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13 Jan 2003 : Column 422W—continued

Sports Facilities

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to (a) conduct a mapping exercise of local sports facilities, and (b) identify their usage and user profile; and if she will make a statement. [89995]

Mr. Caborn: We are in the process of planning a database that will include all significant sports facilities across England. It is intended that the databases will complement the Sport England Facilities Planning model and enable responsible organisations to make better informed decisions in planning the provision of sports facilities in the future.

Sports Fields

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the new guidance for local authorities for assessment of sports fields will be published. [89684]

Mr. Caborn: New planning guidance (PPG17) and the accompanying notes for local authorities was published last year. The revised Playing Pitch Strategy, which up-dates the specific guidance on sports fields will be finalised by Sport England in the near future.


A-levels (Pupil Expenditure)

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average amount spent on each pupil studying two A levels was in each of the last five years at (a) a further education college and (b) a school. [88800]

Jane Kennedy: The information requested is not available in the form requested.

(a) Full-time students attending Further Education Colleges do not generally undertake a programme of study comprising two A levels only.

(b) No account is taken of the number of examinations an individual pupil is studying when deciding on the level of funding a school receives.

Beef Exports

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to ensure full resumption of beef exports from Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [88913]

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Mr. Paul Murphy: Resumption of beef exports from Northern Ireland have been possible from 30 September 2002 following changes in the rules of the date based export scheme, as a result of intensive lobbying of the EU Commission by the UK Government heavily supported by the devolved administrations. The changes mean that animals destined for the domestic market may be slaughtered in the same plant, provided they are time dedicated.

Efforts are being made by Government to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of eligible animals for this scheme by encouraging farmers to fully comply with EU Regulations on cattle identification and movements.

Officials are also in discussion with Northern Ireland meat processors to facilitate exports through the DBES. Four NI plants have declared an interest. However none have as yet provided sufficient detail of their ability to meet the scheme conditions to justify approval. Until the registration process is completed, exports cannot commence. New markets have to be found, but at present market conditions do not favour exports and, moreover, the GB market provides the best return. There is optimism however that limited exports to premium outlets will commence later in the year.

Bills (Late Payment)

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on Government policy with regard to the late payment of bills by large firms to other firms smaller than themselves. [88845]

Mr. Pearson: Government policy on this issue is the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Current legislation extends to Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom was one of the first countries in the EU to implement late payment legislation to help promote a culture of prompt payment. There has been a statutory right for interest for late payment for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) owed money by large firms or the public sector since 1 November 1998, when the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 came into force. Since 1 November 2000 SMEs have been able to charge each other statutory interest, as well as large businesses and the public sector, for the late payment of commercial debt.

Amended late payment legislation came into force on 7 August 2002. The legislation fulfils the UK's obligations under European Directive 2000/35/EC on combating late payment in commercial transactions.

Bone Marrow Database

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he has taken to extend the National Bone Marrow database to Northern Ireland. [88801]

Mr. Browne: The provision of tissue matched bone marrow is managed throughout the UK through the British Bone Marrow Donor Registry. The Blood Transfusion Service here, in conjunction with the local Tissue Typing Laboratory, is already a significant

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contributor to this Registry. There are approximately 7,000 local donors, of which around 50 have actually donated bone marrow.

The Anthony Nolan Trust and the International Bone Marrow Register also hold bone marrow registers, and there is co-operation between all registers.

Departmental Underspends

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the extent of underspend in the Northern Ireland Departments; and what action has been taken to deal with this. [88844]

Mr. Pearson: In his statement to the NI Assembly on 1 July 2002, the then Minister of Finance and Personnel set out details of the underspend for 2001–02, and his plans to address the issue in future years. The spending plans for 2003–04 to 2005–06, announced on 11 December 2002, build on the approach established at that time—full details are set out in Section 2 of the Budget Document (XBuilding on Progress: Budget 2003–06").

Information on the extent of any underspend for 2002–03 will be available in late June 2003.

Donaghadee Harbour

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the ownership of Donaghadee Harbour. [90453]

Angela Smith: Under' the Donaghadee Harbour Act 1820, ownership of the Harbour is vested in the Donaghadee Harbour Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners currently consists of officials of the Department for Regional Development, together with a representative from the Department of Finance and Personnel. As the Department for Regional Development bears the cost of harbour maintenance and upkeep, consideration is currently being given to bringing forward legislation transferring ownership of the harbour to the Department.

Drivers (Drugs)

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures are being taken to tackle the problem of drivers driving while under the influence of drugs. [88867]

Angela Smith: The Department for the Environment for Northern Ireland, consistent with its policy of pursuing research-based solutions to identified problems, is monitoring ongoing research into drugs and driving in GB, and based on the findings of that research will consider if and when action in Northern Ireland is appropriate.

In the meantime, the DOE, to create a more effective regime to control drugs and driving, intends to seek NIO agreement to the introduction of legislative powers to enable the police to undertake tests of co-ordination and, when suitable equipment is available, to require suspected drivers to provide samples for screening.

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The PSNI view is that drugs and driving is an emerging threat to road safety. Work is ongoing by the police to identify an appropriate roadside screening device for drugs, similar to the roadside screening device for alcohol, and to procure and introduce the equipment at the earliest possible time.


Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many jobs were (a) created and (b) lost in Northern Ireland in 2002. [90163]

Mr. Pearson: An exact figure for the number of jobs created and lost in the period requested is not available. However, the most recent data from the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) provides an estimate of the net change in employee jobs between September 2001 and September 2002. QES figures show that the net change in the employee job level in Northern Ireland during that period was +6,850 (+1.1 per cent.).

Over the year to 31 December 2002, there were 4,354 redundancies in Northern Ireland confirmed to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Government Expenditure Reports

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what comparable documents to Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland are published for Northern Ireland. [89434]

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Mr. Pearson: There is no direct Northern Ireland equivalent to the Scottish publication XGovernment Expenditure and Revenue". However, historical financial information is available from a number of sources.

At an aggregated level, the Public Income and Expenditure Account provides a breakdown of the main sources of income, details of borrowing from the National Loans Fund and issues made to finance supply services.

More detailed information on Northern Ireland spending by programme is available in the HMT document XPublic Expenditure Statistical Analysis", which provides details of identifiable and non-identifiable spending in each of the UK regions.

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