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Northern Ireland: National Institute for Clinical Excellence Recommendations

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: There are currently no formal arrangements whereby the recommendations of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence are applied in Northern Ireland.

The remit of NICE does not currently extend to Northern Ireland. Negotiations are under way with NICE with a view to extending its remit to Northern Ireland as soon as this can practically be arranged.

Northern Ireland: Paediatric Renal Isotope Scans

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Paediatric renal isotope scans have been available in Belfast at the main Royal Victoria Hospital for some time.

The Eastern Health and Social Services Board has made available an additional £32,000 to the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust in the current financial year to facilitate the relocation of these services to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC). The trust is currently in the process of recruiting the additional staff required. It is anticipated that the service will be offered at the RBHSC site from January 2004.

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Written Ministerial Statements

Lord Morris of Manchester asked the Leader of the House:

    What consideration is being given to replicating in the House of Lords the procedure of the House of Commons on Written Ministerial Statements.[HL4612]

Baroness Amos: The procedure of Written Ministerial Statements in the House of Commons operates so that Ministers can make written announcements directly to that House. This procedure was introduced at the start of this Session.

In the House of Lords Ministers cannot make written announcements directly to the House. Instead they have to "plant" Written Questions in order to make announcements.

I can see merits in the Written Ministerial Statement system, but at the moment the Government have no plans to initiate such a procedural change. However it is open to any Member of the House to put suggestions for procedural reform to the Procedure Committee.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Jopling asked the Leader of the House:

    Whether she intends to reinforce the existing convention that Questions for Written Answer should be given replies within two weeks; and what steps she intends to take in connection with those departments that have failed to provide replies to the 52 Questions that have awaited replies on 7 October for between three and 12 weeks.[HL4653]

Baroness Amos: The time taken to reply to Parliamentary Questions is an issue that concerns me and my ministerial colleagues.

I have recently reminded colleagues of the importance of prompt and accurate answers and will continue to do so on a weekly basis.

Northern Ireland: Prison Population

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the prison population in Northern Ireland on 1 September in each year since 1994.[HL4668]

Baroness Amos:

1st SeptemberPrison Population

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Northern Ireland: Police Training Centre

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made in building a new training centre for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.[HL4735]

Baroness Amos: The project for the provision of a new police college is being progressed by the Police College Project Board (chaired by the PSNI and with representatives from the NIO and the Policing Board). An outline business case for the supply of new facilities was recently submitted to Treasury, seeking permission to proceed to procurement stage. Treasury approval has now been received and a project manager appointed. The PSNI and the Policing Board have carried out an exercise to identify a suitable site for the location of the facility and this process is due to reach a conclusion shortly.

Defence Systems and Equipment International

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total cost to public funds, including expenditure on policing and security, of the recent Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI); and what benefits they estimate to have accrued to the British economy.[HL4625]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The direct cost to the Ministry of Defence identified centrally has been estimated at some £400,000. The final cost remains to be established.

The Metropolitan Police estimate a total of £1.48 million in additional pay and other costs associated with policing the event. British Transport Police estimate their cost of policing the event as £250,000. As above, the final cost remains to be established.

The benefits to the UK economy were evidenced by the presence of a large number of UK exhibitors, who were able to take advantage of the increased opportunities to show and discuss their equipment, and to allow those with current sales campaigns under way to progress their interest. Benefit will also have arisen from the attendance of more than 20,000 visitors, including official defence delegations, travelling to, or staying in, the capital.

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Iraq: Costs of Military Campaign

Lord Hooson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the total financial cost to the British Treasury, to date, of financing the preparation for and participation in the war in Iraq and the restoration of law and order and essential services in that country. [HL4662]

Lord Bach: The Ministry of Defence identifies the costs of operations in terms of the net additional costs it has incurred. The costs which the department would have incurred had the operation not been undertaken—expenditure on wages and salaries or on conducting training exercises, for example—are deducted from the total costs of the operation.

Calculating all the costs of military action will take some time since they will include the cost of ammunition, bombs and guided weapons consumed in excess of peacetime levels and the cost of repairing and replacing equipment destroyed and damaged. We do however estimate the cost of preparatory activities in 2002–03 at around £700 million—less than the £1 billion set aside at Spring Supplementary Estimates 2002–03. This estimate includes the procurement or modification of equipment, increased maintenance and stock consumption, civil sea and air charter and provision of infrastructure in-theatre. A figure for total costs in 2002–03 including the cost of operations up to 31 March 2003 will be published in the department's resource accounts at the end of October 2003.

It is too early to estimate the costs likely to arise in 2003–04. Once these are known, additional funding will be sought in the normal way through Supplementary Estimates.

Reserve Forces

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to call out Reserve Forces in support of the stabilisation and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan.[HL4830]

Lord Bach: On 3 October 2003, following the expiry of the call-out order made last October, we signed a new call-out order—made under the Reserve Forces Act 1996—to allow reservists to continue to be called out in support of the stabilisation and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan. The new order is effective until 30 September 2004.

Over 230 reservists were called out under the order made last October. We are most grateful for their continuing commitment and the invaluable contribution they and their employers make to this operation.

We have also authorised the military secretary to call out special members of the reserve forces, known as Sponsored Reserves, who are involved with the heavy equipment transporter contract. They will

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support operations in Iraq, with about 10 reservists deployed at any one time.

Criminal Cases Review Commission: Membership

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any new members have been appointed to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.[HL4829]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): I am pleased to inform the House that Mr Ian Nichol has been appointed as a member of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Copies of the press release relating to this appointment are available in the Library of the House.

UK Passport Service: Framework Document

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to publish a framework document for the new UK Passport Service. [HL4831]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: On 1 September 2003 the Criminal Records Bureau became an independent agency in its own right and the UK Passport Service was re-established as a separate agency. The UK Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau will not operate under separate framework documents. The UK Passport Service framework document has been published today and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

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