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23 Jun 2000 : Column WA47

Written Answers

Friday, 23rd June 2000

Drift Net Fishing: Nylon Monofilament Gill Nets

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether discussions have taken place with drift net fishermen and their official representatives on the prospects of banning the use of nylon monofilament gill nets.[HL2918]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): No such discussions have taken place with drift net fishermen or their official representatives.

Standards Fund: Funding Streams

Baroness Seccombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Statement by the Baroness Blackstone on 13 June (HL Deb, col. 1518) that the funding streams in the Standards Fund had been reduced to 14 and would be further reduced to seven, whether they will list the streams that have been discontinued and those that will be discontinued; and when the further reduction will take place.[HL2901]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The reduction to seven refers to a change in the way Standards Fund grants are allocated in 2000-2001 from a bidding process, which can be burdensome on local authorities and schools, to a simpler and quicker formula method of allocation. The number of grants in the programme are not affected. From 2001-2002 we plan further to reduce the number of grants subject to a bidding process so that virtually all allocations will be by formula. In addition, more radical changes are planned that will significantly reduce the number of ring-fenced grants by grouping them under around half a dozen broad headings, so schools are free to decide the detailed pattern of expenditure. We also plan to allow schools to carry over their unused Standards Fund to the end of the schools year, rather than having to spend it by 31 March or lose it.

Community Sentence Breach: Loss of State Benefits

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the reference to loss of state benefits for breach of community sentences which was contained in the advance press release of the Prime Minister's speech to the National Federation of

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    Women's Institutes' Triennial General Meeting on 7 June, was included or omitted from the speech as delivered.[HL2774]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The line was delivered as printed in advance copies of the text.

Departmental Publications: Grammar and Punctuation

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider it important that press releases and other printed material emanating from government departments should be free from errors of grammar and punctuation.[HL2773]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Yes. The Government expect that material issued for publication should be of the highest quality. Responsibility for this lies with departments and other publishing bodies.

NMEC: Shareholder Reports

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the responsibilities of the board of the New Millennium Experience Company to report to Lord Falconer of Thoroton as the sole shareholder on the trading performance of the Company; and how they do so.[HL2708]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: As sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) I see all board papers. I also see weekly reports on the trading performance of NMEC.

NMEC: Shareholder Meetings with Board and Chief Executive

Baroness Miller of Hendon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many meetings Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the sole shareholder in the New Millennium Experience has had with (a) the chairman; (b) the board; and (c) the chief executive of that Company since 31 December 1999.[HL2709]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: As sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), I have attended meetings of the NMEC board on four occasions since 31 December 1999. I have also met individual members of the board, including the past and current chairman and chief executives on numerous occasions during this period.

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NMEC: Chairman's Appointment

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June (WA 177), that the sole shareholder is responsible for appointing the board members of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), what involvement the sole shareholder had in the appointment of Mr David Quarmby as chairman of NMEC; and[HL2877]

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June (WA 177), that the sole shareholder is responsible for appointing the board members of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), whether the sole shareholder offered the chairmanship of the NMEC to any other person, or discussed the chairmanship with any other person, before agreeing to the appointment of Mr David Quarmby as chairman of the NMEC; and[HL2878]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June (WA 177), whether the sole shareholder had been involved in any discussions about the replacement of Mr Bob Ayling as chairman of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), prior to Mr Ayling informing him of his decision to resign.[HL2879]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: While I am responsible for the appointment of individuals to the Board of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), the selection of a chairman is the responsibility of the board. Following Bob Ayling's decision to resign as chairman of NMEC, the board kept me informed of its progress in appointing a new chairman.

Millennium Dome: Distribution of Sale Proceeds

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the proceeds of the sale of the Millennium Dome site will be payable to: (a) The New Millennium Experience Company; (b) English Partnerships; and (c) British Gas.[HL2748]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The proportion of the proceeds that will be split between the New Millennium Experience Company and English Partnerships is still under consideration. British Gas will receive 7.5 per cent of the sale proceeds.

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Millennium Dome: End-of-Year Celebration

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 June (WA 151), whether the sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company would support the organisation of an end-of-year celebration in the Dome; and whether he had been involved in any discussions on the matter.[HL2803]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The organisation of an end-of-year celebration in the Dome is a matter for the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC). I have not had any discussions with NMEC about the organisation of such an event.

Special Advisers

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any increase is proposed in the number of special advisers working for United Kingdom Ministers, given as 79 by the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office on 24 May (HL Deb, col. 849).[HL2908]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: All appointments of special advisers require the prior written approval of the Prime Minister. All such appointments are considered on their individual merits, taking into account the requirements of the Ministerial Code.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any change is proposed to the amendment made in March 1999 to the Civil Service Order in Council restricting the numbers of special advisers working for Ministers in the Scottish Parliament to 12 and working for Assembly Secretaries in the National Assembly for Wales to four.[HL2909]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: No.

Local Government Bill [HL], Section 28

The Earl of Liverpool asked the Leader of the House:

    How many hours of parliamentary debating time since 14 May 1997 have so far been given to the matter of "Section 28", as it has come to be widely known, in (a) the House of Commons and (b) the House of Lords.[HL2826]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): I regret that this information is not held in this form.

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