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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 7 July 2005


Civil Contingencies

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the work of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat. [9575]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) was set up in 2001 to improve the UK's resilience against disruptive challenges, working in partnership with others at the national, regional and local levels to enhance arrangements for anticipating, assessing, preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from all types of disruptive challenge.

The CCS drives the delivery of improved resilience across the government and the public sector by making sure that the Government can continue to function and deliver public services during a crisis. It achieves this through risk assessment and horizon-scanning activity to identify and assess potential and imminent disruptive challenges to the domestic UK, and by working with others to improve the capability of all levels of government, the wider public sector and the private and voluntary sectors to manage potential challenges.

A key focus of the CCS's work over the last year has been the Civil Contingencies Act which received Royal Assent in November 2004. The Act and supporting regulations, guidance and non-legislative measures will deliver a single framework for civil protection in the United Kingdom. Part 1 of the Act establishes a clear set of roles and responsibilities for organisations with a role in emergency planning and response at the local level. As enabling legislation, this part of the Act is heavily reliant on supporting regulations and guidance, which are currently under development. Part 2 of the Act modernises the United Kingdom's emergency powers framework and is already in force.

EU Presidency

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will take steps to ensure that English wine is served (a) exclusively and (b) at the request of guests at meals, parties and receptions hosted by his Department during the EU presidency; and if he will make a statement. [8872]

Mr. Hutton: In planning presidency events, the Cabinet Office's principal objective is to source the most suitable venue for each event in terms of facilities, accessibility and overall value for money. Wherever possible, conference organisers will make arrangements to serve British produce, including English wine.
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British Board of Film Classification

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the examiners at the British Board of Film Classification; what the professional background of each is; and if she will make a statement. [10386]

James Purnell: The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent company and my right hon. Friend has no locus to provide the information the hon. Member requests. Examiners employed by the BBFC make recommendations on film classification to the BBFC's director, David Cooke, who has the responsibility for all such decisions. Ultimately, it is for local authorities to decide whether to accept the classification awarded by the BBFC to films for cinema release or to impose their own.

Digital Television

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assistance will be given to (a) pensioners and (b) people on low incomes to switch to digital television. [9780]

James Purnell: The Government are committed to ensuring that the interests of the most vulnerable consumers are protected during digital switchover and have proposed that the BBC help establish and fund appropriate support. We will announce details of the scope of this assistance in due course.

As part of the process of detailed scheme design, we and the BBC will run a trial later this year in the Bolton ward of Hulton, in association with SwitchCo and Bolton metropolitan borough council. The aim of the trial is to assess the effectiveness of various forms of assistance, with leaflets, telephone helplines and support from carers and social workers among the methods being piloted.

Licensing Act 2003

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent representations she has received from sports clubs about the impact on them of the Licensing Act 2003. [9455]

James Purnell: Since 16 May, my Department has received 22 letters from sports clubs via their constituent MPs, one letter from the National Golf Clubs Advisory Association and another from the English Golf Union, and two letters from individual sports clubs. Most of the letters have concerned the impact of the 2003 Act's fee structure on the running of sports club bars. My Department recently announced the Independent Review Panel, chaired by Sir Les Elton, which will review fee levels and associated costs, including those payable by amateur sports clubs.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate her Department has made of the number of premises licence applications for variations to include live music that will be made under the transitional provisions for the Licensing Act 2003 by (a) 6 August and (b) 24 November; and if she will make a statement. [10191]

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James Purnell: The Government estimate that during the transitional period, 65 per cent. of all applications to convert existing licences into new premises licences will include some form of variation. We have no estimate on what proportion of variations would involve live music. The Government established the Live Music Forum to promote the take-up of reforms in the Licensing Act 2003 relating to the performance of live music.


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what means her Department uses to assess the effectiveness of Ofcom in upholding its duties to citizens and consumers; and if she will make a statement. [10043]

James Purnell: The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is a public corporation, operating independently from Government, principally under the terms of the Communications Act 2003 and the Office of Communications Act 2002. The Office of Communications Act requires Ofcom to report annually to the Secretary of State on the carrying out of their functions during the financial year and a copy of this report is laid before each House. In addition, DCMS and DTI Ministers and their departmental officials meet regularly with the Ofcom chairman and senior officials to discuss issues relating to the exercise of Ofcom's statutory functions.

Radio Station Licences

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many applications there were for local radio station licences in (a) 2004 and (b) to date in 2005. [9982]

James Purnell: The matter raised is the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) independent regulator. Accordingly, my officials have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to respond directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive's letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.



Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of RAF Gibraltar; and how many and what types of aircraft use the base. [7207]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence is committed to the future of Gibraltar and its defence outputs, including the airport.

There are no permanently based aircraft at RAF Gibraltar but the base is available for use by all the United Kingdom military aircraft except Tri-Star, VC10 and E3 due to runway length performance restrictions.

The following aircraft have used the base in the last year:

UK military

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Foreign military

In 2004 there were 1,358 military movements.

Details of civil flights are not held. The largest civil aircraft regularly handled is the B757. Schedules are flown by B757 and A320 but numerous types, from light aircraft/powered gliders upwards, are regular visitors.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many other nations' air forces have used RAF Gibraltar in the last three years; and how many and what type of aircraft were involved. [7208]

Mr. Ingram: Aircraft from the eight other nations' air forces have used Gibraltar in the last three years. 61 aircraft of the following types were involved: C130, C26, C12, P3, C40, Learjet, Sea Hawk, CP140, C160, C560, CN235, Fokker 50, Lynx, and Sea King.

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