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15 Dec 2003 : Column 740Wcontinued
David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the expected monthly running cost is of the Northern Ireland Assembly (a) while suspended and (b) when fully operational, broken down by (i) MLA salaries and office cost allowance costs, (ii) executive costs when the Assembly is operational and (iii) general administration costs. 
Mr. Paul Murphy: The expected monthly running costs of the Northern Ireland Assembly while suspension continues are £1.93 million, comprising £0.83 million for MLA salaries, office cost allowance, travel and subsistence expenses and party allowances and £l.l million for general administration. The monthly costs when the Assembly was last fully operational were £2.64 million, comprising 0.97 million for MLA salaries, office cost allowance, travel and subsistence expenses and party allowances and £1.67 million for executive and general administration costs. It is not possible to separate the executive costs of running Assembly business from the general administration costs.
Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many people have been exiled from Northern Ireland by (a) Loyalist and (b) Republican paramilitary groups in each of the last five years; 
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Angela Smith: There are no official figures on the number of people exiled from Northern Ireland as a result of paramilitary intimidation as not all incidents are reported. The needs of exiles are examined in detail in the Legacy Report, an independent needs analysis of victims of the Troubles living in Great Britain. One of the major contributors to this research was Maranatha, a Christian community which has considerable experience in this area. Maranatha estimates that around four people per month are exiled from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had with the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in relation to the arrest of two members of staff of the Police Fund on 5 December 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: As the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Police Fund stated on 5 December 2003, he was made aware on the previous day of serious allegations, including financial irregularities, in respect of the Fund. Two members of staff were questioned by the police, although they were subsequently released without charge. I welcome the commitment of the Fund's Directors to provide continuity of care and services to the Fund's clients, as far as possible.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of possible breaches of confidentiality of the names and addresses of Royal Ulster Constabulary widows following the arrest of two members of staff of the Police Fund; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what basis the decision to close the police station at Belfast International Airport was made; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: While some functions are to transfer from the Police Station to the new Airport Control Centre, such as monitoring CCTV and managing operational communications, the Police Station itself remains a vital part of the security infrastructure at the airport and will not be closed.
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reducing the number of disaffected pupils in post primary schools by 15 per cent. as set out in the Department of Education Business Plan 200304. 
Jane Kennedy: The target is to achieve the reduction by 2006. At the end of the 200304 school year the baseline for persistent non-attendance and multiple suspensions will be determined and it is against this that progress will be measured. It will be November 2005 before the first report on progress is available.
|Children in Funded Places in Voluntary and Private Pre- school Education Centres||5,804|
|Nursery Classes in Primary Schools||7,823|
|Reception Pupils in Primary Schools||1,149|
|Reception Pupils in Preparatory Departments||31|
|Primary Schools (Year 1-Year 7)||165,179|
|Preparatory Departments (Year 1-Year 7)||2,620|
|Secondary Schools (Non Grammar)||92,645|
|Grammar Schools (Year 8-Year 14)||63,102|
|All Schools and funded pre-school centres||350,685|
Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how the interests of victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles from Great Britain are represented in the talks between the British and Irish Governments and the Northern Ireland political parties. 
Angela Smith: The Joint Declaration of 6 May 2003 commits Government to work with the Irish Government, the political parties and victims and survivors to seek to establish what further practical steps can be taken to recognise and address the suffering of all victims, taking into account the state of readiness of the community as a whole to engage. The Government continues to work towards meeting these commitments and as part of this process I am currently engaged in a consultation process to develop the next generation of victims' policy. Included within this process are the findings of The Legacy Report, a recently completed needs analysis of victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles living in Great Britain. The report was commissioned by the Legacy Project, an initiative of the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Trust which has been allocated Government funding of £250,000. The recommendations made in the report are now under consideration.
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Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will ask the Victims Liaison Unit to organise a conference to examine how best practice and experiences from Northern Ireland can be used in meeting the needs of victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland Troubles from Great Britain. 
Angela Smith: The Legacy Report, an independent needs analysis of victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles living in Great Britain, makes a number of recommendations for Government across a range of its Departments. One of the recommendations is that the Victims Liaison Unit in the Northern Ireland Office should organise a conference to share best practice and experiences from Northern Ireland. This and other recommendations are currently under consideration.
Mr. Raynsford: The Association is on the list of organisations consulted when changes are proposed to the Building Regulations in England and Wales, and most recently it has commented on the overall structure and aims of the current review of Part L of the Regulations, which deals with energy conservation.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister believes the review complements the Communities Plan, by highlighting the need for additional housebuilding, and for a more responsive industry in high demand areas. The Barker report deepens our understanding of the constraints that must be overcome.
The report is right to emphasise that this is not just a matter of getting housing numbers up. We have to build sustainable communities, not just houses. For if we do not achieve this, we risk repeating the mistakes of the past, where residents are reluctant to see further development, and this reduces housebuilding further still.
The report says we need to deliver the socially optimal numbers, type and location of housing. That means carefully balancing different objectives and considerationseconomic, social and environmental, which fits in well with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's overarching objectives.
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The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister agrees that the planning system is not perfect. Reforms are currently before parliament in the Planning Bill. These, we believe will improve planning policy and process. We look forward to hearing what recommendations are produced in the final Barker report.
Finally, we welcome the analysis of the housebuilding industry, and agree that the industry seems to be in a low output equilibrium. We reinforce Kate Barker's conclusion that the industry could and should make better use of modern methods of construction.
Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister welcomes the research undertaken by the Barker Review, especially the figures for the additional housing required to fulfil particular aims. The review makes clear that it is not recommending a rate of housebuilding, however, and that it is up to Government to determine what the appropriate level is. It also makes clear that the country needs a housebuilding industry that is more responsive to prices.
The Planning Bill currently before Parliament already puts in place measures that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister believes will deliver a more responsive industry and a higher level of housebuilding. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also looks forward to seeing the recommendations in Kate Barker's final report in which she will present her policies. Only then will we be in a position to respond fully to any requirement for a higher level of housebuilding.
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