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National Lottery Funding (Sport)

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

Since April 2005, the national lottery has raised £1.1 billion for the sport good cause. In addition, in that period the Big Lottery Fund distributed more than £700 million of lottery money to projects focused exclusively on community sport and physical activity. The Big Lottery Fund has also funded many other community projects that include some element of sport and physical activity.

I thank the Secretary of State for that response. However, is he aware that many people in my constituency feel that the proportion of national lottery money going to sport has been inadequate and that Ministers and the Government have funnelled lottery funding to their pet projects at the expense of sport?

I believe that hon. Members on both sides of the House are aware that we have the Olympics games in 2012, so, yes, of course a proportion of the funding that used to go not just to sport but to other good causes has been diverted to the Olympics, but that is absolutely right. We want the Olympics to be a great success, but when they are over in 2012, that funding will return to those original causes. The hon. Gentleman must answer the question about the impact of the Conservative party’s policy of withdrawing the funds derived from the Big Lottery Fund and instead going back to the four original pillars, which would hit community, sports and leisure projects in his constituency.

I do not know whether the Secretary of State wants to come round to this side of the House, because he seems to be asking the questions rather than answering them. Could he answer this one? Representatives of Northamptonshire county cricket club came to see me on Friday. It is one of the less prosperous county cricket teams and its representatives are very concerned about the money that they will lose if Sky loses the right to the exclusive use of cricket on the media. I know that this has been discussed before, but substituting lottery money for Sky money does not work. Does he have an opinion on this? What does he think the balance is on this matter?

The hon. Gentleman accuses me of asking the Conservative party questions, but, a few weeks before a general election, I think that both the House and the public have some entitlement to know what his party stands for. Its policies are totally confused across the entire responsibilities of this Department, just as they are nationally. Not only his leader, but Opposition Front Benchers wibble and wobble all over the place on policy. [Interruption.] Exactly as my hon. Friends say, their policy changes every day. I simply say to the hon. Gentleman, who, I know, likes taking orders from Sky and Rupert Murdoch, as does his party, that he should be—

Order. May I say very gently to the Secretary of State that I am sure that he will now return to the matter of Government policy?

The hon. Gentleman was asking me about listed events and the impact that listing cricket as an event—for example, the test match home series—might have on community cricket. I think that many hon. Members think that the impact of that has been somewhat exaggerated. I simply gently point out to the hon. Gentleman that, just as he has the concern of a certain broadcaster at heart, millions of people in this country value cricket going back on to free-to-air, terrestrial television. We speak for them; the Conservatives speak for vested interests.

In the light of the UK’s performance at the winter Olympics, does the Secretary of State wish that we had spent more of our money on elite sporting performance in winter Olympic sports?

The hon. Lady is rather negative about the UK’s performance at the winter Olympics. We actually won our first gold medal in a single event for 30 years—since Robin Cousins—so it was our best performance for several years. But of course, these funding decisions are not taken by Ministers in this Government, although she might like that to be the case under a Conservative Government. We believe in the sports bodies making the decisions about where funding goes. Of course, they will review whether the funding that they put into certain winter Olympic sports represents good value for money, and they will make decisions about future funding based on those talks.

The Secretary of State was alluding to the 2012 Olympics and the legacy that we will receive from it. Will he inform the House exactly how much the games will cost NHS London? I asked the same question of the Secretary of State for Health the other day, and he indicated that it would be £41 million.[Interruption.] Will this Secretary of State give us the documents, so that we know how much the Olympics will cost NHS London?

I am afraid that, because of all the noise, I did not hear the specific question, but if the hon. Gentleman will write to me, I will happily write a reply to him.

Order. A little excitement is a good thing; too much excitement is a bad thing. I appeal to hon. Members to be conscious of the way in which we are viewed by people outside the House who regard a lot of raucous noise as pretty undesirable.