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15 Jan 2003 : Column 686W—continued

Tuberculosis

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 3 December, Ref 83323, what extra funding has been made available to health authorities with levels of tuberculosis higher than the national average. [86805]

Ms Blears: The level of funding is still under consideration.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Custodial Sentences

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the offences for which his Department's guidelines recommend a custodial sentence. [90423]

Yvette Cooper: My Department does not issue guidelines on sentencing. Determination of the correct sentence in any given case is a matter for judicial discretion, taking into account any guidance issued by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and relevant legislation.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Confederation of European Councillors

Year Book Launch

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his policy is on Ministers from his Department attending events in conjunction with Ministers from the Republic; and how this policy was applied with reference to the invitation to join

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Pat Gallagher TD at the launch of the Confederation of European Councillors' Year Book at Newry on 7 January. [90105]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Where diary commitments permit, I, and my ministerial team, seek to accept as many invitations to events as we are able to. No Northern Ireland Office Minister attended the event in Newry on 7 January 2003 to launch the Confederation of European Councillors' Year Book and Diary 2003, as there is no record of an invitation to the event having been received by any Northern Ireland Office Minister.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what date his Department received the invitation by the National Association of Councillors (Northern Ireland) for a Minister to attend the launch of the Confederation of European Councillors' Year Book at Newry on 7 January; on what date follow-up telephone requests were logged; and if he will make a statement of his Department's handling of the invitation. [90106]

Mr. Paul Murphy: There is no record of an invitation by the National Association of Councillors (Northern Ireland) to the launch of the Confederation of European Councillors' Year Book and Diary 2003 on 7 January 2003, having been received by my Department or any Northern Ireland Office Minister. There is no record of any follow-up telephone calls specifically relating to this matter.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reason no Minister, or departmental representative attended the launch of the Confederation of European Councillors' Year Book at Newry on 7 January, co-hosted by the National Association of Councillors (Northern Ireland) and the Local Authority Members Association of the Republic. [90107]

Mr. Paul Murphy: No Northern Ireland Office Minister or departmental representative attended the launch of the Confederation of European Councillors' Year Book and Diary 2003, as there is no record of an invitation to the event having been received by any Northern Ireland Office Minister or Department.

Correspondence

Andrew Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if there is a policy in his Department relating to the receipt and processing of letters from local authorities in relation to (a) their acknowledgement, (b) the normal period for the dispatch of a substantive reply and (c) when it is appropriate to dispatch an interim or holding reply; and if he will make a statement. [90497]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My Department complies with the Six Service Standards for General Government. To meet the key standard of answering letters quickly and clearly, the Department has set itself a target of responding, in full, within 15 working days of receipt. This is in regard to general correspondence and would include any responses to local authorities. The procedures my Department follow are in accord with the Government guidance which requires that correspondence be acknowledged on receipt or within a

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targeted period and if it becomes clear that a full reply cannot be provided within the deadline, then a holding reply will issue.

Following the guidance from Cabinet Office on the handling of correspondence from Members of Parliament, the Department has set itself a target time of replying to this type of correspondence within 10 working days. As with other correspondence, the Department strives to issue a substantive reply within the target time. When this is not possible, an interim or holding reply issues as a matter of courtesy and to reassure the correspondent that their letter has been received and that action is being taken.

Diabetes

Mrs. Iris Robinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland suffer from type I and type II diabetes mellitus; and what estimate he has made of the prevalence of this condition in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. [82216]

Mr. Browne: The 1997 and 2001 Northern Ireland Health and Social Wellbeing Surveys indicated that 3 per cent. of the population aged 16 and over (approximately 39,000 adults) had been told by a doctor that they had diabetes. About three-quarters of these are estimated to be Type II diabetics who developed the condition in adulthood.

Ethical Banking

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what contracts have been concluded as a result of the Government's commitment to support ethical banking. [89947]

Mr. Pearson: The Government believe it is important for consumers to have choice in financial products, including the availability of 'ethical' products. However, it would not be appropriate for the Government to exclusively support the development of one specific group of financial service providers. It is for individual consumers to decide the attributes they most value from their financial services and for financial services firms to be transparent about their use of funds and investments.

EU Fishing Grants

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total amount of European Union grants to the fishing ports of (a) Kilkeel, (b) Portavogie and (c) Ardglass was in each financial year since 1997. [85690]

Mr. Pearson: The information requested is not held in the format requested and could not be provided without disproportionate cost.

Total grants paid to each of these locations under the European Union Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFO) over the period were as follows.

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#

KilkeelPortavogieArdglass
1997–98022,44733,789
1998–99115,28521,7328,411
1999–2000316,975322,4690
2000–01163,665198,3175,837
2001–0225,390280,9040
Total621,315845,86948,037

Other examples of European Funding to these areas include:


Former Military Sites

Mr. Dodds : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will estimate the costs of setting up the structures proposed in relation to former military sites in the Strategic Investment and Regeneration of Sites Order. [86625]

Mr. Pearson: No decisions have been made about the sites or how they will be developed. As stated in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Draft Strategic Investment and Regeneration of Sites Order, operating costs in relation to development corporations or regeneration companies could be in the range of #1 million to #2 million each. Such a cost may only be relevant for the larger sites.

House Seller's Pack

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to introduce a requirement for the vendor of a house to provide a seller's pack to prospective buyers in Northern Ireland. [83115]

Mr. Browne: The proposal to impose a condition on house vendors to produce a sellers information pack for prospective purchasers is aimed at making the home buying process in England and Wales more transparent and certain. Officials at the Department for Social Development continue to monitor developments with a view to determining whether there may be merit, at some time in the future, in introducing similar measures in Northern Ireland.


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