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Mr. Chris Smith: It does no such thing, but follows existing practice that buildings less than 10 years old are simply not listed.

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Mr. Baker: I appreciate that that is normally the position, but the Culture Secretary could, if he wished, list the millennium dome, although he chose not to do so. Given the fact that the land is worth more without the dome than it is with it, it is possible that the dome will disappear, especially if the discussions with Legacy do not reach a satisfactory conclusion later this week. However, the tube station is a fantastic achievement, which no one has mentioned tonight. The Culture Secretary referred to the lessons that had been learned, which will be helpful in future. I agree that we can lay blame in different quarters, which I do as much as anyone else. However, we all need to learn lessons, and there are lessons to be learned, as the NAO report clearly set out.

It is a little hypocritical of Conservative Members to say that it is all the Labour Government's fault and that everything is terribly wrong. Presumably, had Conservative Members still been in power, everything would have been all right--at least that is the implication of what they have been saying in the press. The hon. Member for Watford (Ms Ward) told the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport:

I think that Conservative Members are guilty of that and are responsible for the culture of secrecy that enveloped the dome.

For goodness' sake, when the Labour Government came in, several Cabinet Ministers were sceptical about the scheme. They had a review, and, given the poor management structure, the ambitious visitor targets and the culture of secrecy, I fail to understand why they did not conclude, calmly and logically, that it was not sensible to proceed.

Mr. Efford: Visitor numbers were revised on several occasions before 1997, but not once did visitor projections go down below 10 million. The scheme proceeded on that basis, and, in that respect, everyone has been consistent in their approach to the dome.

Mr. Baker: I am happy to accept that visitor numbers were adjusted before the election, as others have said. However, the adjustment of visitor numbers appeared to take place in a vacuum, without the benefit of knowing what was in the dome, without a proper marketing strategy and without a clear indication of what the prices would be. One cannot set visitor numbers without a decision on such matters.

According to The Mail on Sunday, a thoroughly reliable paper that I always read, the Chancellor said in June 1997:

The Secretary of State for Education and Employment allegedly said:

Of course, that was an underestimate, as the dome cost considerably more than that. The Secretary of State for International Development said:

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The then Leader of the House, the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor), said:

Senior Cabinet Ministers clearly held the view that the project should not go ahead. With all those views against it, how on earth did it go ahead? Will the Culture Secretary or the Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting in her winding-up speech tell us whether there was a vote in Cabinet to proceed with the project? Or did the Prime Minister simply decide that it should go ahead, and the rest of his Cabinet Ministers were wheeled in behind? I accept that in those early days the Labour Government were new and did not have the previous Government's experience in office, as the right hon. Member for Gorton said. However, they should have been even more careful, given the scale of the project, and the possible use of public funds, including lottery funds.

Lord Falconer has been mentioned briefly. There have been persistent calls from a number of sources for his resignation. I do not believe that he is the only person who has made mistakes on the project, but he certainly has made mistakes. Even from the point that he took over, serious mistakes have been made with the dome. For example, a bewildering succession of people have been in charge of the dome, even in the past 12 months. They seem to come and go; we cannot keep up with it.

There has been a bewildering succession of pleas for more money for the dome, most of them in the parliamentary recess, when it was impossible for Members of Parliament to hold the Government to account. One of the pleas was made in August, immediately after the House went into recess, when I am sure that information was known.

There are questions about the financial management of the dome, which clearly involve Lord Falconer. Paragraph 2.44 of the NAO report says:

It goes on to talk about insolvency, but paragraph 2.45 shows that, about a month and a half later, Lord Falconer gave evidence to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport and said:

Those two facts offer something of a contrast. Lord Falconer should explain that contradiction. He has not done so, so he is implicated in the events of this year. He has not yet answered his critics.

It is equally the case that, going back to the history of the current Parliament--I can speak from personal experience only about this Parliament; obviously, I was not in the previous Parliament--we were sceptical as a

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party from the beginning: from early 1997, when I took over as spokesman on the issue. I remember in 1998 warning the Minister without Portfolio, as he was then:

the dome--

I set out steps that I believed needed to be taken at that point--two years ahead of opening--which would have turned the dome into less of a failure, if you like, or more of a success than it has turned out to be. I was shot down for that. I was told that I was being disloyal, I was talking Britain and the dome down, and it was going to be a fantastic success, yet it has not turned out that way.

Instead, what did we hear? We heard from the Minister without Portfolio:

We also heard something about surf ball. I am not sure what that was, but it seems to have disappeared from the agenda, too.

Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington): Critics of the dome are sometimes accused of exercising hindsight, but in June 1997 the Millennium Commission staff produced a written appraisal of the company's business plan. They expressed concern then that

It is a question not of hindsight, but of people not listening at the time.

Mr. Baker: I entirely agree with that intervention. The hon. Lady has been clear about her views from the beginning. It is a pity that members of the Government did not listen to her, too, rather than just shrugging off any criticism of the dome from Members on both sides of the House, saying that they were being disloyal to the dome. Lord Falconer therefore has some responsibility for this year's events. He has criticisms to answer about financial management.

There is another matter to be addressed. There is a tradition in British politics that people take responsibility for something that goes horribly wrong. With the best will in the world--I am sure people have the best intentions--this has gone horribly wrong. There is no point denying that.

Of course, the visitor numbers are there, but let us look at the cost: £628 million of lottery money--what a cost. The public in my constituency and elsewhere are appalled at the amount of money that has been spent on the dome. Irrespective of whether they think its contents are good, they are appalled at the amount of money that has been spent. They feel that it has been mismanaged.

There have been continual claims for more and more money. The management has changed constantly. It is inconceivable that there can be mismanagement on such a scale and that no Minister is prepared to take responsibility for it.

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