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18 Mar 2005 : Column 506W—continued

Downpatrick Regional Planning Office

Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many planning personnel are employed in the Downpatrick Regional Planning Office; how many planning personnel are responsible for planning matters in (a) the Ards borough council area and (b) the Castlereagh borough council area; and whether he plans to increase the resources available to the Northern Ireland Planning Service. [222079]

Angela Smith: Within the Downpatrick Divisional Planning Office, on the Operations Side, there is a staff complement of 52 with 47 staff currently in post.

There are currently 14 staff within Ards borough council area and eight staff in the Castlereagh borough council area responsible for planning matters.

Significant additional resources have been allocated to the Planning Service over the last few years in order to employ additional staff. During 2004–05 the Planning Service has sought to recruit 125 additional staff. The Agency now has a complement of 803 staff with 756 staff in post. Workloads in the Planning Service are reviewed regularly as is the need for additional resources.

Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many planning submissions the Downpatrick Regional Planning Office received from the Ards borough council area in the last (a) 12 months, (b) 24 months, (c) 36 months and (d) 48 months. [222105]

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Angela Smith: The information is as follows:
Applications received in Ards borough
Last 12 months1,537
Last 24 months2,656
Last 36 months3,864
Last 48 months4,863

For calculation purposes the 12-month period runs from 1 March until end of February.

Inward Investment

Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans Invest NI have to market Newtownards as a preferred location for future inward investment; and if he will make a statement. [222072]

Mr. Gardiner: The focus of Invest NI's international sales and marketing effort is to promote aggressively all areas of Northern Ireland, including Newtownards, as an attractive and viable location for new inward investment opportunities, in what is a very competitive global marketplace. In recent years the shift in foreign direct investment flows towards service industries has increasingly witnessed new investment, mainly from the financial services and software sectors, wishing to locate within the larger labour pools available in Northern Ireland.

Invest NI's local offices continue to work closely with key stakeholders to understand and ensure that detailed information on sub-regional sales propositions, including Newtownards, is available to potential investors.

While Invest NI continues to encourage new foreign direct investment to Northern Ireland, it also remains committed to strengthening the international competitiveness of local companies. From 2002–04, Invest NI made 72 offers of assistance totalling £3.88 million to existing companies in the Ards borough council area against investments of £15.5 million. This support was offered through a wide range of programmes.

Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions have taken place between the local enterprise agency, Invest NI and Ards borough council regarding inward investment in the Newtownards area. [222073]

Mr. Gardiner: Invest NI and its enterprise partners are working with Ards borough council to develop the local economy within the Newtownards region. Invest NI is committed to working closely with others engaged in economic development, and this includes regular attendance at Ards borough council's economic sub-committee meetings, at which inward investment issues are discussed.

With the continuing movement in global foreign development investment trends from manufacturing to predominantly tradable service-based sectors, potential investors place an increasing emphasis on locations within larger labour pools providing good infrastructure or close proximity to University Centres of Excellence.
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Invest NI cannot dictate where companies locate but the interaction and co-operation of local stakeholders are important in promoting opportunities for investors to consider areas such as Ards as a potential location. Invest NI has, in the past few years, taken 10 visitors to view locations in Newtownards as part of their visiting itineraries.

NHS (Private Operations)

Rev. Martin Smyth: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost of operations carried out privately on behalf of the NHS in Northern Ireland was in each of the past four years, broken down by health board. [221519]

Mr. Spellar: The cost of health care purchased by Health and Social Service Boards from independent sector hospitals in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland across all programmes of care for 2003–04 was:
Expenditure on private health care purchased from independent sector hospitals in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Republic of Ireland

HSS board areaYear ended March 2004 (£000)

Further information is not available centrally.


Cancelled Operations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements are in place to compensate those who have incurred nugatory expenditure as a result of the cancellation of operations. [222345]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 17 March 2005]: Guidance on "special payments", including ex-gratia payments, is contained in the National Health Service Manual for Accounts.

NHS bodies must consider each case on its merits. However, they are able to make ex-gratia payments, generally in cases where there has been financial loss incurred by the complainant, as a result of the actions or omissions of the relevant NHS body.

In exceptional circumstances, payments may also be made where there has been no financial loss, or in "discovered cases" of maladministration where no complaint has been made.

Childhood Leukaemia

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to publish the report on research by the Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford University into possible links between powerlines and childhood leukaemia; and if he will make a statement on the report. [221886]

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Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 15 March 2005]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 10 February 2005, Official Report, column 1690W.

Children's Hospices

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much NHS funding has been allocated to children's hospices in Lancashire in each year since 1997; and what estimate he has made of the proportion of the total children's hospice funding that represented in each year; [222085]

(2) how many children's hospices there are in the Ribble Valley; and how many of them receive (a) a proportion of their funding and (b) the majority of their funding through the NHS; [222086]

(3) how many children's hospices in the Ribble Valley receive less than 10 per cent. of their core funding from the NHS. [222087]

Miss Melanie Johnson: There is one children's hospice in Chorley registered with the Healthcare Commission. The Department does not collect information on hospice funding.

Children's hospice services are funded from a number of sources, including services commissioned by primary care trusts on the basis of their assessment of children's needs and their priorities. There is no upper limit to the amount of funding which the national health service can provide.

The Department continues to encourage representatives of children's hospices to engage actively with local NHS bodies over the contribution that
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hospices can make to the overall pattern of palliative care they commission for children and young people in their localities.

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