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Mr. Pearson: The Organised Crime Task Force has carried out detailed analysis of the scale of paramilitary involvement in counterfeiting and piracy and its assessment is that paramilitary gangs carry out 80 per cent. of organised intellectual property crime in Northern Ireland, with loyalist and republican gangs equally heavily involved. The Independent Monitoring Commission's report of 4 November 2004 also highlights paramilitary involvement in this form of criminality.
This year the Police Service of Northern Ireland have seized £4.595 million of counterfeit goods and I pay tribute to the PSNI for their ongoing efforts to tackle organised criminals who seek to line their pockets from the sale of illicit goods.
Mr. Pearson: Although the Northern Ireland Office does not provide crèche facilities for its staff, it does provide assistance with the cost of child care to staff with pre-school aged children. The Department and its agencies are currently assisting 138 staff at an annual cost of £129,000.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost was of (a) in-house canteen and (b) other catering services provided by his Department in each of the last two years. 
Mr. Pearson: The cost to the Northern Ireland Office of providing in-house canteen services was £24,614.52 in 200203 and £19,596.92 in 200304. We are unable provide the cost of other catering services to the Department as we are unable to isolate these costs from our expenditure on other related domestic and cleaning items.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his estimate is of the cost of (a) ministerial cars and drivers and (b) taxis for his Department in each of the last two years. 
Mr. Pearson: In relation to the cost of ministerial cars for the 200203 year I would refer to the response given by the then Minister for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Alexander) on 13 November 2003, Official Report, columns 39798W. A letter was deposited in the Library in relation to this response which gave the cost of ministerial cars for Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Ministers while in mainland Great Britain. The cost of ministerial cars for NIO Ministers while in Northern Ireland cannot be extracted from other costs relating to the security and protection of Ministers.
In relation to ministerial cars for the 200304 year. My hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office has asked Nick Matheson, Chief Executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency to write to the hon. Member with details of the cost of ministerial vehicles provided to his Department in 200304. This correspondence will include details on the cost of cars for Northern Ireland Office Ministers while in mainland GB. Again, the cost of ministerial cars for NIO Ministers while in Northern Ireland for 200303 cannot be extracted from other costs relating to the security and protection of Ministers.
15 Dec 2004 : Column 1207W
The costs of taxis booked using the Northern Ireland Office's travel booking service were £21,919.80 in 200203 and £13,954.12 in 200304. These figures do not include the costs of taxis used by staff for official purposes, the cost of which is recovered from the Department by way of expense claims.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his estimate is of the (a) annual cost and (b) total value of the empty properties owned by (i) his Department, (ii) his agencies and (iii) other public bodies for which he has had responsibility in each of the last two years. 
|Northern Ireland Office (£)||Northern Ireland Office agencies (£)||Other public bodies for which NIO is responsible|
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assistance was provided to prisoners released under the early release scheme to reintegrate themselves into the community and find employment; and what the largest amount is of state benefits being paid on a weekly basis to a former early release prisoner in Northern Ireland. 
Prisoners scheduled for early release, under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998, may not have had the opportunity to make adequate preparation for their successful reintegration into the community. In recognition of this, Prisoner Welfare organisations, who received EU funding, were involved in conducting an analysis of the training needs of those prisoners eligible for early release. Training courses in pre-employment, business planning and social skills development were identified as being the most appropriate courses and these were provided at HMP Maze, by individuals and professional community based training organisations.
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Mr. Pearson: The Northern Ireland Office completed an Equal Pay Report and Action Plan in August 2003. The Project Board were satisfied that there was no gender discrimination at present concerning pay in the NIO.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many gyms are available to the staff in the Department; and what the cost of providing them was in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Pearson: The Northern Ireland provides three gyms for use by its staff. The cost of running these gyms in the 200304 year was £6,236.63. This figure does not include such costs as heating, lighting or cleaning, as these cannot be isolated from the total costs of these items for each buildings in which the gyms are housed.
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