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Written Answers

Tuesday, 29 June 2004.

Northern Ireland Office: Telephone System

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Average response times for each financial year from 1999 for all inbound calls to the NIO/NICS switchboard are as follows:
Financial yearAverage Response Time
1999–200015.01 sec
2000–0114.58 sec
2001–0212.68 sec
2002–0313.31 sec
2003–0427.00 sec




The 2003–04 figures reflect some integration difficulties between a new switchboard service introduced in 2003 and the underlying telephony network, 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: the recent average response time figure of 20 seconds for May supports this expectation and, in the longer term, the switchboard service should be more efficient and effective than before. A target of 12 seconds is considered to be achievable if efficient call handling processes are established within departments' back-offices.





Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Waterways Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The projects started by Waterways Ireland since January 2003 are:

Northern Region

1. Lower Bann Navigation

Four landing jetties were installed at Christie Park, Coleraine, The Cutts, Coleraine, Carnroe, and Portna.

2. Shannon-Erne Waterway

Access works at Mullanwary, Co Leitrim.

Eastern Region

1. Ringsend Basin Moorings, Dublin.

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.

3. Restoration of a 1,500 metre stretch of Begnagh Bog Embankment on the Royal Canal between Ballydrum Bridge and Begnagh Bridge, Co Longford as part of the ongoing restoration of the Royal Canal.

4. Restoration of Bagenalstown lifting bridge, Barrow Navigation, Co Carlow.

Western Region—Shannon Navigation

1. Landing jetties were installed at Coosan Point, Co Westmeath and below Roosky Lock, Co Leitrim.

2. Construction of a land bridge and installation of fixed and floating breakwaters at Cleighranmore, Co Leitrim.

3. Scarriff Harbour extension, Co Clare.
 
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Ulster-Scots Agency

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Part II Paragraph 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information sets out the type of information that can be withheld under this exemption.

Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: No public money has been provided to the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission for Irish culture.

Northern Ireland Act 1998: Section 75

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Northern Ireland Office: Equality Officers

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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:

Senior Civil Service—£1,490

Grade 7—£7,642

Grade B2—£14,638

Grade C—£10,976

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: In line with Part 11 Paragraph 12 (Privacy of an individual) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information it would be inappropriate to disclose this information.


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