HC Deb 15 September 2003 vol 410 cc574-5
4. Mr. Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow)

If she will make a statement on Government-funded provision for athletics in the north-east. [129554]

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn)

Since 1998, a total of just under £2.8 million has been awarded to athletics in the north-east by Sport England from Exchequer or lottery programmes, comprising four community capital programme awards totalling just over £2.5 million, one award of £50,000 through the community athletics refurbishment programme—part of the legacy money given to UK Athletics—and 33 Awards for All grants totalling£113,000.

Mr. Hepburn

I know that the Minister is looking forward to doing the great north run next week. When he does so, he will pass Gateshead stadium, which he will see is in dire need of investment. Is he aware that the stadium has been turned down for an £11 million lottery bid, while at the same time the Duke of Northumberland, one of the richest men in the north-east, received an £11 million grant from the lottery for some old painting that he did not want any more? When the Minister is up there, will he intervene in this matter and get some public resources in so that we can get this worthwhile scheme going?

Mr. Caborn

I can assure my hon. Friend that when I am doing the great north run on Sunday, I shall be keeping my eyes in front and looking for the 13-mile marker. Seriously, though, my hon. Friend raises an important question. Sport England's review has been looking at the facilities for elite development, and it took the decision in July to review that. I was up there a few weeks ago, and it was pleasing to see how all the parties involved have come together. A meeting was called by Sport England, which has given a commitment that there will be some elite facilities there, and the development agency, the Government office and the universities are all now involved, together with the local authorities. I hope, therefore, that in the next few weeks or months, there will be a resolution to the problem to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire)

Notwithstanding what the Minister has just said about funding for athletics, I assure him that athletics clubs in the north-east, in common with sports clubs throughout the country, will react with shock-horror at his decision, as outlined to me in his letter of 20 August, that clubs will have to pay the full fee for alcohol licences in future. In Committee on the Licensing Bill, his predecessor, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), said in response to the three amendments that I had tabled to reduce licensing fees payable by voluntary sports clubs in the north-east: Having regard to the strength of the argument that the hon. Gentleman has presented to the Committee"—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 6 May 2003; c. 4021—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question is out of order, so I cannot allow the Minister to answer.