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17 Nov 2003 : Column WA235

Written Answers

Monday, 17th November 2003.

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 1), in the case of the Language Implementation Body budget for 2003, how the assessment of benefits for each jurisdiction was made to allow the setting of proportionality of contribution.[HL4777]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The assessment of benefits for each jurisdiction in relation to the language body budget was made when the body was established in December 1999, and was on the basis of a number of factors, including the nature and location of activities being undertaken by the language body and the number and location of staff. No factors have arisen since then to merit a change to this assessment.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 7 July (WA 1) concerning funding for Cross-Border Bodies, whether that reply means that pressure on funding in either jurisdiction should only apply to activity in that jurisdiction.[HL4778]

Baroness Amos: No. Budgets for the North/South Implementation Bodies must be agreed on a joint basis north and south, and thus funding pressures in either jurisdiction may have implications for the budget as a whole.

Northern Ireland: Mental HealthTribunal Rules

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 14 October (WA 99), whether they consider the mental health tribunal rules (Northern Ireland) 1986 to be compatible with the obligations imposed upon the United Kingdom by the European Convention on Human Rights, in view of the decision of the English Court of Appeal last year that the equivalent English rules are incompatible; and, if so, what is their reasoning.[HL4944]

Baroness Amos: The English Court of Appeal did not find that the English mental health tribunal rules, which are purely procedural, were incompatible with the obligations imposed upon the United Kingdom by the European Convention on Human Rights, but it did find that the English Mental Health Act 1983 was so incompatible.

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The review of mental health legislation referred to in my Written Answer on 14 October (WA 99) continues to consider whether the maintenance and exercise of the equivalent Northern Ireland provisions are compatible with human rights obligations.

Northern Ireland Government Offices: Cleaning

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 16 October (WA 128) concerning the cost of cleaning government offices in Northern Ireland, how much office cleaning has cost each year since 1994.[HL4979]

Baroness Amos: The actual costs of cleaning all government offices in Northern Ireland are not held centrally. Information is only readily available from the first full year following devolution for core departments. These costs are set out in the following table.

Financial YearCost
2000–01£1,321,180
2001–02£1,408,262
2002–03£1,698,969

The estimated value of cleaning contracts awarded referred to in my earlier reply (WA 128) is held centrally and amounts to approximately £2.7 million per annum and includes the estimated cost per year in respect of cleaning offices belonging to agencies and NDPBs in addition to the core departments.


Northern Ireland Parliament 1921–1972: Legislation

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many times the Parliament of Northern Ireland enacted legislation discriminating against Roman Catholics or Protestants or both between 1921 and 1972, and whether they will specify the Acts and sections now judged to be directly or indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of religion.[HL4883]

Baroness Amos: I am unaware of any legislation still in force and enacted by the Parliament of Northern Ireland which would now be judged to be directly or indirectly discriminatory on the ground of religious belief.

Belfast: Waterways

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will:


    (a) Obtain powers to dredge or remove debris and rubbish from the Connswater and Knock Rivers and their banks for their full length within Belfast;

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    (b) indicate who are the public sector littoral owners of those rivers who have current responsibility for such dredging; and


    (c) enhance the Connswater River with overhanging walkways as it flows through the Connswater Shopping Centre in east Belfast.[HL4945]

Baroness Amos: The main urban sections of the Connswater and Knock Rivers in east Belfast are already designated for maintenance by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Rivers Agency. Maintenance work is carried out as and when necessary to ensure free flow. Works, including channel clearance, in the Connswater and Knock Rivers are included in the agency's maintenance programme in the current business year. Any extension of existing designated sections would only be based on drainage need, and not amenity reasons.

Designation of watercourses within the terms of the Drainage (Northern Ireland) Order 1973 does not require public sector ownership of the watercourses concerned to enable necessary drainage works to take place.

The Rivers Agency's drainage remit does not enable it to carry out works solely for amenity reasons and therefore that agency has no plans to construct overhanging walkways in the vicinity of the Connswater River.

Also, the draft Belfast metropolitan transport plan will contain an integrated range of proposals for walking/cycling, public transport, highways and management up to 2015. The work to develop the plan has not identified a pedestrian need that would justify the potentially high costs of constructing walkways overhanging the Connswater River in the vicinity of the Connswater shopping centre in east Belfast.

Iraq: Gender Experts

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) what are the names and qualifications of the two gender experts who have been assigned to Iraq; (b) what is the length and purpose of their assignment; and (c) what is the cost of sending them and supporting their work.[HL5054]

Baroness Amos: For the personal safety of those concerned, under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (exemption 1—defence and security and exemption 8—public employment) and due to the fact that this Answer will be made public, the names, locations in Iraq and salaries of the two gender experts who have been assigned to Iraq are being withheld.

Both gender experts are educated to Masters level. Both have broad experience in the field of social development. The first has a long career that has centred on women's rights, gender equality, gender violence and equal opportunities, working with local authorities, government departments and a range of

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non-governmental organisations. The second, who is seconded to DfID from a local authority, is currently working as an equality officer developing equality strategies in race, gender and ethnicity.

The two experts will provide strategic support to the Minister/Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in addressing the needs of Iraqi women, and provide capacity and support to CPA-South and a local council in southern Iraq to promote gender equality and diversity.

Both experts will work in Iraq for up to six months. The cost of these deployments will be up to £152,000 in total.

Cameroon

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    At the high level meeting on Cameroon to be hosted by the Commonwealth on 29 October, they will press the Cameroon Government to take steps to improve the fairness and transparency of their parliamentary and presidential electoral process; and [HL5133]

    Whether, at the high level meeting on Cameroon to be hosted by the Commonwealth on 29 October, they will insist that the registration of voters is full, fair and transparent; and[HL5134]

    At the high level meeting on Cameroon to be hosted by the Commonwealth on 29 October, they will insist that there are safeguards to ensure the neutrality and independence of officials involved in the administration of elections; and[HL5135]

    At the high level meeting on Cameroon to be hosted by the Commonwealth on 29 October, they will insist that the independence of members of the National Elections Observatory is protected; and[HL5136]

    At the high level meeting on Cameroon to be hosted by the Commonwealth on 29 October, they will consider making economic assistance to Cameroon conditional on improvements in the electoral process.[HL5137]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We are working closely with Commonwealth and other partners in assisting the Cameroon Government to achieve their commitments to reform in all the areas mentioned. At the 31 October Conference, the UK, in common with other donors, made clear its readiness to provide support, in particular for electoral reform and prisons.


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