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 Viscount Falkland Viscount Falkland Liberal Democrat 3:17 pm, 24th May 2000

My Lords, whatever their reaction to the basic concept of the Dome--and I confess that I myself had deep misgivings about it--many noble Lords and people outside the House felt that we needed to support what the noble and learned Lord was doing to make it a success. However, should we not now realise and recognise that the attendance figures have been disappointing, as has the reaction of large numbers of people who have visited the Dome, although some have enjoyed the experience?

It is also unlikely that at the end of the year this venture will be the success that we all hoped it would be. We are now in a situation where an additional sum of money has been committed. Whether that money was dependent on the removal of the chairman and whether he has been a scapegoat is open to argument. Undoubtedly, all that will come out in the books that will be written about this whole matter some years hence, or perhaps sooner.

However, as the spokesman on these Benches, I must say that we are concerned about the amount of lottery money that has been invested in this venture. Additional lottery money has now been committed and others will suffer as a result. Can the noble and learned Lord say what the future of the Dome will be if further setbacks are experienced? Will more money be put into it from lottery funds? It would be reassuring to hear his answer.