HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 c584
7. Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

What progress has been made on the setting up of Quest. [66764]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

Good progress is being made on the establishment of Quest. We have advertised for a director and intend to have the team operational at the start of the new financial year.

Mrs. Mahon

Does my right hon. Friend agree that an early priority of the new team should be the administration of sport in this country, with a view to offering some suggestions as to how it could be improved?

Mr. Smith

I agree with my hon. Friend. We have established two priority areas of work for Quest in the first year. First, we propose a review of the targets and indicators used within funding agreements across the fields that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport sponsors; and, secondly, a review of administrative structures within national bodies, including a review of the governing bodies of sport.

Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk)

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that Quest's establishment sits uncomfortably with his declared aim of devolving power? Does he understand the extent of concern about his constant and calculated undermining of the arm's-length principle—his idea of which is clearly on a par with that of Venus de Milo?

Mr. Smith

That was a somewhat laboured analogy, if I may say so. The hon. Gentleman completely misunderstands the nature of Quest—as always, Opposition Members are wrong. This is a small team that will ensure that the bureaucracies in place to fund sport, the arts, tourism, film and broadcasting work effectively and efficiently and that we get good value for the taxpayers' money. I would have thought that any sensible person—let alone those on the Opposition Benches—would recognise the value of that.