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Whether operator response times for the Northern Ireland Office telephone system are monitored; and, if so, what is the average response time for each financial year from April 1999 to March 2004; and what operator response target times have been set to be achieved by March 2005. [HL2805]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The Northern Ireland Office's telephony service is provided as part of a wider service which includes all Northern Ireland Civil Service departments. Operator response times for the overall service are monitored, but because of the manner in which the service is provided it is not possible to provide response times solely for the NIO.
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What was the total cost of installing the Northern Ireland Office's new telephone switchboard; when the switchboard became operational; whether there have been any unexpected difficulties with the new system; and whether operator response times have improved.[HL2804]Baroness Amos: The Northern Ireland Office's switchboard is provided as part of a corporate service which is also used by the 11 departments of the Northern Ireland administration (covering 160 sites and 30,000 staff). It was initially installed in 1992 and replaced in 2003. The new system cost £1.6 million. It addressed problems with maintenance support for the old equipment and provides additional functionality, and was phased in over a period of seven months from April 2003 to October 2003.
The new switchboard introduced new technology which required significant work to integrate with the existing voice telephone network. Some integration difficulties were anticipated and mitigated through the phased implementation approach, although a number took slightly longer than anticipated to resolve.
While there was an initial decrease in average operator response times resulting from these issues, as well as from staff familiarising themselves with the new equipment and adjustments to the call handling process, performance levels are now expected to improve over the next three months and, in the longer term, the switchboard service should be more efficient and effective than before.
2. Small landing jetty projects commenced along the Royal and Grand Canals and including the Barrow Line and the Barrow Navigation at 18 locations in 2003 and five in 2004. A number of small landing jetties were commenced along the Royal Canal and Grand.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 26 May (WA 133) concerning disclosure of information and the 2004 budget of the Ulster-Scots Agency, what is meant by "internal discussion". [HL3089]
Whether the public money provided to the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission for Irish culture has been allocated; if so, to whom; whether there was a business case for such allocations; who scrutinised any such case; and whether they will place copies of any business case in the Library of the House. [HL3130]
Baroness Amos: The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) has a statutory duty to keep under review the effectiveness of the Section 75 duties. The commission has published two annual progress reports on Section 75. They contain a record of evidence of good practice and benefits arising from implementation of the duties. Copies of the reports are available on the ECNI website at www.equalityni.org.
Baroness Amos: The Northern Ireland Office has no nominated equality officer. Work on the statutory equality duty under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 is mainstreamed into the day-to-day work of the department.
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Equality forms only part of the work of the staff in that unit and it is not possible to accurately disaggregate it from their other duties. Only an approximate cost can therefore be provided, which we have calculated, per grade, at around:
Whether they will state the gender, age, ethnic origins and community background of the equality officers employed in the Northern Ireland Office and the part of Northern Ireland (if any) with which they regard themselves as being most closely associated. [HL3266]
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