Previous Section Index Home Page

27 Nov 2002 : Column 290W—continued

Belfast Agreement

9. Mr. Tom Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress the Government have made in implementing the Good Friday Agreement. [81607]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Implementation for the agreement is well advanced. But progress now, including restoration of the institutions, can only happen if there is trust that all parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations, including the commitment to exclusively democratic and peaceful means. If we can secure that we can complete implementation rapidly.

Criminal Justice Review

10. Brian White: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the implementation of the criminal justice review. [81608]

Mr. Browne: The Criminal Justice Review aims to create a more modern, effective, transparent and accountable criminal justice system for Northern Ireland. The Government intend to publish a revised Implementation Plan for the Review in early 2003. The revised plan will provide details of progress made against its 294 recommendations. Good progress is already being made in a number of areas, supported by the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002. The revised plan represents another significant step towards the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement.

Devolved Institutions

11. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to ensure that only those people and parties committed to exclusively peaceful methods may participate in the devolved institutions when they resume. [81609]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I do not believe restoration of the institutions would be possible on any other basis.

18. Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the prospects for restoration of devolved government. [81616]

27 Nov 2002 : Column 291W

Mr. Paul Murphy: I refer my hon. Friend to the response I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley).


12. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list by quantity and type the illegally held weapons and explosives decommissioned under the Good Friday Agreement. [81610]

Jane Kennedy: There have been three acts of decommissioning carried out by paramilitary organisations.

The Loyalist Volunteer Force decommissioned: 2 Madsen 9 mm sub-machine guns; 1 Sten 9 mm Mark 2 sub-machine gun; 1 modified Lanchester 9 mm Mark 1 sub-machine gun; 1 Steyr 7 mm rifle [1904]; 1 homemade .22 caliber rifle; 1 sawn-off double-barrelled 12 gauge shotgun; 1 FN Browning 9 mm semi-automatic pistol; 1 FN 7.65 mm semi-automatic pistol; 31 12-gauge magnum 00 buckshot shotgun shells; 23 .38 caliber semi wad-cutter cartridges; 45 .556 caliber cartridges; 280 9 mm cartridges; 5 electrical detonators; 2 pipe bombs; 2 weapons stocks and 5 assorted magazines.

The IRA have carried out two acts of decommissioning. On 23 October 2001 the Commission reported that they had witnessed an event which they regarded as significant in which the IRA had put a quantity of arms completely beyond use. The material in question included arms, ammunition and explosives. On 8 April 2002 the Commission again reported that the IRA had put a varied and substantial quantity of ammunition, arms and explosive material beyond use. When the task is completed an inventory of the arms will be provided to the British and Irish governments.

27. Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on timetables set for the completion of IRA decommissioning and disbandment. [81625]

Jane Kennedy: Following the suspension of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland the IRA issued a statement suspending contact with the Independent International Commission for Decommissioning. During his visit to Northern Ireland on 17 October 2002, the Prime Minister stated categorically that Republicans have to make the commitment to exclusively peaceful means, real, total and permanent as should all paramilitary organisations.

Secondary School Admissions

13. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the reform of the secondary school admissions process. [81611]

Jane Kennedy: The recommendations of an independent Post Primary Review Body, chaired by Mr. Gerry Burns, were published for consultation in October 2001. The consultation, which was extensive, inclusive and transparent, ended on 28 June 2002 and a report on the responses was published on 8 October

27 Nov 2002 : Column 292W

2002. The responses indicated a widespread demand for change and an emerging consensus, including among political parties, for the ending of the transfer tests.

I am determined to take the review forward and to continue to work towards the abolition of the transfer tests as soon as practical. No decisions have been taken about academic selection or new post-primary arrangements. In the responses to consultation a range of suggestions were made for future post-primary arrangements, including options involving academic selection, and Department of Education officials will be discussing these issues with key education partners and representatives of parents in the coming weeks. My aim is to develop a modern and fair education system which addresses the weaknesses of our current arrangements and enables all children to fulfil their potential.

Multi-party Talks

14. Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on progress with the multi-party talks. [81612]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The two Governments and the political parties met last Thursday to discuss the key issues related to political advance, including how to implement the Belfast Agreement in full and how to address the difficulties caused by paramilitary activity. We plan a further meeting tomorrow.

16. Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what meetings he has had with other political parties on restoring powers to the Northern Ireland Executive. [81614]

Mr. Paul Murphy: In recent weeks I have held bilateral meetings with all the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Last Thursday the two Governments met a number of the parties to discuss the way forward. We shall meet them again tomorrow.

Peace Plan

15. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the progress of the peace plan. [81613]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave today to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Harris).

Minimum Income Guarantee

17. Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many pensioners receive the minimum income guarantee in Northern Ireland. [81615]

Mr. Paul Murphy: 77,720 pensioners in Northern Ireland are receiving minimum income guarantee.

Organised Crime

19. Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in combating organised crime. [81617]

Jane Kennedy: The Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) which I chair has a clear strategy in place to tackle organised criminal activity. This is laid out in the OCTF threat and strategy documents, which were published on 23 May 2002.

27 Nov 2002 : Column 293W

Following on from the successes of the 2001–02 financial year when 57 criminal networks were subject to detailed law enforcement investigation and 43 had members arrested, the law enforcement agencies continue to score many notable successes against the organised criminals.

For example, in May 2002, during a series of joint search and arrest operations, the Police and Inland Revenue successfully uncovered widespread misuse of tax certificates in the construction industry, estimated to cost the Exchequer in the region of £10 million. In this operation, four people were arrested.

In October 2002 one man was arrested following the detection of two fuel laundering plants. In the same operation, 30,000 litres of fuel and equipment used in the laundering process were seized by Customs Officers, assisted by PSNI. There have been many such seizures.

Also in October 2002 the police smashed a loyalist extortion racket in the construction industry. Three individuals, allegedly involved in obtaining money by the use of threats, were arrested in north Belfast.

The Task Force recognises that public support for the work of the law enforcement agencies is an essential ingredient for overall success against organised criminals. In September this year an OCTF website was launched. This is an important development, which will open a Xshop window" for the OCTF and permit two way communications between the Task Force and the public. In October I hosted an OCTF awareness evening for the business community in Armagh and I plan to host a second awareness evening early in the new year in Ballymena.

Next Section Index Home Page