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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chairman: |N. Hamilton |Under Secretary, Department of the Environment Members: |W. V. Blease |Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Housing Executive |E. Holmes |Director, Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations |W. A. Doran |Deputy Director, Construction Employers' Federation |Mrs. J. McCrum |Ex Director, Housing Rights Service |D. J. A. Young |Chairman, Building Societies Association |Ms C. Laird |Institute of Housing |R. Best |Joseph Rowntree Foundation |Prof. A. Murie |Heriot Watt University |P. Sweeney |Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust |R. J. Polley |Rent Officer for Northern Ireland |Ms P. Bowen |Tenants Representative
Mr. William O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what study his Department has made relating to the introduction of toll roads in Northern Ireland ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Tim Smith : With the enactment of the necessary enabling legislation earlier this year, the Department of the Environment is in a position to introduce toll roads and will be prepared to consider suitable proposals.
Column 198Ireland received a placement with an employer prior to completing national vocational qualification level 2 examinations ;
(2) how many students have left each Government training centre in Northern Ireland in each of the last two years without sitting national vocational qualifications level 2 examinations.
Mr. Tim Smith : Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Training and Employment Agency under its chief executive, Mr. J. S. Crozier. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from J. S. Crozier to Mr. Roy Beggs, dated 24 May 1994 :
Column 199You have asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many students, in each of the last two years at each Government Training Centre in Northern Ireland received a placement with an employer prior to completing NVQ Level II examinations. You also asked how many students have left each Government Training Centre in Northern Ireland in each of the last two years without sitting NVQ Level II.
The Secretary of State has asked me, as Chief Executive of the Training and Employment Agency and therefore responsible for the operation of Training Centres to reply.
I should first explain that the general objective for trainees in Training Centres is that they should achieve qualifications at NVQ Level III. The normal procedure is that trainees spend a year in a Training Centre followed by a period of work placement and training with an employer of such duration as is necessary to enable the qualification to be secured. Since the Level III qualification is only achieved on the completion of the full programme, until recently trainees in general had no qualification as such on leaving the Training Centre after their first year.
In 1992/93 changes were introduced with the objective of enabling all trainees to achieve a Level II qualification on leaving the Centre before being placed with an employer on their way to Level III. However the unavailability of documentation at that time from Awarding Bodies made it necessary in many cases to place trainees in their employment placement and then to ask them to return to Training Centres to complete their NVQ Level II assessments as required. The 1992/93 intake of trainees left Training Centres during 1993/94. Approximately 50 of leavers during 1993-94 were placed with an employer prior to completing all of the requirements of NVQ Level II. In total however including those who returned to Training Centres to complete their qualifications,. 74 achieved the Level II qualification. I regret that I do not have readily available in meaningful form figures showing precisely how many students left each Centre without assessment for NVQ Level II or who received a placement with an employer prior to completing NVQ Level II assessment. However I append a breakdown for each Centre showing the percentage of the 1992-93 intake which achieved a Level II qualification.
Figures are not yet available for the 1993-94 intake since the trainees recruited in that year have not yet left their respective Centres. It is expected however that 90 of those who finish their first year in 1994 will have achieved NVQ Level II before being placed with an employer.
Mr. Tim Smith : There are approximately 21,000 non-agricultural enterprises in the private sector in Northern Ireland employing fewer than 50 employees and 55 enterprises with more than 500 employees.
Mr. Trimble : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many orders under schedule 7 to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 have been served on journalists of Republican News or An Phoblacht in respect of interviews with members of the Irish Republican Army.
Dr. Marek : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the present number of civil servants taking legal action against his Department as a result of work-related upper limb disorders.
Sir John Wheeler : The present number of civil servants taking legal action against the Northern Ireland Office and Northern Ireland Departments as a result of work-related upper limb disorders is eight.
Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has studied the results of the survey on attitudes to birth control and abortion carried out by Ulster Marketing Surveys, a copy of which has been sent to him ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ancram : I am aware of the results of the opinion polls carried out in 1992 and 1993. Ministers welcomed these surveys as a useful contribution to informing debate within Northern Ireland on these topics.
