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8 Jun 2005 : Column 581W—continued

UK Presidency (EU)

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what communication activities are planned in relation to the policy areas covered by his Department during the UK Presidency of the EU; and what budget has been allocated for these activities. [1648]

John Reid: External communications activity for the EU Presidency is being coordinated centrally by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In contributing to this effort the MOD has drawn up a comprehensive communications strategy covering a range of media and communications activity to present European Security and Defence Policy to Parliament and the general public, including a feature in the mobile "Defence Tourer" exhibition and a contribution to the House of Commons Defence Committee conference at the Royal United Services Institute in November.

There is no central departmental budget allocated for these activities. Costs lie where they fall across a number of directorates.


Licensing Act

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) if she will put back the second appointed day of the Licensing Act 2003 by at least eight months; [947]

(2) if the Government will put back the deadline for licensees to submit a conversion licence application under the Licensing Act 2003 by at least six months; [948]

(3) what assistance the Government will provide to help licensees meet the deadline for completion of conversion applications under the Licensing Act 2003; [952]

(4) what steps the Government will take to enable licensees (a) to fulfil the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003 with regard to applications to convert premises and (b) to meet the deadline for applications of 6 August. [1194]

James Purnell: As I announced to the House on 8 June, the Government will shortly make an order confirming that 24 November will be the second appointed day. New licences and certificates will have effect from that date.

The Government have no intention of extending the period for converting existing licences. Potential applicants and local authorities are aware of the timetable and it would be counter-productive to alter it at this late stage.

We are aware that there are concerns over the low number of applicants so far. However, we believe that the deadline of 6 August 2005 allows applicants sufficient time to secure the conversion of their existing licences, should they apply for this. We have invested significant resources in making potential applicants, and other interested parties, aware of the timetable for implementation. Licensing authorities have also run road shows, surgeries and other events. The Government have also produced detailed guidance on
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our website, and have circulated a regular newsletter, Licensing Countdown, to keep the public and the industry fully informed of progress in implementing the 2003 Act.

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what consultations her Department has undertaken with (a) the licensed trade and (b) local authorities since 7 February regarding the coming into force of the Licensing Act 2003; [951]

(2) what recommendations the Government have implemented since 7 February in relation to the Licensing Act 2003 began following representations from the licensed trade and local authorities. [1149]

James Purnell: Since 7 February my officials have held regular meetings with a stakeholder advisory group which comprises representatives of the licensed trade, local authorities, the police, and magistrates, among others. The advisory group met on 16 February; 15 March; 19 April and 16 May. The bodies represented on the advisory group include:

I also chair a high level group to ensure the smooth running of the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003. The high level group met on 22 March; 4 May; and 23 May. It comprises representatives of:

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Since 7 February, the DCMS has been engaged in targeted communications activity to encourage at-risk groups to make their applications as quickly as possible. We have recently re-doubled these efforts. We are also issuing guidance for applicants to help address some of the common mistakes which stakeholders inform us are being made on application forms and there will also be a revamp of the licensing pages on the DCMS website ( to make them more accessible for applicants. In addition, we have responded to requests from stakeholders seeking help on a number of issues including embedded restrictions; whether a personal licence holder must be at a premises at all times; and how transferred licences should be dealt with during the transitional period. The DCMS position on these matters has been circulated widely through the stakeholder groups and has helped ease the transitional process for both licensing authorities and applicants.

Private Finance Projects

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the private finance initiative and public private partnership projects her Department is undertaking; and what the status of each is. [2361]

Mr. Caborn: My Department is not itself undertaking any PFI or PPP contracts. The Department's executive agency, the Royal Parks (TRP), has entered into the following:

All three are now operational.


Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations her Department has made to the EU Commission on the sale of the Tote. [2697]

Mr. Caborn: The Government first notified their plans for the sale of the Tote to a racing trust to the European Commission on 27 May 2004, and provided additional information to the Commission on 9 September 2004 and 15 March 2005. I met Commissioner Kroes on 27 May to explain our proposals in person.

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