Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Northern Ireland Office

For many years, it has been the practice of the Northern Ireland Office and its satellite organisations to consult widely on matters of public policy and service delivery; the sensitivities of Northern Ireland politics and society have made that approach a real necessity. The guidance contained in the Cabinet Office's booklet "How to conduct consultative exercises"; was, therefore, readily adopted throughout the Department. By way of example, I am enclosing three notes giving details of consultation exercises carried out in the past three years, namely:

    —  the preparation of the report of the Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland, a key requirement of the Good Friday Agreement, which was published just recently, and on which we are consulting at present (see Annex A);

    —  the steps taken to involve the public in the development of the "Drug Strategy for Northern Ireland (1998)" along with the lessons learnt from that process (see Annex B); and

    —  the efforts the Compensation Agency for Northern Ireland puts into ensuring its services are geared to its claimants and their legal representatives' needs (see Annex C).

  These three exercises will provide the Committee with a good insight into our approach to public consultation on matters with political, operational and service delivery dimensions respectively. I know that the consultation exercises carried out in respect of the reports on the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland (Patten Report—September 1999), another key element of the Good Friday Agreement, and the Review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for Northern Ireland (June 1999) were no less rigorous and extensive.

  I hope this information is helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you require further information.

Peter Mandelson

Secretary of State

20 April 2000

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