New Millennium Experience Company: Chairman

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:17 pm on 24th May 2000.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Minister of State, Cabinet Office 3:17 pm, 24th May 2000

My Lords, first, so far as concerns the question of a Statement, a PNQ was put down, to which we agreed. That means that we are able to answer any questions that your Lordships may have. With regard to the circumstances in which Mr Bob Ayling was replaced by Mr David Quarmby, it was necessary to prepare a new business plan as a result of the original estimates of the number of visitors to the Dome being too high. It is worth pointing out that at the moment the number of visitors to the Dome is higher than for any other paying visitor attraction in this country. However, in view of the experience of the past four months, it was necessary to rejig the plans.

An application was made to the Millennium Commission, and the commission dealt with it on its merits. It is an independent body which includes, as I pointed out, noble Lords on the other side of the House, including the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, who would, I believe, very much resent the suggestion that it is not an independent body. The commission reached the conclusion that the scheme was worth supporting. I have no idea about the detail of the circumstances in which the Millennium Commission came to that conclusion, save to say that it is an independent body which, I am quite sure, acted in accordance with its remit.