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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 9 July 2001


Commonwealth Games 2002

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the Government's financial support for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. [94]

Tessa Jowell [holding answer 25 June 2001]: The Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 will be the biggest multi-sport event ever held in the United Kingdom. They will leave a lasting sporting, economic and social legacy.

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office explained, in evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on 20 March 2001, that Manchester City Council, with the Government, had arranged a review of the finances and organisation of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester next year as a build up to the Games moves from the planning to the implementation phase.

Following the review, conscious of the benefits the Games will bring to the nation as a whole, the Government have agreed to provide from existing resources up to £30 million to support the Games. Sport England has agreed to provide up to £30 million to support the Games' costs in addition to its existing contribution to capital facilities, and Manchester City Council will make available a further £45 million. £25 million of these funds will be held jointly by the three parties as a contingency fund. This support is additional to the £10.5 million which the Government have already made available towards the costs of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Commonwealth Games, and marks the full extent of the financial support that the Government are prepared to make available.

The Government consider that this package should give the Games' organisation sufficient certainty to deliver the Games. Manchester City Council continues to retain ultimate financial responsibility for the Games.

Discussions continue about the make up and timing of the package of financial support. The Government, Manchester City Council and Sport England will be working with the Games' organisers to strengthen the management arrangements for the control of expenditure.

Culture Online

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what has been the cost to public funds to date of developing Culture Online. [91]

Tessa Jowell [holding answer 25 June 2001]: The cost of public funds to date of developing Culture Online is £1,196,543. This has been spent on: producing illustrative materials outlining how Culture Online will operate;

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producing the Vision for Culture Online; providing a website to host these materials and the Vision; extensive consultation with the cultural and education sectors; market research; employing consultants to develop the business case for Culture Online; and employing lawyers to advise on Intellectual Property Rights issues for Culture Online.

National Stadium

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the proposals for (a) Pickett's Lock athletics stadium and (b) Wembley Stadium. [1427]

Mr. Caborn: I refer the hon. Member to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall) on 25 June 2001, Official Report, column 37W and to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) on 2 July 2001, Official Report, column 80W.

Community Sports Stadiums

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to expand community sports stadiums throughout the country. [2328]

Mr. Caborn: The Government support the expansion of sport and leisure facilities through various means including direct funding from the Sports Lottery Fund, Space for Sports and Arts and the New Opportunities Fund. Our Plan for Sport sets out how we aim to encourage local authorities to carry out research into the existing sport and leisure facilities in their areas and recommends that each local authority should develop a sports strategy over the next five years which, through consultation with the relevant agencies, ensures that new and enhanced indoor and outdoor facilities provide equal opportunity for participation.



Local Government Finance

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to publish his timetable for the review of local government finance; and if he will make a statement. [1084]

Dr. Whitehead: September's local government finance Green Paper set out our plans for reform of the local government finance system. An analysis of the responses we received on this and other issues was published on our website in March. A White Paper setting out our decisions on the way forward will be published later this year.


Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what moneys have been allocated to Scotland from the Railway Development Fund. [1397]

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Mr. Jamieson: The SRA's plans and priorities for development of the Rail Modernisation Fund will be set out in the Authority's Strategic Plan in the autumn. Funds will be allocated on the basis of value for money and affordability.

Electoral Law

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he intends to bring section 141 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 into force; how many persons who are (a) eligible and (b) registered to vote he estimates will be disfranchised as a result; and if he will make a statement. [1290]

Mr. Raynsford: Section 141 will be brought into force shortly, when the second Commencement Order for the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act 2000 is laid.

11,496 overseas electors were registered as of 15 February 2001. But there is no requirement on electoral administrators to provide information about how long overseas electors have been resident outside the UK. Hence the figures requested are not available.

Millennium Dome

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what responsibilities his Department has for the sale of the Millennium Dome and the regeneration of the Greenwich site; and if he will make a statement. [1323]

Ms Keeble: My noble and learned Friend Lord Falconer is responsible in my Department for all issues relating to the future use of the Millennium Dome, including the sponsorship of English Partnerships, the Government's urban regeneration agency, which owns part of the Greenwich Peninsula, including the Dome site and the structure itself.

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what responsibilities Lord Falconer has for the sale of the Millennium Dome and the regeneration of the Greenwich site; and if he will make a statement. [1322]

Ms Keeble: My noble and learned Friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton is Minister for Housing and Planning. Among other duties he is responsible for urban policy and regeneration issues, which includes sponsorship of English Partnerships, the Government's urban regeneration agency. English Partnerships own the Dome site and other land. He is responsible for the Dome sale process.

Public-Private Performance Comparisons

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what methods his Department uses to make direct comparisons of improved performance in the public and private sectors; and what have been the findings of this analysis since it was introduced. [2165]

Dr. Whitehead: The Department makes no direct comparisons between the private and public sectors. But the Government have introduced a comprehensive

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framework for local government to enable it to improve service delivery through best value. All authorities are required to report their performance annually against key indicators, whether the service is delivered directly by the authority, or by private sector providers. This information is published in authorities' Best Value Performance Plans by the end of March each year.

