28 Jun 2005 : Column 1387W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 28 June 2005



27. Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the launch of the Directgov internet portal for Government services. [7323]

Mr. Jim Murphy: Launched in April 2004, Directgov is our flagship digital service, delivered by a partnership of 18 Government departments. Attracting over 1.3 million visits a month, it draws together services from across the public sector, making it easier for people to access information and transact with Government.

Civil Service Bill

28. Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he expects to introduce legislation on the Civil Service. [7324]

Mr. Hutton: The Government are considering the responses to the consultation. It will make a statement when it has completed its considerations.

National School of Government

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many people have attended the finance for non-financial managers course run by the National School of Government, broken down by (a) year and (b) department. [7193]

Mr. Hutton: The National School of Government runs two finance for non-financial managers courses. One for people in the Senior Civil Service and one for people up to Grade 7. The information requested in respect of these two courses has been placed in the Library.



Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many applications have been made to the Gaming Board for casino licences for each quarter since January 2004; what the outcome was of each application; whether applications were subject to separate planning permission applications resulting from a change in use class; and if she will make a statement. [6968]

Mr. Caborn: The Gaming Board considers applications for Certificates of Consent for casinos. Once a Certificate of Consent is issued, operators can then apply to the Licensing Justices for a Gaming Licence.
28 Jun 2005 : Column 1388W

The table sets out the number of applications for Certificates of Consent that the Gaming Board has received since January 2004, and the current position on these applications. This includes applications for new casinos, and applications where there are significant changes to the ownership or fabric of existing casinos.

Planning permission is not a pre-requisite for an application for a Certificate of Consent, or for a Certificate of Consent to be granted. The following table indicates, according to the Gaming Board's records, whether a planning application was also required in respect of the casino premises.
Applications receivedApplications determinedPlanning application requiredPlanning application not required
January-March 20044440
April-June 20044(1)340
July-September 20047525
October-December 200412975
January-March 20058(2)426
April-June 2005(3)210174

(1)One application withdrawn.
(2)Two applications withdrawn.
(3)At 17 June 2005.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions her Department has held with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister regarding the use class of casinos since 1 November 2004; at what level discussions occurred; when discussions took place; and if she will make a statement. [6971]

Mr. Caborn: The Department has had regular contact with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister regarding the use class of casinos at both ministerial and official level since 1 November 2004, and will continue to do so.

EU Commission

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 22 June 2005, Official Report, column 1058W, to question 5146, if she will place in the Library (a) the submission made to the EU Commission on 9 September 2004 and (b) the letter sent to the EU Commission in March. [7534]

Mr. Caborn: In view of current advice from European Commission officials we do not intend to release this documentation into the public domain until the completion of the Commission's Investigation under article 88(2) of the treaty.

Following the closure of the investigation, or if we receive express permission from the Commission before that date, I will make these documents, subject to commercial confidentiality, available to the Library of the House.
28 Jun 2005 : Column 1389W

Free Television Licences (Northern Ireland)

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many households in each constituency in Northern Ireland are in receipt of the free television licence for over-75s. [7226]

James Purnell: TV Licensing, who administer free television licences for people aged-75 or over as agents for the BBC, are not able to provide geographical breakdowns of the number of free licences issued. However, the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development has estimated that the number of benefit units claiming the retirement pension, where at least one person in that unit is aged 75-years or over, in each parliamentary constituency in Northern Ireland, is:

Parliamentary constituency
Retirement pension benefit
units with at least one person
aged-75 or over.
Belfast East5819
Belfast North5294
Belfast South5018
Belfast West3586
East Antrim4053
East Londonderry3952
Fermanagh And South Tyrone4068
Lagan Valley4790
Mid Ulster3531
Newry And Armagh4356
North Antrim5269
North Down5517
South Antrim3986
South Down4765
Upper Bann4479
West Tyrone3499
Missing Postcode1200

1. The data source is an un-validated scan of the pension service computer system at 4 June 2005. Not all households in Northern Ireland containing a person aged-75 or over will appear on the scan, since not all pensioners are entitled to the retirement pension.
2. In producing this analysis, individual records were attributed to parliamentary constituencies (PC's) on the basis of their postcode. Not all records can be correctly allocated to a PC using this method, and some cannot be allocated at all.

Gaelic Language

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she has taken to implement the undertakings of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in relation to the Gaelic language and if she will ensure that the recommendations of the last Committee of Experts report are adopted. [7015]

James Purnell [holding answer 27 June 2005]: The steps taken by the UK Government to implement the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages are set out in periodic reports. The first such report was published on 1 July 2002 and is available on the Council of Europe website at http://www.coe.int and the second is due to be sent to the Council of Europe on 1 July 2005 and should be available shortly thereafter: copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House. These reports cover my Departmental responsibilities.
28 Jun 2005 : Column 1390W

The recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, based on the findings of the Committee of Experts which evaluated the UK's compliance with the charter, were that the authorities of the United Kingdom facilitate the establishment of a television channel or an equivalent television service in Scottish Gaelic and overcome the shortcomings in Scottish Gaelic radio broadcasting.

Since the charter came into force on 1 July 2001, the Government have brought forward provisions, enacted in the Communications Act 2003, changing the status of the Gaelic broadcasting funding body, now called the Gaelic Media Service (CMS), to allow it for the first time to hold a broadcasting licence. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has also committed herself to seeking a better deal for Gaelic broadcasting and my Department have been working with all the interested parties to put together a sustainable strategy for Gaelic television. We have also confirmed, in the Green Paper on BBC Charter Review of March 2005, that the BBC will have a key role to play in any future channel. Furthermore, although funding responsibility were devolved to the Scottish Executive as part of the devolution settlement in 1999, my right hon. Friend has offered a one-off contribution of £250,000 from DCMS budgets as part of arrangements for establishing a Gaelic channel.

As for the recommendation related to increasing the coverage of Radio nan Gaidhael, the BBC has greatly increased FM coverage and added satellite and freeview provision; Radio nan Gaidhael is also available globally on the internet.

We believe that these actions continue to demonstrate the UK's commitment to meeting its obligations under the European Charter.

Next Section Index Home Page