As hon. Members will have noticed, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State is not with us for oral questions. He is currently in Rio de Janeiro leading a delegation to share London’s knowledge and expertise with our Brazilian counterparts, helping them to prepare for the World cup in 2014 and the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016—and, importantly, banging the drum for British business. With £70 million of contracts already won for UK companies in Rio, we are continuing to deliver an economic legacy for the UK from the most successful games of modern times.
Rio in November—it must be a hard life!
There is often lots of conversation about the difficulties of broadband access in rural areas. What can Ministers do to help people in urban areas such as mine, where in Rotherhithe, for example, people are not near the telephone exchange and broadband is therefore very poor indeed?
The right hon. Gentleman raises an issue with which many people in the Chamber will identify. Urban areas by no means always receive the sort of connectivity that our constituents want. That is why it is important that we have put in place not only the rural broadband programme to deliver better connectivity in rural areas but the urban broadband fund for our urban areas, which will ensure that London has some £25 million to achieve the improvements that he talks about.
The “Chance to Shine” survey published this week shows that the majority of parents who were surveyed—54%—said that since the Olympics their children have played less than two hours of sport and PE per week. Participation in sport in school is on the way down. The PE and sports survey published in 2010 told us that over 90% of schoolchildren were doing sport in schools. If we are to have any chance of instilling a sporting habit for life in our young children, we will have to start in schools. Will the Minister tell us what the Government intend to do to monitor what is going on in our schools?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right; we have to instil that habit of sport at the earliest age. As I have said before, I share his concern about participation levels among young people. We will be looking carefully at the findings from the “Chance to Shine” survey. I have already talked to him and to other Members about the school games, in which 50% of schools have participated, and through our youth sport strategy £1 billion is going towards supporting further participation. I hope that he will welcome those facts.
The London Olympics and Paralympics were clearly an outstanding success delivered on time and within budget, with an outstanding performance by Great Britain. Now comes the long-term challenge of delivering the legacy. Will my right hon. Friend confirm the position as regards progress in dismantling some of the venues that are due to be moved elsewhere so that everyone can enjoy that success?
The decommissioning of venues is already well under way, with the transference of temporary venues to new owners, whether it is the volleyball courts or the beach volleyball courts that were just round the corner from here, from which the sand has been taken and used to create tens of new volleyball courts throughout London, including one in Wimbledon park.
I cannot keep on making this point, but I will. We are not handing the money to BT. It is a competitive tendering process, and if BT wins the contracts that local authorities put out, that is a matter for those local authorities.
My hon. Friend Mark Pawsey mentioned the rugby world cup in 2015. I must just clarify that he was referring to the rugby union world cup. The rugby league world cup is happening next year. Switching to football, do Ministers accept the case for introducing, on a trial basis, limited standing areas at football grounds for premiership and championship clubs whose management want to participate?
We believe that seated stadiums offer the best experience for spectators and the best safety measures. That view is supported by the Government, the police and the sport.
Given the importance of the high standards and diversity in our media, will the communications Bill include any Leveson inquiry recommendations on media and cross-media ownership?
We have always made it clear that we will take Lord Leveson’s thoughts and findings into account as we draw the Bill together.
I recently attended Worcester’s Gheluvelt park for a moving service to mark the 98th anniversary of the battle of Gheluvelt, at which the Worcestershire Regiment stopped the Prussian guard and stabilised the western front. As the 100th anniversary of those heroic actions draws near, what can the Secretary of State do to ensure that local connections with the first world war will be properly recognised amidst the national commemorations?
An important part of the work that we will do to commemorate the first world war will be to ensure that every community, and indeed every individual, has the opportunity to find their own story, whether they have overseas connections or not. The Heritage Lottery Fund will be important in delivering the finances for that.
We have talked in this Question Time about the contribution of schools to developing sporting activities among children. Schools are also key to developing creativity among children, and Britain leads the world in the creative industries. Will the Secretary of State meet the Secretary of State for Education to discuss the effect of the EBacc plans on creative subjects in the curriculum, and to ensure that creativity is part of our children’s education?
The hon. Lady needs to understand that the English baccalaureate has creativity at its heart. It includes English, maths, science, history, geography and languages, and will give students the opportunity to explore the heritage of this country’s literature. Sitting alongside that, the 123 new music hubs that have been established will ensure that creativity is at the heart of our children’s education.
Essex is an important engine of economic growth in the United Kingdom. Businesses in our county are being held back by poor broadband infrastructure, and yet we have been placed 31st out of 35 on the Broadband Delivery UK project framework. Will the Secretary of State support local businesses in Essex by prioritising the roll-out of high-speed broadband?
Essex has been awarded £6 million for its rural broadband programme. Although it is low on the list because of when it submitted its application to BDUK, we will work with Essex and a lot of work can be done before procurement.
There has been a huge increase in the number of betting shops opening in generic shopping units and the subsequent installation of the high-stake, high-price fixed odds betting terminals, which contribute to gambling addiction. Will the Secretary of State meet the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to agree a policy that places betting shops in a specific planning category to stop the increase in betting shops and high-stake machines? Will she carry out an investigation into the impact of those machines on gambling addiction?
On the final part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, we believe that there is a need for more evidence on the impact of gambling within society. We are collecting that evidence now and are looking carefully at all the issues that he raised.
I pay tribute to the Secretary of State, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr Vaizey and Ofcom for the auction arrangements, which satisfy all the mobile phone operators. However, will Ministers reassure the House that planning guidance will be put in place to enable mobile operators to introduce higher masts and bring about 4G roll-out much more quickly?
We are looking at the planning regulations on mobile phone masts. We will bring forward proposals and consult on them in the appropriate manner. My hon. Friend’s point is well made. If we want to benefit from 4G, we have to make it easier to deploy networks.
I was concerned by the Secretary of State’s answer to my hon. Friend Fiona Mactaggart. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been taking evidence in its inquiry into the creative industries. Every single witness has said that the Government’s plans for the EBacc will be devastating for the arts and culture. The Secretary of State must be the champion for arts and culture in government and must ask the Education Secretary to think again.
The right hon. Gentleman needs to understand that as well as Ebacc’s creative content, many things are going on around that in schools. The issue has been carefully considered by Ofsted, which assesses the cultural development of individuals in schools. That is at the heart of what we are doing.
I have already accepted a number of invitations on behalf of the sports Minister, and I am happy to confirm that the Secretary of State will, I am sure, make it to Aldeburgh next year to celebrate the centenary of one of our greatest composers who children will learn about in school, particularly after we publish our national cultural education plan—the first of its kind in our history.
I am happy to confirm to the hon. Lady that the Government are doing an enormous amount to help libraries. We have given responsibility for libraries to the Arts Council, which has set up a £6 million fund to support them, and we have appointed a new libraries adviser, Yinnon Ezra. We are piloting the compulsory membership of libraries for schoolchildren and we have the Seighart review on e-lending. We continue strongly to support libraries. This is not about legislation, it is about action.
Under the previous Government, broadband provision in Northumberland was woeful, disorganised and underfunded. That situation is slowly improving, which brings great benefits. Will the Minister meet me—rather than the sports Minister having that pleasure—and fellow representatives in Northumberland, to discuss how we can improve the provision of broadband in Northumberland?
As a matter of principle I never refuse a meeting with an hon. Member under my portfolio, and I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend—in fact, I would be delighted.