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Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights Forum

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 5 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What process led to the appointment of Chris Sidoti as chairman of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Forum; how many applications there were; and who carried out the interviews. [HL1547]

The Government's consultation document A Forum on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland (14 November 2006) and subsequent response to the consultation (12 December 2006) discussed the qualities and competences expected of the chair of the Bill of Rights Forum.

In view of the non-statutory nature of the post, its short and limited lifespan and the need for a chairman to be in place quickly, the post was not advertised and formal interviews were not held. Potential candidates with relevant backgrounds and experience were identified and their relative merits assessed against the criteria.

The Government are confident that Mr Sidoti, who was chosen for the post, fully met the selection criteria, which were:

experience and understanding of human rights, including international human rights instruments, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights;

a track record of leadership;

proven ability to establish consensus among politically and socially divergent group; and

proven ability to analyse and make recommendations on complex issues.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What expenses the Northern Ireland Human Rights Forum has incurred to date; for what purpose; and how they are monitored. [HL1548]

The Bill of Rights Forum is tasked with producing agreed recommendations, by 31 March 2008, to inform the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's advice to Government on the scope for defining, in Westminster legislation, rights supplementary to those in the European Convention on Human Rights, to reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.

The forum has been provided with a budget of £441,660 directly from the Northern Ireland Office. As such it is subject to normal departmental budgeting and accounting control regimes. This includes budget setting processes, and monthly reviews of its expenditure.