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Written Answers

Wednesday, 25th October 2000.

Cabinet Ministers' Responsibilities

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they regard the posts of Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Wales as full time in comparison with the roles of other Cabinet Ministers. [HL4090]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Yes.

Government Special Advisers

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many political advisers to Ministers were in post on 30 June 1997 and on the same date in each of the following three years. [HL4132]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The information requested is as follows:

DateNumbers of Special Advisers in Post
June 199753
June 199874
June 199970
June 200079

Public Bodies: Members' Hours of Work and Remuneration

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a table showing the average hours of work, remuneration and allowances of chairmen and members of National Health Service trusts; Rail Users' Consultative Committees; parole boards; probation boards; local authorities; and boards of visitors. [HL3926]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The information the noble Lord requests on local authorities is not collected centrally.

The noble Lord will find the annual publication Public Bodies useful in providing information on the remuneration of chairmen, members and chief executives of the non-departmental public bodies and National Health Service bodies to which he refers. Copies are available in the Library and on the Internet ( pb99/pb99.htm). I have also sent the noble Lord a copy of Public Bodies 1999, and the next edition will be published in due course.

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Information on hours worked and allowances paid is not collected centrally. Chairmen and members of probation boards are currently unpaid.

Government Policies: Progress Report

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 19 June (WA 10), whether they will give three examples of policies that represent their new and distinctive approach, together with an evaluation of their progress to date in each case. [HL3815]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: For details of progress being made by the Government in delivering their manifesto commitments and their new and distinctive approach, I refer the noble Lord to the Government's annual report 99/00, copies of which are available in the Library.

Prime Minister's Web Statements

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    At what level any decision to scale down the Prime Minister's web-addresses was taken; to what extent the Strategic Communications Unit was involved; and whether the decision is compatible with the Government's promotion of new technology. [HL3911]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Prime Minister continues to put out statements on the Number 10 website when there is a particular issue that needs to be addressed.

Millennium Dome

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they consider are the implications for the directors and shadow directors of the New Millennium Experience Company of the report prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers on the finances of the Millennium Dome. [HL3849]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The report prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which is now available in the Libraries of both Houses, includes on page 39 a section entitled Implications for Directors. The last point in this section states in relation to the solvency position of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) (as described on page 39), that "In such circumstances the directors (including executives, non-executives, de facto, and shadow directors) must be on notice and need to take urgent action to address the position after taking appropriate legal and commercial advice."

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Following the presentation of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report to the Board of NMEC, a further request for grant was submitted by the Board and its Directors to the Millennium Commission. The Commission approved a grant of £47 million to NMEC on 5 September.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the impact on the revenue of the Millennium Dome of the announcement by the New Millennium Experience Company in August that entry tickets to the Dome are to be discounted generally for the period between October and December from £20 per adult down to £12.50 when purchased from travel agents, tour operators and group organisers. [HL3872]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The New Millennium Experience Company's (NMEC) sales and ticket promotion strategy has been the subject of ongoing review since the Dome opened to the public on 1 January. By Easter it was apparent that the revised visitor volume and revenue target set in January 2000 would not be achievable. The company decided that it needed to consider strategies aimed at driving up the volume of visitors and revenue. Despite high satisfaction ratings registered among those who had visited the Dome, there were clear indications that the public viewed the Dome as a risky purchase, and that there was price resistance.

Travel agents, tour operators and group organisers remain an important sales channel for the Dome. Admission tickets and travel costs are incorporated into the overall cost of the packages they offer. Inevitably, any change of strategy regarding sales and ticket promotions for the Dome would involve these channels. In August the NMEC decided to change the arrangements that had been in place with the travel trade. The reduction in ticket price enables the trade to offer more attractive packages to the market. It is considered by the company that attractive packages will have a more positive impact on volume and revenue by countering price resistance.

NMEC have advised that it is not possible to produce definitive figures for the impact on revenue of this change. In the professional judgment of the company, the changes offer a better prospect of increasing volume and revenue than if no action had been taken.

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

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 27 September (WA 152-153), whether he will publish a table showing for July and August the numbers of visitors admitted free to the Millennium Dome and the numbers admitted on a reduced price ticket.[HL3982]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The estimated figures are as follows:

MonthTotal free (1)Total discounted (2)Total sponsors from discounted (3)

(1) This includes free schools visits, carers of disabled people, sponsor ticket allocation, accompanying teachers on paying school visits, coach drivers, Greenwich residents, NMEC guests and VIPs.

(2) These reflect a range of promotions and offers which are normal for visitor attraction businesses and which are factored into the company's business strategy and planning. For example, NMEC has and will run a number of offers and promotions with its sponsors for their customers; and NMEC has and continues to run a special ticket price for entry after 4.00pm. The key promotion with Marks and Spencer which concluded on 30 June is evident in the above numbers. Subsequent key promotions with Boots, Tesco and BT will be evident in later months.

(3) There are several issues regarding the data integrity for the number of free sponsor admissions in the attendance months to date. Due to NMEC's ticketing and admission systems being different, the company is unable to establish non-attendance versus bookings.

The admission system does not differentiate between free and paying attendance at a sufficiently detailed level to provide definitive analysis. For example, it will show that an admission is booked via the ticketing system (Enta), but not that it is a sponsor voucher.

The redemption of sponsor vouchers via Enta does not differentiate between a free sponsor voucher being redeemed for a specific entry date and a sponsor voucher purchased via a bulk purchase agreement

(e.g. Tesco's 50,000 vouchers at £10 each). Passholders with platinum, gold and silver passes are able to bring up to five guests. These are invariably not booked in advance via the ticketing system and are not noted in the admission system.

The above and other data and systems issues mean that definitive analysis and data cannot be provided. This means that the statistics in the above table cannot be regarded as audited or validated.

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

    Further to the statement by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 27 September (H.L. Deb., col. 779), whether their commitment "to a long-term future for the Dome" involves a commitment to retaining the structure of the Dome as a condition of any contract of sale of the Dome site.[HL3983]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government are currently in discussion with Legacy plc, in relation to Legacy's proposal for a high technology industrial campus at the Greenwich site. The Government are also exploring other options for the future use of the Dome in parallel with the Legacy plc discussions, but are not soliciting offers nor in serious negotiation with any other party. However, the Government's clear preference is for the Dome to stay at its present site.

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