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New Millennium Experience Company

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he was informed that the directors of the New Millennium Experience Company had applied for indemnities against actions regarding unlawful trading. [141409]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 11 December 2000]: On 15 June DCMS officials informed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State of my Department's intention to provide a letter of indemnity to the Directors of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC). A copy of the letter of indemnity signed by my Permanent Secretary on 21 June has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Regional Cultural Consortiums

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions he has had with the regional cultural consortiums regarding initiatives to promote British museums and heritage abroad. [143121]

Mr. Alan Howarth: My right hon. Friend has had no discussions on this issue.

The Regional Cultural Consortiums are independent advisory bodies providing a focus for each region's cultural and creative interests. They are currently developing cultural strategies to be published in the first half of next year. Each strategy will identify the priorities for that region's cultural development over the next few years. Museums and heritage issues will be included. The Consortiums are working closely with Regional Development Agencies to support their strategies and further the economic prosperity of each region.

Concessionary Television Licences

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if residents of the Channel Islands are eligible for concessionary television licences. [143522]

Janet Anderson: Residents of the Channel Islands are eligible for the £5 Accommodation for Residential Care television licence scheme and the 50 per cent. reduction in the licence fee for registered blind people. They are not currently eligible for free television licences for the over-75s, though the Guernsey authorities have announced their intention in principle to introduce such a concession. Unlike the Accommodation for Residential Care scheme and the reduction for blind people, which are funded from within the television licensing system, the cost of the over-75 concession is met from public funds. Whether or not to fund such a concession in the Channel Islands is therefore a matter for the Island authorities.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many applications have been received for the concessionary television licence scheme. [143526]

20 Dec 2000 : Column: 209W

Janet Anderson: I take it that the hon. Member has in mind free television licences for people aged 75 or over, which came into force on 1 November. Approximately 3.1 million applications have been received for this concession, of which 210,000 are from people under 75 applying in advance.

Press Complaints Commission

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many complaints were made in the last 12 months to the Press Complaints Commission; and how many of these complaints were upheld. [143615]

Janet Anderson: As part of the newspaper industry's system of self regulation, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) operates independently of Government, producing its own Quarterly and Annual reports which are publicly available. Figures for the whole of the year 2000 are not yet available, but figures from the Commission's Quarterly reports for the period January to September are given as follows:

Total number of complaints(5)1,635
of which:
Cases falling outside the PCC's remit343
Cases disallowed on grounds of unjustified delay85
Cases which do not breach the industry's Code of Practice673
Third party complaints87
Cases resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant381
Cases adjudicated on66
of which:
Number of adjudications upheld22
Number of adjudications rejected44

(5) January to September

Works of Art

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the 1999-2000 Annual report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art will be published. [143896]

Mr. Chris Smith: The Reviewing Committee's Annual Report for 1999-2000 has been published today and copies have been laid before Parliament.

BBC World

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for what reason issues relating to BBC World were not addressed in the Communications White Paper; and if he will make a statement in respect of his policy towards BBC World. [143406]

Janet Anderson: The Communications White Paper was concerned with the overarching framework in which both the BBC's public services and its commercial services, such as BBC World, operate.

BBC World is run by the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. The future of BBC World is a matter for the BBC, but the BBC Governors announced earlier this year that the service would remain at the heart of the Corporation's global strategy.

20 Dec 2000 : Column: 210W


Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what humanitarian assistance is being provided to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (a) bilaterally and (b) via the European Union; and if she will make a statement. [142483]

Clare Short: The UK has provided over £1.3 million in humanitarian assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1999-2000, in the fields of health and nutrition, reintegration activities and assistance to refugees. The EU (through the European Community Humanitarian Office) is providing 20 million euros of humanitarian assistance to DRC this year. UK share of which is approximately 3.6 million euros.

The war in the DRC has caused untold suffering and damage to the region. The UK will continue to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance there. We continue to support the Lusaka Peace Agreement, as the political means to end the conflict. The UK is contributing people and money to support the peace-keeping and political aspects of the Agreement; we have provided six British Military Liaison Officers to the UN observer operation for DRC, and funding for the Joint Military Commission (responsible for supervising the cease-fire and military disengagement) and the National Dialogue, which is intended to lay the foundations for free and fair elections in DRC and national reconciliation. We have also provided an expert to support the talks Facilitator, former President of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire.

Vacuum Aspirators

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funds her Department has provided to support the purchase and use of manual vacuum aspirators in primary health clinics and refugee camps in the developing world. [143266]

Clare Short: The Department for International Development has provided funding in the region of £2.3 million to reproductive health programmes that include support for the purchase and training for health staff in the use of manual vacuum aspirators.

Globalisation White Paper

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development for what reason she did not make a statement to the House on the publication of her Globalisation White Paper. [143265]

Clare Short: A written PQ announcing the Government's White Paper was answered on 11 December 2000, Official Report, column 19W.


British-Irish Council

Ms Kelly: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) if she will make a statement on the progress being made on the British-Irish Council; [141758]

20 Dec 2000 : Column: 211W

Mr. Ian McCartney: British-Irish Council Environment Ministers met in London on 2 October to pursue the Council's work in this area. Ministers met in Belfast yesterday to discuss transport matters. There have also been official-level meetings to take forward work on the Council's other priority issues: drugs, social inclusion, and the knowledge economy.

While a date has not yet been identified for the next summit-level meeting of the BIC (postponed following the death of the right hon. Donald Dewar MP MSP, First Minister of the Scottish Executive), this is likely to take place early in the new year.

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Maclennan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office which task forces, reviews and ad hoc bodies created before December 1998 and named in the list which she deposited in the Library on 27 July have been (a) disbanded, (b) converted into a non-departmental public body and (c) continue to operate in the same form. [143626]

Mr. Stringer: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Ms King) on 18 December 2000, Official Report, column 47W.

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