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Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland during which periods the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has pursued an Irish language policy since 1997. 
Angela E. Smith: The UK Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is an international convention designed to protect and promote regional and minority languages. In Northern Ireland it applies to Irish and Ulster-Scots. The UK Government signed the Charter on 2 March 2000 and it was ratified on 27 March 2001. The Charter came into force on 1 July 2001.
As Inter-departmental Charter Implementation Group, chaired by the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure and comprising all Government Departments that operate in Northern Ireland, developed guidance for public servants to help them meet their obligations
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under the Charter. Interim guidance on Irish was issued to departments on July 2001 to assist in handling approaches to and from the public. Further guidance on both Irish and Ulster-Scots was issued in January 2005 and was revised in June 2005.
Since May 2005, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has been using this guidance in drafting its own Language Policy for Irish and Ulster-Scots and it is hoped to have this finalised by early next year.
Angela E. Smith: I understand from my noble Friend, Lord Rooker, that Northern Ireland received Barnett consequentials as part of the 2004 Spending Review. They were received as a result of funding allocated to DEFRA for increases in the standard rate of landfill tax. As part of the priorities and Budget process, decisions on the allocation of resources have to be taken in the context of local needs and priorities. Therefore, in this instance, it was decided to allocate these resources elsewhere within the Northern Ireland Block where the need is greatest.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list those of his Department's advisory non-departmental public bodies which the Government is required to (a) consult prior to legislative proposals and (b) publish its response to advice from. 
Ms Angela E Smith: The Government are required to (a) consult prior to legislative proposals the following advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by Northern Ireland Departments and the Northern Ireland Office:
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which of the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department (a) have a statutory base, (b) publish their advice to Government, (c) publish an annual report and (d) lay an annual report before Parliament; and if he will indicate in each instance whether this is under a statutory requirement. 
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which of the advisory non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department (a) hold public meetings, (b) conduct public consultation exercises, (c) conduct consultation exercises with outside commercial interests, (d) publish a register of members' interests, (e) publish agendas for meetings and (f) publish the minutes of meetings; and whether in each case this is under a statutory requirement. 
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