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Written Answers

Thursday, 13 January 2005.

Northern Ireland: Children's Fund

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): Funding for the Children's Fund has not been stopped. Resources previously allocated to projects remain allocated to those projects. In the draft priorities and budget the proposed allocation to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety includes £9.5 million and £5.4 million in 2005–06 and 2006–07 respectively, for projects under the Children's Fund.

Northern Ireland Events Company

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos : An evaluation of the achievements and considerations for the future of the Northern Ireland Events Company was carried out in 2000. A further review was carried out in 2003. Both reviews recognised the importance of events to Northern Ireland and the contribution of the Northern Ireland Events Company. The 2003 review pointed out that the full potential for an events strategy was not being realised due to the lack of a coherent integrated events and tourism strategy. Excellent Events now features as one of the five winning themes within the NITB Tourism in Northern Ireland strategic framework for action 2004–07. Ongoing discussions about the future arrangements for events are taking place with DETI and NITB.

Northern Ireland: Planning Applications

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: In relation to Sprucefield Retail Park, Lisburn there are three current planning applications for development. Consideration of the applications is ongoing and it is not possible at this stage to be precise about a timescale for the determination of these applications, but each application will be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.
 
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The Planning Service is also considering four applications seeking to amend or vary conditions to existing planning permissions.

Northern Ireland: Teachers

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The Department of Education in Northern Ireland does not hold statistical information on the religious breakdown of teachers employed in schools. The various employing authorities that are responsible for employing teachers hold this information. However, the information is not readily available and could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The Police Ombudsman's Office has advised the following information:

Cases referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions:
Year
2000–010
2001–0278
2002–03184
2003–04179
2004–05 (to date)39
Total475

Cases where action was recommended by the Police Ombudsman:
Year
2000–010
2001–0212
2002–0316
2003–0410
2004–05 (to date)6
Total44

In the cases referred for action, the DPP has recommended prosecution in 18 cases, no prosecution in 10 cases and all others await direction. In the cases that have been to court four have resulted in
 
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conviction, all in the last year; five have resulted in no conviction. The DPP has also directed prosecution in three cases where the Police Ombudsman had not recommended prosecution.

Northern Ireland: Decommissioning

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning is the body responsible for overseeing decommissioning of paramilitary weaponry. The Prime Minister has stated clearly that all arms must be put beyond use through the IICD. The Government are actively working to create the conditions where complete decommissioning can take place.

HIV/AIDS: Developing Countries

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Orphans and vulnerable children are a high priority for DfID. We are particularly concerned with support for children who are affected by AIDS or infected with HIV in Africa, where the situation in the worst affected countries is reaching crisis level, but are also concerned to step up our work in Asia.

DFID has endorsed the UNICEF Strategic Framework for the Protection, Care and Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS. This sets out comprehensive guidance for countries to use in developing national policies and programmes to respond to the needs of vulnerable children, including orphans, street children and those at risk from drugs, prostitution, trafficking and HIV and AIDS. It therefore provides a good basis for discussing policy with partner governments.

In 2004, we saw significant progress in a number of African middle-income countries in developing comprehensive, costed national action plans to address the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children. These are Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, which are among the worst AIDS-affected countries in the world and the number of vulnerable children is growing alarmingly. DfID will be stepping up its support to these countries through multilateral channels and UNICEF in particular. DfID will also be providing support to Botswana to assist in developing and implementing its national action plan.
 
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Brazil is giving high priority to meeting the needs of poor and vulnerable children in integrated programmes in all regions. These include measures to support access to education and health services.

DfID has had less success in Russia. Despite providing the majority of support to harm-reduction activities over the past five years, we have had relatively little success at the federal level in promoting a favourable policy environment for vulnerable young people at risk from drugs.

Northern Ireland: Freedom of Information

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The six North/South Implementation bodies were established by an international agreement between the British and Irish Governments, and are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the equivalent legislation in the Republic of Ireland.

However, the Implementation Bodies Agreement 1999 provides that a code of practice on access to information held by the bodies will be drawn up by the Irish and Northern Ireland Ministers with responsibility for freedom of information for approval by the North/South Ministerial Council. That code is in preparation.


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