I met with the executive chairman and chief executive of the rugby football league on 7 April to discuss the 2013 world cup. I am keeping the funding situation under review pending the decision by the Northwest Regional Development Agency, which is due by the end of May.
The Minister will be aware that funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency is in jeopardy. If that funding does not materialise, can the Minister assure the House that he will stand behind the coalition agreement and continue to support the world cup from his Department?
Broadly speaking, the answer is yes. At the meeting we discussed the various options that would be available. At the moment, I want to concentrate on getting the funding that was promised, and committed to, by the Northwest Regional Development Agency for the rugby league world cup—[Interruption.] No, it has the funding to cover the world cup, if it chooses to do so, and I hope that it will because of the benefit to that region.
When I raised this matter in October, the Minister, as I recall, promised me that he would treat both codes equally when allocating funding for the two world cups. Will he pledge to stick to that promise, and will he ensure that towns such as Warrington benefit from the world cup by hosting some of the matches?
Absolutely. I made the commitment to the hon. Lady, and I have stuck by it. I followed it up with a letter to the rugby football league. It has been down to see me, and there is no question of our treating the two codes differently. The issue here arises from a tranche of funding that was promised by the Northwest Regional Development Agency, but which it has now threatened to withdraw. Clearly I want to get that money out of it, and we will do everything possible to bring this home.