Previous Section Index Home Page

16 Apr 2007 : Column 183W—continued

Tour Operators: Mergers

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will discuss the implications of the competition issues arising from the TUI-First Choice merger in the UK package holiday market with the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection; and if he will make a statement. [130052]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 28 March 2007]: Ministers have no plans to discuss this matter with representatives of the European Commission. The regulatory control of mergers is a matter for the relevant independent competition authorities with cases considered on grounds of their impact on competition in the relevant market. Ministers have no role in this process although they do retain certain powers to intervene in cases that raise narrowly defined public interest concerns.

I would welcome any further information from the hon. Gentleman which may be helpful to the regulators.

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will hold discussions with (a) the Office of Fair Trading and (b) the Competition Commissioner on the state of the UK market in foreign package holidays. [130283]

Mr. McCartney: Ministers have no plans to discuss this matter either with the Office of Fair Trading or with representatives of the European Commission. The regulatory control of mergers is a matter for the relevant independent competition authorities with cases considered on grounds of their impact on competition in the relevant market. Ministers have no role in this process
16 Apr 2007 : Column 184W
although they do retain certain powers to intervene in cases that raise narrowly defined public interest concerns.

I would welcome any further information from the hon. Gentleman which may be helpful to the regulators.

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what representations he has received from consumer groups on the competition implications for the UK package holiday market of the proposed TUI-First Choice merger; [130005]

(2) what representations he has received from (a) independent and (b) non-vertically-integrated tour operators on the competition implications for the UK package holiday market of the proposed TUI-First Choice merger. [130006]

Mr. McCartney: Ministers have received no representations on this matter. The regulatory control of mergers is a matter for the relevant independent competition authorities with cases considered on grounds of their impact on competition in the relevant market. Ministers have no role in this process although they do retain certain powers to intervene in cases that raise narrowly defined public interest concerns.

I would welcome any further information from the hon. Gentleman which may be helpful to the regulators.

Northern Ireland

Arts: Finance

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the annual per capita expenditure was on arts funding in the Province in each of the last five years. [130702]

Maria Eagle: The annual per capita expenditure on arts funding Northern Ireland in each of the last five years is shown in the following table. These figures are based on Exchequer allocations to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

£

2002-03

5.79

2003-04

5.77

2004-05

6.49

2005-06

6.33

2006-07

6.25


Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to ensure that per capita funding for the arts in Northern Ireland is at the same level as in the United Kingdom as a whole. [131132]

Maria Eagle: The level of funding for the arts in future years will be considered as part of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. The outcome will not be known until later in the year.


16 Apr 2007 : Column 185W

Autism

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety spent on service provision for children with autism in each health and social services board area in each of the last five years. [131305]

Paul Goggins: The proportion of the overall baseline which is spent by the health and social services boards for the provision of services for children with autism is not separately identified.

In addition to the provision of mainstream funding for children's services, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety allocated an additional £0.5 million recurrent funding in 2004-05 to improve the life outcome for 200 children and young people with autism. In September 2006, a further £0.5 million recurrent funding was made available to provide early intervention services for 300 children with autistic spectrum disorders.

An element of the funding which is provided within health and personal social services baselines for adolescent psychiatry (£2.4 million in 2004-05) is also spent on services to support children with autism. The multi-disciplinary support teams established through the Children and Young People's Funding Package, March 2006, is also working alongside existing services in schools helping to provide diagnosis and interventions for children with autism.

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how much the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has earmarked for service provision for children with autism for each of the next three years; [131306]

(2) whether he plans to increase the resources available for service provision for children with autism. [131307]

Paul Goggins: Budget decisions for the next three years, 2008-09 to 2010-11, will be agreed as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007. Final decisions on future years’ budgets will not therefore be made until December 2007 at the earliest.

Belfast-Bangor County Down Railway Line

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what investigation has been carried out by his Department to ascertain why the former Head of Infrastructure at Translink removed and destroyed the bulk of documentation relating to the upgrade of the Belfast to Bangor railway line when he left the company in March 2002. [130957]

David Cairns: I refer the hon. Lady to paragraphs 3.13-3.16 of the Northern Ireland Audit Office report, which covers the actions taken by the Department. A copy of the report is available in the House of Commons Library or can be accessed via the Northern Ireland Audit Office website at

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to introduce a central document registry within Translink following the recommendations of the Northern Ireland Audit
16 Apr 2007 : Column 186W
Office report on the upgrade of the Belfast to Bangor railway line. [130958]

David Cairns: The Board of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company has purchased proprietary software to assist in file management and is working to progress the Audit Office’s recommendation on records management.

