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Military Air Accident Investigations

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if reports by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch into military accidents are placed in the public domain. [101403]

Mr. Spellar: The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) investigate all accidents involving civil aircraft in the United Kingdom and its reports are published by The Stationary Office. If both

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military and civil aircraft are involved, a military Board of Inquiry will run in parallel with the AAIB investigation whose report will be published in the usual way.

If a civilian aircraft is not involved, a RAF Board of Inquiry may, if it wishes, seek the assistance of the AAIB to examine the accident site and/or undertake a full or limited wreckage analysis. The AAIB report then forms part of the evidence of the Board of Inquiry. These reports are not published but may be provided to the next of kin in the event of a fatality as an Annexe to the Board of Inquiry findings. The next of kin are not restricted on copying the report further.

Depleted Uranium Ordnance

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the firing of depleted uranium shells at the Kirkcudbright range; and if he will estimate the approximate number of shells which landed in the waters of the Solway in the last 15 years. [102452]

Mr. Spellar: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from John Chisholm to Mr. Tam Dalyell, dated 13 December 1999:

    DU has been fired at the Kirkcudbright Range since 1982 and there is a continuing need for proof testing of the ammunition while it remains in service. Over the last 15 years, some 6350 rounds have been fired into the Solway Firth. A programme of environmental monitoring has been in place at the range since 1982. The monitoring programme has confirmed that there are only low levels of DU contamination which are well below anything that could be considered a health hazard either to those who work at the sites or those living nearby.

    In addition, in 1993 the MOD commissioned the consultants WS Atkins to conduct an independent environmental impact assessment of the firing of DU. The report of the study concluded that there was no significant risk to the public or to site personnel form air emissions from malfunctioning DU projectiles or marine food chain sources. A copy of that report has been placed in the House Library. Our own comprehensive environmental monitoring programme continues to confirm that this is still the case. The monitoring reports are all within the public domain; the most recent one was presented at a public meeting of the Dumfries and Galloway Stewartry Area Committee on 22 September 1999.

    DERA, however, is not complacent about these results. We work, closely, as you may know, with local interested parties and, in particular, have a close relationship with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). To this end, a meeting between representatives from DERA's Test & Evaluation Ranges Sector and Radiation Protection Services and SEPA was held on 29 November to review the progress on monitoring and to discuss plans for the future.

Hostile Aircraft

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many hostile aircraft have been shot down by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy fighters in the past 25 years; and if he will make a statement. [102455]

Mr. Spellar: The only conflict in the last 25 years in which Royal Navy and Royal Air Force aircraft have shot down hostile aircraft was the Falklands conflict of 1982.

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Twenty-three Argentine aircraft were shot down, of which 17 were downed by Fleet Air Arm pilots and six were shot down by RAF pilots serving with Naval Air Squadrons.

Beef Suppliers

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the country of origin of beef sold to UK forces (a) in the UK, (b) in Gibraltar, (c) in the Falkland Islands, (d) in Kosovo and (e) in Bosnia; and if he will make a statement. [102456]

Mr. Kilfoyle: The supply of food to our Armed Forces in the UK and overseas is contracted out. My Department does not specify the source from which our contractors should obtain beef (or any other products) but expects them to seek the best market price, whilst giving full consideration to British products. The beef currently supplied to our Armed Forces based in the UK is 100 per cent. British beef. The beef supplied for our service personnel based in Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Kosovo and Bosnia is presently sourced primarily from Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay and Brazil.


Millennium Dome

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if any zones in the Millennium Dome will not be fully functioning by (a) 10 December, (b) 24 December and (c) 31 December. [98822]

Janet Anderson: Work continues to complete the individual exhibit zones within the Dome. Zones are being completed in phases so as to enable the effective management of the overall site logistics, including contractor vehicle and staff movements. I am advised that all the zones will be fully functioning by the time of the opening celebration on 31 December 1999.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many parking spaces are currently allocated for very important persons at the Millennium Dome. [99320]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 24 November 1999]: Through its marketing and ticketing strategies, the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) is encouraging visitors to leave their cars and join public transport as close to their homes as possible. In addition, travel and tour operators are offering attractive travel and Dome admission packages. NMEC has parking capacity away from the Dome but close to good public transport links to North Greenwich using existing car parks where possible. When, in exceptional circumstances, NMEC is advised that parking is required for a particular VIP visit, it will be accommodated. There are no parking spaces dedicated for use by VIPs visiting the Dome.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many tickets to the Millennium Dome within the first eight weeks for which they were on sale were (a) sold at full single adult rate, (b) sold at full single child rate, (c) sold at full family rate, (d) sold at discounted rates, (e) given away to sponsors, (f) given away in competition and (g) otherwise disposed of. [99335]

