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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 22 June 2001


Departmental Expenditure Limits

Andy Burnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to amend her Department's departmental expenditure limit for 2001-02. [777]

Tessa Jowell: Subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) for 2001-02 will be increased by £18,700,000 from £1,123,396,000 to £1,142,096,000.

The changes are to provide an additional resource of £18,000,000 to the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourism Council towards the costs of promoting tourism to counter the adverse effects of foot and mouth disease on the industry; to provide an additional resource of £100,000 from the Capital Modernisation Fund toward the development of internet access to the British Museum's Timeline of History and for the linking of this to Culture Online, the National Grid for Learning and local systems; and to provide an additional resource of £600,000 from the Capital Modernisation Fund toward the development of the English Tourism Council's Modernising English Tourism Destination Services, an electronic data sharing network using the web to link tourism providers and customers.

The increases will be offset by transfers or charged to the DEL Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.


Queen's Golden Jubilee

Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has relating to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen's accession to the throne; and if he will make a statement. [408]

The Prime Minister: I am pleased to be able to announce that Her Majesty the Queen has approved a number of recommendations for the programme of celebrations during 2002, the focal point of which will be the "Jubilee weekend" covering 1 to 4 June. As I announced on 23 November 2000, Tuesday 4 June will be a bank holiday in place of the spring bank holiday that would otherwise fall on 27 May 2002, and Monday 3 June will be an additional bank holiday for the Golden Jubilee.

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Following the recent reorganisation of Government Departments, the Ministerial Committee set up last year to help co-ordinate arrangements with Buckingham Palace is now being chaired by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

This significant national anniversary of 50 years of the Queen's reign will offer people of all ages and cultures and from all walks of life the opportunity for celebration, and the events surrounding the Jubilee will provide numerous opportunities for voluntary and community service. It should be a time for looking forward as well as back--including at the great changes that have taken place in the nation's life during Her Majesty's reign.

The main features of the programme approved so far by Her Majesty are as listed. Further details will be announced later.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh plan to travel as widely as possible around the United Kingdom during the year 2002, including visits to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These tours around the UK will be focused on the summer months. The Queen will visit each English region, although it will not be possible to visit all cities and counties. The outline itinerary is as follows:

In addition, there will be a number of London visits.

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To help local communities mark and celebrate the Jubilee, lottery funding will be available from the Arts Councils, the Sports Councils, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Community Fund, and the New Opportunities Fund. Voluntary organisations and local groups in the community will be able to apply through the cross-distributor "Awards for All" for grants of between £500 and £5,000 for Jubilee-related projects. Projects must meet existing criteria and involve one or more of the lottery good causes of the arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education or the environment. I hope people will take advantage of this opportunity to use lottery money as a means both of celebrating the Jubilee and providing a lasting legacy for their communities.

The official Golden Jubilee website is being launched later today at http://www/goldenjubilee.gov.uk/. In due course it will include details of celebrations and events taking place throughout the United Kingdom during 2002, including the Queen's programme of visits. It will also provide members of the public with a central point for inquiries, suggestions and comments on any aspect of the celebrations. By the autumn of this year, it will incorporate, or give access to, other sites containing information about the plans for the Jubilee.

The Queen has accepted a recommendation for the design for a Golden Jubilee Emblem which members of the public, commercial and public services and manufacturers may use, at no cost, to "brand" events, services, souvenirs and other items connected with the Jubilee. The Emblem, together with guidance on its use, will be obtainable from the Golden Jubilee website. A copy of the Emblem has been placed in th Libraries of both Houses.

The Queen has made it clear that she wishes there to be no undue expenditure from public funds on the celebrations. The Queen has asked that those organisations or individuals wishing to celebrate the Golden Jubilee with some form of donation be encouraged to give either to one or more of the following five charities of which Her Majesty is Patron: Banardo's, CRUSE Bereavement Services, I CAN (national education charity for children with speech and language difficulties), the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, and the Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force Association (SSAFA)--or to the British Commonwealth Ex-Services League, of which the Duke of Edinburgh is Grand President. Further details will be available in due course on the Golden Jubilee website.


Teacher Training

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans her Department has to abolish application fees for teacher training courses. [398]

Mr. Timms: Applications for undergraduate and postgraduate courses of initial teacher training are made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service and the Graduate Teacher Training Registry respectively. These bodies are in the private sector and it is for them to determine the level of any fees they charge to cover the handling of applications.

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Housing Transfer

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will announce the 2001-02 housing transfer programme. [22]

Ms Keeble: I am announcing today the names of the 27 local authorities which, on a voluntary basis and subject to the approval of their tenants, will be able to proceed in 2001-02 with proposals to carry out 32 transfers of all or part of their housing stock to registered social landlords. Including authorities for which I am holding open places, the programme will involve over 328,000 dwellings in large-scale voluntary transfers over two years, generating capital receipts of over £1.1 billion for the authorities.

The 2001-02 programme reflects this Government's commitment, re-stated in the December 2000 Housing Policy Statement "The way forward for housing", to support a continuing programme of housing stock transfers as a means of delivering our decent homes objective. Stock transfer offers benefits for tenants. The new landlord is committed to deliver proper maintenance and future repairs. Increased investment from private sources means that any backlog of repairs can be carried out more quickly than if the properties had remained in local authority ownership. Over time, tenants' rents will be similar to what they would pay to their local authority, due to the Government's policy of bringing greater fairness and cohesion to the structure of social rents, set out in the Housing Policy Statement.

Housing transfers are voluntary, and may only take place if tenants are in favour. The consent of the Secretary of State is also required before a transfer can proceed, and that will only be granted if it appears that a majority of tenants wish the transfer to proceed.

Local authorities on the 2001 programme will be assisted by the newly formed Community Housing Task Force, which will be available to provide expert guidance on the transfer process and to ensure that new social landlords created by the transfer process empower tenants, regenerate communities and make other cross-service links.

Ealing LBC, Harrogate BC and Hackney LBC (for a second transfer comprising its sheltered housing stock) applied for places on this year's programme, but I am giving them more time to develop their transfer proposals. I am also holding open a place on the programme for Birmingham CC, pending the agreement of a minimum valuation. I welcome the application received from Sheffield city council and, while not securing a place on the 2001-02 transfer programme, I am inviting them to work with the Community Housing Task Force to refine their proposal with a view to submitting an application for a subsequent year's transfer programme.

The authorities which have successfully gained a place on the programme, together with the intended recipient registered social landlord, are as follows:

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