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Mr. Wyn Roberts : Information on truancy levels is not held centrally. The committee of inquiry into discipline in schools in England and Wales made several recommendations aimed at improving attendance rates. Arising from this the Welsh education support grant programme for 1990-91 makes provision for payment of grant to LEAs for schemes to improve attendance at schools.
The remit of LEA education welfare officers includes responsibility for following up cases of unjustified absence.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will make it his policy to make available £3.4 million to health authorities in Wales to tackle waiting lists ; and if he will make a statement ;
(2) what new measures he proposes to take to eliminate hospital waiting lists ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Grist : We are concerned that some patients have to wait too long for their treatment, which is why health authorities in Wales have been asked to mount a special initiative to reduce such waiting times through more efficient use of their discretionary resources. Authorities' own efforts have been supported by over £4 million of Welsh Office funding since 1986. These intitatives will be further supplemented this year by three specialist centres to treat those who have been waiting too long for treatments such as cataract removal or hip replacement. Subject to approval of the supply estimates, we plan to make available a total of £2.3 million in 1990-91 on the waiting times and treatment centre initiatives.
(2) how many people are waiting for non-urgent surgery in (a) Wales, (b) Gwent and (c) Newport ;
(3) how many people are waiting for out-patient treatment in (a) Wales, (b) Gwent and (c) Newport ;
(4) how many people are waiting for urgent treatment in (a) Wales, (b) Gwent and (c) Newport.
Column 327Mr. Grist : The available information is shown in the table :
Waiting list as at 31 March 1989 |Wales |Gwent |Newport<1> -------------------------------------------------------------------------- People waiting for: In patient treatment |41,964 |9,531 |5,538 Of which: Non-urgent surgery<2> |37,790 |8,377 |4,874 Urgent in-patient treatment |3,493 |1,124 |641 Out-patient consultation |90,745 |13,616 |7,039 <1>People waiting for treatment/consultation at Royal Gwent and St. Woolos hospitals. <2>People waiting for treatment in surgical specialties which are: general surgery; ear, nose and throat; traumatic and orthopaedic surgery; opthalmology; urology; plastic surgery; dental surgery; neurosurgery; gynaecology and cardiac surgery.
Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has to reduce hospital waiting lists in (a) Wales, (b) Gwent and (c) Newport.
Mr. Grist : The prime responsibility for reducing hospital waiting lists rests with district health authorities using their discretionary resources. Authorities' efforts have been supported by over £4 million of Welsh Office funding since 1986, of which £866,000 has been spent in Gwent on a scheme for trauma and orthopaedics based at the Royal Gwent hospital, Newport. This year will see three specialist centres to offer patients across Wales the choice of earlier treatment for key disabling conditions. The orthopaedic centre in South Glamorgan and the general surgery centre in Mid Glamorgan should be of particular benefit to patients in Gwent. Subject to approval of the supply estimates, we plan to allocate some £2.3 million to the waiting times and treatment centre initiatives in 1990-91.
(2) if he will meet the standing conference on regional policy in south Wales to discuss the rail electrification of Paddington-Cardiff ; and if he will make a statement.
|1989-90 |1990-91 |1991-92 |1992-93 |£ million|£ million|£ million|£ million ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Repair (including strengthening |14.9 |12.2 |2.8 |0.1 Maintenance |2.3 |2.7 |1.8 |1.8
Mr. Grist : I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) on 11 January when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the revenue and capital allocations to health authorities in Wales for 1990-91, including those in respect of the Gwent health authority. The distribution of resources within the district is a matter for the health authority to decide.
The distribution of the further sums referred to in the reply as being for centrally directed developments in 1990-91 will be announced in due course.
Mr. Needham : Private investment in Belfast has increased dramatically in recent years. This is particularly so in the city centre where major projects completed in the past five years, under way or programmed total £573 million. In addition, during the past five years IDB has backed industrial projects with a total planned investment of £191 million.
Mr. Needham : The task of attracting inward investment to Northern Ireland falls to the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland, whose policies are published in its medium-term strategy 1985-90. I am currently discussing with the IDB a new medium-term strategy, effective from April 1990. Although the detail has yet to be agreed, the basic thrust gives a commitment
"to concentrate the promotional efforts in major markets for internationally mobile investment and sectorally in areas where Northern Ireland has particular strengths."
Column 32943. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the current level of inward investment in the Province.
Mr. Needham : Since 1 April 1986, a total of 5,288 jobs have been promoted in Northern Ireland through new foreign-owned projects. In addition a further 5,773 jobs should result from investment into Northern Ireland by GB-owned companies. These projects have brought total new financial investment of £576 million. I am encouraged by this level of activity which includes some notable successes such as the Province's first South Korean investment.
Mr. Needham : A complete picture is not available of investment in Londonderry by the private sector. Statistics are, however, available for the period 1983-89 which produces a total of £40 million either spent, under way or projected. This £40 million figure essentially relates to retail, offices, shops, restaurants and hotel developments.
15. Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the progress of inter-party talks among the constitutional parties in Northern Ireland.
16. Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will meet a deputation of independent traders occupying premises off Smithfield market, Belfast, to discuss issues arising from the Castle Court development.
Mr. Needham : I am prepared to meet the Smithfield traders. Meetings have already taken place with officials and all possible action has been taken to minimise the adverse effect during construction of this major £100 million development.
Mr. Brooke : Since I answered a similar question on 14 December 1989, eight people have been killed in Northern Ireland in incidents directly related to terrorism. They included six civilians, a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Last year 430 people were charged with serious terrorist offences in Northern Ireland and large quantities of lethal weapons, ammunition and explosives were recovered, both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
51. Rev. William McCrea : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will call for a report on the security situation in Mid-Ulster ; and what further security measures he will introduce to secure the safety of constituents of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster.
