department of National Heritage (Mr. fain Sproat)

I have received a number of representations about both Manchester's plans for the Commonwealth games stadium and the city's bid to develop the new national stadium using lottery money. I have followed the debate closely, although it has always been an important principle of the national lottery that distribution of the proceeds should be independent from the Government.

Mr. Evans

Is my hon. Friend aware that there will be a phenomenal number of visitors to the north-west when the games are held in Manchester in 2002? I am sure that he wants the games to be a success. However, to have a world-class games, Manchester will need a world-class stadium. Will he give the House a commitment today that the athletes, the phenomenal number of visitors and the people of the north-west will not be let down in 2002 by the facilities on offer during the Commonwealth games?

Mr. Sproat

I am sure that visitors and athletes will not be let down. I am aware that my hon. Friend has taken the lead in looking after the interests of the north-west in this matter. The Sports Council is looking at the project for the national stadium, which may or may not be the stadium for the Commonwealth games. If it is not—it is a big if because the Sports Council has not made up its mind between Manchester and Wembley—I am sure that any other stadium will be absolutely fitting for the Commonwealth games.

Sir Thomas Arnold

Will my hon. Friend confirm that Manchester city council is working hard to improve the chances of the Manchester bid being successful by attending to the traffic and public transport implications? Is he aware that those of us who represent constituencies in the nine other boroughs of the county of Greater Manchester would like to be confident on that point?

Mr. Sproat

Yes, Manchester city council is looking very carefully at two transport matters—car parking and the metro and rail facilities for the games. I know that both are being kept under very close consideration and my Department is keeping in touch.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Can the Minister, from that Dispatch Box, assure the House that, whichever of the two cities succeeds in its bid, not one penny of lottery money will go into the pockets of private shareholders? Were that to happen, would that not be a gross misuse of such money?

Mr. Sproat

Any distribution of lottery funds is a matter for the appropriate distributing body.

Mr. Pike

Does the Minister recognise that such a stadium would be important not only to Manchester but to Lancashire and the entire north-west? Will he do everything possible to ensure the necessary transport links in Lancashire so that we will be able to make full use of the facilities that will be provided for 2002?

Mr. Sproat

Yes, I will certainly do everything appropriate for my Department, and I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks about transport in general to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.