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North/South Ministerial Council

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 18 December 2002 (WA 104).

The exchange of notes has been laid before both Houses of Parliament (Cmd 5708).

Northern Ireland: Offences Recorded and Cleared

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Information on crime figures is not available in the format requested. However the following table shows notifiable offences recorded and cleared by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the financial year 2001–02.

Offences recordedOffences cleared% Clearance Rate
11,808 (42%)
Caution (1)
3,506 (12%)
Taken into consideration
439 (2%)
Offender under age(2)
219 (1%)
Complainant declined to prosecute
10,140 (36%)
Otherwise disposed of
2,030 (7%)

(1) Includes juvenile advice and warning.

(2) Under 10 years old.

The overall crime clearance figure for England and Wales for the same period was 25 per cent. This breaks down as:

Charge/summons 15 per cent

Caution 4 per cent

Taken into consideration 2 per cent

Other 4 per cent.

No comparable figures are available for Scotland.

18 Mar 2003 : Column WA24

Northern Ireland: Burglary

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the year ending 30 April 2002 how many incidents of burglary were notified to the Police Service of Northern Ireland; and how this figure compares to the number of notified instances of burglary in the previous two years.[HL1814]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The following table shows the notifiable offences of burglary recorded by the police in the financial years 1999–2000 to date.

Financial yearNumber of Offences

Northern Ireland Railways: Freight

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans Northern Ireland Railways have for freight traffic over the next two years.[HL1834]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Northern Ireland Railways has no plans to expand rail freight over the next two years but will continue to appraise new opportunities as and when they arise. However, given the relatively short journeys involved within Northern Ireland, rail freight struggles to compete with road freight.

Ballymoney: Power Station Application

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will hold a public inquiry into the planning proposal to build a power station and an open-cast lignite mine near Ballymoney in Northern Ireland.[HL1915]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Department of the Environment's planning service received the environmental statement required for this planning application on 17 February 2003 and has now validated the application. The application and the environmental statement will be advertised in the local newspapers and in the Belfast Telegraph shortly.

Following consideration of the advice from the consultees and representations made in respect of the

18 Mar 2003 : Column WA25

application and the environmental statement, a decision will be taken on how to proceed with the application and whether this will be by way of public inquiry.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the announcement of 24 February concerning investment for the Northern Ireland Health Service, the £29 million provided for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is new money which has not been announced before; over what period it will be available and for the development of what part of the ambulance service.[HL1936]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The sum of £29 million from the strategic investment programme announced on 24 February will enable the Government to make good and enhance the balance of the £16.2 million investment pledged in July 2002, some £4 million of which has already been committed in 2002–03 and 2003–04. This substantial funding includes £3.0 million for the reconfiguration of ambulance control and communications systems and some £26 million to take forward the modernisation and improvement of the ambulance service set out in the implementation plan for the 2000 Strategic Review. Detailed annual expenditure will be profiled once decisions have been reached on the best approach to financing.

Northern Ireland: Protestant and Roman Catholic Employment Data

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the change in the numbers of Protestants and Roman Catholics in employment in Northern Ireland over the past 10 years.[HL1964]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The most recent available data disaggregated by religion are from the 2001 Labour Force Religion Report. The following figures are grossed up estimates of those in employment for the two religious groups derived from the annual labour force surveys for the years 1991 and 2001. These are sample surveys and the results are subject to sampling error.

Both sexes19912001Net Increase%Increase
Roman Catholic216,000278,000+62,000+29
Roman Catholic121,000156,000+35,000+29
Roman Catholic94,000122,000+27,000+29

(All calculations in the above table are based on unrounded estimates. The figures presented have, however, been rounded to the nearest 1,000 persons for ease of reference).

18 Mar 2003 : Column WA26

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence they have of unemployment differentials between different denominations within the Protestant community in Northern Ireland.[HL1966]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: According to the 1991 census, which provides the most accurate information currently available, the levels of unemployment among the main Protestant denominations within Northern Ireland were as follows:

Unemployment Rate
MaleFemaleBoth Sexes
Church of Ireland15.74%9.54%13.19%

The relevant results from the 2001 census will be published shortly.

Potters Bar Rail Accident

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of correspondence from the Health and Safety Executive or British Transport Police to representatives of families bereaved or injured in the Potters Bar rail accident.[HL2089]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): It would be inappropriate to release this correspondence.

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence of criminal negligence by track staff the British Transport Police has discovered in respect of the Potters Bar rail accident; and whether any such evidence has been communicated to (a) the representatives of those bereaved or injured; and (b) organisations and companies involved in the accident.[HL2090]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: All evidence gathered by the British Transport Police (BTP) in respect of the Potters Bar rail crash will be submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for its consideration. It is not appropriate to release details of any such evidence while the investigation is still in progress.

The BTP and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have a confidential relationship with the bereaved and injured involved in the Potters Bar rail accident. This is based on the recommendations made by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny on the relationship between victim and investigator in his inquiry into the matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence.

The BTP and the HSE have given other interested parties the opportunity to view and comment on

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technical and forensic testing to ensure that all relevant issues are explored. This process has been endorsed by the CPS as being in the best interests of fairness.

The BTP also has a duty to release safety-critical information obtained in its investigation of the accident to the industry, normally through contact with the HSE and Railway Safety. The BTP and the HSE also have a duty to release information to the industry's formal inquiry panel which is charged with identifying safety-critical issues and lessons to be learned from the crash.

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