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Northern Ireland Legislation: Religious Discrimination

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Sections 46 and 47 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 make provision that all suitably qualified applicants to the post of police trainee will be recruited on the basis of 50 per cent of Roman Catholics and 50 per cent non-Roman Catholics. These same sections also make provision that where there are six or more police support staff posts at the same level which are to be filled at or around the same time then appointment will also be on the basis of 50 per cent Roman Catholic and 50 per cent non-Roman Catholic.

Northern Ireland: Civil Service Smoking Chambers

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Amos: It is not government practice to disclose whether they have sought legal advice or the content of any advice obtained.

Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the mission statement for the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure for the years 2003 and 2004; whether it includes the concept of developing cultural understanding and tolerance, and, if not, why not.[HL5128]

Baroness Amos: The business year 2003–04 is covered by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure's (DCAL) current Corporate Strategy 2001–2004. This strategy includes a vision of Northern Ireland as a "confident, creative, informed and prosperous community".

The department is working towards this vision by encouraging cultural understanding and tolerance coupled with a sense of social responsibility and inclusion.

"Promoting and celebrating cultural diversity and individual creativity" is one of six goals contained in the strategy. This goal focuses on contributing to improved levels of understanding of and within our community and on addressing fundamental issues of mistrust, by proactively promoting and celebrating, in partnership with others, the richness of our cultural diversity.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much the employment of the economists in the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure costs per year; whether, as a unit of staff, they have submitted a business plan; and how is their performance measured.[HL5511]

Baroness Amos: The total annual salary costs for the two economists who work in DCAL is £77k per annum. The economist unit is fully integrated into the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure's balanced scorecard business planning process, and is subject to the same monitoring as the rest of the core department. The unit's staff are also subject to the same personal performance appraisal arrangements as staff in the rest of the core department.

Northern Ireland: Employment and Smoking

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether under equality law in Northern Ireland a potential employer is permitted to ask an applicant for a job if he or she is a smoker; if not, why; and whether it is possible for an organisation to employ only non-smokers.[HL5208]

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Baroness Amos: There is no equality law in Northern Ireland that deals specifically with the employment of smokers. How employers deal with the issue of employment and smoking is a matter for individual employers.

North/South Ministerial Council: Equality of Status

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Under the arrangements for the North/South Ministerial Council, whether the departments of the Government of Eire are given equal status to the government departments in Northern Ireland; and, if so, whether it is possible for the Government of Eire to insist on agreement from the Northern Ireland departments for any decision.[HL5210]

Baroness Amos: All decisions under the Exchange of Notes of 19 November 2002 are required to be made by agreement between the British and Irish Governments. It is therefore not possible for either the British or Irish Governments to insist on the agreement of the other.

IRA Terrorism: Libyan-supplied Weapons

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 8 October (WA 61), whether Libyan-supplied weapons have been used by the IRA, if so, in which incidents; whether there were any fatalities; what was the cost of any damage caused; and what were the amounts of any compensation paid to businesses and families.[HL5212]

Baroness Amos: There is evidence that Libya has been responsible in the past for supplying quantities of light and heavy weapons and explosives to the Provisional IRA. Compilation of the other information requested could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Northern Ireland: Devolution

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether devolution of central government functions in Northern Ireland to elected representatives or institutions can be achieved by secondary legislation, or whether it requires primary legislation.[HL5240]

Baroness Amos: The restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland as it operated until October last year would be achieved by an order under Section 2(2) of the Northern Ireland Act 2000, subject to the affirmative procedure. The legislative mechanism used for any future devolution of central government functions in Northern Ireland would depend in part on the nature of the functions in question.

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Zimbabwe: Aid

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord President on 10 November (HL Deb, col. 1088), on what basis they are able to claim that no irregularities have been detected recently in the distribution of food aid in Zimbabwe.[HL5515]

Baroness Amos: It is the agreed policy of the World Food Programme and other donor agencies working in Zimbabwe that relevant operations will be suspended in the event of significant incidents of political interference with international food aid programmes. There have been no significant incidents of this kind in recent months and no suspensions have therefore been needed. For the period of July to September 2003, minor incidents were reported affecting 6 per cent of World Food Programme's food distributions. Of these, the vast majority were related to minor theft and crowd control, with only 0.9 per cent of monitored food distributions experiencing incidents with a suspected political element. All of these incidents were resolved quickly with local authorities using agreed procedures.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord President on 10 November (HL Deb, cols. 1085–88), what processes are in place to monitor the impartial delivery of food aid in Zimbabwe and its security from interference after distribution to beneficiaries.[HL5516]

Baroness Amos: The World Food Programme (WFP) agreed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwe Government earlier this year, which renewed rigorous procedures for international food aid. These procedures involve independent beneficiary selection and distribution solely on the basis of need. WFP also undertake post-distribution monitoring which involves visiting households that are receiving food aid in order to assess their satisfaction with the operating procedures and the effect the food is having on their health and livelihoods. In all cases where irregularities are detected, incidents are immediately reported, followed up, and appropriate actions taken in consultation with local authorities.

DfID has recently committed £0.5 million to enhance WFP's capacity to monitor food distributions, including post-distribution monitoring.

Guantanamo Bay: Judicial Procedures

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

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 3 November (WA 67–68), whether the Attorney-General, in discussions with the United States Administration,

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    has raised the issue that military commissions must be independent and impartial in accordance with the obligations imposed upon the United States by the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and [HL5342]

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 3 November (WA 67–68), whether the Attorney-General, in discussions with the United States Administration, has raised the issue that the rules published by the United States Government for the trial by military commissions of British citizens and others held at Guantanamo provide that a guilty verdict may be made by a two-thirds majority of the commission; and[HL5341]

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 3 November (WA 67–68), whether the Attorney-General, in discussions with the United States Administration, has raised the issue that the rules published by the United States Government for the trial by military commissions of British citizens and others held at Guantanamo provide that potentially exculpatory information may be withdrawn from military defence counsel if the prosecution does not intend to introduce such evidence at trial; and [HL5340]

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 3 November (WA 67–68), whether the Attorney-General, in discussions with the United States Administration, has raised the issue that the rules published by the United States Government for the trial by military commissions of British citizens and others held at Guantanamo provide for a jurisdiction in areas not previously subject to the laws of war; and[HL5339]

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 3 November (WA 67–68), whether the Attorney-General, in discussions with the United States Administration, has raised the issue that the rules published by the United States Government for the trial by military commissions of British citizens and others held at Guantanamo are under the control of the President of the United States with no right of appeal to a civil court.[HL5338]

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): The Government have made clear that they have serious concerns about the proposed military commissions. I have held five rounds of talks with the US Administration with the objective of ensuring that the British detainees in Guantanamo Bay, if prosecuted, are assured of a fair trial and to make clear the Government's opposition to the use of the death penalty. The Government do not intend to give a running commentary on these continuing discussions.

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