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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The right honourable Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) chaired a meeting of potential sponsors in June 1996 and laid the foundations for establishing significant private sector interest. That interest is being intensively followed up. Public commitments have been made by British Airways, British Telecom and the Corporation of London.
The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) and IMG are now in the process of detailed and sensitive negotiations with a range of other national and international companies. These discussions have been given added impetus following the NMEC's announcement, in early December 1997, that 11 designers are under contract to develop further the Millennium Experience's content. The NMEC and IMG can now consider with potential sponsors how particular aspects of content can be shaped to meet their commercial requirements whilst at the same time ensuring the integrity of the Experience.
What provision will be made for a national free-to-air radio service for children and schools, following the Radio Authority's withdrawal of 225 kHz long wave, which had been proposed by Children 2000 and members of Her Majesty's Government for the purpose.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The frequency 225 kHz was assigned to the Radio Authority in 1996 to enable the authority to consider the feasibility of using it for new analogue radio services. However, the Radio Authority has concluded that a national service is not available on that frequency.
The Radio Authority plans to invite applications early in 1998 to operate the national independent digital radio multiplex. This will include new national radio services. It is the Radio Authority's responsibility to award the multiplex licence, and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has no plans to direct the authority by specifying the nature of those new services.
Under the terms of its Charter and Agreement, the BBC is required to ensure that its output includes a high standard of original programmes for children and young people and contains programmes of an educational nature. Within this framework, decisions on editorial content and delivery of programmes are for the BBC itself.
What plans they have to extend the legal deposit requirements to take account of the growth in electronic publishing and related media such as film, video and sound recordings, microfilm, computer discs and CD-ROMs.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is considering the way forward in the light of the responses to the consultation paper Legal Deposit of Publications. He will be making an announcement shortly.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: In common with past practice, non-attributable briefings are given by press officers and senior officials to help journalists with background information on complex and detailed policy issues.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Access in this context means admission, but not necessarily free admission. The terms "access" and "free entry" are not interchangeable. Admission charges are not the only barrier to access and others such as opening hours and travel costs must also be considered.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The interdepartmental committee will be chaired by Mr. Richard Carden, Head of Food Safety and Environment Directorate in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The group will comprise senior officials from: the Department of Health; the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions; the Ministry of Defence; the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Offices; the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the Pesticides Safety Directorate (both executive agencies of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food); the Medicines Control Agency (an executive agency of the Department of Health) and the Health and Safety Executive.
The terms of reference of the interdepartmental group are: 1. To monitor the processes by which information about organophosphates is shared between the Government Departments involved, with the aim of ensuring effective co-ordination; and to advise whether any changes in procedure are needed. 2. To draw together all scientific evidence from UK and international sources relevant to the policy issues to which organophosphates give rise; to advise whether there are any gaps in the current state of scientific knowledge which should be remedied, and if so to propose how the new work might be commissioned. 3. To examine the procedures by which organophosphate products are licensed for different purposes; to identify any variations; to advise whether procedures should be changed.
What have been the yearly density spreads for the last 10 years of the sand eel population along the North Sea coastal strip; and
What effects have been noted on the drop in population and spread of seabirds along the North Sea coastal strip which are sand eel dependent.
Lord Donoughue: Research on sand eels in which UK institutions are involved includes work on identifying whether there are discrete sand eel populations in the North Sea; estimating the uncertainty in the assessment of sand eel population; the dynamics of sand eel settlement and population and the investigation of alternative management measures for sand eels. The European Commission is also funding an extensive research project to investigate the effects of sand eel availability on foraging behaviour, efficiency, diet and reproduction of bird and fish predators. This project, known as ELIFONTS, is being led by the United Kingdom's Sea Mammal Research Unit. All these studies are expected to lead to an improved understanding of the impact of sand eel fisheries.
Information on sand eel density in the rest of the North Sea is indicated by commercial catch data and has not been routinely collated and published. However, the ELIFONTS project is expected to lead to improved knowledge of the situation, particularly in the vicinity of the Firth of Forth and Moray Firth.
Possible links between seabird numbers and sand eel fisheries were reviewed in 1994 by an International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) study group on sea bird/fish interactions. It was concluded at that time that there was no evidence of a decline in seabird populations or breeding success being caused by an increase in sand eel landings in the main area for sand eel consumption by seabirds off the northern UK coast. The ELIFONTS project is expected to lead to an improved understanding of the implications of changes in sand eel availability to seabirds and other predators.
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