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He has also set a cap of 40 hours a week that may be claimed. This may be extended to 60 hours during the oral hearings, and a two-month period before they commence, upon application to the inquiry chairman provided this is justified in all the circumstances. These limitations are enforced by means of a formal notice of determination under Section 40(4) of the Inquiries Act 2005 in the Robert Hamill inquiry and Billy Wright inquiry. Furthermore, Section 17(3) of the Inquiries Act imposes a specific duty on the inquiry chairman to have regard to cost in procedural decisions:

“In making any decision as to the procedure or conduct of an inquiry, the chairman must act with fairness and with the regard also to the need to avoid any unnecessary costs (whether to public funds or to witnesses or to others)”.

The Rosemary Nelson inquiry is operating under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. The inquiry has been instructed to operate within the same limits as those that have been applied under the Inquiries Act.

Lord Morrow asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The costs to date for the inquiries are shown in the following table.

InquiryCost to end-September 2008

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry

£184.60 million

The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

£31.70 million

The Robert Hamill Inquiry

£17.59 million

The Billy Wright Inquiry

£19.40 million



11 Nov 2008 : Column WA122

Iraq: Christians and Mandaeans

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): All asylum claims, including those from Iraqi nationals, are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights against the background of the latest accurate, sourced and up-to-date country information.

The UK Border Agency will only enforce the return of individuals whom it and the courts are satisfied are not in need of international protection and do not elect to leave voluntarily. We do not accept that each and every asylum seeker who presents themselves as being from a particular country or religion should automatically be afforded protection in the United Kingdom. Removal will only be carried out where it is considered both appropriate and safe to do so.

The August 2008 version of the Home Office country report for Iraq is available to view at www.home office.gov.uk/rds/country_reports.html.

National Asset Register

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The National Asset Register listed assets owned at the end of March 2005. The table below therefore shows the estimated value of asset disposals (in £m) between April 2005 and March 2008 consistent with the most recently published aggregate figures (published in Tables 2.3 and 5.7 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses2008). Data for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are outturn figures; data for 2007-08 are estimates made at the time of the 2008 Budget. These figures include all asset disposals by central government departments, NDPBs and public corporations that were reported as part of departments' capital budgets, and are split between “land and buildings” and “other”.



11 Nov 2008 : Column WA123

Departmental GroupLand and buildingsOther1Total

Children, Schools and Families

1

0

1

Health

2,6622

0

2,662

Transport

45

0

45

Innovation, Universities and Skills

13

3

16

Communities and Local Government

1,048

2

1,050

Home Office

18

2

20

Justice

26

3

29

Law Officers' Departments

28

6

34

Defence

1,948

42

1,990

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

20

73

93

International Development

0

0

0

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

75

166

241

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

37

9

46

Culture, Media and Sport

3

7

11

Work and Pensions

0

68

68

Scotland

134

13

147

Wales

111

37

148

Northern Ireland Executive

130

88

218

Northern Ireland Office

74

11

85

Chancellor's Departments

16

5

20

Cabinet Office

0

13

13

Independent Bodies

0

3

3

Total

6,390

551

6,941

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Northern Ireland Office could only provide this information at disproportionate cost.

Political Parties: Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: “Identity”, “ethos” and “aspirations” are commonly understood terms which should be read as relating to those characteristics of both the nationalist and unionist communities in Northern Ireland in the context of the Belfast agreement. “Parity of esteem” should be read in the context of the broader affirmation made in paragraph (v) of Article 1 of the agreement.



11 Nov 2008 : Column WA124

The Belfast agreement recommended a statutory obligation to promote equality of opportunity in specified areas and parity of esteem between the two main communities and to investigate individual complaints against public bodies. Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 gave effect to this recommendation in UK domestic law. Public authorities assess the likely impact on equality or community relations of new policies in accordance with their published equality schemes.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Laird asked the Leader of the House:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): I attach great importance to answering Parliamentary Questions within the 14-day deadline and I am in regular contact with my ministerial colleagues to remind them of the obligation on departments to do so. My office also liaises regularly with officials to ensure that Questions are answered in as timely a manner as possible.

RAF: Aircraft Carriers

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): As at 27 October 2008, 51 Typhoon aircraft have been delivered to the Royal Air Force and the Typhoon fleet has flown a total of 24,236 hours. Forty-nine of these aircraft have entered operational service with the RAF, 34 of which are in the Forward Fleet—that is, aircraft which are available to the front-line command for operational and training purposes and those that are short-term unserviceable.

RAF: Transport Aircraft

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The table below provides the actual flying hours for the Tristar fleet for the past 12 months and the activity currently planned for the next seven years. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Some 2,700 hours originally planned for Tristar were flown by charter aircraft in the year to 30 September 2008. Tristar is planned to go out of service in 2014-15.



11 Nov 2008 : Column WA125


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