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Cross-Border Implementation Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The bodies are normally consulted about their annual budgets in the context of their annual business plans.

Cross-Border Implementation Bodies: Provision of Cars for Chief Executives

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: If the car provided for the chief executive forms part of the remuneration package or other conditions of service, the approval of NSMC and the Finance Ministers North and South is required.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Amos: On 5 December 2000 the NSMC agreed in principle to the appointment of the chief executive subject to agreement between him and the two finance departments on salary and other conditions of service. The two finance departments confirmed agreement on 13 December 2000 and the North/South Ministerial Council confirmed the appointment on 19 December 2000. The agreed conditions of service included provision for a lease car.

Northern Ireland: Housing Stock

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to improve the housing stock in Ballymagorry, County Tyrone.[HL4470]

Baroness Amos: The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has responsibility for 68 properties at 17 locations in the Ballymagorry area. Of these properties, eight at Station Road will be included in the programme of multi-element improvements scheduled for 2004 and 12 rural cottages are to be demolished with the land transferring to a housing association to build new houses. The remaining pre-1970s stock has already been modernised.

Improvements to private sector properties are carried out through grant aid, but information on the number of properties improved with the help of grant aid is only available by district council area and cannot be provided separately for Ballymagorry.

Northern Ireland Civil Service: Equality Officers

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 10 September (WA 124) concerning equality in Northern Ireland, whether their policy is to promote equality of opportunity or of outcome.[HL4471]

Baroness Amos: I refer the noble Lord to the answer given on 11 September (WA 138).

PEACE II Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to increase the capacity of the unionist, loyalist and Ulster Scots communities in Northern Ireland to apply successfully for funding from PEACE II.[HL4495]

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Baroness Amos: The PEACE II programme is targeted on those areas, sectors or groups that have been adversely affected by the conflict and all sections of the community have equal opportunity to benefit from it. The Special EU Programmes Body is developing a publicity strategy to encourage more applications from all groups, particularly any that appear from monitoring data to be underrepresented. All project promoters making inquiries will be given advice and encouragement on how to apply for funding by their implementing body and the Special EU Programmes Body.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is appropriate that members of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission who have withdrawn from the commission's activities, but are still members, should still receive their salaries.[HL4491]

Baroness Amos: The chief commissioner is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and in the first instance this is a matter for him. Both the chief commissioner and the Secretary of State are keeping the situation under review.

Northern Ireland: Judicial Reviews Against Public Authorities

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What judicial reviews were taken against public authorities in Northern Ireland in the past three years; which failed; and who paid the costs in each case.[HL4492]

Baroness Amos: Since the end of July 2000 the Crown Solicitor has received 576 applications for judicial review against UK departments and other public authorities in the excepted and reserved fields. There have been 120 applications against departments of the Northern Ireland administration and Ministers in the same period. There are no central records to indicate which of those applications were granted leave, were settled by agreement, were successful or unsuccessful, or in which costs were awarded to or against the applicants. It would put the Government to disproportionate cost to obtain the further details which the noble Lord seeks, including what judicial reviews were applied for against other public authorities for which the Crown Solicitor and the departmental solicitor do not act.

Iraq: Intelligence

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, during the private briefings for Opposition party leaders prior to the Iraq campaign, the leaders were told of the Joint

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    Intelligence Committee's assessment "that any collapse of the Iraqi regime would increase the risk of chemical and biological warfare technology or agents finding their way into the hands of terrorists, not necessarily Al'Qaeda," as reported in the Intelligence and Security Committee's report (Cmd 5972, page 34.)[HL4560]

Baroness Amos: At the Prime Minister's request, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee briefed the leaders of the two main Opposition parties in mid-February 2003. These briefings drew on a range of assessed intelligence on matters relating to Iraq which was available to the Government at that time.

Aircraft Pollution

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to improve aircraft technology so that relevant pollutants around Heathrow Airport will meet European Union limits in 2010.[HL4614]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Aircraft are one of many emissions sources contributing to local air pollution in the vicinity of Heathrow and elsewhere. The Government are determined that the aviation industry will play its part in reducing emissions at source, particularly NOx as NO2 is the pollutant under greatest pressure. The Government push hard within the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for tighter NOx emissions standards and a decision on a new global NOx standard is expected in 2004. The Government are supporting UK industry work towards achieving European emissions technology goals that include, by 2020, an 80 per cent reduction in NOx emissions compared with technology levels in current service. A key vehicle for promoting industry action is the DTI aerospace innovation and growth team report launched in June this year. The Government are also considering scope to use economic instruments that will promote development and use of best available technology.

Advice to Ministers by Officials

Lord Wakeham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their policy remains that advice to Ministers by officials is not published; and [HL4489]

    On what occasions advice to Ministers by officials during the current conflict in Iraq has been published.[HL4490]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): The disclosure of civil servants' advice to Ministers will continue to be governed by the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

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NHS Waiting Lists

Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent initiatives they have introduced to lessen waiting lists in the National Health Service.[HL4415]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Government have introduced a number of measures to reduce waiting lists. These include:

    £50 million to tackle long waiting lists and times in National Health Service orthopaedic services;

    £56 million to end long waits for NHS cataract operations. No cataract patient will wait more than three months by December 2004, with most areas achieving this by the summer of 2004;

    the extension of the Modernisation Agency's "Action On" programme to cover general surgery, plastic surgery and urology will help deliver better access to patient-centred services in these specialties;

    general practitioners with a special interest (GpwSI) taking referrals from fellow GPs for conditions in specialties such as ophthalmology, orthopaedics and dermatology. There are now some 1,250 GpwSIs, meaning that the NHS Plan

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    target of 1,000 by 2004 has already been exceeded.

Figures for August 2003 showed the waiting list has fallen for the third successive month to 984,200—173,800 below the level inherited in March 1997. The number of patients waiting over 12 months was 18,200 (99.8 per cent) lower than August 2002.

National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What authority the Department of Health has to set aside the rule that guidance for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence should be implemented within three months.[HL4642]

Lord Warner: The Secretary of State for Health has exercised the powers of direction in Sections 17 and 97C(8) of the National Health Service Act 1977 to require primary care trusts to make certain sums paid to them available for the implementation of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance in relation to technology appraisals within three months of the issuing of the guidance. The directions may be varied using the same powers.

A member of the senior Civil Service in the Department of Health signs such directions or amending directions with the authority of the Secretary of State for Health.

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