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HOUSE OF COMMONS

Portcullis House

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee what the policy of the Committee is towards the supply of clocks for hon. Members' rooms and those of their staff in Portcullis House; and what advice has been received from the architect of the building. [29452]

Derek Conway: Clocks are not provided for hon. Members' rooms or those of their staff in Portcullis House as there are several displays of the time in every office. As far as I am aware, advice was not sought from the architect.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee how many clocks have been purchased for installation in hon. Members' rooms and those of their staff in Portcullis House; and at what cost. [29450]

Derek Conway: I refer the right hon. and learned Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (John Austin) on 24 January 2002, Official Report, column 1002W.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee what contractual limits have been placed by the architect on the use of Portcullis House by hon. Members and their staff. [29449]

Derek Conway: No contractual limits have been placed on the use of Portcullis House by the architect; its use is a matter for the authorities of the House.

The House has, however, awarded a five-year commission with Michael Hopkins and Partners to provide advice on design issues when major changes are under consideration and, when appropriate, to carry out design work. In this way the House will best be able to retain the design integrity of this landmark building while making any adaptations necessary to meet long-term needs.

Offices

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Chairman of the Accommodation and Works Committee if hon. Members and their staff are entitled to configure their offices in accordance with their personal preferences. [29451]

Derek Conway: Any requests for reconfiguration of offices are considered on their merits. As a general rule, rearrangement of the loose furniture or provision of additional furniture from the standard range would usually be carried out where this presented no risks to health and safety and was available at a sustainable cost. More fundamental work, such as alterations to the fitted furniture, location of doors or arrangement of services, where this would be solely to meet the preference of the current occupant, would not be carried out.

If the right hon. and learned Member has any specific concerns, I would invite him to discuss them with the Serjeant at Arms.

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Golden Jubilee

John Mann: To ask the President of the Council what plans there are for a parliamentary celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. [29295]

Mr. Robin Cook: I am pleased to announce that, subject to approval by each House, it is proposed that Addresses be presented to Her Majesty on the morning of 30 April by both Houses of Parliament to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, in Westminster Hall. Further details will be announced in due course.

Mr. John Stonborough

David Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, how much Mr. John Stonborough will be paid. [30877]

Mr. Kirkwood [holding answer 28 January 2002]: Mr. Stonborough is a contractor, not a salaried employee. The House does not publish commercially-sensitive contractual details.

David Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what role Mr. John Stonborough will play in the press presentation of the next Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. [30878]

Mr. Kirkwood [holding answer 28 January 2002]: Mr. Stonborough is available to advise the House of Commons Commission on all aspects of its media relations, including the appointment of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. His advice is given in confidence.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Sport

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Education about the encouragement of competitive sport in schools. [31174]

Mr. Caborn: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular meetings with her counterpart at the Department for Education and Skills and numerous topics are discussed, including competitive sport in schools. The School Sport Co-ordinators network, in particular, will be working with schools and clubs on competition structures that will increase opportunities for children to engage in competitive sport.

Horserace Betting Levy Scheme

Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement about the determination of the 41st horserace betting levy scheme. [31818]

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) whether it is her policy that the new funding scheme for the horse racing levy will be based on the sale of pictures and data to bookmakers; [30863]

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Tessa Jowell: As the Horserace Betting Levy Board was unable to accept the Bookmakers' Committee's recommendations for the 41st levy scheme the matter, under statute, was referred to me to determine.

In considering the next scheme I have taken into account submission from the Chairman and independent members of the Levy Board, the Bookmakers' Committee, and the British Horseracing Board. In the interests of fairness and openness, these bodies were also given the opportunity to comment on each others' submissions.

I have also taken account of independent advice from Organisation Consulting Partnership on those submissions. A copy of their report is being placed in the Library and is being sent to those who provided submissions.

The criteria which customarily apply to the setting of levy schemes include the needs of horseracing and the capacity of bookmakers to pay. I can confirm that I have sought to reflect these considerations in reaching a view about how much bookmakers should be required to contribute in order to enable the Levy Board to give effect to the improvement of horseracing and its other statutory purposes.

The exercise of my responsibility to determine the 41st scheme has been made difficult by uncertainties currently facing the betting and racing industries. These include the effect of the introduction of a gross profits tax on betting, and the potential income for racing from its proposed sale of picture and data rights to bookmakers.

As to the former, it is difficult to judge the extent to which changes in bookmakers' turnover on horseracing betting will be reflected in their gross profits on that business. Although all recent levy schemes have been based on turnover it appears to me that, in current circumstances, it is not necessarily the fairest or most reliable indication of bookmakers' ability to pay the levy.

In all the circumstances, I am therefore minded to determine the 41st scheme on the basis of off-course bookmakers paying an average of 9 per cent. of their gross profits on horseracing betting. (As on-course bookmakers will not be directly affected by the tax changes I am minded to continue the flat fee arrangements of the 40th levy scheme). My officials will be working with the Levy Board so that the details of the scheme can be confirmed and promulgated in time for it to take effect from 1 April.

As to the sale of picture and data rights, it must be a cause of considerable disappointment that a full measure of agreement on the commercial terms which should apply has not yet been reached. Against this background of uncertainty and outstanding legal disputes I do not feel able to accept the Bookmakers' Committee argument that the 41st scheme should require only a nominal contribution from bookmakers from 1 May 2002. I have, however, taken account of the commitment from the British Horseracing Board that any payments in respect of

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licences to use pictures or data which are purchased by that date will be offset against levy payments which the bookmakers concerned are liable to make thereafter.

As a result of these uncertainties it is hard to forecast how much the 41st scheme, determined in this way, will yield; but, on the basis of forecasts previously provided by the betting industry, it would be in a range from £90 million to £105 million in 2002–03. A lower yield would reflect a lower level of profits. The scheme should enable both the betting and racing industries as well as punters themselves to share in the benefits flowing from the new tax regime; and enable the Levy Board to meet its own liabilities.

We would like to encourage the betting and racing industries to develop a modern relationship as business partners and move away from an adversarial approach. The levy scheme which I am minded to determine will give them a shared interest in developing their businesses to their mutual benefit. It is, however, clear that the levy system as a whole is flawed, and should not be needed if satisfactory commercial agreements between the parties can be made to work. We remain committed to its abolition, when parliamentary time permits.

East and Mexborough (Jeff Ennis).


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