Jeremy Hunt MP

21 Apr 2009 11:49:17

Philip Hollobone: "We spend far too much time in this country celebrating cultures other than our own"

Philip Hollobone The House of Commons returned yesterday, and launched into questions to ministers from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone ensured that he won't get an invitation to join the front bench any time soon:

"Given that we spend far too much time in this country celebrating cultures other than our own, is it not time to start redressing the balance by creating a public holiday to celebrate St. George’s day?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Barbara Follett): I commend the hon. Gentleman for the work he does in promoting Englishness and the flag of St. George. I would have to discuss with Government colleagues the idea of holding a public holiday to celebrate St. George’s day, but I hope that people will follow the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and celebrate St. George’s day, while also remembering that we will also be celebrating the birth of William Shakespeare."

Shadow DCMS Minister Tobias Ellwood asked about lapdancing clubs:

"As the Minister will be aware, the so-called designated premises supervisor is legally responsible for the conduct of any pub, club or lap-dancing establishment. However, there is no requirement for that supervisor to be present in his establishment at any time; he can verbally hand over responsibility to an untrained manager with no qualifications. Will the Minister examine whether that is the best way to ensure that pubs, clubs or lap-dancing operations are run properly? The feedback from local authorities with vibrant town centres is that it is not.

Mr. Sutcliffe: Designated door supervisors have been a force for good in the sense of working with establishments, the police and local authorities. I made an enjoyable visit in my Bradford constituency to police on the licensing route late one Friday night, to see at first hand how door supervisors were working. [ Interruption. ] No, lap dancing was not on at that venue that evening. We are trying to ensure that local authorities, the police and the industry are working together in trying to protect the public."

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3 Mar 2009 15:30:18

Jeremy Hunt backs 2018 World Cup bid

Jeremy_hunt_mpThe House of Commons hosted Culture, Media and Sport questions yesterday.

Andrew Mackay, Bracknell MP and one of David Cameron's right hand men, asked about the possibility of England hosting the World Cup. Would such a move be popular? The 2012 Olympic Games are not currently universally so.

"I warmly support the bid. Does the Secretary of State agree that in this very deep world recession the strongest case that we have to put at the next meeting with FIFA representatives is that we already have the infrastructure and ability to take on the games? In the present financial circumstances, FIFA would be ill advised to take a chance on a country that does not have the facilities already available.

Andy Burnham: The right hon. Gentleman makes a solid point, and I very much agree with him. FIFA is taking the World cup to South Africa and then to south America; I think it would be in everyone’s interest to have a World cup in 2018 that can do so much to reach out around the world. He is right that, because of our football grounds infrastructure, unlike others we can spend time working with other countries through our status as host nation. That is one of the compelling aspects of our bid. It feels to me that this is the right time for the country to get the FIFA World cup—not because we deserve it or because it is our turn, but because we can do so much more to enhance football around the world."

Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed the front bench's support:

"This is a new question. Given the good will towards the bid from both sides of the House, does the Secretary of State think it appropriate that nearly half the members of the bid board are from the Labour party? I know that he will be keen to maintain cross-party support, so will he make urgent representations to resolve the issue so that a potentially great sporting success is not compromised by party politics?

Andy Burnham: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says and I hope that he is not trying to make a party political issue out of the bid, because the strength of our Olympic bid was its cross-party nature. Might I point it out to him that there are figures linked to the bid who represent both political parties? The recent announcement that Lord Coe accepted an invitation to join the board is welcome. Party politics really should not play a part; this should be a bid that represents all opinion, all football supporters and, indeed, all people who love sport in this country. I am confident that the balance on the board properly reflects the interest in sport throughout the country."

I used to work at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, as a speechwriter for Seb Coe. I remain a supporter of the Games, as I believe that this country should be able to stage great events - and the World Cup is certainly one of those too.

What is crucial, of course, is that public money is spent wisely. The media often confuses the budget for the Games themselves - which is privately financed - with broader infrastructure and regeneration costs. And it does make sense to build first-class facilities which will endure rather than tin sheds. However, I am uncomfortable with the cost of some the venues.

Do readers support a bid to host the World Cup? Arguably we are even better placed to stage that tournament, having as we do lots of superb stadia and a love for the game. Dare we dream that we could win the trophy once again?!

Tom Greeves

9 Feb 2009 12:12:36

Written answers round-up, including: 150 courts have closed since 1997 and some advice for the BBC

In the latest edition of Hansard there are some more interesting written answers.

Shadow DEFRA minister Anne McIntosh wanted to know about the impact of the recession on giving to churches:

"To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the effect of the current economic climate on levels of giving to parishes (a) via the collection plate and (b) otherwise; and if he will make a statement. [254221]

Sir Stuart Bell: Over the last 30 years church members have increased giving as a proportion of net income from 1 per cent. to over 3 per cent., so there is still some way to go to achieve General Synod’s 5 per cent. target. Clearly church members will, like everyone else be affected by the present economic difficulties and the dioceses and Archbishops’ Council are monitoring the situation closely. The high proportion who give by regular standing order provides some measure of resilience, but these are uncertain times, particularly with other sources of Church income also under pressure."

Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Attorney General Dominic Grieve asked about the powers of the Electoral Commission:

"To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what administrative financial penalties may be levied by the Electoral Commission. [253588]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission has powers to issue civil penalties under section 147 of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) where a relevant organisation is late in delivering a statutory report to the Commission. The amount of the civil penalty is calculated in accordance with subsection 3 of section 147, and depends on how late the relevant information is provided to the Commission.

The Electoral Commission is also able to apply to a magistrates court to order the forfeiture of an amount equal to the value of a donation that has been accepted by a registered party or regulated donee, if the donation was impermissible or a court is satisfied that the true amount of a donation was intentionally concealed."

Continue reading "Written answers round-up, including: 150 courts have closed since 1997 and some advice for the BBC" »

23 Jan 2009 13:00:23

Written answers round-up

Here is the latest batch of interesting written answers from the House of Commons.

Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions Andrew Selous had a written reminder that ministers are supposed to make big announcements to Parliament first when it is in session - a rule that they in fact breach on a spectacularly frequent basis:

"To ask the Leader of the House what recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues on the criteria to be used in deciding whether an announcement should be made by means of an Oral Statement. [250014]

Chris Bryant: My right hon. and learned Friend and I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues when deciding whether an oral statement should be made to announce Government policy. This is done against the general principle set out in the Ministerial Code that when Parliament is in Session, the most important announcements of Government policy should be made in the first instance, in Parliament, and taking into account the importance of the issue and the other business before the House."

The answer to Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt also serves as a reminder - that the Church of England is responsible for much of our architectural heritage:

"To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners how many church buildings are listed. [250272]

Sir Stuart Bell: The Church of England is responsible for approximately 13,000 listed buildings. This represents about 45 per cent. of all the grade I listed buildings in England."

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20 Jan 2009 15:38:40

Jeremy Hunt says Lottery should return to the original good causes

Jeremy_hunt_2Maybe the biggest surprise of the reshuffle yesterday was that the outstanding Jeremy Hunt (Shadow Culture Secretary) didn't change jobs. Mind you, as a former DCMS desk officer at CCO I consider the Leadership to be the only genuine promotion from Culture!

Mr Hunt therefore took part in DCMS oral questions yesterday, and asked the Government about the funding of community sport:

"According to the DCMS’s own figures, funding for community sport has gone down by £15 million in the past three years. At a time when central Government have to tighten their belt, is this not precisely the moment that the lottery was set up for? Will the Secretary of State, perhaps with the zeal of a repenting sinner, finally consider returning the lottery to its original pillars so that sport can get the help that it so desperately needs?

Andy Burnham: First, may I offer the hon. Gentleman congratulations on two counts? I am sure that I speak for all Labour Members in giving him our warmest wishes on his recent engagement. I also congratulate him on retaining his Front-Bench position, although I do not know whether he is pleased or disappointed about that; we hope that he is pleased.

The hon. Gentleman repeatedly misses a point in the debate, and he has done so again. When the Government created the New Opportunities Fund, it specifically had the ability to invest money in schools. The lottery could
19 Jan 2009 : Column 470
not previously invest in the statutory sector. Following on from that, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Tessa Jowell) brought a major national initiative to fruition, which saw—from memory— around £750 million invested in school sport UK wide. That created a network of flood-lit, astro-turf pitches in my constituency, which are heavily used during the school day, at evenings and weekends. I am incredibly proud of that. The investment would not have gone to schools if we had left the lottery as it was. I therefore make no apology for enhancing sports facilities in schools in that way.

Mr. Hunt: But the Secretary of State misses the crucial point that my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) made: there is a big increase in the drop-off rate of people taking part in sport when they leave school. That is why we need to continue to invest in not only school sport but community sports clubs. Funding for the latter has been cut. According to yesterday’s papers, the Secretary of State has been hosting £3,000-a-head dinner parties for the great and the good. Is not that the wrong way to spend the Department’s money at a time of economic crisis, when sports club budgets are being cut, and was not his spokeswoman wrong yesterday to say describe it as a coup for Britain?

Andy Burnham: With respect, the hon. Gentleman again misunderstands our policy. We have said that more money will be channelled through the national governing bodies of sport because they are the experts and should be able to decide which clubs to build up and which deserve more support. [Interruption.] Well, I will send him the figures. The funding will increase significantly in the next few years, when more than £90 million extra will be spent on improving sports clubs. I repeat that I will send him the figures. The community sports club fund has decreased, but because more money is going to the clubs through national governing bodies—I wish he would understand that.

