MARCH 6, 2008
Lords to discuss motorsport industry
The British House of Lords is to debate the British motorsport industry later today. The government has been asked what plans it has "to improve support for the British motorsport industry to ensure it does not lose its global leadership". The question has been raised by Lord Astor of Hever, the opposition spokesman for Defence, who is also president of the Motorsport Industry Association. The government response will come from Baroness Vadera, the parliamentary under Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform since January. The former investment banker was created a life peer in July last year because Prime Minister Gordon Brown wanted her as a minister, but she did not have a seat in the House of Commons.
Lord Astor last led a debate on the subject in October 2004 when he asked whether the British government intended to support the British Grand Prix.
At the time Lord McIntosh of Haringey, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, replied that "motor racing is a comparatively rich sport and it would not be appropriate for Sport England to put money directly into motor racing at the expense of grass roots sport".
At the time the government provided around $12m of public money to accelerate construction of the A43 bypass around Silverstone.
The debate also raised the question of whether the government could put pressure on Bernie Ecclestone to reduce the fees for Silverstone as he had been paid for the event following the decision of the Interpublic group to give up its role as promoter of the event. Lord McIntosh replied that it would be "neither desirable nor appropriate" for the government to comment on commercial aspects of negotiations to which it was not a party.