§ Mr. Simon Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many acres of(a) public and (b) school playing fields have been sold off in each year since 1997. 
§ Kate Hoey
Information on the acreage of public playing fields sold since 1997 is not available. Sport England does however, monitor the number of planning applications concerning playing fields in its role as statutory consultee.
The Amendment to Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act in October 1998, which was brought in to halt the previous Administration's policy of forcing schools to sell off playing fields, has introduced powers that require all state schools to seek consent for the sale of playing fields from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. In making his decision my right hon. Friend will take into account a number of criteria including consultation with the community and user groups, whether the proceeds will be used for education or used to enhance or improve sports provision, and whether the remaining playing fields fully meet the needs of local schools and the community.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment gave approval for the sale of 26.4 acres of school playing fields in England in 1998; 111.2 acres in 1999, and 60.9 acres in 2000.