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, with respect to the noble Viscount, I believe that he has understated the progress of the project so far. As independent polls have shown, it has received satisfaction ratings of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent. Yes, it has fewer visitors than were envisaged in the original projections, but as a business it still attracts more visitors than any other paying visitor attraction in this country. That it is perceived to be a commercial success can be seen from the fact that two highly expert commercial companies are keen to take it over from 1st January next year when the exhibition comes to an end.

So far as concerns lottery funding, the New Opportunities Fund has made it clear that the provision of more funding to the Dome will not affect any of its programmes.

Perhaps I may make one further point. When the Millennium Commission decided to go ahead with this project under the previous government, it believed that one reason for doing so was the legacy that it would leave for that part of London: 13,000 jobs in its construction; 25,000 jobs over the following seven years; and the fact that it would attract approximately £1 billion in tourism. That legacy is worth holding on for and questing for, and we believe that it is a worthwhile project.