Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Northern Ireland : Vetting Procedures

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The concepts of positive and, by common implication, negative or normal vetting are now outmoded and so have no real application when describing the elements of vetting referred to in my Answer of 6 November. The terminology in current use, and its relationship to the former terminology, is set out in the then Prime Minister's Statement of 15 December 1994 (WA764-66). Broadly, CTC, SC and DDV are all forms of positive vetting.

Ulster-Scots Agency: Interim Chief Executive

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: (a) The post of interim chief executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency was advertised by means of an interest circular circulated internally to all NICS departments. A copy of the notification will be placed in the Library of the House.

(b) Eleven candidates initially expressed interest. Only two forms were received by the closing date.

(c) The departments represented on the selection panel were the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Department of Education.

(d) The competition was carried out in accordance with the Equality Commission's codes of practice. Janice

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

16 Dec 2002 : Column WA80

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Officials of the United Kingdom and Irish Governments discharge the functions of their particular departments. It would not be appropriate to name the officials nor to disclose their rank as this could also identify an individual officer. I can, however, confirm that the officials who advised the Northern Ireland Administration are employed in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Services

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How private ambulance organisations in Northern Ireland are accredited; and how their activities are monitored.[HL283]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There are no provisions in Northern Ireland for the accreditation of private ambulance organisations. It is a matter for the purchasers of private ambulance services to ensure that adequate systems are in place for monitoring the service provided.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the £16.2 million promised to the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service for capital investment in a press release of 3 July has been allocated; and what projects are included in the proposed investment.[HL284]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: £4 million has been made available in the current and 2003-04 financial years for the development of the ambulance service in Northern Ireland. This funding has been earmarked for fleet replacement, refurbishment of training accommodation and the purchase of a fleet management system. The balance of the commitment on the development of the NI Ambulance Service will be addressed in future budgetary allocation decisions.

Strategic Rail Authority: Staffing

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many staff are currently employed at the Strategic Rail Authority, broken down into: (a) freight; (b) passenger franchise management; (c) strategy; (d) infrastructure management; (e) finance; (f) human resources; (g) communications; and (h) other; and what changes in structure are planned in the next six months.[HL388]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The table below gives the current headcount of the Strategic Rail Authority and the projected headcount for 1 April 2003.

16 Dec 2002 : Column WA81

Directorate FunctionsHeadcount at 16/10/2002Projected headcount 01/04/2003
FreightFreight operations and policy, international freight, grants, freight business development2129
OperationsFranchise management, performance and contracts, rolling stock, passenger and licensing, compliance and enforcement126160
Strategic planningNetwork regulation, economist, planning, policy, business management, sponsorship3678
TechnicalSafety development, European technical, systems/infrastructure, innovation and research410
Finance and commercialIT, procurement, financial control, projects and transactions, programme management77115
Human resourcesPremises and services, rail industry HR, business improvement, internal communications, SRA HR3033
CommunicationsMedia, press68
LegalLegal counsel, legal services914
Corporate affairsParliamentary and public communications, stakeholder relations, European affairs2425
Chairman's officeChairman's office44
Secretarial and risk assuranceSecretariat, risk assurance58

Public Appointments

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

    What measures they intend to take to ensure that the political affiliations of those appointed by Ministers to public bodies, as evidenced by their political activities, more accurately reflect the political affiliations of the electorate as a whole.[HL441]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: On the recommendation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life all applicants for public appointment must answer the standard question on political activity. The Commissioner for Public Appointments designed the format of the question after consultation with the Government and the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The question is set out in the commissioner's code.

Political activity should not be regarded as either an aid to or a barrier to appointment. For monitoring

16 Dec 2002 : Column WA82

purposes only, information is requested and collected on the political activity of applicants. Information on political affiliation is not collected, nor is personal or private information such as membership of political parties or voting preferences.

The overriding principle of public appointments is selection on merit, except where statute dictates specific representation or in other strictly limited instances.

The Comissioner for Public Appointments seventh report shows that in 2001–02, 20.7 per cent of total appointees and re-appointees declared some form of political activity.

London Traffic Congestion

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

    Whether they are aware of any data comparing traffic congestion rates in London with those of comparable cities, either in the United Kingdom or in other countries; and, if so, whether they will publish them.[HL442]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Department for Transport will shortly be publishing congestion figures that will include estimates for London. Data are also collected in English urban areas other than London, but results are aggregated together across these areas, rather than being published individually, to ensure that they are sufficiently robust. Some work is done in other countries to attempt to quantify congestion in urban areas, but we are not aware of anything that is done on a comparable basis with the estimates that will be published for London.

Substandard Ships in EU Waters

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support all of the measures relating to substandard ships in European Union waters which will be proposed at the Council of Ministers in Copenhagen in the week of 13 December, if not, which measures they will not support.[HL471]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: We can support all the proposals on substandard, defective ships which we understand are to be put to the Council in Copenhagen.

Transport of Heavy Fuel in Single Hull Tankers

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will support a European Union regulation that takes immediate effect banning the transport of heavy fuel oil in single-hulled oil tankers.[HL472]

16 Dec 2002 : Column WA83

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: In its communication of 3 December the Commission indicated that it intended to propose a regulation prohibiting the transport of heavy fuel oil in single hull tankers bound for or leaving the EU ports. We shall examine this proposal in the light of the conclusions of the Transport Council on 6 December, which we supported.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page