Millennium Dome — 13 Nov 2000

I beg to move,

That this House deplores the financial mismanagement of the New Millennium Experience Company; notes with concern that the cost to Lottery funds has exceeded the budget by £229 million; believes that this represents a serious waste of public funds; and regrets that Ministers have neither apologised nor accepted responsibility for the failure of this national project.

an excellent celebration for the people of this country and a tangible and enduring legacy for future generations.

the announcement that the New Millennium Experience Company team will be introducing improvements which deliver even greater value for money both to the paying visitor and to the Millennium Commission.--[ Official Report , 21 February 2000; Vol. 344, c. 1348.]

it has been virtually impossible to ascertain the precise budgetary position of the New Millennium Experience Company.

setting the strategic direction of the company and monitoring it in terms of cost.

It seems possible that the board failed to take decisive action until after a date when the company became technically insolvent.

I repeat: the National Millennium Experience Company is confident that it will deliver the project within its lifetime budget of £758 million.--[ Official Report, House of Lords , 20 July 2000; Vol. 615, c. 1162.]

I strongly point out to the hon. Gentleman that such funding will and must be repaid.--[ Official Report , 31 January 2000; Vol. 343, c. 764.]

made it clear to the New Millennium Experience Company that it must operate within the budget now set for it. I was delighted that Mr. Gerbeau has confirmed on a number of occasions that he will not be returning to the Millennium Commission for extra funds.--[ Official Report , 10 July 2000; Vol. 353, c. 612.]

By June 1996 it had become clear that the private sector would not accept the risk associated with mounting the exhibition . . . ?

The investment in the millennium dome has a huge halo effect round the country.--[ Official Report , 8 May 2000; Vol. 349, c. 486.]

There is no need to apologise.--[ Official Report , 10 July 2000; Vol. 353, c. 608.]

The Government are the first to acknowledge that the dome has not been the success for which everyone hoped."--[ Official Report , 6 November 2000; Vol. 356, c. 9.]

Despite that, we have yet to hear an apology from any member of the Government for the deplorable waste of public funds that have been sunk into the dome. It has been obvious to everyone that the project has been a disaster from the opening night, if not before.

If we can't make this work we're not much of a Government.

On the right hon. Gentleman's point about my comments on whether the dome would be a success and that that should be a measure of the Government's competence, I happen to believe that it has been a success.--[ Official Report , 24 May 2000; Vol. 350, c. 965.]

the first paragraph of my next election manifesto.

In the year 2000 all the eyes of the world will be on Britain--

This is our chance to make a statement of faith in our capacity to do things bigger and better than anyone else.

We can always blame the Tories if we stop now. If we go ahead we'll have to take the blame if the whole lot goes wrong.

reflect the full breadth and success of the celebrations that we have planned.--[ Official Report , 20 April 1998; Vol. 310, c. 473.]

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

welcomes the publication of the National Audit Office report, which gives a detailed account of events at the Dome; agrees that politicians of all parties involved in the project share responsibility both for the successes in regenerating this depressed part of South East London and its failings to reach its original visitor estimates; and deplores the decision by Her Majesty's Opposition not to support the original bi-partisan nature of this national project.

it is clear that the main cause of the financial difficulties is the failure to achieve the visitor numbers and income required.

has ever run, managed, designed or promoted in any way whatsoever a major international leisure attraction.

At that stage, however, final decisions had not been made on the Dome's contents, on ticket prices, on marketing strategies, and on whether there would be access to the area by car for the purposes of dropping off and picking up.

I enjoy visiting the dome, and I have seen a major transformation on that site since it was a barren wasteland.--[ Official Report , 18 June 1999; Vol. 335, c. 674-75.]

I think it's now the job of all politicians to make a success of it. So we shall go there and join in the party.

we believe that the potential for tourism is important, not only nationally--15 million visitors are expected--but internationally.--[ Official Report , 28 February 1996; Vol. 272, c. 888-90.]

The then Official Opposition agreed to these arrangements, but reserved the right to review every aspect of the delivery of the project if elected to Government. The new Government undertook such a review.

I went to the Millennium Dome expecting rubbish--

but what I found was impressive. If there was a gold medal for knocking things, we British would win every time. I'm no flag-waver, but I felt proud of what I saw and experienced.

