Matthew Hancock: My hon. Friend is a very wise man. Racing is no different from other intellectual property. We need a new, fair structure that keeps British racing the best in the world and ensures that those who profit from racing help to pay for racing, so I support a racing right.
Matthew Hancock: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, and the relationship with greyhound racing-in which racing has again lost out in recent years-is an important consideration.
Matthew Hancock: Most betting on point-to-point racing happens on course, and bookies who go on course pay for the privilege, so there is a transfer from betting to racing there. I adore point-to-point as a good day out and I hope that it is properly financed in future. It needs to be part of the mix, but we should recognise that most of the betting in point-to-point is on course.
Matthew Hancock: Aintree is undoubtedly my favourite jump course, and I spent much of my youth on Grand National days as a fence judge, catching horses with fallen riders, and occasionally putting the riders back on board-the especially brave ones. So I have a particular love of Aintree, and I agree that this issue is important for every racecourse in the country, especially those at the top. A racing right,...
Matthew Hancock: Is the hon. Lady aware that, over the past year, the contribution from the levy to prize money at Newcastle race course, which she so loves, fell by 41%?
Matthew Hancock: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Matthew Hancock: My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) mentioned the European Commission's view of the French system, but would it not be better to look at the view of the British system? The levy board does not define the levy as state aid precisely because it is a transfer between two industries. Moreover, a racing right would establish a property right on which our whole constitution is based.
Matthew Hancock: Do Labour Front Benchers support a racing right?
Matthew Hancock: It has a been a pleasure to hear today's debate and the passionate declaration of support for the racing industry. I declare my support for, and support from, the racing industry. That passion has shown the value of this Backbench Business Committee debate. What have we learned today? There is a broad consensus on the need to reform the levy and clear support for the need for a fair return....
Matthew Hancock: The people of East Anglia and hon. Members of all parties were delighted when the Government decided to dual the remainder of the A11 in the spending review. This morning, there was a serious accident on the A11. Can the Leader of the House therefore find time for a debate on when the improvements will begin?
Matthew Hancock: What steps she is taking to reduce fish discards; and if she will make a statement.
Matthew Hancock: Was the Minister as shocked as I was by a recent television documentary about fish discards? I was appalled by what fishermen who work so hard have to do because of the rules. Will the Minister assure me that he has been working on the issue not just since the public outcry, but since the moment that he was given the job?
Matthew Hancock: How much has the Minister been constrained in his dealings with the majority state-owned banks by the contracts on payments that were signed by the Labour party before the election?
Matthew Hancock: Yesterday, before the Public Accounts Committee, Treasury civil servants explained that the previous Government had the opportunity to seek to put constraints on this year's bonuses at the partly state-owned banks, but that they chose not to. Is the Chancellor disappointed by that?
Matthew Hancock: I attest to the beauty of Frodsham and Helsby hills, which my hon. Friend talked about. The area is almost as beautiful as the area near Clare in my constituency, where there is a proposal for a six-turbine wind farm, to which I am strongly opposed. There, too, residents formed an action group, Stop Turbines Over Clare, and I commend them for that. They also found that wind speeds are much...
Matthew Hancock: In the Public Accounts Committee, we heard from civil servants about the impact of housing benefit and other benefits that make for an extremely complex and complicated benefit system. We have also heard about the enthusiasm for having a universal benefit as a way of cutting through that. Talking of representations, would not these changes have been easier had we not had representations on...
Matthew Hancock: I welcome the very reasonable tone of the Secretary of State's response to the reasonable judgment. Does he agree that it is not reasonable to ask pupils to be educated in schools that are falling down, or that after 13 years of a Labour Government, they see dripping wet rain coming in and, in some cases, skylights falling in, because dilapidation was not as significant a factor in the scheme...
Matthew Hancock: I am sure that the hon. Lady was not about to move on from talking about forecasts having spoken only about growth forecasts and having omitted to speak about the previous Government's dreadful record on fiscal and deficit forecasts.
Matthew Hancock: I enjoy debating with the hon. Lady, so I am extremely grateful for her giving way. She has just prayed in aid the OBR, saying that it had forecast that the deficit would fall, but she has also said that under the Government's plan the deficit will not fall. The OBR's forecast is based on the Government's plan, so does she agree with herself or not?
Matthew Hancock: The hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle) cast aspersions on the ability of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), now the Justice Secretary, to forecast, saying that in 1996 he forecast more than 2.5% growth. Information has reached me that in 1997 growth was more than 3%, so it turns out that he was right. What does my hon. Friend make of that?