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CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

Stipends

28. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners if the Church Commissioners will make it their policy to withhold the payment of stipends to clergymen and clergywomen who do not believe in God. [10651]

Sir Stuart Bell: The Commissioners have no power towithhold stipends paid by or through them on the grounds of a cleric's beliefs.
 
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ELECTORAL COMMISSION COMMITTEE

Election Pilots

Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission will issue guidance to local authorities with regards to applying for (a) all-postal voting pilots and (b) other forms of election pilot in (i) forthcoming by-elections and (ii) the 2005 local elections. [9807]

Peter Viggers: The Commission informs me that there is no requirement for it to issue guidance for local authorities on applications for electoral pilot schemes and I understand it has no present plans to do so.

Individual Registration

Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what research the Electoral Commission has conducted into the effect of individual registration on the electoral roll. [9809]

Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has published several research reports and updates on the impact of individual registration on overall levels of registration in Northern Ireland, the only part of the United Kingdom where there is individual registration at present. All of the Commission's reports, including the 2002 report The Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002: An assessment of its first year in operation", are available on its website. The Commission is also currently undertaking research that will provide a better understanding of the extent and nature of under-registration across Great Britain.

Welsh Assembly

Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission if the Electoral Commission will make a statement on the Government's plan to amend the electoral system for the Welsh Assembly to stop Party List candidates also running for constituency seats. [9808]


 
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Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it is considering what response, if any, to make to the White Paper 'Better Governance for Wales', in which a proposal to this effect features.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Sports Bodies

12. James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps the Government are taking to reduce the burden of administration on sports bodies for which she is responsible. [10634]

Mr. Caborn: In March this year, having consulted widely in the sports sector, my Department and the Cabinet Office published a joint report, entitled Making a Difference—Reducing Burdens in School and Community Sport, on reducing administrative burdens in school and community sport.

As sponsoring Minister for the report it is my belief that the successful implementation of its recommendations will enable staff and volunteers in sporting bodies to focus on what they do best—delivering successful and rewarding sporting opportunities.

Drinks Pricing

13. Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she has taken to raise awareness of the implications for responsible drinking of the Office of Fair Trading's ruling on minimum drinks pricing. [10635]

James Purnell: As part of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy, Government are working with the alcohol industry to ensure that irresponsible drinks promotions can be addressed. I understand that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has not made any ruling on this matter. However, they have provided advice on the application of competition law to measures that may be taken in this area, to a number of local authorities and to the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS). LACORS has circulated this advice to the licensing specialists of local authorities as well as posting it on its website.

Young People (Sports)

14. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her policy is on competitive sports for young people. [10636]

Mr. Caborn: In December 2004, the Government announced the creation of Competition Managers. These new posts will play a key role in delivering the Government's aim of a high quality school sport national competition framework by 2010 by co-ordinating the planning, management and implementation of competitive sport between schools. This will complement the principles of long-term athlete development by identifying talented young people with the potential to reach elite or even Olympic levels of performance. It will also increase and widen the opportunities for all children to take part in competitive sports at school. By September 2005, 20 managers will be appointed in
 
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England and Wales, a further 45 managers are due to be appointed by September 2006 and 90 managers by September 2007.

Digital Television

15. John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on progress towards digital switchover. [10637]

James Purnell: Great progress has been made. 62 per cent. of households are now estimated to have digital television.

As we said in our Manifesto, we will achieve digital switchover between 2008 and 2012 ensuring universal access to high-quality, free-to-view and subscription digital TV. This will happen region by region, and we will make sure that the interests of elderly people and other vulnerable groups are protected.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she expects the switchover fromanalogue to digital television to take place in the Border Television region; and if she will make a statement. [9617]

James Purnell: As we said in our manifesto, we will achieve digital switchover between 2008 and 2012 ensuring universal access to high-quality, free-to-view and subscription digital TV. This will happen region by region, and we will make sure that the interests of elderly people and other vulnerable groups are protected.

The indicative regional order published by Ofcom in February suggests that Border will be the first region to switch. The Government will confirm the region-by-region timetable in due course.

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on digital television coverage in Swansea East. [9779]

James Purnell: The vast majority of households in Swansea can, with the appropriate equipment, receive digital television services via at least one of digital satellite, digital terrestrial or cable.

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many applications for Local Digital Service Programme Licences there have been in the past five years; and how many were (a) granted and (b) refused; [9978]

(2) how many applications for National Digital Service Programme Licences there were in the past five years; and how many were (a) granted and (b) refused. [9981]

James Purnell: The matter raised is the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) as 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. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to change the number of (a) Local Digital Service Programme Licences, (b) National Digital Service Programme Licences and (c) National Radio Licences. [9980]


 
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James Purnell: I have no plans as this is a matter for the Office of Communications (Ofcom). Ofcom's duties and responsibilities for licensing digital programme services and digital sound programme services are set out in the Broadcasting Act 1996 and the Communications Act 2003.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the number of households affected by restrictive covenants that prevent external satellite dishes on properties; what proportion of these households are unable to obtain digital television via any other means; and if she will make a statement. [7971]

James Purnell: Restrictive covenants are private agreements that prevent an owner from carrying out certain actions on their own land. Some covenants are intended to benefit and bind the original parties only, whereas others are intended to benefit and bind successive owners of the land.

No information is held centrally about the number of homes which may have an operative restrictive covenant which may either explicitly or implicitly prevent the installation of an external satellite dish or aerial.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether it is her policy to support the use of integrated reception systems to provide digital services in multiple dwelling units; and if she will make a statement. [7973]

James Purnell: Many residents living in multi-dwelling units are already able to access digital television services either through communal systems that are capable of transmitting digital signals or through the use of other antennae.

We recognise that all landlords who own or manage communal TV systems need to start taking steps to prepare for digital switchover. In association with the Chartered Institute of Housing, we are developing comprehensive new guidance for landlords who have properties with analogue communal systems which need
 
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to be upgraded. The guidance, which will be published shortly, will be aimed at both the private and social sector landlords.

However, it is for individual landlords consulting as appropriate with residents, to determine how to upgrade communal television systems for digital services.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make it her policy to offer incentives to landlords to update communal reception arrangements to integrated reception system standards; and if she will make a statement. [7974]

James Purnell: We have no plans to offer financial incentives to landlords to update communal television systems for digital television services.


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