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Sir Richard Branson

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The former Minister for Sport, Mr Tony Banks, met Sir Richard Branson on 24 June 1999 to discuss the work of the Tobacco Task Force. No other Minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has met Sir Richard Branson since the passage of the National Lottery Act 1998.

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When Ministers in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport next plan to meet Sir Richard Branson.[HL4149]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Ministers in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have no plans at present to meet Sir Richard Branson.

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any Ministers in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have discussed the issue of the next National Lottery licence with Sir Richard Branson since the passage of the National Lottery Act 1998.[HL4150]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No Minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has discussed the next National Lottery licence with Sir Richard Branson since the passage of the National Lottery Act 1998.

European Council, Biarritz

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total cost of their representation at the informal European Council in Biarritz.[HL4270]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe attended the informal European Council in Biarritz. The cost of air travel for Ministers and accompanying officials was £17,000. It is not yet possible to provide a figure for the total cost of representation at the informal Council as some bills have yet to be submitted.

Parliamentary Scrutiny of Treaties

Baroness Serota asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to respond to the Second Report of the House of Commons Procedure Committee of Session 1999-2000: Parliamentary Scrutiny of Treaties (HC210).[HL4442]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The Government's response to the Procedure Committee's report was presented to Parliament yesterday in the form of an unnumbered Command Paper. Copies are available from the Printed Paper Office.

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BBC World Service: Relocation to Broadcasting House

Baroness Serota asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the recent decision of the BBC to move the BBC World Service to Broadcasting House.[HL4443]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The BBC announced on 30 October that the BBC World Service will move from Bush House to Broadcasting House at the end of 2006. We welcome and endorse this decision, about which we have been kept fully informed.

We are confident that the World Service will maintain in Broadcasting House the standards and traditions that have made it the world's best known and most respected voice in international broadcasting. The new location will be better suited than Bush House to enable the World Service to meet the challenges of the digital age--for which the Government made available an additional £64 million in the recent Spending Review--and to work to maximum effect with key BBC partners.

It also offers better value for money than remaining at Bush House.

British-Russian and British East-West Centres: Annual Report

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the annual report of the British-Russian Centre/British East-West Centre will be available.[HL4444]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Copies of the centres' annual report for Financial Year 1999-2000 were placed in the Library of the House last week. The centres received grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of £230,850 to support their activities in 1999-2000. In addition, the centres secured funding of £257,130 for direct expenditure on projects. The centres manage projects to promote and support the development of democratic institutions and the rule of law and society in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Activities last year included organisation of the UK team of OSCE observers to the Russian Duma elections, hosting a human rights seminar in Minsk, co-hosting a conference on the Russian economy and organising visits and lectures.

The FCO's Quinquennial Review of the centres in 1999 confirmed that the centres continued to make a valuable contribution to the strengthening of bilateral relations with Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The review's main recommendation was that the FCO's grant-in-aid should be spent on the project work of the centres and that membership activities should become self-financing. The centres have begun to implement this recommendation.

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Kosovo: Hydraulic Lifting Equipment Export Licence

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they approved the issue of an export licence to supply hydraulic lifting equipment to Kosovo for use by the Irish Kosovo Force (KFOR) contingent.[HL4445]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are happy to approve an export licence for the supply of spare parts for the maintenance of hydraulic lifting systems for use by the Irish KFOR contingent. The goods will assist KFOR in the valuable work they are doing reconstructing a peaceful Kosovo.

These goods appear on the UK's Military List. UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1160 (1998) prohibits the supply of arms and related material to the FRY. However, UNSCR 1244 (1999) provides that the prohibitions imposed by SCR 1160 shall not apply to the sale or supply of arms and related material for use by the international civil and security presence in Kosovo.

UNHCR: Accounting Discrepancy

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information was given to the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees about the discrepancy between actual expenditure on non-expendable property of $68.4 million and the amount recorded by the MINDER system of $4 million; whether this relates only to assets acquired during the year 1999; and what amount, within the total, was paid to implementing partners. [HL4260]

Baroness Amos: The Report of the Board of Auditors to the General Assembly on the Accounts of the Voluntary Funds Administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the year ended 31 December 1999 was presented to the Standing Committee of the Executive Committee on 27-28 September 2000. The discrepancy between actual expenditure on non-expendable property and the amount recorded by the MINDER system was noted in the audit report. The Standing Committee concluded that UNHCR had taken forward the major recommendations of the 1998 audit report, but did not discuss individual aspects of the report in detail.

The 1999 audit report on UNHCR will be discussed later this month at a meeting of the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly.

UNHCR: MINDER Asset Management System

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total expenditure on the MINDER system, including staff costs, up to the end of 1999. [HL4261]

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Baroness Amos: Questions of expenditure by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on specific budget items, such as the MINDER asset management system, should be addressed to UNHCR's Division of Resource Management. I have forwarded your question to the Division of Resource Management, which will respond to you directly.

For future reference, their address is Division of Resource Management, UNHCR, Case Postale 2500, CH-1211, Geneva, Switzerland.

UNHCR: AssetTrak System

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the AssetTrak system, which was intended to replace the MINDER system on 1 January, is now scheduled to come into operation; and how the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees intends to secure the integrity of records used as balances of non-expendable property that would be uploaded to the new system. [HL4262]

Baroness Amos: Questions on the implementation of the AssetTrak asset management system by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should be addressed to UNHCR's Division of Resource Management, I have forwarded your question to the Division of Resource Management, which will respond to you directly.

For future reference, their address is Division of Resource Management, UNHCR, Case Postale 2500, CH-1211, Geneva, Switzerland.

Millennium Dome

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

    Which Minister or Ministers had sight of the reports presented in June 1997 to the Millennium Commission by Deloitte & Touche and by Mr Bob Stubbs prior to Cabinet approval for the Millennium Dome project. [HL3875]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Ministers had access to a range of advice, including the reports by Deloitte & Touche and BDO Stoy Hayward, to whom Bob Stubbs was an adviser, prior to their decision in June 1997 to go ahead with the Millennium Experience project.


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