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Equitable Life

Mr. Chope: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact on the future for Equitable Life Assurance of the society compromise due to be voted on; and if he will make a statement. [13255]

Ruth Kelly: This is a matter for the board of Equitable Life and the members of the society.

Student Loans

Mr. Illsley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the future of student loans. [11347]

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Mr. Andrew Smith: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills announced on 4 October that she is leading a review of student funding. This will examine the appropriate balance between the contribution made by students, their families and the state to support our ambitions to widen access and participation in higher education.

Limited Companies

Chris Grayling: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what circumstances he will provide security for the debt of a company limited by guarantee. [12739]

Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the replies given by right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hendrick) on 23 October 2001, Official Report, columns 195–97W, and to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) on 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 671W.

European Crime Convention

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the effect of the draft protocol to the 2000 convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters between the member states of the European Union (10076/01; Council) and UK banks; and for what reason Article 50 of the Schengen Convention is repealed thereby. [13001]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I have been asked to reply.

This draft Protocol builds on the European Union (EU) Mutual Legal Assistance Convention 2000. It imposes obligations on member states to respond to requests from other member states for information on bank accounts in the context of criminal investigations. There is a further obligation to establish the ability to monitor transactions within a specified account or accounts. Consideration is taking place as to the practical implications of this draft instrument for the banks and others.

Article 50 of the convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985 relates only to assistance in the investigation of fiscal and excise offences. It is therefore of narrower scope, and will be superseded by this instrument when it comes into force.


International Sporting Events (Special Needs Funding)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what sources of funding are available to enable young people with special educational needs to participate in international sporting events. [10542]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 26 October 2001]: At present, the main source of funding to athletes with a disability is provided by UK Sport through its World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) for elite athletes. Young people with special educational needs may be eligible for world class funding, provided they are named members of a national governing body's world class performance plan.

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Funding is available within each sport's WCPP award for athletes to compete in a programme of international sporting events. These events usually include World Championships, European Championships and any other international events considered to be an important competitive opportunity for the athlete.

The athletes nominated on the WCPP receive individual support through their athlete personal awards. There are learning disability athletes included in two world class performance programmes—swimming and athletics. At present there are five athletes in athletics and six in swimming with learning disabilities. These athletes receive APAs and have access to funding to cover the costs of attending major international competitions, agreed with the performance and technical directors of the sports, within an agreed programme of events for the individuals and the squad.

As part of the world class funding initiatives, Sport England provides the world class start and potential programmes. These are designed to identify and nurture young athletes so they can receive the best possible training and services to enable them to achieve future success. The programmes aim to assist athletes with genuine hopes of success in the future.

Both UK Sport and Sport England have prioritised paralympic competitors for world class funding. Therefore, funds for non-paralympic sports are limited and rely on the network of volunteers and charitable organisations that exist throughout the country.

The Sports Aid Foundation gives awards of £500 to individual athletes nominated by national disability sports organisations who are of international standard although not included on the world class performance programme. The award is intended for domestic training costs but may be used for international travel events if applicable.

Individual governing bodies of sport directly fund athletes and teams to take part in international events. For example, the Football Association funds the England learning disability team and covers costs associated with squad training and major competitions. UK Sport also provides core funding to UK National Disability Sport Organisations such as the UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disability.

National Lottery (Sales Licences)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many shops in England are licensed to sell lottery tickets; and how many of these have had a sales turnover in the last 12 months of less than £52,000; [12763]

Mr. Caborn: The terms of the contracts between national lottery retailer outlets and the National Lottery operator, Camelot Group plc, are a matter for Camelot.

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I understand from Camelot that 24,751 retailers have on-line lottery terminals, and a further 10,439 sell national lottery scratchcards only. Of those retailers with on-line lottery terminals, 1,936 had lottery turnover of less than £52,000 over the last 12 months.

Culture and Audiovisual Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the outcome was of the Culture and Audiovisual Council held in Brussels on 5 November; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [13269]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State for the Arts represented the UK at the Culture and Audiovisual Council.

The Commission presented a communication on the legal aspects of film and audiovisual works which clarified the application of state aid rules in the film and audiovisual sector, and proposed further studies on the legal deposit of audiovisual works, registration of films and a rights-holders database. The Commission also presented a communication on the application of rules on state aids to public service broadcasting which clarified what the Commission expects of member states.

Resolutions were adopted on: encouraging the development of the EU audiovisual sector; the role of culture in a knowledge society, including the need to take advantage of new technologies to increase access to the EU's cultural heritage; a report on the exportation of cultural goods and the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from a member state; and the role of culture in the development of the European Union.

During a public debate on the role of culture in European development the UK emphasised the importance of culture in promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and community cohesion, and reinforced the significant economic impact of the creative industries.

Public Sector Broadcasting

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the Government will fulfil their obligations under the treaty of Amsterdam to define the role of public sector broadcasting. [13223]

Dr. Howells: The treaty of Amsterdam does not impose an obligation to define the remit of public service broadcasters and the interpretative protocol introduced by the treaty makes it clear that such a definition is a matter for member states. In its recent communication on the application of state aid rules to public service broadcasting, the European Commission considers that it is necessary to establish an official definition of the public service remit. The Government believe that the existing broadcasting legislation and licensing system and, in the case of the BBC, the Corporation's Charter and Agreement, clearly set out the remit for United Kingdom public service broadcasters.

British Films

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what European Union funds are available for (a) the production and (b) the distribution of British-made films. [13382]

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Dr. Howells: The "i2i" Audiovisual Initiative will make funding of approximately 600 million euros available to the European audiovisual industry over the next few years. The initiative was launched by the European Commission, the European investment bank and the European investment fund in December 2000 and will support a wide range of activities, including production and distribution. Support will be in the form of loans for medium and long-term investments in infrastructure (such as studios); production of film packages and distribution; global loans to the banking sector specialising in audiovisual matters to fund small firms which create or use audiovisual technology and shareholdings in risk-capital funds specialising in the audiovisual sector.

The EU's Media Plus programme runs from 2001 to 2005 and will provide funding of 400 million euros to the European audiovisual industry. At the outset of the programme just over 200 million euros was earmarked for distribution. Media Plus does not provide support for production but is aimed at supporting training, development, promotion and pilot projects, as well as distribution. The "i2i" Audiovisual Initiative has, in part, been developed to complement the Media Plus programme in respect of production.

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