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4 May 2006 : Column 1816W—continued

Departmental Contracts

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which contracts let by his Department in each of the last three years ran beyond their original completion date; what the estimated additional cost was of the delay in each case; what company each overdue contract was with; what financial penalties were included in each contract; which financial penalties were enforced; and what the total cost was of financial penalties enforced, (a) in total and (b) broken down by (i) contract and (ii) company. [66461]

Mr. Hain: The information requested is provided in the following table:
Contract titleCompanyFinancial penalties
included in contract
Estimated additional cost (£)
2003–04Provision of Consultancy Services on pensions provision for police lateral entry schemeDeloitte Total Reward and Benefits Ltd.NoneNone1,692
2004–05Independent element of the operational review of the section 75 equality dutyEithne McLaughlin and Neil FarisNoneNone14,000

Departmental Websites

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list (a) the websites operated by his Department and (b) the reports placed on the internet in March 2006, indicating in each case whether paper copies were also made available. [65203]

Mr. Hain: The Department operates three websites, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) website, the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) website, and the Criminal Justice Services NI (CJSNI) website.

The Ninth Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission was published on the 8 March 2006 and placed on the NIO website, along with the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989—Draft Codes of Practice 2006 Edition". Paper copies of both of these documents are also available.

The Public attitudes to crime and recovered assets in Northern Ireland", was published on the OCTF website on 7 March 2006. While paper copies of this report were not routinely issued a hard copy would be provided on request.

Domestic Rates

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what period of time will be allowed for domestic ratepayers who wish to appeal against the new rating valuation of their homes in Northern Ireland; [66988]

(2) what appeal mechanism is being put in place for domestic ratepayers wishing to challenge the new rating valuation of their homes. [66989]

Angela E. Smith: The Valuation and Lands Agency (VLA) are currently putting procedures in place in an attempt to be as helpful as possible to all ratepayers and will form part of a full-scale exercise in openness, transparency and accessibility.

The capital values will be published on a phased basis during July and August this year and each individual ratepayer will receive a detailed notification of his or her valuation assessment. This will provide householders with an unprecedented period of around eight months advance notice of their values, before billing commences in April 2007.

At the same time, all of the capital values will be published on the VLA website, together with supporting information such as size and type of property. This will enable householders to compare their value with others in their area. A free-phone service will also be available to deal with initial inquiries.

During this eight-month period, a ratepayer may initiate an 'Informal Review' with the district valuer. This is a new process being set up by VLA, providing ratepayers with an opportunity to have their assessment reviewed, and changed as necessary, before rate bills are issued in April 2007.

The statutory appeals process will come into effect in April 2007 and this will comprise:

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Domestic Violence

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were successfully prosecuted in domestic violence cases in crimes investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in each of the last five years, (a) in total and (b) by District Command Unit; and how many victims of such incidents were (i) women in a heterosexual relationship, (ii) men in a heterosexual relationship, (iii) women in a same sex relationship, (iv) men in a same sex relationship and (v) children. [66460]

Mr. Hanson: Current sources of prosecutions and convictions data do not include the necessary background information to facilitate the identification of offences relating specifically to domestic violence. The PSNI have continued to improve the methods by which domestic incidents and crimes are recorded; clearance rates by PSNI District Command Unit for recorded crimes with a domestic motivation were published for the first time in June 2005 in the PSNI Statistical Report 2004–05. The report is available on the PSNI website address In 2004–05 there was a total of 8,508 recorded crimes with a domestic motivation; the clearance rate was 72.9 per cent.

Civil measures can also be taken in relation to domestic violence cases, that is, an individual can obtain a non-molestation or occupancy order. These are protective orders and not offences in their own right; however breach of such an order is an offence though it is again not possible in such instances to identify solely those which relate to domestic violence. In 2003, the most up-to-date information currently available, there were 239 persons convicted for breach of a non-molestation order and 39 convicted for breach of an occupation order.

Free School Meals

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what percentage of children in each (a) grammar school and (b) other secondary school in Northern Ireland receive free school meals. [67815]

Angela E. Smith: The requested information has been placed in the Library.

Government Car Fleet

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress is being made on increasing the use of environmentally friendly vehicles used by Government Ministers and senior civil servants in Northern Ireland. [66993]

Angela E. Smith: In line with the greening Government and Sustainable Development initiatives, the Department of Finance and Personnel's Central Transport Unit (CTU), is replacing all its ministerial and senior civil servant vehicles with fuel efficient modern diesel models or hybrid vehicles as and when they are due for replacement.

The Department currently has two hybrid vehicles (petrol/electric) which it uses for short haul journeys.
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Greater Shankill/West Belfast Task Forces

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the implementation of the recommendations of the (a) Greater Shankill and (b) West Belfast Task Forces. [66406]

Angela E. Smith: The West Belfast and Greater Shankill (WBGS) Task Forces produced a joint report in February 2002 detailing over 150 recommendations covering a wide range of issues. Early progress was made in a number of areas including work by Invest NI to regenerate the Forth River (former Mackies) complex. The Department for Employment and Learning also piloted the Targeted Initiatives programme in the task force areas, working closely with a local stakeholders' forum, the Employment Services Board.

In 2004, through the Integrated Development Fund (IDF), £21.7 million was allocated, subject to positive economic appraisal, to support 17 projects aimed specifically at addressing the social and economic problems in the task force areas. The economic and social environment has changed since the Task Force Report was published and, apart from the IDF initiative, there have also been a number of other policy initiatives, not least the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, which will have had a positive impact on the task force areas.

Through its Belfast Regeneration office the Department for Social Development continues to work with all sectors associated with the task force areas to tackle disadvantage in a strategic and integrated way primarily through Neighbourhood Renewal and, more recently the Renewing Communities initiative with the aim of achieving tangible outcomes in terms of community, economic social and physical renewal. The Department also continues to deliver a variety of other programmes which, while not specific to the task force area do nevertheless, impact on the Greater West Belfast and Shankill areas.

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