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29 Nov 2004 : Column 23W—continued

Irish Republic (President)

Mr. Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make representations to the Government of the Irish Republic to change the title of the President of that country to a title which specifically excludes Northern Ireland. [200081]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The title of the said office is defined by the Irish Constitution and is therefore a matter for the Irish Government and people of the Republic of Ireland.
 
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Larne-Belfast Rail Link

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the future development of the Larne-Belfast rail link. [199846]

Mr. Spellar: There are no plans at this stage to invest further on the section of the Belfast to Larne line between Belfast and Bleach Green which is in good condition following recent upgrades. A project to relay the section of the line between Bleach Green to Whitehead has been approved by the Department and work is scheduled to commence in the spring of 2005 and be completed by December 2005. The remainder of the line from Whitehead to Larne forms part of the lesser used part of the railways network and I am currently considering future investment on these lines as part of the 2004 Spending Review taking account of the recent public consultation on this matter.

MOT Certificate

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on how many occasions in each year since 2000 the lack of an MOT certificate has been detected, broken down by district command unit. [200912]

Mr. Pearson: This information is not held in the format requested. These figures could only be compiled at disproportionate expense.

Priority Treatment (Ex-service Personnel)

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reasons the Department of Health and Social Services does not provide the level of priority treatment for ex-servicemen and women provided elsewhere in the UK. [199552]

Angela Smith: Guidance was issued by the Department of Social Security in 1972 on hospital treatment for ex-servicemen and women which applied to England, Wales and Scotland, but did not apply in Northern Ireland. No equivalent guidance has been issued in Northern Ireland, although boards and trusts here have been asked by the Department to ensure that a safe and effective service is provided and that patients are treated according to their clinical priority.

Residential Accommodation (Care Costs)

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in residential accommodation on a voluntary financing basis have been paid in full during the 12 week disregard period by each Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland. [200353]

Angela Smith: The information requested by the hon. Gentleman could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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. [200911]


 
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Mr. Pearson: This information is not held in the format requested. These figures could only be compiled at disproportionate expense.

Traffic Wardens

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will rescind the decision to change the role of traffic wardens in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [200352]

Mr. Pearson: The Police Service of Northern Ireland has taken the decision to withdraw from the enforcement of parking and waiting restrictions in order to concentrate resources on areas of greater policing priority.

As a result, the Roads Service of the Department for Regional Development, following public consultation in 2003, intends to introduce new primary legislation which will decriminalise parking offences and allow the responsibility for the enforcement of on-street parking restrictions to pass from the PSNI to DRD. It is expected that the legislation will be in place by mid-2005, with an operational scheme on the ground in mid-2006.

All existing Traffic Wardens and Senior Traffic Wardens will transfer with the function. Transfers will be in accordance with the provisions of the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 and Cabinet Office guidelines, which protect the rights of employees when a transfer of function occurs.

Training Courses

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what the (a) cost to the Department, (b) title and (c) location was of each training course organised by his Department for its staff in each financial year since 1997–98; [200388]

(2) what financial penalties were paid in each financial year since 1997–98 to training providers by the Department for training courses prepared for its staff which were subsequently cancelled at the Department's request. [200408]

Mr. Pearson: The information sought by the hon. Member is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

DEFENCE

Galileo Project

17. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had on the military implications of the Galileo Project. [199370]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess).

Iraq

18. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the security situation in Iraq. [199371]


 
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Mr. Hoon: The security situation in Iraq remains difficult with determined fanatics and terrorists opposing the building of a new, democratic, stable and secure Iraq. Iraqi security forces supported by the multinational force-Iraq, continue to conduct operations against this insurgency. The aim is to create the conditions within which Iraqi elections can take place in a safe and secure environment next January.

Regimental Structure

19. Sir Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the proposed new regimental structure for the Army. [199372]

Mr. Hoon: The Army is restructuring in order to ensure it is better prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. The new structure will ensure that the Army is more resilient, robust and focused to deliver operations at brigade level while retaining its core ethos of being a war-fighting Army able to conduct large scale operations alongside our allies.

As part of this work the infantry will reorganise in order to accommodate both the ending of the arms plot and the consequence of reducing the number of infantry battalions by four. The decision to cease the arms plot means that the infantry must reorganise on the basis of regiments of two or more battalions. This is because in the future infantry battalions will be fixed by role and, largely, by location and it will be necessary to move individuals between battalions for experience, variety and development. Multi-battalion regiments will allow this movement, enabling us to deliver the real advantages of ending the arms plot in terms of operational capability and family stability, while still preserving the benefits and traditions of a regimental system.

The Black Watch

21. Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he expects the amalgamation of the Black Watch with other Scottish regiments to take place. [199374]

Mr. Hoon: The infantry will need to reorganise on the basis of multi-battalion regiments. No decisions have been taken on exactly how this will be implemented within each infantry division, and the consequent impact on individual infantry battalions. Nor have any decisions been made on the timing of implementation of the changes.

Arctic Convoy Veterans

22. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to recognise the service of Arctic Convoy veterans. [199375]

Mr. Caplin: As we approach the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War the whole House will I am sure agree that we owe all veterans, including those who served in the Arctic Convoys, our greatest respect and thanks for that service.

However and specifically, service on the convoys to Northern Russia during the Second World War has already been recognised by the award of the Atlantic
 
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Star. The qualifying criteria for the medal, are published in Command Paper 6633 in May 1945 and Command Paper 6833 in June 1946 and are indeed quite specific.


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