Mr. Cope : I am always particularly conscious of those communities that have borne a high level of terrorist attacks. I have regular and frequent meetings with the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and others with responsibility for security to discuss security not only in Mid-Ulster but in Northern Ireland as a whole. New measures which might improve the security situation are under constant review ; where practicable they are implemented.
Mr. Cope : A measure of the Government's success is the fact that the terrorists have not advanced any of their causes by one step in many years of violence. The Government, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Army and the people of Northern Ireland remain resolute. Terrorism is futile.
Mr. Needham : Total funding for the health and personal social services in Northern Ireland in 1989-90 will amount to £962 million-- equivalent to about £609 per head of population. This remains substantially above levels in England and Wales and is a continued recognition of the Province's need for additional health and social services care, despite other pressures or resources.
20. Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he last raised the Irish Government's restrictions on the freedom of movement of southern Irish shoppers into Northern Ireland at a meeting of the Anglo-Irish
Column 331elsewhere, the restrictions they have imposed on travellers' allowances. The European Court will now decide on the legality of the restrictions : its hearing will take place on 21 February, and the United Kingdom Government will be represented.
Mr. Cope : The Secretary of State and I frequently have discussions with a wide range of people on a wide range of issues including legal and judicial matters. If the hon. Gentleman has a specific matter in mind, I will endeavour to provide the information requested.
22. Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he has taken or proposes to take to alleviate the financial position of farmers involved in the beef industry in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : We have urged my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to seek a devaluation of the United Kingdom green pound in the context of this year's price-fixing round.
We have also asked him to take steps to ensure that the maximum support allowable under the EC beef intervention arrangements is provided for the beef cattle market in Northern Ireland.
The problem of low returns for beef production, particularly winter finishing, in Northern Ireland is not new. There are structural weaknesses in the beef production and processing sectors which need to be addressed and we have asked officials to examine possible solutions to these problems with the farming and commercial interests involved.
Mr. Brooke : I assume that the right hon. Member is referring to the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference which last met on 30 November 1989 and I refer him to the answer I gave earlier today to a question from the hon. Member for Dundee, West.
25. Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which leaders of political parties in Northern Ireland he will consult in pursuing his proposal to reopen discussions on devolution ; and if he will make a statement.
30. Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the progress of his talks with Northern Ireland politicians concerning more local involvement in the government of the Province ; and what interest has been shown in the possibility of establishing local authorities similar to the authorities within the rest of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Brooke : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Gill). In their talks with me, most Northern Ireland politicians have looked towards the establishment of a devolved form of government for Northern Ireland as a whole, with an appropriate role for representatives of the minority community. The Government would give serious consideration to any proposals for more local involvement which were workable and seemed likely to command widespread acceptance.
29. Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has recently had with Northern Ireland politicians concerning more local involvement in the government of the Province ; and if he will make a statement.
Dr. Mawhinney : Last year my right hon. Friend held meetings with the leadership of the Ulster Unionist party, the Ulster Democratic Unionist party, the Social Democratic and Labour party, the Alliance party for Northern Ireland, the Workers party and the Ulster Progressive Unionist party at which the prospects for transferring powers to locally elected representatives were discussed. So far this year he has held such meetings with the Social Democratic and Labour party (most recently on 19 January) ; and I have met the leader of the Alliance party (most recently on 23 January). In addition, my right hon. Friend and his ministerial colleagues have had many other meetings, formal or less formal, over recent months, with politicians from all the main constitutional political parties, when the prospects for political progress among other matters have been discussed.
26. Rev. Martin Smyth : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment has been made of the availability of curriculum materials for Irish medium education for primary age children.
Dr. Mawhinney : The Government recognise the need to improve the availability of curriculum materials in Irish and are giving financial assistance for the production of suitable materials. The needs will be kept under review as part of the implementation of the common curriculum.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : In 1989 there were over 7,000 crashes or collisions involving personal injury or death. The total number of 11,611 casualties includes 9,416 slight injuries, 2,014 serious injuries and 181 deaths.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Targets were set last autumn to reduce by one third within the 12 months to halloween 1990, the recent average road death total of 210 people, and to cut serious injuries by one third by the end of the century. The death rate is down by 20 per cent., though the period covered so far is too short to be significant. The newly established road casualty reduction unit will seek to create a climate of public opinion and awareness which is more acceptable to the effective promotion of road casualty reduction ; and to examine and evaluate all existing road casualty reduction measures and to identify new measures.
Mr. Needham : Over the next few years the administration of social security will be improved through the introduction of a sophisticated new computerisation programme known as operational strategy. A major new system for the payment of income support was introduced last month and will be extended to cover all 34 social security offices by January 1991. Further systems for other benefits will be introduced later. This programme will mean a better service to the public, improved jobs and working conditions for staff and increased value for money for the taxpayer. It will cost £45 million and will break even in 1994-95.
With the same aims of improving service quality and efficiency the Department of Health and Social Services is conducting a feasibility study to consider whether social
Column 334security operations in Northern Ireland should become an executive agency in line with the next steps initiative. The report of the study will be considered by Ministers shortly.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : There is a need to focus and co-ordinate action towards social and economic development in the most deprived rural areas of Northern Ireland. An interdepartmental committee on rural development will review policies and programmes in these areas to ensure the maximum impact of existing expenditure with due sensitivity to identified needs in the areas themselves.
The opportunities for further action will be examined in light of the committee's findings and recommendations.