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11 Jan 2005 : Column 258W—continued

Prescriptions

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will estimate the number of prescription items per capita in Northern Ireland (a) in the last year for which figures are available and (b) (i) five, (ii) 10, (iii) 15 and (iv) 20 years previously. [206352]

Angela Smith: The information as requested is given in the table.
Prescription items dispensed (59) in NI per capita for selected years

Calendar yearItems per capita
200315.6
199813.5
199311.5
1988 (60)9.5
1983 (60)9.0


(59) Excludes private prescriptions and those dispensed in a hospital setting
(60) Taken from clerical records
Source:
Central Services Agency and Civilian Mid-Year




Press Officers

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many press officers are employed in the Department. [206526]

Mr. Paul Murphy: There are currently 15 press officers employed in the Northern Ireland Office.

PSA Levels

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent guidance has been issued on the management of patients in the Province with slightly elevated PSA levels. [206127]

Angela Smith: The Department has not issued guidance specifically on the management of patients with slightly elevated PSA levels. However CMO Update No. 25, which was issued to all GPs in November 2003, contained information about prostate cancer screening. This emphasised that anyone who requested a PSA test should be informed about the probable benefits and harm of the PSA test, and gave details of where to find information developed by the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme.
 
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Depending on the outcome of the test, the person's GP will advise them on what happens next. In the case of a raised PSA level, this may include further tests or referral to a specialist for investigation.

School Finance

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how the new funding arrangements for schools in Northern Ireland will affect in percentage terms each school in North Down constituency. [206556]

Mr. Gardiner: Following the agreement of the Priorities and Budget 2004 on 20 December which set out the overall allocations for education, work is underway to determine the allocations that will issue, under Local Management of Schools common funding arrangements, to individual schools. Once this work is complete, I shall write to the hon. Lady with the details she has requested and place a copy of my letter in the Library.

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the future funding arrangements for schools in Northern Ireland; and how many children he estimates will benefit from the new arrangements. [206581]

Mr. Gardiner: Following consultation during the autumn, I have decided to proceed with arrangements to replace the existing seven Local Management of Schools (LMS) funding formulae with a single, common funding formula. This move will take effect from 1 April 2005 and reflects the commitment made by the Executive under devolution and will ensure that schools of similar size and characteristics are funded in the same way regardless of their geographical location.

Work is continuing to finalise allocations to schools for 2005–06. Once this has been completed, I will make a fuller announcement outlining the changes that I have made to reflect the comments received during consultation and confirming the allocations that will issue to individual schools for 2005–06. I will also write to the hon. Member with the specific details she has requested and place a copy of my statement and this letter in the Library.

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to prevent (a) teachers and (b) support staff being made redundant as a result of the new funding arrangements for schools in Northern Ireland. [206579]

Mr. Gardiner: Under Local Management of Schools arrangements, decisions on the employment of teachers and support staff are for Boards of Governors to take in light of their particular circumstances including, in particular, the number of pupils at the school and their educational and social needs. My proposals for a common funding scheme for all schools are designed to ensure that schools with similar characteristics are funded consistently and equitably regardless of their geographical location. I expect that the majority of schools will see increases in their budgets as a result of the move from seven separate Local Management of Schools (LMS) funding schemes to the new common funding arrangements.
 
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However, I am concerned to ensure that the impact of any budget changes arising from the introduction of common funding is managed in a way that minimises disruption to both staff and pupils. That is why the move to common funding will be phased over a transitional period in order to allow schools sufficient time to adjust, particularly those schools which may see a decrease in funding

Social Housing

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much social housing was available in the Province on 1 January (a) 2004, (b) 1999, (c) 1994, (d) 1989 and (e) 1984. [206353]

Mr. Spellar: The social stock details are as follows:
DateHousing stock
31 March 2004120,100
1 January 1999143,500
1 January 1994158,500
1 January 1989171,500
1 January 1984184,000

From 2002 stock totals have been held on a financial rather than a calendar year.

Special Advisers

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many special advisers there are in the Department, broken down by Civil Service pay-grade. [206507]

Mr. Pearson: The Northern Ireland Office currently employs two special advisers (this will reduce to one special adviser with effect from 24 January 2005) whose salaries are within the same range as our mainstream Grade A staff (equivalent to Grade 7).

Their salaries are determined centrally by the Cabinet Office.

Sperrin Lakeland Health and Social Services Trust

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will estimate (a) the sum spent to date on work associated with a proposed new acute hospital and new local hospital in the south-west of the Province and (b) the proportion of this total that has been provided through annual budgetary allocations to the Sperrin Lakeland Trust. [205969]

Angela Smith: The total expenditure by Sperrin Lakeland Trust on the work associated with the proposed new acute hospital and the new local hospital is £229,667 for the period to 31 October 2004.

Sperrin Lakeland Trust does not plan to use normal service revenues to meet the cost of this project.

Sustainable Employment

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average success rates have been for placing participants in sustainable
 
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employment in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months of the (a) New Deal and (b) work track programme. [206058]

Mr. Gardiner: The success rates for placing participants in sustainable employment in Northern Ireland during the period 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004 for (a) New Deal and (b) work track programmes are as follows:
Participants moving into sustained employment(61)(April 2003 to March 2004)

ProgrammeLeaversInto sustained employmentPercentage
New Deal for18 to 24-year-olds8,0321,80722
New Deal 25 +6,9461,14216
Work track2,33737016


(61) Participants are considered to have sustained employment if they remain in the same spell of employment for 13 weeks or more



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