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21 Nov 2002 : Column 227W—continued

Thames Gateway Initiative

Bob Russell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recognition the Government give to the Thames Gateway initiative; and what financial and other support the Government provide. [80754]

Mr. McNulty: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister made a statement in July announcing plans for a step change in our policies for building successful, thriving communities. As part of that statement, the Thames Gateway was identified as a key area for economic and housing growth. My right hon. Friend, Lord Rooker, chairs the Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership, whose membership includes Ministers from five Government Departments. The partnership is now looking at new means of delivering the rapid regeneration and development of the Gateway.

There are no dedicated resources for the Thames Gateway, but development and regeneration is being supported by investment from various Government funding streams (for example, housing and transport). My right. hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will be announcing around the turn of the year how he will be allocating resources identified for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in the Spending Review 2002.

Urban White Paper

Andrew George: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many funding commitments have been launched by his Department and across the Government following the publication of the Urban White Paper in November 2000; which (a) require bidding and (b) are linked to a set funding formula; and what the total amount available for each commitment is. [81570]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has one funding commitment which flows directly from the Urban White Paper and which meets both criteria of requiring bidding and of being linked to a set funding formula.

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The future rough sleeping strategy was included in the wider programme set out in XMore than a Roof" (March 2002) with a total budget of #125 million in 2002–03. #10 million of this has been allocated to local authorities by "formula" and the rest is subject to a Xbidding" process. Some goes direct to voluntary sector organisations funding existing or new services, agreed as part of a local strategy.

In the time available it has not been possible to provide information in the form requested on funding commitments launched by other Government Departments, but I will write shortly to the hon. Member.

CULTURE, MEDIA, SPORT

Athletics Funding

Mr. Nick Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the oral answer by the Minister of Sport on 18 November 2002, Official Report, column 350–51 whether every sporting governing body which received funding before the Sydney Olympics and the Manchester Commonwealth Games will receive the same funding, adjusted for inflation, in (a) 2002–03, (b) 2003–04, (c) 2004–05 and (d) 2005–06; and if she will make a statement. [82115]

Mr. Caborn: The Government has committed to maintain funding for UK Sport's World Class Performance Programme (the programme that supports our Olympic athletes) at the same level in the run up to the Athens Olympics as it was in the run up to the Sydney Olympics. The level of funding provided to individual governing bodies of sport, however, is determined by the individual Sports Councils and no guarantees of funding are provided.

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to her oral answer of 18 November 2002, Official Report, column 350–51 to the hon. Members for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) and Ryedale, whether the commitment to maintain world performance funding applies to (a) those athletes who were in receipt of funding before the Sydney Olympics, and (b) athletes who will take part in the Athens and Beijing Olympics. [82281]

Mr. Caborn: The Government has committed to maintain funding for UK Sport's World Class Performance Programme (the programme that supports our Olympic athletes) at the same level in the run up to the Athens Olympics as it was in the run up to the Sydney Olympics. This commitment was to support the Programme, overall, and not to individual athletes. Decisions on individual athletes who receive funding will continue to be determined by the governing bodies and performance directors in consultation with UK Sport.

BBC

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what consultations took place before the decision was taken to lift the restriction

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on the number of digital channels operated by BBC Worldwide through UKTV; and what the outcome was; [80430]

Dr. Howells: The restriction to the number of channels that UKTV can launch under the first and second joint ventures, which were approved in 1997, has not been lifted, but the third and fourth joint ventures, which were approved in 2000, are not subject to a restriction. As BBC commercial service approvals, the joint ventures were not subject to consultation, nor were they publicised.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the digital channels operated by BBC Worldwide, through UKTV, which have been given approval by her Department. [80427]

Dr. Howells: BBC Worldwide's joint ventures with Flextech have been subject to my right hon. Friend's approval, but the commercial channels launched by UKTV under the terms of those joint ventures are not.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she has taken to ensure that digital channels operated by BBC Worldwide through UKTV do not unfairly compete with existing commercial channels. [80428]

Dr. Howells: It is a condition of the joint ventures under which UKTV channels operate that they must abide fully by the BBC's fair trading commitment, the commercial policy guidelines and all the requirements of EU and UK competition law. They are also subject to external audit by independent fair trading auditors and to the UK and EU competition authorities.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what measures she has taken to ensure that the BBC's programmes do not adversely affect existing commercial (a) radio and (b) television channels. [80432]

Dr. Howells: The BBC's licence fee funded services are distinct from the BBC's commercial services. The market impact of any new BBC licence fee funded service is one of the factors the Secretary of State must consider in her assessment of a proposal. This is not the case for BBC commercial services. However, BBC commercial services must comply with EU and UK competition law, as well as the BBC's Fair Trading Commitment and the Commercial Policy Guidelines.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her policy is on the future financing of the BBC. [80433]

Dr. Howells: I have no plans to change the current financing arrangements for the BBC, but funding will be looked at as part of the process of reviewing the BBC's Charter, which expires in 2006.

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Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether the relationship between BBC Worldwide and Flextech has been scrutinised by the BBC's external auditors. [80438]

Dr. Howells: Yes. The relationship between BBC Worldwide and Flextech is subject to scrutiny by the BBC's external auditors.

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what measures she is taking to ensure that the BBC abides by the Fair Trading Commitment; [80439]

Dr. Howells: The BBC's Fair Trading Commitment is an internal compliance document and, therefore, will continue to be regulated by the BBC Board of Governors. OFCOM will have concurrent powers (with OFT) to apply competition law to broadcasting and related activities. This applies to the BBC, as to other broadcasting organisations.

Mr. Wyatt : To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will place in the Library a copy of the documents issued in November 2000 that gave permission for the BBC to extend its range of new channels with Telewest under the UKTV joint venture. [81827]

Dr. Howells: Approvals given for BBC Worldwide's commercial activities contain commercially sensitive information and therefore cannot be placed in the Library. The restriction to the number of channels that UKTV can launch under the first and second joint ventures, which were approved in 1997, has not been lifted but the third and fourth joint ventures, which were approved in 2000, are not subject to a restriction.


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