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Consultation: Northern Ireland

Volume 685: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, how many consultations the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has arranged in each year since 1999; what those consultations were; and what groups they consulted; and [HL7554]

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, whether the groups consulted by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure responded to any consultation; to what extent and in what form they addressed equality of opportunity issues, and whether any suggestions were made leading to a change in proposed policies.[HL7555]

Equality-related consultations arising from Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 did not begin to take place in departments until after equality schemes approved by the Equality Commission were in place, around mid-2001. Between 2001-02 and 2005-06 in the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure there were nine equality-related consultations undertaken. (Listed in table below with number of responses received for each).

For each consultation we consult groups and individuals who have requested that they be included in our Section 75 consultation list (a copy of which has been placed in the Library), which was established as part of our equality scheme for these purposes. This list is updated continuously, but at least every year. Backdated lists are not kept.

In addition to equality-related consultations, the department consults key stakeholders as part of good policy-making practices generally, and because one must consult on legislation even where no adverse equality impacts have been identified.

With regard to the noble Lord's second Question, the information on what extent and what form consultation responses addressed equality of opportunity issues could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. However, for every equality-related consultation issued, policy makers record to whom consultations were issued, who responded and what was said. A summary of consultation responses received is published (usually on the department's website). All of this information is publicly available.

It is difficult to identify specific changes that have occurred to a policy as a result of consultation alone. This is because, when equality is mainstreamed effectively into decision-making throughout the policy development cycle—through, for example, pre-consultation or informal consultation—there will be no negative equality impacts evident.

Consultation

Year

Number of Responses

EQIA on the provision of a Public Angling Estate & Water Recreation Facilities

2003

28

Policy Proposal on new legislation for Safety at Sports Grounds in Northern Ireland (included EQIA and Initial RIA)

2004

11

Irish Language Broadcast Fund

2004

14

EQIA of Guidance on the UK Government commitments in respect of Irish and Ulster-Scots

2004

27

PRONI Archives and Marketing Policy

2004

28

Unlocking Creativity—A Creative Region

2004

51

Libraries: A Framework for Change

2005

1,100

Consultation on the draft Safety of Sports Grounds (NI) Order and Explanatory Memorandum

2005

Nil

Community Festivals Fund

2006

16

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, how many consultations the Department of Education in Northern Ireland has arranged in each year since 1999; what those consultations were; and what groups they consulted; and [HL7556]

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, whether the groups consulted by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland responded to any consultation; to what extent and in what form they addressed equality of opportunity issues, and whether any suggestions were made leading to a change in proposed policies.[HL7557]

The Department of Education has carried out a total of 26 consultations since 1999, seven of which have resulted in equality impact assessments being carried out. They are:

Review of the Northern Ireland Curriculum and its Assessment—2002;

Promotion through the Youth Service of the Personal and Social Development of Young People—2003;

Implementation of National Qualifications Framework in Schools—2005;

School Building—2005;

Recovery of Capital Grant from Schools—2005;

Change to Common Funding Formula—2006; and Proposals for a Revised Core Syllabus for Religious Education—2006.

A current list of all people and organisations consulted in line with the department's statutory equality duty has also been placed in the Library. The information requested regarding the responses of groups consulted is not readily available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

It is difficult to identify specific changes that have occurred to a policy as a result of consultation alone. This is because when equality is mainstreamed effectively into decision-making throughout the policy development cycle—through, for example, having advisory fora, pre-consultation or informal consultation—there will be no negative equality impacts evident.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, how many consultations the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland has arranged in each year since 1999; what those consultations were; and what groups they consulted.[HL7589]

Since the launch of its equality scheme on 8 February 2001, the Department of Environment has carried out 19 consultation exercises as part of the EQIA process. These are listed in Table A.

The department's equality scheme contains a list of Section 75 consultees. This list is updated on an annual basis and the latest version is at Table B. The equality scheme is publicly available on the department's website at www.doeni.gov.uk/uploads/doeequalityscheme.pdf and a copy has been placed in the Library.

