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North/South Ministerial Council

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have nothing further to add to my answer of 30 June (WA 53).

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have nothing further to add to my answer of 30 June (WA 53).

Ulster-Scots Agency

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My answer of 11 June (WA 44) elaborates on, but does not contradict, my answer of 12 May (WA 1). DCAL informed the Ulster-Scots Agency of the reduction in its budget on behalf of DCRGA on 14 November 2002.

North/South Language Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: Papers relating to the budgets for the Implementation Bodies were forwarded to the special advisers on 6 February 2003.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 25 June (WA 20), whether the North/South Ministerial Council's decision of 19 May concerning staff remuneration of the language Implementation Body was taken in line with procedures issued on 5th December 2002 entitled Ministerial Decision-Making Interim Procedures.[HL3851]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have nothing further to add to my answer of 25 June 2003 (WA 20).

North/South Implementation Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 11 June (WA 43) concerning the North/South Implementation Bodies, how long they can continue to exist under the Belfast Agreement without the existence of a Northern Ireland Assembly.[HL3828]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have nothing further to add to my answer of 11 June (WA 43)

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 3) concerning the funding of North/South Implementation Bodies, what is meant by "a standard arrangement which has already been agreed in respect of other North/South bodies"; who this was agreed by; and why the agreement covers the North/South Language Body.[HL3911]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The "standard arrangement" referred to in the answer given on 7 July (WA 3) relates to the application of future salary increases for staff employed in North/South bodies. The principle is that future salary adjustments following general pay increase rounds for staff of North/South bodies shall be agreed between sponsoring departments with the approval of finance departments without further reference to NSMC. This is to the benefit of the North/South bodies as it does not require a case to be made every year to NSMC for routine increases in salary ranges. Decisions in keeping with this principle have already been agreed for the SEUPB and FSPB by the North/South Ministerial Council prior to suspension. A further decision in keeping with this principle was made under the interim procedures for the Irish Language Agency of the North/South Language Body.

The decision of 11 June is in keeping with this principle.

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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in the creation of pension provision for staff of the implementation bodies set up after the Belfast Agreement of 1998; and what, if any, difficulties are still outstanding.[HL3965]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the answer given on 21 May 2003 (WA 85).

Progress continues to be made on all aspects of the pension scheme for staff of the North/South Implementation Bodies and consultation with the relevant stakeholders is proceeding.

Further proposed amendments to the scheme rules resulting from the most recent round of consultations are currently with the Bodies for consideration.

Belfast Agreement: Human Rights

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in their discussions with the Irish Government the issue of human rights protection as required in the Belfast agreement of 1998 has been discussed; and if so, what is the response.[HL3846]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Human Rights is a subject regularly discussed with the Irish Government at ministerial and other levels. The joint declaration by the British and Irish Governments, which was published in May, reaffirms our joint commitment to human rights affirmed in the Belfast agreement.

"Rhyming Around Belfast" DVD

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what basis money was allocated by the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure to the production of a DVD entitled "Rhyming Around Belfast"; how the professional participants in the DVD were selected; on what basis; and by whom.[HL3865]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure did not allocate any funding to the production of the DVD.

There was no selection procedure for the professional participants in the DVD. The Poet Laureate happened to be visiting one of the participating schools during the making of the DVD and agreed to take part. A local poet, who had been involved with the project from the outset, was asked to do the voiceover for the video.

Northern Ireland: Tourism

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 5) concerning the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, what the board has done to

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    exploit opportunities which are unique to Northern Ireland and to develop a visitor experience that is based on the region's culture and natural attributes as regards Ulster Scots.[HL3909]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: With reference to the opportunities presented by Ulster Scots traditions, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has been working with the promoters of "On Eagles Wing" with a view to assisting with the international marketing costs of this project. The project is currently being assessed under Measure 4.26 of the Peace II programme.

Special European Union Programmes Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 3) concerning the European Union Special Programmes Body, on what dates the budgets for 2001 and 2002 were approved by the North/South Ministerial Council; and whether the budget for 2003 was approved using the procedure of 5 December 2002.[HL3928]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the information provided in the Written Answer of 7 July 2003 (WA 3). The interim procedures were drawn up by officials to facilitate decision-making by Ministers under the Exchange of Notes. Implementation of the procedures is an administrative matter for officials in the relevant departments. The procedures were therefore implemented as necessary to facilitate the approval of the budget for 2003.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many offices the Special European Union Programmes Body has; where they are located; how much each office cost to set up; and how much it costs to run each office.[HL3966]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Special EU Programmes Body has three offices located in Belfast, Omagh and Monaghan. The Special EU Programmes Body offices were set up over a period of three years, 2000 to 2002. Set-up costs by office, excluding running costs, over this period were as follows:

OfficeSet-up Costs
Belfast£506,368
Omagh£448,897
Monaghan£26,061
Total£981,326

In addition to these set-up costs, a further £232,280 in professional fees, relating to recruitment costs, were incurred but cannot be attributed to individual offices as some staff recruitment competitions have involved recruitment to posts in more than one office.

The running costs for each office for 2002 (the first full year of operation for all three offices) were as follows:


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OfficeRunning Costs(1)
Belfast£113,866
Omagh£67,583
Monaghan£26,532
Total£207,981

(1) Running costs are the Premises expenses which includes costs such as rent, rates, electricity, insurance, repairs and maintenance.



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