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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what research he has commissioned to establish the value of tourism linked to genealogy to the Northern Ireland economy; what steps have been taken (a) to establish links with this sector and (b) to promote tourism to Northern Ireland to this sector; and how much has been allocated to such measures in each of the past 10 years. 
David Cairns: While Government have not commissioned any research into the tourism or economic value of genealogy, the culture, arts and leisure sector make a contribution to genealogy tourism as follows:
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is a unique resource for those interested in genealogy. It holds 54 kilometres of archives, both public records and those deposited by private
individuals and bodies. Some 40 per cent. of PRONI on-site users are from outside the UK and most are researching their families. The PRONI website has searchable databases that link catalogue descriptions and images of documents of genealogical value, and more such databases will be made available. PRONI is presently developing an on-line searchable cataloguethe Electronic Catalogue for Northern Ireland (eCATNI)that will provide access to the vast quantity of catalogue descriptions, in many cases down to individual document level. In all, some £1.29 million has been invested in this range of developments. Furthermore, PRONI has been in discussions with a range of genealogical interests within the broader context of the Archives Policy for Northern Ireland, an initiative intended to position archives in Northern Ireland for the 21st century.
Tourist Information Points are a feature within most branch libraries. Most Education and Library Boards hold local history collections and these routinely deal with enquiries on personal family history from visitors from both home and overseas. Boards maintain links with PRONI, regional and local museum services, and a wide range of local and family history groups.
Within the Western Education Board's library service, support is provided for the Centre for Migration Studies which deals with personal family history enquiries from 5,000 annual visitors. The centre maintains links with overseas museums, Irish and family history agencies, tour companies, public library network, and US college network. It is an active member of the Association of European Migration Institutions (AEMI) and hosts the Ulster American Heritage Symposium which is held alternately in the US and Northern Ireland. The only identifiable cost is for the Centre for Migration Studies for which the Western Board receives approximately £100,000 per annum. All other costs are subsumed in the overall running costs of the library service.
The NITB's Northern Ireland Passenger Survey identified that in 2005 11,600 visitors participated in genealogical activity during their visit and for a further 4,000 it was the actual reason for the visit (excludes visitors from/via Republic of Ireland). Numbers have grown by 71 per cent. from 2000-05 with growth mainly concentrated in the participated category. No estimate of the value of the sector to the economy is available.
NITB has not allocated identifiable funds to any genealogy specific projects in the past 10 years. However, a range of websites promotes access to genealogy. The NITB consumer website, www. discovernorthernireland.com, provides background information for potential visitors and links to 10 search organisations in Northern Ireland. Costs are subsumed in the running costs of the website. The Tourism Ireland website also carries genealogy for the island as a whole and references the Irish Genealogical Project as a link which connects to a range of suppliers both north and south.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will allocate funding for the 400th anniversary celebrations of the role of Scots in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure jointly funds the Ulster-Scots Agency which has indicated that it will spend in the region of £150,000 of its budget in 2006 on the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Scots settlers.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make representations to the government of the Republic of Ireland on the preservation of the home of Lord Edward Carson at 4 Harcourt Square, Dublin; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many requests for (a) disability living allowance tribunals and (b) incapacity benefit tribunals to be heard in the Irish language there have been in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Hanson: As the Appeals Service (NI) was only established in April 2000 it is not possible to provide the requested information for years prior to 2000-01. The information has therefore been provided for each full year from April 2000 to March 2006.
|Appeals received and requests for tribunals to be heard in Irish language by benefit type1 April 2000 to 31 March 2006|
|Disability appeals||Incapacity benefit|
|Appeals received||Requests to be heard in Irish language||Appeals received||Requests to be heard in Irish language|
| Note: Prior to April 2004 each component (care and mobility) of disability living allowance was counted as a separate appeal. This practice changed from 1 April 2004, when a disability living allowance appeal was counted as one appeal regardless of the number of components involved. The decrease in disability appeals received from April 2004 reflects this change.|
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the measures recommended by the Department of Regional Development and approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly for the continuation of trust ports with extended commercial
powers were implemented by the Department following the suspension of the Assembly. 
David Cairns: The review of Northern Ireland trust ports completed in 1998 identified a need to improve the public accountability of the trust ports; to extend their commercial powers; and to ease existing financial controls. The Northern Ireland Assembly decided that improvements in public accountability should be put in place before commercial powers were enhanced. Legislation has now been introduced which gives the trust ports enhanced borrowing powers and which improves accountability.
