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16 Jun 2003 : Column WA77

Written Answers

Monday, 16th June 2003.

North/South Implementation Bodies: Budgets

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 2 April (WA 132) concerning the budgets for the North/South Implementation Bodies: (a) whether in each case there were discussions with the boards before the budgets were decided; (b) if so, when and what was agreed; (c) on what authority any changes were then made to each budget; and (d) which, if any, political advisers were involved and what advice did they offer to the Ministers concerned. [HL2735]

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Arrangements for agreeing and approving the budgets for the North/South Implementation Bodies for 2003 were contained in the agreement made by the exchange of notes between the two Governments dated 19 November 2002. The dates on which the recommendations for the budgets for each of the North/South Bodies for 2003 were approved under the above arrangements are set out in the table below. Prior to approval by the two Governments the proposed budgets for the bodies were the subject of consultation between the departments concerned, and agreement by the Finance Ministers north and south.

The special advisers in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister were consulted on the budgets for the bodies prior to the British and Irish Governments approving the recommendations for those budgets. These advisers do not offer advice to Ministers.

Table showing date of approval of 2003 budgets for North/South Implementation Bodies

Implementation BodyDate of Approval
Waterways Ireland24 February 2003
Language Body26 February 2003
Food Safety Promotion Board27 February 2003
Trade & Business Development Body25 February 2003
Special EU Programmes Body6 March 2003
FCILC11 March 2003

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 2 April (WA 132) concerning Cross-Border Implementation Bodies, on what date the budget for 2003 was agreed between the Northern Ireland Department of Finance and its counterpart in the Republic of Ireland's Government; on what date the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure was informed; when the cut was announced; in what form was the announcement; and in what way did it observe the policy of transparency. [HL2768]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Minister responsible for the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland agreed the budget for 2003 for the Language Body on 29 January 2003 and the Irish Finance Minister agreed the budget on 19 December 2002. The budget was then approved on 26 February 2003 under the agreement made by the exchange of notes between the two Governments dated 19 November 2002. The North/South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat formally advised the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure on 7 March 2003 that the budget for the Language Body had been approved under the above arrangements. Details of the agreed budgets for the Implementation Bodies were placed in the Library on 7 April.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In connection with the North/South decision making process, whether they will lodge all papers relating to the setting of implementation bodies' budgets for 2003 in the Library of the House. [HL2828]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The papers relating to the budgets of the Implementation Bodies, which were agreed by the British and Irish Governments under the exchange of notes of 19 November 2002, have been placed in the Library.

North/South Joint Secretariat

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What machinery exists to evaluate the working and cost-effectiveness of the North/South Secretariat in Armagh.[HL2919]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The cost-effectiveness of the North/South Joint Secretariat is monitored within the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's budgeting and planning process, and business objectives adjusted if necessary.

Language Implementation Body

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the activity since 1999 of the two sections of the Language Implementation Body is satisfactory; whether they have received representations from the Government of the Irish Republic on this activity; and, if so, what were the representations. [HL2923]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The activity of the two agencies since 1999 has been considered satisfactory in terms of contributing to fulfilling their statutory functions. The Irish Government make known their views on the Language Implementation Body through the North/South Ministerial Council. Day-to-day dialogue takes place between the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in the South in their roles as sponsoring departments for the

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Language Body. Similar discussion takes place as necessary between the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Department of Finance.

Waterways Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 2 April (WA 132) concerning expenditure by Waterways Ireland, whether the contribution to the body's funding is in proportion to capital expenditure; and why the Government of the Irish Republic only contributed 90 per cent of the budget in 2000 but obtained 100 per cent of the capital work. [HL3015]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Current expenditure by Waterways Ireland on administration and running costs is financed by the two jurisdictions on the basis of 85 per cent from the South and 15 per cent from the North while capital expenditure is funded totally by the jurisdiction in which it is incurred. The total contribution by each jurisdiction in any year reflects both the current and capital spend of the body in that year.

