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24 July 2006 : Column 918W—continued


Environmental Management

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether his Department (a) is committed to the achievement of environmental management to ISO 14001 standard and (b) has been externally certified as in compliance with that standard; and if he will make a statement. [81188]

David Cairns: The Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Strategy, published on 9 May 2006 identifies the implementation of environmental management systems as a mechanism that will reinforce progress made, and being made, in the improvement of the sustainable development profile of the Northern Ireland Government Estate.

Sustainable Development Action Plans are currently being developed by Northern Ireland Departments and the Northern Ireland Office in line with a commitment made in the Sustainable Development Strategy. Each department will set out in its action plan with regard to the implementation of environmental management systems.

It will be for each department to decide which of the available standards such as ISO 14001, EMAS, the European eco audit scheme, etc. is most appropriate for the management of its own estate. A number of Departments have environmental management systems in place, some of these accredited to ISO 14001 and some to other standards.

Greyhounds

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he plans to take to promote the welfare of greyhounds in the Province. [87994]

David Cairns: Under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 1972, all animals are protected from unnecessary cruelty or suffering, although there are no specific provisions on the welfare of racing greyhounds.

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (NI) officials are currently finalising a review of animal welfare legislation aimed at identifying measures needed to strengthen powers to deal with animal welfare abuses and will consult stakeholders on proposals for new animal welfare legislation shortly. It is anticipated that the consultation document will include proposals to better regulate the animal welfare aspects of greyhound racing, and stakeholders will be asked to consider what, if any, specific issues might be included in any new legislation to protect the welfare of racing greyhounds.

Language Support

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the range and nature is of language support services available to (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Northern Ireland; and how much was available for language support services in each Education and Library Board area in each of the last four academic years. [86564]

Maria Eagle: The Education and Library Boards (ELBs) are responsible for ensuring that appropriate support arrangements are in place for children who have significant difficulty with English as an additional language (EAL). The range and nature of language support services available to both primary and secondary schools varies within each ELB area. Some ELBs provide peripatetic teaching staff, some offer schools the opportunity to “buy in” peripatetic services, whilst others provide support through advisers. In addition, some Boards make available interpreting services in certain languages.

The Department of Education provides earmarked funding, which must be used solely for English as an Additional Language (EAL) provision, to the Education and Library Boards. This funding was originally distributed equally across the five Boards but since 2004-05 funding has been distributed on a per capita basis for each EAL pupil recorded in the school census. The funding by ELB by financial year is shown in the following table:

Allocation
£
Board 2003-04 2004-05 (Allocated gradually) 2005-06 2006-07

BELB

80,000

110,000

159,000

160,000

NEELB

80,000

72,000

92,000

96,000

SEELB

80,000

85,000

112,000

96,000

SELB

80,000

85,000

153,000

177,000

WELB

80,000

58,000

54,000

52,000

Total

400,000

410,000

570,000

581,000


24 July 2006 : Column 919W

Since 2005-06, funding, additional to that provided to the ELBs, is given direct to schools through the Common Funding Formula. This funding, which is not earmarked, includes an EAL factor that targets resources directly to schools with EAL pupils. The cash value for each EAL pupil identified in the school census was £864 in 2005-06 and £912 in 2006-07. The funding by ELB by financial year is shown in the following table:

Allocations to schools
£
2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

BELB(1)

73,000

129,000

432,000

614,000

NEELB

287,000

441,000

SEELB

344,000

379,000

SELB

462,000

885,000

WELB

162,000

218,000

Total

73,000

129,000

1,687,000

2,537,000

(1 )BELB were the only funding authority to distribute resources to schools from an EAL factor within its Local Management Schools formula, prior to the introduction of Common Funding from 2005-06.

In addition, £100,000 has been allocated in 2006-07 and £75,000 in 2007-08 within the Children and Young People's Package for regional interpreting and translation of documents services for teachers, EAL pupils and their parents.

The Department is working with the ELBs to develop a comprehensive policy and a proposal for a regional EAL service.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the remuneration is for the chief executives of local councils in Northern Ireland; and what remuneration is proposed for the new chief executive posts. [86946]

David Cairns: The remuneration for chief executives of district councils is negotiated by the Joint Negotiating Committee for Chief Executives Northern Ireland. Currently their salary scales range from £64,185 to £109,503, however, actual salary costs are not held centrally. The issue of remuneration for the new local government chief executive posts will be considered as part of the process of implementing the Review of Public Administration.

Newly Qualified Teachers

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many recently qualified teachers in Northern Ireland have failed to gain a post one year after qualifying; and if he will make a statement. [86309]

Maria Eagle: Destination of Leavers from higher education data are collected by HESA six months after graduation but not thereafter, therefore no data are available one year after graduation. Of the 704 teachers who qualified from Northern Ireland higher education institutions in 2004-05 and had Destination of Leavers data returned to HESA, 104 had not gained a teaching professional post six months after graduation.


