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26 Jan 2006 : Column 2313W—continued

Scottish Parliament

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to meet representatives of the (a) Scottish Parliament and (b) Scottish Executive to discuss mechanisms for consulting on the Government's policy on changing the number of Members of the Scottish Parliament. [40020]

David Cairns: There are no plans for such meetings. Government policy on the number of Members of the Scottish Parliament is reflected in the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004.

PR Companies

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the public relations companies that have had contracts with (a) his Department, (b) each (i) non-departmental public body and (ii) executive agency for which his Department is responsible and (c) independent statutory bodies, organisations and bodies financially sponsored by his Department and other such organisations since May 1997. [39072]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999; since that date, no contracts have been awarded to any public relations companies.

Proceeds of Crime Act

Mr. Devine: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much money was recovered in Livingston as a consequence of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in 2004. [38434]

David Cairns: This is a devolved matter and the information requested is not broken down by constituency or local authority area. However, from 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005, the Financial Crime Unit of the Crown Office successfully obtained confiscation orders for over £1,367,000 worth of assets gained from criminal activity for the whole of Scotland. In addition, restraint orders were granted during that period for £37,860,000 worth of assets.
 
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Television Licence

Mr. Devine: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people in Livingston were prosecuted in 2004 for failing to hold a current TV licence. [38432]

David Cairns: Responsibility for these statistics lies with the Scottish Executive.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Aimspro

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment has been made of the merits of the introduction of the medicine Aimspro in Northern Ireland for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. [44919]

Mr. Woodward: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has made no assessment of the merits of introducing Aimspro in Northern Ireland for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Aimspro is not a licensed medicine in the United Kingdom. Before a product is granted a licence, an applicant needs to demonstrate that the product complies with appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy as laid out in the relevant European and national legislation and guidelines. This will include demonstration of the safety and efficacy of the product in appropriately conducted clinical trials in the population for which the medicine is to be used.

Child Care

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) state funded and (b) private child care places there are in each ward in each Parliamentary constituency in Northern Ireland expressed as (i) a number and (ii) a percentage of children and listed in descending order. [45652]

Mr. Woodward: The information is not available in the format requested. The latest available information on state funded and private child care places in Northern Ireland is detailed in Table 1 and Table 2 below by Health and Social Services Trusts, and relates to the position as at 31 March 2005.

The information in Table 1, column (a) details for each HSS Trust the total numbers of private day care places 1 for children, and this total expressed as a percentage of the population aged under 18 2 for each Trust and for Northern Ireland as whole (column (b)) in descending order.

Table 2 details similar totals (c) and percentages (d) as per Table 1, in respect of children placed and paid for by Trusts. Table 2 also details children placed and paid for by Trusts as a percentage of private day care places (e).

2 Based on the 2001 Census of Population in Northern Ireland
 
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Table 1

TrustPrivate day care places for children (a)Private day care places for children as a % of the population aged under 18 (b)
South and East Belfast4,46710.5
Ulster Community and hospitals3,51410.0
Causeway2,3299.0
Homefirst6,7647.9
Down Lisburn3,2606.8
Craigavon and Banbridge1,8005.4
Armagh and Dungannon1,3394.5
Sperrin Lakeland1,2483.7
North and West Belfast1,4053.3
Foyle1,3272.7
Newry and Mourne4641.8
Northern Ireland27,9176.2

Table 2

TrustChildren placed and paid for by Trust (c)Children placed and paid for by Trust as a
% of the population aged under 18 (d)
Children placed and paid for by Trust as a
% of the private day care places (e)
Craigavon and Banbridge1290.47.2
South and East Belfast1400.33.1
Armagh and Dungannon810.36.0
Ulster Community and hospitals
92
0.32.6
Down Lisburn1210.33.7
Causeway600.22.6
Newry and Mourne550.211.9
Homefirst1750.22.6
North and West Belfast450.13.2
Foyle180.01 .4
Sperrin Lakeland110.00.9
Northern Ireland9270.23.3

Civil Service

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to avert the possible Civil Service industrial action in Northern Ireland. [44801]

Angela E. Smith: The Government regrets the Trade Union's decision to proceed with a statutory ballot for strike action. As part of the normal negotiating process officials had a series of meetings with trade union representatives on the 2005 pay round dating back to July of last year. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland met personally with the Trade Union on two occasions in an attempt to reach agreement with them on the 2005 pay deal. During the course of the negotiations a number of information bulletins were issued to staff, continually up-dating them on the negotiations and providing them with details of the 3.49 per cent. pay offer made by management. This offer represented the maximum available to the Northern Ireland Civil Service under the terms of the Government's pay policy. Officials made it clear that they were prepared to negotiate the content of the offer in order better to meet Trade Union concerns, subject to remaining within the 3.49 per cent. envelope approved.

Under the terms of the offer the majority of staff this year will see their pay increase by between 2.2 per cent. and 6.5 per cent. depending on their position on their
 
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pay scale. It took cognisance of the fact that inflation was 2.3 per cent. at July 2005 (the settlement date was 1 August) while private sector earnings growth was less than 3 per cent. In this wider context I firmly believe that the 2005 pay deal is fair and reasonable and represents the best that could have been achieved for staff in the prevailing economic circumstances.

There was no additional money available for this year's pay round and as a result there was nothing to be gained in further delaying payment of the pay offer to staff. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State therefore wrote to all staff on 20 December 2005 indicating that the deal would be paid as soon as possible. This was the fairest course of action in all the circumstances. Naturally it would have been preferable if agreement could have been reached with the Trade Union not just on this year's pay deal but on how best to address next year's pay remit. In that context My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has invited the Trade Union to work with officials in developing the strongest possible business case in support of the 2006 pay remit. I hope that that invitation will be accepted and that we can work constructively together to secure the best possible deal for staff in 2006.

I hope that the staff will form a judgment based on the facts, and that a strike can thus be avoided. In the meantime however, Departments have been asked to draw up appropriate contingency plans to be put in train in the event of an all out strike. All appropriate measures will of course be taken to minimise the impact of any strike action on our public services.


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