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When the investigation into alleged discrimination against Protestant employees in InterTradeIreland will be completed; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the report of the investigation.[HL6537]
Lord Rooker: Both sponsor departments and the InterTradeIreland board are working to complete the investigations quickly. However, it is not yet possible to indicate when the inquiry will be completed. The two departments and the board will wish to consider the findings of the inquiry before deciding the question of publication.
Whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel on the subject of the recent attack on the power station in Gaza; and whether they will ask them to replace the destroyed transformers.[HL6679]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): On 22 June, our ambassador in Tel Aviv raised our concerns about the current situation in Gaza with the foreign policy adviser of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert. On 29 June, the defence attaché in Tel Aviv raised our concerns about the worsening situation in Gaza, including the loss of power and water supplies, with the Israeli Defence Force. We will continue to monitor the situation at the power station, including the transformers, closely. The Israeli Cabinet met on2 July and agreed to connect Gaza to the Israeli electricity grid.
Whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel concerning the destruction of historic vineyards and agricultural land in the area of the Cremisan monasteries near Bethlehem to make way for the security wall.[HL6708]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We continue to have serious concerns about the routeing of the barrier and the destruction of land to build the barrier, including around Bethlehem. We fully recognise Israel's right to self-defence. But the barrier's route should be on or behind the green line and not on occupied territory. Construction of the barrier on Palestinian land is illegal. We have not made any specific representations about the destruction of vineyards and agricultural land near Bethlehem. On 23 May, the Attorney-General discussed the routeing of the barrier with Israeli Chief Justice Barak and Israeli Justice Minister Ramon. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli Government.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Adonis on 14 June (WA 25), whether they have received representations from local authorities on the planning of post-16 education provision and delays in receiving funding from regional and local learning and skills councils. [HL6501]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The department has received no such representations. In addition to bringing forward the publication of the grant letter to the Learning and Skills Council, we published last October Priorities for Success, which set out our funding strategy for the next two years. The purpose of this document was to begin the 2006-07 funding allocations process with a clear and concise message on the principles that would underpin this process. The strategy made it clear that higher participation among young people must have the highest priority, alongside helping disadvantaged adults gain basic and level 2 skills for employability.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): Audiology and adult hearing services in particular are mainly accessed directly by primary care and are therefore predominantly outside the scope of the 18-week pathway, which focuses on
11 July 2006 : Column WA108
Lord Warner: The Department of Health is continuing its work with stakeholders to develop the national action plan for adult hearing services, and we aim to announce the publication of the action plan in the near future.
A number of initiatives have been introduced through the modernising hearing aid services programme to increase capacity to deliver audiology services in England. These are the national framework contract (public/private partnership) to bring in additional independent sector capacity, the development of a new degree to help to address the shortage of audiologists, and the introduction of Hearing Direct, which provides follow-up care and advice for some hearing aid users.
From April 2005, the 164 National Health Service audiology departments have been able to routinely assess for and fit digital hearing aids. It is for primary care trusts to ensure that their local population benefits from the modernised services.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The data requested for Wales and Scotland are a matter for the devolved Administrations. During 2004-05, there were approximately 139 hip replacements per 100,000 of population carried out in National Health Service hospitals in Northern Ireland. The data available for England, which relate to the financial year 2004-05, are shown in the table.
|Finished consultant episodes (FCE) for hip replacement operations per 100,000 of population (data for all NHS hospitals in England)|
|Number of FCEs||Population of England mid-2004||Operations per 100,000 of population|
|Code used: W37-W39.|
|Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre|
|FCEdefined as a period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. These figures do not represent the number of patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the year.|
|All operations count as episodesthese figures represent a count of all FCEs where the procedure was mentioned in any of the 12 operation fields in a HES record. A record is included only once in each count, even if an operation is mentioned in more than one operation field of the record.|
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): Education and training budgets are allocated to strategic health authorities (SHAs) for use according to their own local priorities and SHAs have not yet finalised their plans for 2006-07. The Department of Health will collect information on levels of investment later in the year, but it is for the SHAs and their associated deaneries to determine the appropriate level of funding for general practitioner training within the resources available, taking account of workforce need. The resources available to medical deaneries for education and training have risen substantially in recent years.
Whether the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment has commissioned an investigation into the company Novatech; ifso, on what grounds; and when the investigation commenced.[HL6510]
The department is required under the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 to appoint company inspectors when appropriate where a complaint is received from the public, or members or officers of the company, or any body or person connected with the company. The department's function in this area is to protect the public and to regulate the marketplace.
As with all such inquiries, the inspector's terms of reference are to look into the substance of a complaint and any other matters that they may encounter during their investigation. No further comment can be made until the investigation is concluded.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The total cost for the financial years 2004-05 and 2005-06 was £5.79 million. Of this,£4.4 million reflects the one-off costs of designing and setting up the scheme. As at 23 June 2006, a total of £347,887.97 had been paid to 113 beneficiaries.
As part of the Government's White Paper Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system, published on 25 May, we announced our intention to extend eligibility to the financial assistance scheme to members of qualifying pension schemes who were within 15 years of their scheme's normal retirement age on 14 August 2004. We have also announced that we will review the administration of the scheme to ensure that all eligible people receive payments as quickly as possible. This review will report by the Summer Recess.
How many foreign nationals currently serving prison sentences were (a) recommended for deportation by the courts for deportation; and (b) are now liable to deportation under the new policy announced by the Prime Minister on 3 May (Official Report, House of Commons, cols. 958-63).[HL5949]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and his predecessor have provided regular updates on all aspects of our policy onthe deportation of foreign national prisoners. In particular, I refer the noble Lord to the most recent Written Ministerial Statement, made on 23 May 2006 (col. WS 41), in which the Home Secretary sets out his analysis of the department and the eight priority areas set out for management action to rectify these, and required organisational improvements. We shall update the House with our progress on these points shortly.
Whether they will place in the Library of the House the Home Office circular to police forces of December 2004 which set out broad criteria by which cases for consideration for deportation of foreign prisoners should be referred to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.[HL5997]
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The document referred to has already been published on the departments website and is available from the following address: www.knowledgenetwork.gov.uk/HO/circular.nsf/79755433dd36a66980256d4f004d1514/aa1edee7adce9fae80256f490035522d?OpenDocument.
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