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9 Jan 2003 : Column 355W—continued


Mrs. Iris Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which health trusts in Northern

9 Jan 2003 : Column 356W

Ireland permit children to be looked after by childminders who are related to them; and how many examples there are in each trust. [88060]

Mr. Browne: Health and social services trusts do not collect the information requested as a matter of routine enquiry. The information therefore would not be readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Eastern Health Board

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take measures to achieve greater equality of funding for the NHS trusts in the Eastern Health Board. [88914]

Mr. Browne: The resources available to the DHSSPS are distributed to each of the four HSS Boards on the basis of a regional capitation formula, which takes various factors into account, such as the population profile and additional need. It is the responsibility of each board to allocate resources equitably to its population. Boards are encouraged to use the capitation formula to inform spending decisions for their sub-board populations.

The Eastern Health and Social Services Board is currently reviewing the equitable distribution of resources to its sub-board population. The board has been working on a strategy to address the equitable allocation of resources to all trusts in its area and, following public consultation, implementation of the resultant strategy should commence from April 2003.

Grammar Schools

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the future of grammar schools in Northern Ireland. [88796]

Jane Kennedy : I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir Teddy Taylor) on 27 November 2002, Official Report, column 302.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what further action he intends to take to reduce hospital waiting lists; and if he will make a statement. [88802]

Mr. Browne: A wide range of measures is being taken to tackle hospital waiting lists. These include the expansion of existing bed capacity, the development of protected elective facilities, the provision of additional in-patient procedures, the development of community provision as an alternative to hospital treatment, the validation of waiting lists and improved management of waiting lists.

I believe that these measures will have an impact. For example, half of HSS Trusts were able to report a fall in numbers waiting at 30 September 2002. It is also important to note that, despite the large numbers of people waiting for hospital treatment, almost three-quarters of inpatients treated between July and September 2002 waited for less than three months and 95 per cent. waited less than a year for their treatment.

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Land Banks

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the locations of land banks held for housing development by (a) the Housing Executive and (b) housing associations are; and what estimate he has made of the number of new homes which will be built on those land banks over the next five years. [89467]

Mr. Browne: The Housing Executive owns land mainly as an inheritance from former housing authorities and through acquisition to satisfy identified need. Most of its land is in estates and would comprise a mixture of firstly, land on which the houses, or other essential buildings, have been built and secondly, amenity or open space land. The Housing Executive is currently identifying sites in its ownership that could be suitable for development, without giving rise to a serious loss of amenities or space.

The Housing Executive's land transfer programme for development by housing associations would allow for the following units to be built:

Housing Executive's land transfer programme for development by housing associations



Figures for 2006–07 are not yet available.

Additional land required to meet the Department's new build targets is acquired on an ongoing basis.

Housing Associations do not maintain a land bank. When a housing need is identified in a particular location, land is purchased on a one-off basis to meet that need. The land purchase is, therefore, specific to a particular project. In general, the land is used right away.

The identification of individual locations of land held for both could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Nursing and Personal Care

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the provision of free nursing care and personal care in Northern Ireland. [88937]

Mr. Browne: Since 7 October 2002, up to #100 a week is payable on behalf of residents who would otherwise have to pay all of the nursing home fees themselves for their nursing care in a nursing home. This payment is dependent on an assessment of nursing needs.

The Northern Ireland Executive commissioned work on free personal care and a report was forwarded to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on 8 August 2002. Following discussion at the Executive on 12 August, Ministers asked for further work to be undertaken. That work has not yet been completed. It is not possible at this stage to give any indication about the timing or subsequent handling of the report, since this is a matter which should be determined by the Executive.

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Primary and Post-primary School Budgets

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to allocate additional monies to primary and post-primary schools' central budgets. [88794]

Jane Kennedy: The Department of Education plans to allocate an additional #22.2 million to schools over and above their delegated budgets. An announcement regarding how these resources are to be divided among schools will be made in the new year.

Public Transport (Free Fares)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost of providing free fares on public transport in Northern Ireland has been in each of the last three years. [87332]

Angela Smith: Costs incurred by the Department for Regional Development in respect of the provision of free fares on public transport in Northern Ireland under the Concessionary Fares Scheme in each of the last three years are as follows:


Costs incurred by the Department of Education in respect of the provision of free travel for school children on public transport are:


Schools (Investment)

Lembit Öpik : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much funding has been made available under the NI Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity, Measure 4, Investing in Early Learning, to (a) controlled, (b) maintained and (c) grant-maintained integrated schools; and if he will make a statement. [86869]

Jane Kennedy: A total of 11.34 million Euros (of which 8 million Euros is the EU contribution) is available to the Department of Education under Measure 3.4 of the European Union's Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme, for securing the building of controlled, maintained, integrated and Irish-medium pre-school education facilities in local communities. The Measure will allow the Department to reclaim capital expenditure on a programme of nursery units, either built or to be built. The programme must, however, go through the application and selection procedure required by the EU. This procedure has not yet been concluded, and at this stage it is not possible to attribute any costs to Measure 3.4.

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However, between 1 January 2000 and November this year, a total of #5,103,000 million has been spent on building units for which the Department expects to reclaim the EU contribution. #2,660,000 million of this has been spent in the controlled sector, #2,134,000 million in the maintained, #239,000 in the integrated and #70,000 in the Irish Medium.

Step-up Job Scheme

Mr Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to provide pilots of the step-up job scheme. [88846]

Jane Kennedy: The report of the askforce on employability and long term unemployment, which I launched on 16 December, contains a proposal to pilot an intermediate labour market based on the step-up pilots in GB. Consideration is presently being given to the arrangements for the introduction of this pilot.

Trainee Mathematics Teachers

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to award golden hellos to trainee mathematics teachers. [88786]

Jane Kennedy: There are no plans to introduce financial incentives in Northern Ireland to attract mathematics graduates, or graduates in any other subjects, into the teaching profession.

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