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17 Oct 2005 : Column 752W—continued

School Crossing Patrol

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, if he will make a statement to the House on the Government's policy towards the provision of school crossing patrolmen/women at primary schools in Northern Ireland. [18685]

Angela E. Smith: The Government recognise the important contribution that these patrols make to ensure the safety of children walking to and from school, although there is no statutory requirement to provide crossing patrols at or near schools.

The Department of Education has made clear to education and library boards the need to have clear criteria for the provision of crossing patrols that ensure that patrols are provided where there are safety issues. In response, boards have agreed to operate within the Local Authority Road Safety Officers Association (LARSOA) guidelines. These guidelines provide an objective, risk-based framework for assessing the need for crossing patrols, taking into account factors such as the volume of traffic, road width, availability of footpaths and provision of other crossing aids such as footbridges or pelican crossings. Where the guidelines demonstrate particular hazards or risks, crossing patrols are normally provided.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether an education board is obliged to immediately replace a retiring school crossing patrolman/woman with a new patrolman/woman whenever real risk to the safety of school children attending school is assessed to exist. [18686]

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Angela E. Smith: When an education and library board is aware that a crossing patrolperson is going to retire/resign, it will carry out an assessment of need to determine if the patrol point still meets the eligibility criteria relating to the identification of hazards and assessing risks as determined in a framework based on the Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association (LARSOA) guidelines. If the patrol point does not meet the criteria a board will not replace the retiring patrolperson. However, if the patrol point still meets the criteria a board will then take action to recruit a new crossing patrolperson.

School Nurses

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what obligations school nurses in Northern Ireland are under to inform parents when they are approached by a 13-year-old schoolgirl seeking contraceptive treatment. [17551]

Mr. Woodward: All nurses, including school nurses, are bound by their code of professional conduct which, among other things, requires them to observe the duty of confidentiality to all persons seeking advice or treatment including those under 16 years. The code of professional conduct sets out clear guidance on occasions where confidentiality may be breached, for example, for child protection purposes.

Sexual Health Strategy

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consultations have taken place with religious groups in relation to the development of the sexual health strategy. [17555]

Mr. Woodward: All the main religious groups were consulted on the draft Sexual Health Promotion Strategy and Action Plan and detailed responses were received from them. In addition further consultations took place in June 2005 between officials and representatives of both the Catholic Church's Family Ministry Commission and CARE, a mainstream Christian movement.

The responses have been analysed and their on-going evaluation is helping to develop the latest draft of the strategy.


Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of theimplications of the recent announcement by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission that the freedom to work in a smoke-free environment is a human rights issue; and if he will make a statement. [18905]

Mr. Woodward: On 17 October 2005 the Department announced that it would introduce comprehensive controls on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces, including pubs and bars. A key factor in the decision was the need to protect the public and employees from the dangers of exposure to second hand smoke. It is the intention that the legislation will come into force before the summer of 2007.
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Speech and Language Therapists

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many new speech and language therapists have been appointed in the Province in each of the last five years. [17561]

Mr. Woodward: Information requested is provided in the table.
Number of speech and language therapists joining the HPSS in each of the last five years

April to March:HeadcountWhole-time equivalent

Joiner figures may include: new graduates, return to practice, recruitment from independent and private sector, staff from other parts of the UK, Republic of Ireland and overseas.

Speed Limits (Residential Zones)

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many 20 mph residential zones are planned in Northern Ireland; and what the locations are of the planned zones; [18021]

(2) how many 20 mph residential zones there are in Northern Ireland; [18026]

(3) if he will list the location of all 20 mph residential zones within Northern Ireland. [18027]

Mr. Woodward: The Chief Executive of Roads Service (Dr. Malcolm McKibbin) has written to the hon. Lady in response to this question.

Letter from Dr. Malcolm McKibbin to Iris Robinson, dated 17 October 2005:

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