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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to give effect to the Statute of the International Criminal Court; to provide for offences under the law of England and Wales and Northern Ireland corresponding to offences within the jurisdiction of that court; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to establish a committee of inquiry into the implications of a withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the European Union. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.
Lord Renton: My Lords, I make no apology for appearing to do a hat trick in raising this matter on three successive occasions. Here again we have two Select Committees appointed on which no Peeress sits. It is a pity, particularly with regard to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. I know that there is nothing we can do about it on this occasion. But I hope that the Committee of Selection, which is an all-party group, will bear that in mind in future Sessions.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I did hear the two previous interventions which the noble Lord, Lord Renton, made in this regard. My noble friend the Leader of the House gave similar answers on both occasions, which I repeat and endorse. I recognise that the noble Lord has a valid point and undertake to transmit it appropriately.
Hybrid Instruments--That a Select Committee be appointed to consider hybrid instruments and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the committee:
Personal Bills--That a Select Committee be appointed to consider personal Bills and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the Committee:
Standing Orders (Private Bills)--That a Select Committee on the Standing Orders relating to private Bills be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the committee:
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)-- That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be appointed to serve as members of the Board of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST):
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the House has before it two orders which are closely connected. The first one which we are to consider is the Millennium Commission (Substitution of a Later Date) Order 2000. This order extends the commission's funding life until 20th August 2001. After that date, the commission will continue to operate as a grant-giving body, but we propose that it will get no further direct income from the National Lottery.
Although we are debating the two orders separately, it may be helpful for me briefly to describe the second order, as it takes up the story where the first one ends. In that way I hope to give the House an overview of the Government's intentions. The second order--the Apportionment of Money in the National Lottery Distribution Fund Order 2000--provides that once the extension to the Millennium Commission's funding life comes to an end, all the lottery income which previously went to the commission will instead be allocated to the New Opportunities Fund.
The decision to extend the funding life of the commission was made by the previous administration. The then Secretary of State for National Heritage, Virginia Bottomley, said in another place on 20th January 1997 that,
This Government reaffirmed that commitment. Before going any further, it may be helpful for me to say a little about the mechanics of the order-making power. The nature of the legislation does not allow the Government to make an order which simply states that the Millennium Commission will receive #X million. It does, however, allow the Government to extend the life of the commission to a specified date. The order before the House extends the commission's funding life to 20th August 2001. We estimate that that will mean that the Millennium Commission will receive #2,286.5 million of income from the National Lottery. After that date, we propose that the commission will receive no further income from the proceeds of the National Lottery.
Let me say a few words about how we arrived at this new figure--#2,286.5 million--which is an increase of #269.5 million on the previous announced total of #2,017 million. The purpose of the increase is two-fold. First, we agree with the view of the previous administration that the Millennium Commission's other projects should not be adversely affected as a consequence of additional grants to the Dome. That accounts for #198 million of the increase, #179 million of grants and #19 million of lost interest on that amount.
Secondly, there are some additional worthwhile activities which we believe that the commission should undertake within its lifetime budget. Those account for the remaining #71.5 million of the increase. The additional #71.5 million will enable the commission to do a number of things which would not have been possible under its previously agreed income ceiling. Those are as follows: it will be able to put #6.5 million towards the cost of New Year's Eve 2000 celebrations; a further #10 million will be available to support projects reflecting the achievements and aspirations of black communities in the UK; and an additional #30 million will be available to support the commission's existing #3 billion programme of projects, many of which are still being completed. With this funding, the commission will be able to ensure that its capital projects have a solid foundation on which to build for the future.
This order allows for the Millennium Commission to use #25 million to support science centres. While formal decisions cannot be taken unless and until this House supports the order before us today, the Millennium Commission is minded to set up an endowed fund to provide resources in a few years for refurbishment work on the network of science centres around the UK which the commission has funded.
As well as being fun to visit, science centres are playing a key role in informal education, both for school children and for adults. It is increasingly important that people have the opportunity to widen their knowledge of science, technology and medicine as these will have a major impact on their lives.
I am pleased to say that the Wellcome Trust, the world's largest medical charity which has also made a major contribution to science centres across the UK, has agreed to consider working in partnership with the commission and providing some funds to increase the value of the endowment. This fund will enable the centres to maintain their attractiveness both as visitor centres and educational resources.
All of those are extremely worthwhile initiatives and I am extremely pleased that the commission will be able to support them if the order is approved. I indicated that much of the increase is required to make good the undertaking by this and the previous administration that the Millennium Commission's other programmes should not be affected by grants to the Dome. Without this order, there would be a hole in the commission's budget plans due to the grants made to the Dome. This order repairs that hole and ensures that the commission's other programmes do not suffer.
