On Tuesday, 20th February 2018 I represented the Government in the debate in the House of Commons which was entitled “Arts Council England Funding: Coalfield Communities”.
This type of debate is a short debate which gives an individual backbench MP an opportunity to raise an issue and receive a response from the relevant Minister. This debate was raised by John Mann MP (Bassetlaw) who wanted to make the case for increased Arts Council funding in ‘coalfield communities’ – former mining communities. As the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism the debate fell under my remit and as such I responded to John’s concerns on behalf of the Government.
I believe that the arts play a vital role in binding local communities together in order to create a sense of local pride and enthusiasm. Arts Council England is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport which works to make the arts, and wider culture, an integral part of everyday public life.
I explained during the debate that whilst Arts Council England operates at arm’s length from the Government, they have taken significant strides to ensure that investment outside London has increased in recent years. For example, last year some 70% of Arts Council funding was awarded outside London and between 2018 and 2022, an additional £170 million will be invested outside London.
To be more specific to the Northampton area, Arts Council England awarded a total of £846,881 for projects in Northampton for the 2017/2018 year.
I am a strong supporter of the arts and the move towards investing into areas of the country outside London.
You can watch my speech in the debate by clicking on the following link: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/94cdc6e8-d337-41d8-a354-63d1ae4c8b58?in=22:06:45&out=22:22:05.
Also in Parliament in the last fortnight, on Wednesday, 28th February 2018 during Prime Minister’s Questions, Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged my campaign for extra funding to deal with potholes. Speaking on the matter, the Prime Minister said: “we all recognise…the importance of the issue of potholes and it’s why my honourable friend Michael Ellis actually raised this a while back and as a Government we put more money precisely into the issue of dealing with potholes.”
I have long campaigned for investment into our roads to fix the issue of potholes in Northampton and I am pleased that the Prime Minister mentioned it. She is the second Prime Minister to do so from the dispatch box in the House of Commons!
I will once again be representing the Government in the upcoming weeks when I take a debate in Westminster Hall.