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The information requested is not collected routinely. Extrapolating figures from Great Britain, it is estimated that the cost of unused medicines in Northern Ireland amounts to approximately £2.5 million per year. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is pursuing a number of initiatives to reduce waste in drug costs.
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Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what total amount of employers' normal contributions accruing superannuation liability charge has been accounted for by his Office in each of the last five years for which data are available. 
Mr. Woodward: The amount of employers' accruing superannuation liability charges in respect of members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, within the Northern Ireland Office, excluding its agencies and NDPBs, in the last five years is:
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many television sets are in operation in the Department (a) in total, (b) in Ministers' private offices and (c) in each building in the Department; and how many television licences are held by the Department. 
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Mr. Woodward: The Department for Regional Development continues to support 19 rural community transport partnerships, which offer a range of transport services for their members that complement conventional public transport networks and which in particular provide transport opportunities for people with reduced mobility in rural areas. These partnerships now cover most of rural Northern Ireland. The Department also provides revenue support to Translink to maintain a network of some 50 rural routes across Northern Ireland that would otherwise be uneconomic to run. Additionally, the Department has also provided support to pilot two new and innovative demand responsive public transport services in rural areas. In total in 200506 DRD spent £2.45 million to support these rural public transport services.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he had with (a) the Government of the Republic of Ireland and (b) the Republic of Ireland police force on the Northern Ireland victims' march in Dublin on 25 February. 
Mr. Hain: There were no discussions between myself and the Government of the Republic of Ireland or the Republic of Ireland police force in relation to the Love Ulster Rally on 25 February 2006. This was an operational matter that was dealt with between the PSNI and Garda S-"ocha"na.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) partially-sighted and (b) totally blind pupils left school in Northern Ireland with five or more GCSE grades A to C in the last period for which figures are available. 
Angela E. Smith: Figures for 200405 are not yet available. Out of a total of fifteen children with a statement of special educational needs who were recorded as blind and who left school in the previous three years, five achieved five or more GCSE's at grades A*-C.
Out of a total of 86 children with a statement of special educational needs who were recorded as partially sighted and who left school in the same three year period, 26 achieved five or more GCSE's at grades A*-C.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the extent to which the health service in Northern Ireland is meeting recommended waiting times for (a) an initial consultation and (b) operations. 
I have set targets this year to ensure that no patient is waiting more than 12 months for in-patient or day case treatment by 31 March, with shorter waiting times for major joint replacement surgery (nine months), cataract surgery (six months), and cardiac
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surgery (six months). Excellent progress has been made to date and provisional figures indicate that hospitals here are on course to achieve these waiting time targets. I will make an announcement on the achievement of these targets on 3 April 2006.
With regard to waiting times for an initial consultation, current waiting times are much too long, with one in nine of the population waiting for a first out-patient appointment. I have set a target to ensure that no patient is waiting more than 13 weeks by 31 March 2008 and in January this year I announced a major overhaul of out-patient services to ensure that this target is achieved.
Angela E. Smith: My colleague Lord Rooker, has carefully reviewed the options, and taking account of questions of affordability, value for money and sustainability, he will not approve payments which last year cost some £800,000 in total and ranged from around £40,000 to £70,000 per vessel for a tie-up period of just under 11 weeks. In the current climate of competing resource pressures, a transitional aid scheme could result in less money for urgent projects like infrastructure improvements at Northern Ireland fishing ports.
The council tax base used in the 200607 formula grant settlement was 17,979,549 band D equivalent properties. In distributing formula grant, we do not make assumptions about the amount that authorities should spend on services neither do we make assumptions about the average level of council tax.
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John Hemming: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assumptions of the rate of inflation are being used in calculating increases in the assumed value for council tax; whether the change between the 200506 assumed national council tax and the 200607 implicit national council tax is estimated to be more or less than the forecast rate of inflation; and if he will take steps to ensure that policy assumptions are not made that council tax rises will rise at a rate higher than inflation. 
Mr. Woolas: In distributing formula grant, we did not make an assumption about the level of national council tax in 200607. Council tax levels are set by local authorities themselves; they are not set by central Government.
John Hemming: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what criteria are used to determine whether council tax increases by individual authorities trigger capping; and whether there is an absolute figure above which a council tax increase is deemed too high. 
Mr. Woolas: I announced in my statement to the House on 27 March 2006, Official Report, columns 56769, about council tax that the principles determined by my right hon. Friend, the Deputy Prime Minister, as Secretary of State, were that authorities' 200607 budget requirements were excessive:
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