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New Year's Eve 2000-01

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he plans in respect of extending licensing hours on new year's eve 2000-01. [130946]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We still hope to have made a deregulation order under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 to reduce the present restrictions on Sunday dancing in time to be of benefit for the coming new year's eve. Such an order, as well as removing the statutory ban on commercial dancing, would give licensing justices the power in appropriate cases to extend permitted drinking hours on Sunday nights on licensed premises providing entertainment in the form of music or dancing.

So far as other licensed premises are concerned, any extension of permitted hours nationally would need a separate deregulation order under the 1994 Act. The timescales for statutory public consultation and the subsequent parliamentary process are dictated by the 1994 Act, and it is now unlikely that the process could be completed in time for next new year.

Under existing licensing law, it remains the case that any holder of a justices' on-licence may apply to the licensing justices in his or her area for a special order of exemption extending permitted hours during a special occasion such as new year's eve.

Computer Disasters

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the time it would take to get new computers running in the wake of a major computer disaster in his Department. [130971]

Mr. Straw [holding answer 19 July 2000]: Each computer system used by my Department has contingency arrangements in accordance with its operational needs. The timing of recovery to normal working depends on the nature of the system and the extent of the disaster, but would be planned to be commensurate with importance of the business process concerned.

20 Jul 2000 : Column: 330W

These arrangements are part of wider business continuity plans, which were reviewed recently as part of preparations for the year 2000 date change.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many of the written parliamentary questions tabled to his Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April have not received substantive answers, excluding those not answered citing (a) disproportionate cost, (b) that the information is not available, not held centrally, or not held in the form requested and (c) commercial or other confidentiality; [131124]

Mr. Straw [holding answer 18 July 2000]: My Department answered a total of 2,751 written parliamentary questions between 19 October-20 April 2000. Other than for the reasons set out in my replies to the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Mr. Maclennan) on 23 June 2000, Official Report, columns 339-40W, and on 4 July 2000, Official Report, columns 165-66W respectively, there were no other occasions when I gave non-substantive replies.

Clay Pigeon Shooting

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of persons involved in clay pigeon shooting, both as (a) participants in the sport and (b) employees of the organisations providing the facilities. [131305]

Kate Hoey: I have been asked to reply.

My Department has contacted Sport England, UK Sport and the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association to request the information required, and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as it is available, placing copies of my letter in the Library of the House.