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Departmental Temporary Employment

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many full-time posts in his Department were filled on a temporary basis for a period in excess of six months in each of the last three years. [200659]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The information is in the table:

Financial year Number of posts

2005-06

2

2006-07

7

2007-08

10


Digital Broadcasting: Television

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the likely benefits of digital terrestrial television technology upgrades for viewers. [201369]

Andy Burnham: Recent developments in compression and transmission technologies for digital television signals are providing opportunities to improve the efficiency of the spectrum used for the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform. Reorganising existing services on the DTT platform in order to utilise these new technologies, will allow for new services such as high definition TV to be provided.

English Sports Council: Publications

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he place in the Library a copy of Sport England's Investing in Our Sporting Future: Sport England Lottery Fund Strategy 1999-2009. [200675]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I am arranging for Sport England's document, Investing in Our Sporting Future: Sport England Lottery Fund Strategy 1999-2009 to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Licensing Act 2003

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the evidential basis is for his evaluation of the effects of the Licensing Act 2003 as a mixed picture. [201378]


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Mr. Sutcliffe: The Government's evaluation of the impact of the Licensing Act, which was placed in the Library of the House on 4 March 2008, drew on a number of pieces of evidence as set out in that report. The main elements of the evaluation were:

Motorsport Development UK: Finance

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 31 March 2008, Official Report, column 540W, on Motorsport Development UK, what estimate was made in 2003 of the amount that would be provided to Motorsport Development UK; and if he will make a statement. [200797]

Mr. Sutcliffe: It was announced by the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2003 that up to £16 million over five years would be required to fund the recommendations of the Motorsport Competitiveness Panel (MCP).

To date, Motorsport Development UK (MDUK) has spent £11.5 million on the five key priority areas identified by the MCP to support and strengthen the sport and its related industry.

During a debate in the House of Lords on 6 March 2008, Official Report, column GC179, Baroness Vadera agreed that a detailed breakdown of spending by MDUK would be provided to the Libraries of the House in due course.

S4C

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people watched S4C on average in each week in the latest period for which figures are available. [200295]

Andy Burnham: S4C have confirmed that during the first quarter of 2008, S4C attracted an average weekly reach of 638,000 individuals across the UK during Welsh language hours.

S4C: Finance

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what funding his Department provided to S4C in each year since 1997. [200296]


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Andy Burnham: S4C has a statutory, calendar year grant entitlement under section 61 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (as amended). Under this formula, DCMS grant to S4C in each year since 1997 has been:

Grant (£ million)

1997

72.223

1998

74.895

1999

77.134

2000

78.218

2001

80.745

2002

81.468

2003

83.634

2004

85.729

2005

88.690

2006

90.857

2007

94.395


Sports: Young People

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to increase the number of young people engaging in sporting activities. [201374]

Mr. Sutcliffe: Through our joint PE and Sport Strategy for Young people (PESSYP), the Department is working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to increase the take-up of sporting opportunities among five to 19-years-olds.

Our aim is to sustain and increase current levels of participation by those aged five to 16 in at least two hours of high quality PE and sport at school, and offer five to 19-year-olds at least three hours of sport beyond the school day, delivered by a range of school, community and club providers.

These ambitions will be realised through a range of programmes and activities delivered through Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust, and will be supported by increases in the number of coaches in schools, and a national network of Competition Managers within School Sport Partnerships.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent of corruption in the Afghanistan government; and if he will make a statement. [199345]

Dr. Howells: Corruption is internationally recognised as an issue within the Afghan government and its extent has been researched by a number of organisations. Transparency International’s 2007 Corruption Perception Index scored Afghanistan at 1.8, indicating that Afghanistan is an extremely corrupt operating environment (10 = highly clean, 0 = highly corrupt). According to Transparency International, only six countries worldwide are more corrupt than Afghanistan.

The perception of corruption within Afghanistan is also extremely high. The Asia Foundation’s 2007 Survey of the Afghan people found that 74 per cent. of people
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think that corruption is a major problem in Afghanistan as a whole. The Government regularly raises the need to tackle corruption with the Afghan government and is supporting measures to address the issue.

