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15 Jan 2007 : Column 945W—continued

There is a ministerial commitment that by March 2007 no one will have to wait more than six months for in-patient or daycase treatment.

Since the end of September 2006 continued progress has been made towards this target and based on provisional performance monitoring information, 2,681 patients were waiting more than six months for in-patient treatment at the end of December 2006—a reduction of approximately 29 per cent. on the position at the end of September 2006.

Official waiting list figures for in-patient/daycase admission for quarter ending December 2006 will be published on 1 March 2007 and will be available at:

A copy of the next waiting list bulletin will be available in the House of Commons Library.


Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will increase the co-ownership housing support limit for first time buyers to reflect the house price rises in Northern Ireland. [115600]

Mr. Hanson: The value limits which apply to the co-ownership scheme were increased in April 2006, and again at the beginning of October, to reflect house price inflation. The Northern Ireland Co-ownership Housing Association has also been given the flexibility to operate outside the value limits in cases, subject to departmental approval, where there are valid reasons for doing so. The issue of price limits will be considered again in the spring in the context of the annual price limits review and the recommendations of the Independent Review into Housing Affordability.

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Legislation: Public Consultation

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many times the Government have consulted the public in Northern Ireland on legislation in each of the last five years; and on what pieces of legislation affecting Northern Ireland the Government (a) consulted and (b) did not consult. [103352]

Mr. Hain: My Department seeks to consult the public on Northern Ireland legislation wherever possible. Of the Acts and Orders in Council made since I became the Secretary of State, prior public consultation was carried out on the following:


Orders in Council

In the same period for a variety of reasons, prior public consultation was not carried out on the following Northern Ireland Acts and Orders in Council:


Orders in Council

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The information sought in respect of the remaining three and a half years of the five year period, is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Local Government Boundary Commissioners

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what procedures were used to select the recently appointed Assistant Local Government Boundaries Commissioners for Northern Ireland. [114926]

David Cairns: The selection of Assistant Local Government Boundaries Commissioners for Northern Ireland followed the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.

Medical Professional Vacancies

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration has been given to filling the medical professional vacancies created when non-European area students leave Northern Ireland after they complete their foundation programme. [115266]

Paul Goggins: Vacancies are monitored through the Department's on-going workforce planning mechanism, which includes a review of the medical workforce. Within that review, allowance is made for a net loss of doctors at the early stages of training.

While the group of doctors referred to may choose not to seek further employment following completion of the foundation programme, there remains a likelihood that opportunities will arise that are not taken up by European economic area doctors. These can be taken up by the group of doctors referred to or by others from outside the EEA.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to ensure that all flights undertaken by Ministers and officials in his Department are carbon neutral; and if he will make a statement. [103176]

Mr. Hain: The NIO is a participant in the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund.

All carbon emissions from central Government ministerial and official air travel are being offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases Certified Emissions Reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries.

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NCP Contract

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was paid by the Department for Regional Development Roads Service to National Car Parks (NCP) under the contract to enforce car parking restrictions in the most recent period for which figures are available; what performance indicators apply under that contract; how those indicators are (a) measured and (b) monitored; and what the maximum annual amount payable to NCP is under the terms of the contract. [112772]

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. D M McKibbin dated 15 January 2007

Key Performance Indicators

A. Effective Parking Enforcement

B. Good quality, motivated and informed TAs

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C. Issue of Good Quality PCNs

D. Clamping and Removal Operations

E. Car Pound Operations

F. Full and timely reporting of all defective/missing lines and signs

G. Car Park Management

H. Procurement, Reporting and Maintenance of Equipment

I. Cash Collection, Counting and Banking

Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applicants there were for the post of Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner announced in December 2006. [114925]

Maria Eagle: There were 46 applicants for the post of Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland.

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