|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) deaths and (b) incidents of serious injury involving legally held firearms, excluding Police Service of Northern Ireland and army firearms, there were in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Woodward: The Chief Constable has advised me that their Central Statistics Unit and Firearms and Explosives Branch do not hold records or statistics that would enable this question to be answered.
Mr. Woodward: The routine collection of data by the Department on the numbers of registered foster carers in Northern Ireland commenced in 2001. In addition, a figure is available for 1997 from a fostering inspection report published by the Social Services Inspectorate showing that at that time there were 1,380 foster carers in Northern Ireland. The available data are presented in the following table:
Strategic health authorities do not exist in Northern Ireland. Their nearest equivalent is Health and Social Services Boards. The four boards are
31 Oct 2005 : Column 789W
required to achieve at least a financial break-even position each financial year and I can confirm that none of the four has incurred a cumulative deficit.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what research he has commissioned on the perceptions of small and medium sized businesses in Northern Ireland of the effectiveness and accessibility of Invest Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. 
Angela E. Smith: Invest NI has not specifically researched the perceptions of the entire small and medium enterprise (SME) business sector in Northern Ireland. In March 2005, however, the agency initiated a Client Satisfaction Survey which focused on its client company base, over 95 per cent. of which comprises businesses falling within the EU definition of a SME. Independent consultants were recruited to carry out this research, which covered all key Invest NI programme areas including Business Improvement, Research and Development and Trade.
The survey disclosed that clients' participation in Invest NI programmes had increased significantly, generating high levels of client satisfaction. The research also demonstrated high levels of communication taking place between Invest NI and its clients, through face-to-face meetings and a variety of other forms of communication. Client companies also expressed satisfaction with the overall quality of service delivered by their Invest NI client executive.
The survey identified a number of areas where improvement could usefully be made and Invest NI is actively working to address these as part of its commitment to increase its customer focus and service delivery.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many confirmed cases of meningococcal infection there have been in each NHS board area in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Woodward: The majority of health service dentistry is carried out by general dental practitioners, who are independent contractors. Information on waiting lists for these services is not held centrally.
Waiting lists are collected for inpatients (both ordinary admissions and day cases) awaiting admission to NHS hospitals and outpatients awaiting their first appointment in an NHS hospital. This information is collected by specialty and by time band. It is therefore not possible to calculate the arithmetic mean (average) length of time waiting. It is, however, possible to identify the median or mid point waiting time band:
(b) The median waiting time for outpatients who were waiting for their first appointment at 30 June 2005 was 35 months in the paediatric dentistry or orthodontics specialties and was 68 months in the oral surgery or restorative dentistry specialties.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the merits of extending National Institute for Healthcare and Clinical Excellence guidelines to Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Woodward: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has assessed National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance and has been developing proposals for applying this guidance in Northern Ireland. I hope to make an announcement shortly on arrangements for implementing the institute's guidance in Northern Ireland.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications have to date been received for membership of the Parades Commission, broken down by (a) political affiliation, (b) gender and (c) ethnicity; and if he will make a statement. 
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.
We have received 94 applications for membership of the Parades Commission and 49 applications for the position of chair. We are pleased with the volume and quality of applications received from both sides of the community.
The process is being 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.
31 Oct 2005 : Column 791W
Mr. Woodward: On 26 September 2005 the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning determined that the IRA had met its commitment to put all its arms beyond use in a manner called for by the legislation. The report recognised that the arms of the loyalist paramilitary groups, as well as other paramilitary organisations, remain to be addressed.
It is essential that we continue to build upon the encouraging signs reported by the Independent Monitoring Commission in their assessment of 19 October and that all paramilitary groups fully decommission their weapons. We call on all those with influence to help bring this to an early conclusion.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the number of paramilitary-style crimes committed in each month since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement by (a) Loyalist and (b) Republican groups, broken down by category of offence; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woodward: The information is not available in exactly the format requested. However, since April 2004 the Independent Monitoring Commission has monitored and reported on paramilitary-style crimes and involvement in organised crime. The Commission has presented seven reports to date with detailed analysis of paramilitary activity.
In addition, the Police Service of Northern Ireland holds up to date and comprehensive statistical analysis on crime and security in Northern Ireland. The information can be accessed on PSNIs website at www.psni.police.uk
Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many criminal cases were prosecuted against persons linked to (a) Loyalist and (b) Republican paramilitary groups in each of the last five years. 
Details of the number of persons that have been charged with terrorist and serious public order offences, broken down by affiliation, have been collected since April 2003 and are contained in the following table:
|Type of charge||Loyalist||Republican||Loyalist||Republican|
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|