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18 Nov 2003 : Column WA269

Written Answers

Tuesday, 18th November 2003.

North/South Language Implementation Body: Budget

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the budget for 2003 for both sections of the Language Implementation Body; and how it compares with the budget for 2002.[HL4671]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The approved budgets for 2002 and 2003 for the North/South Language Implementation Body are set out in the following table. The budget for 2003 has been revised in line with the revised business plans for the Irish Language Agency and the Ulster-Scots Agency.

£ million

Body/Agency2002 Budget2003 BudgetRevised 2003 Budget
Language Body11.9711.3312.95
Irish Language Agency10.559.9811.41
Ulster-Scots Agency1.421.351.54

Northern Ireland: Public Sector Pension Schemes

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost, for each of the last three years, of the six largest public sector pension schemes in Northern Ireland in terms of:


    (a) total employees' contributions;


    (b) total employers' contributions and current percentage;


    (c) total expenditure on paying members' pensions and benefits; and


    (d) the annual overall difference between the scheme's income and expenditure.[HL4936]

Baroness Amos: The information requested by the noble Lord requires considerable cross-departmental co-ordination to collate. I will write as soon as possible, a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.

East Belfast: Holywood Arches Pedestrian Crossing

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to create a pedestrian crossing at the heart of the Holywood Arches area in East Belfast.[HL4948]

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Baroness Amos: The Chief Executive of Roads Service has written to the noble Lord. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library.

Killinchy: Sewage Disposal Works

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the revised timetable for applications for planning permission for the sewage disposal works at Killinchy, County Down; and when it is planned to complete this scheme.[HL5009]

Baroness Amos: The chief executive of Water Service has written to the noble Lord. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.

Special European Union Programmes Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 8 September (WA 8), why proportionality of the Special European Union Programmes Body was taken into consideration in the consideration of the 2003 budget; and why the proportionality of the Ulster-Scots Agency was not considered.[HL5089]

Baroness Amos: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 8 September 2003 (WA 8).

A revision to the proportionality of funding for the 2003 budget for the Ulster-Scots Agency was not considered necessary as there were no new factors arising to merit a change in proportionality.

North/South Ministerial Council:Business Plan

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who developed and approved the business plan for the North/South Ministerial Council; what are the objectives of the council; which body monitors them; and whether they will lodge a copy of the business plan in the Library of the House.[HL5129]

Baroness Amos: The North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat does not have a composite plan. The Northern Ireland side of the joint secretariat contributes to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) business planning process. Relevant actions and targets are included in the OFMDFM Service Delivery Agreement (SDA) for 2003–04, a copy of which is in the Library. The Service Delivery Agreement is monitored by the OFMDFM Board. The objective of the joint secretariat is to support the North/South Ministerial Council.

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North/South Implementation Bodies: Budgets

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they discuss with the Government of Eire the budgets for North/South Implementation Bodies but not the issue of proportionality of contributors; and, if so, why.[HL5244]

Baroness Amos: The budgets of North/South Implementation Bodies and the proportionality of contribution are agreed by the UK and Irish Governments in accordance with the arrangements under the agreement made by the exchange of notes between the two Governments dated 19 November 2002.

Northern Ireland: Nomenclature

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 29 October (WA 39) concerning the incorrect title given to Northern Ireland by the North/South Ministerial Council, on how many occasions the incorrect title was used; what were those occasions: and why the title was incorrect; and[HL5274]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 29 October (WA 39) concerning the incorrect title given to Northern Ireland by the North/South Ministerial Council, what is their policy regarding the naming of Northern Ireland; whether they issued instructions on this point to departments; if so, what those instructions said, and why they were not adhered to in this case; and[HL5275]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 29 October (WA 39) concerning the incorrect title given to Northern Ireland by the North/South Ministerial Council, who took the decision to use the word "North"; and why the occasion referred to was considered less formal; and[HL5276]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 29 October (WA 39), what is meant by "accepted usage".[HL5343]

Baroness Amos: "Accepted usage" is usage which is readily and accurately understood. Terms such as "North" and "South" are readily and accurately understood when used in the context of the North/South Ministerial Council and the North/South Implementation Bodies.

Reference to Northern Ireland as "the North", although not the legal title of the jurisdiction, is by accepted usage, understood to mean Northern Ireland. The use of the term is not incorrect in documents in which there is no requirement to use the legal title.

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As board members of North/South Implementation Bodies are familiar with the word "North" when referring to Northern Ireland it was felt appropriate to use the less formal terminology term on this occasion.

No specific instructions on this matter have been issued by the North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat.

Northern Ireland Commission for Employment Tribunals: Recruitment

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 4 November (WA 88), what is the recruitment process for the president, vice-president and chairmen of the Northern Ireland Commission for Employment Tribunals; and how their salaries are agreed.[HL5431]

Baroness Amos: The equivalent of employment tribunals in Northern Ireland is the industrial tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal. There is no commission for these tribunals. Recruitment to all judicial posts in the tribunals is by open competition following public advertisement. Holders of these posts must be barristers or solicitors of seven years standing.

The remuneration of the president, the vice-president and the full-time chairmen is determined by Government having regard to recommendations contained in the report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries.

The part-time chairmen are paid the same daily fee as part-time chairmen of the employment tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales as determined by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Northern Ireland Assembly: Elections

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the announcement of elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 26 November 2003 will prevent communication between officials from the Northern Ireland Office and Members of both Houses of Parliament dealing with reserved and excepted matters.[HL5470]

Baroness Amos: The business of Government continues during the election period. It is right that the citizens of Northern Ireland should continue to receive the benefits of effective government. But at the same time, it is important that the Government try to conduct their business in a way which would not interfere with the electoral contest between the competing candidates and parties.

With that in mind, officials in the Northern Ireland Office should aim to ensure that all candidates in the election and their respective parties are treated fairly and equitably; and exercise caution about taking policy decisions or initiatives which might appear to favour a particular candidate or party.

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Ulster-Scots Agency

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 17 June (WA 87) concerning the budget of the Ulster-Scots Agency for 2003, whether the only consideration for the budget was pressure on public expenditure in the Republic of Ireland; whether this was an acceptable reason for a delay in the implementation of its policy in a part of the United Kingdom; and, if not, whether they will ensure that such a reason is not accepted again.[HL4768]

Baroness Amos: The budget for the Ulster-Scots Agency for 2003 was agreed on a joint North/South basis as part of the overall budget for the North/South Language Body. Pressure on public expenditure in the Republic of Ireland was one of a number of factors considered in agreeing the budget for the body.

Whilst available resources and prevailing commitments are always a factor in terms of policy implementation, I understand that a revised business plan for the Language Body has been received by the sponsor departments, and that the budget will be increased.


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