The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): On 14 November I chaired the Education, Youth and Culture Council in Brussels, when the Culture and Audiovisual agenda items were taken. Patricia Ferguson MSP, Scottish Executive Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, represented the UK. Education and Youth issues were taken on 15 November.
I chaired a discussion over lunch regarding plans for the switchover to digital television. The aim of the discussion was to share experiences and exchange good practice. All Member States agreed that it was a big challenge, but one that is achievable. Many stressed the added value of digital television especially for minority groups and strengthening cultural diversity. Many felt that state aid may have a role to play in ensuring that minority groups were not left behind. It was noted that different Member States were using different technologies, partly reflecting their different backgrounds. Commissioner Reding (Information Society and Media) noted the close interest of Telecoms Ministers and suggested a joint meeting might be useful in the future.
The Council agreed partial political agreements on the MEDIA 2007 programme, which provides financial support for the European film industry, and the Culture 2007 programme, which will provide financial support for transnational co-operation projects in the field of culture. The budgetary aspects of these programmes will be decided once the financial perspectives have been agreed.
With regard to the Culture 2007 programme, a compromise was reached on the wording relating to the eligibility of non-audiovisual cultural industries, which made clear that EU funding could not be used to support profit-making activities. On comitology, Member States unanimously agreed that all projects applying for an EU contribution of over €200,000 (£135,000) should be submitted to the management procedure. The minimum number of operators participating in projects was also agreed.
The Council agreed to a general approach on the proposal to improve the selection and monitoring procedures and the EU dimension of the European Capital of Culture Programme. In addition, the Council designated Linz and Vilnius as Capitals of Culture for 2009 and nominated the Council's two representatives (Mr Claude Frisoni and Sir Jeremy Isaacs) for the selection panel looking at the proposed Capitals for 2010.
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I also chaired an exchange of views regarding the Commission's proposals to develop European digital libraries. All Member States spoke in support of further work on European digital libraries and the great majority supported the Commission's proposed approach of developing a network of digital libraries, rather than supporting a single, central library. Some felt that the latter option would be too costly and instead preferred to build on ongoing work. Co-operation with other Member States would avoid duplication and allow common standards to be developed so that digitised material could be shared more easily. A number of Ministers asked the Commission to do more work on possible costs involved and noted that decisions needed to be taken on what would be funded by the Member States and what would be funded by the EU.
It was noted that there were a number of key issues, such as ensuring that intellectual property rights were respected and making sure the initiative promoted all European languages, including minority languages.
Commissioner Figel (Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism) welcomed the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity in October and noted that the Commission would soon bring forward a proposal for Community ratification. He also presented the Commission proposal for a European Year of Intercultural Dialogue in 2008.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Don Touhig): On 31 October, a Pensions Appeal Tribunal announced its decision in the case of Mr Daniel Martin. The Government welcome the acceptance by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal of the umbrella term Gulf War Syndrome to cover conditions causally linked to the 199091 Gulf War. The Government hope that the use of the umbrella term will address the known concern of some Gulf veterans that we have not recognised a link between their ill-health and the 199091 Gulf Conflict. We hope that this will help to provide an element of closure for those who have sought some acknowledgement that their ill-health is connected to their Gulf service.
The Government also welcome the decision by the Pensions Appeal Tribunal which found that there was no reliable evidence to show that Gulf War Syndrome is a discrete medical condition. This confirms the view which the Ministry of Defence has consistently taken and which is based on the overwhelming consensus of worldwide medical and scientific opinion.
The level of awards will not be affected by the use of the umbrella term as it has always been the policy of the Ministry of Defence to award in full where evidence of disablement is shown and where that disablement is due to, or aggravated by, service.
The issues surrounding the ill-health reported by veterans of the 199091 Gulf Conflict remain a priority for the Government. We have acknowledged that some veterans of the Gulf Conflict have become ill and that this ill-health may be related to their Gulf service. Since taking office in 1997, the Government have made it a priority to assist veterans or their dependants by
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providing medical help, initiating scientific research, making information available and providing financial assistance. We will continue this approach, as appropriate, for the future.
The Secretary of State for Defence (John Reid): On 16 December 2004 my predecessor announced to the House, Official Report, columns 17951800 (part no.6) volume 428, plans to re-balance the army and reduce the infantry from 40 to 36 battalions, with associated changes to the titles of the infantry battalions and regiments.
Since the announcement, significant further planning and consultation has been undertaken. This has seen detailed and extensive work, which has included a period of local consultation led by the regiments and divisions. As a result, and with the full approval of Her Majesty The Queen, I am happy to announce the new titles of the Regular and TA infantry regiments and battalions as follows:
|Current Regimental/Battalion Title||New Regimental/Battalion Titles||Abbreviation|
|The Guards Division|
|1st Battalion Grenadier Guards||1st Battalion Grenadier Guards||1 GRENGDS|
|1st Battalion Coldstream Guards||1st Battalion Coldstream Guards||1 COLDMGDS|
|1st Battalion Scots Guards||1st Battalion Scots Guards||1SG|
|1st Battalion Irish Guards||1st Battalion Irish Guards||1 IG|
|1st Battalion Welsh Guards||1st Battalion Welsh Guards||1 WG|
|The Royal Regiment of Scotland|
|Formation Arrangements: Regimental formation by the end of March 2006, with The Royal Scots and The King's Own Scottish Borderers Battalions of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, amalgamating on 1 August 2006.|
|1st Battalion The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)||Amalgamates to become The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland||1 SCOTS|
|1st Battalion The Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment)||The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland||2 SCOTS|
|1st Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers||Amalgamates to become The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland as above||1 SCOTS(as above)|
|1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment)||The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland||3 SCOTS|
|1st Battalion The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons)||The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland||4 SCOTS|
|1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)||The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland||5 SCOTS|
|Territorial Army Battalions|
|52nd Lowland Regiment||52nd Lowland,||6 SCOTS|
|6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland|
|51st Highland Regiment||51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland||7 SCOTS|
|The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)|
|1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)||1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)||1 PWRR|
|2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)||2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)||2 PWRR|
|Territorial Army Battalion|
|3rd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)||3rd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (Queen's and Royal Hampshires)||3 PWRR The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers|
|1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers||1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers||1 RRF|
|2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers||2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers||2 RRF|
|Territorial Army Battalion|
|The Tyne Tees Regiment 1||5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers||5 RRF
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1 Currently within the King's Division and not part of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
2 Currently not part of the Royal Anglian Regiment.
3 On formation in Jul 06 the new regiment will have 3 regular Bns with the TA Bn known as 4 LANCS. The 3 regular battalions will merge to form 1 LANCS and 2 LANCS in Mar 07. This is a change to the title announced in Dec 04; this is at the Regiments own request.
4 Formed from Bn HQ and 2 x Coys of RRV with 2 x Coys of LONDONS.
5 Not included are the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment who have not been subject to FAS.
6 As announced on 16 December 2004, 1 PARA will be the core of the new Tri-Service Special Forces Support Group, and will be removed from the infantry structure.
7 Currently within the Queen's Division.
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