On the hon. Gentleman’s second point, let us be clear about the event. It was the launch of an international forum to promote Britain as the natural home of the creative industries. As part of that, we have recruited 25 of the biggest names—the biggest players—in the world in the creative industries. [Hon. Members: “Name them.”] I can name them, and I will write to the hon. Member for South-West Surrey (Mr. Hunt). The event happened because they will give their time for free to advise this country on ensuring that we build on our strength in the creative industries. I am proud of the fact that this country has strength in those industries. The hon. Gentleman might be happy with the newspaper headlines that he has got, but he should not misrepresent the event or what it seeks to achieve."

Mr Hunt is quite right about this. The Lottery - one of John Major's greatest successes - was meant to provide additional spending on the arts, charities, heritage and sport, as well as Millennium celebrations. The Government's capture of the Lottery has corrupted that.  

Tom Greeves

30 Oct 2008 12:47:31

Jeremy Hunt on the 2012 Olympics

Jeremy_hunt_mpYesterday HM Opposition held a debate in the House of Commons about the legacy of the 2012 Olympics. Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP made clear that the Conservatives have supported the London Games from the bid stage onwards. But he also made this observation:

"Our concern is not primarily about the economic legacy, and our motion is not about that. We recognise that the project will bring huge and vitally needed regeneration to five of the poorest boroughs in London, although there are concerns about the possible reduction in the number of houses being built and the threats hanging over the money being invested in upgrading the North London line. Our motion is about the sporting legacy, which divides into two distinct areas. The first is the so-called hard legacy, which is the one that will be left behind by the venues built for the Olympics. The second is the soft legacy, which is the increase in sporting participation that should happen in not only the Olympic sports—that increase is welcome—but all sports. That will provide a challenge, because, as the Government’s own report acknowledges, participation in sport has decreased in a number of the host cities after they have held the Olympics.

"Ensuring that the reverse happens is a challenge that we must meet, because these Olympics will cost every household—every family—in the country £500. They will cost the equivalent of £7 million every day from today until the opening ceremony, and that cost is being borne by taxpayers throughout the country. Thus, it is only right, proper and fair that the benefits should also be felt throughout the country. With a sporting legacy, the 2012 games can be a huge success; without it, they will be a gross betrayal of the promises made by Britain both to the world and to its own people."

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20 Oct 2008 15:58:40

Conservative MPs disagree over TV licence fee

Bbc_logoOn Friday, backbencher Christopher Chope had the Second Reading of his Broadcasting (Television Licence Fee Abolition) Bill. He explained:

"This debate is about abolishing the television licence fee, which is more accurately described as the television tax. It is not about abolishing the BBC. One can be a friend of the BBC—as I am—without being a supporter of the licence fee, although the lengths to which the BBC sometimes goes to defend the licence fee often create enemies."

His effort, inevitably for now, failed. It was opposed by Shadow Arts Minister Ed Vaizey, who said:

"I want to put it on record that I am a firm supporter of the licence fee, as is the Conservative party. Nevertheless, no one should be afraid to rehearse the arguments about whether the licence fee is the best funding mechanism."

Mr Chope quoted former BBC Director-General Greg Dyke, who said the licence fee has:

“always been an unfair tax—the rich pay the same as the poor— will be increasingly difficult for the BBC to collect the amount they collect now. In the age of internet TV, how can you insist people continue to pay a licence fee? A licence fee for what? Already you don’t need to pay the licence fee to watch most of the BBC’s programmes if you watch them on your computer via the iPlayer”.

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27 Feb 2008 08:24:49

Jeremy Hunt attacks Labour's zig-zagging approach to gambling

HuntjeremyincommonsExtracts from the response by Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to yesterday's statement on the future of gambling in the UK:

Dealing with problem gambling: "I want to welcome certain elements of this statement, particularly the commitment to increased resources going to the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, run with great tenacity by my hon. friend the member for Ryedale.  Is he aware, however, that nearly three quarters of the funds raised by the Trust are used for treatment, which whilst being extremely important, does not address the policy changes necessary to prevent people becoming gambling addicts in the first place?  The Government’s own problem gambling prevalence study identified internet gambling as one of the fastest growing areas of problem gambling, yet he did not mention it.  Is he aware that approaching one in 10 adults who gamble online have an addiction?  So why did the Prime Minister, in has last budget as Chancellor, introduce a new 15% tax for online gambling operators, meaning that not a single one has re-registered in the UK where children and other vulnerable groups are protected by much safer and stronger regulations?  Does the Secretary of State now think it was wrong to liberalise gambling advertising in September in a way that makes it easier for overseas gambling operators not subject to those regulations to promote their online products in the UK?  More fundamentally, given that even now there appears to be no consistent strategy to deal with problem gambling, is there not a danger the Government’s efforts to appear tough on the issue will be perceived as more PR than reality?"

Zig-zagging policy on casinos: "With respect to casinos, the policy appears even more confused.  First there was no limit on the number of supercasinos; then 96; then 40; then 8; then 1. Today it's none.  No supercasino. But 16 larger casinos instead.  Not so much a U turn as an S bend."

Related link: Brown's U-turn on supercasinos masks damaging gambling liberalisation by Jeremy Hunt