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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: There are two economists currently working in the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. All economists in Northern Ireland Civil Services (NICS) are recruited and employed by the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) and then posted on-loan to other NICS departments.

Economists are recruited through externally advertised competitions at assistant economist and deputy economist level. The entry requirements for these grades are:

Assistant Economist–"At least a second class honours degree or post graduate qualification in economics or in a subject where the study of economics is a major component".

Deputy Economist—"At least a second class honours degree with economics as a major component and at least 2 years' post qualification experience within the last 5 years in economic/financial research and analysis".

Ulster-Scots Community: Parity of Esteem

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: As the Joint Declaration published on 1 May makes clear, the Government remain committed to the full implementation of the Belfast agreement in the context of acts of completion.

The agreement endorses the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all of the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural

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rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities.

Northern Ireland Prison Service: Security

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many prison officers in Northern Ireland were approached by the Police Service of Northern Ireland about their security as the result of the raid on Sinn Fein offices in Stormont during 2002, and whether all security arranged as a result has been put in place.[HL5474]

Baroness Amos: The Northern Ireland Prison Service has no knowledge of any prison officer having been contacted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland about their security following the raid on the Sinn Fein offices in Stormont in 2002.

Following a security breach last autumn, unconnected with the raid on Sinn Fein offices, special arrangements were put in place by the Prison Service to deal with staff whose personal details had been compromised. In all staff were interviewed individually by the police and advised regarding their personal safety.

All compromised officers were given the option to apply for enhanced security measures to be installed at their home under the key persons protection scheme (KPPS) or prison service protection scheme (PSPS).

Alternatively, officers could apply for financial assistance to move home under the Prison Service Assisted Home Removal (AHR) Scheme. Arrangements were also put in place with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to facilitate the purchase of an officer's house under the Scheme for the Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED).

Special arrangements were put in place to accelerate applications and a special unit was set up within the Prison Service to process applications and provide advice and assistance to concerned staff.

Police Service of Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the fitness test for entry into the Police Service of Northern Ireland is still in place; and if not, why.[HL5475]

Baroness Amos: The physical competence test is still in place and requires the same high standard of fitness but is now completed during training and before trainees are attested rather than during selection.

Trainees are now given expert advice and assistance on physical fitness during their initial training. It is expected that this will give more people the opportunity to qualify for entry to the police service.

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UK Bilateral and Multilateral Aid

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much (i) bilateral and (ii) multilateral official development assistance they provided to the following countries for the most recent year for which figures are available: (a) Bolivia; (b) Brazil; (c) Ecuador; (d) Guyana; (e) Paraguay; (f) Peru; and (g) Grenada.[HL5566]

Baroness Amos: The tables below set out development assistance provided by HMG to the countries listed. The bilateral aid figures are for the financial year 2002–03 and the multilateral figures are for the calendar year 2001.

UK Bilateral aid in 2002–03

Country£ millions
Bolivia9.3
Brazil11.2
Ecuador0.3
Guyana12.2
Paraguay0.1
Peru3.4
Grenada0.5

UK Multilateral aid in 2001


Country£ millionsOf which EC £ millions
Bolivia11.73.1
Brazil16.38.0
Ecuador1.10.7
Guyana0.61.0
Paraguay1.00.9
Peru3.12.5
Grenada0.40.0

Source:

Statistics on International Development and Imputed multilateral shares


Northern Ireland Office: Questions for Written Answer

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to shorten the time taken by the Northern Ireland Office in answering Questions for Written Answer.[HL5307]

Baroness Amos: Every effort is made to answer Questions within the two week deadline. Sometimes, regretfully, this has not been possible to achieve, especially when large amounts of information have to be collated.

Ulster-Scots Agency: Budget

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 11 June (WA 44), whether the reduced budget for 2003 for the Ulster-Scots Agency was set by a department of the Eire Government in contradiction to the agreed arrangements; and what is meant by the word "advised" in the answer; and[HL5394]

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    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 9 September (WA 105), whether the reduction of the Ulster-Scots Agency budget by a department of the Eire Government is consistent with the agreed procedures.[HL5395]

Baroness Amos: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given to him on 2 April 2003 (WA 132). The word "advised" can be taken as meaning "informed or notified".

Iraq: Legality of Armed Force

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

    Which Minister was responsible for deciding to authorise publication of the Attorney-General's view of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq while refusing to authorise public disclosure of the detailed consideration of the legal issues upon which that view was based.[HL5482]

Baroness Amos: The Attorney-General agreed with the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to make a written statement setting out his view of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq.

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

    How it is possible to obtain an accurate account of the basis upon which they decided that the use of armed force against Iraq was lawful from a summary of the Attorney-General's view of the legal position, while access to the detailed consideration of the legal issues upon which that view was based is denied. [HL5523]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): I will write to you shortly and place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

Sudan: Human Rights

Baroness Uddin asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they are making to the Sudanese Government against the sentence of double amputation on a 16 year-old Sudanese boy. [HL5504]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The promotion of human rights is one of HMG's priorities in Sudan. We raise human rights cases on a regular basis, both bilaterally and as part of the EU-Sudan dialogue. Our Ambassador in Khartoum raised this case in particular and hudud punishments in general in the last meeting between the EU Heads of Mission and the Government of Sudan in the EU-Sudan Dialogue on 29 October.

I have asked the Sudanese Ambassador to see me to discuss this case, and to press for an end to hudud punishments.

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UK-China Human Rights Dialogue

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the next United Kingdom-China Human Rights dialogue will be held; and whether, in any discussion of religious freedom, they will express concern about death sentences passed on religious leaders, in particular Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. [HL5553]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The latest round of the biannual UK-China Human Rights Dialogue was held in Beijing on 10 and 11 November. We raised our concerns about freedom of religion and belief, use of the death penalty and human rights issues in general.

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche was included in the list of individual cases of concern handed to the Chinese in advance of the dialogue.


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