A bit of give and take

British Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay has attacked Formula 1 saying that the BBC should not be paying the fees to broadcast the races and that the public broadcaster should spend its money on "real sports" rather than "the wealthy industry of F1". MacKinlay said that licence-payers have a right to know what the deal is costing the BBC.

The public not knowing how much money will be spent by a government-funded body is not unusual in Britain, particularly when it comes to vast cost overruns on big projects, such as the Millenium Dome. It will also be worth watching to see if the money that the government is pouring into the 2012 Olympic Games is being spent in a sensible manner.

In a recent debate in the House of Lords, Lord Astor of Hever attacked the Labour government for the way in which it has supported the racing industry in recent years. A commitment to spend around $30m over five years was made in 2003, but Lord Astor said that less than half of that money was ever paid out and that little or nothing has been achieved. He called a report of the government-funded Motorsport Development UK organisation "a scandal" because it gave no financial details, nor explained "the value, efficiency or effectiveness to the industry, or the taxpayer, of the objectives".

It is a shame that members of the ruling party have such a closed attitude towards a sport that gives so much to Britain, not least in terms of the economy, but also in giving the nation the global image of being at the forefront of technology. Seven of the 11 Formula 1 teams use cars built in Britain, but the government remains generally opposed to giving the sport any significant help, particularly in the case of sustaining the British Grand Prix.

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