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Television Programmes (Home Recording)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the proposed EU copyright directive in respect of its effect on the legality of home recording of television programmes. [112558]

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Dr. Howells [holding answer 7 March 2000]: I have been asked to reply.

While the draft Directive would allow member states to provide exceptions to copyright permitting private copying of protected material on audio or audiovisual recording media, an amendment proposed by the European Parliament, and taken up by the European Commission in their amended proposal, would require that right owners receive "fair compensation" in exchange for such exceptions. However, as we have always stressed in discussions with the Commission and other member states, we do not consider that a levy or other form of payment would be justified in relation to the UK's limited exception in this area which allows home recording of broadcasts to enable viewing or listening at a more convenient time ("time-shifting"). Although there have been encouraging signs of flexibility from the Commission and others on the precise meaning of "fair compensation", we are still concerned that the overall approach to exceptions in the Directive is too prescriptive, and we are continuing to press strongly for further improvements in this area. We also recognise the potential conflict between exceptions to rights and the use of technical protection measures by right owners, and we are seeking a balanced solution to this issue which would allow users' reasonable "time-shifting" expectations to continue to be met.

Playing Fields

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the loss of playing fields and recreational grounds since May 1997. [110836]

Kate Hoey: The Government are delivering on the manifesto pledge to protect playing fields that schools and communities need because too many have been lost in recent years and grassroots sport has suffered as a result.

Local authorities are required to consult Sport England on all planning applications affecting sports pitches and playing fields. Since it has taken on this role, there has been a significant increase in the number of local authorities consulting Sport England, which is largely due to greater awareness of their obligation. Applications are assessed by Sport England against its published playing fields policy founded on a presumption against loss unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Figures show that Sport England receive around 60 applications a month and are objecting to about one third of these. The majority of those approved either contribute to better overall sporting provision, do not affect sports pitches or are proven to be surplus to school and community requirements.

In addition, the Town and Country Planning (Playing Fields) (England) Direction 1998 was issued on 15 December 1998 and requires planning authorities to refer to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions planning applications on playing fields which they are minded to approve but where Sport England has objected.

New legislation has also been introduced to require all state schools to seek approval from the Secretary of State for Education and Employment for the sale of playing fields, and to consult the local community and other user

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groups. Since these measures were put in place, the number of school playing field disposals has dropped from some 40 a month to only three. Approval is given only where funds raised are ploughed back into sport and education, and where remaining playing fields fully meet the needs of the school and community both now and in the future. Around a half of approved disposals that affect school sports pitches have been at closed or closing schools, and some 70 per cent. of the remainder which have been approved will lead to new, improved sports facilities.

Further measures to help communities increase playing fields and green spaces have been launched through the Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities initiative, launched in January this year by the New Opportunities Fund. This will, by 2002, commit a total of £125 million of projects designed to help urban and rural communities throughout the UK, create new, or enhance existing, areas of open space. This will include as a priority the creation of new playing fields and recreational areas, with an emphasis on the needs of areas of multiple deprivation.

My Department is working closely with the Central Council for Physical Recreation and National Playing Fields Association, as well as the DfEE and DETR, in monitoring and evaluating the measures we have put in place, and will consider whether any further action is necessary.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he will answer the questions from the right hon. Member for Birkenhead on the Millennium Dome tabled on 15 January (ref. 104655) and 26 January (ref. 108039). [110343]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 15 February 2000]: I refer my right hon. Friend to the replies I gave on 21 February 2000, Official Report, column 800W and on 2 March 2000, Official Report, column 350W.

Digital Television

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress he has made in establishing a Viewers' Panel on the change from analogue to digital broadcasts. [112559]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 7 March 2000]: My Department is currently in the process of considering the composition and terms of reference for the Viewers' Panel. I would expect the Panel to reflect the interests of viewers from across the UK and to provide advice on the extent of progress towards digital television from the viewer's point of view. I expect the Viewers' Panel to make its first report next autumn.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of his Department's electricity is generated from renewable sources; and what target his Department has for meeting its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2010. [113053]

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Mr. Chris Smith: The Department obtains its electricity from the host REC, London Electricity. The latest figures from London Electricity (1998) indicated that 98 per cent. of its supply comes from predominantly fossil fuel generating sources via the National Grid and 2 per cent. is purchased from local generators. These are mainly local combined heat and power schemes.

As the Department is too small to justify its own generating capacity, any future increase in the percentage of power obtained from renewable sources will rely on London Electricity or an alternative REC changing the make up of its own supply.

Football Grounds (Athletics)

Mr. Faber: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list those London football clubs with which his Department or Sport England has discussed ground sharing with athletics; and if he will make a statement. [113776]

Kate Hoey: My Department has had no discussions with London football clubs about ground sharing with athletics.

Athletics Venues

Mr. Faber: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if DLA Ellerbe Beckett have been engaged by his Department in an advisory role on architectural issues relating to possible athletics venues in London. [113775]

Kate Hoey: Ellerbe Beckett were asked, as a continuation of their contract with UK Sport, to undertake an assessment of the proposals for athletics at Twickenham put forward by architects acting on behalf of the Rugby Football Union.

Wembley Stadium

Mr. Faber: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what amendments to the Lottery Funding Agreement relating to Wembley National Stadium have been discussed by the Football Association and Wembley National Stadium Ltd. with his Department in the context of the proposed £20 million payment. [113780]

Kate Hoey: My officials have discussed with Sport England some of the issues in relation to their role as a Lottery distributer, and have confirmed that it seems wholly reasonable to consider, with legal advice, amendments to particular LFA conditions which are requested by the parties to the original agreement. However, any proposed amendments to the Lottery Funding Agreement (LFA) are matters for Wembley National Stadium Ltd., the Football Association and Sport England to consider.

Trafalgar Square (Pedestrianisation)

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the plans for the partial pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square on the Square's potential to attract tourists and Londoners. [113643]

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Mr. Alan Howarth: The partial pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square is included in Phase 1 of the wider "World Squares for All" master plan. Public consultation on the master plan, for which the new Mayor for London will take over lead responsibility later this year, has shown widespread public support. Further extensive public consultation is currently under way on the detailed proposals for Phase 1, which aim to improve access for pedestrians and provide greater enjoyment of Trafalgar Square and adjoining areas. Londoners and visitors alike will benefit from improved accessibility of the National Gallery.

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