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12 Nov 2003 : Column WA197

Written Answers

Wednesday, 12th November 2003.

Waterways Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 13 October (WA 89), which indicated that job applications for Waterways Ireland were not submitted to the appropriate departments, why all the Ulster-Scot Agency job applications required clearance from the departments. [HL4590]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): Departments do not clear job applications for either Waterways Ireland or the Ulster-Scots Agency. Indeed, such involvement in the recruitment process would be unethical.

However, grading and salary levels of posts in both agencies are approved both by sponsoring departments and the North/South Ministerial Council.

Cross-Border Implementation Bodies

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 13 October (WA 93) concerning cross-border implementation bodies, what "normally consulted" means; whether there is a requirement to consult the bodies about each year's budget; and, if so, when the Ulster-Scots Agency was consulted about the 2003 budget. [HL4847]

Baroness Amos: The normal budget process for the Ulster-Scots Agency is as set out in the North/South Language Body's financial memorandum. This process was not followed to the letter because the agency's business plan for 2003 was only received by the sponsor departments for comment on 13 November 2002 and the processes set out in the financial memorandum were based on the assumption that the agency would bring forward its business plan to the North/South Ministerial Council, in consultation with sponsor departments and finance departments in July-August 2002.

However, the sponsor departments of the North/South Language Body consult with the agencies of the body regularly throughout the year on matters relevant to the agencies.

Stormont Estate: Car Parking Provision

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many car parking spaces there are on the Stormont Estate in Belfast; how many such spaces have been introduced since 1995; how much more parkland is expected to be used for car parking spaces; and what is their policy on car parking provision on the estate.[HL4946]

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Baroness Amos: There are approximately 2,500 car parking spaces within the Stormont Estate. Around 400 of these are adjacent to Parliament Buildings and are for the use of Assembly members, staff and visitors. The remaining 2,100 are used by civil servants working on the estate, together with visitors and contractors. This total includes spaces designated for use by people with disabilities and for visitors. No extra spaces have been created since 1995 apart from 25 temporary spaces provided recently. Work commenced late September 2003 to upgrade a redundant builder's compound to provide an additional 70 parking spaces. Any further development for parking will be dependent upon the implementation plan stemming from the NI Civil Service accommodation review.

East Belfast: Environmental Improvement Scheme and Road Junctions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the environmental improvement scheme covering the area from the Albertbridge Road junction to the Holywood Road junction in East Belfast; and when it will be completed. [HL4947]

Baroness Amos: An environmental improvement scheme covering the area from the Albertbridge Road junction to the Holywood Road junction in East Belfast was funded through the Belfast Regeneration Office Action Plan in 2000–01. Funding for this scheme ceased in March 2001 and Her Majesty's Government are not aware of any environmental improvement schemes ongoing in the Albertbridge Road/Holywood Road area.

Northern Ireland: Judicial Review Against Public Authorities

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 11 October (WA 95) which indicated that since the end of July 2000 21 per cent of all applications for judicial review against the United Kingdom departments involved the Northern Ireland Administration, what steps they are taking to reduce the proportion to three per cent, which would be similar to the population of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. [HL4949]

Baroness Amos: The Answer given to the noble Lord on 13 October 2003 (WA 95), contained figures for applications for judicial review in Northern Ireland only, and so the comparative analysis which the noble Lord makes is therefore not valid.

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North/South Language Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer from the Lord President on 16 October (WA 127), which department was responsible for the incorrect title of the staff remuneration for the Language Implementation Body decision paper; and whether there are other cases of incorrectly titled papers, which require or required correction. [HL4976]

Baroness Amos: The incorrectly titled paper, which related to staff remuneration of the Language Implementation Body, was an agreed paper presented by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland and by the Department of Community, Gaeltacht and Rural Affairs in the Republic of Ireland.

The Government are not aware of other cases of incorrectly titled papers.

Northern Ireland: Smoking

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there has been consultation with the Government of the Republic of Ireland about the prohibition of smoking in public houses and bars in Northern Ireland; and what plans there are to introduce such a prohibition.[HL5008]

Baroness Amos: No inter-governmental discussions have taken place about banning smoking in Northern Ireland although officials discuss areas of mutual interest, including tobacco control measures, through existing North/South channels. The Government have no plans to legislate in this area at present.

Northern Ireland: Tourism

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 16 October (WA 128), what consideration was given as part of the Natural Resource Rural Tourism Initiative to the prospect of Ulster Scots tourism, including Scots Irish living in the United States. [HL5024]

Baroness Amos: It is the responsibility of Tourism Ireland, working closely with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), to promote Northern Ireland internationally. The Natural Resource Rural Tourism Initiative (NRRTi) is specifically aimed at enhancing Northern Ireland as a unique and attractive destination and does not have an international marketing role.

Tourism Ireland recognises the significance of the "Scots Irish" heritage in securing future tourism growth to the island of Ireland. In support of this, areas of the United States with significant Scots Irish populations have been identified and an advertising campaign is being targeted at these.

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Further phases of the marketing campaign will collect relevant information and target respondents through direct mail. Tour operators will also be identified to create tailor-made packages aimed at the Scots Irish population in the United States.

North/South Ministerial Council: Budget

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 16 October (WA 126), how the budget for the North/South Ministerial Council was agreed under the agreement contained in the exchange notes between the two Governments dated 19 November 2002 if the issue of proportionality was not discussed with the Ulster Scots Agency.[HL5025]

Baroness Amos: The budget for the North/South Ministerial Council is not subject to agreement under the arrangements contained in the exchange notes between the two Governments dated 19 November 2002. Budgets for North/South implementation bodies are subject to these arrangements. The arrangements contained in the exchange notes between the two Governments do not require proportionality to be discussed.

Office of the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the estimated extra annual costs of the proposed reform of the Office of the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions and its powers; and what concomitant savings will be made in the police service budget when the police abandon their prosecuting role.[HL5026]

Baroness Amos: The extra annual costs are estimated at £9 million for 2003–04, £10.5 million for 2004–05, and £15.6 million for 2005–06. A pilot project for the new service will commence on 1 December 2003. Until the pilot has been fully evaluated it is not possible to predict the savings that will be made by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, but removing the police from a prosecuting role will allow them to focus even greater effort on the investigation and detection of crime.

Northern Ireland: East/West School Projects

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make funding available for East/West school projects between Northern Ireland and Scotland similar to the Warrington Project, as required under parity of esteem guarantee for Ulster Scots in the Belfast agreement.[HL5028]

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Baroness Amos: The Warrington Project (NI) was developed as a pilot project and funded from April 1998 to August 2001 through the EU Physical and Social Environment Programme (PSEP II) supported by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. This source of funding is no longer available.

The Department of Education through its Community Relations Core Funding Scheme supports voluntary organisations, based in Northern Ireland, which are working towards the improvement of community relations among young people from different communities in Northern Ireland. Proposals designed to improve relations on a cross-border or inter-island basis will also be considered for funding, provided that they have a direct impact on community relations in Northern Ireland.


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