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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 7 April 2005


General Election Costs 2005–06

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy): Subject to parliamentary approval, the Department for Constitutional Affairs Departmental expenditure limit (DEL) will be increased by £71,000,000. This will be in addition to the DEL limit due to be published in the main estimate for 2005–06.

The change in the resource element of the Department for Constitutional Affairs DEL follows HM Treasury approval to transfer £71,000,000 from the non-voted consolidated fund in relation to general election costs.


Football Betting

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): The Government are aware of the recent European Court of Justice rulings concerning sport and the use of database rights. I have recently met representatives of the football sector, who have concerns about how these rulings affect them.

In light of the on-going domestic court case, currently before the Court of Appeal, it would be inappropriate for me to pass comment on the details of any case.

This Government take the integrity of sport very seriously. I am aware that in its present data licensing arrangements with betting operators, the football authorities include a code of practice covering integrity issues. I am also aware that in some cases these licensing arrangements have now come to an end, and not been renewed. The vast majority of betting on sport in this country is conducted lawfully. Betting operators, sporting organisations and the Government have worked together in the past to safeguard the integrity of British sport. I expect all parties to continue to do so in the future.

The Gambling Bill will provide substantial new powers and protections to help achieve this. Indeed, one of the Gambling Commission's licensing objectives is to ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way. The commission will have powers to issue codes of practice to betting operators. The Bill also makes it an express condition of all operating licences that operators comply with any codes concerning social responsibility. This is in addition to the commission's powers to investigate suspicious betting patterns, and void unfair bets or bring about prosecutions.
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We will monitor the situation carefully, and officials in my Department will continue to discuss this issue with football and betting operators. We will also continue to explore the wider impact on sport of the EC database directive with Patent Office colleagues.


Queen Victoria School

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Ivor Caplin): Hon. Members will wish to be aware that with effect from 1 April 2005, the Queen Victoria School (QVS), Dunblane, Perthshire, will cease to hold agency status.

QVS is presently the smallest of the Ministry of Defence agencies with a budget of less than £5 million per annum, compared to an average of £473 million. Following a recent review it has been decided that the additional overheads relating to agency status are no longer proportionate to the size of the school.

The removal of agency status will not affect the role or outputs of the school and the headmaster will remain fully accountable for the school's performance. In terms of governance the school will have an improved reporting regime within the Adjutant General Command, while maintaining a link with the Directorate of Educational and Training Services (Army) who has an interest in wider educational matters and in promoting the benefits of the QVS to service families. The school will continue to publish an annual report and, as now, academic results will be published in the Scottish league tables.

Otterburn Accidents

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Ivor Caplin): On 25 January 2005, Official Report, column 241W in response to the question raised by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) about accidents at the army training ground at Otterburn, I stated that six people had been injured as a result of accidents at the Otterburn military training area. It has since come to light that this figure was incorrect. This was brought to my attention when a branch of the Department not previously known to hold information relating to this matter came forward.

The answer should have stated that 35 people have been injured as a result of accidents during exercises at Otterburn since 1 January 2000.

I apologise to the House for this error.


The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): The Royal Army of Oman (RAO) purchased Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBT) from the UK and is the only operator of this tank other than the UK. They currently use Discarding Sabot/Training (DS/T) ammunition as their training round but production of the DS/T round (L20 shot and L5 charge) has now ceased. RAO have purchased a new training round (CHARM 3 training round (C3TR)) but their tanks require an upgrade to allow these new rounds to be fired. This will take a minimum of 12 months from contract signature. During this period, their current stocks of the
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DS/T round will be exhausted and unless additional DS/T rounds are made available their tank crews will be unable to train. This will adversely affect the proficiency of the crews and the operational readiness of the Royal Army of Oman.

DS/T ammunition is no longer produced and is no longer used by the British Army. All remaining stocks were gifted to Jordan under the Al-Hussein arrangement under the auspices of a departmental minute laid before the House of Commons in July 2004. It is proposed to divert 3,000 rounds of DS/T ammunition from this Jordanian consignment (22,874 L5 charges and 26,044 L20 shot), due to be shipped in May 2005. and gift them to Oman in order to alleviate the training shortfall. This will have negligible effect on Jordan.

This proposal will have no cost for the UK. Oman will meet all transport and handling costs.

Disposal Services Agency

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): Key targets have been set for the chief executive of the Disposal Services Agency (DSA) for financial year 2005–06. The targets are as follows:

Key Target—1

Key Target—2

Key Target—3

Key Target—4

Key Target—5


Trade Union Recognition

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): The following organisations are recognised for collective bargaining purposes by the Department of Health and the NHS.

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The following organisations are recognised for collective bargaining purposes with its own staff by the Department of Health.

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