Previous Section Index Home Page

19 July 2006 : Column 469W—continued

Paul Goggins: As beta-adrenoceptor drugs can be prescribed for a number of conditions it is not possible to tell from existing information if a person was prescribed beta blockers for high blood pressure. As with other medicines, there are a number of known side effects with beta blockers. All serious adverse drug reactions suspected to be related to any medicine, or
19 July 2006 : Column 470W
combination of medicines, should be reported directly to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

The Department has no data on admission to hospital as a direct result of side effects/life threatening side effects as a result of the providing of beta blockers for high blood pressure.

Brothels

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many brothels he estimates there are in (a) Northern Ireland and (b) each police district command unit. [83913]

Paul Goggins: The Police Service of Northern Ireland has advised that it would be inappropriate to disclose the number of brothels they believe to be active as this could compromise ongoing operations aimed at disrupting such activities and bringing about successful prosecutions.

The PSNI continues to gather intelligence and information about such activities across Northern Ireland.

In September 2005 South Belfast DCU set up a drugs and vice team after analysis indicated problems related to sex crimes. In that DCU the PSNI have successfully closed down 20 brothels and charged 12 persons in connection with offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Dangerous Dogs

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether there has been a review of the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 since the legislation was implemented; and whether there are plans to review (a) the legislation and (b) enforcement of it. [86576]

David Cairns: The Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 has not been formally reviewed. However, on 19 May 2006 the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development wrote to all district councils seeking their views on the operation of the legislation with particular emphasis on any difficulties preventing effective enforcement.

The Department is currently considering the responses from councils and will meet in the near future with council representatives and other interested organisations to discuss the issues raised.

Departmental Expenditure

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to the answer of 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 1009W, on departmental expenditure, what accounted for the increases in expenditure by (a) employment and learning, (b) health, social services and public safety and (c) the Northern Ireland Office on advertising between 2003-04 and 2004-05; and if he will take steps to reduce the amount spent on advertising. [77217]

Mr. Hanson: Further to my answer of 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 1009W, I have informed the
19 July 2006 : Column 471W
hon. Member in writing that figures provided for four Departments in 2004-05 were incorrect. This answer is based on the corrected figures given on 4 July 2006.

The increase in expenditure by (a) employment and learning is accounted for by the Essential Skills Campaign to address the problems of literacy and numeracy. The corrected figures show that spending by (b) health, social services and public safety decreased during the period. The increase in expenditure by (c) the Northern Ireland Office was due to the recruitment advertising of NIO posts locally and nationally. The corrected figures also show that expenditure by environment increased during the period. This is due to additional funding for newly launched road safety campaigns in respect of motorbikes, speeding and drugs and to increase airtime for the anti-drink driving campaign at certain times of the year such as Christmas and bank holidays.

Steps have already been taken to reduce the amount spent on advertising. A fundamental review of how Government procure and manage advertising has been completed. The review report, published in April 2006 and available in the House of Commons Library, sets out a series of recommendations which will contribute to an overall reduction in the amount spent on advertising and an increase in effectiveness.

Fertility Treatment

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many women over the age of 55 years are undergoing IVF treatment on the NHS in Northern Ireland; and if he will estimate the average cost of each programme of treatment. [85050]

Paul Goggins: There are no women over the age of 55 years undergoing IVF treatment on the NHS in Northern Ireland. In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is only available to couples where the female partner has not passed her 38(th) birthday.

The Royal Group of Hospitals estimate the current cost for a cycle of IVF treatment to be £2,875. This includes the cost of outpatient attendances, drugs, scans and consultant time.

Festivals

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which 10 community festivals in Northern Ireland received the most public funding in each of the last two years. [82878]

Maria Eagle: The 10 community festivals which received the most public funding in each of the last two years are shown in the following tables:


19 July 2006 : Column 472W
2004-05
Festival Funding provided (£)

Feile an Phobail

360,037.95

Maiden City Festival

82,700.63

Ardoyne Fleadh Cheoil

75,080

Greater New Lodge

43,110

Tommy Makem International Festival of Song

23,000

Belleek and Fiddlestone Arts and Cultural Festival

15,783.19

William Kennedy Piping Festival

15,000

The Hills above Drumquin Townlands Festival

14,914.81

Armagh City and district council Mall Events Project

14,900

Living History Festival

13,097.40


2005-06
Festival Funding provided (£)

Feile an Phobail

273,768.01

North West Rural Development Maritime Festival 2006

101,681

Maiden City Festival

84,150

Ardoyne Fleadh Cheoil

66,405

Greater New Lodge

36,660

Panarts (Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival)

18,500

Armagh Festival of International Folk and Song

17,500

William Kennedy Piping Festival

15,000

Country Comes to Town

12,000

The Irish Country Lifestyle Festival

11,113.17

Notes:
For the purpose of this answer, a community festival is defined as follows:
“a concentrated and orchestrated series of events with a common theme and within a defined period”
This definition is taken from the ‘Community Festivals Fund Policy and Guidance Framework’ launched in February 2006.
The answer does not include information on funding allocated to speciality arts and sports festivals.

