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Lord Patel of Bradford: Guidance on Ministers' private interests is set out in Section 7 of the Ministerial Code, copies of which are available in the House Library. A list of Ministers' relevant interests is currently being assembled and will be published as soon as the information is ready.
Whether the Northern Ireland Office and its bodies apply the concepts of equality and parity of esteem for the two main cultures in Northern Ireland, as required by the Belfast agreement of 1998; and how that is measured. [HL5846]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Northern Ireland Office and its agencies are subject to anti-discrimination law in Northern Ireland and to the provisions of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which requires public authorities carrying out functions in Northern Ireland to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between a wide range of groups, specified in Section 75(1), including persons of different religious belief or political opinion. They are also obliged to have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.
Section 76 of the Act makes it unlawful for a public authority carrying out functions in Northern Ireland to discriminate against a person or class of person on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion.
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon):The Northern Ireland Office operates a bonus scheme for SCS staff which is an integral part of the pay arrangements in operation in all Whitehall and Northern Ireland departments. Bonuses are awarded for in-year performance against objectives. Details are set out in the following table.
|Grade||Number of Staff Receiving Bonus||Amount|
Annual performance-related bonuses for staff below the senior Civil Service are part of the NIO's overall pay arrangements. The bonus levels are reviewed by the departmental board each year. Individual bonus recommendations are made by line managers and moderated by panels across the department under the supervision of more senior managers.
Bonuses for SCS staff are calculated on the basis of the Government's response to the recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body. Individual bonus recommendations are made by line managers and these are moderated by a number of remuneration committees with the involvement of a non-executive director.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Tunnicliffe on 21 July (WA 216) concerning grants to Irish and Ulster Scots cultures in Northern Ireland, whether the grants to the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund are in keeping with the concept of equality and parity in the Belfast agreement of 1998. [HL5941]
Further to the Written Answers by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 21 October (WA 9697 and WA 99) concerning Questions to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission or the Police Service of Northern Ireland in Fermanagh, why in some cases they ask an organisation to respond directly to the Question and in other cases they suggest the questioner contacts the organisation directly; and what are the criteria involved in deciding how an Answer is handled. [HL5845]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): Ministers will respond substantively on statutory policy or corporate sponsorship matters relating to public bodies independent of government. Where questions relate to operational matters that are the responsibility of that organisation and not the responsibility of Ministers, the answer ought to come from that organisation.
Where questions relate to matters for which the Chief Constable is responsible, Ministers will ask the PSNI to write to the questioner. In the case of other non-departmental bodies such as the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Ministers will refer the questioner to the body in order to obtain operational information.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 14 July (WA 121) concerning £1,200 spent by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission on hospitality, how people were selected for hospitality; by whom; and who were the people. [HL5988]
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): This is an operational matter for the Parades Commission. I have asked the Parades Commission secretary to reply to the noble Lord directly, and will arrange for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library of the House and the Official Report.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Patel of Bradford on 22 October (WA 114), whether they will arrange for information about their responses to recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration to be held centrally, rather than solely within each individual department. [HL5872]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We continue to work with our EU and NATO partners on measures to implement United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1816 and 1838. In September, we supported the establishment of an EU cell that aims to co-ordinate military escorts to World Food Programme shipping. We also support EU planning for a counterpiracy naval operation off the coast of Somalia, and on 14 October the EU Political and Security Committee decided to accept the offer made by the UK to provide the operation commander and the operation headquarters at Northwood. The key tasks of the operation will be to ensure the safe delivery of World Food Programme and other vital humanitarian deliveries to Somalia, but also to deter attacks on European and other shipping.
A formal decision from the EU member states to allow planning for the operation to proceed to the next stage is expected in the next 10 days. We have made clear that the UK offer is conditional on sufficient forces being generated for the mission to be effective. Current estimates are for the operation to be launched towards the end of 2008, probably in December, once force generation and detailed planning is complete.
What powers they have under international law for preventing piracy, including boarding suspect vessels in international or coastal waters, rescuing captured ships, arresting pirates and handing them over to appropriate jurisdictions; and whether such powers apply to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. [HL5674]
Lord Malloch-Brown: The Government have powers to act against piracy under Article 105 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides that any warship may seize a pirate ship or aircraft, and arrest persons and seize the property on board.
Under the international law of the sea, piracy only occurs on the high seas, or a place outside the jurisdiction of any state. The high seas would include parts of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Piracy on the high seas is a crime of universal jurisdiction; the alleged pirate may be charged, tried and punished by any nation into whose jurisdiction he enters.
Under international law, piratical acts in territorial seas come within the coastal state's jurisdiction. States, therefore, may only take action against pirates in territorial seas if authorised by the coastal state, and in accordance with its domestic law.
There are separate international instruments which call on states to outlaw other related acts, such as armed robbery at sea, most notably the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.
Lord Malloch-Brown: We have assessed that we do not have sufficient modem law enforcement powers for counter-piracy operations. The current draft legislation programme for 2008-09 will address this, and will provide a clear statutory authority for naval, police and customs officers to board and seize pirate ships.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 14 July (WA 125) concerning the population of the United Kingdom, why the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 13 May (WA 130) did not include the figures, rather than referring to a website. [HL4952]
Lord Patel of Bradford: The Written Answer of 13 May followed the then standard practice of the Office for National Statistics for dealing with Parliamentary Questions which asked for statistical information that was already available in published form. This was to refer the Member to the published
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Whether targets agreed with each of the 15 government departments listed in the Cabinet Office document Public Bodies: Opening Up Public Appointments 200205 for the representation of women in public appointments were achieved by 2005; and where and when the results were published; and [HL5832]
Whether targets agreed with each of the 15 government departments listed in the Cabinet Office document Public Bodies: Opening Up Public Appointments 200205 for the representation of ethnic minorities in public appointments were achieved by 2005; and where and when the results were published; and [HL5833]
Whether targets agreed with each of the 15 government departments listed in the Cabinet Office document Public Bodies: Opening Up Public Appointments 200205 for the representation of disabled people in public appointments were achieved by 2005; and where and when the results were published; and [HL5834]
How many and what percentage of current appointments by each government department are (a) women, (b) from an ethnic minority, and (c) disabled; and what is the current rate of progress of diversity in public appointments; and [HL5836]
Lord Patel of Bradford: The Government are committed to increasing diversity on the boards of public bodies. The gender equality public service agreement contained a specific target that by Match 2008 a clear majority of departments should have over 40 per cent of women in public appointments for which they are responsible. The Government Equalities Office will make an assessment of performance against this target in its autumn performance report.
The Cabinet Office publishes an annual report on public appointments. This includes information on the numbers of women, members of ethnic minority groups and disabled people appointed to the boards of public bodies, The information is broken down by department. The latest reportPublic Bodies 2007can be downloaded from www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/public /bodies.asp. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Individual departments publish more detailed information on the public bodies and public appointments for which they are directly responsibleincluding information on chairs and chief executives.
Lord Patel of Bradford: The Cabinet Office guidance, Making and Managing Public Appointments was last updated in 2006. The changes made included new guidance on the application of the Equal Pay Act to office holders. A copy of the latest version of the guidance is in the Library of the House. It can also be downloaded from www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/public/ appointments.asp.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Written Parliamentary Question 346340606 was delayed because of an administrative error. A reply will issue shortly. I apologise for the delay.
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