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Small Businesses: Rate Relief

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We will shortly be issuing a White Paper on local government which will set out our decisions on the Green Paper's proposals, including that for rate relief for small businesses. The timing of any subsequent legislation would depend on the availability of parliamentary time.

Vehicles and Railway Line Safety

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The standards for barrier provision on motorways and all-purpose trunk roads are set out in The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges which is produced by the Highways Agency. In March this year the Deputy Prime Minister asked the Highways Agency to review its standards for nearside safety barriers and that work is taking place.

West Coast Main Line

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government remain committed to providing a revitalised rail network and the West Coast Main Line upgrade is an integral part of that commitment. It is clear from our discussions with the Strategic Rail Authority, the Railway Administrator and Virgin that the project is facing problems in terms of cost increases and uncertainty about the timetable for delivery. Railtrack and Virgin have presented a number of options for taking the project forward.

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We are in discussion with the SRA, the Railway Administrator and Virgin to ensure that we have a common understanding of the issues involved and the options. We are working to confirm a project which is value for money and can be delivered to a clear timetable, subject to the need to obtain any planning consents.

Middlesex Hospital Chapel and Murals

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans there are to ensure that the chapel and the murals in the front hall of the Middlesex Hospital are preserved when the hospital buildings are permanently vacated.[HL1037]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The trust's art and heritage committee, with the assistance of the Slade School of Fine Arts, is considering how best to use the murals in the front hall of the Middlesex in the context of the new hospital. Moving them to a new location will not present a technical problem. The most appropriate setting and presentation is being considered by the committee.

The chapel at the Middlesex Hospital is a Grade 2 listed building and as such will be preserved on the site. This is a matter for the London Borough of Westminster, as the relevant planning authority.

Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidance has been issued to hospitals and clinics offering abortion services on advising their patients of the link between induced abortion and breast cancer.[HL1138]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' evidence-based guideline The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion considered this issue and decided that the evidence was inconclusive. The college issued the guideline to its fellows and members in March 2000 and it can also be bought from its bookshop.

As there is no scientific consensus on the possible association wth breast cancer, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund is co-ordinating research on this topic and hopes the conclusions will be available next year.


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

    Whether the Tourism Initiative Group has presented its report to Ministers; and, if so, what is their response.[HL903]

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The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): In July, the Secretary of State asked the English Tourism Council (ETC) to consult senior tourism industry leaders and propose a clear programme for modernising and restructuring the industry which the Department for Culture, Media and Sport could then consider as a basis for entering into partnership and investing in reform. The ETC then set up the Tourism Initiative Group to take this work forward and sent its report to the department on 10 September.

The Tourism Initiative Group's report was part of an ongoing process to push ahead with the modernisation of the tourism sector. This report was discussed when my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, together with my honourable friend the Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting, met leading figures from the tourism industry on 10 and 11 October at Hartwell House in Buckinghamshire. This meeting was convened to discuss the immediate difficulties facing the industry in the wake of the foot and mouth outbreak and the terrorist attacks of 11 September but also to agree the necessary programme for long-term strategic reform of the industry to achieve more consistent high standards and better value for money.

The main conclusions for action from the meeting include the urgent need for tourism bodies to review their programmes so as best to meet the needs of the current difficulties; the importance of acting in the new spirit of partnership between industry and government; the creation of the CBI chaired voice for tourism, the Tourism Alliance; the need to focus public sector resources on improving co-ordination of marketing, rationalising tourism data collection so that it is more useful, improving the quality of product, strengthening service through improved training and skills and developing better tourist information, including through the use of the Internet. The outcomes of the meeting build on the Government's strategy for tourism, Tomorrow's Tourism, and the work commissioned from the Tourism Initiative Group.

The following table sets these conclusions out in more detail. Tourism Industry Seminar—Outcomes Immediate short-term action

Our approach will be to ensure government and industry understands and appraises the impact of current challenges, co-ordinate public sector and private sector responses to those challenges, and for the public sector to make a direct contribution where that is justified.

