§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the circumstances which led to the staging of the Fanfare for a New World concert in Liverpool in 1992; on what basis a £2 shell company was appointed to oversee the event; what creditors are now seeking satisfaction from the Merseyside development corporation; and what representations he has received about the matter.
§ Mr. Robin Squire
The Fanfare for a New World concert was an important element in the Grand Regatta Columbus celebrations held in Liverpool last summer. From the earliest stages of planning the grand regatta, it had been recognised that a major flagship event of this kind would help to attract visitors and media attention to the city.
The Merseyside development corporation took the decisions to act as sponsors, rather than organisers, of the concert following approaches made to them by a private sector consortium. This consortium, who had worked for them in various capacities since 1986, included a well-known London-based opera impresario and the organiser of the successful Symphony for A Spire at Salisbury Cathedral. In the light of the proven track record of the members of this consortium, and following a thorough appraisal of the proposed budget, a legal agreement was drawn up which, among other things, set a maximum level of sponsorship for the event. This maximum level was increased shortly before the concert when the corporation was advised that further sponsorship from the private sector had not been secured at the expected level.
I understand that the Merseyside development corporation has received no direct approaches from creditors. Apart from the hon. Member's question, the only representations that my right hon. and learned Friend has received are three further questions tabled by, and a letter from, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle).