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6 Nov 2006 : Column 940W—continued


Concessionary Travel

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken by Translink to advertise to senior citizens in receipt of the smart pass for free travel that there is a requirement to renew every five years. [99796]

David Cairns: Responsibility for advertising all aspects of the Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme rests with the Department for Regional Development. In January 2007, the Department will launch an advertising campaign in newspaper and other media outlets, highlighting the need for customers to renew their SmartPass before the expiry date printed on the front of their cards. In addition, all customers will be contacted by post three months before the expiry of their SmartPass, detailing the steps they need to take to obtain a replacement.

Departmental IT

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) which of his Department’s databases are (a) wholly and (b) partly operated by external organisations or individuals; and which organisations and individuals own those databases; [97775]

(2) which databases operated by his Department are located (a) wholly and (b) partly outside the UK; and where each of those databases and parts of databases is located. [97776]

Mr. Hain: The requested details of the databases are shown in the following table.


6 Nov 2006 : Column 941W

6 Nov 2006 : Column 942W
Operated by Location
Database Wholly Partly Owned by In UK Outside UK
Leadership Development ProgrammeDirection Plus Direction Plus Switzerland

HRMS

BT

NICS Departments

BT—Castle Buildings

Northgate

Northgate—Dargan Cres Belfast

Fujitsu

Fujitsu—Trident House Airport Road Belfast

Payroll (NICS)

Fujitsu

Fujitsu

Fujitsu—Trident House Airport Road Belfast

PSMB

PSMB Trident House Airport Road Belfast

Belfast City Council

Belfast City Council—Belfast

Payroll (HCS)

Logica CMG

Logica CMG

CMG UK Limited, 20 Kingston Rd Staines Middlesex


Domestic Rates

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received about the revaluation of domestic rates in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. [99521]

Mr. Hanson: Representations to the Government on the domestic rating reforms in the past 12 months have included responses to a consultation on the draft Rates (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, as well as to other more targeted consultations on individual aspects of the reforms. In addition, the Government have met with political parties, other Government agencies, local government organisations, representatives of the community and voluntary sector, and other stakeholders to discuss the reforms.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the co-efficient values given to each of the property attributes for window glazing are in the Valuation and Lands Agency's calibrated Multiple Regression formula used in the domestic rates revaluation in Northern Ireland. [99553]

Mr. Hanson: In Northern Ireland window glazing was not value significant in any of the models used by the Valuation and Lands Agency and hence no co-efficient value was given to it.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what proportion of domestic properties in Northern Ireland are classified by the Valuation and Lands Agency with property attribute codes of (a) SG-Wood, (b) SG-PVC, (c) SG-Metal, (d) DG-Wood, (e) DG-PVC and (f) DG-Metal. [99829]

Mr. Hanson: The information requested is set out in the table.

Window type Number of properties Percentage of total

(a) SG-Wood

442

0.0615

(b) SG-PVC

166

0.0231

(c) SG-Metal

42

0.0058

(d) DG-Wood

612

0.0852

(e) DG-PVC

10,614

1.4768

(f) DG-Metal

4

0.0006

Not recorded

706,839

98.3471


Early Release Scheme

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the membership is of the Prison Sentence Review Commission monitoring the early release scheme created by the Belfast Agreement. [97728]

Mr. Hanson: There are 10 Sentence Review Commissioners; two joint chairmen and eight other members. Their details are given in the Commissioners Annual Report for 2006, a copy of which is available in the Library, and are also available on their website www.sentencereview.org.uk.

Entertainment and Hospitality

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent on entertainment and hospitality by each Government Department in the Province in each of the last 10 years. [99756]

Mr. Hanson: The information requested is not held centrally and therefore it has not been possible to provide a full response in this parliamentary session. However, the hon. Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) asked a similar question relating to the cost of hospitality in each Northern Ireland Department in each of the last five years. I refer the hon. Lady to the reply I gave on 13 September 2006, Official Report, column 2397W.


6 Nov 2006 : Column 943W

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent by his Department on food and alcohol for its staff working out of office in each year since 2001-02. [91892]

Mr. Hain: We cannot provide the information in the format requested by the hon. Member as to do so would be at disproportionate cost. The information requested is captured under “hospitality”, which includes food, alcohol and other related costs.

Expenditure incurred on hospitality by the Northern Ireland Office includes accommodation and hospitality for members of the royal family, visiting dignitaries and heads of state, and also hospitality for the representatives of business, voluntary and community sectors in Northern Ireland attending the annual garden party at Hillsborough Castle, as well as limited hospitality for staff working out of office hours in accordance with established procedures.

The amount spent on hospitality by the Northern Ireland Office, excluding its agencies and NDPBs, in each year since 2001-02 was:

Amount (£)

2001-02

235,989

2002-03

363,755

2003-04

319,741

2004-05

258,436

2005-06

299,634


All expenditure of official hospitality is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government accounting. The level of hospitality must be defined, and a broad outline of cost and numbers attending must be provided on all occasions before authorisation. Expenditure should be kept as low as possible, compatible with the occasion and the standing of guests.

A necessary pre-condition for any entertainment or hospitality to be financed from Northern Ireland Office funds is that it will be in the direct interests of the Northern Ireland Office. While one cannot always guarantee that the benefit will be achieved, that must be both the intention and the reasonable expectation.

Equality Commission

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how much has been spent by the Equality Commission in each year since its formation in providing legal assistance and support to plaintiffs in respect of (a) sex discrimination and (b) religious discrimination; and what the average amount spent was on each category in each year; [98232]

(2) in how many cases financial assistance and support were given by the Equality Commission to plaintiffs pursuing (a) sex discrimination cases and (b) religious discrimination cases where the case was subsequently abandoned by the Equality Commission in each year since its formation; and how much was spent on each category of case in each year; [98233]

(3) in which cases relating to (a) sex discrimination and (b) religious discrimination the Equality
6 Nov 2006 : Column 944W
Commission spent more than £50,000 in each year since its formation. [98234]

Mr. Hanson: The Equality Commission, as reported in its annual reports, spent the following amounts on legal fees in respect of its duty to provide assistance to complainants and potential complainants. The amounts exclude staff costs.

Amount (£)
Sex discrimination Religious and political opinion discrimination

1999-00

293,046

253,300

2000-01

348,867

166,780

2001-02

631,861

170,261

2002-03

829,558

916,357

2003-04

524,967

239,464

2004-05

72,611

74,390


An average spend is not always available as many cases continue over a number of financial years.

The Equality Commission operates an enforcement policy for the provision of advice and assistance to complainants. Such assistance is subject to review. On review the Equality Commission may withdraw assistance because information gathered suggests that the case is unlikely to be successful, because the complainant no longer wishes to pursue proceedings or the case does not fall within the strategic objectives of the Commission’s policy on assistance.

The Equality Commission database shows the following numbers of cases were discontinued in each year of operation. Figures are not available for 1999-2000.

Cases
Sex discrimination Religious and political opinion discrimination

2000-01

1

2001-02

8

3

2002-03

139

202

2003-04

58

93

2004-05

27

17

2005-06

2

10


It should be noted that an individual may complain under more than one ground of discrimination. Where there are a number of grounds including sex discrimination, these are included with the figure for sex discrimination. Where there are a number of grounds including religious and political opinion discrimination, these are included with the figure for religious and political opinion discrimination. Where both sex and religion and political opinion discrimination are mentioned these cases are included in both; those covering both encompass :

Gathering the information in relation to the costs associated with the discontinued cases will require further analysis and the Chief Executive of the Equality Commission will respond directly to the hon. Member and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.


6 Nov 2006 : Column 945W

The Equality Commission spent more than £50,000 in two cases relating to sex discrimination and one case relating to Religion/Politics. Each of these cases continued for more than one financial year.

Religion/Politics

Sex Discrimination


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