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27 Jun 2005 : Column 1326W—continued

Free Travel

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to introduce free rail and bus travel for those with a disability in Northern Ireland; and what discussions he has had with Translink about this matter. [7389]

Mr. Woodward: Blind people and war pensioners already receive free travel and other groups of people with disabilities are entitled to half fare travel. The Department has no plans to extend the provision of free fares or has the issue been discussed with Translink.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to introduce free fares on public transport for everyone aged 60 years and over. [7629]

Mr. Woodward: The Department has no plans to extend the terms of the Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme to include free travel on public transport for those aged 60 to 64. Those aged 65 and over already receive free travel.

Hospital Services Access

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether British passport holders who are not registered with a general practitioner are able to access services at hospitals in the Province. [5342]

Mr. Woodward: A person's ability to access hospital services in Northern Ireland is not dependent upon their being registered with a general practitioner or being a British passport holder. Those persons deemed ordinarily resident" and visitors from European Economic Area or from a number of countries with reciprocal health care agreements can receive those services free at the point of delivery. Possession of a British passport does not automatically confer ordinarily resident" status, for example, in cases where a former UK resident has been working outside of the country for more than five years.
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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of households in the Province he estimates have had access to the internet in each of the last 10 years. [5354]

Angela E. Smith: As part of its ongoing digital inclusion activities, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister has commissioned surveys from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency on an annual basis since 2002 in order to determine access and usage of information computer technology (ICT), including internet, by members of the public.

While the survey does not specify the number of actual households with internet access, the figures do indicate the percentage of the population aged 16 or over in Northern Ireland with access to an internet-enabled personal computer. These figures, which are available from 2002 only, have shown an increase in access year-on-year, and are as follows:
Percentage of population aged 16+ with access to internet PC

In addition, there are currently an estimated 150,000 broadband accounts in Northern Ireland. Broadband availability is presently at 98.5 per cent., up from 60 per cent. in March 2004.

As a result of the Broadband Services Contract awarded to BT by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment there will be 100 per cent. broadband availability for all households and businesses in Northern Ireland by the end of December 2005.

The Northern Ireland eGovernment Unit continues to encourage public access to and uptake of ICT through participation in a Digital Inclusion Steering Group and through a range of developmental projects such as the home computer initiative, Citizen eMail and a digital mapping facility, which will provide a resource identifying public internet access points across Northern Ireland. In addition, and in collaboration with, Ofcom, the BBC, EGSA and representative companies from the private sector the Northern Ireland eGovernment Unit is working on a project to put an internet literacy CD into every household throughout Northern Ireland.

Wider public sector programmes aimed at increasing access include the Electronic Libraries project that now offers free internet access throughout every public library in Northern Ireland and the C2K Classroom 2000 initiative providing internet-enabled PCs to every school in Northern Ireland.

These projects are in line with efforts currently being undertaken in England and in the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales.
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Literacy Levels

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of literacy levels among 11-year-olds in each of the Education and Library Board areas in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [6669]

Angela E. Smith: There is an improving trend across all board areas as measured by the end of Key Stage 2 assessment outcomes although there are still some schools where performance is below the level expected and where support and special interventions have been put in place.
Percentage pupils achieving expected level at KS2 (L4 and above)

NI average73.975.6n/a

(20)Due to industrial action, NI KS2 results for 2001–02 are incomplete.
(21)Due to industrial action, NI KS2 results are not available for 2003–04

Local Election (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Order

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reason the draft Local Election (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Order 2005, tabled on 9 June was withdrawn on 16 June; what the (a) substantive and (b) other differences between the order withdrawn and the new one tabled on 16 June were; and if he will make a statement. [6930]

Mr. Hanson: The effect of the new order tabled on 16 June was to add an or" before civil partner in Article 4(1)(a) . Due to a typographical error the or" had failed to be included in the original order tabled on 9 June.

Article 4(1)(a) of the order as laid on 9 June read:

Article 4(1)(a) of the order laid on 16 June reads:

Motor Tax and Insurance

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people have been prosecuted for driving without (a) tax and (b) insurance in Northern Ireland in each of the past three years. [5500]

Mr. Woodward: The figures requested are provided as follows:

(a) Tax

Those detected for vehicle excise duty offences are usually offered an out-of-court settlement. Only if they
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ignore the penalty or refuse to pay are they prosecuted in court. The figures for those prosecuted or who paid out-of-court settlements in the last three years are:
Number of prosecutions or
out-of-court settlements

Of the 33,604 cases actioned over the last three years 84 per cent. resulted in out-of-court settlements and 16 per cent. were prosecuted through the courts.

(b) Insurance

The table provides details of prosecutions for driving without insurance.
Prosecutions for driving
without a licence

Statistics have been provided for 2000–03, with the latter being the most up-to-date available. Due to a backlog of court proceedings data, a new and finalised 2003 dataset has recently been produced and therefore figures for 2003 used previously may differ from those in this response.


Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total expense incurred in policing the (a) 2005 and (b) 2004 Tour of the North Orange march in Belfast was. [7148]

Mr. Woodward: The route followed by the Tour of the North Parade changes on alternate years, resulting in different deployments. Approximate costs, based on police deployed and catering provided are as follows:

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable is in possession of a legal opinion relating to the status of 11/1 application forms submitted by Orange Lodges to the Parades Commission with more than one signature in the required box. [7192]

Mr. Woodward: The Chief Constable is in receipt of a legal opinion concerning the issue of notification of parades using form 11/1 (application to parade). This advice is subject to legal privilege.

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