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6 Feb 2008 : Column 1138W—continued

Young People: Disadvantaged

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what expenditure his Department has incurred in countering social exclusion among young people (a) who have a disability, (b) who are lesbian, gay and bisexual, (c) from minority ethnic groups and (d) from rural areas; and if he will make a statement. [183174]

Kevin Brennan: As we showed in the recent Children’s Plan, the policies and programmes we now have in place are designed to make England the best place in the world for children to grow up and meet their potential.

We have the following in place in order to ensure that all children and young people feel included in the life of their school and able to contribute positively to society:

Young People: Speech Impaired

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what support is available through the Connexions Service to assist young people who stammer into employment; and what training is given to staff in the service on the best ways of assisting such young people. [184621]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 5 February 2008]: Through multi-agency working, Connexions provides integrated information, advice, guidance and access to personal development opportunities to help remove barriers to learning and progression and ensure young people make a smooth transition to adulthood and working life whatever their personal circumstances.

If a Connexions personal adviser (PA) considers that a young person may have a range of support needs, they would use the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to determine this. The CAF is a voluntary, holistic assessment of strengths and needs, which helps the PA to agree with the young person and their parent(s)/carer(s) what action needs to be taken and which agencies/practitioners should be involved.

All organisations delivering Connexions services are responsible for staff training which will include appropriate assessment training.

Youth Opportunity Fund

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the (a) Youth Opportunity and (b) Youth Capital funds; and if he will make a statement. [183204]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 4 February 2008]: The Youth Opportunity and Capital Funds (YOF and YCF) were established in April 2006 as complementary, universal, funds operating under a single management framework.

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The funds have demonstrated how innovative and creative young people can be when they are empowered to participate in decision making, delivering a wide range of high quality projects and activities that have resulted in over 500,000 young people benefiting from positive activities.

Interim findings from the independent evaluation of the Funds were published in July 2007: Research Report Number DCSF-RR004 is available on my Department’s website.

The research found that the funds were meeting their objective to give young people a voice through consultation and control over resources. Local authorities had involved young people in the design and development of the funds, with young people involved as decision-makers. Projects funded have included, sporting, cultural and educational activities, improvements to local youth facilities and the purchase of specialist equipment, providing young people with opportunities they would not have otherwise had.

The second stage of the evaluation is currently underway and the final report will be available in summer 2008.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Aviation

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what (a) first-class and (b) other flights he has taken since 28 June 2007; and on each occasion (i) how many staff travelled with him and (ii) what the cost of the travel was. [182882]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office has offices in Northern Ireland and in London. Ministers and officials travel regularly between the two locations, according to business needs and security considerations.

Since 1999 the Government have published on an annual basis, a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500, as well as the total of all ministerial travel overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Civil Service Management Code and the Ministerial Code.

Departmental Telephone Services

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which of his Department’s agencies use the (a) 0845 and (b) 0870 telephone codes for customer enquiries; how many 0845 or 0870 telephone codes each agency uses; and how much revenue was generated by each of these codes for each agency in each of the last five years. [184046]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Prison Service uses one 0845 number but the service provider, Cable and Wireless does not supply information on revenue generated by the 0845 number.

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Elderly: Abuse

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 6 December 2007, Official Report, columns 1472-73W, on elderly abuse, what the criteria are for dealing with assaults on the elderly by means of (a) non-sanction clearances and (b) charge/summons. [181772]

Paul Goggins: Crimes against the elderly are recorded in line with Home Office Counting Rules under the following definitions:

Agreed methods of clearance:

Employment Agencies

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department paid to recruitment agencies in relation to departmental appointments in each year since 1997. [184915]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO), excluding its agencies and NDPBs and Public Inquiries, can only provide spend on recruitment agencies from the financial year 1998-99. The figures shown in the following table include both the costs for appointing staff to the Department and the salaries paid to these temporary staff members.

Financial year Recruitment agencies costs (£)



















Recruitment agency staff are only employed when appropriately skilled permanent staff are not available
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to fill posts. Such appointments are closely monitored with regard to the continuing need.


Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 29 January 2008, Official Report, column 181W, on intimidation, on what date the formal complaint of bullying was reported in his Department. [184840]

Mr. Woodward: Pursuant to the answer of 29 January 2008, Official Report, column 181W, on the number of cases of bullying reported in the NIO in the last 12 months, the single formal complaint referred to was reported on 9 May 2007.

Official Engagements

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many days he spent in Northern Ireland on official business in each of the last 12 months. [182864]

Mr. Woodward: In addition to the time spent in Northern Ireland, I undertake NIO business in Parliament, in the Northern Ireland Office, London and elsewhere. As a member of the Cabinet I have additional duties including Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings and attending Parliament at Westminster.

Since my appointment on 29 June 2007 and until 31 January I have been in Northern Ireland on 59 days.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his official engagements were in December 2007. [182867]

Mr. Woodward: The disclosure of some of the information requested, including details of internal or interdepartmental meetings with Ministers or officials, would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs.

The information that can be disclosed is set out in the following table. In addition to those functions listed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular meetings with political parties, local politicians, the Minister of State, internal and external stakeholders and his officials.

Week beginning Engagement

3 December

Official opening of Government Building

10 December

Visit to Belfast Telegraph

Meeting with Chris Sidoti

Christmas reception at Hillsborough

17 December

Press conference on Omagh bombing

Christmas reception at Hillsborough

Meeting with Orange Order

Meeting with chief constable and Sir Desmond Rea

Meeting with the Quinn family

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Sexual Harassment

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many complaints of (a) sexual harassment and (b) sexual discrimination have been made by staff in his Department in the most recent year for which figures are available. [184697]

Mr. Woodward: During 2007, there were no formal complaints of either sexual harassment or sexual discrimination reported in the NIO core Department.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 29 January 2008, Official Report, column 181W, regarding training provided for NIO staff on appropriate behaviour in the workplace. This training also deals with different types of discrimination, including on the basis of gender. In addition, in accordance with section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, all personnel policies affecting staff are screened to ensure that they do not have an adverse effect on any of the nine groups specified under the legislation, which include gender.

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