Previous Section Index Home Page


Foreign Flags

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what guidance has been issued as to when the flag of a foreign nation may be flown along with the national flag on Government or public buildings. [14330]

Mr. Sproat [holding answer 15 February 1996]: There is no Government guidance on when a flag of a foreign nation may be flown along with the Union flag on Government or public buildings.

Public Service Broadcasters

Sir Michael Grylls: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will summarise the public service conditions which attach to each of the existing public service broadcasters, including the holders of the teletext licences; and if she will indicate in the case of any such broadcaster not being allocated guaranteed increased capacity in the digital environment the considerations underlying the decision not to allocate such capacity. [15474]

Mr. Sproat [holding answer 16 February 1996]: The BBC's services are governed by the terms of its charter and agreement. Channel 3 licensees are required to provide a diverse programme service calculated to appeal to a wide variety of tastes and interests, including high- quality national and international news and current affairs, religious programmes and educational programmes. The regional Channel 3 licensees also have to show regional programming. Channel 4 is required to show a suitable proportion of programmes which are calculated to appeal to tastes and interests not generally catered for by Channel 3; programmes of an educational nature; and news programmes and current affairs programmes of high quality.

S4C is required to broadcast a substantial proportion of its programmes in Welsh and these are to be of a high-quality. The public teletext licensee has to include in his service a sufficient amount of high-quality national and international news; information of a regional nature and a range of information calculated to appeal to a wide variety of tastes and interests.

Teletext has been offered capacity on the multiplex to be shared between Channel 3, Channel 4 and S4C. The Secretary of State recently met Teletext to discuss its digital service and is considering further its request for increased guaranteed capacity. No decision has yet been made on that request.

Sir Michael Grylls: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will list the existing public service broadcasters, indicating in each case the extent to which they are to be allocated guaranteed increased capacity within the digital environment for the provision of new services. [15473]

19 Feb 1996 : Column: 52

Mr. Sproat [holding answer 16 February 1996]: The existing public service broadcasters are the BBC, Channel 3, Channel 4 and S4C. Teletext holds the public service teletext licence. The BBC has been offered a whole multiplex in respect of BBC1 and BBC2. Channel 3 has been offered half a multiplex--equivalent to approximately 9 megabits per second. Channel 4 has been offered half a multiplex throughout the UK except in Wales, where it has been offered a quarter of a multiplex. S4C has been offered a quarter of a multiplex in Wales.

The Government judge that a quarter of a multiplex should be more than sufficient for a broadcaster to reproduce an existing programme service to an acceptable level of picture quality in digital form. It is a matter for the broadcasters whether any extra capacity available to them is used to enhance the technical quality of the simulcast service or to provide new services. Teletext has been offered sufficient capacity on the multiplex carrying Channel 3/Channel 4/S4C to provide its existing service in digital form to a technical standard equivalent to its analogue service.

DEFENCE

Departmental Publications

Dr. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which of his Department's administrative manuals and internal guidance are now made public; and which remain private. [14035]

Mr. Arbuthnot: My Department does not maintain a central list of all internal administrative manuals and guidance documents, and this could be compiled only at disproportionate cost. Any requests for information about such documents are dealt with in accordance with the code of practice on access to Government information, and non-disclosure will result only where the exemptions in part II of the code apply.

Competing for Quality

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to introduce new standard intellectual property rights arrangements to allow fair competition for Ministry of Defence contracts under the competing for quality policy. [15466]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Negotiations with industry on a new intellectual property rights protocol to encourage fair competition for contracts under the Department's competing for quality programme have been concluded satisfactorily. The new arrangements will begin to be put in place over the coming months.

RAF Aircraft

Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the causes and consequences of the shortage of spare parts (a) for Tornado fighter aircraft and (b) other RAF aircraft. [15446]

Mr. Arbuthnot: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) on 4 December 1995, Official Report, column 4.