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Assembly

19. Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made with preparing the Northern Ireland Assembly for devolution of power. [64873]

Marjorie Mowlam: I have drawn up a timetable setting out the necessary legislative and other preparatory steps which will need to be completed to enable devolution to take effect in early March. Copies of that timetable are available from officials in the NIO. I intend to keep in contact with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and the Assembly parties regarding the detail of the relevant Orders required to be brought before this House over the coming weeks.

Peace Process

21. Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement about progress on the peace process. [64875]

Marjorie Mowlam: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy), Official Report, column 899.

Victims of Violence

23. Mrs. Irene Adams: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps she is taking to help the victims of violence in Northern Ireland. [64877]

Mr. Ingram: I have announced a number of significant funding initiatives to support victims and a newsletter outlining progress was published on 8 January, a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library. I plan to announce further measures once the outcome of the recently concluded consultation exercise, seeking the views of victims, is known.

Ice Plant, Portavogie Harbour

26. Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement on progress on the provision of a new ice plant at Portavogie Harbour. [64880]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Currently, the consulting engineers commissioned by the Northern Ireland Fishing Harbour Authority are assessing if the preferred site on the North Quay is suitable for the ice plant. If all goes according to the Authority's plan, it is anticipated that work on the new ice plant will commence in the summer.

Prison Officers (Redundancy Terms)

27. Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement on the redundancy terms being offered to prison officers. [64881]

20 Jan 1999 : Column: 490

Mr. Ingram: The terms being offered to prison officers include all benefits payable under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (NI) but in addition, and to recognise long service in the Northern Ireland Prison Service, there is an enhancement equivalent to 1 month's salary for each year of NIPS service up to a maximum of 24 months.

Benefits (Derry)

Mr. Hume: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in the Derry City Council area were in receipt of (a) income support, (b) jobseekers allowance and (c) incapacity benefit in (i) December 1997 and (ii) December 1998. [65311]

Mr. McFall: The latest information available is as follows:

Number of claimants
Income Support
May 199713,200
May 199813,745
Jobseekers Allowance(6)
December 19975,779
December 19985,410
Incapacity Benefit (6)
August 19975,326
August 19985,237

(6) Figures include credit only cases


Planning Applications

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many planning applications are currently the subject of public inquiries; what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the resources of the planning section of the Department of the Environment to deal with these public inquiries; what delays there currently are in the determination of these planning applications; and if she will make a statement. [65676]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Planning Service under its chief executive, Mr. T. W. Stewart. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from T. W. Stewart to Mr. John D. Taylor, dated 20 January 1999:



    There are 32 applications currently the subject of Public Inquiries under the scope of Article 31 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991. These are at various stages of consideration. For example, four applications are awaiting the opening of inquiry proceedings to be held by the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC); two applications are currently awaiting the recommendation and report of the PAC following public inquiry, while 26 are at various stages of consideration by the Department following the receipt of the PAC report and recommendation. One additional Public Inquiry has been postponed at the applicant's request.


20 Jan 1999 : Column: 491


    I can assure you, however, that the Planning Service continually strives to expedite all decisions, but particularly those on major applications.


    I do hope this is helpful.

Normalisation Strategy Paper

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when she plans to publish the strategy paper setting out her approach to normalisation. [65995]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 January 1999]: The Secretary of State hopes to publish a paper on security strategy shortly.

Hospital Beds

Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many intensive care beds there were in each of the Golden Six hospitals in Northern Ireland at 31 December 1998. [65947]

Mr. McFall [holding answer 18 January 1999]: The table shows the number of intensive care beds in acute hospitals at 31 December 1998.

HospitalNumber of beds
Altnagelvin Hospital5
Antrim Hospital4
Belfast City Hospital7
Coleraine4
Craigavon Area Hospital4
Erne2
Mater Infirmorum2
Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children6
Royal Victoria Hospital14
Tyrone County2
Ulster Hospital6
Northern Ireland total56

Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many beds were (i) allocated and (ii) vacant within (a) maternity, (b) gynaecology and (c) paediatrics at Craigavon Area Hospital on the first of each month between September 1998 and January 1999. [65951]

Mr. McFall [holding answer 18 January 1999]: The information requested is set out in the table.

DateSpecialityAllocatedVacant
1 September 1998Obstetrics3815
1 October 1998Obstetrics3810
1 November 1998Obstetrics3814
1 December 1998Obstetrics3815
1 January 1999Obstetrics3815
1 September 1998Gynaecology186
1 October 1998Gynaecology182
1 November 1998Gynaecology189
1 December 1998Gynaecology183
1 January 1999Gynaecology1811
1 September 1998Paediatrics226
1 October 1998Paediatrics223
1 November 1998Paediatrics3621
1 December 1998Paediatrics3613
1 January 1999Paediatrics3618

Notes:

1. The figures do not include the additional beds which will be opened to accommodate the transfer of services from South Tyrone Hospital (16 Obstetrics and 6 Gynaecology).

2. The figures relate to the 1st of each month at midnight.

3. Paediatric beds increased to 36 on 5 October 1998.


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Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many high dependency beds there are in each acute hospital in Northern Ireland; what was the percentage usage of these beds in each hospital in the last year for which figures are available; and if she will define the difference between high dependency and intensive care facilities. [65949]

Mr. McFall [holding answer 18 January 1999]: The table shows the average number of high dependency beds available daily and percentage occupancy in each acute hospital in Northern Ireland during 1998.

Hospital (7)Average number of high dependency beds available dailyPercentage occupancy of high dependency beds
Antrim Hospital443
Craigavon Hospital277
Daisy Hill Hospital582
Downe Hospital360
Erne350
Lagan Valley280
Mater Infirmorum580
Mid-Ulster780
South Tyrone774
Northern Ireland total3870

(7) Musgrave Park has 14 high dependency beds but is not, strictly speaking, an acute hospital.


As regards the difference between high dependency and intensive care facilities, broadly speaking, intensive care is usually reserved for patients with potential or established organ failure. An Intensive Care Unit (ICU) should therefore offer the facilities for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of multiple organ failure.

A High Dependency Unit (HDU) is a clinical area offering a standard of care intermediate between the acute ward and full intensive care. The HDU should not manage patients with multi-organ failure but should provide monitoring and support to patients at risk of developing organ system failure. A HDU should be able to undertake short-term resuscitative measures and may provide ventilator support for a short time (usually less than 24 hours) prior to the transfer of a patient to an ICU.

Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the average occupancy time for intensive care beds in Northern Ireland during 1998. [65948]

Mr. McFall [holding answer 18 January 1999]: The information requested is not collected centrally.

20 Jan 1999 : Column: 493


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