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12 Dec 2002 : Column WA47

Written Answers

Thursday, 12th December 2002.

Irish Language Agency

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Privy Seal on 6 November (WA119-21) concerning the appointment of a chief executive to the Irish Language Agency, where the meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council of 27 November 2001 was held; who attended; and what else was discussed. [HL62]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The date supplied, 27 November, was incorrect due to typographical error. The NSMC meeting was actually held on 23 November 2001 in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, The meeting dealt primarily with issues relating to Waterways Ireland. In addition the NSMC agreed in principle that the recommended candidate was acceptable for appointment as chief executive of Foras na Gaeilge. A list of those who attended the meeting is set out below: Irish Government Delegation Ms Mary Coughlan, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands Mr Philip Furlong (Secretary General) Mr Sean O Cofaigh (Assistant Secretary) Mr Joe Hamill (Policy Advisor) Mr Michael Conroy (Principal Officer) Mr Peter Redmond (Assistant Principal Officer) Northern Ireland Administration Delegation Mr Michael McGimpsey, MLA, Minister of Culture Arts and Leisure Dr Sean Farren, MLA Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Aideen McGinley (Permanent Secretary) Mr Nigel Carson (Assistant Secretary) Mr Alec Foye (Deputy Principal) Ms Julie Childs (Private Secretary to Minister McGimpsey) Mr Brian Patterson (Private Secretary to Minister Farren) Waterways Ireland Mr John Martin Mr Martin Denanny Mr Joe Gillespie Mr Brian McTeggart Joint Secretariat Tim O'Connor

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Dick Mackenzie Helen Brown Conor O'Malley Kevin Lyons

Northern Ireland Civil Service: Security

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many posts within the Northern Ireland Civil Service are classed as sensitive posts or higher; how many of those post holders possess valid security clearance; whether any Northern Ireland civil servants whose security clearances have expired are still in post; and, if so, why.[HL181]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: All administrative staff recruited to the Northern Ireland Civil Service are subject to security vetting before being appointed.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has today announced that he has commissioned a review of the Northern Ireland arrangements, which will report to him with recommendations and a plan for their implementation. That review will include an assessment of the nature and extent of current security vetting within the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Lord Rogan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What vetting procedures are applied to civil servants in Northern Ireland; and whether the same procedures are applied to civil servants in England and Wales. [HL383]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service are security vetted under local arrangements, which are broadly analogous to those operating throughout the UK as set out in the then Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons on 15 December 1994 (WA764-66). Security vetting of civil servants in England and Wales is conducted in accordance with the UK arrangements. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has today announced that he has commissioned a review of the Northern Ireland arrangements, which will report to him with recommendations and a plan for their implementation.

Food Safety Promotion Board: English and Irish Bilingualism

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the ministerial foreword to the Food Safety Promotion Board's annual report for 1999–2000 is in English and Irish when there is no provision for bilingualism in the international agreement of 8 March 1999 which established the implementation body; and why the board has been given an Irish language name. [HL519]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is no prohibition in the legislation establishing the North/South implementation bodies on the use of the Irish

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language. Decisions of the North/South Ministerial Council are by agreement, and the Food Safety Promotion Board's annual report for 1999–2000, containing the bilingual English and Irish foreword was presented to the North/South Ministerial Council meeting held on 27 February 2002.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Assembly of the Western European Union: UK Delegation

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the full composition of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of Western European Union. [HL647]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of Western European Union is as follows: Tony Lloyd Esq MP (Leader) Full Representatives David Atkinson Esq MP Malcolm Bruce Esq MP Sir Sydney Chapman Esq MP Tom Cox Esq MP Terry Davis Esq MP Bill Etherington Esq MP Paul Flynn Esq MP Lord Judd Jim Marshall Esq MP Chris McCafferty MP Kevin McNamara Esq MP Eddie O'Hara Esq MP Lord Russell-Johnston Sir Teddy Taylor MP Robert Walter Esq MP John Wilkinson Esq MP Jimmy Wray Esq MP Substitute Members Tony Banks Esq MP Baroness Billingham Peter Bottomley Esq MP Lord Burlison Ann Cryer MP Jane Griffiths MP Michael Hancock Esq CBE MP Baroness Hooper The right honourable Lord Kilclooney Baroness Knight of Collingtree DBE Khalid Mahmood Esq MP

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Humfrey Malins Esq MP David Marshall Esq MP Alan Meale Esq MP Gordon Prentice Esq MP Geraldine Smith Esq MP Lord Tomlinson Dr Rudi Vis MP

Sudan

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the role of development aid in the peace process and resolution of conflict in southern Sudan; and whether such aid through civil society organisations would assist or inhibit that process over the coming months. [HL300]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): The war in Sudan has made impossible the provision of support for a development programme in Sudan over the past decade. Large amounts of development assistance has been provided for humanitarian relief, the bulk of which has been spent on air costs. Sudan is a highly indebted poor country and over 500 million dollars of development funding will become available from the international community when there is peace. This is creating an incentive for the warring parties to reach a comprehensive agreement. We reinforce this message to the Government of Sudan and the SPLM at every opportunity and point out that a track record of pro-poor reform will also generate considerable debt relief. Until there is a peace agreement, we will continue to support life-saving humanitarian work and peacebuilding activities, such as personnel to monitor the ceasefire in the Nuba mountains, support for the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development Secretariat who chair the peace talks, and support for anti-slavery work. We will also continue to support peace activities through civil society groups, an important part of the wider peace process, through our embassy peacebuilding fund.

Turkey

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What effect they consider the changes proposed to Turkey's constitution by Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan will have on Turkey's candidacy for European Union membership.[HL348]

Baroness Amos: The new Turkish Government have announced a large number of reforms, political and economic. Some may require amendment of the constitution, others new legislation, and yet others better regulation and implementation by the authorities. All of these, in so far as they help meet the Copenhagen political criteria, bring closer the day when Turkey will be able to open accession

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negotiations with the EU. As a strong supporter of Turkey's EU candidature, the British Government welcome them all. But we also admire the Turkish Government's assertion that they want these reforms for their citizens, in any case, regardless of their impact on Turkey's EU candidature.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will discuss with the Government of Turkey, both directly and through multilateral channels, the following issues:


    (a) the clearance of landmines, which are reported to have caused 838 deaths and 937 injuries between 1990 and 2002;


    (b) ratification by Turkey of the Ottawa Convention on Landmines; and


    (c) the refusal of the Turkish Registry of Births to allow parents to give Kurdish names to their children.[HL410]

Baroness Amos: (a) The UK welcomes the Turkish clearance of a reported 10,638 landmines from various border regions by the end of 2001. Turkey has signed several protocols on landmine clearance with neighbours, including Bulgaria and Georgia, and has stated that it has not laid anti-personnel mines on Turkish territory since December 1997.

(b) The UK encourages Turkey and other nations to accede to the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel landmines and the Convention on Conventional Weapons Amended Protocol II that regulates the use of other types of landmines. The UK Government lobbied Turkey in January 1999, as part of a global exercise in support of the Ottawa Convention. Since then, Turkey has supported the UN resolution calling for universal accession to the convention. The Turkish Parliament has taken steps to do so itself; the Turkish parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee approved the principle of accession to the Ottawa Convention on 9 May 2002. We expect Turkey to do so soon.

(c) The situation on Kurdish names is evolving. The Appeal Court ruled in 2000 that parents could register their children with Kurdish names. Some parents doing so were challenged but the courts found in favour of the parents. The new government in Turkey have shown, by existing and planned legislation and by their heavy emphasis on human rights, that they intend to abolish such restrictions on individual liberties.


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