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Language Implementation Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The proportionality of funding between the UK Government and the Irish Government for each of the North/South Implementation Bodies is determined on the basis of the benefit to each jurisdiction from their activities, and is reviewed as part of the normal budget process

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each year. No change was considered necessary in the course of determining the budget for 2003. While indicative figures for the budgets for 2004 and 2005 have been published, the actual budgets for 2004 and 2005 have not as yet been determined.

North/South Implementation Bodies: Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 3) concerning the budgets for the North/South Implementation Bodies, whether it is possible to move funds from one financial year to the next.[HL3927]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is no formal mechanism to allow for the movement of funds in respect of North/South Implementation Bodies from one financial year to the next.

North/South Implementation Bodies: Final Accounts

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all the Cross-Border Implementation Bodies have supplied final accounts for 2000, 2001 and 2002 to the North/South Ministerial Council; and, if not, which bodies have not yet supplied such accounts and why.[HL4069]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The position regarding final accounts is shown in the attached table.

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Trade & Business Development BodyFood Safety Promotion BoardFoyle Carlingford & Irish Lights CommissionWaterways IrelandSpecial EU Programmes BodyNorth/South Language Body
2000Supplied to NSMCSupplied to NSMCAudit ongoingSupplied to NSMCSupplied to NSMCConsolidated Accounts Audit Ongoing
2001Supplied to NSMCTo be supplied under the exchange of notes*Audit ongoingAudit ongoingSupplied under the exchange of notes*Consolidated Accounts awaited
2002To be supplied under the exchange of notes*Audit ongoingAudit ongoingAudit ongoingTo be supplied under the exchange of notes*Consolidated Accounts awaited

* This refers to the mechanism agreed in the exchange of notes between the British and Irish Governments of 19 November 2002.


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North/South Implementation Bodies: Budgets

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all Cross-Border Implementation Bodies had their budgets approved by the North/South Ministerial Council for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002; and, if not, which bodies did not have their budgets so approved and for what reason.[HL4125]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under paragraph 2.1 of Part 7 of Annex 2 of the Agreement establishing Implementation Bodies made on 8 March 1999

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between the British and Irish Governments, the initial grants (the budget for the year 2000) were made from monies appropriated by the Appropriation (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 and from money voted by Dail Eireann.

Under the same provision, the North/South Ministerial Council, with the approval of Finance Ministers, is required to make recommendations for subsequent years as to the amount of grants (budgets) for the Implementation Bodies to be paid from money voted by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Dail Eireann.

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Accordingly the NSMC recommended the budgetary provisions for 2001 and 2002 on 17 November 2000 and 17 December 2001 respectively.

MoTs: Waiting Times in Belfast

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the current waiting time for an MoT at the Belfast centre is almost two months; and, if so, what steps they are taking to change this state of affairs as a matter of urgency.[HL3929]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The average waiting time for an MoT appointment at the Belfast centre is currently 6 and a half weeks, with a maximum waiting time of 9 weeks for about 40 per cent of customers. Customers who are willing to travel to other test centres can get tests in shorter periods. For example, average waiting times last week for the Larne and Downpatrick centres were just over three weeks.

The principal causes of the current waiting time difficulties have been a significant increase in demand and the temporary closure of test centres for the installation of new test equipment—which in turn requires an extensive programme of staff training. Demand at the Belfast centre has been particularly affected by the current temporary closure of Mallusk, which handled 13 per cent of the agency's throughput last year.

The Mallusk centre will reopen on 16 August 2003, and the programme of refurbishment across all centres will be completed in September. In the meantime a number of steps are being taken to alleviate the position. These include: continuing efforts to recruit additional staff; increased overtime working; longer opening hours; diverting technical staff from other duties to testing; working with the equipment supplier to secure higher levels of productivity; better public information and awareness, so that customers have the option of choosing centres with lower waiting times; and relocating staff in order to match capacity and demand as closely as possible.

North/South Ministerial Council

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 8 July (WA 23), whether all papers concerning decisions of the North/South Ministerial Council, including minutes of meetings and memoranda, were placed in the Library of the House, as requested.[HL3957]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Papers relating to the decisions made under the Exchange of Notes of 19 November 2002 up to 30 June 2003 have been placed in the Library.

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Special European Union Programmes Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 3), concerning the Special European Union Programmes Body, on what basis was the proportionality of the payment for the administration budget for the two governments modified between 2000 and 2003; who approved the change; and what procedure was used.[HL3964]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the answer given on 3 June 2003 (WA 139). The proportionality of the administrative budget of the Special EU Programmes Body between the two governments was modified on the basis of the benefit to each jurisdiction from its activities. The Northern Ireland share of the budget increased in this period due to the costs relating to the SEUPB's central payments unit and regional partnership board activities that relate only to Northern Ireland.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 3), concerning the Special European Union Programmes Body, whether the budget for 2000 was approved by the North/South Ministerial Council; and if so, on what date.[HL3968]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: In accordance with the statutory requirements, initial grants (i.e. budgets for 2000) for all the North/South Implementation Bodies were made from money appropriated by the Appropriation (NI) Order 1999 and from money voted by Dail Eireann.

Code of Practice on Access to Government Information

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

    Whether they will publish the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the Cabinet Office and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration on how government departments should deal with requests for information under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.[HL3993]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Minister for the Cabinet Office published the Government's response (Cm 5890) to the Public Administration Select Committee's report on Ombudsman Issues on 22 July. A copy has been sent to the noble Lord.

The response includes the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the Government and the ombudsman on the handling of requests for information under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

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Parliamentary Commissioner: Right of Public Access

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

    Whether they intend to give a high priority to amending the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 so as to create a direct right of public access to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, without the need for intervention by a Member of Parliament.[HL3994]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government's position is set out in the response to the Public Administration Select Committee's report on Ombudsman Issues, published on 22 July. A copy has been sent to the noble Lord.

Draft Civil Contingencies Bill: Clause 25

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

    Whether there is a precedent for Clause 25 of the draft Civil Contingencies Bill, which stipulates that emergency regulations should be treated as primary legislation so as to avoid their being suspended or struck down by the courts because the regulations have been made in excess of Ministers' powers; and[HL3996]

    Whether they consider Clause 25 of the draft Civil Contingencies Bill to be compatible with British constitutional principles of government under the rule of law.[HL3997]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government consider that emergency regulations of the kind proposed constitute a special case and may require special treatment in relation to certain procedures under the Human Rights Act. No other case has required special treatment of that kind since the Human Rights Act came into full effect, on 2 October 2000. The Government believe that emergency regulations are a unique case and do not intend this approach to set a precedent.

The Government consider that Clause 25 of the draft Civil Contingencies Bill is compatible with British constitutional principles of government under the rule of law for three reasons. First, legal challenges to emergency regulations on grounds of incompatibility with the Convention rights are possible, leading to declarations of incompatibility. The mechanism for challenging the compatibility of emergency regulations, which must be approved by Parliament, is the same as that applied to Acts of Parliament. Second, legal challenges to actions under emergency regulations, as opposed to the regulations themselves, on grounds of incompatibility with Convention rights, leading to suspension and/or striking down, are possible. Third, legal challenges to emergency regulations on grounds other than

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incompatibility with Convention rights, leading to suspension and/or striking down, are possible.


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