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27 Nov 2006 : Column 321Wcontinued
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what account will be taken in the assessment of domestic planning applications by the Planning Service in Northern Ireland which include energy efficient measures. 
David Cairns: Current published planning policy does not provide specifically for small scale renewable energy sources, this is however being addressed by the Department with a new Planning Policy Statement due to be published early next year.
A consultation paper on wider permitted development rights for domestic renewable energy sources is also due to be published in early 2007.
At this current time planning applications which incorporate energy efficient measures are determined on their individual merits taking account of the need to facilitate renewable energy sources balanced against protecting the residential amenity of neighbouring dwellings.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many members of ethnic minorities are serving as permanent full-time police officers in Northern Ireland. 
Paul Goggins: I am advised that as at 23 November 2006, there were 21 members of ethnic minorities serving as permanent full-time police officers in Northern Ireland. This equates to 0.29 per cent. of the overall workforce composition which compares favourably with the overall level (0.48 per cent.) of the working age ethnic minority population. Moreover, the PSNI have a number of positive outreach campaigns aimed at recruiting people from ethnic minorities.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the current (a) male and (b) female prison population in Northern Ireland is; and how many (i) male and (ii) female prison vacancies there are in Northern Ireland. 
Paul Goggins: At 17 November 2006, there were 1,432 male and 38 female prisoners in Northern Ireland. Some 30 per cent. of male prisoners currently share a cell, (one house for young offenders at Hydebank Wood is closed for cell refurbishment). There are currently 24 vacant female cells, and 89 vacant male cells. However the latter figure includes 28 in separated conditions at Maghaberry, 18 in the Foyleview Resettlement Unit at Magilligan (which can only be used for lower risk prisoners) and 19 at one House in The Young Offenders Centre which is specifically allocated for under 18s. Work is ongoing to build two ready to use units, with a total of 180 cells, at Maghaberry and Magilligan Prisons.
Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications for personal grants to install renewable energy in private homes in Northern Ireland have been received by his Department. 
Maria Eagle: As at 24 November 2006, 1,287 applications for grants for the installation of renewable technologies in private homes have been received, since the launch of the EREF Household Programme on 24 July 2006.
Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps his Department plans to take to advertise renewable energy funding packages. 
Maria Eagle: When the Environment and Renewable Energy Fund was launched by the Secretary of State in February there was substantial media coverage of the new fund and its various elements. A senior information officer has been appointed within the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to promote all aspects of the fund through an integrated communications strategy, linked to the overall Northern Ireland sustainable development strategy. Specific programmes, such as the Household Renewables Programme launched in July and the Energy from Waste call made in September have already been given prominence through the media and there has been an excellent response to both schemes.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what (a) meetings and (b) consultation the RPA Central Joint Forum has held with organisations representing (i) doctors, (ii) nurses and (iii) midwives. 
Mr. Hanson: The Central Joint Forum holds meetings and consultation with representatives of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The forum has met monthly since June 2006. A representative of Unison, whose membership includes nursing staff, attends the meetings. Organisations representing doctors and midwives are not affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and so do not attend these meetings.
A separate forum for unions not affiliated to Congress was established in October 2006 and this includes organisations representing doctors, nurses and midwives. This forum also meets monthly.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what resources he has allocated to ensure that the target that 95 per cent. of features on statutory designated sites should be in or approaching favourable condition by 2016 is met. 
David Cairns: An additional £150,000 was allocated to EHS towards the designation and management of Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) in this financial year.
Land management practices that are considered necessary to maintain or improve the scientific features of statutory designated sites are secured by Environment and Heritage Service (EHS) through the Management of Sensitive Sites scheme (MOSS) it administers.
A recent review of the MOSS scheme has indicated that appropriate land management practices may also be secured through the application of agri-environment schemes operated by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under the Rural Development Programme, and the possible use of this additional avenue for securing the improved management of designated sites is presently being examined by both Departments.
Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the basis was for the decision to delay the Public Service Agreement target in the Sustainable Development Strategy that 95 per cent. of features on statutory designated sites should be in or approaching favourable condition until 2016. 
David Cairns: The target to bring 95 per cent. of features on statutory designated sites into favourable, or approaching favourable, condition by 2013 was withdrawn as a Public Service Agreement target in 2003.
The monitoring of Areas of Special Scientific Interest as part of the UKs Common Standards Monitoring programme is ongoing in Northern Ireland and the first full monitoring cycle of ASSIs will be completed in 2008. The results of the first three years of this monitoring have revealed that two thirds of features within designated sites are in favourable condition, but the other third are in unfavourable condition.
