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20 Jun 2005 : Column 874W—continued

Video Identification

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the use of video identification in place of identity parades in Northern Ireland. [4087]

Mr. Woodward: The Police Service of Northern Ireland plans to introduce the Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording (VIPER) system in Northern Ireland later this year.

The Government see considerable merit in the use of video identification technology, which has already proved very successful in England and Wales. It will significantly enhance the effectiveness of the current identification procedures and remove many of the operational difficulties experienced by the PSNI in arranging live identification parades. Its introduction in Northern Ireland will benefit all those involved in the Criminal Justice system, including the Police Service, the Prosecution Service, the legal profession, suspects and witnesses.

My officials have therefore been working closely with police colleagues on arrangements which will facilitate the early introduction of the new system.

Water Services

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to identify which households in Northern Ireland are not connected to mains water or sewerage. [5741]

Mr. Woodward: The Chief Executive of Water Service (Mrs. Katharine Bryan) has been asked to write to the hon. Gentleman in response to this question.

Letter from Katharine Bryan to Mr. Eddie McGrady, dated 17 June 2005:

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Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he is taking to improve water quality at the Northern Ireland beaches where water quality failed to meet the mandatory European Community standard. [3506]

Angela E. Smith: In 2004, 14 of the 16 (87.5 per cent.) identified bathing waters met the mandatory standards of the Directive, however, those at Castlerock and Ballyholme failed to comply.

The failure to meet mandatory standards was due mainly to the wet weather during the summer period Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between bathing water compliance levels and the frequency and intensity of rainfall during the bathing season. Heavier rainfall leads to an increase in the number of spills from combined sewer overflows and an increase in agricultural run-off.

To address the sewerage problems, Water Service has commenced construction of a new wastewater treatment works to serve the North Coast. It is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2007. The works will treat all wastewater from Portrush, Portstewart, Coleraine, Castlerock and Articlave. This should result in an overall improvement in the bathing water quality in the North Coast area.

Water Service plans to construct a new wastewater treatment works at Donaghadee to treat the wastewater from Bangor, Donaghadee and Millisle. The project is schedule for completion in December 2007. In addition, a number of Drainage Area Studies in the North Down area, have been completed and have identified approximately £13 million of networks improvements. Major programmes of work to implement the necessary improvements will be implemented on a phased basis
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from 2006. Completion of this investment will result in an overall improvement in the bathing water quality in the area.

Action is also being taken to control diffuse pollution from agricultural sources through the imminent introduction of an action programme under the EC Nitrates Directive.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether health and safety procedures at water service installations have been reviewed since the fatal accident at Carnmoney, County Londonderry on 2 June. [3027]

Mr. Woodward: Firstly I would like to take this further opportunity to express my deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. Stevenson, who so tragically lost his life in the accident at Carmoney.

Following the events of 2 June, an independent inquiry by the Health and Safety Executive (NI) is under way. Water Service is liaising closely with them as their investigation proceeds and will, of course, take immediate action to implement any actions, should they be recommended as a result of this investigation.

In the meantime, Water Service has completed a precautionary inspection at all other 18 similar installations across Northern Ireland, which are essential for the maintenance of drinking water quality and is satisfied that the health and safety procedures are robust. I am assured that it is safe for the installations to continue operating.

Working Time Directive

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action has been taken to penalise health service bodies who remain non-compliant with the European Working Time Directive, as applied in Northern Ireland. [1404]

Mr. Woodward: Health and Personal Social Services employers would be liable under Health and Safety Legislation if they breach the European Working Time Directive requirements. This liability may take the form of financial penalties. The Department has been working with Health and Personal Social Services employers to ensure that they do all they can to avoid being subject to penalties.