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12.46 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Janet Anderson): I thank hon. Members for their contributions to the debate and for staying late to make them. Several points have been made and, although I have little time left, I shall try to respond to as many of them as possible. However, many questions have been answered in the debate.

I shall briefly remind the House why the order is important. The first point to reiterate is one that has already been made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The order is not directly about the dome. None of the additional funding provided in the order, beyond that already reported to Parliament, will be paid out in connection with the dome. However, both this Administration and, as the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) reminded us--it was his proposal initially--the previous Administration gave undertakings to the Millennium Commission that its support for the dome should not damage its other programmes. We continue to believe that that is the correct approach, and that is why we have introduced this order to extend the Millennium Commission's life until 20 August 2001.

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I note that the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) said that he thought that that date was too early. I know the Eden river very well, because my parents used to live in his constituency. Sadly, they never voted for him.

The order honours the commitment that the commission's existing grant programmes and worthwhile new initiatives should not be damaged by its grants to the dome. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already outlined some of the programmes that will be made possible by the order.

In addition to allowing the commission to continue its current programmes--which would be in danger if the order were not approved--the additional resources will enable it to implement some excellent new programmes. For example, £6.5 million will go towards the cost of the new year's eve 2000 celebrations; £10 million will support projects reflecting the achievements and aspiration of black communities in the United Kingdom; and £30 million will be available to support the commission's existing £3 billion programme of projects, many of which are still being completed. As my right hon. Friend said, the funding will enable the commission to ensure that its capital projects have a solid foundation for the future.

I also remind the House of the exciting opportunities offered by the proposed link between the commission and the Wellcome Trust, which will lever in more money to support science centres. The proposed endowment will enable those centres to maintain their attractiveness as visitor centres and as educational resources.

The hon. Member for East Surrey knows only too well that Parliament was first made aware of what would happen on 20 January 1997. The then Secretary of State for National Heritage announced that an order would be introduced to extend the funding life of the Millennium Commission to make provision to cover variations from the estimates in the millennium exhibition's business plan without prejudicing the commission's existing grant programme.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether I could list some of the projects whose funding might be affected if the order is not approved tonight. Some 100 projects are not completed, and it is open to them to apply to the Millennium Commission for funds. I cannot be expected to predict the decisions that the commissioners will make if such applications are made, but there is no doubt that the funding of some projects would be affected.

I remind the House about the regeneration potential of the dome. It has already created about 5,000 jobs in construction and operation. Taking the peninsula as a whole, about 13,000 people have gained work in the construction and operation of projects. Greenwich council predicts that 30,000 jobs will be created over the next seven years as a direct result of the catalyst created by the dome.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) spoke at some length about insolvency and the indemnity that was granted to the directors of the New Millennium Experience Company. I know that he is much more well-versed in legal matters than I am, but the fact that the directors sought an indemnity does not demonstrate that the company was trading while insolvent. The directors reasonably wanted

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to protect themselves, and the right hon. Member for Henley made a point about the difficulties of recruiting people to public bodies.

The indemnity does not exceed that which is routinely offered to board members of all non-departmental public bodies, in line with Treasury and Cabinet Office guidelines. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as sponsor Department, issued the indemnity as NMEC lacks the necessary powers to do so. The indemnity is limited and is offered on the basis that directors have first recourse to an existing commercial policy. The Treasury's advice was that the NMEC indemnity did not need to be separately reported to Parliament as it was covered by a Treasury minute of December 1998 reporting indemnities to all NDPB board members. I hope that that helps to clear up that point.

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I thank the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) for his measured contribution and his support. I thank the right hon. Member for Henley for his welcome contribution. Like him, I cannot think for a minute that many members of the Millennium Commission would view themselves as friends or supporters of the Labour party. We should remember that the commission is an all-party body. I commend the order to the House.

Question put:--

Madam Deputy Speaker: I think the Ayes have it.

Hon. Members: No.

Division deferred till Wednesday 20 December, pursuant to Order [7 November 2000].

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12.53 am

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith): I beg to move,


The previous order extended the funding of the Millennium Commission until 20 August 2001, after which it will receive no more proceeds from the lottery. This order takes up the story from that point, by determining what happens to the commission's share of lottery funding thereafter.

It has been long-standing Government policy that once the commission's share of lottery income ceases, it should be transferred to the new opportunities fund. The order gives effect to that policy. It provides that immediately after the commission stops receiving new income from lottery proceeds, the new opportunities fund's share of lottery income increases from its present 13 1/3 per cent. to 33 1/3 per cent. In other words, from 21 August 2001 the new opportunities fund will receive £1 out of every £3 paid into the national lottery distribution fund.

The creation of the new opportunities fund as a new UK-wide lottery distributor focusing on health, education and the environment reflected the Government's intention to target lottery funding more directly on key areas of social inclusion and disadvantage. The fund has established itself as a major grant maker and developed innovative grant-making practices. It has enabled much needed educational, environmental and health-related initiatives, which would not otherwise be funded, to go ahead. Barely two years on from its creation, the fund is already having an impact on the nation's quality of life. From a healthy living centre for the elderly in Devon to new child care provision where none previously existed in County Tyrone, new opportunities fund money is flowing into projects of great benefit to people and communities.

A recent survey has confirmed that the public support the targeting of lottery funding on those areas--health, education and the environment--in which the fund distributes grant. When asked to identify the two or three most important areas for lottery funding out of a list of 10, 69 per cent. of respondents identified health, 55 per cent. education and 26 per cent. the environment. More than 2,000 grants have been awarded, many involving large numbers of individual projects. More than £614 million has been allocated to projects. The impact of those grants already includes: child care schemes that will create more than 110,000 new child care places; training in the use of information and communication technologies for more than 160,000 teachers; new cancer equipment in hospitals, and new preventive health services for deprived communities.

The new opportunities fund's increased income will allow it to target more areas where a real step-change in the quality of people's lives can be achieved. On 6 November, the Government launched the consultation paper "New Opportunities from the Lottery" which proposed a number of new initiatives for the new opportunities fund to fund.

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In summary, those proposals are £750 million for additional sports facilities for schools and wider community use; £50 million for outdoor adventure and other activities for young people; £300 million to boost the fight against heart disease and stroke, to provide extra money for the fund's existing initiative to combat cancer, and to provide palliative care for adults and children with life-threatening and chronic illness; £200 million for the provision of child care places for children aged up to three, with further support for the over-threes, especially in deprived areas; £150 million for a programme of environmental renewal and community regeneration, which would support community regeneration, promote recycling and develop renewable energy sources; and an amount to be provided as small grants for community groups to support local health, education and environment projects.

The order also fulfils a second purpose. In the event that the Millennium Commission gets more than £2,286.5 million in the period up to 20 August 2001, the order ensures that any additional amount is transferred to the new opportunities fund. In other words, the order acts as a cap on the Millennium Commission's income. I commend it to the House.


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