Michael Ellis: Museums play an important role in our lives and in society. The Mendoza review of museums was published last November, and my Department is implementing its recommendations to improve support of the sector. The sector continues to be supported by more than £800 million of public funds.
Michael Ellis: I very much agree with my hon. Friend about the benefits of the Isle of Wight. I visited it last year, and Osborne House is just one of its many attractions. Arts Council England South West has identified the cultural development of the Isle of Wight as one of its key activities for 2018 to 2020, and we support that.
Michael Ellis: Of course, it continues to be our policy that museums are free to enter. People of all backgrounds can and do visit them, and they are very busy during the holiday period. We always want to do more to increase access to museums, and that is a constant focus for me and my Department.
Michael Ellis: I was struck by the awful tragedy of the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, and my heart goes out to everyone affected. It is my intention to visit it as soon as that can be arranged, and we are in constant discussions on the subject of how and if we can help.
Michael Ellis: I enjoyed my meeting with the hon. Gentleman. Yes, indeed: there is a great deal to be gained by visits to ordnance museums and many other areas where women played an integral and key part during both world wars, and before and since.
Michael Ellis: The issue of where Channel 4 goes is of course a matter for it. Glasgow’s iconic landmark is well recognised. I know about Mackintosh’s work because there is a Mackintosh property in Northampton that is highly regarded. We will be looking at this. All options are open with regard to the hon. Lady’s point.
Michael Ellis: The Government have secured hosting rights, I am pleased to say, for a number of major sporting events. That includes the cricket World cup next year, Euro 2020 matches and the Birmingham Commonwealth games in 2022. We will use national and local tourism agencies to ensure that we take advantage of all opportunities.
Michael Ellis: I would be delighted to do so. My hon. Friend is quite right to draw the House’s attention to the World Rugby Hall of Fame, which is one of the many excellent attractions in the United Kingdom. There was William Webb Ellis, of course— no relation, which may surprise you, Mr Speaker. The Government are committed to boosting UK tourism, particularly outside London, and the Discover...
Michael Ellis: The sports Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), and I do care a great deal about this, as does the Secretary of State. The reality is that we want to get as many events as possible outside London and across the country. We are always looking to do that, and we continue to do so.
Michael Ellis: I certainly congratulate the organisers of that event, and of course those of the many other events that take place around the country. I cannot accept every request to take part in all these events; nevertheless, I will do my very best.
Michael Ellis: Actually, huge investment—an unprecedented amount—has gone into the railways. Our tourism figures are up—they are up vastly on previous years—and they continue to rise, so I do not accept the premise of the hon. Lady’s question. We work very hard to encourage as much tourism as possible, including sports tourism.
Michael Ellis: Wakefield has a flourishing cultural sector, which is reflected in the high-profile work of local heritage arts and museum attractions, such as the Hepworth and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. My predecessor, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (John Glen), visited Wakefield in December 2017, some six months ago.
Michael Ellis: What a walking, living advertisement the hon. Lady is for her constituency and her area. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited it with his family recently.
Michael Ellis: I did not hear that! We certainly value Wakefield and everything it has to offer. We will certainly keep it in mind for future visits.
Michael Ellis: Of course tax is a matter for the Treasury, but we are always looking at ways to protect and conserve our historic and heritage buildings; they are crucially important to all of us and we will always look to do that.
Michael Ellis: The UK city of culture, Coventry 2021, is going to be a fantastic thing for Coventry and also for its environs, including my hon. Friend’s area, and we know from Hull, and we will see in Coventry, the tremendous effects of the UK city of culture.
Michael Ellis: It is a great honour and pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Graham. You may be forgiven for thinking that you have been presiding over a constituency candidate selection process, with everybody speaking so eloquently and passionately about their own area, but at least it was not a beauty contest, because that would have been very difficult for you indeed. The first thing I want to...
Michael Ellis: With the benefit of advice from Historic England, the Government protect nationally important heritage assets in several ways, including by conferring statutory protection through the designation system and regulating change through planning policy. In addition, more than 400 buildings and sites in the National Heritage collection are managed on behalf of the nation by the English Heritage...
Michael Ellis: I am aware of the project to which my hon. Friend refers. It was previously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and a bid for further funding was made last year. Our arm’s length bodies, including Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, provide tremendous support to those looking after local heritage. In this particular case, I know that both organisations are keen to work with...
Michael Ellis: I thank the hon. Gentleman and his group for the work that they have done on that report, and I am very happy to meet him at our earliest convenience.