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Irish Government: Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Government of Ireland is referred to as both ("The Belfast Agreement") and the ("Good Friday Agreement"). References to North and South within the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 7 November (WA173) relate to the geographical jurisdictions of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The steps which have been taken by the Irish Government in accordance with the obligations set out in the section entitled "Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity" in the Belfast Agreement include: establishment of a Human Rights Commission as provided for in the Human Rights Commission Acts 2000 and 2001; preparation of legislation (European Convention on Human Rights Bill, 2001) which is currently before the Dail to give further effect to the convention of Irish law; ratification of the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities; enactment of the Employment Equality Act 1998; and enactment of the Equal Status Act 2002.

Ireland: Reference to the Two States

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

9 Jan 2003 : Column WA232

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 7 November (WA171-72).

Northern Ireland: Learning Disabilities

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people in Northern Ireland are classified as having learning disabilities; which organisations provide support and help for these people; what steps are being taken to improve facilities included at Muckamore Abbey and Stradreagh Hospital; and whether more funding has been allocated.[HL414]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There are 9,280 people with a learning disability in contact with health and social services trusts. In addition to statutory health and social services, there are a number of voluntary organisations, including Mencap and the Down's Syndrome Association, providing a range of support and help for these people.

RRI (Reinvestment and Reform Initiative) funding of £5.1 million has been secured to enable the first phase of the redevelopment of Muckamore Abbey Hospital to commence. This will provide for a 35-bedded specialist admissions and assessment unit and a 23-bedded specialist forensic service. RRI funding of £3.6 million has also been secured for the replacement of the current Stradreagh Hospital with a 43-bed in-patient treatment assessment unit, a 20-place challenging behaviour unit and a five-place rehabilitation unit.

Funding for the learning disability programme of care has increased from £89 million in 1998–99 to £101 million in 2001–02.

North/South Ministerial Council: Equality Scheme

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a draft equality scheme was agreed at the North/South Ministerial Council meeting on 14 June; and, if so, whether it applies to both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.[HL417]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Section 75 and Schedule 9 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 impose statutory duties concerning equality of opportunity and good relations on the North/South Language Body in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland.

A draft equality scheme for the North/South Language Body was approved by the North/South Ministerial Council at the Language Sector meeting on 14 June 2002 and subsequently by the Equality Commission on 26 November 2002.

The equality scheme explains how the North/South Language Body proposes to fulfil these statutory obligations, and a copy has been placed in the Library.

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Use of Irish in Official Business Guidance

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the purpose of a document The Use of Irish in Official Business prepared and circulated by the Linguistic Diversity Branch of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure for Northern Ireland, dated 21 June; to whom it was circulated; and what follow-up there has been.[HL419]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: A document entitled Draft Interim Guidance on the Use of Irish in Official Business was circulated under cover of internal minute, dated 21 June 2001, to officials for comment. The draft document was designated to assist Ministers in the devolved administration agree on practical steps departments might take to fulfil Government's obligations under Part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Language in respect of Irish. Interim guidance was issued to all departments on 6 July 2001.

Northern Ireland: Weston Park Discussions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 12 March (WA 61) which indicated that there was no agreement on Northern Ireland at Weston Park in summer 2001, what was the package of measures put to parties on 1 August 2001, and what was the response.[HL459]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The package of measures presented to the parties on 1 August 2001 set out proposals by the British and Irish Governments in four areas—policing, normalisation, the stability of the institutions and decommissioning—together with a draft statement which the parties would issue in the event that the overall package was acceptable. Not all the parties, however, accepted those proposals.

Northern Ireland: Post-primary Arrangements

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 2 December (WA 88), whether the wishes of parents, teachers and the community will be the basis for the development of new post-primary arrangements which meet the educational needs of all children in Northern Ireland.[HL460]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In developing new post-primary arrangements the Government will take account of the full range of views expressed in all the strands of the Burns consultation, including those of parents, teachers, the community, our education partners, schools, churches and political parties.

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Belfast Agreement: Cross-Border Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government: bjc

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 7 November concerning the salary scales for chief executives of cross-border implementation bodies (WA167), what are the current salaries of the chief executives; and how much each chief executive incurred last year in expenses.[HL461]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The following table details the current salaries of the chief executives of the implementation bodies and their expenses for calendar year 2001.

CEO Expenses 2001CEO Current Salary
Loughs Agency£1,396.31£53,511
Special EU
Programmes
Body£10,071£66,953
Trade and Business
Development£5,917.14£57,822
Waterways Ireland£7,246.96£70,725
Food Safety
Promotion Board£5,445 (sterling
equivalent)£54,042 (sterling
equivalent)
Foras Na GaeilgeNot in post£54,138 (sterling
equivalent)
Tha Boord o
Ulster-ScotchNot in postNot in post

CEOs in bodies based in RoI have their salaries/expenses paid in euros—the table reflects the sterling equivalent in these cases.


Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many cases the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission took under Section 70 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 in 2001-02; what were those cases; what was the outcome; and how many cases they refused to assist in that period.[HL462]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's annual report, copies of which were placed in the Library, contains the answer to the noble Lord's Question. I refer him to pages 39 and 40.

Belfast Agreement: Implementation Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, when the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended on 14 October, the six implementation bodies created by an agreement on 8 March 1999, were also effectively suspended given paragraph 5 of the Declaration of Support of the Belfast Agreement and the second recital to the relevant 8 March 1999 agreement.[HL464]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: No. The bodies continue to discharge important statutory functions. The two governments concluded an exchange of notes on 19 November 2002 relating to the implementation bodies and Tourism Ireland Limited during suspension. A copy of that exchange has been placed in the Library, as has the statement of clarification issued by the two governments following their meeting in Dublin on 18 December 2002.


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