24 July 2006 : Column 920W

Out-of-classroom Education

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what barriers he has identified to effective out-of-classroom education in secondary schools in Northern Ireland; and what steps he is taking to overcome them. [86917]

Maria Eagle: The Department of Education has not carried out any formal assessment of the barriers to effective out-of-classroom education in secondary schools in Northern Ireland. Delivery of the curriculum, including out-of-classroom learning, is a matter for schools to determine, with the support of the Education and Library Boards.

As part of the Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Strategy, Government have already committed to promoting the use of the Education and Library Boards' “Education for Sustainable Development Good Practice Guide” in all schools. This guide includes information on education outside the classroom.

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will issue guidance on out-of classroom education as part of the Northern Ireland secondary school curriculum; [86918]

(2) if he will make it his policy to ensure that every secondary school child in Northern Ireland has the opportunity to experience out-of-classroom learning in the natural environment. [86920]

Maria Eagle: The Department of Education specifies the minimum curricular content that schools are required to provide but does not specify how the curriculum should be delivered. It is therefore a matter for schools, with the support of the Education and Library Boards, to determine what out-of-classroom learning opportunities they provide. As part of the Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Strategy, Government have already committed to promoting the use of the Education and Library Boards’ “Education for Sustainable Development Good Practice Guide” in all schools. This guide includes information on education outside the classroom.

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions his Department has had with the Education and Library Board chief executives to promote outdoor learning in secondary schools in Northern Ireland. [86919]

Maria Eagle: There have been no meetings between the Department and the chief executives of the education and library boards, specifically, to discuss the promotion of outdoor learning.

Paediatric Cardiology

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many children are awaiting an initial paediatric cardiology assessment in the Province. [74628]

Paul Goggins [pursuant to the reply, 6 June 2006, Official Report c. 559W]: I am now in a position to provide the information requested.


24 July 2006 : Column 921W

The number of children awaiting an initial paediatric cardiology assessment in each applicable Health and Social Service Trust at 26 May 2006 is provided in the following table:

Health and Social Service Trust Number of Children waiting for an initial outpatient paediatric cardiology appointment at 26 May 2006

Altnagelvin Group(1)

39

Causeway

13

Craigavon Area Hospital Group(1)

84

Royal Group of Hospitals

681

Ulster Community and Hospitals(2)

96

United Hospitals Group

58

NI Total

971

(1) Altnagelvin Group and Craigavon Group trusts provided numbers waiting at 30 April 2006. (2) Subsequent to when this answer was initially prepared, Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust provided numbers waiting at 31 May 2006. Source: Health and Social Services Trusts

Parliamentary Questions

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which bodies each Department in Northern Ireland, including the Northern Ireland Office, consults (a) formally and (b) informally on parliamentary (i) questions and (ii) draft answers on Northern Ireland matters tabled by hon. Members from (A) Northern Ireland and (B) constituencies in Great Britain. [88253]

Mr. Hain: When drafting responses to parliamentary questions, my officials contact whichever bodies are necessary to provide the correct information. These bodies range from government agencies, non-departmental public bodies and other Whitehall departments to outside organisations in receipt of public funds. These contacts can be on a formal or informal basis. Where appropriate, I will ask those bodies with operational autonomy to write to hon. Members in response to parliamentary questions. Apart from those instances, all answers to hon. Member’s questions are cleared at ministerial level.

Pensioners

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of pensioners’ homes did not meet the Decent Homes Standard in the last period for which figures are available. [87286]

Mr. Hanson: The information is not available. The Decent Homes Standard applies only to social housing. The Interim House Condition Survey identified 32,000 homes as failing to meet the Standard but did not disaggregate the figures into particular age categories.

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners in Northern Ireland who have home internet access. [87290]


24 July 2006 : Column 922W

Mr. Hanson: While it is currently not possible to specify the exact number of pensioners in Northern Ireland who have home internet access, the most recent NISRA Omnibus Survey (March 2006) indicates that some 11 per cent. of respondents aged 65 and over in Northern Ireland claim to access the internet from home. This rises to 14 per cent. who regularly make use of the internet and 24 per cent. who have access to an internet-enabled PC.

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the average amount pensioners in Northern Ireland spend on (a) food and non-alcoholic drink, (b) electricity and (c) fuel each week. [87292]

Mr. Hanson: Average weekly expenditure for pensioner households in Northern Ireland on the following commodities/services are as follows:

Expenditure (£)

Food and non-alcoholic drinks

24.90

Electricity

6.00

Fuel (other fuels and gas)

10.70

Source: Northern Ireland Expenditure and Food Survey (EPS) 2004-05.

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