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Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many ministerial meetings with hon. Members have been cancelled by Ministers since 1 January. [155238]

Mr. Robin Cook: To the best of my knowledge no meetings with hon. Members have been cancelled by my Ministers since 1 January 2001.

If meetings need to be rescheduled, alternative dates are offered as a matter of course.

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Peter Tatchell

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has protested to the Belgian Government at the failure of its uniformed police and security officials to protect Mr. Peter Tatchell against assault and to arrest his assailants. [155754]

Mr. Wilson: The Embassy in Brussels has raised the matter with the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has protested to the Government of Zimbabwe over the assault on Mr. Peter Tatchell by members of President Mugabe's entourage in Brussels. [155753]

Mr. Wilson: As the incident took place in Belgium, and we have raised the matter with the Belgian Authorities.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will press the Belgian authorities to seek the prosecution of those responsible for assaulting Mr. Peter Tatchell in Brussels. [155755]

Mr. Wilson: The Embassy in Brussels has raised the matter with the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a matter for the Belgian police. It is their decision whether or not to prosecute.


Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the competence of (a) the EU and (b) Governments of member states in surveillance and interception-related matters. [155468]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 26 March 2001]: Directive 97/66/EC concerning the Processing of Personal Data and the Protection of Privacy in the Telecommunications Sector deals with certain issues relating to the confidentiality of communications and is implemented in the United Kingdom by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. This Directive was made under Article 95 TEC (previously Article 100a) which provides for legislation for the establishment and functioning of the Internal Market.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 also implements the relevant provisions of the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the member states of the European Union.

Treaty of Nice

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton) of 20 March 2001, Official Report, column 109W, on the treaty of Nice, if he will define the term "uniting of Europe"; and if he will indicate to which previous generations he refers. [156274]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 30 March 2001]: Europe has been divided for generations by wars and the Iron Curtain. Enlargement is an historic opportunity to end that division and entrench peace, stability, free markets and democracy across our continent.

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Visa Applications

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) how many visa applications the Minister for Europe (a) reviewed and (b) overturned since he took office; [156105]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 30 March 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Ruffley) on 22 March 2001, Official Report, column 316W.

Iranian Jews

Ms Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Iranian Government regarding the condition of the Iranian Jews imprisoned on charges of spying; and if he will make a statement. [156390]

Mr. Wilson: We and our European partners take every opportunity to raise with Iran our concerns about the unsatisfactory nature of the case, and will continue to do so. The subject was last raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain) in a meeting with the Iranian Ambassador on 22 January. I note that one of the prisoners, Mr. Ramin Nematizadeh, was released on 5 March when his prison term expired. Our Embassy in Tehran has also reported on the treatment of the prisoners; they have access to newspapers, kosher food, visits from their families twice a week and a group cell.

Science and Technology Unit

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will include engineering within the title of the Science and Technology Unit to be established in his Department. [156017]

Mr. Battle: The remit of the Science and Technology Unit will include responsibility for supporting the international science, engineering and technology (SET) activities of the UK research community and industry. It will work closely with other Government Departments and external organisations, including the engineering institutes and university engineering departments. Its designation as Science and Technology Unit covers all aspects of SET, by analogy with the designation of the Office of Science and Technology.

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will set out the terms of reference for the Science and Technology Unit to be established within his Department. [156016]

Mr. Battle: The new Unit will be responsible for supporting wealth-creation in the United Kingdom by the provision of information about science, engineering and technology developments in key overseas countries to a customer base in UK industry and the research community; for the FCO input into policy and intergovernmental work in a number of areas related to science, engineering and technology; and for ensuring that the work of the FCO Science and Technology network is carefully co-ordinated within partner organisations and promotes the UK as a

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modern, technologically advanced country in order to encourage R&D collaboration, inward investment and trade in high-tech sectors.


