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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, 75 years is far too short a period for controversy on exchange

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rates. The noble Lord, Lord Taverne, reminds me of the Oxford college bursar who attacked the college's investment policy on the ground that the past 200 years had been wholly exceptional. I turn to the question whether a series of options on exchange rates should be advanced by the Government. When a decision on the five economic tests is reached, that will be one of the options that the Government will consider.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords—

Lord Renton: My Lords, will the Government bear in mind the fact that if a country surrenders its own currency, it will lose control of internal inflation and can no longer protect its economy and the standard of living of its people?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I simply disagree; the shared sovereignty that would be involved in accession to European monetary union has a very wide range of advantages and, of course, it has some potential disadvantages. The situation is by no means as simple as the noble Lord, Lord Renton, believes.

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, is not the proposition lying behind the question of the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, correct to the extent that the final negotiation on the exchange rate at entry cannot be decided before a referendum because it has to be decided with the deliberation that we are going to enter? Therefore, the referendum has to be conducted on the basis that there will have to be negotiation afterwards about the exchange rate.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is why the exchange rate is not a sixth test and why I was so cautious in my response to the original Question of the noble Lord, Lord Blaker.

Lord Saatchi: My Lords, during our debate on the economy last week in response to the Queen's Speech, the noble Lord, Lord Sheldon, said that the exchange rate was not simply a sixth test. I believe that he described it as the "supreme test". In the same debate, the noble Lord, Lord Layard, said that the exchange rate would be determined by a political decision. Does the Minister agree with either of them?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my noble friends are always wise in economic management and judgment and I agree with much of what they say.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is frankly dishonest of the Government to set economic tests for what is clearly a constitutional project? On the off-chance that he does not agree with that, will he at least agree, since no single currency area can hold together for long without a mechanism for fiscal transfers from rich to poor zones within the area, that one of the economic tests must be a realistic calculation of the additional tax

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which the United Kingdom, as one of the euro-zone's richest areas, would have to pay in order to support the poorer zones for the area?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, are always such a complex inter-related structure of misunderstanding of economic and political issues that it is very difficult to know where to strike. But I start and finish by saying that of course there are constitutional implications. We have always said so, and I have just made that clear by talking about pooled sovereignty.

The Dome

3.1 p.m.

Baroness Seccombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the future of the Dome.

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): My Lords, a 26,000-seat capacity arena for London is to be built inside the Dome with associated leisure, retail, exhibition and other facilities. Contracts were signed between English Partnerships and Meridian Delta Limited on 29th May this year for the sale of the Dome and the development of much of the Greenwich peninsula for residential, commercial and other community uses. The deal is conditional primarily on planning permission. Meridian Delta Limited is preparing to submit a planning application before Christmas.

Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, we are within five weeks of two years of the closure of the Dome. Therefore, I am grateful to the Minister for giving us the latest information on this long, sorry tale. But between July 2001 and July 2002, English Partnerships incurred costs of 21.4 million in the upkeep of the Dome. What have been the costs to public funds since July 2002?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I am not in a position to give any detail on that.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Rooker: My Lords, we are talking about July this year. The 21 million consisted of management, care and maintenance costs for the year. It also consisted of one-off costs, such as decommissioning the contents of the Dome and costs connected with the sale process. It included nearly 7 million associated with previous competitions to find a long-term use for the Dome. The average monthly care and maintenance costs are around 250,000. Therefore, I imagine that the cost of upkeep has been approximately 250,000 a month since the end of July because all the other costs were one-off costs.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, might not an immediate use for the Dome be staging the Miss World

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competition and pageant, which has had to move to London at very short notice from Nigeria? That might also bring glamour to the Greenwich peninsula, about whose future the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, has been so concerned.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I can say that much glamour is on, and will be brought to, the Greenwich peninsula without the Miss World contest. A variety of short-term uses are always being sought by English Partnerships. The Dome was used on New Year's Eve in 2001 and another event is planned for this New Year's Eve. Of course, a couple of smaller operations have also taken place in the Dome on a temporary basis, but that is a matter for English Partnerships.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, does the Minister feel that it would be wise for me to try to book the planned auditorium for the centenary of the diocese of Southwark in July 2005, or might that be taking a risk?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, as I said, the planning application for the arena inside the Dome is due to be submitted before the end of the year. I understand that it is planned that the arena should be constructed inside the Dome and opened during 2005.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, was not an undertaking given by English Partnerships to provide 3,500 low-cost dwellings as part of the development of the peninsula? Can the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, say whether that is still the case and over what period those dwellings are to be provided?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I have already stated that a planning application is due to go to the Greenwich local authority before the end of the year. Therefore, I cannot comment in detail on that matter. The application has not yet been submitted or published and I am not privy to it because I am not the planning Minister for the Dome. However, for some time the developers have been taking a road-show around Greenwich for the residents of the area. There are plans for approximately 9,000 to 10,000 homes, 3.5 million square feet of commercial property, a four or five-star hotel, a secondary school, open space and parkland, and 20,000 permanent jobs. Of course, negotiations and discussions will take place as to how many of the homes are affordable in the sense that we understand that term.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, in view of the action taken by the Attorney-General of New York state, will the Minister say whether the Government are still satisfied as to the financial standing and probity of Anschutz Entertainment?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, English Partnerships deal with Meridian Delta Limited. It will sub-contract the operation of the Dome to Anschutz Entertainment Group. Therefore, the contract is with Meridian Delta. The full amount of due diligence has been

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applied to this transaction, as is normal and necessary. The contractual relationship with Anschutz Entertainment Group is unaffected by anything that happens in the United States.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, can the Minister say whether, when the arena is built, the Government's involvement with the Dome and its related costs will come to an end?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, as I said, the application will be submitted before Christmas but it will be up to the planning authority to decide when permission is granted. At the point at which planning permission is granted, other aspects of the contractual arrangements will come into play; in other words, ownership of the site will transfer to the new developers. The long-term feedback to the Government was made clear by my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer during his Statement on 29th May concerning the transfer of government responsibilities. I believe that in the long term it is planned that that feedback will be approximately 500 million over a period of 20 years—that is, 240 million at present net value.


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