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23 Jan 2006 : Column 1874W—continued

Pensioners (Telephones)

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what percentage of pensioners in each region do not have a telephone, ranked in descending order. [21184]

Angela E. Smith: For the financial year 2004–05 the proportion of pensioners in each region who do not have a telephone is as follows.
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East of NI3
North of NI3
West and South of NI2
Outer Belfast1

It is not possible to provide the number of pensioners in each region who do not have a telephone. The estimates are based on a sample survey.

Predictive Diallers

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many calls were made from call centres in his Department in 2004–05 using predictive diallers; how many such calls resulted in contact being made with the recipient without a Government agent available to talk to them; and what assessment he has made of the likely impact of Ofcom's policy on silent calls on the use of predictive diallers in departmental call centres. [28174]

Mr. Hanson: No call centres were run by the Northern Ireland Office.

Primary Schools (Computer Adaptive Testing)

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether computer adaptive testing will form part of the proposed pupil profile for primary school children in Northern Ireland. [44297]

Angela E. Smith: The Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment is developing and testing the pupil profile, and is examining the use of computer adaptive tests as part of the portfolio of assessment tools which teachers could draw upon to inform and support their professional judgment when completing the pupil profile. The council will provide me with advice in due course.


Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had with his ministerial colleagues in relation to the prostitution strategy for England and Wales; and what plans he has to introduce similar reforms in Northern Ireland. [44584]

Mr. Hanson: The Home Office document presents a coordinated strategy for dealing with a range of issues related to prostitution in England and Wales, where it is estimated that 80,000 people may be directly involved in selling sex. The strategy follows a review of prostitution instigated in 2004 by the Home Secretary.

We will be looking at what needs to be done in Northern Ireland to tackle problems related to prostitution here. We will initially be liaising with the police to ensure they have the necessary powers under the criminal law to deal with problems posed by kerb crawlers. We will look at the possibility of including proposals to reform the law in a wider review of sex offences due for consultation this year.
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Public Appointments

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he expects to announce further nominations to the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland. [43622]

Mr. Hanson: The Northern Ireland Act 1998 requires that the Equality Commission shall consist of not less than 14 nor more than 20 Commissioners. There are currently 18 Commissioners, including the Chief Commissioner and Deputy Chief Commissioner. The Government believes that the current Commission has the right balance of skills and experience and that therefore there is no need to appoint additional Commissioners at this time.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to announce the creation of Deputy Chief Commissioner posts for the Equality and Human Rights Commissions in Northern Ireland within the next three months. [43623]

Mr. Hanson: The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland currently has a Deputy Chief Commissioner.

In its consultation paper on the powers of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Government discussed the possibility of creating a position of Deputy Chief Commissioner.

Following the end of the consultation period on 9 February 2006, the Government will consider all responses from consultees on this and other issues. We will consider our proposals in the light of those responses.

Rates Revaluation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether (a) aerial and (b) satellite photography (i) being and (ii) will be used by the Valuation and Lands Agency as part of the rates revaluation in Northern Ireland. [42912]

Angela E. Smith: The Valuation and Lands Agency is not and will not be using aerial or satellite photography as part of the revaluation of domestic properties in Northern Ireland.


Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland who have served a prison sentence have been convicted of a further subsequent offence and re-imprisoned in each of the last five years. [44887]

Mr. Hanson: The table shows the number of offenders who have been discharged from prison and reconvicted with a subsequent custodial sentence. A two year reconviction period is the standard adopted in reconviction studies. Thus, those offenders discharged from prison during 2001 are followed up for a two year period to determine if a valid reconviction has occurred. Data for 2002 (i.e. reconvictions to 31 December 2004) are currently being validated.
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Offenders discharged from prison and reconvicted within two years—2001

Total prison discharges703
Reconvicted within two years
(any disposal, including prison)
Reconvicted within two years
(subsequent prison sentence)

Road Safety

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will bring all road safety measures under one Government Department; and if he will make a statement. [42401]

Angela E. Smith: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 12 January 2006, Official Report, column 793W.


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the use of selection based on academic ability in admissions to schools in Northern Ireland. [43720]

Angela E. Smith: The Government are committed to ending academic selection in Northern Ireland, and the last transfer tests will be held in November 2008. Future transfer from primary to post-primary school will be on the basis of informed parental choice. A proposal for a draft education order which will give effect to the new arrangements and prohibit schools from using any form of academic selection to admit pupils is currently the subject of public consultation. The closing date for comments is 7 March and the draft order will be laid before Parliament by summer 2006.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what guidance the Department for Education, issues to schools about the employment of ex-offenders. [43554]

Angela E. Smith: In 1999 the Department of Education issued the document Pastoral Care in Schools: Child Protection" but has not issued any specific guidance to schools on the employment of ex-offenders. I have asked that this is done as a matter of urgency working with the Children's Commissioner and NSPCC. Currently employers can and do take advice from the police, social services, the Probation Service, the ELBs' Child Protection officers and the Department if they are in any doubt about how to proceed in any given case.

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to ensure safer journeys for children going to, and coming from schools where a decision has been taken during 2005 to remove the school crossing patrol. [43624]

Angela E. Smith: The education and library boards use guidelines, based on those produced by the Local Authorities Road Safety Officers' Association (LARSOA), to identify traffic hazards and provide school crossing patrols in situations where they consider there to be unacceptable risks. Boards have advised me that they only consider removing crossing patrols where
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a review of the location against these guidelines indicates that the hazard or level of risk has reduced or been removed.

Boards continue to work closely with their counterparts in a range of Government Departments to identify other means of ensuring that the journey children make to school is safe. These include engineering solutions such as traffic calming measures and pelican crossings as well as education in the area of road safety.

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