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18 Apr 2007 : Column 676W—continued

Employment: Young People

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many pupils in Northern Ireland who left school in 2006 (a) have secured full-time employment, (b) have secured part-time employment, (c) are on a training scheme and (d) are unemployed. [132444]

Maria Eagle: The School Leavers’ Survey collects data on the qualifications and main destinations of school leavers leaving mainstream education. Destination data are collected by the careers advisors in each of the post primary schools. It should be noted that the School Leavers’ Survey does not collect information on part-time employment. Data for the 2005-06 academic year will not be available until the end of May. Therefore the following data relate to the 2004-05 academic year.

Of the 25,298 pupils leaving school in 2004-05:

In addition 9,633 entered institutions of higher education, 6,953 entered institutions of further education and 609 had their destination recorded as unknown.

Equal Pay

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the pay gap between men and women in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. [132279]

Maria Eagle: The median hourly earnings, excluding overtime, for females employed on a full-time basis at April 2006 in Northern Ireland was estimated to be £9.98 compared to £10.00 for males. Female hourly earnings at April 2006 were 99.8 per cent. of males—an improvement in the position at April 2005 when they were 94.7 per cent. of male hourly earnings.

Housing: Low Incomes

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what response he has made to the Semple Report on Affordable Housing; and what funding has been allocated for its implementation. [132046]

Mr. Hanson: Sir John Semple made a series of practical suggestions across a range of policy areas in his final report which was received by the Department for Social Development on 4 April 2007. Housing markets are extremely complex and are influenced by a range of local, national and global social and economic
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factors. The report has shown that concerted action across organisational boundaries is necessary to improve the delivery of affordable housing across tenures.

The Government are currently considering its response to the report and as I would want the newly appointed Minister to have an input into the response, it will not be until after 8 May devolution restoration that a response will be issued.

Social Rented Housing

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many new houses were constructed by housing associations in each district council area in Northern Ireland between 1 April 2000 and 31 March 2007. [132098]

Mr. Hanson: During this seven year period, housing association house completions were as follows:

Number

Antrim

79

Ards

142

Armagh

75

Ballymena

127

Ballymoney

63

Banbridge

68

Belfast

4,111

Carrick

225

Castlereagh

148

Coleraine

192

Cookstown

13

Craigavon

137

Derry

1,234

Down

293

Dungannon

46

Fermanagh

236

Larne

30

Limavady

127

Lisburn

968

Magherafelt

22

Moyle

2

Newry/Mourne

274

Newtownabbey

116

North Down

241

Omagh

131

Strabane

241


South Eastern Education and Library Board

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will ensure that the financial deficit generated by the South Eastern Education and Library Board is written off prior to the formation of the Education and Skills Authority. [131639]

Maria Eagle: The financial deficit generated by the South Eastern Education and Library Board will not be written off. The make up of the deficit in that Board is such that some of its schools are owed very
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significant sums of money and there can be no question of that money not being available to schools as and when they need it. The new Education and Skills Authority will therefore inherit that liability, along with the other assets and liabilities that will transfer from all predecessor bodies. It will have to plan its finances in a way that makes sure that schools in the SEELB area have access to the surpluses that they have accumulated and that schools in deficit continue to take action in line with their agreed recovery plans.

South Eastern Education and Library Board: Public Appointments

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what monies have been paid to the four Commissioners who were appointed to the South Eastern Education and Library Board in June 2006. [132214]

Maria Eagle: The chief executive of the South Eastern education and Library Board has advised me that, up to and including 28 February 2007, the four Commissioners who were appointed on 6 July 2006 have been paid a total of £66,742.60. Costs for March 2007 are not yet available.

Suicide

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he (a) is taking and (b) is planning in relation to combating suicide in Northern Ireland. [131625]

Paul Goggins: The Suicide Prevention Strategy, ‘Protect Life—A Shared Vision’, was published on 30 October 2006, and its primary aim is to reduce the levels of suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland. The strategy takes both a general and targeted approach. Recurrent funding of £1.9 million was allocated for the implementation of the strategy in 2006-07, with £3 million identified for 2007-08 onwards. A families forum, which includes members of families directly affected by suicide, plays a crucial role in helping to inform and direct the strategy.

To date a number of pilot schemes and initiatives have been established, including:

Funding has also been allocated to health and social services boards to support the development of community-based initiatives that will assist in a reduction of suicide and self-harm.

The strategy will also draw on the experiences of our counterparts across the UK and Ireland, and a Joint Five Nations Forum has been established to share best practice. An All-Island Action Plan has also been
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developed in conjunction with the National Office of Suicide Prevention in the Republic of Ireland.

Other projects currently under consideration include:

Ulster Scots Language: Education

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he has taken to ensure equality of funding in Northern Ireland between the (a) Ulster Scots language and culture and (b) Gaelic language and culture; and what impact those steps have had on funding levels. [132430]

Maria Eagle: The two agencies of the Language Implementation Body are funded to carry out their functions as defined in the North/South Co-operation (Implementation Bodies) (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.

The budgets for the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Irish Language Agency, Foras na Gaeilge, are determined in accordance with their agreed annual business plans.

Following on from the commitment made by the Government in respect of Ulster-Scots in the St. Andrews Agreement, the Government and the Irish Government have agreed that additional resources of £0.5 million will be made available to the Ulster-Scots Agency in 2007-08, £0.75 million in 2008-09 and £1.0 million in 2009-10. The latter two years’ additional funding is subject to the outcome of the comprehensive spending review in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister

Armed Forces: Mass Media

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Prime Minister whether the decision by the Ministry of Defence to allow serving military personnel to sell their stories to the media was (a) made known to and (b) authorised by him prior to being made public. [132017]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. member to the statement made by my right. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) on 16 April 2007, Official Report, columns 23-26.

Departments: Official Hospitality

David Simpson: To ask the Prime Minister what measures are in place to limit the amount of money spent on alcohol for hospitality purposes by his Office. [132196]


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The Prime Minister: For accounting purposes my office forms part of the Cabinet Office. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Minister, for the Cabinet Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Durham (Hilary Armstrong), today.

Trade and Industry

Bankruptcy: Legislation

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of the Enterprise Act 2002 on bankrupt individuals in the last four months. [132058]

Jim Fitzpatrick: In the last four months, The Insolvency Service has continued collating information as part of its evaluation of the Enterprise Act 2002. This evaluation attempts to comprehensively assess whether, to what extent and how the provisions of the Act meets its policy objectives, and will cover the impact of the Enterprise Act 2002 on bankrupts. Full details of the evaluation work being undertaken are set out in the evaluation planning papers which are available on The Insolvency Service’s website

The Insolvency Service is due to complete the evaluation work in summer 2007, with a final evaluation report being published in autumn 2007.

Energy Supply: Meters

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will meet the three energy suppliers who continue to back-charge token meter consumers and urge them to end the practice; [131292]

(2) whether the risks of debt associated with the late recalibration of electricity token meter recalibration has been clearly communicated to those token meter users who remain at risk of such debt by those suppliers who continue to back-charge following price rise announcements; and if he will make a statement. [131399]

Malcolm Wicks: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, including matters related to prepayment meters. My noble friend, the Minister for Energy has no plans to meet with the energy suppliers on this issue. I welcome Ofgem’s commitment to working with suppliers to improve their performance in recalibrating and replacing certain prepayment meters. My Department continues to monitor progress.

Ofgem recently published an update in a letter of 21 March from its managing director of corporate affairs. This letter, which included details of the progress on customer communication made by Scottish Power, Powergen and npower, is available from Ofgem’s website at:


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