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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The age limit on jurors, along with all policy aspects of trial by jury, is kept under regular review. We have no plans to remove the upper age limit of 70 at present.
Further to the Written Answers by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 25 June (WA 253) and on 9 July (WA 87), whether the Answers to the 34 Questions on human rights will be printed in the Official Report; and, if not, why not. [HL4938]
Lord Tunnicliffe: There are two types of bonus payments made to staff within the NIO. First, there is the special bonus scheme which is available for all staff up to assistant director level. Nominations for special bonus awards can be made by any member of staff at
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Secondly, there is annual performance bonus scheme for staff up to grade A and another separate scheme for members of the SCS. The amount available and the basis for SCS bonuses are determined centrally by Cabinet Office. Line managers make recommendations and established pay committees determine who should receive a bonus. Each pay committee is chaired by a non-executive director and staff of a higher grade than those being assessed. The Permanent Secretary's pay is determined by the Permanent Secretaries' Remuneration Committee.
For staff up to and including grade A the amount available and basis for the annual performance bonuses is determined as part of the overall departmental pay remit approved by HM Treasury. Line managers make recommendations and an established moderating panel determines who should receive a bonus. In all cases, the staff on the moderating panels are of a higher grade to those being assessed.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 5 February (WA 171) concerning the chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum, how they knew that Mr Sidoti has experience and understanding of human rights, including international human rights instruments, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights, a track record of leadership and proven ability to establish consensus among politically and socially divergent groups; and who proposed him for the position. [HL4316]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 5 February (WA 1723) concerning the funding of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum, whether they will place in the Library of the House the budget set for the body and the monthly reviews of expenditure. [HL4371]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The budget set for the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum has been placed in the Library of the House. Monthly budget reports for the Bill of Rights Forum, from the Northern Ireland Office's Financial Services Division, have also been placed in the Library.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 1 July (WA 33) concerning the number of days worked by the chair of the Northern Ireland Bill of
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Lord Tunnicliffe: The estimated number of days work required of the chair of the Bill of Rights Forum was estimated and agreed by Northern Ireland Office officials before Mr Sidoti was formally appointed chair of the forum.
Further to the Written Answers by Lord Rooker on 16 June (WA 136) and on 12 May (WA 113) concerning sponsorship paid by the Northern Ireland Office, what were the changing resource requirements for work which allowed payment to the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. [HL4940]
During June 2008, what promises they gave to parties in Northern Ireland concerning extra funds outside the block grant to (a) Ulster Scots language and culture, and (b) Irish language and culture; and whether the proportions are in keeping with the concepts of equality and parity in the Belfast agreement of 1998. [HL4737]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Government have agreed to provide an additional £6 million over two years to continue the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund beyond its current end date of 2009 until the end of the CSR period. The fund was one of a number of bodies set up in response to commitments made in the Belfast agreement and joint declaration to help support linguistic diversity in Northern Ireland.
Lord Tunnicliffe: Public authorities carrying out functions in Northern Ireland are obliged, under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation; between men and women generally; between persons with a disability and persons without; and between persons with dependants and persons without.
In carrying out their functions relating to Northern Ireland, public authorities are also obliged to have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Government have received a range of representations from individuals, organisations and political parties on the issue of funding for Irish culture and language. The Government have agreed to provide an additional £6 million over two years to continue the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund beyond its current end date of 2009 until the end of the CSR period.
How they reconcile the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 20 May (WA 180) stating that they are not in possession of any former paramilitary weapons with the statement by a senior scientist in the Belfast News Letter on 20 February 2007 that the Northern Ireland Office Forensic Service had a container-load of such weapons. [HL4270]
Lord Tunnicliffe: Forensic Science Northern Ireland (FSNI), an independent executive agency of the NIO, maintains a repository of exhibits in relation to crimes of all types. Firearms are one category of such exhibits. FSNI does not itself own the exhibits but acts as custodian of them while necessary forensic examinations are completed in relation to each individual case, at which time they are returned to the PSNI, which is the legal owner.
Lord Tunnicliffe: The construction of a national stadium for Northern Ireland is a transferred matter and all decisions concerning funding, and any conditions attached, are for Northern Ireland Ministers and not Her Majestys Government.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UN Human Rights Council undertook a universal periodic review on the human rights records of a number of countries including Pakistan in May. The UK participated in this dialogue and obtained a commitment from the Pakistani delegation that checks would be introduced to regulate investigations into allegations of blasphemy and apostasy. Together with our EU partners, we also recently raised our concerns over the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan. The UK supports freedom of religion and condemns instances where individuals are persecuted because of their faith or belief. Our officials in London and Islamabad meet regularly with representatives of civil society organisations to discuss concerns about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan. We will continue to raise concerns with the Government of Pakistan and encourage reform or repeal of discriminatory legislation through the National Assembly.
What representations they have made, or intend to make, to the Government of Pakistan concerning the imprisonment and welfare of the Punjabi Christian doctor, Robin Sardar, for alleged breaches of Section 295C of the blasphemy laws relating to desecration of the Koran and insulting the Prophet Mohammed. [HL4741]
Lord Malloch-Brown: We have made no representations to the Government of Pakistan regarding Dr Robin Sardar. However, with our EU partners, we have recently raised our concerns over the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan. I refer the noble Lord to my Answer to Written Parliamentary Question [HL 4740].
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 June (WA 1923) concerning income tax payments for members of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, whether the Northern Ireland Office has inquired since it made the income tax payments whether the individuals had paid the income tax themselves; and, if so, what was the result. [HL4405]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 June (WA 1923) concerning income tax payments for members of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, whether the Northern Ireland Office paid income tax for the commissioners in addition to the amount being paid by the commissioners. [HL4406]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The Northern Ireland Office was required to make a payment to HM Revenue and Customs for settlement of the departments liability for the NI parades commissioners income tax and national insurance contributions.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 25 June (WA 254) concerning payments made by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, to whom the £102,570 for mediation was paid; how the mediators were selected; after what equality process; and how the results were monitored. [HL4505]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The commission engaged individuals who were prepared to supply mediation services to the commission on an ad hoc basis. Those who indicated a willingness to do so were called to interview by a commission panel. There was no formal equality process considered. Progress is monitored through oral reports from the mediators and authorised officers, and by the Commission's assessment of the impact of the mediation on the ground.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 24 June (WA 23334) concerning the processing of invoices by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, as noted in its annual report for 200607, why the figure of 81.1 per cent of invoices paid inside 30 days was used in the annual report instead of the 94.2 per cent given in the Answer. [HL4510]
Lord Tunnicliffe: The figure of 81.1 per cent, as stated in the report, relates to the entire departments performance under the Confederation of British Industry's prompt payers code. The figure of 94.2 per cent was provided in the previous Answer as a comparator.
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