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18 Nov 2004 : Column 1776W—continued

Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the current (a) status and (b) role of the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. [197014]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Office of the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly has been vacant since the retirement of Lord Alderdice earlier this year. Any functions required to be exercised by the Speaker under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 may, in his absence, be exercised by a Deputy Speaker.
 
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Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether a special adviser is assigned to the Office of Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. [197015]

Mr. Paul Murphy: An adviser, recruited as a full time member of Assembly staff is still assigned to the Office of the Speaker. He is currently carrying out work for other public sector organisations.

Special Needs

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on nursing provision in schools for children with special needs in the Province. [198153]

Angela Smith: Various arrangements are in place to provide nursing support in schools for children with special educational needs. School health services co-ordinate the health surveillance programme provided to school children. Community children's nursing and learning disability nursing also provide support to children, their families and school staff to enable individual needs to be met during the school day. In some instances, nurses are based within the special schools whereas in other cases nurses provide support through school visits.

An interdepartmental group for children with special needs has been established between the Departments of Health and Education. This group plans to review the outcome of the project assessing the health and care needs of children attending school, which was undertaken by the southern education and library board in collaboration with the southern health and social services board.

Stormont

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost has been of the Stormont Assembly in the last two years; and what the expected cost is in the next year if the Assembly does not sit and the Executive is not operational. [197667]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The cost of maintaining the Northern Ireland Assembly since suspension in October 2002 until 31 October this year has been £49.6 million. This comprises £21.6 million for costs relating to Members and political parties; £18.5 million for costs relating to Assembly secretariat wages; and £9.5 million for property, accommodation and business services costs.

Expected costs in the next year will be determined in light of the outcome of current political discussions aimed at securing a lasting settlement and restoration of the institutions.

Surveillance

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many authorisations he has given for intercepting (a) mail and (b) telephone calls of (i) members of the public and (ii) hon. Members in the past year. [199105]


 
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Mr. Pearson: It is Government policy not to comment on intelligence matters and to neither confirm nor deny the existence of any covert operations.

Sustainable Energy

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions the Department of the Environment has had with the Energy Saving Trust on the establishment of a sustainable energy pilot centre in Northern Ireland. [199285]

Angela Smith: It has not been possible to answer the hon. Gentleman's question in this parliamentary session.

Tax Discs

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many occasions in each year since 2000 the non-display of vehicle tax discs has been detected, broken down by district command unit. [199254]

Angela Smith: It has not been possible to answer the hon. Gentleman's question in this parliamentary session.

Terrorist Victims

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to meet locally elected representatives to discuss the problems facing victims of terrorism. [197022]

Angela Smith: I have been consulting with victims and survivors and their representative groups and have recently issued to them a summary of the views I gathered. My next step will be to draw up proposals for improvements in the arrangements for the planning, co-ordination and delivery of the services provided to victims to help address the problems they face. At the appropriate time I will consult with the locally elected representatives.

During this consultation process, many views were expressed to me on the matter of dealing with the past. These views, which I shared with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, will help inform the work he is doing in this area.

Traffic Wardens

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what discussions he has had with the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland about the future role of traffic wardens in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement; [199296]

(2) how many traffic wardens have been recruited in Northern Ireland in each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement on the recruitment policy for traffic wardens. [199297]

Mr. Pearson: It has not been possible to answer the hon. Lady's questions in this parliamentary session.

Victoria Square, Belfast

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress is being made on redeveloping Victoria Square, Belfast. [199258]


 
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Mr. Spellar: The redevelopment of Victoria Square by AM Development is well under way. Another major step will be taken on 21 November 2004, when Churchill House, the former headquarters of the Department for Social Development is demolished in a controlled explosion. The 17-storey office block is the last building left on the site and its clearance means that major construction can begin. The new retail-led development is expected to open in 2007.

Walk-in Centre

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to establish a new NHS walk-in centre in the Province. [198650]

Angela Smith: The functions of NHS walk-in Centres, as established in Great Britain, will be provided in Northern Ireland by health and care centres, which bring together a range of primary and community-based care services into a 'one stop shop', and local hospitals, as defined in "Developing Better Services". Work is currently in progress on the building of two of these centres in Belfast. Plans for a network of similar centres across Northern Ireland are currently being developed by HSS boards and trusts.

Waste Directives

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the change in costs to Northern Ireland's farming industry as a result of the implementation of recent EU environmental and waste control directives. [197930]

Angela Smith: A mandatory part of the consultation process for the implementation of European Directives in the UK is the preparation of Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs) setting out the costs and benefits of implementation. RIAs are published as an integral part of consultation papers. All consultation papers produced by the Department of the Environment on the implementation of EU environmental Directives are made available on the DOE website at www.doeni.gov.uk.

The most recent consultation papers to be published by my Department which impact on agriculture concern implementation of the Nitrates Directive and the Water Framework Directive. Copies of these have been placed in the Library. A further consultation paper on implementation of the Nitrates Directive will issue shortly as will a paper containing proposals to extend existing waste management controls to agricultural waste. I will arrange for copies of these two papers to be placed in the Library.


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