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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 24 March 2005


Air Links (Europe)

Mr. Trimble: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what support the Government are providing to facilitate the reintroduction of a direct flight between Northern Ireland and Brussels. [223189]

Mr. Gardiner: To date an application for support to the Air Route Development Fund for a Brussels route has not been made by any of the Northern Ireland Airports in relation to a Brussels route. The Fund is fully committed at present and consideration of any further new routes must await the outcome of the current review of the Scheme.


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many asthma-related admissions have been made to hospitals in the Province in the last 12 months. [223661]

Angela Smith: During 2003–04 (the latest year for which information is available) there were 2,515 admissions to hospitals in Northern Ireland where the primary diagnosis was asthma.


Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to his answer of 8 March 2005, Official Report, column 1653W, on cannabis, how many of those arrested for (a) possession and (b) sale of cannabis in each police district command unit area in Northern Ireland since its reclassification were prosecuted. [223305]

Mr. Pearson: To date a total of 81 persons have been proceeded against for offences of possession or intent to supply class C drugs during the period 29 January 2004 to 31 January 2005. A number of cases in relation to this period are still pending in the courts.

It is not possible to provide a breakdown of prosecutions by police district command units.

Children (Street Selling)

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what Police Service of Northern Ireland investigations are ongoing into young children acting as street sellers in central and south Belfast; how many arrests have been made in connection with this problem; and what efforts are being made to prosecute those who have organised such activities. [221785]

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Mr. Pearson: The Regulatory Services Department of Belfast city council takes the lead on the issue of illegal street trading. Since July 2004 Enforcement Officers from the Regulatory Services Department, supported by the PSNI, have conducted a total of 21 operations aimed at illegal flower selling. As a result of these operations a significant number of real and imitation flowers to the value of £64,750 have been seized.

No persons are currently being prosecuted by Belfast city council for selling flowers in Belfast city centre. To date no arrests have been made by police officers in relation to this issue.

Economy (Greater Antrim)

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the economic impact of the Junction 1 retail park on the greater Antrim area economy since its opening. [223172]

Mr. Gardiner: Government have made no such estimate.

EU Nitrates Directive

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his latest estimate is of the cost to farmers in the Province of compliance with the EU Nitrates Directives; and what public funds and reliefs are being allocated to assist with the costs. [223174]

Mr. Pearson: Officials have been working closely with the industry in developing the Nitrates Directive Action Programme proposals that are currently subject to consultation and include measures to address both nitrogen and phosphorus.

Details of the economic cost of compliance are outlined in the Nitrates Directive Consultation Paper, which was published on 21 February 2005. A copy of this document is available from www.dardni.gov.uk.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has made available £45 million under the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme for capital grant support to assist compliance with the Nitrates Directive. A phased approach to implementation has also been drawn up to assist farmers.

Global Point International Business Park

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the Answer of 3 March 2005, Official Report, column 1328W, on Global Point International Business Park, for what reasons the first operational company expected to locate at the Business Park is conditional upon completion of the public inquiry into the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan; and when he expects the inquiry to conclude. [221195]

Mr. Gardiner: The draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) has zoned additional lands for employment/industry at Ballyhenry. These lands are identified as a single zoning along with the existing Invest NI Global Point site.

The weight that the Planning Service would give to the draft BMAP in determining Invest NFs current application for the development of Global Point depends on a number of factors including the
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representations received by BMAP during the consultation period. Work is on-going on the assessment and collation of all representations received up to the closing date of 25 January 2005.

Until the impact of BMAP on the current application is determined, Invest NI has had to assume that the Ballyhenry lands will be considered as a single zoning. From liaison with Planning Service it is understood that issues concerning zoning will probably be required to be addressed at public inquiry, hence the response to the hon. Member's earlier question (219688).

It is too early in the process to give an indication of when a public inquiry will be held to consider representations to the draft BMAP.

Invest Northern Ireland

Mr. Hume: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the new building proposed in Derry by Invest Northern Ireland was agreed in principle by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment; if he will make a statement on the progress with the project; how many evaluations of the project have been carried out; and what target date he has set for the commencement of the building. [223365]

Mr. Gardiner: Ministerial approval, which allowed the project to proceed to final negotiation of the legal contracts with the preferred developer, was granted on 10 December 2004. These negotiations have proven to be difficult. However Invest NI is making every possible effort within the requirements of public accountability to reach a satisfactory and timely resolution to the outstanding issues. Other than the normal tender evaluation process and an associated economic appraisal, there has been no subsequent evaluation of the project. A target date for the commencement of building cannot be established until completion of the contract negotiations and legal documentation.

Northern Ireland Assembly

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the level of payment is for MLAs who are members of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission; when the payment was authorised; by whom; and what the responsibilities of those individuals have been since the Assembly was suspended. [222917]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Under the Northern Ireland Assembly (Members Salaries) Determination 1999 as provided for by section 47 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, members of the Assembly Commission received an increased salary entitlement of £10,864.

Following suspension of the Assembly, I made the Northern Ireland Assembly (Members Salaries) (Amendment) Determination 2002 which had the effect of reducing the increased entitlement for members of the Assembly Commission to zero from 5 November 2002.

Under paragraph 8 of the schedule to the Northern Ireland Act 2000, the Assembly Commission is unable to meet and its functions are exercised by me.
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David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for how long Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly will continue to be paid salaries and allowances while the Assembly remains in suspension. [223685]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The current salaries of Members of the Assembly are kept under regular review. However I fully recognise that continuing to pay these amounts is not an option which can be sustained indefinitely.

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