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Scottish Culture

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

5. If he will hold discussions with ministerial colleagues to develop policy on promotion of Scottish culture throughout the UK. (309553)

Scotland’s culture is known throughout the UK and beyond. There are now more Burns suppers in England than in Scotland. As a fiercely patriotic Scot, I take every opportunity to promote Scottish culture with my ministerial colleagues.

The Secretary of State is an excellent representative for Scotland. Would cultural interchange be further encouraged by promoting the good idea of having both Celtic and Glasgow Rangers playing in the English leagues?

I would have to declare an interest before responding to that question, as I am a part-time follower of one of those teams. I will leave it to the House to guess which one. Of course, that is a decision for the football authorities and the football clubs. What would enhance cross-border cultural exchange is a return of the Scotland versus England friendly football matches. I think that the home internationals will return shortly, with Ireland replacing England, and that there is now a commitment to a return of the Scotland versus England football matches. I have spoken to the Scottish Football Association about that. There was an agreement to have such an arrangement in 2008, but Scotland withdrew from it. Having grown up around memories of the Wembley Wizards of 1928 and 1967, Kenny Dalglish’s great goals at Wembley and occasional England victories at Hampden, I think that it would be a remarkable sporting event and a highlight in the football calendar, so I say, “Bring it on.”

Does my right hon. Friend share my hope that the BBC Trust will respond positively to the current consultation about putting MG ALBA, the Gaelic television station, on to Freeview? That would allow the benefits of that station to be appreciated and its quality output to be seen by a wider audience not only in Scotland, but across the UK.

Despite the comments of all the doomsayers and those who are culturally ignorant, MG ALBA is a fantastic success, which has exceeded its ambitions regarding its share of audience. It is a young and growing medium that deserves and is entitled to our continued support. If it were available to a wider group of viewers across the UK, on different platforms, that would be a real boon. I will do everything I can to make that happen, but the BBC Trust certainly has a responsibility to help to make it happen.

The Secretary of State has spent a great deal of time in my constituency, and I am grateful for that. Is he aware of the proposal to locate an offshoot of the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee, and will he join me in supporting that venture? Will he agree to meet me to see how Westminster can help us to locate the V and A in Dundee?

My hon. Friend is a doughty fighter for Dundee. He pestered the Government until we agreed to give additional money for the games industry at the university of Abertay, and it is his victory that that money is in place.

The V and A proposal is a devolved issue, but I believe that there is a need for about £15 million of Scottish Government investment, and I urge them to find the money for that fantastic project, so that people across the world have additional reasons to visit the great city of Dundee.