|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of changes in the (a) economy, (b) constitution and (c) media in Ukraine since Viktor Yushchenko became President. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: With only four months elapsed since the new government under President Viktor Yushchenko took office it is early days and much work is still in progress. On the economy, positive steps have been taken to tackle corruption and to simplify the tax system. Progress is also being made to meet the conditions needed to secure Market Economy Status from the EU and to accede to the World Trade Organisation. However, uncertainty remains over the review of past privatisations and there are questions over the longer-term affordability of recent increases in pensions and civil service salaries. The constitutional reforms to increase the powers of the Parliament and Prime Minister in relation to the President are likely to come into force in either September this year or January 2006. The Ukrainian Government is also making progress in entrenching the new freedoms that the media has enjoyed since the Orange Revolution and in investigating the case of the murdered journalist, Hearhiy Gongadze. We look to the Ukrainian Government to maintain the momentum in order both to deliver sustainable growth and prosperity and to take Ukraine closer to the EU.
Dr. Howells: I regret that I cannot provide my hon. Friend with this information as it is not our practice to disclose details of individual entry clearance cases in a public forum. My hon. Friend should write to UKvisas at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for further information on this application.
Angela E. Smith:
A draft Code of Practice on Freedom of Information for North South Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland Ltd. is expected to be available for public consultation before the end of this month. The Code will come into formal operation after the consultation process has been completed and formal approval obtained from the North South Ministerial Council.
16 Jun 2005 : Column 658W
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the review of the Dogs Order (a) began and (b) ended; how many meetings of the review group were held; and who the members of the review group were. 
Angela E. Smith: The review of the Dogs Order commenced in February 2000 by the issue of a consultation letter to district councils and the USPCA seeking their views on amendments to the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983. No review group was established.
Work on reviewing the responses received was suspended in February 2001 following the foot and mouth disease outbreak, and subsequently it has not been possible to take this work forward. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development does recognise that a review of the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 is still required and it is planned to carry out this review as soon as other pressures and commitments allow.
Angela E. Smith: The latest available figures for Gross Value Added (GVA) relate to 2003 and these show that over the year, the Northern Ireland economy grew by an estimated 6.0 per cent. in nominal terms. This is higher than the UK average of 5 per cent. for the same period, with only the East Midlands showing a higher level of growth.
Angela E. Smith: In the 200506 financial year the NI Education and Library Boards have been asked to realise resource releasing efficiency gains of at least £3.5 million on Centre costs and a further £4.8 million on ear-marked initiative funding for reinvestment in front-line services. The Board Centre gains relate to improved procurement practices, improvements in Home to School Transport arrangements and reductions in teacher absenteeism. The gains on ear-marked initiatives will be made in relation to the School Improvement Programme.
Boards will also be expected to realise non-resource releasing efficiency gains of £20.1 million principally in relation to teaching, learning and administrative services, following recent investment in information and communications technology through the Classroom 2000 project.
16 Jun 2005 : Column 659W
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what use has been made of the expenditure allocated in September 2003 to bring about a 10 per cent. reduction in electricity prices to business in Northern Ireland. 
Angela E. Smith: The expenditure allocated in September 2003 was aimed at delivering a Government proposal to reduce electricity prices for business. It has not been possible to implement this because of EU state aid difficulties which the Department is still seeking to resolve.
As an interim measure, £8.8 million of the available funding has been allocated to assist with energy efficiency measures. This will have the effect of an average 1.5 per cent. reduction in electricity tariffs for all customers in the 200506 tariff year. It will also enable Northern Ireland Electricity to constrain tariff increases for 200506 to an average of 3.9 per cent. for all customers and to an average of 4.9 per cent. for business customers.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the number of employee jobs in Northern Ireland in (a) the private sector, (b) the public sector and (c) in total at 31 March of each year from 1998. 
Angela E. Smith: Estimates of the number of employee jobs in the private sector, the public sector and in total in Northern Ireland at the first Monday in March in each year 1998 to 2005 are detailed in the following table.
|(a) Private sector jobs||(b) Public sector jobs||(c) Total employee jobs|
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what plans he has to review the size and composition of boards of governors at further and higher education colleges in Northern Ireland; 
Angela E. Smith:
The recent review of the strategy for further education recommended fewer but larger management units in colleges of further and higher
16 Jun 2005 : Column 660W
education with a resultant reduction in the number of governing bodies to match the number of new colleges. As part of this process the Department will review the size and constitution of governing bodies.
Angela E. Smith: The Department for Employment and Learning obtains assurance on the adequacy of the university governance within Northern Ireland through the involvement of the Higher Education Funding Council for England's Assurance Service and the adoption of their assurance regime. Assurance arrangements for each institution are agreed through the Financial Memorandum.
Assurance of the adequacy of governance is obtained through the annual audit of the following documents from each institution: a monitoring statement, corporate planning statement, financial forecasts and the accounts which include a statement of internal control.
Universities in Northern Ireland adopt the Committee of University Chairmen (CUC) Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies in the UKGovernance Code of Practice and General Principles; 2004. On the 2 June 2005 the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education provided a one-day seminar on this code. This seminar was attended by representatives from both the executive teams and the governing bodies of both of the Province's universities.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|