HL Deb 19 January 1998 vol 584 cc217-8WA
Lord Sefton of Garston

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements have been made with any company or organisation regarding the Millennium Dome, and in particular:

  1. (a) whether tenders were requested before the Government agreed to the constructions;
  2. (b) whether the financial provisions were approved by HM Treasury;
  3. (c) whether they will recover any costs;
  4. (d) when each company involved was registered; and
  5. (e) who are the directors of each company involved.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The New Millennium Experience Company Ltd (NMEC) has responsibility for building the dome and for developing and operating the Millennium Experience at Greenwich and an associated national programme of events and activities. The NMEC operates according to company law but it is also a non-departmental public body (NDPB) and follows the appropriate procedures for the procurement of works, goods and services.

The grant memorandum between the Millennium Commission and NMEC provides for the Millennium Commission to oversee the procurement procedures implemented by the NMEC and, in certain cases, the Commission's or the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's approval is required before contracts are entered into. The Treasury has no role with respect to individual contracts.

NMEC (then called Millennium Central Ltd) became operational in February 1997. Tenders for works, goods and services sought during the period between February 1997 and 19 June 1997—the date on which the Government made a final decision to proceed with the project—were made on the basis of an interim grant contract with the Millennium Commission which contained provisions to cover the project being cancelled following any review. In a few cases the NMEC took over procurement processes already begun by the Millennium Commission as part of its developmental work on the project prior to the Commission's formal award of grant to the NMEC.

The only contract that NMEC has cancelled to date was that with Koch Hightex, which contained a cancellation clause to cover just such an eventuality.

The NMEC is now party to over 90 works, goods, and services contracts. It does not hold details of the directors of each of the companies involved or when each of the companies was registered. The costs of compiling such details could only be done at disproportionate cost to the taxpayer.