Previous Section Index Home Page

10 Feb 2005 : Column 1717W—continued


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the UN's decision not to find that the situation in Darfur is one of genocide; [213977]

(2) what progress is being made to implement Resolution 1564 on the investigation of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Darfur; and if he will make a statement. [213978]

Mr. Mullin: Resolution 1564 requested the establishment of an International Commission of Inquiry (ICI) to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur. The report was presented to the Security Council on 31 January. It concludes that the Government of Sudan, the Arab militias and the rebels are all guilty of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity and/or war crimes. The ICI has given the UNSG a list of suspects it believes may have perpetrated these crimes, and recommends that he pass this list to a competent prosecutor.

We called for the establishment of the ICI and welcome their report. We, and our fellow member states in the UN Security Council are united in our determination that there can be no impunity for these crimes and will be discussing the next steps over the coming days.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will intercede in the case of the threat to members of the Sudan Liberation Army in Nyala which could result in the use of the death penalty. [213979]

Mr. Mullin: We call on both the Government of Sudan and the rebels to abide by their commitments under the Abuja protocols, which include provision for the release of all persons detained in relation to the hostilities in Darfur, excluding those detained through due process of law.

Our embassy in Khartoum regularly raises abolition of the death penalty with the Government of Sudan. We also held detailed discussions on this subject during the joint Sudan/EU dialogue meetings in September 2004. We will continue to follow these cases closely.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what verification his Department has (a) sought and (b) received concerning the reports of the offensive use of helicopter gunships by
10 Feb 2005 : Column 1718W
the Sudanese Government mentioned in paragraph 5 of the recent report of the UN Secretary-General on Sudan; and if he will make a statement. [214791]

Mr. Mullin: We are concerned about the use of helicopter gunships in Darfur and continue to liaise closely with the African Union who are investigating the incidents. The latest report by the UN Secretary General, dated 4 February, notes that

We have made clear that all sides must stop the fighting and abide by the commitments they have already made, particularly the Abuja Humanitarian and Security Protocols which commit the Government of Sudan to cease all hostile overflights.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the (a) size and (b) nature of the Sudanese army deployment in December 2004 in El Fasher and Nyala; and if he will make a statement. [214792]

Mr. Mullin: The Government of Sudan mobilised troops around El Fasher and Nyala in December 2004, citing the need to prevent roads being blocked by the rebels. There are no definitive figures about the size of the Sudanese army deployment. The African Union reported renewed fighting between Government troops and rebel forces during this period.

We raised this matter with the Government of Sudan both bilaterally and during the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM) meeting on 20 December. The UK, and our partners in the JIM, called for an immediate cessation of all hostilities. At the JIM meeting the Government of Sudan agreed to cease this campaign in the region.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of claims of Sudanese air force activity around Thabit near El Fasher on 8 December 2004; and if he will make a statement. [214793]

Mr. Mullin: The African Union, UN, and non-governmental organisations reported claims of Sudanese air force activity around Thabit in Darfur around 8 December. The UN subsequently reported that the fighting around Thabit on 7 and 8 December resulted in four civilian fatalities and 20 injuries.
10 Feb 2005 : Column 1719W

The Government of Sudan signed the Abuja Security Protocol on 9 November, committing themselves to refraining from all hostile military overflights over Darfur. We will continue to make clear to both the Government of Sudan and the rebels that they must abide fully by the N'Djamena ceasefire agreement and the Abuja Humanitarian and Security Protocols.


Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report on the justice system in Zimbabwe published by the Bar Council of England and Wales. [214481]

Mr. Mullin: I agree with the report's assessment that the legal system in Zimbabwe is subject to cronyism, political interference and intimidation. We and our EU partners regularly raise our concerns with the Zimbabwean Government and its neighbours about the abuse of justice in Zimbabwe.


Aircraft Charters

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much money her Department has spent on chartering aircraft in each of the past five years. [213708]

Mr. Caborn: All official travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules contained in the Department's staff handbook and all ministerial travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers", copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Travel by Ministers" makes clear that special flights may be authorised when a scheduled service is not available, or when it is essential to travel by air, but the requirements of official or parliamentary business or security considerations or urgency preclude the journey being made by a scheduled service. In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The list published in 1999 covers the period 2 May 1997 to 31 March 1999. Where RAF/Private Charter aircraft are used this is shown in the list. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. Information for 2004–05 will be published in due course.

In respect of domestic ministerial travel, the Department has not incurred any expenditure on chartering aircrafts in the last five years

Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether the Government plan to amend the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 by statutory instrument to enable betting shops to open in the evenings between September and March. [215471]

10 Feb 2005 : Column 1720W

Estelle Morris: We have no present plans to amend the 1963 Act as the hon. Member suggests.

However, should the Gambling Bill achieve royal assent we do envisage using the powers in clause 166 to set default conditions for betting premises licences which will include longer opening hours in the winter months than is currently allowed.


Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Burnley constituency, the effects on Burnley of her Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [214700]

Mr. Caborn: The Department's aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries. The Department's policies and actions have had a significant impact on Burnley since 2 May 1997.

In order to achieve our challenging targets for increased participation in sport and physical activity, we have invested in thousands of new and refurbished public sports facilities. From the £108 million investment in innovative sports facilities through the Active England programme, Burnley has benefited from an award of £1 million towards the cost of building a new joint health and leisure centre on the former St. Peter's car park site in Burnley town centre. Eight other sports facilities in Burnley have also benefited from Sport England Community Capital awards totalling over £2 million and Burnley football club has received a Football Youth Development award of £289,000 from Sport England. In 2002 we launched the first ever comprehensive national physical education, school sport and club links strategy with an investment of £459 million, benefiting schools throughout the country.

We have increased our national funding to the arts in real terms by 60 per cent. from £199 million in 1998–99 to £367 million in 2004–05. Between 1998–99 and 2003–04 Arts Council England, North West grants increased from £7.6 million to £19.6 million. In 2005–06 the total Arts Council England investment in the north-west will be £28.4 million. Burnley has benefited from grants to arts projects, organisations and individuals, including funding for Mid-Pennine Arts, the arts development agency for East Lancashire, which is based in Burnley, and the Burnley Youth Theatre, which develops young people's access to the theatre.

From September 2005, schools in Burnley will be included in the third phase of the Creative Partnerships programme, which began in 2002. Creative Partnerships aims to give school children and their teachers the opportunity to explore their creativity by working on sustained projects with creative organisations and individuals, including artists, theatre companies, dance studios, museums, orchestras, film-makers and historic buildings. Funding of £65 million was allocated for the period 2002–05 to develop Creative Partnerships, and the programme will receive at least a further £86 million in 2005–08.
10 Feb 2005 : Column 1721W

Young people in Burnley also benefit from the Lancashire Youth Music Action Zone, which was launched in 2001 and has so far been awarded two grants totalling £280,000. In April 2005 it will be awarded a further grant of £110,000 from Youth Music. 6,000 young people have taken part in local music projects and events run by Lancashire Youth Music Action Zone.

Culture Online was launched in 2002 to increase access to, and participation in, arts and culture. Many of its projects are aimed at children of school age and at audiences that might not otherwise participate in arts and culture, including those who do not easily have access to arts and culture, people from deprived communities and people with particular educational or physical needs. People in Burnley will be among those who benefit from Culture Online. Between 2002 and 2004, £13 million was allocated to fund 20 Culture Online projects.

Through our commitment to public service broadcasting we have helped to foster an environment in which a creative, commercially successful broadcasting industry provides a wide range of UK-made, high quality original programmes catering for all viewers and listeners. We have ensured a secure funding base for the BBC and Channel 4, while giving them the freedom to develop commercial operations which complement and support their public service remit. The Communications Act 2003 includes provisions to ensure that public service broadcasting will continue to have a key role to play in the digital future.

Our support for, and promotion of, the film and broadcasting industries have contributed to the general success of film-making and television activity in the Burnley area. BBC Drama's adaptation of North and South was filmed at Queens Street Mill, Burnley, and a forthcoming drama about Casanova was filmed partly on location at Towneley Hall, Burnley. A new feature film is currently filming in Burnley.

In November 2000 we introduced free television licences for people aged 75 or over. Information on the number of beneficiaries by constituency is not available. However, according to Department for Work and Pensions records, the number of households in Burnley with at least one person aged 75 or over claiming the winter fuel payment in 2003–04 was 5,000.

We have changed the licensing laws to allow people to hold and attend commercial dances on Sunday, to make it easier for restaurants to open an hour later, and to relax the alcohol licensing hours from 11 pm on New Year's Eve to 11 am on New Year's Day in all future years; and we have given the police greater powers to take action against under-age drinking and disorderly and noisy licensed premises. The Licensing Act 2003, when fully implemented, will introduce a streamlined, consistent and fair licensing regime for the provision of alcohol, public entertainment and late night refreshment. It will provide greater choice for consumers, bring regeneration and increased employment opportunities and protect local residents whose lives have been blighted by disturbance and antisocial behaviour.
10 Feb 2005 : Column 1722W

The Gambling Bill will, when implemented, transfer responsibility for licensing gambling premises to local authorities. Local people and businesses will be able to make representations about applications for licenses and local authorities will be able to decide not to issue licenses for casino premises. These changes will give local communities, including those in Burnley, a greater say in the regulation of gambling in their area.

Tourism in Burnley has benefited from Government-funded marketing activity. In April 2003 we established VisitBritain with a new domestic marketing remit for England, and we gave strategic responsibility for tourism development to the Regional Development Agencies, including the North West Development Agency. These changes, together with VisitBritain's successful marketing activities in promoting Britain abroad as an attractive tourist destination, benefit all parts of the country, including Burnley.

English Heritage has awarded grants worth over £1.3 million to Burnley since 2 May 1997, including six grants totalling over £1 million for the Burnley and Padiham Conservation Area Partnership Scheme.

Burnley Library has 49 PCs connected to the internet through the People's Network which was funded through a £120 million Lottery grant and which has put all the United Kingdom's public libraries on-line. In addition, the Department is funding the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council with £5 million over three years to implement the Framework for the Future Action Plan and Library Improvement Programme, which is designed to encourage improvement across the public libraries sector in England.

The Department has been an energetic advocate of the community value of public libraries. Lancashire county council has recognised this value, for example by siting at Burnley Library the County's first of 15 SMILE centres for children and young people with learning difficulties, following a DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Reader Development Grant of £178,000 in 2001–02.

Information from the National Lottery distributors indicates that since 2 May 1997 Burnley has benefited from over 190 awards totalling over £8.7 million. Of these, 28 awards worth over £2.9 million were made by the New Opportunities Fund which was established by the Government in 1999. The New Opportunities Fund merged with the Community Fund in June 2004 to form the Big Lottery Fund.

Next Section Index Home Page