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20 Mar 2007 : Column 890W—continued

Cost of winter gritting programme (£000)

1 November 2003 to 31 January 2004


1 November 2004 to 31 January 2005


1 November 2005 to 31 January 2006


1 November 2006 to 31 January 2007


(1 )Approximately

Schools: Fire Prevention

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what fire safety training is provided to teachers and other school staff in Northern Ireland. [127122]

Maria Eagle: Fire safety training is the responsibility of individual school Boards of Governors. In order to help them carry out that responsibility, the Education and Library Boards have set out detailed fire precautions guidance in their publication “Health and Safety Manual—A Manual for Principals and Governors”. That manual requires school principals to ensure staff receive training in areas such as fire prevention and evacuation and also requires that a safety inspection is completed annually. Principals and governors of schools are further assisted by each board's health and safety practitioner in the preparation of fire evacuation policies and testing of school-based procedures. While primarily aimed at governors in controlled and maintained schools, the manual is also available via the boards' websites to voluntary grammar and grant-maintained integrated schools, whose governors have similar responsibilities.

Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the proposed Marine Bill; and whether the Bill will be extended to Northern Ireland. [128121]

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David Cairns: On 15 March, the Government published “A Sea Change, a Marine Bill White Paper” which set outs proposals for a new legal and management framework for the marine environment including Northern Ireland. However the White Paper makes it clear that it will be a matter for the incoming Assembly and local Ministers to decide on Northern Ireland’s continued involvement in taking forward the proposals.

Secure Accommodation

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many patients were held in secure accommodation in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years who were not designated as requiring such accommodation. [126943]

Paul Goggins: This information is not available.


Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what guidance and assistance has been provided by his Department to affected businesses in enforcing the smoking ban in Northern Ireland. [128135]

Paul Goggins: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has funded the appointment of Smoke-free Environments Officers, who are currently providing advice and guidance to employers and businesses about the forthcoming smoke-free legislation. In addition, the Health Promotion Agency will next month distribute, on behalf of the Department, a smoke-free guidance pack for employers. The pack, which will include sample “no smoking” signage, is available for downloading now from the Agency’s “Space to breathe” website:


Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what estimate he has made of the number of whooper swans that settle in Northern Ireland each year; where they stay; whether any of the sites are potentially affected by road schemes; and if he will make a statement on the protections afforded to the swans; [119455]

(2) when he expects to reply to question 119455, on the protection afforded to whooper swans in Northern Ireland, tabled by the hon. Member for Worthing West on 27 February for answer on 6 February. [127867]

David Cairns: Due to an administrative oversight question 119455 was not answered earlier.

The most recent survey recorded 4,331 whooper swans in Northern Ireland in January 2005.

There are five main sites that regularly support whooper swans in numbers of international or regional importance. These are Upper Lough Erne, Lough Neagh and Lough Beg, Lough Foyle, River Foyle, River Lagan-Flatfield and River Blackwater-Derryscollop. There are a number of other smaller, more widely dispersed flocks.

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My officials are aware of only one road scheme with the potential to impact on a whooper swan site. This is the proposed further road development at Toome, County Londonderry. This is still at the planning stage and is subject to an assessment as required by article 6 of the Habitats Directive. Recent surveys of the swans at this location will provide further information on the number and behaviour of birds overwintering on Lough Beg.

Whooper swan is listed in Annex II of the Birds Directive and three special protection areas have been classified for them at Lough Neagh and Lough Beg, Lough Foyle and Upper Lough Erne.

Whooper swan is also listed on schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, which affords protection for them throughout Northern Ireland.

Towerview School, Bangor

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the timetable is for the new school build for Towerview Primary School in Bangor; whether he expects this timetable to be met; and if he will make a statement. [127128]

Maria Eagle: I understand that planning for Towerview Primary School is well advanced and that final design stage costs are to be submitted by the South Eastern Education and Library Board to the Department of Education for approval. Once design costs have been received and approved it would normally take a few months to complete the remaining stages before construction work could commence. I would therefore expect that the scheme should be able to start by the summer and take around 12 to 15 months to finish, subject to the necessary stages being completed satisfactorily.

