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Monday, 31 January, 2000, 16:58 GMT
Extra Dome cash 'not a grant'

The Millennium Dome needs to attract 12,000 visitors a day


Any extra lottery money for the Millennium Dome will have to be paid back, Culture Secretary Chris Smith has told MPs.

Mr Smith said it was not true that 60m earmarked by the Millennium Commission for the dome was a grant rather than a loan.

It was also not the case that the commission had decided to give the money to the New Millennium Experience Company, which manages the dome, he told MPs.


Chris Smith: Cash will be paid back
Mr Smith said: "This is, I would very strongly point out to you, an amount of funding which will be repaid and must be repaid.

"It is not an outright grant."

The culture secretary was responding to a question from Conservative MP Michael Fallon, who demanded: "Which are you proudest of, the river that didn't catch fire, the eye that doesn't revolve or the dome that nobody wants to visit?"

The extra money is being made available for the dome as it fails to attract the 12,000 visitors it needs to break even.

Speaking during culture questions in the Commons, Mr Smith said: "The reality is that no application for additional funding has yet been made to the Millennium Commission."

'Prudent view'

He continued: "On the advice of the accounting officer of the Millennium Commission when we met on Friday, we took a prudent view of what our view would be as a Commission if an application for cashflow support were to be made.

"It was sensible to make such a decision."

The dome's official budget of 758m is dependent on 194m being generated from ticket sales, merchandising, catering and licensing. Running costs are projected to be some 138.4m.

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28 Jan 00 |  UK
Dome dogged by loan crisis

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