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24 Feb 2004 : Column WA39

Written Answers

Tuesday, 24 February 2004.

Belfast Education and Library Board

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Belfast Education and Library Board calculates the amount of money that it allocates to primary schools.[HL1111]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) calculates primary school budgets in accordance with its local management of schools (LMS) scheme, which is the subject of consultation with all schools and subject to approval by the Department of Education. The majority of funding which primary schools receive is determined under the board's LMS funding formula, which takes account of individual school characteristics, including the number of pupils, the size of school premises, support for small schools, social deprivation, special educational needs and support for particular groups of pupils.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which primary school attracts the most money from the Belfast Education and Library Board per number of pupils in the primary school sector; and which school attracts the least.[HL1112]

Baroness Amos: The chief executive of the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) has advised that, in the formula funding budget allocation for the 2003–04 financial year, St Mary's Primary School, Divis Street, Belfast, with 70 pupils, attracted the most money at £3,838 per pupil and Stranmillis Primary School, with 435 pupils, attracted the least at £1,566 per pupil. It should be noted that all of the pupils attending St Mary's Primary School are from the Traveller community and as such attracted additional funding under the board's LMS scheme. In the 2003–04 financial year, this amounted to £941.58 per qualifying pupil.

Northern Ireland: Pre-Employment Consultancy Service

Baroness Blood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the average time taken to disclose relevant non-conviction police information following a Pre-Employment Consultancy Service check in Northern Ireland.[HL1183]

Baroness Amos: The Chief Constable has informed me that, in relation to the above information released to the Pre-Employment Consultancy Service, the time taken averaged out at 2 to 3 months for each disclosure.

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Democratic Republic of Congo

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they will take to facilitate the design of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank projects to help to fight corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo as desired by the president of that country.[HL1247]

Baroness Amos: We work closely with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, both through our participation on the boards and at working level, to ensure that their programmes are based on strong systems of accountability.

We are also providing technical assistance, as part of our support to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, and in partnership with the World Bank on the strengthening of the institutional and legal frameworks for tackling corruption in the DRC.

We supported the first World Bank economic recovery credit to DRC, which was earmarked for private sector development and improvement of the business climate through stronger institutions, simplification of procedures and clarification of ownership rights, all of which help to fight corruption.

Belfast: Waterways

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 22 January (WA 145), which public authorities are adjacent landowners to the Knock and Connswater Rivers; whether they are aware of their responsibilities regarding the clearance from the banks and channels of rubbish and dumped materials; when they last did so; and over which stretches of the rivers.[HL1259]

Baroness Amos: The Department of Regional Development (DRD) Roads Service and Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) own small areas of land adjacent to the Knock and Connswater Rivers respectively.

The Knock and Connswater Rivers also flow through public parks, which are the responsibility of Belfast City Council.

DRD Roads Service and Belfast Education and Library Board are aware of their responsibilities as landowners. Maintenance activities, including the removal of litter and other similar material, are undertaken on an ad-hoc basis, as necessary. The Roads Service will carry out an inspection of the area it owns and arrange for the removal of any rubbish found on the riverbanks before the end of February 2004.

BELB also plans to replace fencing adjacent to the Connswater River at Elmgrove Primary School and will take the opportunity to investigate the need for removal of rubbish on this stretch of the river. It is understood that public park maintenance operations by Belfast City Council would also cover litter control on the banks of the rivers flowing through the parks.

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Northern Ireland: Public House Licences

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 22 January (WA 145), whether they are aware of the percentage of subsisting public house licences held by Catholics and the percentage of those held by Protestants; and, if figures are not available, whether they will obtain the information.[HL1260]

Baroness Amos: A court is not required to ascertain the religion of a person when granting a licence to sell alcohol by retail. There are, therefore, no figures available on the percentage of subsisting public house licences held by Catholics and the percentage of those held by Protestants. There are no plans to do so.

Northern Ireland: Teachers

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether each of the five Education and Library boards in Northern Ireland advise their staff and interview panels that they are not governed by fair employment legislation when selecting teachers for appointment to state schools; and whether they are also advised that they should abide by each board's anti-discrimination and fair employment policies when so selecting.[HL1261]

Baroness Amos: Information received from the chief executives of the education and library boards in Northern Ireland indicates that staff involved in recruitment and selection and members of boards of governors attending recruitment and selection training are advised of the boards' equal opportunity policies regarding discrimination and fair employment. They are also advised that recruitment of teachers is exempt from the provisions of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998, (Article 71).

House of Lords: Government Documents

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will instruct departments that, when the Printed Paper Office of the House of Lords requests for Members' copies of documents published by them, these copies are to be provided without delay.[HL1289]

Baroness Amos: I am happy to do this. This week my office will contact the parliamentary branches of all government departments to remind them that they should supply the Printed Paper Office with copies of their published documents as soon as possible after they receive a request for such documents.

Northern Ireland: Railways

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to promote the railway line between Coleraine and Londonderry as a tourist attraction.[HL1295]

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Baroness Amos: The Government provide substantial resources to Northern Ireland Railways to enable them to maintain railway services, including services on the Coleraine-Londonderry line. They would welcome any increase in the low levels of patronage of services on this line, but do not promote it or assist in promoting it as a tourist attraction.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When was the track on the railway line between Coleraine and Portrush relaid; and at what cost.[HL1296]

Baroness Amos: Translink has advised that the sleepers and rails on the branch railway line between Coleraine and Portrush were replaced in the summer of 2000 with better quality sleepers and rails previously used on the Belfast to Lisburn main line. The cost of the work was £536,411.

House of Lords: Declarations of Interests

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked the Chairman of Committees:

    When the Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests will report whether Members who are or have been employees of the European Union should declare that fact when speaking in debates about the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union.[HL1274]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Sub-Committee on Lords' Interests completed its deliberations before Christmas, except on the issues raised about Members of the House who are or have been employees of the European Union. It was considered that these issues gave rise to difficult legal questions on which there were conflicting views, and it was agreed that Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Chairman of the Sub-Committee and a former Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, should write a formal legal opinion on these questions. It is expected that he will complete his work shortly and then submit it to the Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee's report is expected to be presented to the Committee for Privileges as soon as possible after that.


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