The New Millennium Experience Company announced BT as sponsor of the talk zone on 24 February 1998 and the contractual documentation was signed on 18 January 1999 after the necessary detailed negotiation on terms. Ford was announced as sponsor of the journey zone on 5 March 1999. In that case, the necessary contractual documentation was completed and signed prior to the announcement on 15 February 1999.
The dates that the Minister has given indicate that the New Millennium Experience Company must have known two years before it finally revised its budget in February this year, that there would be a shortfall of tens of millions of pounds in its sponsorship budget and that that money would have to come out of lottery funds. Why, therefore, did NMEC fail to change its budget and fail to ask for extra lottery money for two years? Why did the Government allow it to get away with that?