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Northern Ireland: Compensation to Families of "Disappeared"

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government have accepted the recommendation in the Review of Criminal Injuries Compensation for Northern Ireland that "a sum of up to £10,000 should be payable to the family of any person who has 'disappeared' where it can be shown on a balance of probability that the person has been murdered by the members of a terrorist organisation." These special payments are not intended as compensation but are, rather, an acknowledgement of the added suffering caused by the inability of the families to lay their loved ones to rest.

Each of the families whose details are known to the Government was informed in writing of the proposed payments by the right honourable Adam Ingram MP, Minister of State, on 25 September 2000.

Arrangements are currently being put in place to determine how best to calculate and distribute the payments, and the families will be contacted again when further details are available.

Northern Ireland: Murders

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The following table shows the number of persons murdered in Northern Ireland during the period 1969 to September 2000.

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Details of the religion of murdered persons are not kept, and we record charges only, not convictions, against the categories cited.

VictimNo. of murdersNo. of charges brought in respect of murders
RUC300111
Army441106
UDR/RIR20353
Civilian1,860688
Total2,804958

Belfast Agreement: Parity of Esteem for Cultures

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reconfirm their support for those organisations seeking to implement the Belfast Agreement of 1998, and in particular its guarantee of parity of esteem for both cultures and traditions on the island of Ireland.[HL3968]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government firmly support all those organisations seeking the full implementation of the agreement. The Government are committed to the principle of parity of esteem as essential to ensure that the agreement is implemented in a balanced manner, reflecting the culture, ethos and aspirations of all of the people of Ireland, north and south.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 which guarantees parity of esteem for all on the island of Ireland, they will offer advice to the government of the Republic of Ireland on the treatment of those of its residents who consider themselves to be members of the pro-British community.[HL4047]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The treatment of Irish nationals who consider themselves to be members of the pro-British community in the Republic of Ireland is primarily a matter for the Irish Government and it is for them to decide if they wish to seek advice from Her Majesty's Government. All parties to the Good Friday Agreement are committed to the principle of equality for all.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the guarantee of parity of esteem for all communities in the island of Ireland, they will make representations to the government of the Irish Republic to ensure that their application of human rights law is to the same standard as that in Northern Ireland.[HL3976]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Irish Government is committed, under the Good Friday Agreement, to bring forward measures to ensure that at least an

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equivalent level of protection of human rights will apply in its jurisdiction as will pertain in Northern Ireland. It is for the Irish Government and Courts to determine how this is done.

Northern Ireland: Fuel Costs

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the geographical location of Northern Ireland and its land border with the Republic of Ireland, what special consideration is being given to mitigate the effects of the high cost of fuel.[HL3979]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government acknowledge the special circumstances that exist in Northern Ireland as a result of its sharing a land border with the Republic of Ireland.

The Chancellor announced in November 1999 that he would consider the appropriate rate of fuel duties on a Budget-by-Budget basis, taking into account all the relevant economic, social and environmental factors at the time. This applies equally to all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

IRA Arms Dumps: Inspections

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the inspections of IRA arms dumps in June resulted in a detailed list of all the weapons and explosives on display; and, if not, what are the merits of such inspections.[HL4044]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The independent Arms Inspectors, President Maarti Ahtisaai and Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, reported to the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning on 25 June that they had observed that the arms dumps inspected by them held a substantial amount of military material, including explosives and related equipment, as well as weapons and other material. The Inspectors also gave the very important assurance that the weapons and explosives inspected could not be used without this being detected by the Inspectors. It is for the Inspectors to determine how this is to be verified, and what information they may need to hold to do so.

IRA Arms Purchases

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representation they have made to Sinn Fein about the recent conviction in Florida of members of the IRA who were purchasing modern arms.[HL4064]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government have consistently made clear to all parties that they must abide by the absolute commitment in the Good Friday Agreement to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

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British/Irish Government Contacts

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they received representations from the Government of the Irish Republic concerning (a) the Disqualification Bill and (b) the Police Bill for Northern Ireland; and, if so, what was the nature of those representations. [HL4138]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government are in regular contact with the Government of the Irish Republic on a wide range of subjects, including disqualfication issues and the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill.

Northern Ireland: Border Security

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the threat posed by dissident Republicans, they will outline measures to increase further security along the border in Northern Ireland. [HL3977]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Security along the border in Northern Ireland is kept at a level consistent with the threat posed from terrorists from whatever quarter who are opposed to the peace process. Any changes to the security arrangements are made as appropriate by the chief constable in line with his assessment of the level of threat prevailing at the time.

Northern Ireland: Cross-border Co-operation

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make representations to the Government of the Irish Republic to play its part against dissident Republican groups. [HL4139]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government have and will continue to co-operate closely with the Irish Government combating the threat from dissident terrorist organisations. Cross-border co-operation is vital to the safety of citizens not only in Northern Ireland but also in the Republic of Ireland.

English Legislation: Members' Voting Rights

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will introduce legislation to ensure that only English Members of Parliament will be able to vote on legislation concerning England alone, and similarly only English and Welsh Members of Parliament on legislation concerning only England and Wales; and, if not, why not.[HL3813]

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The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): There is no such intention. Parliamentary procedure is a matter for Parliament to determine and it is generally inappropriate to legislate to matters directly related thereto. Moreover, while it would be possible to determine the status of Members of the other place by their constituency, there would be profound difficulties in so categorising Members on your Lordships House.


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