Restoring those features that are in unfavourable condition will be a challenging task and given that we
are dealing with natural processes, any restorative measures put in place will need time to take effect and achieve the desired results.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what meetings (a) he and (b) his officials have held with Concordia since its formation in relation to wind farm development in Northern Ireland; what correspondence there has been between his Department and Concordia in this period; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: Since Concordia's formation, no meetings have been held between them and the Secretary of State, or his officials, in relation to wind farm development in Northern Ireland. There has been no correspondence between the Departments involved in wind farm development and Concordia.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how long the Planning Service took to process planning applications made by (a) private individuals and (b) businesses for wind farms in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. 
David Cairns: The average processing times for those wind farm applications determined in each year since 2002 are set out as follows. None of the applications determined during this period have been from private individuals, all have been from businesses. In all of these applications there has been a requirement for the applicant to submit further environmental information.
|Number of applications||Average processing time (months)|
|(1) To date.|
It is important to note that due to the small number of wind farm applications an average processing time scale can be misleading. Each site differs in terms of the size, scale and location of the proposal and the quality of the environmental information submitted with the application will greatly influence the processing time.
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department paid to DHL in each financial year between 1997-98 and 2005-06. 
Mr. Hain: The Wales Office was established in July 1999, and since that time we have not used DHL.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether people employed (a) through employment agencies and (b) on a consultancy basis are included in the calculations for the full-time equivalent staff mentioned in his Department's annual report. 
Mr. Hain: The Wales Office employs only a small number of temporary staff from employment agencies at any one time. No staff are employed on a consultancy basis.
Temporary staff employed through employment agencies are not included in the calculations for full-time equivalent staff mentioned in the departmental annual report.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which statistics have been put forward by his Department for consideration to become new national statistics in each of the last five years; and how many statistics sets his Department has produced in total in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Hain: The current list of national statistics produced by the National Assembly for Wales can be found on the National Statistics website at:
A list of changes to the scope of national statistics (additions and withdrawals) in each of the last five years can be found in the relevant National Statistics annual report available on the National Statistics website at:
In addition to National Statistics, the Wales Office publishes a wide range of other numerical information in a variety of forms including other data produced from the management and administration of the Department and in research reports. There is no consistent definition of the term statistics sets and no centrally held information on the total published in each year on this basis.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects to publish his Department's gender equality scheme. 
Mr. Hain: The Wales Office forms part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) for administrative purposes, and is therefore subject to the DCA's policies for ensuring equality.
In line with the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Public Authorities) (Statutory Duties) Order 2006 (No. 2930), laid on 10 November 2006, the DCA expects to publish its gender equality scheme by 30 April 2007.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will take steps to ensure that the National Assembly for Wales pays the same for Welsh patients being treated at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital as English authorities do for Shropshire patients. 
Mr. Hain: I understand that Welsh local health boards currently pay for treatment of Welsh patients in English hospitals at an agreed local price, which is below the English national tariff. This difference in pricing is being actively addressed through discussions between NHS chiefs in England and Wales on the possibility of a common tariff for future payments.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the occasions since he has held his present office when he has used (a) rail services, (b) the London Underground, (c) tram or light railway services and (d) buses in connection with his ministerial duties. 
Mr. Hain: All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House. Although guidance makes clear that Ministers should use public transport where possible, account must also be taken of security considerations.
Since being appointed to the posts of Secretary of State for Wales and for Northern Ireland in May 2005, I have travelled on seven occasions by train in connection with my role as Secretary of State for Wales.
I have not used the London Underground, tram, light railway or buses in the course of these ministerial duties.
25. John Robertson: To ask the Leader of the House if he will take steps to increase the number of adjournment debates during the parliamentary session. 
Mr. Straw: As a result of the opportunities provided by Westminster Hall, the number of adjournment debates initiated by backbenchers has increased significantly, with over 500 such debates in 2003-04. I am always keen to extend such opportunities for colleagues where possible.
The issue can be discussed within the context of the new inquiries which the Modernisation Committee is about to begin into strengthening the role of the backbencher and into making better use of non-legislative time.
27. Mr. Allen: To ask the Leader of the House what discussions he has had with the Royal Institute of British Architects on improving public accessibility to the proceedings on the floor of the House since June 2006; and if he will make a statement. 
Nigel Griffiths: My right hon. Friend has had no such discussions.
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