HC Deb 21 January 1999 vol 323 cc1018-9
34. Mr. Tony McWalter (Hemel Hempstead)

What plans he has for the Millennium Experience to celebrate the human capacity to think. [65226]

The Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting (Janet Anderson)

The mind zone, one of fourteen exhibits in the millennium experience dome, will celebrate the unique creativity of the human brain by exploring the nature of our senses and perceptions through traditional art and advanced technology.

Mr. McWalter

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and express my pleasure in welcoming her to her new duties. I am a member of the National Committee for Philosophy, a post which naturally carries no remuneration. Those functions that require recognition, such as the contribution that philosophers have made to our culture in the past thousand years, may be left out because some bodies are unable to get the high levels of sponsorship that will be needed to obtain space in the dome. Will my hon. Friend be receptive to representations from professions such as philosophers and others to ensure that the contribution made by such people to our culture is given full expression in the dome, and that the dome is not a dumb dome, as some have suggested that it might be?

Janet Anderson

I reassure my hon. Friend that we are well aware of his expertise in this area and proud to have him as a colleague. We are always willing to meet anyone who has an interest in the dome. The mind zone will show how medical imaging technology allows us to follow the response of our brains to sensory input. Visitors will interact with advanced, intelligent robots in the robot zoo and enjoy a specially commissioned film showing images that challenge the very limits of our senses.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey)

Is the hon. Lady aware that so much of the thought of the past millennium, and the creativity and achievements of people around the world, has been inspired by the Christian faith? In spite of her earlier and welcome answer, is she aware that many people feel that the millennium dome has been hijacked by new Labour to act as a party political launch pad, including much of the language and imagery? It is essential, when she advises her noble Friend who has taken responsibility for the millennium experience, that she tells him that the dome is not a party political launch pad but a celebration of the achievements of our nation in the past millennium while looking forward to the future.

Janet Anderson

I assure the right hon. Lady that we have never attempted to make the dome a party political launch pad. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, at a well-attended event held yesterday to explain what we are doing for the millennium, made it plain that the project was started by the Conservatives. If the right hon. Lady wishes to make cheap political points, I remind her that her right hon. Friend, Michael Heseltine—[Interruption.] I am sorry, I mean the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine). He has been involved in the project from the start. I hope that the right hon. Lady will get behind this unique national project, which is recognised internationally as a symbol of the millennium. She should give it her full support.