Translink: Closed Circuit Television

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of the Translink public transport fleet has CCTV fitted; and what assessment he has made of the impact of CCTV in deterring crime on the transport network where it is used. [128126]

David Cairns: Translink has advised that the percentage of public transport that has been fitted with CCTV is as follows: Metro 64 per cent., Ulsterbus 22 per cent., NIR 61 per cent.

Case studies of bus security and good practice clearly indicate that CCTV has a role to play in crime reduction and improved driver/passenger security and that staff morale and customer confidence is increased by the use of on-board CCTV. It is the intention that all new vehicles are fully equipped with CCTV systems at build stage.

Travel: Concessions

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of those eligible were issued with a Smart Pass in each of the last six years, broken down by eligibility category. [128127]

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David Cairns: The information is not readily available in the form requested. SmartPasses were first issued by the Department for Regional Development in March 2002 and became operational in May 2002. Although the number issued is known, there is no record of the number of former passholders who are now deceased. The following table sets out the number of first-time passes issued by eligibility category in each of the last six financial years. These figures do not include SmartPasses issued to replace those reported lost, damaged, stolen, etc. It has not been possible to obtain exact figures for eligible populations, but the table includes estimates used for planning and budgetary purposes.

Financial year Senior War pensioner Blind Half fare


























2006-07 (to 28 February 2007)





Total SmartPasses issued





Estimated eligible population





(1 )Mid-year population estimates Northern Ireland 2004 (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency).
(2) Source: The Veterans Agency
(3) Source: The Royal National Institute for the Blind
(4) Source: Based on total of DLA Mobility Component recipients (DSDNI), and estimates of total numbers of registered partially sighted, learning disabled and not eligible to receive a driving licence on medical grounds.

Water Charges

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the proposed cap on capital values for domestic properties will apply to water bills. [120858]

David Cairns: The inclusion of a charge cap for the unmeasured domestic charging regime has been an integral part of the proposals since they were first published in the integrated impact assessment consultation (November 2004).

The proposed cap seeks to ensure that domestic customers whose properties have a high capital
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valuation do not pay charges which are substantially higher than could be justified by their use of the services.

The charge cap for 2007-08 has been set at £385 for water (around £128 with the phasing in of charges) and £385 for sewerage (around £128 with phasing). It is estimated that the capped charge will apply to around 1 per cent. of properties.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the estimate is of the highest domestic water bill in Northern Ireland under the new capital value system once transitional relief has been phased out. [120859]

David Cairns: The average combined bills in 2009-10 when water and sewerage charges are fully phased in will be around £340 (the projected England and Wales average charge) with the highest combined water and sewerage bills being capped at around £800.

Water: Meters

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Northern Ireland Administration is taking to provide the option of water metering for households that wish to opt in to a meter. [119565]

David Cairns: As the first steps in a managed, long-term transition to widespread metering, from 1 April 2007 meters will be installed on all new connections (new build properties and first time connections); and all consumers aged 60 years or over will be able to apply for a meter. Information packs, including how to apply for a meter, are currently being circulated to all households in Northern Ireland.

This phased approach will be reviewed within two years when decisions will be taken about extending the metering option to further groups of consumers.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proportion of existing domestic properties in Northern Ireland will be able to volunteer to have a water meter installed from April 2007 rather than pay the unmetered rate. [120855]

David Cairns: From April 2007 Northern Ireland Water will begin a managed long-term transition to widespread domestic metering. Meters will be installed in all new properties and first time connections and metering will be available to pensioner households who apply. For the purposes of this provision pensioner households includes those where the householder is aged 60 or over. It is estimated that such households account for around 30 per cent. of existing domestic properties.

This policy is due to be reviewed within two years.

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