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29 Jan 2007 : Column 38W—continued


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the latest figures available to her Department on the population of Iraq are in each year from 1998-99 to January 2007; and if she will make a statement. [111684]

Dr. Howells: There has been no official census in Iraq since 1997. The result of that census gave a population of 22,017,983, but these data were deemed unreliable by the international community at the time. The Government of Iraq are planning a fresh census when conditions allow.


Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will take steps to prevent any security services company (a) suspected of mercenary activity and (b) whose management personnel have expressed in public views approving of illegal actions or practices from being invited to tender for security contracts by Government departments. [112127]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issues open advertisements for its major security service contracts. These advertisements highlight the relevant pre-qualification criteria for companies wishing to be considered to tender for those contracts. Public procurement guidelines oblige us to invite tenders from companies who meet the relevant qualification criteria, subject to certain limits on the overall number of companies who are invited to tender.

Middle East

John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) the UN and (b) other agencies on the situation of (i) the Palestinian community living in Iraq and (ii) those Palestinians who have been displaced or fled from Iraq; and if she will make a statement. [111257]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed the situation of the Palestinian community in Iraq with the UN or other agencies. However, the Government are concerned about the unacceptable number of internally displaced people and refugees in Iraq and are closely monitoring the situation.

We are working with coalition forces and international organisations to ensure that those affected are protected and that their basic needs are met, and have just announced a £4 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross to
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provide emergency assistance, including water, medical supplies and rehabilitation of health infrastructure. We are also in regular contact with the Government of Iraq as they develop their response to the humanitarian situation in Iraq.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on the flow of illegal drugs to the (a) UK and (b) EU of Venezuela’s lack of co-operation in counter-narcotics operations with (i) neighbouring countries and (ii) the United States. [111615]

Dr. Howells: We estimate that a significant proportion of cocaine transiting Venezuela is destined for Europe and the UK. Intelligence and seizures suggest that cocaine flows through Venezuela are increasing.

It is important therefore that the UK, EU and Venezuela’s neighbours are able to co-operate closely with the Venezuelan authorities in countering the flow of narcotics through the country. Preventing the importation of cocaine into the UK from Venezuela is a top priority for the UK’s international counter-narcotics efforts. We are already working with Venezuela on counter-narcotics and are keen to increase our engagement. We welcome President Chavez’s election pledge to tackle corruption. This will be an important element in developing the counter-narcotics effort in Venezuela. I visited Venezuela recently to understand the nature and extent of the drug problems encountered in that country.

Co-operation between Venezuela and its regional neighbours is a matter for the Governments concerned.

Northern Ireland


Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Government are taking to address the issue of bullying in schools in Northern Ireland. [110670]

Maria Eagle: The Department recognises that bullying in whatever form and for whatever reason, has no place in schools. The Department has taken proactive steps to tackle bullying through development and publication of guidance. Furthermore, the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003, which came into operation on 1 April 2003, places a duty on all grant-aided schools to have an anti-bullying policy and to draw up measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.

In 2004 the Department in partnership with voluntary organisations, including Save the Children, established an Anti-bullying Forum to enable a collaborative and co-ordinated approach to tackling bullying in schools. The forum enables members to share models of best practice, disseminate information, to develop and co-ordinate joint initiatives and to ensure that schools and organisations working with
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children and young people are able to develop appropriate strategies to prevent and deal with bullying behaviours.

From early 2006 the Department has been funding a co-ordinator post attached to the NI Anti-Bullying Forum. She is currently involved in developing a regional anti-bullying strategy based on good practice here and elsewhere and in developing a support network for schools. In addition she will be researching best practice solutions to emerging problems such as cyber-bullying.

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many reports of bullying were made in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. [110671]

Maria Eagle: The Department of Education does not collect the information requested.

The Department has commissioned research into bullying, in all its forms, and the results are expected to be ready for publication by mid-2007.

Carbon Emissions

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when his Office began to measure its carbon emissions; what the volume of those emissions was in the last period for which figures are available; when his Office started to offset those emissions; what the cost is expected to be of offsetting his Office’s emissions; and if he will make a statement. [116383]

Mr. Hain: The Government set a target in the NI Sustainable Development Strategy of carbon neutrality for the Government estate by 2015.

At the end of November I announced the publication of the Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Implementation Plan, “A Positive Step”. A copy can be downloaded at:

The plan sets out the key actions for achieving carbon neutrality including: reducing the size of the Government estate through the Workplace 2010 Project; reductions in carbon emissions through investment in renewable energy sources, again through the Workplace 2010 Project; increased use of electricity generated from green sources; and investing in energy efficiency through the Central Energy Efficiency Fund.

