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16 Jun 2005 : Column 660W—continued

Industrial Growth

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the rate of growth of total industrial production in Northern Ireland was in 2004; and what his estimate is of such growth in 2005. [4079]

Angela E. Smith: Latest figures from the Index of Production show that total industrial production output in Northern Ireland grew by 2.8 per cent. in real terms between 2003 and 2004.

Government does not produce forecasts for industrial production.

Manufacturing Employment

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many jobs there were in the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland at 31 March of each year from 1998. [4082]

Angela E. Smith: Estimates of the number of employee jobs in the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland at the first Monday in March in each year 1998 to 2005 are detailed in the following table.
Table 1—Employee jobs(27) in manufacturing

Number of jobs
March 1998106,580
March 1999105,310
March 2000104,550
March 2001102,790
March 200297,740
March 200393,520
March 200490,040
March 2005(28)87,650

(27)Figures are rounded to the nearest 10
Figures are not seasonally adjusted
Quarterly Employment Survey, DETI

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Money Advice Strategy

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for NorthernIreland what progress has been made on the implementation of the Government's Money Advice strategy for Northern Ireland; how much has been allocated so far; and what criteria were used to determine the recipients. [4391]

Angela E. Smith: Following consultation with key stakeholders, a pilot money advice project is being delivered in 2004–05 and 2005–06 by Advice NI and Citizens Advice. The Department has allocated £550,000 of funding to the pilot project. Over £231,000 of the budget available has been drawn down to date. The locations of the specialist advice posts that are being
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funded are based on the evidence of unmet need identified by external independent consultants, and advice from Advice NI and Citizens Advice.

An ongoing evaluation of the pilot project will help provide the basis for developing a longer-term money advice strategy for Northern Ireland.

Planning Applications

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average length of time taken by the Planning Appeals Commission to process planning appeals in Northern Ireland was in the last five years for which figures are available. [3501]

Angela E. Smith: The Planning Appeals Commission is a tribunal non-departmental public body, and the Chief Commissioner (John Warke) has written to the hon. Lady in the following terms. A copy of the annual report mentioned in the letter is available in the Library.

Letter from John Warke to Lady Hermon:

Formal hearings percentage within 30 weeks63.626.353.342.1
Informal hearings percentage within 27 weeks89.487.374.980.1
Written representation percentage within 24 weeks94.496.186.494.286.3
All appeals median time (weeks)2121232123
Formal hearing median time (weeks)2228383034
Informal hearing median time (weeks)22252424
Written representations with accompanied site visit median time (weeks)1820222022
Written representations with no accompanied site visit median time (weeks)

Appeals received267359314472711
Percentage change in yearly intake+6.8+34.8-12.5+50.3+50.6
Appeals withdrawn or not accepted3843463750
Appeals decided215265264385493
Appeals in hand at year's end103154158208376

Rates Reform

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the conclusions of the Equality Impact Assessment are on the impact of reforming domestic rates into a capital value system on (a) Protestant and (b) middle class areas. [4375]

Angela E. Smith: The Equality Impact Assessment concluded, on the basis of the evidence available, that Protestants are likely to face a higher property tax liability than average under a discrete capital value system. However, taking into account all relevant factors, including ability to pay, such an impact is not considered to be an inappropriate one.

The Equality Impact Assessment did not address the impact on middle class areas as socio-economic status is not a section 75 category.
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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps Invest Northern Ireland is taking to attract inward investment for the former TK-ECC factory site; and if he will make a statement. [4072]

Angela E. Smith: The former TK-ECC factory site is privately owned and Invest NI continues to work with the owners and their agents to market the property in line with the existing employment/industrial use for which it is currently zoned.
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Despite a very competitive global marketplace, Invest NI's international sales and marketing strategy continues to aggressively promote all areas of Northern Ireland as attractive and viable locations for new inward investment opportunities. Invest NI encourages potential investors to consider areas throughout Northern Ireland, including Dundonald, capable of sustaining the project in question. Ultimately it is the promoter of the project, and not Invest NI, that makes the final decision as to where the project will be established, although Invest NI's Local Offices Network works closely with key stakeholders to ensure that detailed information on sub-regional sales propositions is available to all potential investors.