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18 Jan 2006 : Column 1418W—continued

Laptop computers

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many laptop computers have been used by (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials in his Department in each year since 1995; how many have been (i) lost and (ii) stolen in that period; what the cost was of the use of laptops in that period; and if he will make a statement. [4118]

Mr. Woodward: The following table gives information on laptops purchased by the Northern Ireland Office.

Neither the current Secretary of State nor Ministers have laptops.

In the period from 1999 to date private offices were provided with a total of seven laptops. Detailed information prior to 1999 is not available. There are two laptops currently with Ministers' special advisers.

No laptops have been reported lost. Three laptops have been reported as stolen. Each cost in the region of £1,500.


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many patients in each hospital in Northern Ireland (a) contracted MRSA and (b) died of MRSA in the last two years; how many of each were senior citizens; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the guidelines for greater hygiene practice have had on the number of incidents. [42263]

Mr. Woodward: Except in the case of the mandatory returns on patient episodes of MRSA bacteraemias, hospital Trusts are not required to record or collate the numbers of patients who are colonised or infected with MRSA, or their age. MRSA bacteraemia tables derived from data supplied by acute hospital Trusts are published annually by the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) Northern Ireland. The
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fourth and latest annual report on this indicator for MRSA infection in hospitals is available on the CDSC website at

Causes of death are classified by International Classification of Diseases (ICD), but the current version does not have a specific code for MRSA. Statistics on deaths where MRSA was a contributing factor can be obtained by identifying deaths registered with specific conditions likely to be linked with MRSA and then manually checking the death certificate to identify whether MRSA was recorded. The following table gives the number of deaths registered in Northern Ireland in the two-year period 2003–04, where MRSA was mentioned on the death certificate, by place of death and pensionable age. The figures relate to all deaths where MRSA was mentioned on the certificate, regardless of whether it was the primary cause of death or not.
MRSA mentions on death
certificates in the period 2003
to 2004
Place of death (HSS Trust)All agesPensionable age(33)
Altnagelvin Group HSS Trust54
Belfast City Hospital HSS Trust1110
Causeway HSS Trust11
Craigavon area Hospital Group HSS Trust74
Down Lisburn HSS Trust44
Mater Infirmorum Hospital HSS Trust44
Newry and Mourne HSS Trust10
Royal Group of Hospitals HSS Trust66
Sperrin Lakeland HSS Trust77
Ulster Community and Hospitals HSS Trust33
United Hospitals Group HSS Trust88

(32) Other' place of death includes deaths in nursing homes or in the home.
(33) 'Pensionable age' is defined as males aged 65 and over and females aged 60 and over.

Individual hospitals are working to effect improved hygiene among staff, patients and visitors through guidelines, controls assurance standards and other means. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety ran an extensive TV advertising campaign last year on hand hygiene and antibiotic resistance. There was a 4.25 per cent. reduction in GP prescriptions of antibiotics in 2004–05 over the previous year (from 1.81m to 1.74m), at a time when overall numbers of prescriptions continue to rise.

Planning Applications

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will provide the necessary financial resources to Planning Service in order that they can (a) process area plans and (b) accelerate the processing of outstanding planning applications. [42388]

Angela E. Smith: My right hon. Friend the Minister of the Environment is content that the Planning Service has the necessary resources to enable it to deliver its programme of up-to-date area plan coverage for Northern Ireland and to improve the performance in processing planning applications.
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In relation to both area plans and the processing of planning applications, there are many other parties involved such as, consultees, developers, agents and others, all of whom have a key role to play in ensuring a timely and efficient planning system.

The Planning Service is now in the third year of a three-year modernisation programme to deliver fundamental reforms to the planning system. Indeed as part of the Northern Ireland Priorities and Budget 2005–08, Planning Service secured an additional £5.5 million of funding to deliver the programme. Key elements involve the streamlining, strengthening and comprehensive reform of development control, development planning and planning policy processes.

Rates Revaluation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland is providing to the Valuation and Lands Agency to assist the rates revaluation in Northern Ireland. [42913]

Mr. Hanson: The Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI) provides the following information to the Valuation and Lands Agency, as part of an ongoing service agreement. This information is provided for use within VLA's own office, for its own internal business use.

Of the aforementioned products, the following are used by VLA to assist the rates revaluation in Northern Ireland.

Restorative Justice

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his policy is on the participation of people known to be associated with a paramilitary organisation in community-based restorative justice schemes. [41383]

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Mr. Hanson: The draft guidelines for community based restorative justice, which are currently the subject of public consultation, make clear that it is unacceptable for anyone involved in paramilitary activity or criminality to work in schemes.

The consultation paper specifically seeks the views of respondents on the impact which the existence of past convictions should have on the assessment of an individual's suitability. Government will carefully consider the views of all respondents before coming to a final decision on the way forward.

Telecare Scheme

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will bring funding for the Telecare Scheme in Northern Ireland into line with provision in other parts of the country. [42390]

Mr. Woodward: I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer of 5 December 2005, Official Report, column 1077W.

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will appoint a lead provider for the Telecare Scheme. [42408]

Mr. Woodward: I do not intend to appoint a lead provider for the Telecare Scheme in Northern Ireland. That is a matter for local service commissioners subject to value for money and procurement guidelines.

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