Table A

DOE Equality Impact Assessment Consultation Exercises

Policy

Agency/Division

Taxi Driver Licensing Procedures

Driver & Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI)

Procedures relating to the issue of a licence to drivers with a medical condition likely to affect their fitness to drive.

Driver & Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI)

Application for issue of a driving licence

Driver & Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI)

Driving Theory Test Procedures

Driver & Vehicle Testing Agency (DVTA)

Qualifying procedures for registration as an approved driving instructor.

Driver & Vehicle Testing Agency (DVTA)

Vehicle Test

Driver & Vehicle Testing Agency (DVTA)

Practical Driving Test

Driver & Vehicle Testing Agency (DVTA)

Local Government Compensation for Redundancy and Premature Retirement Regulations. (S.R.2001 No.279)

Local Government Division

Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) Regulations. (S.R.2003 No.61)

Local Government Division

Review of General Grant (Resources Element)

Local Government Division

Ards/Down Area Plan

Planning Service

Banbridge/Newry and Mourne Area Plan

Planning Service

Magherafelt Area Plan

Planning Service

Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP)

Planning Service

Northern Area Plan

Planning Service

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) Subject Plan for Belfast City Council Area 2015

Planning Service

Development Control Advice Note - (DCAN) on Hot Food Bars.

Planning Service

Road Safety Education, Training and Publicity

Road Safety Division

Draft Taxis (Northern Ireland) Order (previously New Taxi Regulation Policies)

Road Safety Division

Table B

DOE Section 75 Consultation List

All MLAs (109)

Limavady Borough Council

All NI Members of Parliament

Lisburn City Council

All NI Members of the European Parliament Alliance Party of NI

Local Government Staff Commission for NI (LGSC)

Antrim Borough Council

Magherafelt District Council

Age Concern Northern Ireland

Magherafelt Women's Group

An Munia Tober

MENCAP

Ards Borough Council

Men's Project

Armagh City & District Council Assembly Library

Methodist Church in Ireland

Association of Chief Officers of Voluntary Organisations (ACOVO)

Moyle District Council

Baha’is Office for NI Ballymena Borough Council

Multi-Cultural Resource Centre

Ballymoney Borough Council

Newry & Mourne District Council

Banbridge District Council

Newry & Mourne Senior Citizen's Consortium

Barnardo’s NI

Newry & Mourne Women

Barnardo’s, Tuar Ceatha Project

Newtownabbey Borough Council

Belfast Butterfly Centre

NI Anti-Poverty Network

Belfast City Council

NI Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Belfast Education and Library Board

Northern Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA)

Belfast Hebrew Congregation

NI Human Rights Commission

Belfast Traveller Education and Development Group

NI Islamic Centre

Bishop of Down and Connor

NI Unionist Party

British Deaf Association (NI)

NI Women's Aid Federation

Bryson House

NI Women's European Platform (NIWEP)

Carafriend

NIACRO

Carers Northern Ireland

NIPSA

Carrickfergus Borough Council

North Down Borough Council

Castlereagh Borough Council

North Eastern Education and Library Board

Child Poverty Action Group

North West Community Network

Children's Law Centre

North West Forum of People with Disabilities (Derry)

Chinese Welfare Association

Northern Ireland African Cultural Centre

Chrysalis Women’s Centre

Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health

Coalition on Sexual Orientation (CoSo)

Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities

Coiste na niarchimi

Northern Ireland Gay Rights

Coleraine Borough Council

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Commissioner for Children & Young People

Northern Ireland Office

Committee on the Administration of Justice

NSPCC

Community Development and Health Network (NI)

NUS-USI Northern Ireland

Community Relations Council

Office of the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland

Community Technical Aid

Omagh District Council POBAL

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Cookstown District Council

Progressive Unionist Party

Craigavon Borough Council

Queer Space

Cruse Bereavement Care (NI)

Royal National Institute for the Blind (NI)

Democratic Left

Royal National Institute for the Deaf (NI)

