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19 Dec 2006 : Column 1850W—continued

Road Tax

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people have applied for the new zero rate road tax for environmentally friendly cars in Northern Ireland. [110040]

David Cairns: Since the introduction of the zero-rate of vehicle excise duty in March 2006 for vehicles emitting less than 100 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled, two vehicles have applied for licences in this tax band in Northern Ireland.

Rural Areas

Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what programmes his Department operates to make particular provision to rural areas; and what the cost of such programmes is expected to be in 2007-08. [108871]

David Cairns: The Government are committed to building a strong economy and fair society where there is opportunity and security for all. This commitment applies equally in rural and urban areas, regardless of the actual location of service points. The majority of departmental programmes benefit both rural and urban areas. However the cost of these programmes in rural areas alone could not be identified without disproportionate cost.

Departments do have a number of programmes in place which address specific issues that have been identified in rural areas. Examples of these programmes and their estimated spend in 2007-08 are listed as follows:

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Department/Agency /ND PB Programme title Estimated spend 2007-08 (£)

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)

Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013(1)

55 million


Fishing Villages Taskforce

3 million


Education and Development

16 million


EU Agricultural Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme

5.0 million


Marketing of Quality Agricultural Products Grant

0.5 million

DARD/Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS)

Rural Support (a listening ear and sign posting service for farm families and rural communities)



Rural Development Programme (2001-06)

(2)14.6 million


Conversion of former military bases for rural development purposes

(2)3 million


Peace III Programme

(2)0.7 million


Farm Nutrient Management Scheme

22 million

Department for Regional Development (DRD)

School Safety Zones



Rural Transport Fund

4.0 million

Department of Education (DE)

Youth Outreach Initiative

1.025 million

Youth Council for Northern Ireland

Young Farmers Clubs


Youth Council for Northern Ireland

Share (Residential Facility for young people in Enniskillen and surrounding rural areas)


Youth Council for Northern Ireland

Youth Action (Specific rural projects for young people)


Youth Council for Northern Ireland

Wheelworks (Mobile rural teaching facility for young people and other rural projects)


(1) Programme not yet finalised or approved by the European Commission.
(2) Dependent on approval by the Department of Finance and Personnel.

Rural Services

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to protect rural (a) post offices and (b) schools. [110277]

Mr. Hanson: Responsibility for the Post Office is a reserved matter for the Department of Trade and Industry. However I and my ministerial colleagues and officials have participated fully in discussions over the future of the Post Office network to ensure that the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland were fully taken into account in DTI’s considerations. The Department of Trade and Industry has now launched a consultation which includes proposals for new access criteria for the national Post Office network which will protect vulnerable consumers in deprived urban areas and rural and remote areas.

Government recognise the important role that rural schools play both in children's education and in the cohesion of rural communities. It is important that communities have access to strong viable schools which provide an excellent education for the pupils, and have the accommodation, equipment and range of teaching expertise needed to deliver a modern curriculum. This message comes through clearly in the recently published report on the independent Strategic Review of Education.

School Building

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) when the Magherafelt Controlled Primary School new build is to commence; and what the completion date is; [110292]

(2) when the (a) Rainey Endowed School, (b) Magherafelt High School, (c) Ballyclare Controlled Primary School and (d) Straid Controlled Primary School new build is to commence; and what the completion date is in each case. [110293]

Maria Eagle: In regard to Magherafelt Primary School and Magherafelt High School, the North Eastern Education and Library Board have advised that work could start on site in September 2007 and December 2007 with estimated completion in early 2009 and end 2009 respectively. The board has stated, however, that due to a possible problem with the proposed site for Magherafelt P.S., the dates for this school may be subject to change.

The Department of Education is currently examining the Outline Business Case for Rainey Endowed School and Ballymoney High School which are part of a PPP cluster. Subject to confirmation of the Business Case, it is anticipated that construction could commence in 2009 with completion in 2010.

As Ballyclare PS and Straid PS have not received approval for capital funding it is not possible to indicate commencement dates for new builds.

I would also advise that the Government have accepted the recommendation from the Strategic Review of Education that previously announced capital projects currently under way will be reviewed for their consistency with an area-based planning approach. The review will be undertaken quickly to avoid introducing unnecessary delays.

Single Farm Payment

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many farmers in Northern Ireland have received their 2006 single farm payment. [109404]

David Cairns: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development published a payment profile on 21 November 2006 setting out its targets for payments under the 2006 single farm payment scheme. The payment timetable provided for 40 per cent. of payments to be received by 8 December 2006, 65 per cent. to be received by 15 December 2006, 70-75 per cent. to be received by 31 December 2006 and 75-80 per cent. to be received by 31 January 2007. The remaining claims will be paid on an ongoing basis as queries and validation checks on individual claims are reconciled.

Performance to date against the payment targets is as follows:

Processed for receipt by: Percentage

8 December 2006


15 December 2006


23 December 2006


Processing is ongoing to complete as many payments as possible for receipt by 31 December 2006.

Social Fund

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) budgeting loans and (b) crisis loans from the Social Fund were awarded in each of the 26 district council areas in each of the last three years. [110126]

Mr. Hanson: It is not possible to provide the information in the format requested as Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans cannot be broken down by District Council. The tables show:

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Budgeting loans awarded
District 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06









East Down








Belfast North and East Antrim




Belfast West and Lisburn








Table 2
Crisis loans awarded







Street Works (Amendment) Order

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what account was taken of (a) the implementation of the Traffic Management Act in Scotland and (b) the appointment of a Scottish Road Works Commissioner in drafting the Draft Street Works (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order; [110306]

(2) what consultations he has undertaken with political parties in Northern Ireland on the Draft Street Works (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order; [110307]

(3) whether the proposals for a draft Street Works (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order have been subject to a targeting social need assessment; [110378]

(4) whether the proposals for a draft Street Works (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order have been reviewed by the Better Regulation Unit of the Department of Enterprise. [112742]

David Cairns: The Chief Executive of Roads Service (Dr. Malcolm McKibbin) has been asked to write to the hon. Gentleman in response to this question.

Letter from Dr. Malcolm McKibbin, dated 19 December 2006:

19 Dec 2006 : Column 1854W

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