Horseracing

Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at on 23 May 2024.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Independent, West Suffolk

What steps her Department is taking to support the horseracing industry.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

Given that my constituency of Pudsey will no longer exist after the election, this may be my final chance to thank all my constituents for the support that they have given me over the years. I pay particular tribute to my parliamentary and constituency team, who have helped me enormously over the past 14 years. It has been the privilege and honour of my life, and I am extremely grateful for it.

In answer to the question, the Government very much support horseracing, which is the second largest spectator sport and a major economic contributor, and not just to the rural economy but to the economy more widely. We have been working extensively with industry to maintain its status as a world-renowned sport.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Independent, West Suffolk

I, too, rise to make my last contribution in this House. May I thank you, Mr Speaker, and all the staff of the House, who have helped me enormously over many years? I have answered thousands of questions from the Dispatch Box, and asked hundreds from the Back Benches. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend, who has been an exemplary Minister and representative of Pudsey.

It is perhaps fitting that my final question is about horseracing, which is at the heart of the West Suffolk constituency and, of course, Newmarket. It requires significant support in these difficult times. I know that the Minister and the Secretary of State have been working incredibly hard to try to settle the latest levy negotiations. Can he assure me that he will do everything he possibly can to use the last few days in which this Parliament is sitting to get that deal over the line? We now want certainty to be able to take this great sport from strength to strength.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

My right hon. Friend has certainly been an advocate of and a hard campaigner for horseracing, and not just in his constituency but for the wider sport. Significant progress has been made on increasing levy contributions on a voluntary basis, and a great deal of thanks must go to the British Horseracing Authority, the Betting and Gaming Council, and DCMS officials for all their efforts and engagements throughout this process. With an offer on the table, we urge both sides to agree on the terms of the deal, which will see increased investment in the sport, allowing it to grow and secure its sustainability. We will do everything we can to ensure that is agreed.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Minister for that answer. The last autumn, winter and spring have seen a deluge of rain like we have never seen—many of us were either going to buy a boat or build one. What assessment has been made of the impact of the past 12 months of increased rainfall and flooding on the horseracing industry?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. I know that colleagues in Sport England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been looking at this issue, particularly as it has affected not just horseracing but other pitches, such as for rugby, football and so on. I have some further details on the conclusions of that, which I would be happy to write to the hon. Gentleman about.