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30 Apr 2003 : Column WA101

Written Answers

Wednesday, 30th April 2003.

Northern Ireland Departments: Underspend

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 11 March (WA 168) concerning underspend from the Northern Ireland departments for the year 2001–02, in respect of each department, how much of that underspend has been transferred into 2002–03.[HL2159]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The amount of underspend carried forward from 2001–02 into 2002–03 in respect of the Northern Ireland departments is set out in the following table, and totals £196.9 million. In accordance with the Treasury's end year flexibility (EYF) scheme, this was determined on the basis of an estimate of departmental spend in 2001–02 (made in the early summer of 2002). The remainder of the amount available for carry forward, based on actual departmental spend, will be drawn down in 2003–04, subject (as is always the case in respect of end year flexibility) to agreement by the Treasury of the necessary call on the reserve.

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Amount of Underspend Carried Forward from 2001–02 to 2002–03 in respect of each NI Department

DepartmentAmount carried into 2002–03 (£ million)
Agriculture & Rural Development21.5
Culture, Arts & Libraries11.5
Employment & Learning18.9
Enterprise, Trade & Industry18.7
Finance & Personnel11.1
Health, Social Services & Public Safety39.6
Regional Development17.5
Social Development13.4
Office of the First Minister & Deputy First Minister3.2

Cross-Border Implementation Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Privy Seal on 25 March (WA 72 and WA 73) concerning Cross-Border Implementation Bodies, what are the details of the costs concerned.[HL2305]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information requested, which relates to the set-up costs of both North South Implementation Bodies and the North South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat is provided in the table below.

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Furnishing and Fittings £ IT £ Property including rent/purchases £ Professional fees £ Other costs £ Total £
The Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission000000
Waterways Ireland22,500173,000195,500
The Trade and Business Development Body28,905226,25998,467146,931168,115668,677
The Special EU Programmes Body33,27147,14091,69626,965199,072
The North/South Language Body11,7329,847120,83938,603160,380341,401
The Food Safety Promotion Board5,43945,99925,56246,336123,336
The North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat21,18218,50791,00014,164144,853

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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any of the chief executives of the Cross-Border Implementation Bodies have had cars provided for them as part of their remuneration; and, if so, what types of cars they are and what is their value (a) in capital and (b) as a percentage of the relevant chief executive's pay package.[HL2388]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Two of the North/South Implementation Body's chief executives have been provided with cars.

The chief executive of the Special EU Programmes Body is provided with a Mercedes Benz, which does not have a capital value in accounting terms to the organisation as it is leased. The current taxable benefit of the car is £11,203 or 14 per cent of his remuneration package.

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The chief executive of the Loughs Agency has use of a Landrover Freelander which has a current capital value of £8,703. The current taxable benefit of the car is £2,402. This vehicle is not part of the remuneration package.

Foyle Railway Museum

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What type of insurance cover has been provided for the railway artefacts at the Foyle Railway Museum in Londonderry. [HL2409]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Insurance of the artefacts is a matter for the owners of the artefacts; namely, the council and the Railway Society.jenny

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Northern Ireland Arts Council

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the appointment of the chairman of the Northern Ireland Arts Council has been postponed.[HL2410]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Unavoidable delays in the process meant that Angela Smith, Minister with responsibility for Culture, Arts and Leisure, would have had to take decisions on appointments immediately before the possibility of devolution being restored. The view was taken that this appointment should, if possible, be made by a devolved Minister. The postponement was agreed with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments Northern Ireland (OCPA NI).

North/South Ministerial Council

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much the North/South Ministerial Council spent in 2000–01, 2001–02 and 2002–03; how much each government contributed; how much was spent on set-up costs and in doing so identifying decorating, carpets and furniture; and how much was spent on other items.[HL2470]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) annual reports for 2000 and 2001 provide financial information in respect of the North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat for the periods December 1999 to December 2000 and January 2001 to December 2001 respectively. Copies of these reports can be accessed at the NSMC website, The annual report for 2002 is not yet finalised, but the indicative total payments for 2002 are in the region of £1,400,000.

Staff costs associated with the Joint Secretariat are met by the parent administrations. All other costs are divided equally between the two administrations.

I refer the noble Lord to the responses to HL2062 and HL2305, which detailed the Joint Secretariat's set-up costs and provided a breakdown of those costs respectively. Of the £21,182 for furnishings and fittings referred to in HL 2305, there was a zero spend on decorating, £7,257 spent on carpets, £654 spent on furniture and £13,271 spent on other items respectively.

Boyle Harbour Slurry Wall

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many contractors applied for the contract from Waterways Ireland for the recent installation of a slurry wall at Boyle Harbour; whether Pearse-Bachy made the lowest bid; and, if not, why it was awarded the contract.[HL2502]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The contract for the installation of a slurry wall at Boyle Harbour was awarded by the Irish Government before Waterways Ireland came into existence.

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Limerick Harbour

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many moorings have been created in Limerick by Waterways Ireland as a result of a major scheme to enter the Shannon Navigation into Limerick City.[HL2504]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Waterways Ireland has provided mooring spaces in Limerick Harbour to accommodate approximately 27 boats.

Ulster-Scots Future Search Conference

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of the Future Search for the Ulster-Scots conference which was held by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in 2002; what were the recommendations; and what is the timetable for their implementation.[HL2521]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The total cost of the Ulster-Scots Future Search conference, including planning meetings and expenses, was £27,388.38. The conference produced no recommendations. The conference identified around 30 common themes and a larger number of ideas and potential projects that might support these. Discussions are under way with Ulster-Scots groups with a view to establishing a steering group to take forward the work begun at the conference.

China: North Korean Refugees

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What negotiations they have had with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Government of China about treaty obligations to provide sanctuary for North Korean refugees.[HL2251]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): We regularly raise the issue of North Korean refugees with the Chinese, including at the biannual UK/China Human Rights Dialogue. At the last round of the dialogue, on 21 November 2002, we urged China to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to the border areas and to observe its obligations under the 1951 refugee convention.

However, Her Majesty's Government have not held negotiations with either the UNHCR or China on this issue. We believe that it is for the parties involved to interpret their obligations under this agreement.

We will continue to encourage greater co-operation between China and UNHCR on this issue.

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