Mr. Ancram : None. The Government have consistently held to the view that legislation should not be introduced to reform Northern Ireland abortion laws unless this is likely to command broad support within the Province. While concluding that such support did not exist, the Government have in the past undertaken to keep the matter under review and to be prepared to modify their policy to take account of any significant shift in public opinion which may occur.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the 1994-95 running cost limits for the Northern Ireland Office and Northern Ireland Departments.
Sir John Wheeler : The gross running costs limit for 1994-95 for the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Departments is £787,031,000. There is also a net running cost limit for the Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency. Details of the provision for individual Northern Ireland Departments are set out in the Northern Ireland Estimates which were laid before the House today.
Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will place in the Library the review prepared by the Chief Constable of the RUC under section 31 of the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1989.
Sir John Wheeler [holding answer 23 May 1994] : No. There is no obligation under the Fair Employment (National Insurance) Act 1989 to make reviews under section 31 available to any person or organisation. I understand that the review prepared by the Chief Constable in fulfilment of the requirements of the Act, as an internal document, contains information which could prejudice the security of individual police officers. It is not appropriate
Column 201that it be made public, but I understand that the Chief Constable has made it available to the Fair Employment Commission. It is the policy of the RUC that no member or job applicant receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of sex, marital status, religion or political opinion.
Mr. Stewart : An analysis of the 1994-95 budget estimates of all Scottish local authorities has recently been completed and I am pleased to say that all authorities have budgeted at or below the expenditure limits implied by the provisional capping principles which my right hon. Friend announced on 30 November 1993. In those circumstances, my right hon. Friend does not propose to take capping action against any Scottish local authority this year.
Mr. Lang : I have given priority to measures which create an environment in which companies will create new jobs and I am encouraged by the fall in seasonally adjusted unemployment in Scotland in eight of the last nine months.
18. Ms Rachel Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to meet the Scottish Trades Union Congress to discuss the economy and employment ; and if he will make a statement.
19. Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total number of (a) geriatric and (b) psychogeriatric beds in national health service hospitals in Scotland on the most recent available date ; and what were the equivalent numbers for the same date three years previously.
Mr. Stewart : In December 1990 there were 11,341 geriatric assessment and long-stay beds in the NHS in Scotland. At December 1993 there were 10,433 beds. Over the same period the number of psychogeriatric beds increased from 5,875 to 6,036.
Column 202manager regarding the future of the Scottish Ambulance Service. The chief executive of the management executive of the NHS in Scotland visited the headquarters of the Scottish Ambulance Service on 25 April and he met the general manager of the Scottish Ambulance Service on Friday 13 May. The future of the Scottish Ambulance Service was discussed on both occasions.
Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the minimum qualifications for a driver of an accident and emergency ambulance ; and whether exceptions among such post holders have been drawn to his attention.
Mr. Stewart : All recruits to the Scottish Ambulance Service must have a clean driving record with a minimum of two years' experience. Since 1981 new accident and emergency staff have been required to complete a two- week roadcraft driving course. In those rural areas where contractors or ambulance auxiliaries are used as drivers an assessment is made of their driving standards by a qualified ambulance service driving instructor and training is given as appropriate.
The Scottish Ambulance Service management has a protocol that in exceptional circumstances non-emergency staff may drive an accident and emergency vehicle.
No other exceptions have been drawn to the attention of my noble and learned Friend.
37. Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has received concerning the prospect of awarding trust status to the Scottish Ambulance Service ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend is aware of an early-day motion on 5 May about trust status for the Scottish Ambulance Service but has not received any other representations. The trust application is out for public consultation and all comments received will be carefully considered before a decision is made.
22. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people currently serving on quangos in Scotland are appointed by him ; and how many further appointments would be required if the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill were to be implemented.
Mr. Lang : The number of people serving on bodies sponsored by my Department and appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, as at 1 September 1993, was 1,472. This excludes children's panel members. The Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill makes provision for the establishment of a number of public bodies and the abolition of a number of others--such as the Scottish Valuation Advisory Council and many area tourist boards. It is too early to say what the overall effect will be.
23. Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has recently had with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to discuss the proposed changes to local government in Scotland.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend last met the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on 28 January 1994. The Convention did not raise any issues relating to local government reform at that meeting.
