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The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): I am pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has appointed Sir Nigel Wicks GCB CVO CBE as the new chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life in succession to Lord Neill of Bladen QC, with effect from 1 March 2001.
In addition, the Prime Minister has appointed two new members to the Committee: Rabbi Julia Neuberger and Rita Donaghy OBE. They are appointed in succession to Sir William Utting and Sir Clifford Boulton. All three appointments are for three years in the first instance, with the possibility of renewal. All three appointments were made fully in line with the Guidance of the Commissioner on Public Appointments.
Whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has ever received representations on behalf of the Hinduja brothers from the Prime Minister's Special Envoy, Lord Levy; and[HL667]
Whether any Minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has discussed the financial contribution of the Hinduja brothers to the Millennium Dome with the sole shareholder of the New Millennium Experience Company.[HL671]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Ministers at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have not received representations from, nor had discussions with, Lord Levy, the sole shareholder or the Minister for Europe, about the Hinduja Foundation and its support for the Faith zone in the Millennium Dome.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We need to strike the right balance between practicability and benefit. During the consultation exercise that preceded the Government's recent announcement of the review, concerns were expressed, including by the Independent Television Commission (ITC), that 100 per cent subtitling on digital terrestrial television (DTT) was not a feasible target. It would be extremely difficult and expensive to subtitle all live programmes, late-running programmes and late-delivered material, such as promotions between programmes. There is also a danger that the financial costs to the smaller channels might result in them leaving the DTT platform. The 80 per cent target is challenging but achievable and is in line with the analogue target for 2004. We will, however, keep the target under review, and if an increase beyond 80 per cent is deemed achievable in the future, we will consider raising the target.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: By contrast with the November figures, overseas visits to the UK in December 2000 compared with December 1999 are estimated to have increased by 8 per cent. However, the Government do not accept that such year-on-year comparisons of one month's figures are sufficient to establish trends. Whole-year statistics are more significant, and these indicate that overseas visits to the UK in 2000 are virtually the same as for 1999, while earnings from overseas visitors to the UK over the same period are up by 2 per cent.
Ministers would like to congratulate the British Tourist Authority in particular for contributing to an increase of 5 per cent in visits to the UK from North America in 2000 over the previous year, and of 4 per cent from other long-haul destinations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Brian Wilson, called in the Zimbabwe High Commissioner on 19 February to express serious concern about the Government of Zimbabwe's harassment of, and pressure on, the judiciary and the media, including the recent unacceptable treatment of the BBC correspondent in Harare. In addition, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary agreed with the Commonwealth Secretary-General on 21 February on the importance of sending a Commonwealth team to Zimbabwe, to report back to the meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on 19-20 March.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Our overriding objective is to avoid the execution of British nationals. We will now express our opposition to the death penalty and its use on a British national at whatever stage and level is judged appropriate from the moment when the imposition of a death sentence on a British national becomes a possibility. Our previous policy was to make these representations only when the judicial process had been exhausted.
We have already taken action under the new policy in the case of Krishna Maharaj. I have written to the Florida State Attorney setting out the UK's opposition to the death penalty and requesting that the death sentence not be pursued in his case.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Following consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry recently approved a licence to export computer equipment, including 10 Fujitsu Siemens Scenic ED-1170A computers and 2 Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook C-6545 Notebook computers, controlled under the Dual Use Items (Export Control) Regulations 2000, to Iraq for use by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in its humanitarian activities. The export of these goods to Iraq has been approved by the UN Sanctions Committee.
11. AOB, including a request from the Netherlands for information on measures to reduce emissions of VOCs, in line with the Council minutes statements in June 2000. March 12, Brussels, Internal Market/Consumer Affairs/Tourism Council
|8-10||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|8-10||Brussels||Agriculture Council (Informal)|
|7||Brussels||Employment and Social Council (possible)|
|14-15||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|14-15||Brussels||Industry and Energy Council|
|28-29||Brussels||Justice and Home Affairs Council|
|28||Brussels||Education and Youth Council|
|5||Brussels||Internal market/Consumer Council|
|11-12||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|11-12||Brussels||Accession Ministerial Conference|
|11||Brussels||Employment/Social Affairs Council|
|18||Brussels||Fisheries Council (possible)|
|19||Brussels||ECOFIN Council (possible)|
|25-26||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|6-7||Brussels||Informal Employment and Social Affairs Council|
|13-14||Brussels||Regional Territories Council (Informal)?|
|16-17||Brussels||General Affairs Council|
|August||There are no European Councils scheduled for August|
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