Britain's shopfront as we go into a new century.--[ Official Report , 16 December 1996; Vol. 287, c. 607.]

My accountant is right 99 times out of a hundred. The other time, I make a fortune.

the idea of a Millennium Festival with an Exhibition as its centrepiece.

The Commission agrees site selection guidelines which set the "brave but defensible" aim of a minimum 15 million visitors . . . For site selection purposes, in particular regarding maximum site capacity, guidelines remark that a figure in excess of 30 million visitors unlikely.

The first set of guidelines to potential operators issued by the Commission included in the site criteria the indicative target of achieving between 15 and 30 million visits over the year.

explored the feasibility of an Exhibition with an attendance target of 10 million or more, an arena for 12,000, and a three-year national programme.

Commission adopt a more modest plan involving temporary buildings, with no arena or national programme and a visitor target of 10 million.

MCL business plan revised by MC staff. Visitor assumption reduced to 10 million. Indicative budget approved by Commission 13 January.

If you cannot answer the question about the contents, you cannot get somebody to sign up for the money.

It is a little like Cadbury's developing a wrapper without actually deciding what the chocolate bar is going to be.

I have a series of worries. It's public money--if anything goes wrong it will all come back to us.

I am deeply against it, frankly. We ought to be honest and say it would cost £450 million.

I'm vehemently opposed. This will be a political disaster.

The then Secretary of State for Health, the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), said:

I'm against. Public money and lottery money are indistinguishable in the public mind.

We could be spending more on schools and hospitals instead.

In the light of the advice received from the Company's solicitors, the Company's Chairman notified the Shareholder on 25 May that the Board members would have to "consider their personal positions" if the Government did not provide indemnity against any wrongful trading actions brought against them by creditors.

the position would not be reached where the Dome was insolvent. It has always been monitored extremely closely and we have only proceeded on the basis that the Dome can continue successfully to the end of the year 2000.

Many people think that it--

is a total waste of money, and that . . . it has been badly handled, and has failed to capture the public's imagination.

Spending is within budget, costs are firmly under control . . . The millennium company is performing highly competently.--[ Official Report , 28 January 1998; Vol. 305, c. 276-81.]

the plan lacked detail on commercial, operational and pricing strategies and that there was no substantive information in the plan on . . . the content of the Dome.

those looking for fun might prefer a theme park, and those hoping to learn something might do better to visit the Science museum.

it must be a mixture of exciting and serious stuff.

not be a priority for many overseas visitors, who would be more likely to visit the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace . . .

However, despite that knowledge, the dome was still allowed to open with little idea of what would happen if the number of visitors fell below 12 million.

in essence . . . the strategy had been to draw on the cost contingency and to plan on the expectation of receiving proceeds from the sale of the Dome.

the Commission's staff had recommended that the Company's business plan be based, for the sake of prudence, on the figure of eight million visitors which was the "worst case" of the estimates provided to the Commission by its consultants, Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group.

It is not public money, no. It is lottery money.

in the context of accountability, this is a distinction without a difference. It is not money raised by taxation and it may be excluded from certain public expenditure definitions, but it is still taxpayers' money, and expenditure which must be held to account in the same way as money paid in taxation, whether directly or indirectly.

we will say to ourselves with pride: this is our Dome, Britain's Dome. And believe me, it will be the envy of the world.

I will come on any occasion to meet any of my colleagues in Parliament and provide them with any information on a public or confidential basis . . . in order to make sure that people like you are satisfied that we are acting in a proper and transparent way. You have that undertaking from me today.

Final decisions had not been made on the Dome's contents, on ticket prices, on marketing strategies.

Mr. Blair demanded a number of changes.

The current concept being worked upon until now is not good enough and has to be changed.

I welcome the Labour party's constructive approach . . . I have no wish for the exhibition to become the subject of party political disagreement.--[ Official Report , 18 November 1996; Vol. 285, c. 680.]

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 304.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 142 (+2 tell)089.4%
Lab303 (+2 tell) 0073.8%
LDem0 38080.9%
PC0 2050.0%
SNP0 1016.7%
Total:303 183077.7%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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