Fuel Poverty

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in (a) rural and (b) non-rural areas in Northern Ireland are estimated to be living in fuel poverty; and if he will make a statement. [86316]

Mr. Hanson: The 2004 Interim House Condition Survey collected fuel poverty information on a household and not an individual basis and has indicated that the number of households in fuel poverty in rural areas of Northern Ireland is 61,470 and the number in non-rural areas is 92,060.

The Department for Social Development, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and all the public, voluntary and community organisations concerned with fuel poverty will continue to bring forward and promote a range of measures to address this important issue, particularly in vulnerable households.

Housing

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of (a) house prices and (b) trends in social housing stock in Northern Ireland; and what steps he is taking to assist first-time buyers in Northern Ireland. [85436]

Mr. Hanson: The Department for Social Development publishes information on houses prices and trends in social housing in its Northern Ireland
19 July 2006 : Column 473W
Housing Statistics report. The following tables from the 2004-05 report set out the relevant information:

Table 1: Estimated median house price and percentage increase by purchasing group, October to December 2003 to October to December 2005( 1)
Purchasing group Period October to December Estimated median house price (£) Percentage increase

First Time Buyers

2003

66,666.67

38.1

2005

92,076.40

Home Movers

2003

94,366.20

37.9

2005

130,136.99

(1) Estimate derived from data provided to DSD, Statistics and Research Branch by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Table 2: Trends in social housing stock 2002-05
Thousand
NIHE stock Housing Associations stock Total stock

2002

113.4

19.7

133.1

2003

105.8

20.5

126.3

2004

94.6

21.0

115.6

2005

96.6

(1)21.3

(1)117.9

(1) The figure for 2005 is currently provisional.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive also annually publishes a report on the Northern Ireland Housing Market—“Review and Perspectives”. The report covering the period 2006-09, which provides a range of housing statistics and analysis, was published in February 2006. A copy is available on its website at www.nihe.gov.uk and can be found under the Publications/Reports/ Housing Market Reviews. I will arrange to have a copy placed in the Library.

The review indicates that since 1979 the Housing Executive has sold more than 110,000 dwellings to sitting tenants accounting for almost a quarter (24 per cent.) of the owner-occupied sector and 16 per cent. of the housing market as a whole. The 2001 House Condition Survey provided the first reliable estimate of what proportion of these had been resold on the open market. In March 2001, some 94,000 dwellings had been sold and approximately 18,000 (19 per cent.) of these had been resold on the open market: two thirds to new owner-occupiers and the remaining one third to private landlords, reflecting the fact that they generally provide a good source of high-quality affordable homes, particularly for first-time buyers and landlords who see them as a sound investment. Between 2000 and 2004 the annual house sales figure remained at over 5,000 but in 2004-05 the number of dwellings sold fell by 24 per cent. to 3,135. The reduction reflected the introduction of major revisions to the House Sales Scheme and it is envisaged that house sales will remain at between 2,500 and 3,000 over the next three year period. Annual research carried out by the University of Ulster in relation to sold Housing Executive dwellings confirms that they continue to perform well on the open market.

The co-ownership shared equity scheme remains the Department's main measure for providing assistance to first time buyers experiencing affordability problems. The scheme has been very successful assisting over 19,000 households since 1978. In recognition of this
19 July 2006 : Column 474W
success, Government increased their funding by £23 million over the 3-year period to 2008 to provide almost £39 million and this will help support around 2,400 applicants over this period. A series of changes to the scheme have also just been introduced to make it more accessible for people on lower incomes: the basis of calculation of the co-ownership rental charge will reduce from 3.5 per cent. to 2.75 per cent. As a result a typical co-ownership home buyer with a £100,000 property on a 50:50 basis will see their monthly rental reduce from £160 to £126. The professional fees associated with buying a home through co-ownership are also being reduced from £400 to £250.

Given the sharp increase in house prices, the value limits that apply to properties eligible for purchase through co-ownership have been reviewed. The limit for the greater Belfast and Derry city council areas has increased from £115,000 to £135,000 and from £102,500 to £115,000 elsewhere.

The Department has also been examining recent initiatives which were introduced to address affordability in the rest of the UK. The Chancellor, in his last budget, announced an increase in the stamp duty threshold to £125,000, and this will specifically assist first-time buyers.

Illegal Dumping

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in deterring illegal dumping in Northern Ireland, with particular reference to border areas; and if he will make a statement. [86299]

David Cairns: The Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) continues to work closely and successfully with other enforcement agencies, including those in the Republic of Ireland. This has resulted in improved communication and intelligence, allowing joint action to tackle serious incidents and serious offenders.

EHS, through its environmental crime team, has disrupted the activities of those engaged in the illegal waste trade. As a result, large illegal dump sites are being discovered less frequently. Officers are also discovering increasing amounts of shredded material, treated in this way to mask the point of origin.

On the evidence provided by EHS, the Public Prosecution Service took 47 successful prosecution cases to the end of June 2005, compared with 58 for all of 2005, and 24 in 2004. The 129 successful prosecutions to date have generated fines in excess of £210,000. Around 100 further cases have been scheduled for hearing in the courts.


Next Section Index Home Page