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21 Jan 2003 : Column WA83

Written Answers

Tuesday, 21st January 2003.

Queen's Counsel

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the holder of the title and role of Queen's Counsel may have that removed; and, if so, under what circumstances. [HL920]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Barrister or solicitor advocates are appointed as Queen's Counsel as a public recognition of their outstanding legal, professional and advocacy skills. Those barrister and solicitor advocates so appointed continue, however, to be subject to the codes of practice of the General Council of the Bar and Law Society respectively, and so can be disbarred, or struck from the roll, for misconduct. Were this to happen, they would retain their Queen's Counsel status but would be unable to practise. In cases of gross misconduct, it is open to the Lord Chancellor to recommend to Her Majesty that the appointment as Queen's Counsel is also revoked.

Crown Dependencies

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are accountable to Parliament for their oversight of the Crown Dependencies; and, if so, how that accountability is assured. [HL938]

The Lord Chancellor: The three Crown Dependencies are the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man. They all have full internal self-government and their own legislatures. They are not represented in the United Kingdom Parliament. The United Kingdom is responsible for the islands' international relations and for their defence and the Crown is ultimately responsible for their good government. I am the Privy Counsellor primarily concerned with the affairs of the Crown Dependencies and, as a Minister of the Crown, am accountable to Parliament.

Irish Human Rights Commission

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 10 December (WA 24) concerning the Irish Human Rights Commission and its lack of representation from Ulster protestants, Ulster Scots and Ulster Unionist communities:


    (a) what information was sought from applicants that informed the Answer that no one from the groups mentioned applied;


    (b) what was the recruitment process;

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    (c) whether any special activity aimed at these groups was undertaken during the process;


    (d) whether the lack of appointments from these groups was drawn to the appropriate Minister's attention; and, if so , by whom and when; and why no action was taken; and [HL704]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 10 December (WA 24), whether the composition of the Irish Human Rights Commission was referred to the Equality Commission in the Irish Republic; and, if so, by whom, when and what action resulted.[HL705]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The subjects raised are a matter for the Government of Ireland. The noble Lord might wish to write to Mr Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission, 17-19 Lower Hatch Street, Dublin 2, for further information.

I apologise to the noble Lord for the delay in answering this Question.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following the Belfast Agreement of 1998, the following issues have been considered by the Irish Human Rights Commission:


    (a) the requirement for Irish language for a range of state posts;


    (b) the special position of the Irish language in the constitution; and


    (c) the playing of the Angelus daily by the state television and radio networks; if so, what was the result; and, if not, why not; and[HL754]

    In view of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 in which the Government of the Republic of Ireland promised to introduce human rights protection to at least the equivalent level as that in Northern Ireland, whether that Government have informed them of any proposals to create a police ombudsman similar to the one in Northern Ireland; and [HL862]

    In view of the Belfast Agreement of 1998, what criteria were used in the appointment of commissioners to the Irish Human Rights Commission established by the Belfast Agreement; whether at any stage extra commissioners were appointed to reflect Irish society better; and, if so, why this facility was not accorded to the Ulster Scots, protestants and British communities; and [HL904]

    Whether the action of Galway County Council in restricting planning permission only to those who speak Irish fluently will be considered by the Irish Human Rights Commission established by the Belfast Agreement; and, if not, why not.[HL907]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The subjects raised are a matter for the Government of Ireland. The noble Lord might wish to write to Mr Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission, 17-19 Lower Hatch Street, Dublin 2, for further information.

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County Donegal: Civil Servants

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 in which total parity of esteem and equality was promised to all on the island of Ireland, what is the percentage of protestant civil servants in County Donegal; and, if it is less than 11 per cent of the population, why this is the case.[HL863]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The subject raised is a matter for the Government of the Republic of Ireland. The noble Lord may like to write to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Brian Cowan, Iveagh House, 80 St Stephens Green, Dublin 2 for further information.

Northern Ireland: Food Safety Promotion Board

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 9 December (WA 1) concerning the Food Safety Promotion Board, how the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000 can be monitored if the religious breakdown of the board's employees is not recorded; and what information about each employee is recorded.[HL750]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 9 December 2002 (WA 1).

UK Diplomatic Missions: Shared Facilities

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which facilities are shared by United Kingdom diplomatic missions abroad; and with which other missions.[HL941]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The UK missions which share facilities with the missions of other countries or international organisations are: Almaty (France, Germany) Ashgabat (France, Germany), Astana (EU partners), Dar-es-Salaam (Germany, Netherlands, European Commission), Freetown (France), Gaborone (France), Minsk (Italy), Nicosia (Italy), Pyongyang (Germany), Quito (Germany) and Sofia (European Commission).

Crime Reduction and Tackling Drugs Misuse: Funding

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they will allocate funding for crime reduction and tackling drugs misuse.[HL1193]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Filkin): My right honourable friend, the Home Secretary is making a total of £144 million available for crime reduction spending and combating drugs, in the light of local needs. In addition, we will be spending £46.2 million on expanding services to refer people into treatment through the criminal justice system.

We have allocated £94 million on local crime and drugs spend for 2003–04 on building safer communities. The co-ordination between the current funding streams (the Safer Communities Initiative, Communities Against Drugs and Partnership Development Fund, along with the Drug Action Team (DAT) Development Fund) will be enhanced, and we are consulting whether they should be merged into a single pot. This would help to devolve resources and responsibility to the local level; further, the Government's policy under the review of area-based initiatives of reducing the number of funding streams will enable local partnerships to focus on reducing crime rather than on paperwork. We hope to make a further announcement about this very shortly. These funds will include money specifically earmarked to strengthen partnerships' and drugs teams' capacity to deliver, through training and other support, to ensure those fighting crime and drugs are as well equipped as possible in their efforts. They recognise the integration of DATs and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) and the need to streamline their working practices.

Enhanced co-ordination will encourage partnerships to look at both aspects of the problem, and the misery it causes communities, as one issue to be tackled holistically. The money can be used in a huge variety of ways.

Partnerships are showing that they can use our programme funding to deliver a wide range of interventions. They are using it to reduce gun crime; to disrupt drugs markets through direct police work; running activities designed to divert children from getting involved in crime and drugs; paying for more close circuit television (CCTV) cameras or targeted campaigns on particular crimes or drugs hotspots, or for warden schemes. These are just examples and the views of the community are key for informing local decisions.

Partnerships can spend less time dealing with the paperwork, separate reports for each funding stream etc, and more on driving down crime and delivering safer communities.

The allocation also includes the details of what each basic command unit (BCU) will receive from the £50 million BCU fund, with shares ranging from £590,000 to £30,000. This annual fund is designed to help police to meet the individual crime reduction needs of their local area and tackle the priorities set out in the National Policing Plan—which includes combating gun crime. The fund can be spent on crime prevention work such as targeted police operations, youth diversionary schemes, or security advice campaigns for the public.

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£73 million of the money is going direct to partnerships with a further £21.7 million available locally for capacity and training purposes for them and DATs. The £50 million BCU fund should be used to complement this expenditure to tackle the priorities set out in the National Policing Plan and in local crime reduction strategies.

We said we would be introducing a comprehensive end-to-end approach to refer people into treatment via the criminal justice system in the highest crime areas with the worst drug problems. These areas will be those containing the 30 basic command units with the highest rates of acquisitive crime. A total of £46.2 million will be spent in these areas to deliver a range of services we outlined previously.

A copy of the allocations and a note summarising the proposed interventions and a list of the 30 BCUs and the relevant DAT areas has been placed in the Library and my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Policing and Crime Reduction, Mr Denham, is writing to honourable Members with further information about the allocations.


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