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1 Mar 2004 : Column 700Wcontinued
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many units in the ownership of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive are (a) void and (b) empty due to their state of disrepair; and how many are deemed unfit for human habitation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: The information is not available in the precise format requested as the Northern Ireland Housing Executive does not draw a distinction between void and empty property. Instead the Housing Executive categorises vacant properties as:
|Number of units|
The Housing Executive endeavours to balance the need for letting stock as quickly as possible against operational requirements and, under the common housing selection scheme, providing its tenants with a choice in where they wish to live.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many houses in the ownership of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive were (a) void and (b) empty in each of the past 12 months; what the average time was that the properties remained unallocated to tenants; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: The Housing Executive does not draw a distinction between void and empty property. The following table sets out the number of vacant Housing Executive dwellings for the 12 month period February 2003 to January 2004.
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|Month||Lettable(12)||Operational(13)||Long term(14)||Undergoing redevelopment/ pending demolition(15)||Total|
(12) Lettablegenerally short-term vacancies usually in the process of being re-allocated.
(13) Operational voidsgenerally dwellings which are deliberately being held vacant to facilitate planned improvements or open market sale.
(14) Long term voidsgenerally dwellings which are difficult to let due to lack of demand and includes properties blocked up to prevent vandalism, blocked up as a result of vandalism and fire damaged dwellings.
(15) Pending demolitionhouses to be demolished either because they are designated surplus to requirement or to facilitate redevelopment.
The information for the last 12 months regarding the time these properties remain unoccupied is not routinely kept but is complied from time to time for special exercises. This information was last complied for the 200102 financial year and shows the times as follows:
As part of the management of its housing stock the Housing Executive must balance the need for letting stock as quickly as possible against operational requirements and, under the common housing selection scheme, providing its tenants with a choice in where they wish to live.
Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the (a) value and (b) number of new hospitals built in Northern Ireland is in the last five years for which records are available. 
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the percentage of (a) adults and (b) children in Northern Ireland that were obese in each of the last three years. 
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Angela Smith: The 1997 Northern Ireland Health and Social Wellbeing Survey provides the most recent estimate of obesity in adults aged 16+. This survey found that 17 per cent. of men and 20 per cent. of women (19 per cent. overall) were obese.
Angela Smith: The Department's Human Organs Inquiry Line was launched in November 2002 in compliance with the recommendations of the Human Organs Inquiry, which the then Minister had accepted in full. In a leaflet issued to all householders last year the public were asked to note
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the disclosure of uncollated retentions on 23 January by the Royal Group of Hospitals and Queens University. 
Angela Smith: In May 2003 the Department's Chief Medical Officer issued guidance to all hospitals and universities on the use of human organs and tissue, which gave specific instructions about record keeping
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and archives. It has since been brought to the attention of the Department that the details of tissue blocks and slides relating to 310 cases at Queen's University and the Royal Hospitals had not been included on their main reference lists, although their existence had been disclosed. These lists are used to advise relatives whether any material has been retained from post mortem examinations.
This matter has been investigated very thoroughly and it is clear that no whole organs are involved and that no new blocks and slides have come to light that were not known about before. The problem was due to administrative error rather than any attempt to conceal information.
Details of the 310 cases have been checked against all inquiries received by both the institutions involved and the departmental telephone inquiry line. In only two cases did blocks and slides relate to families that had previously made inquiries. Both families have been advised of the additional information. The error is deeply regretted and both institutions have apologised to the families concerned for any distress caused.
New procedures have been, and continue to be, developed and the Human Tissue Bill now before Parliament includes a rigorous system of inspection and regulation. It is considered that this is an isolated episode which should not recur, but the Department has written to all hospital trusts and universities to draw their attention to this matter.
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