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11 Nov 2008 : Column 952W—continued

NIO funding to the inquiry covers expenditure by the Bloody Sunday inquiry, including staff, accommodation, IT, travel and legal costs for some participants.

Departmental Liability

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what dates in each of the last five years his Department informed the House of the creation of contingent liabilities relating to his Department. [232725]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) publishes its annual contingent liabilities and those of its non-executive non-departmental public bodies as part of the Departmental Resource Accounts.

The following table shows the dates on which the NIO's Departmental resource accounts were issued in the last five financial years:

Date of Issue


16 July 2008


11 July 2007


20 July 2006


7 November 2005


27 January 2005

Details of the Contingent Liabilities of Executive NDPBs are published separately in their respective resource accounts which are laid before the House in accordance with the deadlines set by Her Majesty's Treasury.

Departmental Procurement

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proportion of invoices for goods and services procured from small and medium-sized businesses were paid within 30 days of receipt by (a)
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his Department and (b) the agencies for which his Department is responsible in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. [226504]

Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO), including its agencies, seeks to comply with 'The Better Payments Practice Code' for achieving good payment performance in commercial transactions. Under this code, the policy is to pay bills in accordance with contractual conditions or, where no such conditions exist, within 30 days of receipt of goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice, whichever is later.

The prompt payment results for 2007-08 showed that 91.6 per cent. of departmental and agency invoices were paid in accordance with the terms of the standard; this can be broken down as follows:

Body Paid on time (Percentage)

Northern Ireland Office


Northern Ireland Prison Service


Forensic Science Northern Ireland


Youth Justice Agency


Compensation Agency


Any analysis relating to the size of the business can be completed only at disproportionate cost.

Mentally Ill Staff

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information his Department has gathered on the effect of its policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of employees with mental illnesses within his Department; and what use has been made of that information. [228551]

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information his Department has gathered on the effect of its policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of employees with mental illnesses within his Department. [234249]

Paul Goggins: In Northern Ireland, section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 ensures that equality issues, including disability, are integral to the whole range of public policy decision making. Public authorities such as the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) are required to submit equality schemes to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA 1995) (as amended by article 5 of the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006), which came into force on 1 January 2007, introduced the ‘disability duties’ in Northern Ireland to reflect changes to disability legislation in Great Britain.

Under section 49B of the DDA 1995, the NIO is required to submit a disability action plan to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. This plan sets out how it proposes to fulfil the disability duties in relation to its functions and monitor and report on progress.

The NIO is committed to a series of actions which we believe will help remove the attitudinal and environmental barriers experienced by many disabled people. The plan
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focuses on a number of key areas to help secure improvements: employment; accessibility; communication; and public appointments.

Employee engagement is key to the NIO’s Development and Health and Well Being Strategy and a crucial factor in motivating and retaining our employees.

Since April we have arranged a number of seminars and events which has raised employee awareness of physical and mental health issues and health related articles are published on the NIO’s internal intranet.

In recognising that stress can lead to mental illness we have in place policies on the prevention, recognition and management of stress at work and are currently delivering a “Managing Stress” course mandated for all managers.

The NIO also provides staff with the opportunity to attend the Occupational Health Service, to seek support from the Welfare Support Service or through an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). The EAP is complementary to the Welfare Support Service and provides an independent, confidential and professional counselling support service for all staff and their immediate family members. These services are available to all staff, and have benefited and assisted those who are absent because of sickness to return to work, and those who are in work to remain in work.

Those public sector bodies which are sponsored by my department but are separately designated with respect to section 75 are responsible for publishing and implementing their own disability action plans.


A12: Gidea Park

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what work has been undertaken to repair the damage to the flyover at Gallows Corner on the A12 at Gidea Park following its partial closure; and what plans there are for a permanent replacement for the present flyover. [234211]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 10 November 2008]: Responsibility for the A12, from central London to the London boundary and the section of the A127 within London, lies with the Mayor and Transport for London. Questions on such operational matters including any works carried out at Gallows Corner or plans for a new flyover should be directed to them.

