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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the merits of appointing someone to act as a champion for the homeless in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Spellar: Unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has a single, comprehensive housing authority in the Housing Executive, which has a statutory duty to deal with homelessness. No need has so far been identified to appoint an individual to act as a champion for the homeless.
The new agenda in the Housing Executive's homelessness strategy places a stronger emphasis on dealing with the personal and social causes of homelessness. In November 2004, a review group comprising representatives of Government Departments, statutory agencies and the voluntary sector supported by
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the Department for Social Development published a consultation paper entitled "Promoting the Social Inclusion of Homeless People". The aim of the consultation is to identify ways in which Government and other agencies can work together to make their services accessible to people who are homeless or who are threatened with homelessness.
|Number presented||Number accepted|
Mr. Spellar: The information cannot be provided in the format requested. However, the Housing Executive's records show that, during the period 200304, 3,118 of those accepted as homeless in Northern Ireland were single parent households (ie 36.28 per cent. of the total accepted as homeless). While a gender breakdown of those single parents is not readily available, it is known that all but a very few were female.
|Accommodation type||Number in accommodation|
|Voluntary sector hostels||455|
|Private sector lettings||465|
|House in multiple occupation||172|
|Reason for homelessness||Number presenting||Number accepted|
|Loss of rented accommodation||1,992||897|
|No accommodation in NI||1,920||700|
|Civil disturbance intimidation||1,190||685|
|Accommodation not reasonable||1,783||1,438|
|Release from institution||341||168|
|Bomb/fire damage civil disturbance||55||33|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many rough sleepers there were in the Province in each of the last 10 years; and what proportion of these were drug abusers. 
Mr. Spellar: Attempts in recent years to quantify the level of rough sleeping in Northern Ireland were inconclusive. However, a survey early this year indicated that, while there are between 20 and 30 frequent users of Housing Executive-funded outreach services, no more than 10 people are sleeping rough on any given night (all in Belfast). It has been established that the majority of rough sleepers have alcohol dependency problems and there is also evidence that misuse of drugs is increasing within this group.
Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what level of funding is being granted by the Government towards (a) capital costs and (b) recurrent costs in respect of (i) adult hospices and (ii) children's hospices in the current financial year. 
In 200405 Health and Social Services Boards are providing recurrent funding of £3,678,635 for adult hospices. In addition, £520,609 is being provided non-recurrently. Boards are now meeting 50 per cent. of the costs of agreed in-patient services at adult hospices.
There is no recurrent statutory funding for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice as Health and Social Services Boards provide palliative care services for children in the community through the specialist paediatric nursing service. However, this year the Western Board has provided £15,870 (non-recurrent) to the Children's Hospice to fund a project which provides palliative care to life-limited children in their own home in the Western Board area.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the merits of reintroducing matrons to hospitals in the Province to oversee hygiene and hospital cleaning. 
Angela Smith: When "Modern Matrons" were introduced in England it was noted that in Northern Ireland Nurses in Clinical Services Manager Posts covered the range of responsibilities identified for the "Modern Matron".
To ensure that concerns in relation to infection control issues are addressed locally, I have already announced the formation of a group to develop an Infection Control Strategy. The Strategy will examine key priority areas such as prevention, surveillance, control of MRS A and staff education and training.
Angela Smith: Children suspected of having ADHD are in the first instance referred to Child Development Clinics for diagnosis. Services for children with ADHD are provided by community paediatric clinics and Child and Adolescent Mental Health services. Only within the Western Health and Social Services Board are dedicated ADHD clinics in place.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what response he has made to the March 2004 report of the Committee of Experts on the Implementation of the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, with particular reference to the recommendation that he recognise the necessity of public funding in order to maintain a newspaper in Irish in Northern Ireland; and what measures he is taking to support the Irish language daily newspaper. 
Angela Smith: Following publication in March 2004 of the Council of Europe's first Report on the United Kingdom's compliance with its commitments under the European Charter, I issued a News Statement which welcomed the Report's findings and reaffirmed the Government's commitment to protecting both Irish and the Ulster-Scots languages, and to continue with the work already in hand.
With regard to the two recommendations made by the Council's Committee of Experts, the Government are at an advanced stage of developing an Irish Language Broadcast Fund, and expect to issue revised and improved Charter Guidance to civil servants in Northern Ireland in the new year.
Lá is currently the only daily Irish language newspaper in publication. It has been successful over the years in attracting significant public sector funding from a range of sources, principally, but not exclusively, from the Irish Language Agency, Foras na Gaeilge, which has the function of facilitating and encouraging the use of Irish in speech and writing. Decisions on applications from Lá for public sector funding have been and will continue to be fully assessed on their merits in the light of the terms and conditions of grant stipulated by the funding body.
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