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Bloody Sunday Inquiry

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the families of the (a) deceased and (b) wounded on Bloody Sunday have been informed of the number of counsel and firms of solicitors who will represent them at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry; and if they will have the solicitors and counsel of their choice. [47003]

Marjorie Mowlam [holding answer 24 June 1998]: I understand that these matters will be discussed at the preliminary hearing of the Inquiry which will be held at the Guildhall, Londonderry on 20 July as laid down in the list of considerations given in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry press notice of 18 June.

Housing Grants

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if data are available to enable her to make a statement on the religious affiliation of (a) applicants for grants and (b) applicants whose grants have been approved, in both cases by district council area, under the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992. [47275]

Mr. Paul Murphy: This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, whose Chief Executive has advised me that to date, there are still insufficient data to make a meaningful assessment of the impact of the grants scheme on applicants of particular religious persuasions. The Commission for Racial Equality has recommended

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that a completion rate of 80 per cent. to the relevant question on the preliminary inquiry form is the minimum which would allow for meaningful monitoring. At present, only 63 per cent. of applicants are completing the question.

Higher Education Applications

Mr. Gorrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many of those aged (a) under 21, (b) 21 to 24 and (c) over 25 years and over, registered in Northern Ireland, applied through UCAS for admission to a course of higher education for the (i) 1994, (ii) 1995, (iii) 1996, (iv) 1997 and (v) 1998 entry cycles; what were the numbers of the population in Northern Ireland aged (a) to (c) for (i) to (v); and what was the proportion of those applying as a percentage of the appropriate population cohort. [47266]

Mr. Worthington: The information requested is set out in the tables.

NI domiciled applicants through UCAS

YearUnder 21 years21-24 years25 years and overTotal
1997 as at 16 May 1997(2)13,2821,25478915,325
1998 as at 16 May 1998(2)13,1671,15765114,975

Population estimates (mid-year)

Year18-20 years21-24 years25-39 years

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NI domiciled UCAS applicants as percentage of the relevant population cohort

YearUnder 21 years21-24 years25 years and over
1997 as at 16 May 1997(2)
1998 as at 16 May 1998(2)

(2) Total applicant figures are not yet available for 1998. Therefore the latest available figures (as at 16 May 1998) are included along with the corresponding position at the same date in 1997 to allow comparisons to be made

University Students

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what equal opportunity monitoring is conducted of students in universities in Northern Ireland; who is responsible for undertaking the monitoring; what are the proportions of Protestant and Catholic students at (a) the Queen's University, Belfast, (b) the University of Ulster at each of its campuses and (c) the Open University; and if she will make a statement. [45821]

Mr. Worthington: The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), on behalf of the Department of Education Northern Ireland, gathers data on the gender, ethnicity, religion and disability of students in universities in Northern Ireland.

The figures from the provisional 1997-98 data in respect of Northern Ireland domiciled students are as follows:

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ProtestantRoman CatholicOtherMissing data(3)
Queen's University Belfast
Full-time undergraduate students who entered via UCAS3340225
University of Ulster at Belfast
Full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st year)4242611
Part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st year)(4)--67(4)--(4)--
University of Ulster at Coleraine
Full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st Year)424837
Part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st year)3344(4)--20
University of Ulster at Jordanstown
Full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st year)375436
Part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st year)3935522
University of Ulster at Magee
Full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st year)1269416
Part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students (1st year)1164322

(3) In these cases students have been asked the monitoring questions, but not answered

(4) Percentage not given if based in fewer than 5 students


No religion data are collected on Open University students

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Scottish Parliament

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which battalion will be assigned for public duties in Scotland for the first opening of the Scottish parliament. [48033]

Mr. George Robertson: The 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the 1st Battalion The Black Watch will be assigned to public duties in Scotland during the summer of 1999. No decisions have been taken on which units will participate in the opening ceremony for the first Scottish parliament.

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated regarding the causes of Gulf War Syndrome illnesses. [38601]

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what research is currently being carried out on behalf of his Department into the effects of Gulf War Syndrome on servicemen; [44673]

Dr. Reid: In addition to our present work on the subject of illnesses suffered by Gulf War Veterans, I am today announcing that MOD will be funding an independent systematic literature review of worldwide published research relating to Gulf veterans' illnesses. This decision follows a recommendation from the Medical Research Council (MRC) who advise the Government on research aimed at addressing Gulf veterans' health concerns. The review will be carried by a team led by Professor Glyn Lewis at the University of Wales at Cardiff and will cost £75k over three years. The findings of the review will be published at regular intervals.

The Government are already funding two major epidemiological studies to look at the health of Gulf veterans and their families. One study, under Professor Nicola Cherry at Manchester University, aims to determine whether Gulf veterans are experiencing greater ill-health than service personnel who did not take part in the conflict and will involve a total of 9,600 Gulf veterans, plus a control group of 4,800 personnel. The other study, under Dr. Patricia Doyle at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, will examine the reproductive health of Gulf veterans and the health of their children. Dr. Doyle aims to contact all personnel who served in the Gulf, some 53,000 in all, plus a control sample of the same size. Controls for these studies are drawn from personnel who were serving at the time of the Gulf War but did not deploy there.

A further epidemiological study looking at whether service in the Gulf is associated with increased illness of UK veterans is being funded by the US Department of Defense and carried out by Professor Wessely at Kings College School of Medicine. Although this study is being

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carried out independently of MOD, the Department is co-operating with Professor Wessely by providing essential data to the study team. This study involves 4,250 Gulf veterans and two control groups: one of 4,250 non-Gulf personnel and another of 4,250 personnel who have served in Bosnia. The control groups have been randomly selected to form a sample similar to the Gulf cohort on the basis of Service, age, sex and Officer/Other ranks status. The Army and RAF samples are also selected according to Regular/Reservist status and fitness.

The Government are also funding King's College, London to carry out a clinical study under Dr. Michael Rose and Dr. Mohammad Sharief. The study will focus on those veterans who have, according to their response to the epidemiological study carried out under Professor Wessely, significant neuromuscular symptoms.

Control subjects for this study will be randomly selected through Professor Wessely's epidemiological study and will include Gulf veterans who do not exhibit any neuromuscular symptoms, Service and ex-Service personnel who were serving at the time of the Gulf War but did not deploy there and personnel who have served in Bosnia. In addition, a group of civilian patients will be used to validate the research methodology, although they will not be used for comparison as part of the study.

The Government are also funding a programme of research to investigate the possible adverse health effects of the combination of vaccines and tablets which were given to troops in the Gulf to protect them against biological and chemical warfare agent. This research is based principally on animal studies, but it is also planned to monitor the health of staff at Porton Down who receive multiple vaccinations as part of their normal safety regime.

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