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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average waiting time to hear an industrial tribunal case in Northern Ireland was in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many industrial tribunal cases in Northern Ireland are waiting to be heard; and what action he is taking to reduce waiting times. 
Mr. Gardiner: On 23 August 2004 there were 12,967 cases awaiting determination by the Industrial Tribunals. Almost 2,000 of these were discrimination cases and the remainder were non-discrimination cases. Some 6,300 cases relate to a common complaint against one respondent under working time regulations and a further 1,936 cases relate to 10 large multiple applications. A case may involve more than one complaint.
appointment of three additional full-time Chairmen;
updating the Tribunal rules of procedure;
provision of additional administrative staff;
provision of additional Tribunal accommodation, and;
introduction of a new IT system.
the imminent appointment of additional part-time chairmen;
enhancements to the Tribunals IT system;
testing the use of digital audio recording systems to speed up lengthy cases;
improved case management; and
promoting alternative methods of resolving workplace disputes.
In addition, new regulations due to come into effect in April 2005 will introduce statutory minimum dispute resolution procedures in every workplace in Northern Ireland. The outcome of this legislation should be a reduction in the number of applications being made to the Tribunals, which in time should reduce waiting times overall.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans Invest Northern Ireland has to ensure that more potential inward investors have opportunities to visit the East Londonderry constituency in 2005. 
Internationally, Invest Northern Ireland will continue to focus its sales and marketing efforts on aggressively promoting Northern Ireland as an attractive and viable location for new inward investment opportunities. Invest Northern Ireland has a target of securing 150 inward visits by potential investors during the financial year 200405. While efforts are made to take visitors to as many potential locations as possible in Northern Ireland, each visit programme is dictated by investor requirements. Invest Northern Ireland's local offices have been working with local stakeholders to ensure that up to date and detailed information on sub-regions is available to potential investors when required.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the recording of telephone conversations between the general public and staff at Lagan Doc Service commenced at Down, Lisburn Trust as a matter of course; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela Smith: Lagan Doc Out-of-Hours Service has been recording all incoming calls from the public from 6 August 2004. The primary reason for doing so is to help improve the quality of service provided and additionally for staff training and security purposes. Callers are advised at the outset, by a pre-recorded message, that the call is being recorded and of the reasons for doing so.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent on (a) maintenance and (b) improvements to the rail station in Londonderry in each of the past five years. 
Mr. Spellar: The following figures detail how much has been spent on maintenance to the rail station in Londonderry in each of the past five years. There were no capital costs for improvements or additions.
Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were employed in manufacturing in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years; and how many people he estimates will be employed in manufacturing in each of the next five years. 
Mr. Gardiner: The NI labour market is performing well; the latest employee jobs figure of 683,050 is the highest figure on record. However, over the last 30 years a trend of declining manufacturing employment has been a feature of advanced economies including NI. As illustrated in the following table, over the last five years the number of manufacturing employee jobs in NI decreased by over 15 per cent. (the comparable figure for the UK is 17 per cent.).
|Year (June)||Manufacturing employee jobs in NI|
The Department does not provide forecasts of labour market trends. However, DETI is aware of the challenges facing manufacturing and has recently commissioned research which will inform the development of NI policy for this important sector.
12 Oct 2004 : Column 234W
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost to public funds in the Province was in each of the last five years of (a) care provision, (b) absence from work, (c) legal actions against employers and (d) premature deaths, in relation to mental health. 
|Year ended March||Total Expenditure (£ millions)|
|Secretary of State||10||16||13||13||10||8|
Mr. Spellar: This Deprived Urban Post Office Scheme opened for applications in April of this year. The first application was received in May from a Belfast post master and the second application was received in June from a Lurgan post master. Both of these applications are at an advanced stage of processing. Two further applications to the scheme were received in September from post masters in Craigavon and Newry.
Officials from the Department for Social Development have met with representatives from Post Office Ltd. regarding the scheme. At these discussions the post office confirmed that further applications will be submitted to the Department in the near future.
12 Oct 2004 : Column 235W
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