HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc77-9W
34. Ms Moran

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what will be the arrangements by which schools may apply for free tickets for schoolchildren to the millennium dome. [91372]

Janet Anderson

The New Millennium Experience Company has sent to schools an Information and Booking form for educational visits to the Dome at Greenwich. The form is available from NMEC's 12 regional offices. The form includes details about the Education Tours scheme through which up to one million free tickets will be available to schools. Each school will be able to apply for up to 100 free tickets. As the brochure explains, details of how to apply for free education tours will be sent to schools in September. Copies of the Information and Booking Form will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

35. Mr. Efford

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the effect which the millennium experience will have on the tourist industry. [91373]

Mr. Chris Smith

The British Tourist Authority (BTA) has estimated the number of overseas visits to the UK in 2000 as 27.5 million. The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) forecasts 2.4 million overseas visitors to the Dome. The BTA has also indicated that as a direct result of the Millennium Experience an additional £300m-£500m of overseas tourist revenue will be brought into the UK economy. It is conceivable that as a result of the Millennium celebrations this figure could be doubled if the knock-on effect to related industries is taken into account. The BTA has further estimated that 10,000–15,000 new tourism-related jobs will be created. This is excellent news for the whole of the UK.

36. Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the representation of the various English regions through the Millennium Experience. [91374]

Janet Anderson

While there are no exhibits within the Dome which are dedicated specifically to the English regions, there are a number of opportunities for regional representation. For example, I am pleased to say that as part of the "Our Town Story" project, the Wirral is due to have its day in the Dome on 31 May 2000.

"Our Town Story", sponsored by McDonald's, is linked to the Theatre space and Education Centre at the Dome. It enables more than 20,000 schoolchildren and other members of the community in every education authority and library board area in the UK to stage a performance in the Dome telling the story of their community. The "Our Town Story" stage will seat 500 people and will be a professionally equipped theatre space.

37. Mr. Fraser

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement on the importance being attached to religion in the organisation of the millennium celebrations. [91375]

Mr. Chris Smith

The Government recognise the important significance of the year 2000 as a Christian anniversary, and is keen to see this reflected in the official celebrations. However, we also wish to ensure that celebrations are accessible and relevant to people of all religious persuasions and none. Through the Lambeth Group, my Department, the Millennium Commission and the New Millennium Experience Company are working closely with the Christian churches, ecumenical groups and other faith communities to ensure that the spiritual aspect of the occasion receives proper recognition. We are also working with Church groups in the four nations of the UK to deliver ecumenical Millennium Church Services in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast on Sunday 2 January 2000.

38. Mr. Quinn

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what measures will be in place to facilitate visits from schoolchildren from the most peripheral parts of the United Kingdom to the dome at Greenwich; and if small, rural schools in Scarborough and Whitby will be eligible for such arrangements. [91376]

Janet Anderson

The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) is not responsible for travel arrangements to the Dome for schoolchildren or any other groups. Very few, if any, visitor attractions subsidise or pay for school travel and very few provide significant numbers of free entry tickets for schoolchildren. NMEC is providing up to one million free school tickets under the Education Tour scheme. All schools in the UK can apply for these tickets. NMEC has also worked hard to negotiate deals with travel providers and operators which represent good value for money for visitors to the Dome. NMEC has informed schools about these providers and operators in their area.

39. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of school pupils from Scotland will be able to visit the dome on a free basis. [91377]

Janet Anderson

There are up to one million free tickets available to schoolchildren. Final details of allocations, including the ballot arrangements, will be announced in due course. However, the free tickets will be on a pro rata to school population basis. Under the Education Tours Scheme, schools in Scotland will be allocated about 8.5 per cent. of the free tickets. However, NMEC are not able at this stage to indicate how those tickets will be finally apportioned to the individual Local Education Authorities (LEA's) or individual schools.

40. Mr. Alan W. Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will extend the duration of the millennium dome exhibition beyond 31 December 2000. [91378]

Mr. Chris Smith

The Millennium Experience at the Dome is planned as the centrepiece of the nation's millennium celebrations and will run for one year from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2000, and be a truly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience for visitors. The Government are committed to identifying a sustainable, viable use for the Dome after the Millennium Experience ends and launched a competition for that purpose on 4 March 1999. The competition is proceeding well and the outcome will be announced in Spring 2000.

Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what training Millennium Dome staff will receive in order to deal with problems; and what powers they will have in respect of the public. [91267]

Janet Anderson

All staff will receive appropriate training in line with best practice for the nature and scope of their duties and responsibilities.