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7 Nov 2005 : Column 196W—continued


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 24 October 2005, Official Report, column 24W, on Travellers, what the budget of the new Gypsy and Traveller Unit is for 2005–06; and what its planned (a) work programme and (b) activities are. [24688]

Yvette Cooper: The Gypsy and Traveller Unit, supported by Government offices in the regions, is working closely with local authorities, local police forces and representatives of the Gypsy and Traveller community, to promote increased site provision alongside effective use of enforcement powers against inappropriate sites. The overall aim is to reduce tensions between Gypsies and Travellers and the settled
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community through effective accommodation provision and enforcement on public sites. To help with this it is producing a plain guide" to enforcement powers and is reviewing what more can be done to make them work effectively.

The unit is also working with other Government Departments and stakeholders to look at the social exclusion and service provision for Gypsies and Travellers.

The budgeted cost of the unit for 2005–06 is £0.5 million.


11-plus Examination

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment and the Department for Education Northern Ireland will evaluate the proposals by Dr. Hugh Morrison of Queen's University, Belfast, for an alternative to the 11-plus examination; and if he will make a statement. [24410]

Angela E. Smith: Following the Government's decision to end academic selection, there are no plans for an alternative testing regime to replace the 11 plus tests. New admissions arrangements will be based on informed parental choice.

The pupil profile will provide an ongoing record of a child's educational progress, and assist parents and children in deciding which post-primary schools to apply to.

CCEA is willing to discuss Dr. Morrison's proposals in the context of planned advice for schools on a range of possible assessment tools that could be used to support teacher assessment and to inform completion of the pupil profile.

A and E Waiting Times

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many patients were waiting for more than two hours on trolleys in accident and emergency departments of hospitals in Northern Ireland in each year since 1998. [24159]

Mr. Woodward: The number of hospital trolley waits waiting two hours or more is reported to the Department by trusts on a quarterly basis.
Number of hospital trolley waits waiting two hours or more recorded in Northern Ireland 1998–99 to 2004–05

Financial yearTrolley waits waiting more than two hours

In a small number of cases trusts have returned data for a representative sample of trolley waits.
Departmental Information Return CH10.

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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the Road Service expects to commence construction of the A20 Frederick Street Link in Newtownards. [24899]

Mr. Woodward: The chief executive of Roads Service (Dr. Malcolm McKibbin) has been asked to write to the hon. Lady in response to this question.

Letter from Malcolm McKibbin to Mrs. Iris Robinson, dated 7 November 2005:

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average waiting time for surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm was in the last period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [25021]

Mr. Woodward: Information on the waiting times for surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysms is not collected centrally. However, patients presenting with this condition generally have their surgery carried out as a matter of urgency.

If an abdominal aorta aneurysm is identified early, elective surgical repair can be carried out. Although this will be a very successful procedure for the majority of those operated upon, it is nonetheless associated with a mortality rate of 6 to 8 per cent.

Screening for abdominal aorta aneurysms is now on the agenda of the UK National Screening Committee, which is chaired by the Department's Chief Medical Officer.

Addictions Service (Strangford)

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the addictions service offered to those in Strangford constituency. [24887]

Mr. Woodward: There is a wide range of addiction services currently offered to those in the Strangford constituency covering types of treatment such as detoxification, rehabilitation, substitute prescribing and therapeutic counselling (both adult and young people). These services are provided in peoples' homes, in health and social care facilities and in a hospital in-patient unit.
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Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what resources have been made available in Northern Ireland for (a) sufferers from and (b) carers who are affected by Alzheimer's disease in 2005–06. [24775]

Mr. Woodward: Alzheimer's is one of a number of physical and mental conditions that impact seriously upon the lives of older people and their families. In Northern Ireland, resources are allocated by programme of care for different classes of patients andcclients rather than by specific conditions. Information on resources for Alzheimer's disease is not therefore available separately. Decisions relating to the treatment and support of clients and their carers are made by health and social services boards in light of local priorities and available resources.

Ards Hospital (Psychiatry)

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many admissions to the psychiatry unit at Ards hospital in each of the last five years have been for addictions. [24888]

Mr. Woodward: There have been no admissions to the mental health inpatient unit at Ards hospital for addictions. Addictions inpatient care is provided in ward 15 in Downshire hospital, Down Lisburn Trust. If a patient is admitted to Ards who has an addictions problem it is because they have a concomitant mental health problem. A dual diagnosis worker and inpatient staff then provide treatment.

Armed Robberies

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many armed robberies have taken place in West Belfast since July. [24768]

Mr. Woodward: I am advised by the Police Service of Northern Ireland that 21 armed robberies have taken place in the West Belfast District Command Unit between 1 July and 2 November 2005.

Avian Influenza

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many individuals in the Province would be covered by the antiviral drugs stockpiled to counter an outbreak of avian influenza. [24919]

Mr. Woodward: The Department is stockpiling a supply of the anti-viral drug oseltamivir (or tamiflu) that will be sufficient to treat up to 438,000 people or 25 per cent. of the total population ie the predicted attack rate of a pandemic flu outbreak. This is in line with plans in the rest of the UK.
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