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Creative Partnerships

Volume 514: debated on Monday 26 July 2010

Creative Partnerships is funded by Arts Council England and as such, decisions on its future are a matter between that and Creativity, Culture and Education.

The Minister does not sound as enthusiastic as the teachers and head teachers in my constituency are about this wonderful programme. Can he do more to publicise the achievements of Creative Partnerships? The case report that his Department semi-released a week ago without any real promotion concluded not only that Creative Partnerships improves learning and achievement, but that through research, it improves the capacity of creativity to do more to help children to learn.

As the hon. Lady may know, I am a passionate supporter of both music and cultural education in the round. We could do more to make such programmes more coherent, so that they work in a more joined-up fashion, but as I said, the future of Creative Partnerships and how it works is very much a matter between it and Arts Council England.

Does the Minister agree that because Arts Council England set up a separate body to deliver that programme—Creative Partnerships—and even if much of the work on the ground and delivery is excellent, we need to be careful how many tiers of management are involved? Creative partnerships are possible through local authorities and some excellent private sector organisations that do a lot of work with the community, such as the Creative Foundation in my constituency.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his well-made point. As I said, I feel very strongly that we need to bring some coherence to the sector. Many very good initiatives are happening on the ground, and it is important that we join them up as much as possible to make them as effective as possible.

Successive Labour Culture Secretaries achieved settlements in every comprehensive spending review from 1997 onwards that were significantly better than the Whitehall average, arguing successfully that culture has a special role in our national life; that for every £1 we invest, we get £2 back; and that spending in any case is tiny—less than the annual underspend in the NHS. Are the Minister and his colleague the Secretary of State even bothering to make those arguments with the Treasury? What has happened to the Liberal Democrats manifesto pledge to protect spending on arts and culture? Is that just another example of the Lib Dems having no influence whatever on the Government?

We work very closely with our Liberal Democrat colleagues. As the shadow Secretary of State is aware, the economic state that the previous Government left us in has left us with some very tough decisions to make. I can assure him that the Secretary of State and I, and all colleagues in the Department, are making effective arguments. Since the right hon. Gentleman makes his point so effectively, could he now give a guarantee that the Opposition—

Order. The Minister’s answer is always of interest to hear, but it is not for him to be posing questions to the shadow Secretary of State.

I note that there is not even a Lib Dem Front-Bench spokesman in the Chamber at the moment, although I am partially reassured by what the Minister has to say, because of course his Government have been described by senior Conservatives as the “Brokeback Mountain” coalition. That happens to be one of my favourite films, but as I am sure he is aware, it does not end well. One of the cowboys is killed in a homophobic attack by backwoodsmen, and the other lives out a sad, lonely life on a trailer park. Which is which in this coalition?

Mr Speaker, you quite rightly upbraided me for asking questions of the Opposition, and I am sure that you would not want me to comment on general political matters during Culture, Media and Sport questions.