Air Traffic Control: Illegal Broadcasting

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the extent of disruption of air traffic control communications by illegal broadcasters; and what recent discussions he has had with Ministerial colleagues at the Home Office and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on such incidents. [232128]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of Communications is the Government agency responsible for monitoring and prosecuting illegal broadcasters. NATS, the leading air navigation services provider, is a private company and questions concerning the extent of disruption to its air traffic control services should be directed to the company’s chief executive.


Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the minimum recommended length of runway is for a Boeing 747 to land and take-off. [234593]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 10 November 2008]: The published take-off field length for a Boeing 747 is 3,200 metres, assuming maximum take-off weight and full thrust, and the published landing distance (for a dry runway) is 2,250 meters.

Airports: Planning Permission

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to publish a national policy statement within the framework envisaged by the Planning Bill on airports. [234351]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 10 November 2008]: We intend to publish a National Policy Statement on airports, in due course.


Alan Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what process will be followed if BAA seeks permission to introduce mixed-mode (a) within the 480,000 cap and (b) exceeding the existing 480,000 cap. [232220]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 4 November 2008]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the question from the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer) on 3 November 2008, Official Report , column 46W.

Aviation: Fares

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average change in air fares was in each year since 1997. [232027]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The following table shows the average UK one-way air fare, including taxes and charges, covering domestic and international flights.

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Average UK one-way air fare, 1997 prices

Average air fare (£)





















1. ‘Fare’ includes all taxes and charges.
2. Covers domestic and international scheduled flights, but excludes transfer and charter passengers.
3. Domestic component based on a sample of routes where sufficient data available.
DFT analysis of CAA and IPS data.


Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 15 October 2008, Official Report, column 46WS, on the post-Gallagher update, what assessment he has made of the effect of slowing down the rate of increase of the renewable transport fuel obligation on levels of investment in sustainable biofuel production in (a) the UK, (b) the EU and (c) other countries and regions. [234980]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government are currently consulting on proposals to slow down the rate of increase of obligation levels under the renewable transport fuel obligation. The impact assessment which accompanies the consultation examines the potential effects on investment in biofuel production in the UK only.

This assessment concluded that a slowdown, together with future European targets for biofuels, should still give an incentive to the biofuels industry to invest in new technology and domestic capacity. A 5 per cent. biofuel obligation is still proposed in 2013-14 rather than 2010-11 and the final level of investment in sustainable production is not expected to be significantly affected. However there may be differences in the short to medium term in how fuel suppliers meet the obligation.(1)

The views of consultees on the impact assessment and estimates of the effects on investment of the proposed slow down shall be taken into account by the Government.

Driving Tests: Standards

Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of (a) delegated examiners and (b) driving examiners have been safety checked by Driving Standards Agency quality assurance teams in the last 12 months. [232998]

Jim Fitzpatrick: During the last 12 months, the Driving Standards Agency’s (DSA’s) Quality Assurance Teams (QATs) have quality assured 46.7 per cent. of DSA’s examiners.

The Agency’s QATs have also been used to assure the standards of delegated examiners (who primarily conduct bus and lorry driving tests). Delegated examiners are non-DSA personnel who are permitted, by the Secretary of State, to conduct driving tests. They are used by many police forces, fire and rescue authorities and some bus companies to conduct tests for their employees.

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New arrangements were introduced for delegated examiners from 10 September 2008, including revised quality assurance procedures. Since then, DSA have quality assured 3.4 per cent. of them.

Driving: Licensing

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has analysed on the number of (a) serious injuries and (b) fatalities resulting from accidents involving people driving who should not have held a driving licence due to their health or eyesight; and if he will make a statement. [233146]

Jim Fitzpatrick: There is no such specific research. However, the Department’s annual report “Road Casualties Great Britain” has since 2005 included information on factors that, in the opinion of the reporting officer, may have contributed to a crash. Included in the list of factors that can be reported are “uncorrected, defective eyesight” and “illness or disability, mental or physical”. The figures reported are:

Fatal accidents Serious accidents Slight accidents All

Uncorrected, defective eyesight
















Illness or disability, mental or physical
















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