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Sustainable Development

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to deliver
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sustainable development in (a) South Antrim and (b) Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [30806]

Angela E. Smith: The recent announcement on the Draft Priorities and Budget indicated significant increased funding for Northern Ireland in the health and education sectors along with three new ring-fenced investment priority funding packages: children and young people, investment in training and skills and in protecting the environment by the research and development of new sources of renewable and clean energy. This will help to ensure that Northern Ireland is better equipped for a more sustainable future.

The Department of the Environment (DOE) is taking the lead in producing the Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland (NISDS) which is due to be published along with an implementation plan in summer 2006.

The emerging strategy has identified six priority areas for action and flagged up that some of the key sustainable development issues for NI relate to energy, waste and transport and their associated impacts on society.

In tackling the key issue of waste, the Department of the Environment is working with all local authorities on the implementation of the Waste Management Strategy and provides funding which supports recycling of waste. Together with the recent inclusion of Antrim borough council in the kerbside collection scheme operated by Bryson House Recycling, this has contributed to the area having one of the highest recycling rates in NI (38.4 per cent.).

Energy and CO 2 emissions from fossil fuels are another key issue for NI. The erection of a 600 kWh wind turbine on the Antrim Hospital site generates the hospital's base electrical loading using renewable energy and giving an estimated reduction of 1,376 tonnes in CO 2 annually.

In terms of transport, a series of improvements to the A8 Belfast to Larne road over recent years will help to increase safety and improve travel times on what is a key route within the Antrim council area. Furthermore, DRD have announced that almost £700,000 will be invested in local transport and safety schemes in the Antrim council area this year.

Last month, the Department for Social Development awarded Antrim town centre £75,000 as part of a town marketing programme which includes support for a programme of events and a shop local initiative. This will help support the local economy and assist in branding Antrim as an interesting place to visit.


Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress is being made in promoting Northern Ireland as a tourist destination. [30464]

Angela E. Smith: There has been excellent progress in promoting Northern Ireland as a tourist destination. In the last 10 years tourism numbers in Northern Ireland have grown by 60 per cent. At the same time tourism spend has grown by 80 per cent.
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In 2004 Northern Ireland passed a milestone by welcoming over 2.1 million visitors and the opportunity to capitalise on this success is ever stronger with tourism currently contributing £439 million to the economy.

Ulster Scots

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to include questions on knowledge of Ulster Scots cultural issues in the next census in Northern Ireland. [27016]

Angela E. Smith: No decisions on question topics and content for the next Census in Northern Ireland are being taken at this stage. Following consultation with users, testing of options and the balancing of different requirements, it is planned that proposals will be brought forward in a White Paper, currently planned for 2008. The final content of the Census will ultimately be determined through the legislative process in the form of a Census Order and Census Regulations, probably around 2010.


Armed Forces (Smoking)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what services are offered to service personnel to assist them in giving up smoking. [29302]

Mr. Touhig: The Ministry of Defence offers a range of advice and assistance to service personnel wishing to give up smoking. These are outlined in a Surgeon General's Policy Letter and incorporate the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommendations and guidelines. The levels of support for smoking cessation are:

Brief Intervention

Intermediate Support

Specialist Smoking Cessation Clinics

A number of smoking cessation aids are currently available to personnel. These are:

Army Prosecuting Authority

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether instances of requests by the Army Prosecuting Authority for military police to conduct further
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investigations into cases of alleged abuse in Iraq not being carried out have been drawn to his attention. [21100]

Mr. Ingram: The Secretary of State is aware that a difficult operational environment can sometimes preclude the full and/or timely completion of further investigations.

In March 2005, the Attorney-General drew the Secretary of State's attention to a case in which there had been a delay in carrying out further investigations. Those investigations have, however, now been completed.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British soldiers in Iraq are under investigation following allegations of misconduct, where no charges have yet been brought; and if he will make a statement. [29402]

Mr. Ingram: As at 21 November cases involving 10 soldiers were under consideration by prosecuting authorities in relation to incidents where Iraqi nationals have allegedly been killed or injured. To date these soldiers have not been charged with any offence.

Courts Martial

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions armed forces commanding officers have (a) overruled courts martial verdicts and (b) reduced sentences imposed by courts martial in each of the last five years. [29564]

Mr. Ingram: Commanding officers have no authority to overrule court martial findings or to reduce sentences imposed by courts martial.

Defence Industry Inflation

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the difference was between defence industry inflation and inflation in each year since 1997. [30912]

Mr. Ingram: The UK rate of inflation is published by HM Treasury on their website in the form of the GDP deflator. The deflator is usually expressed in terms of an index, i.e. a time series of index numbers. The following table provides data on the GDP deflator at market prices from 1996–97 to 2004–05:

Financial year
GDP deflator at market prices 2004–05=100Percentage change on previous year

HM Treasury

Specific data relating to inflation in the UK defence industry is not compiled. However, output price indices relating to industrial products are published by the Office for National Statistics in Producer Price Indices
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MM22", tables 2 and 4. Input price indices for aircraft and spacecraft, weapons and ammunition, instruments and appliances and electronic valve products are published by the Office for National Statistics in Aerospace and Electronics MM19". Both publications cover products within the defence and civil sectors.

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