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Janet Anderson [holding answer 30 November 1999]: The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) is concerned not to affect the ongoing success of ticket sales through publication of selected statistics at this stage. Ticket sales and reservations are running ahead of expectations and, at over one million, are far outstripping advance sales for any visitor attraction anywhere in the world for 2000. I am confident that NMEC will achieve its 12 million visitor target and that the resulting income targets will also be met, enabling the project, over its lifetime, to be delivered within the £758 million cash budget set for it in February 1997. I can confirm categorically that no tickets have been given away free to sponsors.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he intends to write to the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central concerning ticket sales for the Millennium Experience following his answer of 11 November 1999, Official Report, column 834W. [100677]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 30 November 1999]: I wrote to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones) on 6 December and arranged for a copy of my response to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if the Mayor and Assembly of London will be permitted to make a bid during the eventual sale of the Millennium Dome. [101315]

Janet Anderson: The competition for the future of the Dome is well underway and we hope to announce a final shortlist of bidders early in the new year. This is prior to the Mayoral election and formation of the Assembly.

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what is the timetable for the disposal of the Millennium Dome. [100260]

Janet Anderson: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) on 2 December 1999, Official Report, column 324W.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the criteria are for allocation of tickets for the Millennium Dome celebrations on 31 December 1999; and if he will make a statement. [99854]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 26 November 1999]: The New Millennium Experience Company, in liaison with the Government and others, has aimed to achieve an inclusive, exciting event, embracing a wide range of people of all ages and backgrounds and with the majority from "ordinary" life, and others who have made a contribution to, or have a responsibility for some aspect of, the project. The criteria for the allocation of tickets has been framed accordingly. As NMEC announced in June 1999, up to 3,000 of the approximate 10,000 guests are being drawn from national and local newspaper competitions; other public tickets are going to Millennium Commission Award Winners and members of the public associated with Millennium Commission projects, together with residents from the London Borough of Greenwich as the "host" borough. In addition, some of the project's sponsors are running public competitions. NMEC's further press release on 4 November gave details

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of how the celebration to open the Dome will be a passionate, powerful and spectacular event befitting the nation's welcome to the new Millennium.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which celebrities have agreed to perform in the Millennium Dome on 31 December. [101619]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 7 December 1999]: As the New Millennium Experience Company announced on 4 November, there will be a combined cast of over 900 performers using music, dance, and carnival, to move and inspire the audience within the Dome and the world-wide television audience of billions on 31 December 1999. The celebrations will start with the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen, following which the Archbishop of Canterbury will read the Lord's Prayer. The celebrations will feature Paul Daniel (Director of the English National Opera) directing an 80 piece orchestra, a mixed choir of more than 400, Jools Holland and his big band, and celebrity soloists from the worlds of popular and classical music. Announcements about other individual performers will be made in due course.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent on publicity for (a) the Millennium Dome and (b) the Big Time Millennium eve celebrations; what is the total budget for these projects; and in terms of both current spend and projected budgets, if he will break this down by (i) consultants, including outside PR agencies, (ii) press offices, (iii) advertising and (iv) other expenses. [101618]

Janet Anderson [holding answer 7 December 1999]: The New Millennium Experience Company's (NMEC) marketing, communications and commercial budget, for the Millennium Experience, which includes the costs of publicity is set out in the company's Annual Report and Financial Statements to 31 March and was published in July 1999. NMEC considers that individual components of that budget are commercially confidential and that publication of the information in the categories requested would adversely impact on the company's ability to obtain optimum value for money from future procurement of the services set out, and would adversely impact on the company's relationship with its existing contractors in those fields. In the absence of a London-wide authority, and at the invitation of relevant Government Departments, statutory authorities, and the Millennium Commission, NMEC agreed in December 1998 to take responsibility for the co-ordination and management of the Big Time event, which focuses on new year's eve celebrations in central London on and alongside the River Thames between Vauxhall Bridge and Tower Bridge and at other specific locations nearby. Big Time is supported by the Millennium Commission as part of its Millennium Festival programme and London is one of 22 cities being supported in this way. The resources for Big Time are separate from those of the Millennium Experience's £758 million cash budget, but they will be accounted for by NMEC in the company's next Annual Report and Financial Statements, which will cover the period 1 April 1999 to 31 December 1999 and will be published in the new year. Details of the individual contracts relevant to Big Time are considered by NMEC to be commercially confidential.

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