Democratic Unionist Party

Rural Community Network

Department for Social Development

Rural Development Council

Department of Agriculture & Rural Development

Rural Support

Department of Culture Arts & Leisure

Save the Children

Department of Education for NI

SDLP

Department of Employment & Learning

Sense NI

Department of Finance & Personnel

Sinn Fein

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

South Eastern Education and Library Board

Derry City Council

Southern Education and Library Board

Derry Well Woman

The Senior Citizens Consortium

Disability Action

Staff Commission for Education & Library Boards

Down District Council

Strabane District Council

Down's Syndrome Association

The Blind Centre for NI

Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council

The Cedar Foundation

Employers Forum on Disability

The Disability Committee of the Northern Ireland Committee

Equality Commission for NI

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Equality Forum NI

The Rainbow Project

Falls Community Council

The Women's Centre

Falls Women Centre

Training for Women Network Ltd

Fermanagh District Council

UK Unionist Party

First Division Association

Ulster Unionist Party

Foyle Women's Information Network

ULTACH

FPA (NI)

UNISON

Gay & Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland

Volunteer Development Agency

Gingerbread NI

West Belfast Economic Forum

Green Party

Women's Information Group

Help the Aged, Northern Ireland

Women's Resource and Development Agency

Indian Community Centre

Women's Support Network

Institute of Directors Labour Party

Women's Forum Northern Ireland

Larne Borough Council Law Centre (NI)

Workers Party

Lesbian Line

Youthnet

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, whether the groups consulted by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland responded to any consultation; to what extent and in what form they addressed equality of opportunity issues; and whether any suggestions were made leading to a change in proposed policies.[HL7590]

The information requested is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, how many consultations the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland has arranged in each year since 1999; what those consultations were; and what groups they consulted; and [HL7591]

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, whether the groups consulted by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland responded to any consultation; to what extent and in what form they addressed equality of opportunity issues; and whether any suggestions were made leading to a change in proposed policies.[HL7592]

Equality-related consultations arising from Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 began after equality schemes were approved by the Equality Commission in 2001. Between 2001-02 and 2005-06, in the Department of Finance and Personnel there were approximately 26 equality-related consultations and a list of these can be found in the following table. The noble Lord may also wish to refer to the department's website at www.dfpni.gov.uk/index/about-us/publications where the department's statutory five-year review of its equality scheme and the department's annual reviews to the Equality Commission are publicly available.

For each consultation the department consults groups and individuals who have requested that they be included. The Department of Finance and Personnel Section 75 consultee database was established as part of the department's equality scheme for these purposes. This database is updated on a regular basis in consultation with those Section 75 groups.

In relation to whether and how groups respond to consultation, this information is not readily available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the noble Lord may wish to note that for every equality-related consultation issued, officials record to whom consultations were issued, who responded and what was said. A summary of consultation responses is published (usually on the department's website).

In relation to policy changes arising from consultation, when equality is mainstreamed effectively into decision-making throughout the policy development process, there may be no changes to the policy per se at a later stage following consultation.

Consultations arranged by the department of finance and personnel since 1999

Rating Policy:

Reform of Domestic Rating Non-Domestic Vacant Rating

Phased Removal of Industrial Rating

Non-Domestic Reliefs

Charitable Exemptions

Law Reform

Civil Partnerships

Divorce

Paternity

Marriage Laws

Physical Punishment

Domestic Violence

Law Reform

EU Programmes

Location of Civil Service Jobs

Recruitment and Promotion

Building Regulations Procurement

Census

Gender Recognition Regulation

Marriage Regulations 2003

Modernisation of Registration Service

Procurement Directives

Implementation of EU Directives

E-HR Programme

Accounting Services Programme

Regulation of Legal Services

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, how many consultations the Department for Regional Development in Northern Ireland has arranged in each year since 1999; what those consultations were; and what groups they consulted; and [HL7638]

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, whether the groups consulted by the Department for Regional Development in Northern Ireland responded to any consultation; to what extent and in what form they addressed equality of opportunity issues; and whether any suggestions were made leading to a change in proposed policies.[HL7639]

Since the department's equality scheme was approved by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland on 15 February 2001, the department has undertaken 20 consultations on draft equality impact assessments (EQIAs). These are listed below. The groups consulted were drawn from the consultee list set out in the equality scheme, which is updated regularly. This information has been placed in the Library. In addition, each draft EQIA records the groups consulted.

