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Business Ambassadors

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many new business ambassadors he has appointed since 7 June 2001; and if he will list them. [31591]

Mr. Bradshaw: No appointments to the Ambassadors for British Business scheme have been made since that date.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit Argentina. [31678]

Mr. Straw: Plans for a visit to Latin America are kept under review.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has for further joint visits with EU foreign secretaries. [31683]

Mr. Straw: I visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda with Hubert Védrine on 21–23 January. There are no confirmed plans at present for further joint visits with any of my EU colleagues but I am happy to undertake such visits when opportunities arise, subject to other commitments.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit other countries when he attends the CHOGM Conference in Brisbane. [31681]

Mr. Straw: I am looking at a number of options. No decisions have yet been taken.

Turkey

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the principal obstacles are to the opening of Turkey's accession negotiations to join the EU. [32983]

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Mr. Straw: As with all candidates for EU membership, Turkey can only start accession negotiations once it has met the Copenhagen political criteria (relating to democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and minorities). Turkey has begun to make progress against the EU Accession Partnership which sets out priorities for reform. But it is important that Turkey picks up the pace of reform, notably with regard to human rights.

British Foreign Policy

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the aims and objectives of British foreign policy. [33041]

Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's current Departmental report (Cm 5110) and website (at www.fco.gov.uk) which details the aims and objectives of British foreign policy.

British Overseas Territories [Lords] Bill

Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to issue new passports once the British Overseas Territories [Lords] Bill is enacted. [30668]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Thamesmead (John Austin) on 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 583W.

Azerbaijan

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1272(2002) adopted on 24 January, what

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recent representations the UK Government have made to the Government of Azerbaijan to secure the release or retrial of political prisoners. [33765]

Mr. Bradshaw: Our Ambassador in Baku called on the Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission on 25 January to discuss the issue of political prisoners. Prior to the Council of Europe resolution, the Ambassador also discussed the issue with Ilham Aliev, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe delegation.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations it has made to the Government of Azerbaijan concerning the conscription into the military of Fazil Gazanfaroglu, Deputy Chairman of the Popular Front in Azerbaijan. [33766]

Mr. Bradshaw: No representation has been made about Fazil's military service. Neither he nor his party has approached us about this or asked us to intervene. Fazil has said he is ready to serve his country.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Government of Azerbaijan concerning allegations that local authority permission is needed before representatives of the Azerbaijani Institute of Peace and Democracy can meet local NGOs outwith Baku. [33770]

Mr. Bradshaw: Our ambassador in Baku raised this issue on Monday 4 February at a meeting at the President's office. He was told that no such regulation preventing such meetings existed; that prior permission was not needed but that for security reasons local authorities should be informed; and that Lenkoran, the area involved, was a sensitive area due to previous separatist activity.

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CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Free Television Licences

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many over 75-year-old pensioners in Shrewsbury and Atcham have received free television licences. [32590]

Dr. Howells: TV Licensing, which administers the free television licence scheme for the BBC as Licensing Authority, is not able to provide geographical breakdowns of the number of free licences issued. However, estimates based on the 1991 Census indicate that there were approximately 6,500 people aged 75 or over in the Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency.

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Gambling Review Body

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall) of 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 620W, when she expects to announce her conclusions to her consideration of the report of the Gambling Review Body. [32545]

Mr. Caborn: We hope to be able to announce our conclusions within the next few months.

Television

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the members of the viewers panel established to advise the Government on the consumers' view on digital switchover who have ceased their membership of the panel, indicating the reasons for the cessation. [33328]

Dr. Howells: The information is as follows:

