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7 Jul 2003 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday, 7th July 2003.

Civil and Criminal Justice: Ministerial Responsibility

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their reasons for continuing to separate ministerial responsibility for criminal justice and civil justice in England and Wales into separate government departments, rather than to create a Department for Justice.[HL3420]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister, responding to questions after his statement in another place on 18 June (Official Report 18 June 2003 col. 364) set out clearly why we do not favour the creation of a Ministry of Justice. I commend his views to the noble Lord.

Northern Ireland Departments: Underspend

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 3 June (WA 140) concerning Northern Ireland Departments and underspend, what is meant by "In practice, the contribution from Northern Ireland and Ireland to North/South bodies can be managed to address any planning issues that emerge"; and whether they can give examples when such funds have been used in that way.[HL3212]

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The budgets for the North/South Implementation Bodies are planned and managed on a calendar year basis whereas Northern Ireland public expenditure is planned and managed on a financial year basis. This means that, in practical terms, it is possible to manage the Northern contribution to the budgets (as distinct from the overall budget of the bodies), with a degree of flexibility rather than by recourse to the formal end year flexibility mechanism. However, to date circumstances have not required this approach to be used.

Any changes to the overall budgets for the bodies must be agreed in accordance with the arrangements established under the agreement made by the exchange of notes between the two governments dated 19 November 2002.

North/South Implementation Bodies: Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 3 June (WA 138) concerning funding for

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    implementation bodies, how was the assessment of benefits for each jurisdiction made in setting the proportionality for 2003 of the Language Implementation Body.[HL3237]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The assessment of benefits to each jurisdiction in relation to all implementation bodies is made on the basis of a number of factors including the nature and location of activities being undertaken by the bodies and the number and location of staff employed by the bodies.

North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat (North)

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the budget for the North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat for 2002, broken down into detailed headings; how much was contributed by each government; who approved the budget; by what procedures; and on what date.[HL3250]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Details of the NSMC Joint Secretariat (North) budget allocation for 2002–03 were provided in the Answer given on 12 March 2003 (WA 186). The budget allocation is not approved at a detailed level but as a total figure.

The budget is approved annually by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in accordance with the department's budget management arrangements, operating within the procedures for the management of public expenditure in Northern Ireland.

North/South Ministerial Council: Validity of Decisions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have sought legal advice since 15 October 2002 on the validity of any decisions taken by the North/South Ministerial Council; if so, on which decisions they have sought advice; what were their reasons for this; and whether they will place a copy of this advice in the Library of the House.[HL3278]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information requested is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 2 (Internal Discussion and Advice) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in reaching a decision on 11 June concerning future increases for the salaries of staff in Raphoe, the North/South Ministerial Council followed paragraphs 5 and 6 of its decision-making procedure dated 5 December 2002; and, if so, on what date was the consultation with the Ulster-Scots Agency.[HL3499]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: Representatives of the two sponsoring departments and the North/South Language Body attended a facilitation meeting on Wednesday 12 March 2003 at which the issue of staffing for the Donegal office was discussed. This was in keeping with paragraph 5 of the decision-making procedure dated 5 December 2002.

There was no specific consultation on the provisions relating to future salary increases. This is a standard arrangement which had already been agreed in respect of other North/South bodies.

Special European Union Programmes Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who set the budgets for the administration side of the Special European Union Programmes Body for 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003; when and by whom was each approved; what were those budgets; and how much was the contribution of each government.[HL3252]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The SEUPB operates on a calendar year basis and the 2000 budget was provided for in the North in the Appropriation (NI) Order 1999 for 1999–2000 and the Appropriation Act (NI) 2000 for 2000–01 and in the South in the Appropriation Act 2000. The budgets for 2001 and 2002 were approved by NSMC. The budget for 2003 was approved by the British and Irish Governments under the agreement made by the exchange of notes between the two governments dated 19 November 2002.

The detailed information requested is provided in the table below.

Approved Amount Total
YearNorthSouth BudgetDate Approved
2000£400k£1.6m£2.0mAs above
2001 (initial)£600k£600k£1.2m17 November 2000
2001 (additional)(1)£663k£445k£1.108m30 October 2001
2002£875k£875k£1.75m17 December 2001
2003£1.11m£910k£2.02m6 March 2003

(1) In 2001 the body's budget was set initially at £1.2 million. During 2001, additional funds were approved, raising the total budget for 2001 to £2.308 million. These additional costs related mainly to office costs, the regional partnership board and recruitment.


Language Implementation Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government: On what date the North/South Ministerial Council Secretariat in Armagh was first informed about the decision of the Government of the Irish Republic to cut by 16 per cent the budget of the Language Implementation Body for 2003; by whom; in what form; and what was the council's response.[HL3312]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Department of Finance and Personnel informed the North/South

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Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat on 30 January 2003 of the budgets for all the North/South Implementation Bodies. This information was sent in a schedule, which outlined the total budget for 2003, the Northern/Southern contributions and the projected budget provisions for 2004 and 2005 in respect of each body.

Under the agreement made by the exchange of notes between the British and Irish Governments on 19 November 2002, the two governments approved the recommendation for the total budget for the North/South Language Body on 26 February 2003.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 11 June (WA 42), why the proportions of financing between the Government and the Irish Government for the Language Implementation Body have not been reconsidered in recent years; and whether they will not reconsider them.[HL3365]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The proportionality of funding between the UK Government and the Irish Government for all North/South Implementation Bodies is reviewed as part of the normal budget process each year. To date this has not resulted in any change to the proportionality of funding for the Language Body.

Ulster Scots Music

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals the Belfast School of Music has made for the promotion of Ulster Scots music; whether the school proposes the appointment of appropriate staff; and whom the school has consulted.[HL3325]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Dr Joe McKee, Head of Music Service in the Belfast Education and Library Board, has recently made contact with officials in the Ulster-Scots Agency to arrange a meeting at which these issues can be discussed. The City of Belfast School of Music is also actively appraising the viability of teaching the tin whistle to large groups of primary school children and in addition Dr McKee has had an initial conversation with the principal of a large north Belfast secondary school about the possibility of starting up a pipe band.


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