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Inquiries: Pat Finucane

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: A public inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane has not been established.

Jury Service

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

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.

Justice

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I refer the noble Lord to my previous Answers.

Northern Ireland Office: Bonuses

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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any stage during the year and each director is responsible for assessing those recommendations for staff within his/her directorate and approving payment, as appropriate. This is normally done on a quarterly basis.

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.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: I refer the noble Lord to the previous Answers of 2 July 2008, Official Report, col. WA 42 and 19 February 2008, Official Report, col. WA 45.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty’s Government:

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.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 14 July 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 119).

Northern Ireland: Equality and Parity

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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 Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission play key roles in overseeing the implementation of statutory rights protections in Northern Ireland.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Northern Ireland: Former Paramilitary Weapons

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Northern Ireland: Murder Prosecutions

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: The disproportionate cost threshold for Parliamentary Questions is currently £700 and is set by HM Treasury.

The officials involved in preparing the answer calculated the disproportionate cost threshold; the average daily rates of the civil servants involved are as follows:



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Grade 5

£226.95

Grade A

£161.06

Grade B1

£130.22

Grade B2

£91.50

Grade C

£71.28

Northern Ireland: National Stadium

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty’s Government:

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 Majesty’s Government.

Pakistan: Blasphemy Laws

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's 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.

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

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].



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Parades: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: No. This is a matter between the individuals and HMRC.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Northern Ireland Office was required to make a payment to HM Revenue and Customs for settlement of the department’s liability for the NI parades commissioner’s income tax and national insurance contributions.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: The figure of 81.1 per cent, as stated in the report, relates to the entire department’s 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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