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20 Oct 2003 : Column 404W—continued


Broadcasting Impartiality

Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what steps she is taking to ensure that television and radio channels broadcasting in the United Kingdom maintain political impartiality; [131975]

Estelle Morris: The Government strongly supports impartiality in the broadcast media and there are relevant provisions in legislation to ensure that television and radio channels broadcasting in the UK maintain political impartiality.

Responsibility for what is broadcast on television and radio rests with the broadcasters and the broadcasting regulatory bodies—the Governors of the BBC, the Independent Television Commission, the Welsh Fourth Channel Authority and the Radio Authority. The regulators' codes of practice place a requirement on broadcasters to treat controversial subjects with due accuracy and impartiality, both in news services and in the more general field of programmes dealing with matters of current public policy or industrial controversy. It is for the regulatory bodies, not Government, to decide whether any particular broadcaster is or is not complying with its obligations regarding impartiality.

Under the Communications Act 2003 the Office of Communications (Ofcom) will have similar responsibilities for maintaining impartiality from the end of this year. The BBC Governors will retain their responsibility, under the Charter and Agreement, for maintaining the BBC's impartiality.

Football (Violent Behaviour)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has made to (a) the Football Association and (b) the Football League about violent behaviour by professional footballers during matches; and if she will make a statement. [132835]

Mr. Caborn: Professional footballers have a duty to ensure that their behaviour on the field of play is of the highest standard. I wrote to the chairmen of all 92 league clubs before the start of the 2002–03 season to remind them of their responsibilities.

Since then, I have discussed the issues raised by player misbehaviour, and the responses of the football authorities, on a number of occasions during my regular and informal meetings with the management teams of the Premier and Football leagues.

Public Libraries

Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps the Government are taking to ensure the long-term survival of public libraries in England and Wales. [132228]

Estelle Morris: In February 2003 this Department published "Framework for the Future", setting out the Department's vision for the future of public libraries in

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England during the next 10 years. "Framework for the Future" identified three central themes vital to the further development of public libraries, the promotion of reading and learning, improving access to digital skills and services and helping to build and improve community and civic values.

Resource, The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, has recently published a three year action plan setting out a range of programmes to help libraries achieve the vision set out in "Framework for the Future". I am arranging for copies of this document to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. DCMS and Resource will work closely with all stakeholders to ensure its success.

Responsibility for public library policy in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Assembly.


European Year of Disabled People

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what initiatives his Department (a) has undertaken and (b) is taking to commemorate 2003 as the European Year of Disabled people. [133286]

Mrs. McGuire: The Scotland Office has worked with the Disability Rights Commission, Capability Scotland and the RNIB on access issues for the Scottish Parliament elections. Additionally, my right hon. Friend, the former Secretary of State, and I have visited two of the three Scottish regional initiatives supported by the European Commission and the Department for Work and Pensions as part of EYDP.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to his answer of 16 September 2003, Official Report, column 640W, to the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, on manufacturing, why he estimates the number of people employed in the manufacturing industry in Scotland has fallen since 1997; and what his Department is doing to reverse this trend. [132899]

Mrs. McGuire: Scotland's manufacturing sector, along with that of other advanced economies, has experienced falling output in recent times, due to the global slowdown and re-structuring in key industries such as electronics. Opportunities to grow manufacturing are recognised within the Government's Manufacturing Strategy, published in May 2002, which identified seven key areas of activity. Action is being taken in all of these areas to help UK manufacturers improve productivity in difficult global conditions.

The Scotland Office will continue to work with the Scottish Executive and a wide range of manufacturing interests on initiatives such as the Scottish Manufacturing Steering Group.

Microsoft (Licensing Fees)

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was paid to Microsoft in licensing

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fees by his Department and its agencies in each of the last three years; and how much has been budgeted for (a) 2003–04 and (b) 2004–05. [130679]

Mrs. McGuire: Information Technology systems and support for the Scotland Office are provided through the Scottish Executive. Details of Microsoft licensing fees for the office are not held separately and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Official Engagements

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to his answer of 15 September 2003, Official Report, column 575W, to the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Duncan), on official engagements, if he will list the Scotland Office official engagements he has undertaken since his appointment. [132900]

Mr. Darling: I have undertaken a number of both public and private engagements. It is not appropriate therefore to list them.

Winter Fuel Allowance

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many pensioner households are receiving winter fuel allowance in (a) the North East of Scotland and (b) Gordon. [132595]

Mrs. McGuire: For winter 2002–03, 70,435 households in the North East of Scotland (taken to include Aberdeen Central, Aberdeen North, Aberdeen South, Banff and Buchan, Gordon, Moray and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituencies) received winter fuel payments. In Gordon, winter fuel payments were made to 10,045 households for winter 2002–03.



Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the people appointed to ad hoc posts within his Department bearing the titles of advocate, tsar, adviser, champion and comparable titles since May 1997; what their job title is or was; what their role is or was; whether they were or are being paid; what the total costs of each such person was in each financial year, including expenses and benefits; what the expected cost of each such person is in 2003–04; to whom they are accountable; and if he will make a statement. [112458]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was created as a separate department on 29 May 2002. In the period since then, the Office has employed three Special Advisers, as defined in paragraph 50 of the Ministerial Code: Joan Hammell, Ian McKenzie, and Paul Hackett (part-time). Their role is to advise the Deputy Prime Minister and they are accountable to him for their decisions and actions. These are paid appointments. Under Exemption 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, remuneration details are not disclosed in order to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned.

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Building Control Performance StandardsAdvisory Group

David Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what process governs membership of the Building Control Performance Standards Advisory Group; and if he will list the current membership. [132529]

Phil Hope: The advisory group was set up in May 2000 under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding entered into by the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI), the Construction Industry Council (CIC), the District Surveyors Association (DSA), the Local Government Association (LGA), the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The Memorandum of Understanding provides that the six signatory bodies nominate a total of 10 members. In addition, the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) nominates one of its members. The Chairman of the Advisory Group is appointed by the Minister at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for building regulations, after consultation between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the other five signatory bodies. The Memorandum of Understanding also provides for there to be members representing building users and construction clients, though these seats are not currently filled.

The current membership is as follows:

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