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The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I have today published the Government response to the Committee on Standards in Public Lifes eleventh report Review of the Electoral Commission (Cm 7272).
On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank the former Chairman, Sir Alistair Graham, interim Chair, Rita Donaghy, and members of the Committee on Standards in Public Life for their hard work in conducting a review of the Electoral Commission and producing a detailed and stimulating report. The Government are grateful to the Committee for thoroughly examining the issues and making recommendations for improvement. This was a useful review marking some six years since the Electoral Commission was created.
Some of the Committees recommendations are directed at Government, while others are directed at the Electoral Commission and the Speakers Committee. The Electoral Commission and Association of Electoral Administrators published responses in March and April respectively. The Speakers Committee published its response to the recommendations relevant to it in August. The Government have carefully considered and taken into account the views of these and other interested parties before publishing their own response.
The Government are committed to a strong, effective and independent Electoral Commission, and are keen to take forward recommendations which they believe will enable the Electoral Commission to more effectively carry out its dual role as regulator of party funding and campaign expenditure, and electoral administration.
The Government are committed to working with the Electoral Commission and other relevant bodies to put in place necessary arrangements and legislation to assist the Electoral Commission in improving its overall effectiveness.
The trust will use £40 million funding endowed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (£6 million), the Art Council England (£5 million), the Big Lottery Fund (£5 million), and the Millennium Commission (£24 millionsince been transferred to the Big Lottery Fund) to deliver a programme of cultural and sporting activities at local, regional and national level. The trust will form partnerships with organisations that will deliver the supported programmes.
Following an open competition, the Legacy Trust proposal submitted by a consortium of five organisations, was selected as the preferred candidate. The consortium created an independent Charitable Trust (known as Legacy Trust UK), and a Corporate Trustee (known as Legacy Trust UK Ltd.). The corporate trustee is a company limited by guarantee. It worked up a full business case, which the funding bodies were content with. The funding has recently been transferred. It will start operating immediately, and distributing the bulk of the funds from 2008 onwards.
The trust plans to support a small number of national programmes, including the UK School Games, the Big Arts Week (working title) and the World Festival of Youth Culture (working title). The remainder of the endowment will be distributed throughout the three nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and nine English regions. In doing so, it will work closely with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris):
At the Third Reading of the Crossrail Bill, this House will be asked to approve the Bill and, in so doing, give its approval to the building of Crossrail. Under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive, decision-making bodies are required to consider the environmental effects of projects when deciding whether or not they should be allowed to proceed. To assist the House in its consideration, the Government has today published a Command Paper entitled Government Overview of the Case for Crossrail and Its Environmental Impacts (Command Paper 7250). The Command Paper summarises the work done to assess, control and mitigate the environmental impacts of Crossrail, and
explains why the Government continue to take the view that the Crossrail project is worthy of its support. It also contains a list of other relevant documents and where they may be found.
We have also published today a Command Paper containing further responses following consultation on the Crossrail Bill Environmental Statement (Command Paper 7249: Further responses to the Governments Consultation on the Crossrail Bill Environmental
Statement). To obtain an overall picture of the responses received, Members should also consider Command Paper 6603 (Responses to the Governments Consultation on the Crossrail Bill Environmental Statement) which was published in July 2005.
Copies of Command Papers 7249 and 7250 are available in the Library of the House. They can also be found on the Department for Transport website at: www.dft.gov.uk