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Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that over a period of time, governments have given precisely that degree of financial support to the Association of Chief Police Officers? Is he aware that on a whole range of issues ranging from policy relating to crime to road traffic, the advice which it gives to the Home Office and to police authorities is of considerable public importance? Therefore, does he agree that such support is highly desirable?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am sure that that is absolutely right. As the noble Lord says, this has been going on for a number of years. It is extremely useful to the Home Office to have a source of informed

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expertise. Most Ministers who have been in receipt of the advice, although they may not agree with it on every occasion, recognise its worth and value.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, does that mean that other organisations will also receive core grants from the Home Office for the same reasons?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, not necessarily, no.

Lord Merlyn-Rees: My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that the advice which comes from ACPO on a variety of issues is not the only source of advice? It comes also from within the police department and the inspectorate. It is not the only advice, is it?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Merlyn-Rees is absolutely right. It is a very important source of advice but we have our own internal statistical department; we consult a large number of bodies in the criminal justice field; and we have contributions from institutes of criminology, from universities and a wide variety of international sources.

Lord Knights: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that ACPO has divided itself recently into two organisations: the Association of Chief Police Officers, which is funded in the way that the Minister has already indicated, dealing with professional policing policy; and a second separate organisation, the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, which deals with staff matters, conditions of service and so on, which it funds itself?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. It was thought appropriate that there should be a division between those two functions: the second being a matter of negotiation about terms and conditions and such matters; and the first being the sort of independent advice to which a number of your Lordships have already referred.

Lord Brougham and Vaux: My Lords, the noble Lord is probably not aware that I had lunch with the Chief Constable of Norfolk today. He will be speaking to a colleague of the Minister in the Home Office and the noble Baroness, Lady Haymah. I hope that the Government will take advice from the chief constables when that is put before them.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I did not know that the noble Lord had had lunch at all, and certainly not with the Chief Constable of Norfolk. I am sure that it was an excellent lunch and that the conversation was most stimulating.

We always listen with great care to what is said by chief constables. They are at the sharp end of policing. They have enormous responsibilities. As was implied earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, I believe that

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there is an extremely useful, constructive relationship between ACPO and the Home Office and long may it continue.

Millennium Dome: Progress

2.50 p.m.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can give any further information on the Millennium Dome, its progress, its contents and their cost.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, progress on the Millennium Dome is on time and within budget and details of the project will continue to be released as it develops. The New Millennium Experience Company is continuing to make good progress on sponsorship, with £87 million already committed, putting the company on course to achieve its sponsorship target. On 1st June, the New Millennium Experience Company and Marks and Spencer announced "The Children's Promise" initiative--a scheme to encourage people to donate their last hour's pay of this millennium to enhance the opportunities of the nation's children in the next--as part of Marks and Spencer's £12 million founding partner sponsorship support. That was in addition to the founding partner and official sponsors announced on 24th February.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I give the Minister a rather half-hearted and token "thank you" for that Answer. Does he not think it a little odd that so little is known about the contents of this really rather magnificent building, which is now nearing completion both on time and within budget? Indeed, it is splendid. We have been told that the sexless giant which was surveying its own child has been removed and replaced by a golden lady. However, apart from that, we know nothing. Is it not about time that those concerned with this huge building were informed as to what its contents will be?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am sorry if the noble Lord thought that I was rather half-hearted--

Noble Lords: He was!

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I now realise that he was half-hearted in his thanks. That is even worse. On reflection, I believe that I was too modest in my response. In fact, the construction work is two weeks ahead of schedule. As the noble Lord knows, seven out of the 13 zones in the Millennium Dome were presented to the public at the end of February and work

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is proceeding on them as well as on all the others. We still have 18 months to go. Would not the noble Lord like a few surprises at the end?

Lord Beloff: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it would be very appropriate for the dome to be left completely empty? It could then act a symbol of New Labour.

Noble Lords: Oh!

The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, can the Minister help the House a little as regards the cost involved? Is there any distinction or overlap between the funding which has been well publicised for construction and allied purposes and the amounts of money which he has enumerated; namely, those moneys which have been provided by generous sponsors? Are those two sums of money quite distinct and separate, or will some of the sponsorship money be used for construction purposes? Perhaps the Minister can give us some guidance on the matter.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, clearly the sponsors have a right to require that some part of their money should be used for specific purposes; indeed, they have done so. However, the funding of the project as a whole, which includes large amounts of lottery money, will be used for all purposes such as construction, filling, access and for other aspects of the Millennium Dome. It is a single budget.

Lord Montague of Oxford: My Lords, perhaps my noble friend the Minister can clarify one aspect of his original Answer, which relates to the raising of £100 million for the children's programme. My noble friend said that people are being asked to contribute their last hour's salary of the millennium to the fund. However, does he intend to commit his last hour's salary to that end? I shall of course commit mine, but will my noble friend support the rest of the House doing the same?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, on the dangerous assumption that I still have a salary at that date, I will. As I also have a pension, I will undertake, without any qualification, to contribute the last hour of earning from my pension.

Lord Renton: My Lords, bearing in mind that the millennium marks 2000 years of Christianity, can the Minister say in what way the contents of the dome will record that fact?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, my Lords. As I have said on numerous occasions in this House, the spiritual aspect of the dome's contents are being worked out in close collaboration with the Lambeth Group, which is sponsored by the Church of England but which includes all Christian and other faiths. The group is

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taking a leading role in deciding that part of the dome's contents which fall within what we call, "the spirit zone".

Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, is the Minister in a position to say whether any changes have been made to the planned contents of the dome since we last debated the matter two months ago? In particular, can I urge the Minister to try to find a space in its 20 acres to depict some defining moments in our far from inglorious national history?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, changes are taking place all the time as design concepts are developed and approach completion. The noble Lord's suggestion about our,

    "far from inglorious national history",

can and certainly will be taken into account. There are those who are urging us in the spirit of contrition, which is so popular these days, to make amends for some of the less glorious parts of our history. However, I should not pass a personal comment on that suggestion.

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