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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 16:36 GMT
'No plans' to scrap culture ministry
Culture, Media and Sport minister Chris Smith
Chris Smith: Department 'not' to be split up
The government has insisted it is not going to dismantle the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) after the election.

Press reports said that the department might be carved up with creative industries such as music, film and broadcasting being moved to the Department of Trade and Industry and other sections taken over by the Department for Education and Employment.

But a government spokesperson described the reports as "beyond speculation".

"There are absolutely no plans to change the structure of government," she said.

Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot: A rare British cinematic success
The Independent newspaper quoted a senior government source as saying the department "hasn't worked".

The department, headed by Chris Smith, has come under fire for the Dome fiasco and the controversial awarding of the Lottery franchise.

Mr Smith has responsibility for tourism, the press, libraries and heritage as well as the arts, the lottery and sport.

The department was created after Labour came to power in 1997 and its disappearance would leave Britain as the only country in Europe without a culture ministry.


Chris Smith has... tried to make culture a priority

Lynda Myles
Film producer
Some figures within the arts have warned the government against relegating culture, saying that it may not get the attention that it deserves.

Independent film producer Lynda Myles, who produced The Commitments, told News Online that she fears a "deprioritising" of the arts.

"The DCMS is not proven with film, but Chris Smith has taken the industry's concerns very seriously and tried to make culture a priority."

There was, she said, a worry that the focus would be on economic rather than creative success if it moved to a different ministry.

"In Britain, we don't do the big star movies well. What tends to be successful are the smaller, quirky films like The Full Monty and Billy Elliott. They may not get as much backing if the cultural element goes out of the window and it becomes about hard economics."

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See also:

19 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Smith 'unfit' for office - Ainsworth
13 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Smith admits Dome mistakes
14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
'No subsidy' for digital TV boxes
06 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Smith 'to consider' state-run lottery
19 Oct 99 | Government Guide
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
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