The information requested on responses to consultations cannot readily be collated in the form requested and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. However, all final EQIAs record the outcome of the consultation process, including any changes made to proposed policies. EQIAs may be accessed on the department's website at www.drdni.gov.uk/DRDwww_FOI/.

It is difficult to identify changes made to policies as a result of consultation as with the mainstreaming of equality pre-consultation with relevant groups helps to ensure that policy proposals take account of Section 75 issues from the outset. However, pages 28 to 30 of the five-year review of the equality scheme identify a number of changes made to policies as a result of consultation. These policies include: the regional transportation strategy, water reform, the regional planning policy statement on housing, the accessible transport strategy and the Blue Badge Scheme. The five-year review may be accessed on the department's website at www.drdni.gov.uk/DRDwww_FOISearch/document.asp?doc=9764.

DRD Draft Equality Impact Assessment Consultation Exercises

2001-02

Proposed Regional Discontinuance of Services on Antrim Knockmore Railway Line Transportation Strategy

2002-03

Regional Planning Policy Statement on Transportation and Land Use (PPS 13)

Review of Blue Badge Scheme

Provision of Pedestrian Facilities

2003-04

Review of Concessionary Fares

Regional Planning Policy Statement on Housing (PPS 12)

Operation and management of car parks

Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan

Transport Programme for People with Disabilities

2004-05

Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan

Regional Development StrategyHousing Growth Indicators

Accessible Transport Strategy

Water Service Reform

Rural Transport Fund

2005-06

Sub-Regional Transport Plan

Reform and Rationalisation of Water Service

2006-07

Regional Planning Policy Statement on Retailing and Town Centres (PPS 5)

Regional Planning Policy Statement on Planning in the Countryside (PPS 14)

All-Ireland Free Travel Scheme

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, how many consultations the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland has arranged in each year since 1999; what those consultations were; and what groups they consulted; and [HL7640]

Regarding Section 75 groups recognised by paragraphs 4 and 5 of Schedule 9 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, whether the groups consulted by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland responded to any consultation; to what extent and in what form they addressed equality of opportunity issues; and whether any suggestions were made leading to a change in proposed policies.[HL7641]

The Equality Commission formally approved the Departments Equality Scheme in March 2001. Since then, the department has formally consulted on 14 equality impact assessments as follows:

Provision of relevant, accurate and timely information and advice about Social Security benefits.

Private Sector Housing Grants.

Accommodation for Travellers.

Unauthorised Encampments.

District Council's Community Support Programme.

Child Support Northern Ireland Field Operations.

41 Compact between Government and Voluntary and Community Sector.

Urban Regeneration—Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy.

Urban Regeneration—Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy for Belfast.

Urban Regeneration—Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy for other Regional Towns and Cities.

Urban Regeneration—Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy for the North West.

Uptake of Social Security Benefits.

Customer Service (access to Social Security Benefits).

Town/City centre reinvigoration.

The department consults a variety of groups and individuals who have requested that they be included in our equality consultee mailing list. The list is available on the department's website at www.dsdni.gov.uk.

In relation to whether and how groups respond to consultation, this information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, for every equality-related consultation issued, policy makers record to whom consultation documents are issued, who responded and what was said. A summary of consultation responses and more lately an analysis of these are published at the end of each individual consultation exercise. Information on the department’s annual progress report to the Equality Commission and the five-year review of the equality scheme is available on the website at www.dsdni.gov.uk.

In relation to policy changes, consultation is just one stage in the equality impact-assessment process. When equality is effectively mainstreamed into decision-making from the outset of the policy development process, it is very difficult to attribute specific developments or changes to any particular aspect of the policy development process.