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CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Clarence House

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her estimate is of the cost of refurbishment of Clarence House; and how it will be funded. [62349]

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Dr. Howells: Detailed surveys are currently taking place to ascertain the extent of the Clarence House refurbishment works, which include work on fire compartmentation, automatic fire detection, upgrade of electrical and mechanical services and some redecoration. It is not possible to provide a firm estimate of the cost of the refurbishment until the completion of these surveys. The refurbishment will be funded from the current level of grant in aid for the maintenance of the Occupied Royal Palaces.

Royal Palaces

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what profit has been made from admission charges to (a) Windsor Castle and (b) Buckingham Palace in each year since 1992. [62350]

Dr. Howells: The net surplus from admission charges to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace for the years requested 1 are presented in the following tables:


Windsor Castle—year ended 31 March

Year£000
1992–930
1993–94100
1994–951,605
1995–961,908
1996–972,257
1997–982,381
1998–993,416
1999–20002,386
2000–012,096

Buckingham Palace—year ended 31 March

Year£000
1992–930
1993–941,090
1994–951,336
1995–961,615
1996–971,630
1997–981,023
1998–99996
1999–2000782
2000–01604

Queen Mother

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether special payments were made to Westminster City council to offset the costs it incurred in preparing for the funeral of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. [65590]

Dr. Howells: Costs incurred by Westminster City council in preparing the processional route for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother will be met by the Government. They will shortly submit their claim to the Department for approval.

Interior and Garden Design

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the contribution to the UK economy of British interior and garden design in the last 12 months. [64491]

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Dr. Howells: Responsibility for the sponsorship of design rests with the Department of Trade and Industry. The Creative Industries Mapping Document 2001, published by my Department in March 2001, estimated that the size of design related activity within the UK economy as a whole at £26.7 billion. No separate estimates were made for interior and garden design.

Royal Parks Agency

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has had with the Royal Parks Agency concerning the pay award to employees for April 2001–02 formalised in September 2001. [64671]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had no discussions with the Royal Parks Agency concerning the pay award to employees for 2001–02. I understand that the Royal Parks management and the trade unions are currently discussing the 2001–02 pay award.

Television Licences

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she expects to introduce measures to preserve the rights of beneficiaries of the Accommodation for Residential Care concessionary television licence scheme when the (a) social mix and (b) level of warden cover in their sheltered housing changes. [64743]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 27 June 2002]: Consultations between officials and the BBC about the necessary amendments to the television licence fee regulations to introduce the proposed changes are currently under way. We intend to bring forward these amendments as soon as we can, but it is important that in doing so we do not create any new anomalies or unnecessary administrative burdens.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many households are entitled to free TV licences in Portsmouth; and if she will make a statement. [65376]

Dr. Howells: TV Licensing, which administers the free television licence scheme for the BBC as Licensing Authority, is not able to provide geographical breakdowns of the number of free licences issued. However, estimates based on the 1991 Census indicate that there were approximately 14,600 people aged 75 or over in Portsmouth.

Radio Stations

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the start up costs for access radio stations. [65109]

Dr. Howells: The Radio Authority has appointed a consultant to carry out an independent evaluation looking at a number of issues including start-up and on-going costs for each station. The Radio Authority's report will be sent to the Secretary of State early next year.

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Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with representatives of small independent local radio stations on accessibility to digital radio multiplexes; and if she will make a statement. [65117]

Dr. Howells: None.

Film Classification

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if the British Board of Film Classification is able to change the criteria against which it determines classification of films. [64374]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 27 June 2002]: Yes. The British Board of Film Classification is an independent body. The guidelines it has established reflect the law, but they also take into account public consultation and research, and are reviewed periodically to reflect changes in public tastes, attitudes and concerns.

Public Inquiries

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her policy is on using 0870 telephone numbers for inquiries by the public to the Department and its agencies. [66202]

Dr. Howells: My Department does not currently use 0870 telephone numbers to handle public inquiries or for any other purpose.

Digital Television

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the different standards of definition used in digital television broadcasting. [65458]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 1 July 2002]: Standards for definition used in broadcasting are set out in the Independent Television Commission's Community Digital Standards, which are to be adopted by all licenced services. These can be found at http://www.itc.org.uk/ itcpublications/codesguidance/DigitalCommunityStandards/ The BBC follow the specifications agreed by broadcasters in the D-book issued by the Digital Television Group.

OFCOM

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on progress in appointing a Chairman of Ofcom. [65464]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 1 July 2002]: Advertisements for the position of Chairman of OFCOM have appeared in the national press and newspapers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A panel, including two independent members, will interview short-listed candidates shortly and we hope to announce the name of the successful person towards the end of July or early in August.

National Lottery

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what guidelines have been put in place by the Secretary of State to guarantee that lottery

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money distributors transfer funds to grant recipients as quickly as possible; and what measures are in place to monitor the efficacy of these guidelines. [65599]

Mr. Caborn: While the Government wishes to see Lottery funds benefit individuals and communities as quickly as possible, Financial Directions to Lottery distributing bodies do prevent them from drawing down money from the National Lottery Distribution Fund until that money is needed to meet the costs and expenditure incurred by grant recipients.

We have asked distributors to explore fully what they can do, within their existing financial directions, to transfer committed funds more quickly to grant recipients. We are also considering, with distributors, how the financial directions might be amended to accelerate the transfer of committed funds, and whether any amendments might usefully be supplemented by guidance from my Department.


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