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Community Sport Facilities

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the oral answer of the Minister for Sport, of 13 May 2002, Official Report, column 493, what studies she is making of structural weaknesses, including facilities, in the provision of community sport facilities. [62102]

Mr. Caborn: My Department has announced our intention to establish an England-wide database of sports facilities. Information on sports facilities in England is currently held by a variety of organisations and a single database will enable more strategic Government investment in those areas and facilities which are most important.

My Department and Sport England have also been working closely together with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on the revision of Planning Policy Statement 17 for Open Spaces, Sport and Recreation to ensure that we adopt a comprehensive approach to planning for these important facilities.

Analogue Television

Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the future availability of the analogue television signal. [61226]

Dr. Howells: The Government are committed to ensuring that terrestrial analogue broadcasting signals are maintained until everyone who can currently get the main public service broadcasting channels can receive them in digital form and switching to digital is an affordable option. As a target indicator of affordability, 95 per cent. of consumers should have access to digital receiving equipment.

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Regional Theatres

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the impact which her policies have on theatre in the regions. [61218]

Dr. Howells: From 1 April the Arts Council is investing an additional £12 million in theatre throughout England as a consequence of its extensive review of the needs of regional theatre. From 2003–04 this will increase to an additional £25 million a year. Funding for the Stanwix Theatre in Carlisle will increase from £6,000 last year to £16,000 this year and 2003–04, an increase of 167 per cent.

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Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much money her Department has spent on consultants in each financial year since 1997, giving (a) the project for which the consultant was employed, (b) the dates on which the consultant was employed, (c) the name of the consultant and (d) the tendering process used for hiring the consultant. [63375]

Dr. Howells: There is no central register of contracts held for procurement exercises undertaken outside of the central procurement team. Approval is required to proceed for any single tender action above £5,000.

There follows a list of contracts placed by the procurement team in the relevant periods. All followed competitive tender.

(a) Project(b) Dates(c) Consultancy
Internal Audit ServicesOctober 1997 to August 1998Deloitte Touche
Risk Management SystemsNovember 1998 to January 1999KPMG
Efficiency ReviewAugust-September 1998Deloitte Touche
Recruitment of Chairman-NOFAugust 1998Capita
Recruitment of Chairman-NESTAJanuary 1999Capita
Recruitment for BBC AppointmentsMarch 1999Capita
Royal Parks ConsultancyAugust 1998 to July 2001WS Atkins
Royal Parks ConsultancyJanuary-March 1999WS Atkins
Royal Parks ConsultancyMarch 1999WS Atkins
Royal Parks ConsultancyJuly 1999WS Atkins
Royal Parks ConsultancySeptember 1999WS Atkins
Royal Parks ConsultancyJuly 2000PWC
Economic Impact—LotteryMay 2000AEA
Royal Armouries ConsultancyOctober 2000PWC
Risk Management—QUESTMay 2001PWC
Recruitment Advisory ServicesJuly 2001 to February 2002Capita
Capital of Culture advisersFebruary-June 2002Kingshurst Consulting


Includes Royal Parks Agency

Radio Frequencies

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the future of common radio microphones used in television and film production by musicians, and on stage concerning changes to frequencies allocated to them once the switchover to digital television is completed and the sale of frequencies allocated to the broadcast of analogue television is begun; and what meetings she has held to discuss the financial and practical implications of changes in frequency allocated to such equipment. [62058]

Mr. Timms: I have been asked to reply.

Wireless equipment such as radio microphones used by broadcasters, independent production companies and theatres/concert venues shares that part of the radio spectrum used also for analogue and digital television broadcasting. The Government appreciate fully the importance of the radio spectrum in underpinning this activity.

The recent joint DTI/DCMS consultation process (Digital Television: The Principles for Spectrum Planning) sought views on the basis on which we should plan the use of this spectrum for digital television and other services once the analogue signals can be switched off. The responses will inform decisions about the amount of spectrum that might be dedicated to programme- making use after switchover, and also the future arrangements for the way that the programme-makers will share spectrum within digital TV networks. We will ensure, through careful planning and consultation with programme makers, minimal disruption.

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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry meets with many organisations to hear and discuss their views. The programme-making community is also closely involved with Ministers and other stakeholders within the Digital Action Plan arrangements.


All-postal Ballots

36. Martin Linton: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will ask the Electoral Commission to consider an all-postal ballot in referendums on (a) the euro and (b) the voting system. [61210]

Mr. Beith: The role of the commission in the conduct of any national or regional referendum is set out in the Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000. The Act does not give the Commission powers to determine the type of ballot used for a referendum. As part of its contingency planning for the conduct of referendums, the Commission will be considering a range of policy and practice issues and where appropriate may make recommendations to the Government.

Voting Age

37. Vernon Coaker: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what discussions the Commission has had about reducing the voting age to 16 years. [61211]

Mr. Beith: The Commission has indicated to the Government that it intends to look, in due course, at the minimum voting age as part of its programme of reviewing electoral law and practice. The Commission's consideration will take account of the final recommendations from the Children and Young People's Unit, whose "Why Vote? Why Not?" project is consulting young people about measures to encourage increased participation in elections. The unit intends to publish a report later this summer.

Local Elections Review

38. Simon Hughes: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what the timetable is for reviewing the implications of the local elections in 2002. [61212]

Mr. Beith: There is no statutory obligation for the Commission to report on the operation of local elections, but the Commission will be evaluating the electoral pilot schemes held in 30 local authority areas in May 2002. The Commission will submit its evaluation reports to the Deputy Prime Minister by 2 August, and the reports will be published.

Postal Voting

40. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's

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Committee on the Electoral Commission what research has been conducted into the impact of extended postal voting experiments on the secrecy of the ballot. [61214]

Mr. Beith: The Electoral Commission is currently preparing its evaluation of the postal voting pilot schemes which took place in May 2002. The evaluation, which will be published in (early) August, will consider the impact of the pilot schemes on the secrecy of the ballot. The Commission is also undertaking a wider review of the law and practice in relation to absent voting, which includes consideration of secrecy and related issues.

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