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Written Answers

Monday, 6th November 2000.


Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to deregulate the bingo industry.[HL4535]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office is today publishing a consultation document which sets out proposals for an order under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act, 1994, to deregulate certain aspects of the bingo industry. Our consultation document makes three specific proposals.

First, we propose the abolition of a requirement for licensed bingo clubs to notify the licensing authority of changes in their charges to players 14 days in advance. This part of our proposals will also have a small benefit for licensed casinos.

Second, we propose to change the law so as to allow bingo clubs to have a mixture of jackpot and lower prize gaming machines. Finally, we propose to amend the law on multiple bingo--also known as the "National Game"-- so that it can offer more than one national, regional, and house prize.

The Government believe that these reforms will benefit both the industry and its customers. The consultation document asks for responses by 16 February 2001. Copies are being arranged to be placed in the Library.

Commission for Racial Equality: Annual Report

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to publish the Commission for Racial Equality's 1999 Annual Report.[HL4536]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Commission for Racial Equality's Annual Report 1999 is published today and copies have been laid before Parliament.

Exceptionally this year the report goes beyond the 12 calendar months stipulated by the Race Relations Act 1976 and covers a 15-month period, thus encompassing both the calendar year 1999 and the financial year 1999-2000.

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The Commission for Racial Equality has produced a report which it believes meets both the requirements of the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Commission's own need to report on achievements against targets which are based on the financial year.

However, since the Race Relations Act 1976 requires reports to be made in relation to the calendar year, and as soon as practicable after the end of the year, we have advised the Commission that future reports need to follow these requirements until such times as Parliament may decide to amend the Act.

Copies have also been placed in the Library and they have been sent to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales.

Lieutenant Governors

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 25 October (WA 45), whether they will now state what steps they are taking to open the selection of Lieutenant Governors beyond the field of service persons or diplomats.[HL4399]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: None. The field for the recent appointments was not restricted to service persons or diplomats. The principal criterion was that applicants should have a distinguished record of service to the Crown.

Home Office: Staff Numbers

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the total numbers of staff employed by the Home Office on 1 January or other convenient date in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000, and the overall staff costs in each of these years.[HL4410]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Staff numbers, inclusive of secondees, for the years 1994-2000, and overall staff costs in those years are given in Section 5: financial reports (pages 85-86) of the Home Office Annual Report 1999-2000 (Cm 4605), which is available in the Library of the House. The figures for 1999-2000 are estimated outturns. I regret that the totals for United Kingdom Passport Agency staff in 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99 shown on page 86 of the annual report are incorrect. Corrections will be made in the annual report for 2000-01. The corrected information for UKPA is in the table below.

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Staff numbersOutturnOutturnOutturnOutturnPlansPlans
Civil Service full-time eqivalents1,4871,3151,2371,2181,8001,800

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Millennium Dome

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a letter of direction was issued in respect of the Millennium Commission's grant of £47 million to the Millennium Dome in September; and, if so, when they will put copies of that letter of direction in the Library of the House.[HL4306]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: A letter of direction to the Millennium Commission's Accounting Officer, in respect of an application by the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) for further grant of £47 million, was issued on 13 September. I am placing a copy of this letter in the Library of both Houses.

Anglo-Irish Secretariat, Maryfield

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much the Government of the Irish Republic paid in rent and expenses for the Maryfield Anglo-Irish Secretariat Office from 1985 to 1998.[HL4339]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Receipts from the Irish Government in respect of the running of the Anglo-Irish Secretariat are as follows. They include contributions to shared services such as catering and transport as well as to rent and associated expenses for the premises at Maryfield.


(1) Receipts included a contribution towards the costs of political talks.

(2) The Offices of the Secretariat at Maryfield were closed in December 1998.

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British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat, Windsor House

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much the Government of the Irish Republic is paying for the use of offices in Windsor House, Belfast.[HL4340]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Irish Government contributes on a fair and equitable basis the rental, rates, service, electricity and other relevant charges in respect of accommodation occupied by the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Windsor House. These contributions since the premises were occupied in December 1998 are as follows:

    1998-99: £15,627

    1999-2000: £101,243

    2000-01: £86,299 to date

Northern Ireland: Irish Republic Officials

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What tasks officials from the Government of the Irish Republic currently working in Northern Ireland are performing; what rank those officials hold; and where they are located.[HL4341]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: These are matters for the Irish Government.

Northern Ireland: Fireworks

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider re-imposing the ban on the sale and private use of fireworks in Northern Ireland.[HL4343]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There has never been a general ban on the possession, purchase or use of fireworks by the public in Northern Ireland. Since 1970 a system of licensing has been in operation whereby anyone wishing to acquire all but the smallest fireworks required a licence from the Secretary of State. Following a review in 1996 the law was amended whereby the requirement for a licence has since been confined to the larger display-type fireworks. The law remains under review as evidenced most recently by the Explosives (Fireworks) Regulations (NI) 1999

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which, inter alia, proscribed mini-rockets, certain categories of air bomb and firework of erratic flight.

Her Majesty's Government have no plans to introduce a general proscription of fireworks in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Ex-prisoners and Victims' Group Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the sources of funding for ex-prisoners and for victims' groups in Northern Ireland; and what are the amounts of money supplied to them.[HL4244]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The NIO is responsible for match funding applications by ex-prisoners and victims' groups under Measures 4.4 and 4.6 of the EU Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace Programme). These measures aim to promote the social inclusion of those who are at the margin of social and economic life.

In the five years in which the programme has been running, victims and ex-prisoners have received the following amounts under both Measures:

    Ex-prisoners: £3.9 million

    Victims: £2.4 million

The major source of funding for victims' groups is the Victims Liaison Unit in the Northern Ireland Office, which has, since it was established in June 1998, provided funding through a series of initiatives to support groups that are working with victims of the Troubles. To date, the unit has made available to groups:

    £3 million through a core funding scheme administered by the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust;

    £255,000.00 through a "Victim Support Grant Scheme" administered by the Community Relations Council;

    £46,000.00 for a series of pilot schemes.

Victims may also, either on an individual basis or with the help of a victims' group, avail themselves of the funds and services provided by the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund. The fund, which is an independent charity set up by the Government, has, to date, received £2 million from the Government, in addition to funds it has raised by its own efforts.

Ex-prisoners and victims have access to measures within the Peace Programme other than those match funded by NIO, and can access funding from other sources such as private trusts, the National Lottery Charities Board or other locally funded schemes. They may also obtain funding from departments within the devolved administration.

Moreover, the NIO and Probation Board provide funding to the Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders and Extern. There are voluntary organisations that provide a range of service to ex-prisoners.

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