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22 Jan 2003 : Column 377W—continued

Killyleagh High School

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the plans for the former Killyleagh High School premises. [91927]

Jane Kennedy: I understand that no formal decision has yet been taken on the future use of the former Killyleagh High School premises, although the matter is to be considered shortly by the South Eastern Education and Library Board.

Landfill Directive

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what financial assistance will be given

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to district councils to assist with the costs of implementing EC Directive 1999/31 on the landfill of waste. [92276]

Angela Smith: Waste Management Plans prepared by district councils in Northern Ireland are a key element of the Government's strategy for implementing EU Directive 1999/31 on landfill of waste. These plans will provide a network of facilities for the segregation, reprocessing and treatment of waste, resulting in its diversion from landfill.

To facilitate the preparation and implementation of their plans, the Department of the Environment provided district councils with grant aid of £2 million in 2001–02 and £3.6 million in 2002–03. An indicative sum of £6.4 million has been set aside for 2003–04 for this purpose. As a result of the 2002 Spending Review, it is expected that this level of grant aid will at least be maintained up to 2005–06.

David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what penalties will be placed on local authorities and site operators who do not comply with the EC Directive 1999/31 on the landfill of waste. [92279]

Angela Smith: The Landfill Directive contains two separate components—targets for reducing the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going to landfill and the introduction of detailed regulatory requirements in relation to the design, operation and aftercare of sites.

The Waste and Emissions Trading Bill, currently before Parliament, sets the framework for the introduction of local authority landfill allowances schemes in each of the four territories of the UK to ensure that the BMW targets are met. The Bill permits allocating authorities (in the case of NI, the Department of the Environment) to make regulations setting the level of penalties and supplementary penalties where a local authority has breached its landfill allowance or has failed to maintain prescribed records, make prescribed returns etc. Penalties are automatic, but allocating authorities may extend the time for paying any penalty (including interest) or relieve a local authority, whether or not subject to conditions, from liability to the whole or any part of a penalty (including interest).

The Bill also provides for penalties to be imposed on landfill site operators who fail to maintain prescribed records, make prescribed returns etc The penalties are stated on the face of the Bill and include fines and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

In Northern Ireland, a consultation exercise on options for meeting the BMW targets has just ended and an analysis of responses is under way. If this shows support for a system of district council landfill allowances, the provisions of the Bill in relation to penalties will be applied.

The Department of the Environment proposes to consult on the regulatory requirements of the Directive, including penalties, later this year.

Planning Applications

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many planning applications submitted to the Department have not been determined

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after (a) three, (b) six, (c) nine and (d) 12 months; and for those over 12 months, how long it is since they were first submitted. [91366]

Angela Smith: The total number of planning applications received by the Planning Service has increased from 19,771 in 1997–98 to 24,504 in 2001–02, an increase of 24 per cent. within five years. The result of this continuing increase has been an increase in the numbers of live applications in the system. At 31 December 2002, there were 11,361 live applications.

Planning Service is committed to reducing the numbers of live applications, and in order to deal with this significant increase in workload, additional staff have been put in place and further staff are currently being recruited.

Of the 11,361 live applications at 31 December 2002:

Aggregating these figures to deal with the specific questions:

Of the 1,977 applications older than 12 months:

The number of cases live for longer than two years include major applications being processed under the Article 31 procedure and other contentious cases. Article 31 cases include applications which have led to public inquiries or hearings before the Planning Appeals Commission, and applications which require the submission of an Environmental Statement. The processing of other contentious cases is often extended where Planning Service is involved in protracted discussions with applicants, local communities and elected representatives in order to seek acceptable solutions to matters causing local concern.


Work-related Illness

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of days lost from the UK workplace due to stress; and if he will make a statement. [88243]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Estimates from the 2001–02 survey of Self-reported Work-related Illness indicate that self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety account for thirteen and a half million reported lost working days per year in Britain.

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The statistics highlight the importance of tackling work-related stress, which the Health and Safety Commission has recognised by developing a strategy and priority programme of work. So far the Commission has published guidance to help managers and employers undertake a stress risk assessment; commissioned and published research about the evidence linking different factors in the workplace with stress; commissioned research on best practice interventions in dealing with work-related stress (which will be published in the spring); launched new web pages to provide a forum for sharing best practice; and begun the important job of developing standards of good management practice. These standards will provide the yardstick by which organisations can gauge their performance in tackling a range of key stressors.

Adviser Discretion Fund

Sir. Archy Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many payments have been made yearly from the Adviser Discretion Fund; and how many of these payments have gone to help pay for advance childcare deposits or other childcare costs in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK. [90764]

Maria Eagle: Information on the number of awards made through the adviser discretion fund since its introduction in July 2001 is in the table.

Total number of Adviser Discretion Fund awards

2001 (from July)15,20549,819
2002 (up to November)19,441173,778

Information on all the goods and services the Adviser Discretion Fund has helped to purchase is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the following table gives information under broad headings on the type of goods and services purchased using the Adviser Discretion Fund by people who have started work after receiving an award from the fund.

Type of goods or services purchasedProportion of the number of awards provided to people who have moved into work (percentage)(15)
Help with clothes purchase52
Help with travel fares20
Help buying tools6
Help with training/certificates2
Help overcoming other barriers20

(14) Employment services in Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Office.

(15) This information cannot be broken down by country.


Jobcentre Plus

Departmental Expenditure (Newsprint)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total expenditure of his Department was on newspapers, magazines and periodicals in 2002. [90516]

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Mr. McCartney: The Department's total expenditure on newspapers, magazines and periodicals in 2002 was approximately £173,000. Subscriptions may also be taken at local level and information about these is not collected centrally.

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