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6 Dec 2005 : Column 1266W—continued


David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average waiting time was for a (a) new passport, (b) replacement passport, (c) new full or provisional driving licence and (d) replacement driving licence in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. [34558]

Angela E. Smith: The information is as follows:


It is not possible to separate the average waiting times for new passports and replacement passports. However the average waiting times for all straightforward, single, properly completed applications processed at the Belfast Passport Office for the last five years are:
Turnaround (Days)

(35) To date

Belfast Passport Office processes all Northern Irish passport applications and in addition to this processes any applications from the Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex area. Work transfers between regional offices commenced in March 2005 and since this date Belfast have processed an additional 45,000 applications from various other catchment areas.

Driver licensing

Performance is not recorded separately for each category of driving licences issued and is reported in percentages not average waiting times. It excludes those applications which need further scrutiny for medical or conduct reasons.
Percentage in 9 daysPercentage in 10 days

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Planning Applications

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken (a) to process area plans and (b) to expedite the processing of outstanding planning applications. [35335]

Angela E. Smith: All aspects of the development control process have been reviewed to identify areas for efficiencies including internal procedures, arrangements for council consultations, and working with other statutory bodies. ePIC the central e-planning project will allow online applications and provide a facility for applicants and objectors to track application progress. New legislation will also tackle delaying factors in the process.

The planning service has an ambitious programme to provide complete and up to date development plan coverage for Northern Ireland and has made considerable progress in implementing this challenging programme. Within the past three years the Planning Service has published three adopted plans and four draft plans, including the draft Belfast metropolitan plan 2015. Collectively, this covers 16 of the 26 council areas in Northern Ireland. Draft plans for a further eight council areas are under preparation. The remaining two council areas are already covered by up to date adopted area plans.

Through the modernising planning processes the planning service has an ongoing programme to improve and streamline the plan process. The planning service will continue to keep the process and programme under review and will seek where possible to improve procedures and practices in order to deliver area plans efficiently in accordance with planning and environmental legislation and policy and in general conformity with the regional development strategy.


Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many police officers use bicycles while patrolling in each Police Service Northern Ireland district. [31955]

Mr. Woodward: The number of bicycles on issue to each DCU as of October 2005 is detailed in the table.

Patrolling by bicycle is just one patrol method used by DCUs across Northern Ireland. The bicycles may be used by more than one officer, at different times of the day-shift.

No central record of officers who use bicycles to patrol is held.
Bicycle allocation

DCUQuantity of bicyclesStation
Armagh2Gough Barracks
Ballymoney2Bally money
East Belfast2Strandtown
Foyle2Strand Road
Moyle2Bally castle
Newry and Mourne2Ardmore
North Belfast4Antrim Road
North Down2Bangor
South Belfast2Musgrave Street
South Belfast4Ballynafeigh
South Belfast2Lisburn Road

(36) Bicycles purchased to date.

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Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans there are to rationalise the number of police district command units in Northern Ireland before completion of the review of the public administration; and if he will make a statement. [35045]

Mr. Woodward: A working party, headed by the Assistant Chief Constable responsible for change management, is currently considering the future structure of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. This work will take time to complete.

No final decisions have been made with regard to timeframe for implementation of any agreed changes. Any proposals will require careful consideration, and will be subject to consultation with the Policing Board.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average length of service was of police officers in Northern Ireland in (a) 2005 and (b) 1995. [34447]

Mr. Woodward: The information requested is provided in the following table.
RUC/PSNI—average service data

Chief Superintendent32.326.28
Chief Inspector24.523.24
Overall Regular15.0314.31
FT Reserve9.618.36

Prostate Cancer

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much money has been ring fenced for research into treatment for prostate cancer over the last five years in Northern Ireland. [32106]

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Mr. Woodward: There have been no funds allocated by the DHSS&PS R&D Office for research into treatment for prostate cancer over the last five years in Northern Ireland.

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what the procedure is for notification of instances of dumping of radioactive waste at sea to (a) Parliament, (b) relevant local authorities, (c) relevant local NHS boards, (d) local industries that may be affected and (e) local residents; [22766]

(2) if he will list the sites where radioactive waste has been dumped in the Irish Sea over the last 10 years. [22794]

Angela E. Smith: I understand from my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for DEFRA that, in-line with Government policy there has been no disposal of solid radioactive waste at sea since 1982. Any need to notify instances of disposal of radioactive waste at sea has therefore not arisen. In the unlikely event that such unauthorised disposals did arise, these would need to be reported to the appropriate environmental regulator as they would be in breach of the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, and therefore would constitute an illegal act. The environmental regulator in Northern Ireland would be the Environment and Heritage Service; in England and Wales, the Environment Agency; and in Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
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