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21 Jun 2005 : Column 953W—continued

Early-years Education

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many free (a) nursery and (b) pre-school places were available for (i) three and (ii)four-year-olds in the Province in each of the last five years. [5304]

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Angela E. Smith: The number of places in the statutory nursery and voluntary/private sectors in each of the last five academic years was as follows:

Academic year

Nursery places
Voluntary/private places

Pre-school places in the statutory sector are, as has been the case since the early 1970s, open to children from two-years-old to the lower limit of compulsory school age. In all cases, however, applications from children in their immediate pre-school year are given priority ahead of younger children. The funded provision secured in the voluntary/private sector is only open to children in their immediate pre-school year (children aged between three-years and two-months and four-years and two-months). The regulations made by the Department of Education require providers, in allocating funded pre-school places, to give priority to specified target groups. One of the specified target groups is the oldest children in the final pre-school cohort (those with July and August birthdays) who are the only children who are actually aged four when they enter their final pre-school year.

English as an Additional Language

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will earmark specific funding for the delivery of English as an Additional Language service. [5523]

Angela E. Smith: Each of the five Education and Library Boards (ELBs) has already received earmarked funding from the Department on a per capita basis to help meet the needs of pupils in respect of English as an Additional Language (EAL). The Department's total earmarked budget is £420,000 for the 2005–06 financial year.

In addition, DE has increased overall EAL funding, by introducing in 2005–06 within the Local Management of Schools (LMS) Common Funding Formula a specific factor which provides support to schools for each EAL pupil. This factor provides some £1.7 million to schools across the five ELBs in recognition of the additional costs associated with EAL pupils which are encountered at school level. It is designed to enhance the level of support for EAL pupils. This forms part of the total funding made available to all schools under the LMS delegated funding arrangements and decisions on how to use this funding are a matter for individual Boards of Governors.

Invest Northern Ireland

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many employees working for Invest Northern Ireland are in pay bands of (a) £70,000 and over, (b) £50,000 to £70,000, (c) £30,000 to £50,000 and (d) under £30,000 per annum. [5547]

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Angela E. Smith: Invest NI staff fall into the following salary bands:
Salary bandsNumber of staff
(a) £70,000 and over6
(b) £60,000-£70,0003
(c) £50,000-£60,00015
(d) £40,000-£50,00061
(e) £30,000-£40,000159
(f) £20,000-£30,000161
(g) Under £20,000261

Salaries for part-time staff (of whom there are 54) have been shown as the full time equivalent.

Invest NI also engages a varying number of contracted staff, in its overseas offices and to deliver specific programmes in Northern Ireland. These currently number 44 and are separately funded. Invest NI has the following number of contracted staff in each of the salary bands:
Number of contracted staff
(a) £70,000 and over1
(b) £60,000-£70,0000
(c) £50,000-£60,0002
(d) £40,000-£50,0007
(e) £30,000-£40,00010
(f) £20,000-£30,00011
(g) Under £20,00013

Language, Culture and Heritage Funding

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what public sector funding has been allocated to promote (a) Ulster Scots and (b) Irish Gaelic (i)language, (ii) culture and (iii) heritage in each year since 2001. [5349]

Mr. Hanson: The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) jointly funds the Ulster-Scots Agency and Foras na Gaeilge, the Irish Language Agency. The Ulster-Scots Agency has a statutory remit to promote Ulster-Scots language and culture. Foras na Gaeilge has a statutory remit to promote the Irish language.

The budgets allocated to the Ulster-Scots Agency and Foras na Gaeilge by DCAL since 2001 are detailed in the following table.
£ million

Budget (STG)

Foras na Gaeilge (Irish Language Agency)
Tha Boord o
Ulster-Scotch (Ulster-Scots Agency)

(24) The Ulster-Scots Agency received additional funding of £60,000 in 2004 from DCAL.
These figures are based on the calendar year.

Estimated funding for the Irish Language Broadcasting fund and Ulster-Scots Academy for 2005 is detailed in the following table.
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Estimate (£)
Irish Language Broadcast Fund3,000,000
Ulster Scots Academy500,000

Funding is also available from departmental mainstream programmes for projects, which may have an Irish or Ulster-Scots language or culture dimension, which cannot be separated from the primary funding objectives.


Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will provide funding for biomedical research into myalgic encephalomyelitis. [5740]

Mr. Woodward: Research into diseases like myalgic encephalomyelitis needs to be undertaken in specialised centres of excellence and co-ordinated at the national level. The R and D strategy for the health and personal social services, in common with other NHS R and D strategies, do not generally allocate funds for this type of research, but funding for research into myalgic encephalomyelitis has been made available from sources such as the Medical Research Council.

NHS Direct

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent steps he has taken to extend NHS Direct to Northern Ireland. [5501]

Mr. Woodward: In Northern Ireland each of the four health and social services boards currently operate their own daytime telephone advice line. Out-of-hours providers for which each board is responsible deliver access to advice and services outside normal office hours. The Department is working with the four boards to consider further development of these services on a regional basis.

NHS Staff Assaults

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (a) how many incidents of violence were recorded against NHS staff in Northern Ireland in the last year for which figures are available, and (b) how many people were prosecuted as a result. [5510]

Mr. Woodward: The information is as follows:


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of (a) males and (b) females in the Province are assessed as (i) obese and (ii) overweight. [5330]

Mr. Woodward: The 1997 Northern Ireland Health and Social Wellbeing Survey provides the most recent estimate of overweight and obesity levels among adults aged 16-plus in Northern Ireland. The survey found that
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48 per cent. of men and 32 per cent. of women were overweight, while a further 17 per cent. of men and 20 per cent. of women were obese. When combined, the survey found that 65 per cent. of males and 52 per cent. of females were either overweight or obese.

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