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27 Oct 2003 : Column 125W—continued

NORTHERN IRELAND

Belfast Regeneration Office

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what approach will be taken to applications for Belfast Regeneration Office Action Plan funding which were solicited by the Belfast Regeneration Office and subsequently prepared by other agencies. [133030]

Mr. Spellar: The future of the Belfast Regeneration Office Action Plan has been under consideration by Government.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the draft strategy for Belfast Regeneration Office. [133031]

Mr. Spellar: The Belfast Regeneration Office (BRO) consulted widely on its draft strategy document between April 2002 and July 2002. The key issues to emerge from this consultation are relevant to the implementing of the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, "People and Place" in Belfast.

Child Care

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many residential child care places there are in each Northern Ireland parliamentary constituency. [132791]

Angela Smith: The number of residential child care places in children's homes in each Northern Ireland parliamentary constituency at 31 March 2003, the latest date for which information is available, is shown in the following table.

Number of residential child care places, by parliamentary constituency, 31 March 2003

Parliamentary constituencyNumber of residentialchild care places
Belfast East8
Belfast North24
Belfast South16
Belfast West35
East Antrim32
East Londonderry8
Fermanagh and South Tyrone14
Foyle42
Lagan Valley28
Newry and Armagh10
North Antrim12
North Down33
South Antrim11
South Down6
Strangford12
Upper Bann18
West Tyrone11
Northern Ireland Total320


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Crime (Belfast)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the clear-up rate is for crime in each (a) ward and (b) district council unit in Belfast in each of the last three years. [133239]

Jane Kennedy: The table below sets out the clear up rate for each of the District Command Units within Belfast in each of the last three years. Statistics in respect of clear up rates per ward are not readily available and the provision of such information would be disproportionate to the cost.

2000–01

Recorded crimeCrimesclearedClearance rate (percentage)
East Belfast6,9501,62323.4
North Belfast10,0292,24522.4
South Belfast14,6643,28822.4
West Belfast7,2541,81025.0

2001–02

Recorded crimeCrimesclearedClearance rate (percentage)
East Belfast7,1641,24017.3
North Belfast12,6051,26510.0
South Belfast18,1912,39913.2
West Belfast6,5111,19118.3

2002–03

Recorded crimeCrimesclearedClearance rate (percentage)
East Belfast8,4291,39516.6
North Belfast12,1371,89915.6
South Belfast18,3892,91715.9
West Belfast6,3461,25319.7

Crime (Racism)

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of crimes committed in Northern Ireland in each year since 1997 were racially motivated; what steps he is taking to reduce these figures; and if he will make a statement. [133189]

Mr. Paul Murphy: It is not possible to provide statistics in the precise format requested. However, the table sets out the number of racial incidents reported to, and the total number of crimes recorded by, the police in Northern Ireland since 1997.

This Government condemns all racially motivated crimes and is committed to tackling such intolerance. Later this year I hope to publish a proposal for a draft Order in Council to enable the courts to deal more severely with crimes motivated by racist, sectarian, and homophobic hatred.

This measure will send out a clear message that racism has no place in our society.

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Number of racial incidents reported and total number of crimes recorded in Northern Ireland, 1997–2002/03

Number of racial incidents reportedNumber ofrecorded crimes
19972562,222
1998–9993109,053
1999–2000237119,111
2000–01260119,912
2001–02185139,786
2002–03226142,496

Source:

Police Service of Northern Ireland.


Disability Rights Task Force

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many of the recommendations of the Disability Rights Task Force have been implemented in Northern Ireland and how many are still outstanding; and if he will list the recommendations in each case. [133238]

Mr. Spellar: It will not be possible to collate the information requested by the hon. Gentleman within the accepted timescale. I will write as soon as possible and place a copy of that letter in the Library.

E-commerce

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many Northern Ireland-based businesses he estimates trade using e-commerce website technology. [133868]

Mr. Pearson: It is estimated that 21 per cent. of businesses in Northern Ireland are trading online.



In response to the e-commerce needs of client companies, Invest Northern Ireland has developed a portfolio of support solutions to assist clients with the adoption of e-business technologies, both advisory and financial.

Fire Escapes

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what building regulations relating to fire escapes apply to (a) dwellings and (b) offices with three or more floors in Northern Ireland; [132089]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 came into operation on 1 April 2001 and, with certain exemption, they apply to new buildings and existing buildings being altered or undergoing a material change of use, As such, they apply to dwellings and offices with three or more floors.

The regulations impose mandatory requirements and Part E of the regulations relates to fire safety. Regulation E2 (c) (Means of escape) requires that a building must be so designed and constructed that in the event of a fire there is adequate means of escape, which can be safely and effectively used at all material times.

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In addition Regulation 5 of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations (NI) 2001 sets out the conditions to which employers must ensure emergency routes and exits in the workplace comply and the Fire Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1984 stipulates that District Councils should consult with the Fire Authority before approval is granted for certain planning applications.

Fort George (Derry)

Mr. Hume: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make it his policy that the purchase of Fort George in Derry from the integrated development fund does not detract from the overall investment available for Derry. [133006]

Mr. Pearson: As announced, at the launch of Ilex Urban Regeneration Company on 9 October 2003, the Department for Social Development and the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commission have reached agreement, in principle, on the purchase of Fort George and the case has been sent for urgent economic appraisal.

This investment, if confirmed, will be a call on the Integrated Development Fund (IDF). Any further calls on IDF will be assessed on a merit basis in line with the principles of IDF and the overall resources available, and must be fully supported by accompanying business case and appraisal. The purpose of the Integrated Development Fund is to provide additional support to strong wide-ranging partnerships initially in a small number of areas, one of which is the north west. This will enable the production and implementation of agreed comprehensive plans to develop and rejuvenate the area and communities in an integrated way.

I can confirm that the Fund's role is to remove blockages where there are no resources available from any other sources and it is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for existing mainstream funding which is in place or planned for Derry.

GM Crop Trials

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has had with ministers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on holding GM crop trials in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [134828]

Angela Smith: There have been no discussions with Ministers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on holding crop trials in Northern Ireland.


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