Ulster Scots and Irish Languages

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 21 May (WA 79) concerning the status of Irish and Ulster Scots, whether the Belfast Agreement of 1998 affords both languages equality. [HL3084]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The agreement states that all participants recognise the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in Northern Ireland, the Irish language, Uster Scots and the languages of the various ethnic communities, all of which are part of the cultural wealth of the island of Ireland.

Peace II Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 21 May (WA 87) concerning the Peace II grant scheme, how the application of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 is monitored; and by whom.[HL3136]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The application of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 is embedded into the Peace II programme through the horizontal principles and the application and selection process for projects, which gathers Section 75 information on both the applicant and organisation, and the intended beneficiary groups.

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Overall monitoring of the Peace II programme, including Section 75, is undertaken by the Peace II Monitoring Committee, which is chaired by the SEUPB and includes representatives from the Equality Commission and Government departments, social partners, local government and the environment sector. In addition, a Mainstreaming Equality Working Group is in place to advise the Monitoring Committee and the SEUPB on Section 75 matters.

Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Budget

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the budget allocation for the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure for 2003–04; and what percentage difference there is compared with 2002–03.[HL3313]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The opening budget allocation for the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure for 2003–04 is £99,049,000 an 11.5 percentage increase compared to 2002–03.

Iraq: Humanitarian Situation

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq. [HL3372]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos): The immediate humanitarian situation in Iraq is improving, although many challenges lie ahead. DfID's contribution to this effort is significant. We have already committed £115 million to support the work of humanitarian agencies in the current crisis; £99 million of this has been allocated to specific activities through United Nations agencies (£63.8 million), the Red Cross and Red Crescent (£32 million) and NGOs (£3.4 million). These are the organisations best placed to deliver humanitarian assistance where it is most needed. We have also set aside a further £95 million to meet additional needs as they emerge. DfID teams on the ground in Baghdad and Basra are working with the coalition provisional authority and UK military, and helping to co-ordinate the humanitarian effort.

Progess is being made. Basra now has as much water as it did before the conflict; all 12 main hospitals in Baghdad are functioning; rubbish is being removed from the streets of Baghdad and Basra; the food distribution system is working again and has sufficient pipeline stocks of the main commodities; electricity supply sytems are being repaired; public sector salaries are being paid; and Iraqi policemen are returning to duty.

Much remains to be done however. One of the most critical challenges is ensuring law and order, and managing the security sector to ensure that the Iraqi police and armed forces are reformed effectively, and that demobilised soldiers are reintegrated properly

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into civilian life. More needs to be done to improve Iraq's capacity to provide its people with basic services such as health, education, clean water and sanitation. It will also be important to maintain the effort to clear Iraq of mines and unexploded ordnance, some of which go back to Saddam Hussein's war with Iran in the 1980s; and to make possible the orderly return of Iraqi refugees from neighbouring countries.

It will also be important to ensure as far as possible the full involvement of women in political and economic affairs, to rebuild Iraqi civil society, to develop independent news media, and to create a favourable environment for Iraqi private sector development.

The Development Fund for Iraq will be the central means for financing Iraq's public services, as well as meeting the costs of reconstruction and development, during the process of political transformation. It will be essential that the fund's priority setting and resource allocation processes work as transparently as possible for the clear benefit of the Iraqi people, as envisaged in UN Security Council Resolution 1483 of 22 May.

The United Nations is preparing an update of its Flash Appeal for Iraq. It will be discussed at an official level meeting in New York on 23 June, which will be followed by an informal meeting of donors. Any further DfID contribution towards emergency humanitarian assistance will be considered in view of the needs identified in the revised appeal and the outcome of the discussions in New York. Consideration of the allocation of DfID funding for longer-term reconstruction and development will be undertaken in light of the social and economic needs assessments currently being carried out by the World Bank, IMF and United Nations.


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