Organisations invited to nominate panel members Nominated membersChanges to membershipReason given (if any)
National Council for One Parent FamiliesNatasha Benenson
Comunn na GaidhligAllan Campbell
Royal National Institute for the BlindDenise Evans
Action with Communities in Rural EnglandLes RobertsReplaced by Carole GarfieldLeft ACRE
National Consumer CouncilAlison Hopkins
Royal National Institute for the DeafStephen Iliffe
Age ConcernGretel Jones
National Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesCara MacDowellReplaced by Rebecca Leete
National Family and Parenting InstituteDean Mahoney
Voice of the Listener and ViewerVincent Porter
Disability Rights CommissionAlun Thomas
National Pensioners' ConventionRoger Turner
Welsh Language BoardJohn Walter Jones
Consumers' AssociationAdam ScorerReplaced by Allan Williams
VCC(3) WalesMichael Clarke
VCC YorkshireRuth Clarke
VCC North EastAnthony Gaw
VCC WestKaren Gough
VCC EastDenise Hitchcock
VCC South WestTony Poole
VCC MidlandsPeter Quinn
VCC SouthJanice Roberts
VCC North WestKeith Roberts
VCC Northern IrelandAlison Scott
VCC ScotlandCarol Ann McDowell
BBC Regional Broadcasting Council (RBC) WalesSue Balsom
RBC ScotlandJohn Gerrie
BBC Regional Advisory Council for South EastNancy ElliottReplaced by Richard MaisDied
Low Pay UnitBharti PatelResignedWork commitments
RBC Northern IrelandBrenda McLaughlinResignedWork commitments
VCC LondonCynthia YearwoodResignedWork commitments

(3) ITC Viewer Consultative Council


Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to her answer of 6 December 2001, Official Report, column 501W, what advice has the Government given to the BBC and ITC in their consideration of how to improve the coverage of DTT multiplexes across the United Kingdom. [33386]

Dr. Howells: The Government have provided general guidance to the BBC and to the Independent Television Commission on priorities in planning the use of currently unused spectrum for transmitting terrestrial television services. This guidance was last reviewed in 1997. We published on 11 December 2001 a consultation paper inviting views on the basis on which we should plan the use of the spectrum currently used for analogue television broadcasting once analogue transmissions cease. The closing date for responses is 12 March 2002.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for South Suffolk, of 25 January 2002, Official Report, column 1113W, on analogue switchoff, if she will

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list (a) the names of the individuals and the Departments and organisations they represent who are conducting the comprehensive review of progress towards digital switchover, (b) the terms of reference of the review, (c) the dates on which meetings of the individuals conducting the review have been held and (d) the date on which the first review is expected to be sent to Ministers. [33414]

Dr. Howells: The review will be taken forward by officials from my Department and from the DTI who are working on the digital television action plan project, with input from the individual task groups established under the action plan. A first report from the action plan project is due by 31 March 2002.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many (a) integrated digital and (b) analogue television sets have been bought by her Department in each of the last 24 months; and if she will publish the guidance given to officials making decisions on television purchases. [33242]

Dr. Howells: The Department has not purchased any television sets in the past 24 months. We do not have any specific guidance on the purchase of television sets, but any such purchase would be subject to normal Government procurement rules. These rules are produced and published by the Office of Government Commerce.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what dates the viewers panel established to advise the Government on the consumers' view on digital switchover has met; and how many panel members attended each meeting. [33327]

Dr. Howells: The information is as follows:

Date of meetingNumber of members attending(4)
27 November 200020
26 March 200118
22 June 200119
27 September 200121

(4) This does not include DCMS officials who provided a chairperson and secretariat for the panel's meetings.


Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the television without frontiers directive. [33323]

Dr. Howells: Directive 89/552/EEC as amended by 97/36/EC "the television without frontiers directive" came fully into effect in the UK with regulations made under SI 2000 No. 54 on 19 January 2000. The Commission, as required under Articles 4(4) and 25a, are in the process of reviewing the implementation of Article 4; they are also further considering, as required by Article 26, any


Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many copies of the leaflet "Digital TV Information for Landlords" have (a) been printed and (b) been distributed, stating for each distribution whether it was (i) solicited and (ii) unsolicited. [33330]

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Dr. Howells: A total of 8,340 leaflets have been printed. Copies have been distributed to the organisations who were consulted over its production in the quantities agreed with them, as follows:

OrganisationNumber of leaflets distributed
ASTRA Marketing Ltd.10
BBC50
BSkyB50
Confederation of Aerial Industries Ltd.50
Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions20
Department of Trade and Industry50
Digital Television Group6
Housing Corporation4,175
Independent Television Commission20
ITV Digital30
Local Government Association650
National Assembly for Wales(5)400
National Housing Federation200
Scottish Assembly50
Welsh Local Government Association(6)2,400

(5) 200 in Welsh

(6) 1,200 in Welsh

Note:

Further distribution is a matter for these organisations.


In addition:

Number of leaflets distributed
Unsolicited copies
Libraries of both Houses6
Lower Press Gallery15
Clerk of the Select Committee1
Solicited copies
Public requests to Department for Culture, Media and Sport Less than 10

The leaflet is available on the website www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk.


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