24. Mr. Salmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to meet representatives of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to discuss local government reform ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend and I are scheduled to meet the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on 22 July as part of the normal consultation on local government finance matters. It is likely that local government reform will be discussed at that meeting.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the names and locations of schools which would have catchment areas crossing the local education authority boundaries proposed in the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill ; and how many pupils will be affected in each case.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Comprehensive information on school catchment areas is not held centrally within the Scottish Office. I cannot therefore add to what I said to the hon. Member during the debate on the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill on 18 May. Catchment areas are in any case unaffected by the proposed changes in local government boundaries and catchment areas at the time of local government reorganisation would remain in place unless and until the new authorities seek to change them.
Mr. Stewart : The Government estimate that a 32 unitary authority structure of local government will save up to £52 million per year in staff costs. The savings are calculated to accrue from a reduction in the number of local authority posts of up to 1,800.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend continues to receive a range of representations about the Government's proposals for local government reform in Scotland. Since January I have also met 25 hon. Members who accompanied delegations to discuss the new structure.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend met the chairman and chief executive of Scottish Enterprise at the local enterprise company conference on 25 March 1994 when a range of issues, including training, was discussed.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend met the chairman and chief executive of Scottish Enterprise at the local enterprise company conference on 25 March 1994 when a range of issues, including training for young people, was discussed.
26. Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will reconsider the Government's current proposals to introduce legislation to create a Scottish environmental protection agency ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Hector Monro : The provision of sport and recreational facilities is primarily for local authorities to determine. The Scottish Sports Council, funded by Government and which provides national specialist sports facilities at Inverclyde, Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge, offers an expert advisory service to local authorities for new development in sport facilities. The national lottery will offer exciting opportunities for further improvement of sport and recreational facilities throughout Scotland.
Mr. Lang : My fellow forestry Ministers and I are currently considering the report of the forestry review group which was asked to review, among other things, the options for the ownership and management of Forestry Commission woodlands. An announcement about our conclusions will be made in due course.
Mr. Stewart : The NHS in Scotland is treating a record number of patients, is progressively reducing the amount of time people wait for treatment, is providing more information and more choice to patients, and is funded at record levels.
It is estimated that Scotland's productivity growth in the 1980s was above that in any of the G7 economies. This impressive performance was maintained in 1993, when output per person employed was 5.1 per cent. higher than in 1992.
Sir Hector Monro : I met the chairman of the Scottish Sports Council as recently as 6 May and expect that I will meet him again in the near future, when the funding of sport in Scotland may well be discussed.
32. Mr. Connarty : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what guidelines are issued to health boards and health trusts on the choice of health care for elderly patients requiring long-term health care.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend has issued no such guidelines. Choice of health care is determined by clinical assessment and need. It is for individual health boards to determine the care needs for their elderly population and to purchase accordingly. In so doing they are expected to have due regard for the Government's community care objectives and what is best for the individual.
Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend and I are next scheduled to meet representatives of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on 22 July as part of the normal consultation on local government finance matters.
Mr. Stewart : Since publication of the report "Emergency Healthcare in Scotland : Future Structure of Accident and Emergency Services" on 11 April, no representations have been received from the medical profession.
Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the cost of calls made on (a) car and (b) portable telephones in 1993-94 ; how much this equipment cost to buy or hire ; and what were the maintenance costs.
Mr. Lang : The cost of calls made on (a) car telephones in 1993-94 amounted to £11,275 ; this equipment cost £6,948 to buy or hire and there were no maintenance costs. The cost of calls on (b) portable telephones was £31,236 ; this equipment cost £69,102 to buy or hire and the maintenance costs amounted to £2,035.
Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the current average waiting time at each accident and emergency department for emergency cases ; and what were the times at the same period in 1993.
Dr. Strang : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about loss of public access to fishings controlled by the Aberfeldy angling club in respect of the River Tay Catchment Area Protection Order ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Hector Monro : Representations have been received from two parties over access to fishings on the River Tay controlled by the Aberfeldy Angling Club, one of which was on behalf of the Scottish Campaign for Public Angling. These were additional to the inquiry from the hon. Member.