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Coram Foundation

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Solicitor-General when he and his officials first met officers and staff of the Coram family to discuss the Charity Commission- approved scheme to maximise the contribution of the Coram collection. [153666]

The Solicitor-General: My officials, and those acting on my behalf in the Treasury Solicitor's Department, have not met with officers and staff of the Coram Foundation. However there has been a considerable amount of correspondence with the Foundation and their solicitors. There have also been informal meetings between our respective Counsel.

The Foundation has been asked to set out its proposals in writing, rather than at a meeting, so that there can be no misunderstanding about what is intended.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Solicitor-General when he last took action in relation to the judgment of the Charity Commission and the trustees at the Foundling Hospital. [153552]

The Solicitor-General: I reconsidered that matter in the week beginning 7 March, in the light of the further material which has been submitted by the Foundation this year and with the benefit of joint opinion from Counsel which was obtained on my behalf.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment he has made of the wishes of Handel and Hogarth in relation to the trustees' scheme for the Coram Collection. [153667]

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The Solicitor-General: It has not been the case of the Governors of the Foundation that the Hogarth paintings or the Handeliana are held on special trusts such as would preclude their sale. In these circumstances, it is the duty of the Governors to consider how the assets of the charity can best be used to advance its objects: those objects being, broadly, the care of poor deserted children.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Solicitor-General how he took account of the views of all the trustees of registered charity 312278 before responding to the view of one trustee. [153553]

The Solicitor-General: After being alerted to this matter by Peter Glazebrook, a Governor of the Coram Foundation, in April last year I asked that inquiries should be undertaken. The Treasury Solicitor's Department, acting on my behalf, first contacted the Coram Foundation on 28 July 2000.

I have been anxious throughout to ensure that my consideration of this matter should be as well-informed as possible. I have also been open with the Foundation, for example making available the draft particulars of claim and the recent Counsel's Opinion on the matter.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Solicitor-General what consultations he had with the (a) Department for Culture, Media and Sport, (b) Home Office and (c) Charity Commission before intervening in the Coram scheme. [153668]

The Solicitor-General: The information is as follows:


Clergy Pensions

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make a statement on the criteria that determine the way in which pensions are paid to the Church of England clergy. [153832]

Mr. Stuart Bell: On retirement at or after age 65 with 37 or more years' full-time service, the pension benefits for clergy consist of a pension of two thirds the previous year's National Minimum Stipend plus a tax free lump sum of three times that amount. Pensions may be drawn any time after age 55 subject to appropriate actuarial discounts.

The benefit formula reflects best practice in occupational schemes. It recognises that clergy receive a State pension and, as housing is provided while clergy are working, also recognises that clergy in retirement need to meet the cost of housing. Discretionary help is available through the housing loan and rental schemes administered by the Church of England Pensions Board.

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My hon. Friend will already be aware that the Archbishops' Council is currently undertaking a review of the clergy remuneration package, including pensions. If he would like more information and will let me have details I will gladly inquire further on his behalf.


Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much was spent out of public funds on non-departmental public bodies, Government-appointed taskforces and other publicly funded bodies in (a) May 1997 and (b) January 2001; and how many staff were employed. [153906]

Marjorie Mowlam: Information on the expenditure and staffing of non-departmental public bodies is published in the annual Cabinet Office publication "Public Bodies". Copies are available from the Libraries of the House. Information on the expenditure and staffing of task forces is not held centrally. However, as a rule, their expenditure is negligible and they do not employ staff.


Regional Cultural Consortiums

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what has been the cost to public funds of the regional cultural consortiums to date; and what is their forecast expenditure. [153430]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 12 March 2001]: The cost and future allocations for each consortium are as follows:


(26) Figures given are averages.

(27) The Regional Cultural Consortiums were established in October 1999.

(28) Expenditure calculated to 12 March 2001.

The consortiums also receive support from my Department's staff based within the Government Offices in the regions. The Regional Development Agencies and the various regional agencies have all been encouraged to help with funding and other means of support.

The consortiums will use these resources to support their strategic role in the regions and promote joint working with other regional partners in order to ensure that cultural and sporting interests make a significant contribution to economic development, regeneration and social inclusion in their region.

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Digital Broadcasting (Platform Access)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to ensure that the BBC has access to all digital platforms on an equal basis and to ensure that such access is granted (a) on not-for-profit and (b) a free basis. [153276]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 12 March 2001]: None. Our White Paper "A New Future for Communications" made clear our policy that public service channels should be available on all main platforms at no extra cost to the viewer and we are currently considering the responses to our consultation on the White Paper on this issue, including views on the terms of access. BBC licence fee-funded television services are of course already available on the three main digital broadcasting platforms, terrestrial, cable and satellite, though the financial arrangements differ from platform to platform.

Millennium Dome (Sponsorship)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what date the New Millennium Experience Company received sponsorship money for the faith zone from (a) Christian trusts and (b) the Laing Family Trust. [153534]

Janet Anderson: The New Millennium Experience Company received support for the faith zone from four charitable trusts on 11 May 1999. The Laing Family Trust's support was received in two payments--the first on 9 February 1999 and the second on 27 October 1999

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the approaches which were made by Ministers to (a) companies and (b) individuals in respect of sponsorship of the Millennium Dome. [148359]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 2 March 2001]: I am aware that approaches and negotiations were already under way under the previous Administration. This then of course continued under this Government. While Ministers from time to time had contact with sponsors, we have made it clear that the responsibility for negotiating and securing sponsorship rested with the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC).

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