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7 Dec 2005 : Column 1376W—continued


Cash Machines

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of how many cash machines in Northern Ireland charge customers to withdraw money. [34548]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I have been asked to reply.

There are 949 free ATMs in Northern Ireland. All basic bank account holders and many current account holders can also withdraw cash over-the-counter at the Post Office and 'cash-back' is now widely available in supermarkets and shops.

The latest LINK figures for October 2005 show that there are 418 surcharging ATMs in Northern Ireland. However, as we set out in our response to the Treasury Select Committee on Cash Machine Charges, most surcharging ATMs in the UK are new machines, in locations where previously there was no ATM.

Civil Service

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many civil service posts in each Northern Ireland Government Department have been lost since 1 January. [33566]

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Angela E. Smith: It is assumed that this question relates to staff reductions in Departments announced in Fit for Purpose in October 2004.

The following table sets out the number of civil service posts in each of the 11 Northern Ireland Departments, and their agencies, lost from 1 January 2005 to 30 September 2005 (latest figures held) as part of the above staff reductions.

The figures do not relate to any reductions outside the Fit for Purpose exercise ie those in business areas that are funded externally from the NI Budget and those lost as a result of restructuring such as those related to the creation of the Water Service GoCo.
NICS funded posts lost in the period January 2005 to September 2005 under the Fit for Purpose exercise

DepartmentFunded posts lost
Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)160
Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)12.5
Education (DE)27.5
Employment and Learning (DEL)17.3
Enterprise, Training and Investment (DETI)21
Finance and Personnel (DFP)137
Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS)23
Environment (DOE)0
Regional Development (DRD)102
Social Development DSD)267
Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM)(23)-1

(23) While there has been a loss of four funded posts in OFMDFM during 2005, this was offset by a temporary intake of five staff to meet an urgent business need, giving a net increase of one for the full period.

Client Advice

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what guidelines exist for civil servants in Northern Ireland who receive client advice from a
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firm at a time when they might also be in a position to decide service contracts in which the same firm might have an interest. [34413]

Angela E. Smith: No specific guidelines exist for civil servants in Northern Ireland who receive client advice from a firm at a time when they might also be in a position to decide service contracts in which the same firm might have an interest.

All civil servants in Northern Ireland are, however, subject to Northern Ireland Government Accounting Guidance which among other issues sets out the general principles which apply to the acquisition of public works, supplies and services.

These principles are aligned to the 12 best value for money principles which govern the administration of public procurement in Northern Ireland.

One of the key principles is Integrity" which addresses the issues of anti-corruption or collusion with suppliers and ensures that ethical standards of conduct are not compromised. Other relevant principles are transparency and fair dealing.

Under Northern Ireland Procurement Policy, procurement is undertaken by professionals within Centres of Procurement Expertise who oversee and manage the procurement process to ensure its compliance with regulations and the 12 guiding principles.

Domestic Electricity Costs

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the cost of electricity was to customers in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. [33793]

Angela E. Smith: The annual electricity bills for a typical domestic customer, small to medium enterprise customer (SME) and large industrial customer, supplied by Northern Ireland Electricity in each of the last five years, are shown in the following table.

Small to medium enterprise1,5601,5601,5601,6441,770
Large industrial320,000320,000320,000337,000360,000

The annual bills for the SME and large industrial customers are indicative only because a proportion of those customers purchase their electricity from other suppliers in the competitive market for which full cost details are not publicly available.

Electronic Human Resources Services

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the equality impact assessment (EQIA) of the policy for outsourcing Electronic Human Resources services; when a final EQIA document is to be published; how many drafts he has seen; and what other advice his Department has sought on the EQIA from (a) inside and (b) outside Government. [34415]

Angela E. Smith: It is intended to publish the final EQIA Report at award of contract. The final report will be published in line with the arrangement set out in the DFP Equality Scheme.

To date, no Northern Ireland Minister has received any draft versions of the EQIA Report. However, Lord Rooker has been fully briefed on the equality issues arising out of the EQIA.

An EQIA Consultation Document was circulated for consultation between August and October 2004. Views were sought from the following groups: NICS and NIO HR staff (via questionnaires and focus groups), NICS and NIO staff in general, the general public and around 110 Section 75 groups. Three of the Section 75 groups responded to the Consultation exercise: Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), Equality
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Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) and Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (NIACRO).

Advice was sought from our independent legal advisors and DSO in relation to employment law issues and issues in relation to redeployment. Advice was also sought from OFMDFM in respect of the need to conduct an eHR EQIA and also the EQIA process followed by the eHR Programme. An independent consultant was appointed by the Strategic Investment Board (SIB) to assist in carrying out the Equality Impact Assessment.

DFP is satisfied that it has fully discharged its legal obligations in relation to the Northern Ireland Act (1998) and its statutory Equality Scheme.

Equality Commission

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what allowance is provided to each member of the Equality Commission; and what additional expenses each is eligible for. [32094]

Angela E. Smith: The Chief Commissioner post of the Equality Commission is paid an annual salary of £70,000 based on a full-time appointment. The Deputy Chief Commissioner serves for one day per week and receives an annual allowance of £10,000. The other Commissioners each serve for two days per month and receive an annual allowance of £5,000 each.

Commissioners are also eligible for additional travel and subsistence expenses when carrying out Equality Commission business.

Foreign Direct Investment

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to increase foreign direct investment in Northern Ireland. [35034]

Angela E. Smith: I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given on 30 November 2005, Official Report, column 632W.

Free School Meals

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many schoolchildren in Northern Ireland are (a) eligible for free school meals and (b) in receipt of free school meals, broken down by (i) constituency and (ii) council area. [34550]

Angela E. Smith: A breakdown of the information requested at (a) is not available. However, the number of pupils whose entitlement to free school meals has been established following an application to their education and library board are as follows:
Parliamentary constituencyPupils entitled to free school meals
Belfast East2,198
Belfast North5,774
Belfast South2,191
Belfast West8,049
East Antrim1,796
East Londonderry2,693
Fermanagh and South Tyrone3,406
Lagan Valley1,866
Mid Ulster3,613
Newry and Armagh5,016
North Antrim2,835
North Down1,123
South Antrim1,959
South Down3,423
Upper Bann3,622
West Tyrone4,125
Northern Ireland Total63,144

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District council areaPupils entitled to free school meals
Newry and Mourne4,544
North Down1,005
Northern Ireland Total63,144

1. Figures relate to year 1 to year 7 pupils in primary schools and all pupils in post primary schools.
2. Figures are based upon the district council and parliamentary constituency in which schools are situated.

Information relating to the number of schoolchildren in receipt of free school meals is not available in the format requested. However, at October 2004 the number of such pupils in each education and library board area was:

Figures exclude pupils in special schools.

The Department continues, through the education and library boards, to take steps to encourage eligible pupils to take up their entitlement.

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average cost was of a school meal in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years, broken down by education and library board. [34551]

Angela E. Smith: The average cost of a primary and secondary school meal, in each education and library board area, for the last five years was as follows:
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(24) Figures include 20p for an optional sweet.



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