The NIO occupies a number of buildings on agreement from the Department of Finance and Personnel. We will be working with colleagues in DFP and across the Northern Ireland Departments to ensure we play our part in achieving this target. In addition we are currently working on the installation of biomass heating and solar panels at Hillsborough Castle, the only building we occupy as owners.

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

Children's Commissioner

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 15 January 2007, Official Report, column 951W, on the Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner, if he will break down the number of applicants by (a) gender and (b) religious affiliation; and how many of the applicants were (i) shortlisted and (ii) interviewed. [111369]

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

Coronary Heart Disease

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in each health board area have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease in each of the last five years. [111662]

Paul Goggins: Official estimates of the number of people diagnosed with coronary heart disease in each year are not available. However, under the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) of the General Medical Services contract, the total number of GP-registered patients with coronary heart disease is recorded. There are two years of data available as follows.

Table 1: Prevalence of Coronary Heart Disease
Number of patients on QOF coronary heart disease register as at 14 February:
2005 2006

Eastern HSSB



Northern HSSB



Southern HSSB



Western HSSB



Payment Calculation and Analysis System.

Fuel Procurement

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to use public transport fuel procurement as a means of creating a market in Northern Ireland for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol for transport purposes. [111668]

David Cairns: The procurement of fuel is an operational matter for public transport providers. Translink, the major provider of public transport services, is currently trialling bio-diesel and is carrying out a review of the technical, logistical and commercial issues associated with its use.

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Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether surveys of Housing Executive tenants’ homes were undertaken in the Markets area of South Belfast prior to the current refurbishment window/door replacement scheme being started. [111048]

Mr. Hanson: Yes. Detailed surveys were completed in April 2005 for each dwelling in the project. The surveys addressed each external element of the dwellings, and highlighted significant problems and defects common to most of them.

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are waiting for payment of owner occupier housing benefit claims. [111097]

Mr. Hanson: Owner occupiers who are awarded housing benefit by the Rate Collection Agency receive a credit to their rate account rather than a payment. Currently 6,500 awards of housing benefit to rate accounts are outstanding. Work to resolve the issue is ongoing.

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many housing association houses in Northern Ireland are unoccupied; and how many of those houses are located in (a) West Belfast, (b) South Belfast, (c) North Belfast and (d) East Belfast. [111669]

Mr. Hanson: My Department does not hold the information in the format required, but the details were requested from Registered Housing Associations. Thirty seven associations rent accommodation (excluding the Northern Ireland Co-ownership Housing Association Limited). As the question asks for numbers of houses the figures in the table exclude sheltered units of accommodation and flats. The table differentiates between houses available and not available for occupation. Houses may be unavailable for a number of reasons such as requiring or undergoing maintenance before being offered to applicants.

Northern Ireland West Belfast South Belfast North Belfast East Belfast

Available for occupation






Unavailable for occupation






Total unoccupied






Lagan Valley Hospital

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to provide funding for the further development of the Lagan Valley hospital; and when he expects to respond to the business case put forward by the Down Lisburn Trust. [111993]

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Paul Goggins: An allocation for the redevelopment of local hospitals was included in the £2.9 billion investment programme announced for health and social services over the next 10 years in the “Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland” in December 2005. Following appraisal by the Department the business case for the development of the Lagan Valley site was returned to Down Lisburn Trust for further refinement. The Department awaits the resubmission of the business case which is expected in early March 2007.

Medical Academics

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many medical academics are employed by higher education institutions in Northern Ireland excluding Queens University Belfast Medical School. [112431]

Maria Eagle: In 2005-06, the latest year for which data are available, there were no medical academic staff contracts at the University of Ulster, St. Mary’s University College or Stranmillis University College.

Mental Health

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many vacancies there are for mental health professionals specialising in the treatment of adolescents with mental health problems in each health board area. [111062]

Paul Goggins: The information requested is presented in the table.

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Vacancies for mental health professionals specialising in the treatment of adolescents with mental health problems by health board as at January 2007
HPSS organisation Headcount WTE

Northern Board



Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist



Child and Adolescent Psychologist



Looked After Children Psychologist



Nurse Practitioners (Community Intensive Treatment Team)



Paediatric Occupational Therapist (Community Intensive Treatment Team)



Child and Young People’s Substance Abuse Worker



Eastern Board






Band 5 Nurse



Band 7 CAMHS Lead Nurse



Southern Board



Senior Family Therapist Grade A



Western Board



Clinical Psychologist






1. WTE—whole-time equivalent
2. 9 (9.00 WTE) vacancies for the Northern Board Area are newly funded posts and still have to be advertised. The other two vacancies have been advertised and interviews are to be held shortly.
NI HPSS Trusts

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