Departmental Policies (Ilford, North)

Ms Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what initiatives embarked upon since May 1997 have benefited Ilford, North; and if he will make a statement. [152034]

Mr. Chris Smith: Since May 1997, my Department has introduced and developed a variety of initiatives which will impact on my hon. Friend's constituency and which promote our objectives of access, excellence, education, and creativity and employment. We have published our strategies to take this forward in "Tomorrow's Tourism" and "A Sporting Future for All", which was recently followed up by the Government's Plan for Sport. We have tackled the issue of social inclusion taking forward the recommendations of Policy Action Team 10 on Arts and Sport and developing social inclusion policies across all our areas, which is recognised within the most recent progress report Building on PAT10.

We have given more support to the cultural and sporting infrastructure. The Spending Review 2000 secured a doubling of the budget for sport and the largest ever increase for the arts: an increase of 80 per cent. from £186 million in 1997-98 to £336 million in 2003-04. In taking forward our aim to develop the educational potential of culture and sport £40 million has been allocated to developing Creative Partnerships; we have established through lottery funding, the £30 million National Foundation for Youth Music; and secured an additional £130 million for primary schools sports and arts facilities through the Space for Sport and the Arts programme. With £120 million of central Government and Lottery funding we will be providing a school sports co-ordinator in one in four secondary schools to work with local primary and special schools to improve sporting provision and physical education for children in the most deprived areas. We have delivered free access to national museums for children and the over 60s and additional money will be provided to allow this to be extended to everyone in December 2001. We have commissioned a Taskforce which is currently considering the issues facing non-national museums in the regions.

We have made improvements in the way the Lottery is spent to ensure a fairer distribution. The introduction of the New Opportunities Fund for spending on health, education and the environment has made a real difference to communities everywhere. For instance it has invested £120 million to support the People's Network, which will enable all 4,300 public libraries to offer free public internet access through UK online learning centres; and a further £50 million to stimulate development of content to support the Network.

We have set up a Regional Cultural Consortium in each of the English regions outside London to champion culture and creativity, including heritage, sport and tourism, and to draw up regional cultural strategies identifying regional objectives and priorities.

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We have published a Green Paper "Culture and Creativity: The Next 10 Years", setting out how individual creative talent can be given the support it needs from childhood to flourish; how artists and cultural institutions can be freed from bureaucratic controls; and how the freedom to explore and enjoy creativity and culture can be made available to all.

Through their commitment to public service broadcasting, the Government have helped to foster an environment in which a creative, commercially successful broadcasting industry provides a wide range of UK-made, high quality, original programmes catering for all viewers and listeners. We have ensured a secure funding base for the BBC and S4C, while giving them the freedom to develop commercial operations which complement and support their public service remit. We have made clear in the Communications White Paper that public service broadcasting will continue to have a key role to play in the digital future. The Government have introduced free television licences for people aged 75 or over from 1 November last year.

My Department sponsors the British Tourist Authority (BTA) which continues to promote Britain effectively as an attractive tourist destination for overseas visitors. The BTA's successful marketing activities are aimed at bringing benefits to all parts of the UK, including Ilford, North.

In delivering these initiatives we aim to make cultural and sporting activities inclusive ones, boosting participation and improving the quality of life for all.

Ilford, North

According to the information supplied to us by the distributing bodies for the national lottery awards database, there have been 29 national lottery awards to Ilford, North, totalling £4,227,008. This includes an award from the Millennium Festival of £25,000.

Nine Millennium Award Winners have been identified from Ilford, North and between them they have received grants totalling £23,357.

Information on the number of beneficiaries of free television licences by constituency is not available, but estimates based on the 1991 Census indicate that there were approximately 7,000 people aged 75 or over living in the Ilford, North constituency.

Redbridge Library Authority, which includes libraries in the Ilford, North constituency, was a partner with nine other authorities in a consortium which received an award of £160,739 from the 2000-01 DCMS/Wolfson funding round for a project promoting family reading.

Since May 1997, Ministers have stressed the importance of all museums in the delivery of key services such as education and in encouraging social inclusion. The London borough of Redbridge is one of the local authorities that picked up this message I was pleased to open the new Redbridge Community Museum last September following a £182,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant and £260,000 of council support. The London Museums Agency (funded by Resource) was pleased to offer its expertise in the development of this project.

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There are of course other initiatives in the wider context of the region which may have an effect on the Ilford, North constituency. These are:

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