HC Deb 28 June 1999 vol 334 cc12-5
28. Mr. Tony McNulty (Harrow, East)

If a revised sponsorship target for the millennium dome has been set following the achievement of the original target. [87227]

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

Some £160 million of sponsorship has been committed to the millennium experience. That is more sponsorship than has ever been raised for any single event in the United Kingdom.

Mr. McNulty

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will she join me in congratulating the New Millennium Experience Company on meeting its target, but assure me that she will keep up the pressure so that it maximises its sponsorship potential? Will she publish in the House of Commons Library a list of every moaning minnie on the Opposition Benches who carped and whinged his or her way through last year, saying that the millennium experience company would not reach its target, but who now have had the grace to apologise and congratulate the company? I suspect that it will be rather a short list.

Janet Anderson

I thank my hon. Friend for that observation. He is of course right that the faint hearts on the Opposition Benches said that the company would never reach the sponsorship level that we had set. We do not intend to issue a revised sponsorship target, although we are finding that more and more people want to contribute to what will be the most spectacular event in the world marking the millennium.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey)

In her list of moaning minnies, will the hon. Lady please put at the top the right hon. Members for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) and for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) and her other colleagues who for nine months, particularly in opposition, thoroughly and professionally rubbished the millennium company and all its work, so greatly damaging sponsorship? I am delighted that on this, as on many things, they changed their tune on 1 May 1997. They should not try to rewrite history as well.

Janet Anderson

The right hon. Lady should not subject us to such nonsense. As she knows only too well, this Government decided to take the project forward. Indeed, I take this opportunity to remind the House that if the Conservative party had had its way, the dome would have been pulled down at the end of the millennium year. We intend that the dome is put to good use afterwards.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)

Has that sponsorship diminished the amount of money going to other artistic projects?

Janet Anderson

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is no evidence of that; increasingly we are finding that people want to be associated with the project. Sponsors who have so far supported the project include BT, Manpower, Tesco, BSkyB, Marks and Spencer, Boots the Chemists, McDonald's, Ford, the Corporation of London and BA—the list goes on and on. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is no evidence that that sponsorship has reduced support for other projects.

29. Ms Rosie Winterton (Doncaster, Central)

How many temporary and permanent jobs he estimates will be created through the millennium dome. [87228]

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

During the dome's year of operation 5,000 full-time jobs will be created. Of those, 2,000 will be employed directly by the New Millennium Experience Company and 3,000 will be employed by service providers, such as caterers and security services. NMEC's recruitment drive was announced on 10 June.

Ms Winterton

Is my hon. Friend aware that Ridings International in my constituency secured 14 jobs by winning a £2 million contract to provide 50 miles of steel cable, which holds up the dome? I think that it is safe to say that without Doncaster, the dome would droop. In view of that invaluable contribution, will she ensure that companies which help to erect the dome are included in the opening celebrations?

Janet Anderson

I thank Ridings International for its very significant contribution. My hon. Friend is quite right—without it, goodness knows what would happen to the dome, because that company's steel cables are holding it up. We are anxious that as many people as possible who have participated in this project should be included in the opening celebrations. We are carefully considering who we can include, and we shall take very careful note of my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

I am sure that the Minister would agree that central to the success of the millennium dome and the millennium experience must be a London Underground connection to it. As she believes in joined-up government, will she tell the House when the whole length of the Jubilee line extension will be open?

Janet Anderson

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman an exact date, but I can assure him that it is a subject of much discussion between my Department and the other Departments involved. I assure him that the Jubilee line extension will be finished on time.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey)

May I ask the Minister to withdraw her remarks about Conservative Members' attitude to the dome? She knows perfectly well that we have continued to support the project. It is not our fault that 90 per cent. of the population believe that it is a waste of money. Whose fault is that?

While on the subject of long-term jobs, will the Minister update the House about the after-use of the site? Given the long lead time for such a major investment project, should not we now be moving towards a final stage and selecting what will happen on that site, and who will run it, after the exhibition closes? Or will there be an embarrassing and costly delay between the closure of the exhibition and whatever comes after it?

Janet Anderson

The hon. Gentleman's ability to score own goals gets better and better. I remind him that, under the previous Government, in which he served, there would have been no after-use of the site; they planned to pull the dome down. The hon. Gentleman knows only too well that the Deputy Prime Minister has received several bids for ideas to use the dome in a way that will serve the national interest after the millennium year. We intend that to happen, which contrasts starkly with the Conservative party's woeful attitude.

30. Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)

What assessment he has made of the extra visitors and spending in (a) London and (b) the United Kingdom next year as a result of the millennium dome. [87229]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

The British Tourist Authority has estimated the number of overseas visitors to the UK in 2000 as 27.5 million. Of those, the New Millennium Experience Company foresees that 2.5 million will visit the dome. The BTA has also suggested that as a direct result of the millennium experience, an additional £300 million to £500 million of overseas tourist revenue will be brought into the UK economy. The "halo" effect could double that figure. The BTA has further estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 new tourist-related jobs will be created. That is excellent news for the whole of the UK.

Joan Ruddock

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on that and I share his enthusiasm for what will happen at the dome and all that will follow from that. However, is he aware that in constituencies such as mine—neighbouring Lewisham—some concerns exist arising from those wonderful forecasts? Will he undertake to look at the plans for a passenger transport interchange at Lewisham, which will enable much speedier transfers between the docklands light railway, train services and buses between Lewisham and the dome? That proposal would, I suggest, bring a lasting benefit to local people, help all the visitors and help to ensure that Lewisham does not become a giant dome car park.

Mr. Smith

Of course I understand my hon. Friend's concerns about what might happen if proper provision is not made. It is absolutely essential to ensure that good quality, reliable public transport services are available to everyone who wishes to travel to the dome. I will bring the specific points that my hon. Friend raises to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

It is all very well overseas visitors coming and using an interchange at Lewisham, but how are my constituents from the Vale of York meant to visit the dome? What special arrangements and special fares will be made available for those travelling from the north of England?

Mr. Smith

The hon. Lady will be aware of the National Express package, which has already been announced. It will offer transport from anywhere in the United Kingdom to the dome, including entrance to it, for £29 per person. She will be aware also of the special rates for family groups of up to five people, which have already been announced. The hon. Lady may be aware of the discussions that are under way with other transport operators to ensure that other means of getting to the dome from all parts of the United Kingdom are available at affordable rates.