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25 Nov 2002 : Column 23Wcontinued
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to produce (a) statistics on households below average income and (b) estimates of take-up of income-related benefits comparable with those produced in Great Britain. 
Mr. Browne: The family resources survey was extended from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in April 2002. It is intended that from 200203, statistics on households below average income and estimates of take-up of income-related benefits will be produced for Northern Ireland in a form exactly comparable to those available for Great Britain, and to a similar timescale.
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will bring forward legislation on housing matters which had been subject to the legislative process in the Northern Ireland Assembly prior to suspension of devolution; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Browne: The Housing Support Services Order was laid before Parliament on 15 November 2002 and it is proposed that the provisions included in the Northern Ireland Housing Bill will be laid before Parliament early in the new year.
The housing support services provisions need to be in place by April 2003 to cover a new method for funding the costs associated with providing housing support services for vulnerable people in supported accommodation. The provisions contained in the Northern Ireland Housing Bill, which will also become an Order in Council, cover a wide range of measures including provision for a discretionary grants scheme, caravan sites for travellers, a registration scheme for houses in multiple occupation; anti-social behaviour, and a variety of miscellaneous matters.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the Government's long term spending plans for creating a knowledge-based economy in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Pearson: The Executive's Draft Budget for 200304 to 200506 was announced in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 24 September 2002. We are currently considering the responses to the Draft Budget consultation exercise which ended on 15 November 2002 and will be announcing Revised Budget spending plans for the Northern Ireland departments in December.
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Angela Smith: There are no plans to decommission or mothball the railway line from Whitehead to Larne. As specified in the regional transportation strategy for Northern Ireland 200212, the railways services north of Whitehead, and those north and north-west of Ballymena will be considered once the results from the introduction of new trains and improved infrastructure in the rest of the network are assessed in the early stage of implementing the ten year strategy.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proportion of people diagnosed with lung cancer have been treated by surgery in (a) Northern Ireland and (b) the rest of the United Kingdom in the last year for which figures are available. 
The Northern Ireland Cancer Registry estimate that the number of persons diagnosed with lung cancer in Northern Ireland every year is approximately 875. The total number of persons in Northern Ireland with lung cancer is estimated to be around 3,400.
|Number of admissions||Number of admissions which had surgery||Percentage of admissions which had surgery|
This ensured that the employer's obligation, under the Welfare Reform and Pensions (NI) Order 1999, was met, offering employees access to a stakeholder pension scheme by designating a scheme that employees can join if they wish.
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Mr. Browne: The Inter-Departmental Group's Report on Free Personal Care was forwarded to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on Thursday 8 August 2002. Following discussion at the Executive on 12 August 2002, Ministers asked for further work to be undertaken. That work has not yet been completed. In any event, it is not possible at this stage to give any indication about plans to introduce free personal care here, since this is a matter that should be determined by the Executive.
Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what percentage of children in their immediate pre-school year places in Northern Ireland have not received departmental funding. 
Jane Kennedy: The Pre-school Education Expansion Programme aims to provide a place for every child whose parents wish it by March 2003. This school year we are providing places for more than 90 per cent. of the total estimated cohort of children in their pre-school year. Given that participation in pre-school education is voluntary rather than compulsory, we expect this level of provision to be adequate to meet demand across the region as a whole. At present my Department is working closely with each Education and Library Board's Pre-School Education Advisory Group in order to ensure that the most effective allocation of funded places has been achieved.
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what additional resources will be available to the Social Security Appeals Service to address the backlog in cases awaiting tribunal hearings. 
Mr. Browne: Funding of almost £600,000 was made available to the appeals service during 200203 to fund the cost of 20 additional staff, overtime working and the payment of fees to 25 newly appointed Tribunal members. As a result of this the number of hearings was increased by 17 per cent and the number of appeals outstanding has reduced by 33 per cent.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much and what percentage of the total budget for Northern Ireland will be directly allocated to research and development in universities in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Pearson: The Executive's Draft Budget for 200304 to 200506 was presented to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 24 September 2002. We are currently considering the responses to the Draft Budget consultation exercise which ended on 15 Novermber 2002 and will be announcing revised Budget spending plans for the Northern Ireland departments for 200304 to 200506 in early December.
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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the remit is of the UK's Working Group on Access to Medicines; who the members of the group are; who it has consulted; and when it expects to report its conclusions to Parliament. 
Clare Short: The High Level Working Group on Access to Medicines has been focusing on improving access to medicines through encouraging appropriate donations, facilitating differential pricing arrangements, and increasing research and development into medicines and vaccines for the three main diseases prevalent in developing countries: HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. The third and final meeting this Thursday will be focusing on tiered (differential) pricing of drugs. I will send a report and recommendations to the Prime Minister in early September and report to Parliament at the start of the new session. We are looking to take the recommendations forward with some urgency within international fora over the coming year.
Department of Health
Department of Trade and Industry
H M Treasury
Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry
World Health Organisation
World Trade Organisation
Uganda High Commission London
University of Cambridge.
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