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21 Oct 2002 : Column 74W—continued


Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list those regulations proposed by other Departments that have been amended after comments from her Department since 2 May 1997. [75233]

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Ms Hewitt: Records relating to those regulations proposed by other departments, that have been amended after comments from the Department, are not held centrally. However, both the Department of Trade and Industry and Small Business Service see many consultations, both formally and informally, and where appropriate make comments to be taken into consideration on regulatory issues.

National Insurance

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date her Department began discussing with the Treasury the increase in the rate of National Insurance contributions in the last budget. [75231]

Ms Hewitt: It has not been the practice of successive governments to disclose details of discussions between Ministerial colleagues (under exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information).

Telecommunications Masts

Mr. Sawford: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what guidance he gives to local authorities on collecting revenue from telecommunications masts. [73960]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply. In addition to the guidance provided on the collection of business rates generally, local authorities were given specific

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information in respect of rates and telecommunication masts in December 2000. This followed the coming into force of the Non-Domestic Rating (Telecommunication Apparatus) England Regulations 2000, which simplified for the future the payment and collection of rates on masts. The Regulations provided that where there were a number of separate entries in a rating list for a single mast—because the mast had equipment belonging to more than one telecommunication operator—then these entries would be replaced by a single entry. Where this happened, one of the operators would assume responsibility for the rates on behalf of all of the operators, and the local authority would need to bill accordingly.

The current average rateable value of masts is estimated to be about #5,000.


School Exam Performance

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will rank the (a) GCSE and (b) A level performance in Northern Ireland's schools with that in English local education authority areas. [75228]

Jane Kennedy: The information is not available in the format requested. Information on comparative performance between pupils in Northern Ireland and England for the 5 years ending in 2000–01 (latest available data) is, however, set out below:

Performance Indicator(14),(15)1996–97(18)1997–981998–991999–00(19)2000–01
% achieving 2+ ''A'' Levels A-E(16)NI9192929393
% achieving 5+ GCSEs A*-C(17)NI5455565757
% achieving 5+ GCSEs A*-G(17)NI8587878786
% achieving no GCSEs(17)NI43344

Sources:1 DE, DfES

(14) Excludes special and independent schools in Northern Ireland.

(15) A level figures are expressed as a percentage of pupils in the final year of an A level course in Northern Ireland and as a percentage of pupils in school and sixth form colleges in England.

(16) GCSE figures are expressed as a percentage of pupils in year 12 in Northern Ireland, and as a percentage of 15 year olds in England and Wales.

(17) From 1996/97 GCSE figures include GNVQ Part 1 Qualifications.

(18) From 1999/00 A level figures for Northern Ireland are from the University of Bath GCE Database.

Performance information for England by LEA is available on the DfES Website,

Police Service

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) Roman Catholics, (b) Protestants and (c) others have been recruited to the Police Service of Northern Ireland since its inception. [76154]

Jane Kennedy: As at 18 October 2002, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has appointed 479 trainees. Of these, 243 have declared themselves to be Roman Catholic; 232 have declared themselves to be Protestant; and 4 are non-determined. The balance of appointments during the course of each competition can be subject to some slight fluctuation.

Parades Commission

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what costs were incurred by the Parades Commission in the organisation of conferences in the financial year ending 31 March; what the costs were of each event; what the advertising costs were; how many people attended each; if he will breakdown the attendance of each by (a) perceived community background and (b) gender; and what assessment has been made by the Commission of these events. [74796]

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Jane Kennedy: The overall cost of the two conferences held in the financial year ending 31 March 2002 was approximately #70,575.

The first conference cost #53,278 and the second conference cost #17,297. A significant portion of the costs of the first conference (for example planning and design work) represented outlay that was utilised also in the second conference.

No advertising costs were incurred as attendance at both conferences was by invitation.

There were 196 people in attendance at the conference on 26 January 2002. There were 175 people in attendance at the conference on 9 March 2002.

The Parades Commission does not hold the necessary information to enable them to provide a breakdown of attendance, but it was clear that the nationalist viewpoint was more strongly represented at the second conference and the unionist viewpoint more strongly represented at the first. There were more men than women at both conferences. This may reflect to some extent a greater predominance of men involved in parading organisations.

The Parades Commission issued evaluation forms to delegates at the end of each conference. The delegates were asked to provide an assessment of the conference and submit any suggestions on how to make progress with regard to the parading issue. The Commission provided a summary report of the key issues raised at each conference and a copy was issued to each delegate who attended.

Based on feedback from both conferences, the Commission is seeking to build on this positive initiative. It has also been able to establish more constructive relationships with some parading interests as a direct result of the conferences.

Police Retention

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he will take to stem the loss of experienced Northern Ireland police officers. [75067]

Jane Kennedy: The Government is committed to ensuring the police service of Northern Ireland is resourced to deliver an effective and efficient police service. It is the Chief Constable who sets the criteria for admission to the severance scheme and the Government continues to be guided by his assessment of policing requirements.

The Government has welcomed the PSNI workforce plan, endorsed by the Policing Board, which gives careful consideration to the policing needs of Northern Ireland and how the police can most efficiently and effectively provide the service which the public is entitled to expect.



Mrs. Irene Adams: To ask the Advocate-General if she will make a statement on the devolution issues that have been raised with her in the past three years. [73707]

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The Advocate-General: I have received intimation of more than 1,500 cases in which devolution issues were raised. In some of these cases additional devolution issues were raised by further minutes. These devolution issues have referred to a great variety of matters, both civil and criminal in nature, and many of these raise issues under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights relating, for example, to the right to a fair trial and undue delay in trial.


Standing Order No. 13

Mr. Allen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will propose changes to Standing Order No. 13 to extend his power to make representations to the Speaker for the earlier meeting of the House in certain circumstances to all hon. Members. [74871]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Royal Prerogative

Mr. Allen: To ask the Prime Minister if he will bring forward proposals to make it a requirement for Parliament to be consulted on the use of his power under Royal Prerogative to take the country to war; and if he will make a statement. [75214]

The Prime Minister: There is no need for a formal requirement for Parliament to be consulted since the House is already given the opportunity to debate such decisions.

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