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Written Answers

Tuesday, 20 June 2006.

Agriculture: Royal Bath and West Show

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): There were no official ministerial visits to the Royal Bath and West Agricultural Show in 2006. Ministers will consider any invitation to attend the show in the future.

Autism

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The multi-disciplinary early intervention teams that are in place to deal with autistic spectrum disorder operate at trust level.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Information provided by the health and social services trusts enables the boards to plan services to meet the needs of their population.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Multi-disciplinary early intervention teams to deal with autistic spectrum disorders are drawn from paediatricians, psychiatrists, educational psychologists, nurses, early intervention therapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and social workers. Seven early intervention teams operate within Northern Ireland. They are
 
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located in the following trusts: Foyle, Homefirst, Down Lisburn, North and West Belfast, South and East Belfast, Ulster Community and Hospital Trust, and Newry and Mourne, which serves all of the Southern Health and Social Services Board.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The multi-disciplinary early intervention team from the Foyle Health and Social Services Trust works in collaboration with the Sperrin Lakeland Trust and provides an early intervention therapist, a speech and language therapist and an educational psychologist. The early intervention team in the Armagh/Dungannon Trust is provided by the Newry and Mourne Trust.

Benefits: Childless Adults

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The cost of doubling the adult basic personal allowances (ignoring all premiums) in income support and jobseeker's allowance would be around £15 billion in the next financial year (2007–08). This is more than double the current expenditure level because some people not currently on these benefits would gain entitlement, as a result of the increase. The cost is borne across income support, jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

The cost of retaining the current adult basic personal allowances (ignoring all premiums) to adults with children, while doubling them for those without children, would be around £10.5 billion in the next financial year.

These costs are purely in terms of increased benefit expenditure. They do not take account of adverse behavioural impacts to the Exchequer or the economy and assume current levels of unemployment.

Biodiversity: Global Information Facility

Lord Taverne asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The governing board of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is involved in negotiations about its future strategy, including levels of funding for 2007–11. The board has had difficulty reaching agreement on a range of issues, particularly the overall level of funding for the GBIF and the scale of assessment used to calculate financial contributions. A decision on whether the UK should continue to participate and support the GBIF financially will be based on the outcomes of these negotiations.

Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) transition programme is tasked with ensuring that the CEHR is ready to open its doors by 1 October 2007. By its very nature, the CEHR is a major and complex change programme. Consultants have been, or are expected to be, appointed to support the programme in the specialist areas of project management, legal advice, human resources, executive recruitment, IT, communications, property and estates management, organisation design, and change management.

Procurement of consultants and professional services has been through government frameworks to ensure transparency, value for money and the ability to deliver to government standards. For the financial year 2006–07, costs incurred are in the region of £250,000. As consultants have been procured through government frameworks, the day rates are considered competitive market rates for the nature of the specialist services provided.

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has not ceased using the new
 
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information technology system for processing single farm payments. All single payment scheme claims have been, or are in the process of being, validated through the new system and presented to the RPA finance system for payment.

Community Funding: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (David Hanson) launched the Renewing Communities Action Plan on 4 April. The plan, which is available in the Library, includes 62 actions relating to the following five fundamental challenges: improving life prospects, building communities and social cohesion, growing civic and community leadership and active citizenship, improving public service delivery and outcomes, and freeing communities from paramilitary and criminal influence.

Various measures will be introduced to re-focus existing policy to improve service delivery. The impact of these actions, in parallel with other recently announced initiatives, should be felt across all disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland.

Specific measures will also be introduced to mitigate the particular obstacles faced in some Protestant communities which prevent them engaging with, and benefiting from, existing programmes.

Budget allocations for each action are included in the Renewing Communities document.


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