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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1524W—continued

Academic Selection

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what analysis the Department for Education Northern Ireland has made since 2000 of alternative models to the 11-plus test of post-primary academic selection; and if he will make a statement. [50715]

Angela E. Smith: No such analysis has been undertaken by the Department of Education. The Post-Primary Review Body, established by the Department in 2000 to consider future arrangements for post-primary education in Northern Ireland, recommended that academic selection should end (Burns Report). The Post-Primary Review Working Group (Costello) established by the Department in 2003 was required to take account of the consultation on the Burns recommendations and to provide advice on options for new arrangements for post-primary education. It advised that no form of academic selection would remove the high-stakes, high-stress element and that academic selection at age 11 is itself educationally unsound, as this age is too young to commit pupils to particular pathways. Accepting the Costello Report's recommendations, the Government announced in January 2004 that academic selection would end and that the last Transfer Tests will take place in 2008.

Future transfer arrangements will be on the basis of informed parental choice. Parents will have a broader assessment of their child's needs using the Pupil Profile and advice from schools. The new arrangements are about parents choosing schools not schools choosing pupils. They will give parents the right and responsibility to choose the school most appropriate to their child's needs.

Bottled Water

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department has spent on bottled water in each of the last five years. [48722]

Mr. Woodward: The following figures represent the total cost of the provision of bottled water for the Northern Ireland Office, excluding its Agencies and NDPBs. The total cost includes water and the provision and maintenance of water coolers.
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The figures are as follows:

Cattle (Pre-movement Testing)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with whom consultations were carried out prior to the decision to introduce pre-movement testing of cattle; how results are being monitored; by whom; and what research is planned to assess the impact of the change. [50700]

Angela E. Smith: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) consulted between July and October 2002 with a wide range of stakeholders about the proposal for brucellosis pre-movement testing, as part of its consultation about the 2002 Brucellosis Policy Review recommendations. The list of consultees who were specifically asked for views has been placed in the Library of the House. The decision to introduce compulsory pre-movement testing for brucellosis in Northern Ireland was announced on 16 June 2003.

During 2004, DARD consulted widely again about the draft legislation needed to introduce the requirement to test. Compulsory pre-movement testing was introduced in Northern Ireland on 1 December 2004.

The purpose of the measure is to assist in the detection of brucellosis and to help prevent disease spread by reducing the number of infected animals moving between farms. The measure also ensures compliance with the relevant EU legislation. Under Council Directive 64/432/EEC, pre or post-movement testing is required in a member state (or region thereof) where the percentage of bovines infected with brucellosis exceeds 0.2 per cent. during a two-year period.

DARD monitors the results of pre-movement testing, using the information held on its Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS), as part of its overall management of the brucellosis control programme. The effectiveness of pre-movement testing as a disease control measure is assessed on an on-going basis as part of this monitoring activity. DARD plans to review the impact of the existing control measures on the incidence of brucellosis as part of its next formal review of brucellosis control policy.

No decision has been made in Northern Ireland to introduce compulsory pre-movement testing for bovine TB.

Child Safety

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Government are taking to improve child safety on streets in Northern Ireland. [48286]

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Angela E. Smith: Child safety is a priority for Government and is at the core of a number of key strategies across Departments and agencies. The 10-year strategy for Children and Young People will provide an overarching framework within which we will deliver on a number of outcomes for children and young people, including child safety. The strategy will be delivered through a programme of strategic actions, which will include: a road safety strategy aimed at reducing fatal and serious casualties among children; education and training in schools; safety promotion and awareness campaigns targeted at children; implementation of traffic calming measures; programmes to address antisocial behaviour, vandalism and crime related measures; and multi-agency arrangements to assess and manage the risks posed by sex offenders living in the community. Finally, safeguarding children is a subject that is actively being considered by the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Children and Young People.

Costello Report

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many responses to the Government's public consultation on the Costello report proposals indicated opposition to the decision to prohibit academic selection. [50705]

Angela E. Smith: The remit of the Post-Primary Review Working Group required it to take account of the responses to the multi-stranded consultation on the Burns recommendations, including the diversity of views on academic selection. The advice from the group (the Costello report) was not published for consultation and responses were not therefore sought on its content.


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many defibrillators there are in public places in each district council area in the Province. [49317]

Mr. Woodward: Information on the number of defibrillators in public places is not available as there is no central control of their purchase and distribution. Only a proportion of those currently provided in public places are funded by government agencies.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent in each year since 1997 by his Department on salaries paid to civil servants. [41580]

Mr. Woodward: Gross salary figures for the years in question are as follows:
Gross salary
costs (£)
Total departmental budget (percentage)

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Departmental Staff

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans his Department has to change the London allowance of its staff; and if he will make a statement. [50001]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office has a pay scale which is applied equally to staff working in Belfast and London.

Separately, a London allowance is paid to London based staff to aid recruitment and retention and to reflect the higher cost of living. There are no plans to change the London allowance.

A London allowance is paid to staff in the senior civil service at Payband 1 and it remained at £3,500 in 2005. Staff in Paybands 2 and 3 are not eligible for payment of the London allowance.

The London allowance for staff below the senior civil service was increased from £3,875 to £4,000 as part of the 2005 pay settlement. This met the PCS claim for the London allowance.

Early Retirement

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many departmental employees have taken early retirement due to ill-health in each of the past five years for which figures are available. [46777]

Mr. Woodward: The number of Northern Ireland Office staff who retired due to ill health in each of the past five years is as follows:

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