Previous Section Index Home Page

26 Oct 2005 : Column 407W—continued

Peace Process

11. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on recent developments in the peace process. [20244]

Mr. Hain: There have been major, positive developments in the process over the summer. The IRA's 28 July statement ordered an end to the armed campaign and instructed the development of purely political and democratic programmes. In my 28 July letter to all MPs, I welcomed the statement for its clarity and lack of conditionality.

On 26 September, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning reported that the Commission had determined that the IRA has met its commitment to put all its arms beyond use in a manner called for by the legislation."

I laid in Parliament the 7th report of the Independent Monitoring Commission on 19 October. That report concludes that the PIRA statement, despite coming at a point when five sixths of the period under review had elapsed, is very significant". The statement and the act of decommissioning reported by the IICD on 26 September have created a platform for future progress and 'initial signs following the PIRA statement are encouraging'. However, It is essential that the IMC, as they state, are able to observe 'cumulative changes in behaviour over a more sustained period of time ... '.

I await the next report of the Commission, due in January 2006.
26 Oct 2005 : Column 408W

Parades Commission

12. Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the reconstituted Parades Commission. [20245]

Mr. Woodward: The Government are committed to ensuring, so far as is practicable, that the Parades Commission is representative of the people of Northern Ireland. The current appointments expire on 31 December. A reappointments process began on 25 July and is on schedule.

The process has been run in close co-operation with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA). An OCPA independent assessor is one of three panel members sifting and interviewing applicants for both chair and membership.

Devolved Government

13. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on devolved government in the Province. [20246]

Mr. Hanson: A return to fully inclusive power-sharing devolved government in Northern Ireland remains the aim. It is essential that we see an end to paramilitary activity and criminality for there to be sufficient trust and confidence among the parties for this to be achieved.

There have been major developments over the summer that open the prospect that devolved government can be re-established. The IRA's 28 July statement calling an end to the armed campaign, the independently verified decommissioning of all IRA weapons, and the encouraging signs on paramilitary activity and criminality identified in the IMC's 7th report are all to be welcomed.

Paramilitary Organisations

15. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of how many (a) punishment beatings, (b) expulsions and (c) other criminal activities have beencommitted by republican paramilitary organisations since 4 pm on 28 July; and if he will make a statement. [20248]

Mr. Woodward: PSNI statistics for the period in question confirm that two assaults have been attributed to republican paramilitaries during this period.

Expulsions are not recorded statistically by PSNI.

The Government's position is clear on criminality: In order to create the conditions for political progress to continue to flourish, there must be an end to criminality and paramilitary activity.

The Secretary of State has demanded that the IRA sever its links to gangsterism and that, just as it has turned its back on paramilitary activity, it must do so on criminality.

1911 Census

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reasons the findings of the 1911 Census cannot be released for public use. [19938]

26 Oct 2005 : Column 409W

Angela E. Smith: The Census in 1911 was conducted on an all-Ireland basis. The records are available for public inspection in the National Archives of Ireland. This office is planning to digitise the 1911 forms for the whole of Ireland and to make them available on-line. The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is considering obtaining and making publicly available microfilms of the 1911 forms.

Avian Influenza

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who will receive priority access to vaccination against avian influenza if an outbreak of the disease occurs in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [21252]

Mr. Woodward: In the event of an outbreak of avian influenza here, priority access to vaccination where available, will be given to poultry workers on premises where disease is suspected or confirmed, as well as Department of Agriculture and Rural Development staff and contractors potentially exposed to the disease.

This same priority of access would also apply to the provision of antivirals, drawn from DHSSPS stock for pandemic flu, and where appropriate seasonal flu vaccinations.

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to prevent the spread of avian influenza to Northern Ireland. [21559]

Angela E. Smith: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development keeps the threat posed by the spread of Avian Influenza (AI) under constant review and initiates protective measures deemed necessary to prevent its introduction as appropriate.

In line with European Union-wide measures, actions taken to date have included banning the importation of live birds and products from Avian Influenza affected areas. Other Decisions of the European Union (EU) Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health aimed at taking further preventative measures to limit the potential spread of the disease will be acted upon as required.

The Department has recently re-issued advice to the poultry industry regarding biosecurity measures to be observed to limit the risk of disease entering Northern Ireland and stopping its spread should it be introduced. The Department also provides information and guidance through its website to stakeholders and is engaged in a series of discussions with key industry representative bodies on an on-going basis to ensure that there is a regular exchange on the developing situation.

For the third successive year, an AI survey is being carried out this autumn on certain types of poultry. Wild bird surveillance is also being undertaken, with the support of the Environment and Heritage Service and other non-government organisations.

There is close co-operation between relevant Departments to ensure a joined-up approach to the threat of AI including in respect of the implications for public health. Officials are also working closely with their counterparts from the Department of Agriculture
26 Oct 2005 : Column 410W
and Food in the Republic of Ireland in relation to AI, which is of mutual interest in the context of the island of Ireland.

The Department has a contingency plan in place, which has been approved by the EU, to ensure that any outbreak of AI is dealt with quickly and effectively. This plan is continually being reviewed and updated, and has been tested on two occasions in recent weeks.

Blood Transfusion Service

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total cost of the blood transfusion service in Northern Ireland has been in each of the last three years. [21640]

Mr. Woodward: The total cost of the blood transfusion service in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years:

These figures represent the total revenue expenditure of the blood transfusion service in Northern Ireland for the last three years.

Briggs Rock Pumping Station

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he intends to take to address the failings of the Briggs Rock Pumping Station outside Groomsport, County Down. [20643]

Mr. Woodward: The chief executive of water service (Mrs Katharine Bryan) has been asked to write to the Hon. Lady in response to this question.

Letter from Mrs Katherine Bryan to Lady Hermon dated October 2005:

26 Oct 2005 : Column 411W

Next Section Index Home Page