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17 Jul 2003 : Column WA145

Written Answers

Thursday, 17th July 2003.

PEACE I Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which European Union PEACE I funded programmes have been reported to, or investigated by, the Government's Internal Audit Service; in which cases irregularities were uncovered; and how much money was involved in each case.[HL3549]

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): A full list of irregularities reported to or investigated by government departments' Internal Audit Services is in the table below.

List of irregularities reported to, or investigated by government departments' Internal Audit Services.

ProjectAmount in £'s
Bunscoil an Luir132,724.50
Kircubbin Nursery Provision10,500.00
KITE-TWN Project17,841.00
Springhill Development Association41,500.00
Hospitality Association in Northern Ireland6,000.00
Moylinn House4,000.00
Ulster Peoples College31,500.00
Ulidia Training Services2,600.00
Walkway Womens Group4,500.00
Fountain Area Partnership113,000.00
Personal Economic Development Programme11,000.00
Sem Bag Manufacturing12,600.00
Dundonald Community Projects25,600.00
Petals Day Care8,405.00
Swags and Tails25,000.00
Ballyclo Suckler Calf Initiative114,139.00
Roslea Cross Community Playgroup7,600.00
Grinian Playgroup3,813.00
Meanscoil Dhoire(1)16,308.50
Educational Resource Pack for Ti Chulainn(1)7,835.63
Ti Chulainn Educational Project(1)9,810.00
Cross Connect(1)27,427.50
1798 Project—Divided Loyalties(1)37,500.00
Promoting Pupil Self Esteem(1)27,322.18
South Belfast Irish School(1)4,699.50
Wellsafe Personal Safety Programme(1)45,000.00
Employment & Training of Technical Assistants for IT in Primary Schools(1)3,094.50
Nursery Provision at Holy Family PS Magherafelt(1)6,106.20
Larne YMCA(1)4,311.75

(1) Denotes those cases reported to Internal Audit as part of PEACE I Closure Report. They were not reported as irregularities.

Departments of State: Faith Advisers/Units

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which departments of state have faith advisers or units.[HL3867]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: As part of the Government's commitment to diversity, some departments have set up units and/or employed diversity and faith advisers, to liaise with various communities on policy, operational and employment matters. Information on the numbers of individual faith advisers or units is not held centrally.

The Home Office is taking forward the Government's 2001 manifesto commitment to "look at Government's interface with the faith communities" via a high level steering group. The steering group, which is made up of departments, prominent representatives of the faith communities, and other interested parties aims to report by December 2003.

Departments of State: Diversity

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which departments of state have failed to reach their employment targets for minority ethnic staff and women at senior levels of the civil service; and what new measures are proposed to remedy any failings.[HL3870]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We are committed to the ambitious five-year corporate Civil Service targets set for the Senior Civil Service (SCS) in 1998. Departments are making good progress on increasing the representation of minority ethnic staff and women at Senior Civil Service level. As at October 2002, 2.8 per cent of staff at this level were from a minority ethnic background and 25.8 per cent were women. This is up from 1.6 per cent and 17.8 per cent respectively in April 1998.

There are a range of measures in place both centrally and in departments to improve representation at senior levels. This includes Pathways—a leadership development programme run by the Cabinet Office targeted at minority ethnic staff with potential to reach the SCS; and a programme of outreach to universities and colleges to encourage minority ethnic applicants to the Fast Stream scheme. Many departments also run their own internal development courses for high potential staff from minority ethnic backgrounds. Departments have also produced race equality schemes which set out action plans on how new duties to promote race equality under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act will be met.

Following the successful pilot of the Cabinet Office Elevator Partnership scheme which paired high potential junior women with a mentor in the SCS, a framework has been developed for departments to customise to suit their own requirements. Also, we have set targets for women in top management posts and have made significant progress in this area from the baseline figure of 12.7 per cent in 1998 to 23.1 per cent in October 2002. In addition, a Civil Service-wide focus group was set up in partnership with Opportunity Now to look at gender issues, including development and progression of women.

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Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What minority ethnic staff networks exist in different departments of state; what financial support is given to each; and what benefits have been accrued to date.[HL3871]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government are committed to developing a diverse Civil Service that is truly representative of the communities it serves. The Government recognise that minority ethnic staff networks have a very important role to play in this transformation and actively encourages individual departments and agencies to support their activities. In addition, the Secretary of the Cabinet and Head of the Home Civil Service acts as the sponsor for the Civil Service Race Equality Network. The Cabinet Office contributed £60,000 to this network.

Information on what networks exist in different Departments of State; what financial support is given to each; and what benefits have accrued to date are not held centrally.

House of Lords Appointments Commission: 2000–03 Report

Lord Hogg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to lay the first report of the House of Lords Appointment Commission for 2000–03 before Parliament.[HL4075]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Prime Minister has today received the first report of the House of Lords Appointments Commission. The report covers the commission's first term from May 2000 to May 2003. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Prime Minister is grateful to the commission for finding, in fulfilment of its remit, people of distinction whom it has recommended on merit.

The Prime Minister shall be inviting the commission to recommend a small number of non-party-political Peers, as well as reporting on the propriety of any party working Peers who are recommended, while discussion on the reform of the House of Lords continues.

Accordingly, after following the standard procedures set by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the Prime Minister has reappointed the chairman and independent members of the commission for further terms of three years, subject to continued discussion on the reform of the House of Lords, not least following the initial response to the Joint Committee report. The Prime Minister has also placed in the Libraries of both Houses his letter to the Chairman.

Pursuant to the Prime Minister's answers on 19 May to the honourable Member for Pendle (Mr Prentice) (Official Report, Commons; cols. 536–537W), the Prime Minister would like to clarify that the House of Lords

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Appointments Commission does come within the remit of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and appointments to the commission are made in accordance with her code of practice.

Northern Ireland: Smoking

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any encouragement will be given to local government councils in Northern Ireland to take action against those who sell tobacco products to minors and what action will be taken against those councils who decline to undertake such tasks.[HL3850]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The five-year Tobacco Action Plan includes specific action to improve existing enforcement activity. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety will also bring forward proposals to place a statutory duty on councils to carry out an annual programme of enforcement action.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to reduce smoking in public places in Northern Ireland.[HL3849]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: A five-year Tobacco Action Plan was published on 8 July 2003. The plan includes a series of actions designed to promote the provision of smoke-free facilities. An implementation group will be established shortly to take forward the agreed action points. A copy of the plan has been placed in the House Library.

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