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Armed Forces: Manpower Figures

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: In order to provide a more accurate and relevant picture of the overall full-time manpower available to the Armed Forces, we plan to include in the definition of the strength of the Services all full-time personnel, including Full-Time Reserve Service personnel and, in the case of the Army, Gurkhas. In view of their discrete and specialised task in a particular location, the Royal Irish (Home Service) will be reported separately. This change will take effect from September 2000.

The inclusion of Full-Time Reserve Service personnel is in line with our aim to make reserve forces more relevant and usable and is a natural consequence of the Reserve Forces Act 1996, which provides for the employment of reservists in place of full-time regular personnel.

Millennium Dome: Mr Ben Evans

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

19 Jul 2000 : Column WA98

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Ben Evans was one of a number of content editors drawn from a range of backgrounds and experiences, including live events and design companies.

The content editors work closely with the designers of the zones and each zone's designated "Godparent". The "Godparents" were drawn from specialist fields and were able to apply their knowledge and experience of the issues addressed in each zone. Each "Godparent" held regular meetings and reviews with the design teams working on his or her zone.

Each of the zone designs was put before the Creative Review Group, often referred to as the "Litmus Group". The group reviewed the development of the exhibitions and attractions inside the Dome. Each member of the Litmus Group has experience and expertise in a particular field of entertainment, art and design, visitor attractions, broadcasting and education. The group met regularly to advise NMEC on the coherence, quality, entertainment and educational potential of design proposals.

NMEC: Replacement of Chairman

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office on 23 June (WA 49), whether the sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) will now answer the question whether he was involved in any discussions about the replacement of Mr Bob Ayling as chairman of the NMEC, prior to Mr Ayling informing him on his decision to resign.[HL3128]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The appointment of Chairman to the New Millennium Experience Company is the collective responsibility of the board. Following the Millennium Commission meeting on 22 May, the Chairman informed me that a number of conditions had been set in agreeing to provide further grant to NMEC. One of those conditions was the replacement of Mr Ayling as Chairman of NMEC. Irrespective of that condition, Mr Ayling decided to resign. I discussed Mr Ayling's decision, and the subsequent decision by the board to appoint David Quarmby as its new chairman, with a number of board members during the course of 23 May.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office on 23 June (WA 49), whether the sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) discussed with any person other than Mr David Quarmby the idea of his or her succeeding Mr Bob Ayling as chairman of the NMEC.[HL3130]

19 Jul 2000 : Column WA99

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The responsibility for appointing the chairman of the New Millennium Experience Company rests with the board. On 23 May, Robert Ayling resigned and later that day the board appointed David Quarmby as the new chairman. The board kept me informed of its deliberations on this matter throughout the day.

NMEC: Weekly Trading Performance Reports

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office on 23 June (WA 48), whether the sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) will agree to the publication of the weekly reports he receives on the trading performance of the NMEC.[HL3131]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The weekly reports on the trading performance of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) are internal management documents. Visitor figures from these reports are posted on the Dome website (www.dome2000.co.uk) monthly.

Smoking in Government Buildings

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy concerning smoking in government buildings.[HL3269]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Responsibility for policy concerning smoking in government buildings is delegated to departments. In my department we operate a no smoking policy in all our buildings. Smoking is permitted in designated areas only.

Special Advisers

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many special advisers work for:


    (a) Ministers in the United Kingdom Government;


    (b) Ministers in the Scottish Executive;


    (c) Assembly Secretaries in Wales; and


    (d) Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive.[HL3262]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: On 17 July, there were a total of 78 special advisers working for Ministers in the United Kingdom Government; nine special advisers working for Ministers in the Scottish Executive; and one special adviser working for Assembly Secretaries in Wales.

19 Jul 2000 : Column WA100

I am informed that on the same date there were 11 special advisers working for Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive. These special advisers are members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and Ministers in the devolved administration are accountable for the appointments.

Departmental Publications: Grammar and Punctuation

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 23 June (WA 48), whether they will draw the attention of the Cabinet Office Women's Unit and the Home Office to his statement that material sent out by government departments should be free from errors of grammar and punctuation and should be of the highest quality.[HL3156]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This has already been done.

Finance Bill: Human Rights Act 1998 Compatibility

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a statement has been made under the Human Rights Act 1998 in connection with the Finance Bill.[HL3433]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Finance Bill are compatible with the convention rights.

Countryside Agency

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the role of the Countryside Agency as distinct from other government agencies; and[HL3359]

    How much it costs annually to fund the Countryside Agency.[HL3360]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Countryside Agency is the Government's principal adviser on rural areas in England. It works to conserve and enhance the countryside; to promote social equity for the people who live there and to help everyone, wherever they live, to enjoy this national asset. In 2000-01 the agency will receive a grant-in-aid from my department of £55.3 million. This is an increase of over £6 million compared with last year, reflecting our wish that the agency should increase its spend on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, access to the countryside and a number of other initiatives.

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Wind Farms: Bird Deaths

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What numbers and species of birds have been reported to have been killed by wind farms in 1997, 1998 and 1999.[HL3343]

Lord Whitty: This department does not have statistics for bird fatalities from wind farms and can therefore offer no figures for the numbers killed in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

19 Jul 2000 : Column WA102

I do however recognise that wind farms can have an impact on birds through direct loss of habitat, disturbance resulting in effective habitat loss or degradation and increased mortality caused by birds colliding with moving turbine rotors, towers and associated structures.

Existing research indicates that each wind farm is unique in the way the environmental and engineering factors interact with the bird species present and that different species vary in their vulnerability to disturbance. It is therefore not possible to make general predictions about the impact of proposed wind farm developments. Each needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.



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