Previous Section Index Home Page


16 Dec 2002 : Column 548W—continued

Pre-School Funding

Mr Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what per cent. of under three-year-olds have been eligible for free pre-school education in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years. [82679]

Jane Kennedy: Pre-school places in the statutory sector are, as has been the case since the early 1970s, open to children from two years old to the lower limit of compulsory school age. In all cases, however, applications from children in their immediate pre-school year are given priority ahead of younger children. Children in their penultimate pre-school year who attend nursery schools and units are therefore occupying places that would otherwise be unfilled.

In the past three years, the number of children attending statutory nursery schools and units who had not attained the age of three by the date of the School Census was as follows.

16 Dec 2002 : Column 549W

Number of children under three attending statutory settingsNumber of children under three as percentage of children attending statutory steetingsNumber of children under three as percentage of total number of children attending funded pre-school places
1999–20001,0908.86.9
2000–019927.15.6
2001–021,423117

Royal Victoria Hospital

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what use is being made of the stock of tissue, organs, samples or slides held by the Royal Victoria hospital pending instructions from relatives. [85756]

Jane Kennedy: Human tissue and organs obtained at post-mortem examination and retained by the Royal Victoria Hospital fall into two categories. Material obtained since the year 2000 is being used in accordance with relatives' wishes as expressed in writing at the time of giving consent to the post-mortem examination. All other material is being stored unused, unless relatives have specifically requested that tests, e.g. for cancer genetics, be carried out. This is an interim arrangement until new legislation and associated guidance is put is place.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will set up a system of DNA verification to ensure remains from the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, are given to the correct families. [85757]

Mr. Browne: DNA testing is a complex, time-consuming and costly procedure. A system for its widespread use on retained organs and tissue at the Royal Victoria Hospital could be justified only if there were a significant problem with the identification of retained material. I am satisfied that no such problem exists.

School Examinations

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has for the system to replace the 11 plus examination in Northern Ireland. [79421]

Jane Kennedy: No decisions have been taken about new transfer arrangements. In the responses to consultation a range of suggestions were made for future post-primary arrangements and my officials will be discussing these with our education partners and representatives of parents over 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.

Warm Homes Plus Scheme

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when people qualifying for conversion

16 Dec 2002 : Column 550W

of their home heating systems from solid fuel to oil or gas under the Warm Homes Plus scheme will have their work carried out. [86817]

Mr. Browne: The temporary partial suspension of the Warm Homes Plus scheme was introduced in the early summer following a technical report that called into question the safety of converting, to oil or gas, heating systems that use high output solid fuel back boilers or room heaters. Such appliances have been found in about half of all properties eligible for new heating systems under the scheme. Installation or conversion of heating systems in other properties is continuing as before. My prime concern is for the well-being of people who have works carried out under the Warm Homes Plus scheme, and I am aiming for the shortest possible interruption of the scheme that is consistent with their safety.

WALES

Ministerial Engagements

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many engagements were undertaken outside London (a) by him or his predecessor and (b) by Ministers in his Department in January (i) 2000, (ii) 2001 and (iii) 2002; [87345]

Peter Hain: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him today, by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office.

Sustainability Strategy

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the sustainability strategy is for his Department; and if he will make a statement on how it has changed since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. [83506]

Peter Hain: My Department is small with no executive functions and, therefore, is limited in the contribution it can make to the UK's sustainable development strategy. It has no independent sustainability strategy of its own but in line with the Government's strategy, carries out its functions with the aim of integrating economic, environmental and social policies to ensure a better quality of life for everyone, now and for future generations. This means achieving four objectives simultaneously:


The outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and first views on follow-up, will be reflected in the annual report on UK progress on sustainable development for 2002.

16 Dec 2002 : Column 551W

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Andrew Smith

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his Answers of 5 December 2002, Official Report, columns 954–5W and 962W what discussions his Department had with Andrew Smith; when and where these took place; who attended each meeting; and what telephone discussions officials have had with Mr.Smith. [87233]

Mr. Rammell: In addition to the meeting referred to in my previous answer (UIN 82998 and UIN 83034 of 5 December 2002), Andrew Smith has had minimal contact with the British High Commission in Sierra Leone, regarding Sierra National Airlines (SNA). Mr. Smith is a Director of West Africa Airways which, until October 2002, held the contract for managing the services of SNA. He has telephoned the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on a few occasions. These discussions were held in confidence. British officials did not at any time encourage, support or promote Mr. Smith's activities in Zimbabwe and the DRC.

I am withholding details of who was present at these meetings, and further details of what was discussed, including in telephone calls under exemption 1b of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Information which would harm the conduct of international relations or affairs) and exemption 14b (information the disclosure of which without the consent of the supplier would prejudice the future supply of such information).

Arms Exports

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what end-use monitoring agreements relating to the export of military products have been signed in the last five years with (a) Angola, (b) Cameroon, (c) Eritrea, (d) Ethiopia, (e) Ghana, (f) Kenya, (g) Mozambique, (h) Sierra Leone, (i) Sudan, (j) Tanzania, (k) Uganda, (l) Zambia, (m) Bolivia, (n) Guyana and (o) Republic of Yemen; and what end-use monitoring mechanisms exist in each case. [86313]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have signed no end-use monitoring agreements with these countries. If any end-use monitoring arrangements or assurances are exceptionally put in place with a country, they do not take the form of a signed agreement.

Global Crossing

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his Answer of 25th November, Official Report, column 80W, on Global Crossing, if he will place the implementation timetable in the Library; how many times there have been circuit interruptions each month since the service level agreements have been in place; and if he will make a statement. [86847]

Mr. Rammell: The formal implementation timetable forms part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Telecommunications Network (FTN) contract with Global Crossing. I am therefore withholding

16 Dec 2002 : Column 552W

information about it under Exemption 13 of The Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Third Party's commercial confidences).

There have been some interruptions to FTN service, as is to be expected from a world-wide network connecting the FCO with 155 of its overseas missions. But the overall performance has been good, and has served the FCO well. Where the responsibility for bringing the network back into operational use has rested with Global Crossing, the SLA requirements have been met. Global Crossing have performed according to contract.


Next Section Index Home Page