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24 Mar 2009 : Column WA124

this period the Public Prosecution Service (PPS)—whose staff are included in these numbers—have increased from 237 to 546 staff (an increase of 309). The PPS was established in June 2005 by the Justice (NI) Act 2002 and is now responsible for all criminal cases previously prosecuted by the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPPNI) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PPS has been implemented over a number of phases from 2003 onwards and staffing levels have increased accordingly. Excluding the Public Prosecution Service, the department's staff numbers have actually decreased over the period.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: There are three main reasons for the department's salary and pension costs increasing from £29.532 million to £51.636 million in the sixyears to 2007-08:

Increase in staff numbers

The staff numbers for the Northern Ireland Office, excluding its agencies and Executive NDPBs, since 2001-02 are shown in the following table.

Financial YearStaff Numbers

2001-02

886

2002-03

926

2003-04

1,032

2004-05

1,091

2005-06

1,191

2006-07

1,233

2007-08

1,251

This represents an increase of 365 staff in the six-year period which equates to a percentage increase of 41.2 per cent.

However, during this period the Public Prosecution Service (PPS)—whose staff are included in these numbers—has increased from 159 to 546 staff (an increase of 387). The PPS was established in June 2005 by the Justice (NI) Act 2002 and is now responsible for all criminal cases previously prosecuted by the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPPNI) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PPS has been implemented over a number of phases from 2003 onwards and staffing levels have increased accordingly.

Excluding the Public Prosecution Service, the department's staff numbers have actually decreased over the period.



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Annual pay increases

The average annual pay increases for Northern Ireland Office staff, excluding its agencies and Executive NDPBs, since 2001-02 have also affected the total cost. The average increase has been 3.78 per cent per annum during this period.

Superannuation Increases

The majority of staff belong to the PCSPS or PCSPS(NI) schemes. The employers accruing superannuation liability charges (ASLCs) for these schemes have risen over the period since 2001-02.

In 2001-02, the ASLC rates ranged between 12.0 per cent and 20.5 per cent of pensionable pay, depending on pensionable salary. The rates in 2007-08 ranged between 16.5 per cent and 23.5 per cent, also depending on pensionable salary.

Nuclear Plants: Security

Questions

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) is the security regulator for the civil nuclear industry. It regulates security arrangements for the protection of nuclear and radioactive material on licensed civil nuclear sites, nuclear transports and sensitive information under the Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003. The OCNS is part of the Health and Safety Executive and conducts its regulatory activities on behalf of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is administered by the Civil Nuclear Police Authority (CNPA), a non-departmental public body set up by the Energy Act 2004. Under this Act, the director of Civil Nuclear Security, who has formal links with the national intelligence services, directs the CNPA on security matters including which sites require an armed response and minimum police numbers required to fulfil this.

The CNPA is part of central government accounts, but they are expected to recover their full economic costs each year from those to whom they provide services, although not to make a profit. Those receiving statutory services from the CNPA are under a statutory obligation to pay the associated costs. Chiefly, these are the nuclear operators whose sites the CNC police.

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey



24 Mar 2009 : Column WA126

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) is the security regulator for the UK's civil nuclear industry. It regulates security arrangements for the protection of nuclear and radioactive material on licensed civil nuclear sites, nuclear transports and sensitive information under the Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003. The OCNS is part of the Health and Safety Executive and conducts its regulatory activities on behalf of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The chief constable, having operational command of the constabulary, works closely with other police forces to ensure that effective support is available to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC). Such support is the subject of a separate Memorandum of Understanding between the CNC and each territorial force in whose operational area the CNC is deployed. The extent and the nature of the support is an operational policing matter.

Ofcom

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): In 2003, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) replaced the functions and duties of five separate regulatory bodies—the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, the Office of Telecommunications, the Radio Authority, and the Radiocommunications Agency. This was done in response to convergence in the telecoms, broadcasting and radio spectrum markets and the need for joined-up regulation in those markets. After five years there are no plans to reintroduce separation.

Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has the power to regulate the UK's broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications sectors. It also allows Ofcom to set and enforce rules on fair competition between companies in these industries.

Procedures have been put in place to deal with potential conflicts of interest. These are that in general no member of Ofcom may have interests in companies where a significant part of their activities are those of an Ofcom-regulated company. If a member is in a position where they do have a conflict of interest, then such member will be advised by the corporation secretary on appropriate action to take. This can include a redaction from part of a meeting, disposal of an interest or resigning from a role. A register of all members' interests is available and published on Ofcom's website at www.ofcom.org.uk/about/csg/.



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Pakistan

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Representatives from religious minorities were unable to participate in the Senate election held on 4 March 2009 because legislation to reserve Senate seats for minorities has yet to be passed. On 16 December 2008, Prime Minister Gilani announced that five seats would be set aside in the Senate for minorities and the recently appointed Minister for Minorities has committed to take this forward through the National Assembly.

Following Pakistan's parliamentary elections in February 2008, the EU Election Observation Mission issued a report which stressed the need for increased participation of minorities in the election process. We have endorsed these recommendations and are working with the EU to identify ways to support the strengthening of democratic institutions including by encouraging the participation of minorities in the election process.

People Trafficking

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): We are giving due consideration to the views put forward by the chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service. A number of them are reflected in the plans we have in place for identifying and supporting victims of trafficking under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which will improve significantly our ability to identify and protect victims of trafficking. We are committed to keeping the new arrangements under review as part of our long-term trafficking strategy.

Petitions

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves



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The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): Records show the Cabinet Office did not receive any petitions in 2007. In 2008, one petition was received. Once petitions are received they are recorded and handled in the same way as correspondence from the public, which would involve sending an acknowledgement followed by a substantive reply. There are no plans to publish petitions or place them in the Library of the House.

Retail Developments

Questions

Asked by Lord Cotter

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Government have put in place strong policies in Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres (PPS6), to allow local authorities to sustain and enhance their town centres. PPS6 asks local planning authorities to plan positively and proactively for their town centres, with growth focused in existing centres in order to strengthen them and, where appropriate, regenerate them.

PPS6 asks local planning authorities, in conjunction with stakeholders and the community, to assess the need for new retail development and identify deficiencies in provision. They should then put in place strong policies based on strategies that reflect their local vision and which are supported by a good evidence base.

We will shortly be publishing revised planning policy for town centres in which the need and impact tests in PPS6, published in March 2005, will be replaced by a more effective and enhanced assessment of the impacts of new proposals outside town centres. Practice guidance on assessing need, impact and the sequential approach will be published at the same time to ensure that the town-centre first policy is implemented consistently.

The Government have developed various policies and tools to promote vibrant and attractive town centres. We are considering what further steps might be taken to assist town centres in the current economic climate.



24 Mar 2009 : Column WA129

Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Patel of Bradford: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated March 2009.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Question asking how many people died in England and Wales as a result of smoking-related illnesses from 2005 to date. (HL2321)

Deaths due to smoking-related illness cannot be directly estimated, as smoking status is not included on the death certificate. However, research published by the then Health Development Agency in 2004 suggested that, in the period 1998 to 2002, an annual average of 92,500 deaths were attributable to smoking in England and Wales.1

Sport: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Written Answer of 27 February provided a response based on efficiency savings that are currently being made within sport and leisure at a national level.

The Audit Commission's Tired of Hanging Around report highlighted the benefits of sport and leisure activities and their role in preventing anti-social behaviour. The report did not take into account the successes of the PE and Sport Strategy for Young People, through which the Departments for Children, Schools and Families and for Culture, Media and Sport have increased the quantity and quality of the sport offer for all young people.


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