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Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many of the written parliamentary questions tabled to her Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000 have not received substantive answers, citing as the reason that the information is (a) not held centrally, (b) not held in the form requested and (c) not available. [131232]

Mr. Stringer: The written parliamentary questions tabled to the Cabinet Office between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000 which did not receive substantive answers because the information was:




Knowledge Network Computer System

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what her most recent estimate is of the total cost of the Knowledge Network computer system. [132687]

Marjorie Mowlam: Phase 1 of the Knowledge Network--an initial period of scoping and piloting--came to an end in July 2000. It was completed on time, on budget and cost £241,000. A report on Phase 1 will be published in the summer.

The budget for Phase 2 has not yet been agreed.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Union Flag

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will publish regulations for the flying of the union flag on Government buildings in Northern Ireland. [132149]

Mr. Mandelson: The flying of flags on Government buildings is in the first instance a matter for the devolved administration in Northern Ireland. I would much prefer the Executive to reach a consensus view on this issue but am ready to use my powers under the Flags (Northern Ireland) Order 2000 if necessary. I have sought the views of the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly and of the political parties in Northern Ireland about the coverage and content of any regulations. When I have received and considered the responses, I will make my own view known.

Press Releases

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many press releases were issued in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) this year to date; and what the total cost of the production and issuing of these press releases was in each year. [132756]

Mr. Mandelson: The Northern Ireland Information Service issued the following numbers of press releases for

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the periods as stated. Included are the total production costs in each of the years concerned:

YearNumber of releases£
19971,18033,202.74
19981,31334,427.67
19991,05530,323.49
2000 to date84821,222.46

Press Officers

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many press officers were employed in his Department in (a) May 1997, (b) January 1998, (c) January 1999 and (d) January 2000; and what the total expenditure on press officers by his Department was in each of the years concerned. [132769]

Mr. Mandelson: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland employed the following numbers of Press Offices for the periods given. Also stated are the following

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expenditure figures on Press Officers, by the NIO in each of the years concerned:

YearNumber of Press Officers£000
May 199729667
January 199832649
January 199936940
January 200037985

Official Visits

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the visits outside Britain made by his Department's permanent secretary on official business since 1 January 1999, indicating the date and purpose of the visit in each case. [132754]

Mr. Mandelson: Since 1 January 1999 the permanent secretary of the Northern Ireland Office has made the following visits outside the United Kingdom on official business:

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DateVisits
18 March 1999Dublin--Meeting with an official from the Irish Department of Justice
9 April 1999Dublin--Meeting with officials from the Irish Department of Justice
25-28 October 1999USA:
Boston--Meetings with Irish American leaders, addressed the Kennedy School and a contemporary Irish politics class at Boston College; meeting with Boston Police Commissioner
New York--Meetings with the Irish Consul General, the editor of the Irish Voice, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the Invest in Britain Bureau; delivered a lecture at Fordham University and met legal specialists, human rights groups and Irish activists
Washington--Meetings with officials in the US Department of Justice, the US State Department of Justice, the US State Department and the FBI; meeting with the Irish Ambassador and key officials at the British Embassy dealing with Northern Ireland
23 November 1999Dublin--Meeting with officials from the Irish Department of Justice and met with Her Majesty's Ambassador to Dublin
7 March 2000Dublin--Meeting with Her Majesty's Ambassador to Dublin and dinner with an official from the Irish Department of Justice
14 July 2000Dublin--Meeting with officials from the Irish Department of Justice

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Chief Electoral Officer Report

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish the report of the Chief Electoral Officer for 1999-2000. [133346]

Mr. Mandelson: I am pleased to announce that the annual report of the Chief Electoral Officer for the year 1999-2000 has been laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in the Library.

Firearms

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the standard procedures are for removing a firearms licence following misuse of a firearm. [132657]

Mr. Ingram: The Chief Constable has advised that following clear information that a person had misused a firearm, it is police policy to seize the firearm from the person and consider the revocation of his firearm certificate.

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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what conditions are placed on the use of firearms by licence holders who have criminal records. [132656]

Mr. Ingram: The Chief Constable has advised that the criminal record of an applicant is, in the first instance, one of the matters taken into consideration in assessing his suitability to possess a legally held firearm. If a person with a criminal record is considered suitable to hold a firearm, no special or additional conditions are applied. Should the holder of a firearm certificate subsequently be convicted of a recordable criminal offence, then his suitability to retain a certificate will be reassessed.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when Mr. Richard Monteith first applied for a licence to carry a firearm. [132655]

Mr. Ingram: The Chief Constable considers that it is not appropriate to comment publicly on such a matter.

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Arms Dumps

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate the security services have made of the number of arms dumps the IRA have in (a) Northern Ireland and (b) the Irish Republic. [132838]

Mr. Ingram: No official estimate is made of the number of IRA arms dumps.

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of when IRA arms dumps in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic will be inspected by the international inspectors. [132839]

Mr. Ingram: Mr. Ramaphosa and Mr. Ahtisaari have reported that they have completed their first inspection of several IRA arms dumps. It represents substantial progress and an honouring of commitments given at the beginning of May. I am confident the inspectors will report any further progress that has been made when they deem it appropriate to do so.

Merchant Navy Day

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will ensure that the Red Ensign is flown from departmental buildings on Merchant Navy Day, 3 September. [132963]

Mr. Mandelson: I refer my hon. Friend to the answers given today to the hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Donaldson) by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Drumcree

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his estimate is of the additional police and security costs incurred as a result of Orange Order protests against the ruling of the Parades Commission on parades at Drumcree to date this year; and what estimate he has made of (a) the financial loss for businesses and (b) the damage to persons and property. [131394]

Mr. Ingram: It is still too early to give accurate figures for the additional cost of Royal Ulster Constabulary operations during the July period. Preliminary costs resulting from all riot, arson and bomb damage, which occurred across the Province over the period 4 to 10 July 2000, have been estimated at £3.25 million.


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