British Council: China

Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to encourage the British Council to increase the number of its offices in China. [199859]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The British Council's formal status in China (as the Cultural and Educational Section of the British embassy) means the council is restricted to having offices only in the five Chinese cities in which the UK has an embassy or consulate.

However, the British Council does work across all major cities. For example, last year running its major education fair in Wuhan where it does not have an office. The British Council also runs exams from 40 centres across China and its online presence reaches one million students of English around the country.

China: Science

Mark Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the British Council on the improvement of scientific links between China and Britain. [199860]

Mr. Jim Murphy: There are regular discussions on the improvement of science links between the two countries through the Global Science and Innovation Forum (GSIF), of which the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are both members.

The GSIF organises bilateral science and technology joint commissions. The most recent joint commission with China was held on 16 April 2008.

The British Council already works in this area, for instance through its International Network for Young Scientists—a programme which supports joint research in priority fields.

China: Tibet

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to his recent comments on the Today programme, what the special position is of China with regard to Tibet. [199348]

Meg Munn: Successive Governments have regarded Tibet as autonomous while recognising the special position of the Chinese authorities there. We have consistently informed the Chinese government of our view that greater autonomy should be granted to the Tibetans. But like all other EU members, we do not advocate Tibetan independence. We have emphasised that the current political difficulties in Tibet can best be resolved through dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has stated publicly that he opposes violence and does not seek independence, but greater autonomy for Tibet. We consider that this provides a basis for a negotiated settlement to the issue of Tibet.


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Departmental Internet

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent on the most recent redesign and implementation of his departmental website. [200168]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The recent upgrade of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) corporate website is part of a wider project to deliver a new web platform and improved web presence for the FCO over five years.

The work will provide a single technical platform for all the FCO websites (including the main FCO website, Arabic and Urdu versions of the FCO website, UKvisas website, the FCO Freedom of Information website, and 229 embassy, high commission and special mission sites in multiple languages) as well as new designs, content, functionality and a new hub and spoke model for delivering business support.

The project will complete in September 2008, by which time all of the FCO Post websites will have joined the new platform and will operate under the central domain, fco.gov.uk.

The initial cost of £9.7 million for the web platform was set out in the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, on 30 January 2008, Official Report, column 398W. The project is on target to cost £19.2 million over five years. This includes running costs, for example hosting and support, and some staff salaries. The cost of the project to date is £9.2 million which includes the design and implementation of the FCO and UKvisas websites, and the design of the embassy and high commission websites. It also includes procurement costs, client side advice, setting up regional hubs to provide business support and training. Details of the project and costs were published in Whitehall and Westminster World on 4 April:

The web is vital for the delivery of the FCO's Departmental Strategic Objectives. More people, in the UK and overseas, have contact with the FCO through the web than through any other channel. The FCO is committed to using the web to deliver its policy goals, as well as key services such as travel advice and visa information.

The project has followed the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Review process and is delivering on time and to budget.

Departmental Telephone Services

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) 0800, (b) 0845 and (c) 0870 telephone numbers for the public are in use by (i) his Department and (ii) agencies which report to his Department. [200126]

Meg Munn: There are no 0800, 0845, or 0870 telephone numbers for the public directly in use by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) or its agencies. A contractor, on behalf of consular department of the FCO, runs the Travel Advice service which is accessed via an 0845 number.


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Diplomatic Service: Greater London

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance his Department has issued on the liability of diplomats covered by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 for the London congestion charge. [199565]

Meg Munn: We informed all foreign missions in the UK by Note Verbale on 18 March 2002 of our view that there are no legal grounds to exempt diplomatic missions from payment of the London congestion charge. We have repeated this view to all missions on a number of occasions, both formally and informally.

Foreign Press Association

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received concerning the operation of the Foreign Press Association; and if he will make a statement. [199483]

Meg Munn: Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials meet regularly with Committee members from the Foreign Press Association to discuss its operation.

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons his Department has discontinued its funding of the Foreign Press Association; and if he will make a statement. [199484]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not discontinued funding to the Foreign Press Association. In accordance with best financial practice, we review regularly our funding of external organisations.

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will consider restoring funding to the Foreign Press Association; and if he will make a statement. [199485]

Meg Munn: Access to funding was restored to the Foreign Press Association in January 2006.


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