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8 Jan 2004 : Column 467Wcontinued
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 5 January 2003]: Data on waiting times for diagnostic tests are not collected centrally, however data may be collected locally. The central returns capture consultant speciality level data on waits for a first outpatient appointment and for inpatient admissions.
However, it is the Governments' priority to ensure that all patients are seen quickly in the first instance so that if diagnostic tests are required they are requested sooner. Where this is not the case we are determined to speed up the process. The National Health Service is committed to reducing the length of time that people wait before their treatment starts and the NHS Plan set targets for staged reductions in waiting times.
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 7 January 2003]: Health visitors, school nurses, communicable disease control nurses and occupational health nurses are employed as public health nurses within the National Health Service. These disciplines focus on preventing ill health and operate at a population level as well as undertaking preventive work with individuals and families.
Dr. Ladyman: The Government are funding a national social work recruitment campaign aimed at raising awareness about what social workers do and increasing the number of applications to social work training. The campaign has been successful so far in reversing the trend of falling numbers of applications to social work courses: in 2002 the applications rose by 6.5 per cent. A post-qualifying child care award was developed in 1999 to ensure that social workers are equipped to undertake complex child care work and provide high quality services to children and families. Child protection is one of the areas covered by the award.
8 Jan 2004 : Column 468W
Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of staff employed within his Department are over 55 years of age; and what (a) number and (b) percentage of staff recruited over the last 12 months are over 55 years of age. 
Mr. Pearson: 7.2 per cent. of those employed by the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Northern Ireland Office are aged over 55. 29or 0.9 per cent.of those who were recruited in the year to September 2003 were aged over 55.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many senior civil servants in his Department are disabled, expressed in (a) numbers and (b) as a percentage of whole-time equivalents. 
Mr. Pearson: Eight senior civil servants in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Northern Ireland Office have declared a disability. This amounts to 3 per cent. of those senior civil servants who have provided information on whether or not they have a disability. Staff provide information on disability voluntarily.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether it is the policy of his Department to use fair trade products, as a matter of course, in (a) sales on departmental premises and (b) receptions and meetings involving staff and visitors. 
Mr. Pearson: The sale and use of fair trade products by Departments of the Northern Ireland Administration and the Northern Ireland Office is limited to food products used in catering. Almost all staff catering services have been contracted out since the early nineties and the sale of food products on departmental premises, and their use in receptions and meetings involving staff and visitors, has therefore become the responsibility of the private sector suppliers.
There is no requirement to provide fair trade products. Government Departments in Northern Ireland are free to make their own decisions on such products against a background of obtaining best value for money, the European Community Procurement Directives and individual departmental objectives.
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Mr. Pearson: On 14 April 2003 I, along with my ministerial colleague Angela Smith MP, announced proposals to deliver new facilities at the Giant's Causeway which would be capable of offering a world class experience to visitors.
Our proposals centred on the commissioning of an international competition to design new visitor facilities which would complement the Giant's Causeway as a World Heritage Site. This international competition, which will be initiated in early spring, will seek designs from around the world and I am confident that by proceeding along this path we can deliver a world class solution that will continue to capture the imagination of visitors in 20 years time.
The Government are committed to seeing visitor facilities at the Giant's Causeway that are genuinely world class, conform to the highest standards in terms of economic and environmental sustainability and which will greatly enhance Northern Ireland's place on the International map as a tourist destination.
Over the past number of months my officials, in conjunction with colleagues in the Environment and Heritage Service, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Department of Finance and Personnel, have been exploring a number of options with regard to the most appropriate method of delivering the solution. These discussions are ongoing. The National Trust and Moyle District Council, the owners of the site, have also been kept informed of developments.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much it has cost to date to transport the (a) Director General and (b) Director of Operations of the Northern Ireland Prison Service in armoured vehicles when they are in the Province on business. 
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Mr. Spellar: On the figures available at the end of December 2003 the total cost of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry has been £127 million. The Northern Ireland Office has spent £103.5 million. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence advises me that his Department has spent £23.5 million. The overall cost of the Inquiry is estimated to be £155 million.
David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the relationship between Sinn Fein's elected representatives and the membership of the Provisional IRA and its Army Council. 
Jane Kennedy: The Provisional IRA remains a proscribed terrorist organisation, Sinn Fein are notthey are a political party. However, it is the Government's view that both organisations are inextricably linked. Information about the links between individual members of Sinn Fein and the IRA is an intelligence matter and in line with Part II, Paragraph 4 ("Law enforcement and legal proceedings") of the Code of Practice on access to Government Information, it would be inappropriate to comment.
Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many students graduated from teacher training colleges in each of the last five years; and how many were employed in a school within one year of graduating. 
Jane Kennedy: The number of students who have graduated from the Higher Education Institutions in each of the last five years are shown in the following table. The Department does not maintain statistics on the number of graduates employed in schools within one year of graduating.
|Stranmillis University College||134||127||145||149||167|
|St. Mary's University College||160||151||146||150||170|
|University of Ulster||169||169||181||185||187|
(6) Course withdrawn.
(7) No graduates until March 2004.
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