In other words, some of this additional money is as a consequence of the Dome, but it is not for the Dome. It is to make good the money that the commission has already agreed to pay to the Dome so that the commission can carry out all its other non-Dome-related activities--the vast bulk of its work.
What would be the effect of the order not being approved? Would it stop grants to the Dome? No, it would not. Those grants have already been made. The effect would be to take money away from the Millennium Commission's other commendable and popular programmes. So whatever noble Lords' views of the Dome, I hope that they are clear that a vote against the order would not be a vote against the Dome but a vote against the commission's other programmes. And it would be an abandonment of the Opposition's stated policy that the commission's other programmes should not be damaged by support for the Dome.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns rose to move, as an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after XThat" and insert Xthis House calls on Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the draft Millennium Commission (Substitution of a Later Date) Order 2000, unless they give a clear undertaking to the House that no additional money beyond that already reported to Parliament will be paid to the New Millennium Experience Company or to any other body which may have responsibility for the Millennium Dome or be its proprietor".
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. The Minister explained why the Government believe that this House should agree to the order as it stands.
The Minister mentioned science centres and I am grateful to him for that. I visited the Bristol project just over a year ago. I remember Bristol city centre a lifetime ago, in the late 1960s, when I was at university there. It had inner-city dereliction, a socialist local government which was at war with itself and nothing much was going well for the people living in the area. When I returned a year ago I saw a harbour-side which had been transformed. I visited a project which I found most impressive, as indeed were the people who were running it.
I am in no doubt that the Bristol project will play an important part in the regeneration of the city centre. I believe it is vital that the good causes get the money they need in order to survive and thrive. Therefore, noble Lords opposite and my noble friends might be wondering why I have tabled my amendment. It is a fair question and I shall give a fair answer.
First, I want to be absolutely sure that any extra money going to the Millennium Commission goes to the good causes and not to the Dome. The Minister gave encouraging assurances. Secondly, I believe that the public deserve to hear the Government say that as far as the money pit of the Dome is concerned, enough is enough; that no more of the public's money--their lottery money--should be handed over to the New Millennium Experience Company, apart from that which has already been reported to Parliament.
The Government appear to have acted as though the Millennium Commission were a bottomless pit of money that could be mined for the benefit of the Dome. The Minister rightly referred to the previous government's action with regard to giving a commitment that the life of the Millennium Commission could be extended in certain circumstances. In addition to the quotation from Hansard which he made, I refer the House to the Written Answer of my right honourable friend Virginia Bottomley on 20th January 1997, where she stated that any application for extra money with regard to the Dome and in consideration of the extension of the Millennium Commission,
The Millennium Commission originally budgeted for #399 million as a grant to the Dome, with a contingency of an extra #50 million which it expected to be repaid. That #50 million contingency was handed over in November 1999. I was intrigued by the Minister's comment today and tried to listen carefully to the figures he gave. He referred to the grant as being #179 million and the fact that extra interest would increase it to #198 million. Was he thereby saying that the Government expect that #50 million contingency money to be repaid to the Millennium Commission? If not, the amount outstanding to the Millennium Commission would not be #179 million plus interest but #229 million plus interest.
After receiving that #50 million, this year we saw the Dome snaffle up an extra #179 million. In February it was given #60 million. In May it was given #29 million. Then on 5th June, the right honourable Chris Smith said on GMTV that the Government had made it clear that the Dome should not come back and ask again. He said that it should budget with the money it had already received from the commission.
But in August the Dome was back again for another #43 million. In September it was back again for another #47 million. Indeed, on two occasions the commission's accounting officer gave advice to the members of the commission that the extra grant to the Dome would not represent good value for money for the public and a letter of direction had to be sought.
The financial chaos of the Dome since May 1997 has been an extraordinary saga--but one which needs to come to an orderly end. I, my noble friends and my honourable friends in another place have repeatedly asked the Government to put on record that the grant made in September would be the last. But so far we have not received that assurance. One has to wonder why.
I am not usually given to cynicism, although in politics perhaps one becomes used to trying to be a little more cynical rather than innocent, as of course we all are. If the Government cannot give the assurance which I seek in my amendment today, will the Minister tell the House why extra money will be needed for the Dome and how much? It is only when I know the answers to these questions that we on these Benches can decide whether to press the amendment. I commend it to the House.
Moved, as an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after XThat" and insert Xthis House calls on Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the draft Millennium Commission (Substitution of a Later Date) Order 2000, unless they give a clear undertaking to the House that no additional money beyond that already reported to Parliament will be paid to the New Millennium
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