Transport Council

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the outcome was of the Transport Council meeting held in Luxembourg on 27 to 28 June. [1746]

Mr. Spellar: The Transport Council met in Luxembourg on 28 June. I represented the United Kingdom, together with Sarah Boyack MSP, Minister for Transport in the Scottish Executive.

The Council opened with debates on a number of maritime issues.

A common position was adopted on the draft regulation putting into Community law the recent agreement reached in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on the accelerated phasing in of double hull oil tankers.

The Council reached a common orientation on a draft directive which seeks to improve controls on shipping movements, notably for vessels with hazardous cargoes. Two outstanding issues were debated. Firstly, the Commission introduced a new proposal giving a precise timetable for the retrofitting of Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs) to cargo vessels if no agreement was reached in the IMO. I was among Ministers unable to accept such a precise text. On the second issue, that of restrictions on ships leaving port in exceptionally bad weather or sea conditions, I joined others in expressing concern that legal uncertainties could arise. I also sought to clarify that a member state could only enforce reporting requirements on vessels in areas where it had jurisdiction in international law. A revised text was produced on which Ministers were able to reach common orientation, although I maintained a reserve on the VDR text.

Common approaches were agreed for member states to negotiate in the IMO on the retrofitting of VDRs to cargo vessels, and in the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF) on an increase in the limits for compensation to be paid in cases of major oil spills.

A common orientation was also agreed on a draft directive on the harmonisation of reporting formalities for ships. The aim of the proposal is to simplify procedures for ships arriving at and departing from Community ports, through the acceptance of a common set of IMO forms.

The French Minister, Jean-Claude Gayssot, and I presented a joint proposal urging the Community to bring into force a number of International Conventions relating to marine liability and compensation and pollution from ships. We had, prior to the Council, jointly signed a letter on this issue to our EU counterparts.

The Commissioner reported on the principal elements of the forthcoming White Paper on a strategy for the Common Transport Policy. She hoped that the White Paper would be adopted soon. It is expected to outline

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some 60 separate measures to address traffic congestion, increased mobility and demand, and sustainable development.

Council Conclusions were adopted on the Galileo satellite navigation project. I joined other Ministers in noting that more work was needed on the selection of services, the cost-benefit analysis and the securing of private sector finance. The Commission also presented a draft regulation on management of the development phase of Galileo by a joint undertaking.

Over lunch, there was a discussion of the Commission's Single European Sky proposals, aimed at improving air traffic management in Europe and reducing delays.

The Council discussed aircraft noise issues. The Commission reported on ongoing discussions with the US on hushkits, and said that, subject to developments at the General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September, a proposal would be brought forward to replace the Hushkits Regulation.

The Presidency presented a progress report on the proposed regulation to establish a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It sought agreement on two of the outstanding questions: coverage of third country aircraft, and the mechanism to appoint the Executive Director. The Council agreed that the Commission should bring forward proposals on application to third country aircraft, where justified, as part of future work on essential requirements for airline operations. The Council accepted that the executive Director of the EASA should be appointed by four-fifths majority of the Management Board, on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. There will be further discussion under the Belgian Presidency, notably on institutional aspects.

The Council discussed an amendment to Regulation 2027/97 on air carrier liability, and political agreement was reached on a common position. The amendment will have the effect of increasing the levels of carriers' liability to passengers. The Council has already signed the Montreal Convention, with a view to ratification, and the two measures together significantly strengthen the protection afforded to air passengers in the Community.

The Council agreed Conclusions affirming the voluntary agreements reached with airlines on air passenger rights.

There was a progress report from the Commission on proposals to update the state aid rules and procurement procedures for public transport services by rail, road and inland waterway. The Commission indicated that there were difficulties in agreeing the proposal. Sarah Boyack noted the United Kingdom's support for the general principle of the regulation, but pointed out that its application to traditional and complex underground railway systems needed careful reflection.

There was also a progress report on a draft directive on training of professional drivers for the carriage of goods or passengers.

The Commission presented its proposals on three issues in the "road package": an amendment to Directive 91/439 on driving licences; an amendment to Regulation 3820/85 on drivers' hours; and an amendment to Directive 92/6 on

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the use of speed limitation devices, extending compulsory fitting of them to vehicles above 3.5 tonnes. No decisions were taken.

Under other business, the Commission presented a new proposal on airport slot allocation. It also reported on the implementation of the package of rail transport measures adopted by the Council last year, noting its intention to propose a second package of measures, including a directive on rail safety regulation and the establishment of a European Rail Agency. Also under other business, the Commission reported on progress in aviation negotiations with Central and Eastern European countries and with Cyprus; co-operation with Euro-Mediterranean partners on transport and energy; and discussions with Russia on the issue of charges imposed for Siberian overflights.

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