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21 Apr 2004 : Column WA35

Written Answers

Wednesday, 21 April 2004.

Northern Ireland: Paramilitary Activity

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord President on 4 March (HL Deb, col. 775), what help has been given to them by Mr Adams and Mr McGuiness concerning information about the organisation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[HL1997]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): As the Prime Minister has said, the republican leadership has made real efforts to move on from the past. But the Government have also repeatedly made clear that all paramilitary activity must now come to a complete end. We have made this point consistently in the course of our discussions with all the Northern Ireland parties.

Belfast Education and Library Board

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the administration costs of the Belfast Education and Library Board for each year since 1993–94.[HL2007]

Baroness Amos: The figures for the eight years to 2002–03 are as follows:

£000's
1995–963,983
1996–973,872
1997–984,150
1998–994,024
1999–20004,055
2000–014,404
2001–025,793
2002–036,981

The figures for 1993–94 and 1994–95 were £6,464,000 and £6,328,000 respectively but it is important to note that the accounting treatment of administration costs prior to 1995–96 was on a different basis and these amounts are therefore not directly comparable with those for later years.

The increase in costs in the past two years were due in part to non-recurring costs such as redundancy payments, backdated job evaluation payments and maintenance costs. These additional costs were funded from reserves and did not impact on the amount available for distribution to school budgets, which were increased in line with departmental guidance. It is forecast that expenditure for 2003–04 will return to a level more in line with previous years.


Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 31 March (WA 158) concerning the Belfast Education and Library Board, why the number of non-teaching staff of the board increased by over 16 per cent between 1998–99 and 2002–03.[HL2359]jenny

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Baroness Amos: Information is readily available for Belfast Education and Library Board appointments only for the 2001–02 financial year and beyond. For the two-year period up to March 2003, the board's level of non-teaching staff increased by some 6 per cent. This was largely due to a significant increase in the numbers of nursery and classroom assistants appointed in mainstream and special schools to support teachers; to support the introduction and extension of the Making a Good Start initiative; and to provide increased support for children with statements of special education needs.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 31 March (WA 158) concerning the Belfast Education and Library Board, why 56 per cent of the board's staff in 2003 was non-teaching.[HL2360]

Baroness Amos: Education and library boards employ, in addition to teaching staff, staff in a wide range of non-teaching occupations. These include many front-line posts such as classroom assistants; school cleaners and caretakers; school transport staff; and school crossing patrols as well as staff in youth clubs and libraries. An analysis of Belfast Education and Library Board staff at March 2003 is as follows:

Category of staffNumbers at March 2003%
Cleaning6458
School Meals6277
Supervisory Assistants6147
Classroom Assistants6087
Auxiliary staff5286
General and nursery assistants3744
HQ staff3134
Library2143
Caretaking1852
Youth1802
School Crossing Patrols1121
Bus escorts1001
Drivers711
Others1472
Total non-teaching4,71856
Total Teaching3,74144
Grand Total8,459100

Northern Ireland: Railways

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 11 March (WA 185) concerning the railway line between Coleraine and Londonderry, whether a study will be undertaken to establish the tourist potential of the line.[HL2009]

Baroness Amos: The Northern Ireland Tourist Board has no plans to undertake a specific study to establish the tourism potential of the railway line between Coleraine and Londonderry.

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Police Service of Northern Ireland

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the numerical strength of the Police Service of Northern Ireland given the current level of crimes against the elderly in Northern Ireland.[HL2071]

Baroness Amos: The size of the Police Service of Northern Ireland was established by the report of the Independent Commission for Policing in Northern Ireland. The Chief Constable has in turn developed a human resource strategy, which is being pursued in partnership with the Northern Ireland Policing Board. The operational deployment of police officers is a matter for the Chief Constable, but the numerical strength of the service will not change due to the incidence of a particular crime or crimes. However crimes against the elderly are taken seriously by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and a number of initiatives have been introduced in an attempt to impact on such crimes.

Republic of Ireland: Official Languages Act

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consultation took place with cross-border implementation bodies before the Republic of Ireland passed the Official Language Act 2003; and, if so—where the consultations took place; when they took place; with whom they took place; and whether all bodies, including the Ulster-Scots Agency, were included in the consultations.[HL2132]

Baroness Amos: Her Majesty's Government understand that the Irish Government did not consult the implementation bodies before the enactment of the Official Languages Act 2003.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Republic of Ireland, by an Act of its Parliament, gave instructions to the implementation bodies set up under the Belfast Agreement of 1998 without the approval of the North/South Ministerial Council.[HL2134]

Baroness Amos: The implementation bodies, established by agreement between the British and Irish Governments, carry out their functions subject to the domestic law of the two jurisdictions. That agreement does not require the approval of NSMC to the application of domestic law of the UK or Republic of Ireland to the bodies. Joantodd

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they became aware of the Republic of Ireland's Official Languages Act 2003; what representations they have made on the Act; when any such representations were made; and to whom.[HL2135]

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Baroness Amos: The Government became aware of the Official Languages Act 2003 following its publication by the Irish Government. No representations were made to the Irish Government.

Northern Ireland: Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current number of civil servants directly employed in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Office at Stormont; and[HL2142]

    Whether, in the absence of agreed devolution in Northern Ireland, it is their intention to increase or decrease the current number of civil servants in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Office.[HL2143]

Baroness Amos: The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister is a fully functioning department of the Northern Ireland Administration with a wide range of important policy responsibilities as well as a role in providing services to other departments. Many of its functions have a cross-departmental perspective. As at 1 March 2004 there were 383 staff employed on functions of the department and a further 36 staff who were employed by OFMDFM, but outposted to associated bodies.

Following the suspension of the devolved institutions those staff who were engaged on functions directly related to the devolved arrangements such as private offices to Ministers were redeployed to other posts within the department and in other departments of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

There are no plans to alter the size of the department at present.

Civil Service

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposed reduction in the numerical strength of the Civil Service will include those employed in Northern Ireland; if so, to what extent; and in which departments.[HL2144]

Baroness Amos: The recent announcements on reductions in Civil Service numbers arise from the Government's efficiency review in Whitehall and so do not directly affect Northern Ireland. However, the Government are pursuing a similar focus on delivering greater efficiency in the delivery of public services, with the aim of releasing resources for reallocation to front-line services. This will be a core element of the Northern Ireland priorities and budget process, which will run throughout the rest of 2004.

21 Apr 2004 : Column WA39


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