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Telephone Numbers

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much revenue her Department has received from the use of non-geographic 0870 telephone numbers for the period 1 October 2003 to 30 September. [205822]

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Derek Twigg [holding answer 20 December]: The Department for Education and Skills does not participate in revenue share schemes associated with 0870 telephone numbers and therefore derives no revenue from the use of these numbers.

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many non-geographic 0870 telephone numbers are in use by her Department; and what services can be accessed by calling each of them. [205836]

Derek Twigg: The Department for Education and Skills has eight non-geographic 0870 numbers in use as follows (number of lines in brackets):



7. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent developments there have been on decommissioning in Northern Ireland. [208440]

Mr. Pearson: There have been four acts of decommissioning to date. The latest act occurred on 21 October 2003, when the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning reported that it had witnessed a third event in which IRA weapons were put beyond use. The Prime Minister made it clear at Leeds Castle that the Government regards the completion of decommissioning by paramilitary groups as essential to progress in Northern Ireland.

Peace Process

9. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the peace process. [208442]

Mr. Murphy: I refer my hon. Friend to the oral answer I gave earlier today.

Bank Security

10. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to encourage banks and other premises where large amounts of cash are held to increase security. [208443]

Mr. Pearson: I met with the chief executives of the four main banks in Northern Ireland last week to discuss how security systems can be further enhanced. I have asked the Armed Robbery Expert Group of the Organised Crime Task Force to look urgently at the lessons to be learned from this robbery and to report at the next meeting of the OCTF. The banks and other major financial institutions already meet regularly with the police to discuss crime prevention.


11. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to broaden the types of religious and other value systems education available in schools in Northern Ireland. [208444]

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Mr. Gardiner: The religious education core syllabus is intended to comprise about half of the teaching time for RE, allowing schools scope to include other religions and value systems if they wish. I am awaiting proposals from the Churches for a revised core syllabus, which will also address the study of other world religions. In addition, citizenship education, which will cover issues such as religious diversity, is currently being piloted and will become compulsory from September 2006.

Paramilitary Organisations

12. Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of recent illegal activity by paramilitary organisations; and if he will make a statement. [208445]

Mr. Pearson: There is no doubt that paramilitary organisations continue to engage in illegal activity. The IMC report which was published on 4 November 2004 provided a clear assessment of the extent of the involvement of both loyalist and republican paramilitary organisations in organised crime and other forms of criminality. The Government have consistently made it clear that there can be absolutely no place for terrorist activity or criminal activity and I call on all paramilitary groups to cease all their activities.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people linked to (a) loyalist paramilitary organisations, (b) republican paramilitary organisations and (c) criminal gangs have been investigated by the Assets Recovery Agency; and what the most recent figures are for the proportion of investigations in each case which led to recovery of assets. [208448]

Mr. Pearson: As at 10 January 2005, 15 cases relating to individuals believed to have links to loyalist groups and 12 cases relating to individuals believed to have links to republican groups have been referred to the Assets Recovery Agency. A further 25 cases relating to individuals from a general criminal or organised criminal background have also been referred.

Of those referrals, 39 cases are in assessment, under active investigation or under settlement and it is not appropriate for Government to comment on on-going investigations. Funds will be recovered when proceedings have successfully concluded and assets liquidated. The agency has frozen around £3.5 million of assets in a total of nine cases, including the Johnson case, which involves £1.25 million worth of assets, and is being liquidated.

Sinn Fein

13. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the willingness of Sinn Fein to pursue its political agenda by solely peaceful and legal means. [208446]

Mr. Paul Murphy: All political parties in Northern Ireland must pursue their political aims by exclusively peaceful and democratic means. Without that being demonstrably the case, restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly is not possible. I have made it clear that decisions and responses are now needed from Sinn
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Fein and the IRA. I shall also consider carefully the next report to the British and Irish Governments by the Independent Monitoring Commission.


14. Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had with the Chief Constable about improving the intelligence gathering capacity of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in respect of criminal activity by paramilitary organisations. [208447]

Mr. Pearson: The Chief Constable and I meet on a regular basis to discuss security related issues, including intelligence matters.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland uses the national intelligence model to manage the gathering, analysis and dissemination of intelligence. This relates to all levels of criminality from serious and organised crime to volume crime. As with all such systems, it is constantly reviewed for effectiveness.

The Chief Constable has fully implemented the Patten recommendations in relation to Special Branch and a new Crime Operations Department has been created. This ensures that there is effective sharing of intelligence information with those investigating organised crime.

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how often he receives intelligence briefings from the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. [208441]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I have formal meetings on a variety of security related issues with the Chief Constable and the GOC together with regular informal discussions which are informed by the full range of information at PSNI's disposal.

Andersonstown News Group

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received from other newspaper and media groups in Northern Ireland concerning financial assistance to the Andersonstown News Group; and if he will make a statement. [208892]

Mr. Gardiner: James Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Irish News Ltd. wrote to me on 4 October 2004 in relation to the Andersonstown News Group's proposed launch of "Daily Ireland", a new daily newspaper. I wrote to Mr. Fitzpatrick on 11 November 2004 offering a meeting but to date that offer has not been taken up.
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