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David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people (a) have been disciplined and (b) are passing through a disciplinary process as a result of the recent criticisms of the jobskills initiative in Northern Ireland. 
Angela E. Smith: No one has been (a) disciplined or (b) is passing through a disciplinary process as a result of the recent criticisms of the jobskills initiative in Northern Ireland. The Department has acknowledged the criticisms in the report and has already introduced significant changes to the jobskills programme.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the Equality Commission's advice to employers and employees in Northern Ireland is regarding the wearing of poppies in the workplace during the period immediately before Remembrance Day. 
Our advice to employers on the general issue of emblems in the workplace is that emblems which tend to distinguish one community from the other in Northern Ireland but are not directly connected with community strife are unlikely to be
It is a part of the Commission's remit to give advice and guidance on the Fair Employment legislation. It is for the Fair Employment Tribunal and the courts to establish and interpret the law, and, of course, if any individual feels that the use of emblems has constituted an unlawful act they are free to apply to the Tribunal for a decision on that point."
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) pursuant to the answer of 24 November 2005, Official Report, column 2199W, on property valuations, for what reasons the copies of the Equality Impact Assessment TSN analysis and Rural Proofing analysis have not been placed in the Library; 
(2) pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2005, Official Report, column 393W, on the Valuation and Lands Agency, when the internal working documents and guidance will be placed in the Library. 
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many local government jobs he estimates will be lost following implementation of the Review of Public Administration. 
Angela E. Smith:
It is not possible at this stage to give a reliable estimate of the number of jobs that might be lost in local government as a result of the implementation of the Review of Public Administration, but the Government will endeavour to keep any redundancies to a minimum.
7 Dec 2005 : Column 1383W
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of proper ventilation in achieving the aims of the ban on smoking in enclosed public places in Northern Ireland. 
There is a clear consensus among health professionals and the international scientific community that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke. Public health experts stress that while ventilation systems may improve comfort by removing the smell and visibility of smoke, they do not
7 Dec 2005 : Column 1384W
remove toxic carcinogens from the air. This was an important factor in my decision to introduce comprehensive controls to protect both the general public and employees.
Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which Northern Ireland departments have installed video-conferencing facilities; how many units have been installed in total; and at what cost. 
|Department||Number of installed videoconferencing facilities||Cost of installation (£)|
|Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister||0||0|
|Department of Agriculture and Rural Development||1||10,785|
|Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure||0||0|
|Department of Education||0||0|
|Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment||2||24,000|
|Department of the Environment||0||0|
|Department of Finance and Personnel||0||0|
|Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety||1||41,391|
|Department for Employment and Learning||1||14,528|
|Department for Regional Development||0||0|
|Department for Social Development||0||0|
In addition, a number of departments in the NI administration also possess video-conferencing units that do not require installation, that is, they are not purpose-built in one fixed location. At present, there are thirteen such 'portable' units in use across Northern Ireland departments.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reasons no appointment has been made to the post of deputy secretary to take forward environmental policy and sustainable development within the Department of the Environment; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela E. Smith:
The Department reviewed its top management structure following the retirement of the former deputy secretary. In recognition of the strategic importance of the work of the Environmental Policy Group, its two directors now report directly to the permanent secretary.
7 Dec 2005 : Column 1385W
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the United Kingdom's response is to the joint statement of principles by the Arab-League Reconciliation Conference; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The National Accord Conference Preparatory Meeting, hosted by the Arab League in Cairo on 1921 November, was a useful initiative which provided a good opportunity for Arab and regional governments to review their relationship with Iraq and to plan future engagement. The National Accord meeting itself, which is due to take place in Iraq at the end of February/beginning of March, will be an opportunity for countries to follow-up this review with substantive commitments of assistance.
The joint statement of principles which followed the Preparatory Meeting contained a number of positive points. Among these were the calls for support of Iraq's political/electoral processes, the importance of increasing security, recognition that terrorism is not a legitimate form of resistance and a call for greater economic, technical, diplomatic and security support for Iraq from Arab countries.
The election of a new Iraqi government should herald a new era of international engagement with Iraq, with increased assistance for social and economic development as well as political and security development. Arab and regional governments should play a leading role in thisthe National Accord Conference in February will be an early opportunity to carry forward this new international partnership.
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