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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The letter of 23 April from the chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to the Lord Chancellor was replied to on 27 April 2001. The reply informed the chairman that his letter had been transferred to the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, as she is responsible for the census. It is not customary to publish such correspondence.
The Lord Chancellor: Lead responsibility for execution of community penalty breach warrants was transferred from the police to Magistrates' Courts Committees on 1 April 2001. Prior to the transfer, statistics on numbers of outstanding warrants or withdrawn warrants were not routinely kept. LCD is now collecting data but complete figures are not yet available. Based on information available at 28 November, 8,757 community penalty breach warrants were issued between 1 April 2001 and 31 August 2001. Of these, 4,612 were outstanding (not executed or withdrawn) on 28 September 2001.
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland has made clear that baton rounds are never used for crowd control purposes. How this is reflected in statements made by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a matter for the commission itself. The Chief Commissioner has been asked to write to the noble Lord. A copy of his letter will be placed in the Library.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Secretary of State has had no meetings with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission since June. Des Browne met with Brice Dickson on 19 September. This was purely a courtesy call, there was no agenda and no specific decisions were reached at this meeting. Jane Kennedy met with Brice Dickson and some members of the commission on 31 October. The meeting was to discuss the Holy Cross dispute, and no specific decisions were reached at this meeting. A further meeting took place on the 19 November, when Des Browne informed Brice Dickson of the Government's decision about new appointments to the commission and the reappointment of existing members.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced on Thursday 22 November, his decision to appoint four new members of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. These appointments resulted from an open competition launched in February. No fixed timetable had been set for the conclusion of the process. During a meeting in September, Ministers had advised the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission that an announcement was unlikely to be made before the end of September, but no specific timescale was discussed.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: All members of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, including the Chief Commissioner were written to in August. The letter asked if they wished to be reappointed as commission members but stressed this was an administrative inquiry only, and was not to be construed as a guarantee of reappointment.
Advertisements appeared in the press in February, inviting members of the public to apply for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. A full and open appointment process has since taken place, and the successful applicants were announced by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on Thursday 22 November.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Appointments to NIHRC are made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, Dame Rennie Fritchie, and the legislative provisions governing the process, including Section 68(3) and Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
Following an open competition launched earlier this year, the Secretary of State announced the appointments of four new commissioners. The Secretary of State, is satisfied that he has discharged his duty to secure, so far as possible, that the commissioners as a group are representative of the community in Northern Ireland.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000, the Chief Constable is required to appoint police trainees from the pool of qualified candidates on a 50 per cent Roman Catholic, 50 per cent non-Roman Catholic basis. The 50:50 requirement applies only to the appointment of
Lord Williams of Mostyn: With the exception of those who had previously passed the Home Office initial recruitment test, all candidates underwent the same selection procedure. As candidates are required to be certified medically fit before undergoing the physical competence assessment, any candidates who failed their medical examination, and subsequently appealed the decision of the medical examiner, had their physical competence assessments postponed pending the outcome of those appeals.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Yes. Section 54 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations as to emblems and flags. Before making any regulations under that section, the Secretary of State shall consult the Board, the Chief Constable, the Police Association and any other person or body appearing to him to have an interest in the matter. That consultation period started on 19 November. When the consultation has finished, the Secretary of State will lay the regulations before Parliament.
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