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Young Offenders

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what change there has been in the time between arrest and sentencing since May 1997 for young offenders in (a) West Mercia and (b) Shrewsbury Police Division; and if he will make a statement. [107168]

Jane Kennedy: Information on the time between arrest and sentencing in 1997 is available for persistent young offenders only, not all young offenders.

The average time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offender cases initiated in West Mercia Police Area was 155 days in 1997, and an estimated 88 days in January to June 1999--the most recent figure from the same source. This amounts to a reduction of 67 days. Figures for May 1997 alone and Shrewsbury Police Division are not separately available.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department on how many occasions in each of the past five years computer systems in his Department have been illegally accessed by computer hackers (a) within and (b) outside his Department. [106237]

Jane Kennedy: The information requested in (a) is set out in the table. There have been no recorded instances of hackers attempting to gain access to our computer systems from outside the Department.

31 Jan 2000 : Column: 473W

Lord Chancellor's Department00002
Court Service21931
Public Trust Office00000
Land Registry00000
Public Records Office00000
Northern Ireland Court Service00000

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many cases of computer (a) fraud, including fraudulent use of computer chips and (b) theft his Department has recorded in the last five years. [106210]

Jane Kennedy: There has been one attempted incident of computer fraud recorded. The information requested in (b) is set out in the following table.

Lord Chancellor's Department37140
Court Service212710156
Public Trust Office10000
Land Registry06645
Public Records Office00210
Northern Ireland Court Service00000

Maintenance Orders

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what his policy is in respect of the enforcement of maintenance orders against former partners residing overseas, with particular reference to the case of Mrs. J. Basu of Formby (ref. 98603). [107026]

Jane Kennedy: The UK is a party to seven international Conventions and Agreements, which have established reciprocal arrangements with a number of foreign authorities. These are designed to assist a person entitled to receive payments under a maintenance order in one country to obtain payment from a former partner residing in another. The Lord Chancellor's Department is responsible for transmitting and receiving papers between the UK courts and the overseas authorities. It would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases.


National Lottery

13. Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to seek an amendment of the law to simplify the application process for lottery grants. [105949]

Mr. Chris Smith: None. My officials are, however, working with distributors to find ways of simplifying the Lottery application process to ensure that it is user-friendly and that forms are written in plain language. We already have in place the popular Awards for All scheme, which is a straightforward way for community groups to apply for grants of £500 to £5,000. One simple application form covers charities, arts, sport and heritage

31 Jan 2000 : Column: 474W

groups. The Quality, Efficiency and Standards Team which I established is currently looking at how the costs of making a Lottery application can be obtained.

22. Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what contribution the lottery is making towards encouraging the playing of competitive sporting fixtures in schools. [105958]

Kate Hoey: We have asked Sport England to ensure that arranging inter-school competitive fixtures is a key part of the job description of the Active School Sports Co-ordinators. Active Schools Sports Co-ordinators is a new Sport England initiative which is being supported by the Lottery Sports Fund with additional support expected to come from partnership funding, including NOF. Detailed proposals for the initiative are being drawn up in conjunction with key partners.

Millennium Dome

15. Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the public response to opinion surveys of people leaving the millennium dome. [105951]

Janet Anderson: In marked contrast to the opinions of some media commentators, polls of people visiting the Dome show that the majority of them have extremely encouraging positive reactions and views. Polls of Dome visitors by The Sunday Times, The Mirror, ITN and The Independent in the first week of opening all showed high approval ratings. Results ranged from 91 per cent. in the ITN poll on 7 January saying the Dome was worth the trip, to 85 per cent. in The Sunday Times poll of 9 January saying they enjoyed the Dome and 74 per cent. in the same poll saying they would recommend it to friends. On 13 January the London Evening Standard poll, conducted by ICM, reported that 8 out of 10 visitors said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the Dome. Other findings reported were that seven out of 10 visitors would recommend their friends to come; half are keen to return for a second visit; that children are especially enthusiastic; and most said their day was better than expected.

Recognising the inevitable bedding-in and teething problems being experienced by this unique visitor attraction over its first few weeks of operation, these high level outcomes from polls undertaken by third parties give every indication that the Millennium Experience at the Dome will, over its 12 months of operation, be a great success. The New Millennium Experience Company itself is conducting a visitor opinion poll through MORI covering the first month of operation and will have the results by mid February.

Arts Subsidies

17. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what were the total public subsidies paid to (a) opera, (b) live theatre and (c) poetry in the last financial year. [105953]

Mr. Alan Howarth: During the last financial year, opera received around £35 million in grant-in-aid from the Arts Council of England, live theatre £27 million and literature £1.5 million, of which poetry received nearly 70 per cent. (or £1 million).

31 Jan 2000 : Column: 475W

Public Service Broadcasting

18. Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the role of public service broadcasting. [105954]

Mr. Chris Smith: Public service broadcasting must remain at the heart of our broadcasting system. Despite the increase in choice which digital television brings, we will continue to need public service broadcasters to sustain a diversity of viewpoints and to act as a quality benchmark.

National Athletics Stadium

19. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the designation of a new national athletics stadium. [105955]

Mr. Chris Smith: No decision has yet been taken about the location of a national athletics stadium. We are currently looking carefully at the options for staging major athletics events, including the 2005 World Athletics Championships and Olympic Games.


21. Mr. McWalter: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made with the establishment of the national endowment for science, technology and the arts; and if he will make a statement. [105957]

Mr. Alan Howarth: The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) is now fully established and is in a position to begin using the income generated by its £200 million endowment, over £10 million per year, to support innovative ideas and creative individuals. Its Invention and Innovation Programme, which will help turn creative ideas and inventions into reality, opened for applications on 14 December 1999, and the first awards will be made in March. NESTA's other programmes, involving fellowships for exceptionally talented individuals and support for ground-breaking educational schemes, will also come on stream this spring.

Budding inventors and innovators can get in touch with NESTA via its

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