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the recommendations of the Northern Ireland Audit Office report on the upgrade of the Belfast to Bangor railway line; and if he will make a statement. [130960]

David Cairns: I welcome this Audit Office report ‘The Upgrade of the Belfast to Bangor Railway Line’ and its recommendations.

Significant lessons have been learned and applied as a result of this project, and work is under way to ensure the full implementation of the Audit Office's recommendations.

The Northern Ireland Audit Office report was scheduled to be considered by the Public Accounts Committee at Westminster on 28 March. The Committee decided to cancel the session but has commended it to the Stormont PAC as an urgent issue for its consideration when devolution returns.

Community Service

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many offenders were enrolled in community service programmes in Northern Ireland in each of the last six years; how many offenders breached their community service orders over the same period; and what the consequence was of the breach in each case in which no legal proceedings are active. [130920]

Mr. Hanson: The Probation Board for Northern Ireland supervises Community Service Orders and Combination Orders, both of which require a number of hours of unpaid work to be completed by the offender.

The following table specifies the number of Community Service and Combination Orders made in the past six years.

Number of community service and combination orders made (2000-01 to 2005-06)
Orders Made Community Service Orders Combination Orders( 1)

2000-01

708

100

2001-02

679

95

2002-03

728

119

2003-04

765

174

2004-05

769

159

2005-06

652

212


When offenders do not comply with the conditions outlined in a community based sanction, they may be returned to court for breach proceedings.

The following table specifies the number of breach proceedings initiated against individuals subject to Community Service and Combination Orders.


16 Apr 2007 : Column 187W
Number of breaches initiated for Community Service and Combination Orders (2000-01 to 2005-06)
Breaches Community Service Orders Combination Orders( 1)

2000-01

301

49

2001-02

238

41

2002-03

211

0

2003-04

153

47

2004-05

178

46

2005-06

132

36

(1) A Combination Order is a sentence that combines a Probation Order and a Community Service Order.


The Probation Board has implemented an electronic case management system to record details of those subject to community supervision. This database has been operational across the PBNI from June 2006. Prior to June 2006, the Probation Board did not centrally collate the outcome of breach proceedings.

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many hours of community service were carried out by offenders in Northern Ireland in each of the last six years. [130921]

Mr. Hanson: I am advised by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland that the numbers of hours of unpaid work to which offenders are sentenced in respect of community service and combination orders is as shown in the following table.

Number of hours unpaid work sentenced in court (2000-01 to 2005-06)( 1)
Community service and combination orders( 2)

2000-01

105,500

2001-02

100,500

2002-03

100,000

2003-04

141,000

2004-05

118,500

2005-06

108,000

(1) The statistics shown in the table provide the number of hours imposed by the court on those subject to community service and combination orders respectively. In a small number of cases, for example, if an order was breached and then revoked, the hours may not have been completed. The figures provided have been rounded to the nearest 500 hours per year. (2) A combination order is a sentence that combines a probation order and a community service order.

Complementary Medicine

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which organisations and individuals are involved in developing the pilot scheme on complementary and alternative therapies in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [130916]

Paul Goggins: My Department has convened a steering group which will bring together a number of key stakeholders whose role will be to guide and monitor the successful implementation of the pilot scheme. The group's first meeting will be in April. Get Well UK, the organisation administering the pilot on behalf of the DHSSPS, will report to the steering group on a regular basis.

In addition to staff from the DHSSPS, the steering group will have representatives from


16 Apr 2007 : Column 188W

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to extend the pilot scheme in which patients can receive complementary and alternative therapies across Northern Ireland; and what assessment he has made of the take-up of complementary and alternative therapies in the areas where the scheme is being piloted. [130917]

Paul Goggins: A full independent evaluation of the pilot scheme will be carried out and will help inform any future decisions about the availability of complementary and alternative therapies in Northern Ireland.

Although the pilot is still at a very early stage, I have been encouraged by the progress made so far. The first patient was seen on 6 March and since then the pilot has received 101 patient referrals from GPs—56 from the Belfast pilot and 45 from Londonderry. A total of 79 referrals have been for patients suffering from musculoskeletal problems and 22 have involved mental health problems.


Next Section Index Home Page