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Community Fund Grants

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average length of time is for a decision to be made on applications from organisations in the Greater Manchester area for funding from the Community Fund. [160300]

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Kate Hoey [holding answer 8 May 2001]: This information is not available for Greater Manchester. For the United Kingdom, the average time for a decision to be made depends on which grant programme an applicant applies to. For the Awards for All programme, for grants up to £5,000, it takes an average of two months and a maximum of three months. For the main grants programme, the average is approximately three months for a decision with a maximum of five months. The longer time scale is needed for more complex projects.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the dates of the meetings between his Department and the recruitment company, Manpower (a) prior to June 1999 and (b) after June 1999 and the matters discussed at them. [160656]

Mr. Chris Smith: Prior to June 1999 my officials had contract review meetings with the recruitment company, Manpower on 5 July 1994, 11 October 1994, 24 April 1995 and 27 April 1995. The matters discussed included pricing, invoicing, typing services questionnaire, security clearance of staff, replacement staff, statistical data, appraisals, evaluation and the Department's procedural manual.

The contract agreement terminated in 1996.

Royal Parks Agency

Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he will publish the report on the five-year review of the Royal Parks Agency; and if he will make a statement. [160943]

Mr. Alan Howarth: The report was published today and I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses. The report is also available on the DCMS website (

The report's main conclusion and recommendation is that responsibility for the Royal Parks should remain with central Government and that the Royal Parks Agency (RPA) should continue to manage them although the Department should work towards establishing the Royal Parks as a non-departmental public body. The Government welcome the report and will respond in due course.

I am pleased to note the report's recognition of the essential role of the Royal Parks Advisory Board in helping the effective management of the Royal Parks by their advice to Ministers and to the Chief Executive. I am grateful for their contribution which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I very much value. We welcome the initiative the board has taken over the past year in extending their role by providing independent advice on a wider range of the agency's plans, performance and longer-term strategy.

Digital Television

Mrs. Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make it his policy to require all new television sets sold after 2004 to have digital receivers built into them. [160200]

Ms Hewitt: I have been asked to reply.

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The Government wish all viewers to enjoy the benefits of digital broadcasting. When purchasing a new television set, it is important that consumers are aware that any set which does not include a digital decoder will not be able to receive television broadcasts without the use of a separate digital decoder once analogue transmissions cease. We have set out the criteria to be achieved before analogue terrestrial transmissions are switched off, and also have said that we expect that the criteria will be met in the period 2006-10. Both satellite and cable broadcasters are expected to cease analogue transmissions by that time. Given that most sets purchased now will still be in use at that time, we are encouraging television set manufacturers to produce generally affordable integrated digital televisions. We would like to see sales of analogue-only sets diminish rapidly in favour of televisions including a digital decoder for at least one of the three main platforms (terrestrial, satellite and cable). The UK cannot prohibit the sale of analogue-only sets that meet EU standards, but we will work with the Commission and with business on ways to encourage or require that all new televisions include a digital decoder as soon as practicable.


Everything but Arms Initiative

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what analysis the Government have undertaken of the impact of the Everything But Arms initiative on the Caribbean. [160942]

Clare Short: We have carefully considered the impact of the Everything but Arms initiative on all stakeholders. This includes Caribbean countries that are concerned about the possible impact that it might have on their preferential access to EU markets, particularly for sugar, rice and bananas. A summary of our analysis will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The analysis shows that none of the Caribbean's sugar industries is expected to suffer a significant deterioration in its financial performance due to EBA. For bananas, the impact will be negligible and for rice, the transition arrangements under EBA will mean that changes in market forces will be phased in gradually and the overall impact will not be very great.

World Summit on Sustainable Development

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to assist the preparations for the Rio + 10 conference; what contributions she intends to make at the conference; and if she will make a statement. [159783]

Clare Short: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment, on 8 May 2001, Official Report, column 38W. DFID is working closely with DETR and other Government Departments to ensure an effective UK contribution to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

My Department plans to spend some £1.5 million to support the process. The largest contribution will go to the Government of South Africa to help them meet the costs of organising and hosting the Summit. The Department is also assisting the UN Secretariat to prepare for the Summit and

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to support developing country participation. A DFID- funded expert meeting on strategies for sustainable development is expected to provide recommendations for the preparatory process. My Department will also be a principal supporter of the UN Development Programme/ European Community Poverty and Environment Initiative which is designed to demonstrate the poverty reducing potential of environmental interventions in the run-up to the Summit.

Both the Prime Minister and I spoke at the 6 March World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) conference on the Summit and I am placing a copy of my speech in the Library of the House.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her policy towards improving water storage and distribution networks in sub-Saharan Africa. [160670]

Clare Short: We place a high priority on improving access to potable water supplies and sanitation facilities for the world's poorest people. Sub-Saharan Africa currently has the lowest coverage, with almost half of the population not having access to safe drinking water or sanitation facilities. My Department works with Government and non-government agencies to improve the management of existing water supply schemes and to construct new, affordable schemes. This support includes water storage and distribution networks where locally appropriate. We currently have major water projects in Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique and South Africa.

Our policy on improving water (and sanitation) services is set out in the recently published strategy paper "Addressing the Water Crisis". I will send the hon. Member a copy and place a copy in the House Library. This details how we will work towards the target for water supply agreed at the UN Millennium Summit last September--to halve by 2015 the proportion of people unable to reach, or afford, safe drinking water.

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the share of world trade of each of the most indebted countries (a) in 1980 and (b) in the latest year for which figures are available. [159762]

Clare Short: In 1980 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) held a share in world merchandise and services trade of 0.87 per cent. The figure in 1998 was 0.57 per cent. Over this period the volume of exports in merchandise and services rose from $21 billion to $38 billion. There are 41 HIPC countries. Figures for 1980 were not available in 11 of these countries. Figures for 1998 were not available in seven.


Defence Estates Agency

Mrs. Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what key targets have been set for the Defence Estates Agency for 2001-02. [160862]

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Dr. Moonie: As detailed in the Defence Estates Corporate Plan 2001-06, the following key targets have been set for the Agency:

Copies of the new Defence Estates Corporate Plan have been placed in the Library of the House.

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