HC Deb 28 January 1998 vol 305 c238W
Mr. Pond

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will carry out an assessment of the impact of his Department's current policies on the(a) income, (b) employment opportunities and (c) living standards, of the poorest 30 per cent. of the population. [23333]

Mr. Tom Clarke

The sectors for which my Department is responsible—arts, museums, libraries, sport, tourism, the built heritage, the music industry, film and broadcasting—are central to delivering improvements to the quality of life for everyone. In all these sectors our objective is to ensure access for the many, not just the few, whether as audience or participant.

The arts, sport and broadcasting have a widely accepted role in promoting social cohesion, and in providing through formal and informal education the necessary skills which individuals need to develop socially and at work.

Public libraries are a vital focus for the community, offering a source of information and advice to help the unemployed into work or training, and free access to sources of learning and enjoyment for all.

All our sectors are supporting the New Deal. The tourism industry in particular has the potential to provide many new job opportunities over the next few years.

The National Lottery has provided sporting and cultural infrastructure around the country from which all benefit. The National Lottery Charities Board in particular gives grants to help meet the needs of those at greatest disadvantage in society. The Bill currently before the House for the reform of the National Lottery will help the disadvantaged further through the New Opportunities Fund, whose first programmes will include out of school hours activities and healthy living centres.

My Department is working with the Social Exclusion Unit to ensure that we fully exploit opportunities for sport, the arts, broadcasting and the other DCMS sectors to play their part in helping to tackle the problems of social exclusion.