HC Deb 19 May 1997 vol 294 cc360-1
2. Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he will meet representatives of British motor racing to discuss funding of that sport. [361]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Tony Banks)

First, I acknowledge that a previous, very distinguished sports Minister is asking this question. I intend to meet representatives of many sports in the coming months and they will, of course, include representatives of motor racing.

Mr. Key

May I be the first to congratulate the Minister on his new appointment? It is an early example of job creation in the Labour Government-two people did the job before and four people are doing it now, so we can expect a great deal. In view of the Government's decision today to abolish tobacco sponsorship as well as advertising, will the hon. Gentleman talk to the motor racing and motor sports industry, which employs more than 50,000 people? Will there be time and assistance for a transitional period and, if so, how much? Will the ban also include the broadcasting by television in this country of events overseas where tobacco bans do not apply?

Mr. Banks

We need the extra Minister here to answer the many supplementaries that the hon. Gentleman has put. Motor racing in this country relies to a degree on sponsorship from the tobacco industry. However, I have been supplied with a list of all the other sponsors of motor racing and there are clearly adequate substitutes. One does not want to see the sport suffer as this country benefits enormously from the technology, skills and other spin-offs from the motor racing industry. However, there is a manifesto undertaking. It is clear that people voted overwhelmingly for my party with that manifesto undertaking and we intend to implement it. What transitional period we can get into place is a matter for negotiation, but nothing can stand in the way of our implementing that manifesto undertaking.