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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer to question 34657, what work his Department is undertaking to exercise the power under section 12 of the Children Act 2004. 
Mr. Woodward: The Children Act 2004 does not apply to Northern Ireland. However, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety intend to consult on a range of childcare issues early in 2006, which may include the sharing of information.
Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the length of time it takes a Northern Ireland civil servant in each grade to progress to the maximum point of the pay scale. 
Angela E. Smith:
Depending on the payscale in question, it takes a civil servant in the Northern Ireland civil service between seven and 12 years to progress from the minimum to the maximum point of the scale.
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Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he sought advice from the Commissioner for Public Appointments before appointing the Commissioner for Victims; and if he will make a statement. 
Angela E. Smith: The Commissioner for Public Appointments was not consulted on the appointment of the Interim Commissioner for Victims and Survivors. The Interim Commissioner for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland was appointed on a non-statutory basis to take forward some essential preparatory work in advance of the post being established under law. That work included, for example, reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of current funding arrangements and considering the practical issues of establishing a victims and survivors forum. The Interim Commissioner has been asked to produce a report for Ministers by the end of 2006.
I can confirm, however, that the Government will be bringing forward legislation to establish the post of Commissioner for Victims and Survivors. That appointment will be subject to the full public appointments process.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Upper Bann have submitted claims for community care grants in each of the last five years; and how many were awarded. 
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which cross-border bodies have put the minutes of their board meetings on their websites; on what date each did so; and what steps are being taken to require those cross-border bodies which did not so publish their minutes to do so. 
Mr. Hain: The content of the websites of cross-border bodies is a matter for each body. The Loughs Agency, an agency of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission currently publishes minutes of its board meetings on its website (www.loughs-agency.org).
|Date of board meeting||Date published on website|
|23rd meeting19 May 2004||26 May 2004|
|24th meeting15 September 2004||21 September 2004|
|25th meeting17 November 2004||22 November 2004|
|26th meeting15 December 2004||20 December 2004|
|27th meeting23 February 2005||28 February 2005|
|28th meeting20 April 2005||25 April 2005|
|29th meeting24 June 2005||28 June 2005|
The Loughs Agency has also advised that minutes relating to meetings prior to the 19 May 2004 have been removed from the website for technical reasons. It is the agency's plan to reinstate them when their new website comes online early 2006. The minutes from board meetings since 24 June will be put on the website as soon as possible.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many dental nurses are employed in the Province specifically to treat (a) children and (b) adults with complex needs. 
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent by his Department's Ministers on (a) new furnishings, (b) art and (c) new vehicles in each Northern Ireland department headquarters in each year since the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly. 
Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will address the financial situation of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board arising from the regional capitation formula to enable reduction of waiting lists for elective treatment. 
Mr. Woodward: The Eastern Health and Social Services Board share of resources through the regional capitation formula is reducing in line with its share of the Northern Ireland population. A detailed research programme is currently being taken forward to further consider the capitation formula. This work is still progressing and is expected to inform future allocation decisions.
In relation to waiting lists, a comprehensive programme of elective care reform is being progressed across Northern Ireland. By March 2006, no patient should be waiting longer than 12 months for inpatient or day case treatment, with shorter waiting times for major joints (nine months), cataracts (six months) and cardiac surgery (six months).
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he has received reports that staff at one of the Province's psychiatric hospitals were unable to provide the serial numbers of their ECT machines, and did not have calibration cards or means to assess compliance with manufacturers' pre-calibration settings for the machine. 
Mr. Woodward: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has received communication containing allegations about the use of ECT machines. These refer to experiences in the early 1990s. Guidance on good practice Medical Device and Equipment Management for Hospital and Community-based Organisation" was issued on July 1999. This covered the issue of keeping a record of serial numbers and employing a routine maintenance policy to keep equipment working reliably and safely.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to ensure emergency services can respond promptly to terrorist or serious incidents in the south western part of Northern Ireland after the withdrawal of acute medical services from Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woodward: All of the Health and Personal Social Services, including the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) have a generic Major Incident Plan which is designed to cover large scale incidents and terrorist events happening anywhere in Northern Ireland.
In the event of terrorist or serious incident occurring in the south western part of Northern Ireland, the Western Health and Social Services Board and the NIAS would each instigate their respective major incident plans. These plans anticipate the use of multiple hospitals for dealing with major emergencies. The NIAS plan allows for the Ambulance Commander to designate receiving hospitals, part of this is to ensure that the workload is evenly dispersed to the appropriate hospitals in relation to patients clinical requirements. The plan also contains the deployment of NIAS Emergency Equipment Vehicles (these are placed at strategic locations in Northern Ireland) which contain additional equipment for dealing with mass casualties.
The Southern and Western Health and Social Services Boards are working with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to ensure that ambulance services in the south western part of Northern Ireland are responsive to the needs of the population. The current planning for Sperrin Lakeland includes the creation of appropriate networks of Ambulance, A & E service, Critical care and other acute services across the Western Health and Social Services Board area and beyond to deal with casualties resulting from serious incidents.
In addition to Major Incident Plans, there are special provisions for Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) incidents. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is being equipped and trained to respond to such incidents as part of its New Dimensions role. The NIAS also have special provisions for dealing with CBRN incidents throughout Northern Ireland.
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