Dome Sale

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 26 March 2001.

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Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood 2:30, 26 March 2001

What his estimate is of the final sum raised by the sale of the contents of the Millennium Dome.

Photo of Janet Anderson Janet Anderson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

On 3 March, the New Millennium Experience Company announced that the total value of the hammer price for items auctioned was approximately £3.5 million. That figure is subject to final reconciliation after completion of payments and collection of items by the purchasers.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson Conservative, Ruislip - Northwood

Why was the second lot of items withdrawn from the sale? Were they of such intrinsically wonderful value, were they of such cultural interest, or were they retained so that the dome could be maintained at the cost of £3 million a month, with that residue inside, and form part, as the Prime Minister said, of

"the first paragraph of this manifesto for re-election"?

Photo of Janet Anderson Janet Anderson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Those assets identified by Legacy plc as essential to its bid--along with other assets of potentially significant value to a future leisure attraction--were held back from the auction and remain in the ownership of the New Millennium Experience Company. A decision on how the value of those items will be realised will be taken in conjunction with any decision on the dome's future use.

Photo of Peter Ainsworth Peter Ainsworth Conservative, East Surrey

The Government seem to think that if they say nothing about the dome, the problem will go away and people will forget about it. However, people will not forget. They will not forget the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of lottery money; the refusal of Lord Falconer, the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, to resign; or the role played by the Secretary of State--

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask a question. I cannot hear one at present.

Photo of Peter Ainsworth Peter Ainsworth Conservative, East Surrey

I am coming to my question, Mr. Speaker.

Will the Minister confirm that the sale of the dome's contents was as big a fiasco as everything else to do with the dome? As it costs almost £80 a minute merely to stay shut and there is a deafening official silence about any future sale of the site, will she also confirm that the dome is likely to run out of money again? When will that happen, and when it does, who will pick up the bill?

Photo of Janet Anderson Janet Anderson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

May I just remind the hon. Gentleman of one or two things? The decision to build the dome was taken under the previous Government, as was the decision to build it at Greenwich. They also appointed the original chairman and chief executive of the dome company, determined the corporate structure, decided on the use of lottery money to support the project and created the role of the shareholder. I rest my case.