Who to leadTimescale
1. The London Tourist Board and the English Tourism Council have been asked to review their programmes, working with the industry, to meet the new circumstances. DCMS Ministers are ready to see more of the more than £60m already available directed to marketing to the domestic market. The hotel and major attractions industry are creating packages to offer to the domestic market. DCMS will chase progress and encourage and support co-operation of this sort. Industry and associations, LTB, ETC, DCMSImmediate
2. The British Tourist Authority is re-designing its overseas marketing campaign, in close consultation with key industry partners in the UK and overseas. BTAEnd of October
3. Other measures which might provide effective assistance are being examined. The industry has made a number of proposals. DCMSOctober
4. Ministers are strong advocates of and for the industry. DCMSOctober
5. Ministers and officials are in constant discussion with the tourism industry about the impact of the events in America. DCMSOngoing

Medium-term action

We will take this action in a new spirit of partnership between industry and government. The industry will take the lead in modernising, improving quality and product development. Government will support where better regulation and co-ordination of public services is needed. Ministers will review in three months whether the current distribution of responsibilities supporting the joint programme is working well enough and will meet with industry again in six months to review the progress of the whole programme. All the initial action is to be taken within six months and further assignments then agreed at a further joint meeting with industry leaders.

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Who to leadTimescale
1. We will create a voice for the tourism sector which reflects the diversity of its main core industries and ensures a coherent view is put to government on key opportunities and issues of common concern. CBI-supported Tourism AllianceLaunched October, starts November 2001
2. Ministers are ready to develop stronger and more co-ordinated arrangements for the marketing of English tourism to the domestic market in response to the views of the industry. We are ready to concentrate public sector resources on three areas—marketing co-ordination, data gathering, and quality assessment. This will mean reducing support on other areas. Marketing co-ordination should have a strong private sector lead and embrace regional and local government spending. DCMS, ETC and the industry to develop new arrangementsFirst discussion at November Tourism Forum
New plan within six months
3. We will strengthen regional arrangements. We are committed to closer marketing co-ordination at regional level, development of strong sub-regional brands, and implementation of TIC modernisation. RDAs, RTBs and local authoritiesProposals to Secretary of State by end November
4. We are ready to develop a "fitness for purpose" approach to better regulation of hotels and restaurants. The aim is to bring together the many regulatory controls, and make them into a basic and strong assurance to customers. Premises not meeting the standard would be improved or closed. Arrangements for modernising alcohol and entertainment licensing, and gaming, will go ahead in parallel. DCMS with key Departments and Local Government AssociationReport to Secretary of State by end December
5. We will bring together the many sources of public sector data on tourism performance and trends and create a partnership with the private sector to give the industry and Ministers the information which is needed to decide policy, make investments, and improve service to the customer. The first step is to rationalise what is there at present and improve coherence and leadership. One objective will be to undertake a public attitude survey, and another to report annually. There will be a regional and local dimension to this but the first phase will look at national information and data. DCMS, ETC, BTAPrepare remit for Secretary of State's approval within one month
6. We will follow a fresh approach to training and skills. Our ambition is to create a major new skills body embracing the major industries of the sector. It will drive an improvement in service quality and career opportunities. Ministers will back it strongly within Government and ensure a fair share of resources is available to support effective new arrangements. Industry to convene, Ministers to back it in GovernmentTo be set up and seek recognition by Government by December
7. We will ensure wide adoption of the productivity and performance improvement techniques emerging for the Government-supported Productivity for Profit initiative. IndustryLaunched. Review in 2002
8. We will build on the EnglandNet and other e-tourism initiatives to create a strong network of tourist information services and to encourage the take up by small and micro-businesses of electronic means of communication and booking. ETC, DCMS, Industry, RDAsFirst stage by April 2002

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