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Baroness Hanham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government are currently considering the division of proceeds in light of the decision announced on 20 November that Legacy plc had been selected as preferred bidder.

30 Nov 2000 : Column WA159

Baroness Hanham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 20 November (WA 61), what sum they expect to be paid by the New Millennium Experience Company to the Millennium Commission as a repayment in whole or in part of the moneys made available by the Millennium Commission to the New Millennium Experience Company above and beyond the original grant of £399 million. [HL4775]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Millennium Commission is entitled to receive any surplus achieved by the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) from trading, asset disposals, or the Legacy transaction. No precise amount can be forecast until NMEC completes its operations on 31 December and the Legacy transaction is concluded.

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What agreement they have reached with Legacy plc with regard to the warranties and indemnities which will form part of the contract of sale of the Millennium Dome. [HL4759]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Details on the contract of the sale, including warranties and indemnities, are part of the detailed negotiations which are taking place with Legacy plc and the competition team. This information is commercially confidential.

NMEC: Indebtedness

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the total amount of indebtedness of the New Millennium Experience Company as at 21 November. [HL4761]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: As at 21 November, the New Millennium Experience Company's creditors' ledger showed an amount of £5.5 million. This is not an overdue amount. It is simply a reflection of what was on the ledger at that date. Payments to creditors are made in accordance with their contractual terms.

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With regard to the goods and services contracted by the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC):


    (a) how many judgment summonses have been issued against NMEC;


    (b) what is the total amount entered in such judgment summonses; and


    (c) to what extent such judgments have been satisfied, and what funds are available within NMEC to satisfy any outstanding amounts owed. [HL4760]

30 Nov 2000 : Column WA160

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The New Millennium Experience Company has advised that it has been issued with seven county court judgments. Details of these are as follows:

CompanyClaimed and Paid
Stocksigns£235.06
Power Plant Services£939.83
Display World Supplies£301.91
Service Point UK Ltd£131.49
Glen Howard Neil Salway£150.00
Telecline Limited£2,054.94
Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport£5,812.00

The first five of these cases have been removed from the register. The necessary processes to remove the final two are under way.


Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What language groups were consulted by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in the production of a pamphlet entitled The Bill of Rights--Language in September; whether it contains the views of the commission; and whether it satisfies the requirements of the Belfast agreement of 1998, which guaranteed total parity of esteem and equality.[HL4661]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The pamphlet entitled The Bill of Rights--Language, along with the 10 other pamphlets in a Bill of Rights series, was produced as an aid to the consultation exercise currently being undertaken by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on the scope for measures to be included in a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. As such, the pamphlets were not the subject of consultation with outside groups prior to publication. The current consultation exercise will inform the advice that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission provides to government on the scope for defining a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

This satisfies the requirements of the Belfast agreement of 1998.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is proposing to appoint a nominee from the Irish language sector to the Education Rights Working Group considering the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights but has made no allowance for an Ulster Scots nominee.[HL4725]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. An invitation was extended to someone working in the Irish medium schools to join the Education Rights Working Group. The commission is not aware of any schools currently teaching in the medium of Ulster Scots.

30 Nov 2000 : Column WA161

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Irish Government has complied with its specific human rights obligations as contained in the Belfast agreement, under the chapter entitled Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity; and, in particular, whether the Irish Government has fulfilled its obligation to ratify the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities.[HL4727]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: These are matters for the Irish Government.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether staff of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission are required to display any particular attitude towards human rights.[HL4758]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. I am advised that when advertising posts it is common practice for the commission to include, in the job description and specification, a requirement of the following kind:


    to display a commitment to the protection of human rights and to the promotion of equality and to show a sensitivity to the diversity of views on human rights issues in Northern Ireland.

Disqualifications Bill

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date and in what form the government of the Irish Republic indicated that they supported the Disqualifications Bill currently before Parliament.[HL4757]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Discussions have taken place with Irish officials on several occasions on the issues of the disqualification acts of 1975. They have indicated that they warmly welcome the changes proposed by the Government.

Northern Ireland: Appointments

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which appointments affecting Northern Ireland they have made since 1 January 1997 on which they consulted the Government of the Republic of Ireland.[HL4726]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Under Article 6 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Irish Government had the right to nominate people for consideration for public appointments in Northern Ireland. However, such nominations were treated on exactly the same basis as nominations from other sources, with appointments made on the basis of merit. The British-Irish

30 Nov 2000 : Column WA162

Agreement which took effect on 2 December 1999 replaced the Anglo-Irish Agreement and with it the Irish Government's right to be consulted about public appointments.

The Queen's Speech: Disclosure

Viscount Goschen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any Minister knew of, or authorised, the disclosure to The Times newspaper of 27 November of certain of the proposed contents of the legislative programme of the next Session of Parliament.[HL4829]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: It has been the normal policy of successive Governments not to discuss purported leaks of information. All Ministers and officials are bound by the convention of not pre-empting the announcement of the legislative programme in the Queen's Speech.

Cabinet Office Website Search Engine

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For how long the search engine on the Cabinet Office website has been off-line; and when it can be expected to be operational again.[HL4707]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The search engine on the Cabinet Office website has been disabled since 14 June 2000, as a consequence of the site being hacked. This incident prompted a police inquiry and a fundamental review of website security. The review is ongoing, and the restoration of the search engine is included in the resultant programme of work to enhance the security and quality of the Cabinet Office website. We hope to have the search engine restored by the end of December 2000.

Minister for e-Commerce

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will appoint a Cabinet-level e-commerce Minister, as proposed by EURIM.[HL4709]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Patricia Hewitt is the Minister for e-commerce and has overall responsibility for the Government's Information Age agenda. Cabinet Ministers and other Ministers across government are involved in driving this agenda forward. The Government have also appointed an e-envoy who works on this agenda.

30 Nov 2000 : Column WA163


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