HC Deb 23 April 2001 vol 367 cc15-6W
Mr. Kaufman

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Manchester, Gorton constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 21 November 2000. [154504]

Mr. Chris Smith

Since November 2000 my Department has continued to develop a variety of initiatives which will impact on my right hon. Friend's constituency and which promote our objectives of access, excellence, education, and creativity and employment. We have built on our strategies to take this forward in Tomorrow's Tourism and A Sporting Future for All, which was followed in March by The Government's Plan for Sport. We have tackled the issue of social inclusion taking forward the recommendations of Policy Action Team 10 on Arts and Sport and developing social inclusion policies across all our areas which is recognised within the most recent progress report Building on PATIO published in February.

A significant increase in funding for the cultural and sporting infrastructure has continued to have a huge influence since November. The Spending Review 2000 secured a doubling of the budget for sport and the largest ever increase for the arts: an increase of 80 per cent. from £186 million in 1997–98 to £336 million in 2003–04. In taking forward our aim to develop the educational potential of culture and sport £40 million has been allocated to developing Creative Partnerships; we have established through lottery funding, the £30 million National Foundation for Youth Music; and secured an additional £130 million for primary schools sports and arts facilities through the Space for Sport and the Arts programme. With £120 million of central Government and Lottery funding we are providing a school sports co-ordinator in one in four secondary schools to work with local primary and special schools to improve sporting provision and physical education for children in the most deprived areas. We have delivered free access to national museums for children, from April this was extended to cover the over 60's at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. Additional money will be provided to allow this to be extended to everyone in December 2001. We have commissioned a Task Force which is currently considering the issues facing non-national museums in the regions.

According to the information supplied to us by the distributing bodies for the national lottery awards database, there have been four national lottery awards to Manchester Gorton since November, totalling £108,648. We have made improvements in the way the Lottery is spent to ensure a fairer distribution. The New Opportunities Fund has made a real difference to communities everywhere. For instance it has invested £120 million to support the People's Network, which will enable all 4,300 public libraries to offer free public internet access through UK online learning centres; and a further £50 million to stimulate development of content to support the Network.

The North West Regional Cultural Consortium is working hard to champion culture and creativity, including heritage, sport and tourism throughout the region. Their regional cultural strategy is currently in draft format and is on course to be published in July.

In March, we published a Green Paper "Culture and Creativity: The Next Ten Years", setting out how individual creative talent can be given the support it needs from childhood to flourish; how artists and cultural institutions can be freed from bureaucratic controls; and how the freedom to explore and enjoy creativity and culture can be made available to all.

Through their commitment to public service broadcasting, the Government have helped to foster an environment in which a creative, commercially successful broadcasting industry provides a wide range of UK-made, high quality, original programmes catering for all viewers and listeners. We have ensured a secure funding base for the BBC and S4C, while giving them the freedom to develop commercial operations which complement and support their public service remit. We have made clear in the Communications White Paper that public service broadcasting will continue to have a key role to play in the digital future. Since November the Government have introduced free television licences for people aged 75. Information on the number of beneficiaries of free television licences by constituency is not available, but estimates based on the 1991 Census indicate that there were approximately 4,700 people aged 75 or over living in the Manchester, Gorton constituency.

In the wider context of the region North West Arts Board received £14,061,000 in 2000–01 from the Arts Council to support arts and cultural activity across its region. In 2001–02 this will increase to £15,491,266 or by 10.17 per cent.

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