Proposals to legislate to provide extended commercial powers had not been completed when, following a ruling by the Office of National Statistics that certain trust ports within the United Kingdom should be classified as public corporations, it became a requirement from April 2005 that trust ports in Northern Ireland should operate within the public expenditure system. Taking trust ports out of the public expenditure system would require removing the controls relating to public accountability that the Assembly had considered should be in place before extended commercial powers were granted.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent representations he has made to the Foreign Secretary in relation to the ratification by the United States of the intended reciprocal extradition arrangements with the UK. 
However, on 4 September this year I wrote to the US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, to set out the Governments position in relation to the extradition of individuals for terrorist offences committed before the Good Friday Agreement in connection with Northern Ireland. This letter was shared with Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, and is referred to in the Senate Resolution on the Treaty. I have placed a copy in the Library and sent it to the hon. Lady.
Following the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee decision to pass a resolution of advice and consent to ratify the treaty on 7 September 2006, I am pleased that the US Senate has now approved the resolution which we now hope will pave the way for the treaty to be ratified later this year by both the US and the UK.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the business case for the appointment of an additional
consultant cardiologist submitted by the Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust; and if he will make funding available to enable this appointment to take place. 
Paul Goggins: The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety has not received a business case for the appointment of an additional consultant cardiologist in the Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust, as it does not normally involve itself in the processing of specific posts.
I am advised by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board that the Trust's medical workforce plan referred to two consultant cardiologists in post and consequently a third appointment was made. The Board is not aware of any proposals to further increase the number.
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 20 July 2006, Official Report, column 707W, on the Valuation and Lands Agency (Data Protection), if he will place in the Library a copy of the most recent annual notification to the Information Commissioners office. 
Mr. Hanson: A copy of the notification for the Department of Finance and Personnel (No. Z6543576), which expires on 6 May 2007, has been placed in the Library. The notification can also be examined online by entering the identification number Z6543576 at:
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 20 July 2006, Official Report, column 707W, on the Valuation and Lands Agency (Data Protection), whether the Valuation and Lands Agency holds sensitive personal data in its automated valuation model for domestic rates. 
Mr. Hanson: The Valuation and Lands Agencys automated valuation model comprises a CAMA (computer assisted mass appraisal) software tool and valuation models developed for Northern Ireland localities.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he plans to take to reduce the delay in dates for vehicle tests in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. 
David Cairns: Despite an increase in demand of 22 per cent. since 1 April 2006, there has been a significant improvement in recent months. The average waiting time is currently 25 days against a target of 21 days. In order to maintain progress, a further recruitment exercise is currently under way.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to his answer of 17 July 2006, Official Report, column 24W, on Victims March (Dublin) in the course of his discussions with the authorities in the Republic of Ireland following the attacks upon UK citizens in Dublin, what assurances he has sought regarding the future safety of UK citizens while in Dublin; and what assurances regarding the future safety of UK citizens in Dublin were received. 
You recently asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a Parliamentary Question about what the budget allocations to the Water Service were in each of the last five years (90710). I have been asked to reply as this issue falls within my responsibility as Chief Executive of Water Service.
Over the last five years, Water Service has received a total budget allocation of £3.12 billion. The annual allocations making up this amount are tabled below. The figures represent the recorded full year budget allocation and include all amounts such as AME (cost of capital and depreciation) and capital allocations. The figure for 2006/07 reflects the allocation position at June.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what (a) empirical evidence and (b) surveys were used to underpin the reliance in Work Place 2010 upon open plan office layouts as a means to increase staff productivity. 
It is inherently difficult to establish a direct correlation between open plan working and productivity due to the range of contributory factors that can affect staff performance. There is, however, an overwhelming body of qualitative evidence about the positive impact of open plan working in both public and private sector organisations which has helped
inform the decision to introduce it into the Northern Ireland Civil Service. The evidence includes findings from a number of major government departments such as Her Majesty's Treasury, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. For example, in the Treasury following a move to an open plan environment absenteeism reduced by more than 40 per cent.; staff turnover reduced substantially; over 75 per cent. of staff claimed they were much more productive; and levels of stress were perceived to be significantly lower.
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