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Written Answers

Volume 699: debated on Monday 3 March 2008

Written Answers

Monday 3 March 2008

Bail: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 35) concerning bail conditions in Northern Ireland, why bail records are not held centrally. [HL2082]

At this time no technical solution is available to enable the flow of cross-agency information required to provide a central bail record.

The Causeway system, as part the next phase of its development scheduled for later this year, will hold bail records within its central data base.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker of 19 February (WA 35) concerning bail conditions in Northern Ireland, what is the disproportionate cost of providing data on bail conditions. [HL2083]

The original Question asked how many people committed offences while on bail in Northern Ireland in each of the past five years. As this data are not recorded centrally, a manual trawl of all crime records would need to be undertaken. This exercise would cost in excess of the current limit of £700 as set by the Cabinet Office.

Central-Local Concordat

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What instructions and advice are being given to the Environment Agency and its regional organisations concerning changes to their policies and working arrangements following the signing of the central-local concordat on 12 December 2007, both in general and in specific response to the agreement in the concordat (a) “that there should be a presumption that powers are best exercised at the lowest effective and practical level”; (b) that central Government undertakes to “progressively remove obstacles which prevent councils from pursuing their role, including reducing the burden of appraisal and approval regimes, the ring-fencing of funds for specific purposes and the volume of guidance it issues”; and (c) that in relation to the negotiation of new-style local area agreements “this objective will require major changes in behaviour and practice from central government departments, their agencies, government offices, councils and local partners”; and what is the process and timetable for such changes. [HL1916]

The central-local concordat, agreed between the Government and the Local Government Association (LGA), on behalf of local authorities in England, was signed in December last year. It commits both parties to a framework of principles to secure a new relationship between central government and local government. The operation of this agreement will be monitored on a continuing basis, through renewed central-local partnership arrangements.

The noble Lord may be aware that CLG are currently consulting on guidance to local authorities and their partners (including the Environment Agency and NE) on creating strong safe and prosperous communities, specifically relating to new legislation introduced in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. The guidance covers local strategic partnerships, sustainable community strategies, the new duty to involve, local area agreements, the revised best value regime and commissioning. The Environment Agency is one of about 20 “named partners” given a new duty under this Act to co-operate with local authorities in identifying the right mix of targets for a draft LAA (based on the agreed evidence-base and longer term priorities in the Sustainable Community Strategy), and helping to deliver those targets.

China: European Sub-Contractors

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of European companies acting as partners or sub-contractors on behalf of Chinese interests. [HL1680]

Crime: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

For each year from 1998, how many persons aged under 18 years in Northern Ireland were (a) charged with criminal offences, (b) cautioned or (c) convicted; how many of those convicted had committed (1) sexual offences or (2) crimes of violence; and whether there were any other disposals. [HL1976]

The data are not available in the format requested. In relation to the number charged or reported for prosecution, prior to the introduction of the Causeway programme in June 2005, this information was collated only once the police had prosecuted in court. Figures for 1998 to 2005 therefore relate to the number of persons aged 10 to 17 years who were prosecuted in court. After June 2005, this information was recorded once the police recommended prosecution, which was taken forward by the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland and therefore figures for 2006 and 2007 relate to the number of charges.

Table 1 gives the number of persons aged 10 to 17 years who were prosecuted or charged for offences, and the number subsequently convicted for criminal offences, while table 2 provides information on the disposals given to those convicted.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) weeding policy meant that caution records, for certain offences, after appropriate periods of time were “weeded out” in compliance with data protection and rehabilitation of offenders legislation. Since Bichard (2006), PSNI has stopped weeding. Data are therefore not available for the years 1998 to 2005; in 2006 there were 2,529 cautions and in 2007 there were 1,707 cautions.

A violent crime is defined as one which relates to sexual, violence against the person and robbery offences. Table 3 shows the total number of persons aged 10 to 17 years prosecuted and convicted for violent offences broken down by type of offence, while tables 4 to 7 provide information on disposals given to those convicted for these offences.

Tables 8 and 10 provide information on the number of persons aged 10 to 17 years who were prosecuted and convicted for other non-violent offences broken down by indictable and non-indictable offences, while Tables 9 and 11 provide information on the disposals given to those convicted for these categories.

Data in table 1 cover the calendar years 1998 to 2007 (the latest available year for which charges are available) while data in tables 2 to 11 cover the calendar years 1998 to 2006 (the latest available year for which convictions are available). Data are collated on the principal offence rule, so only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Table 1

Number aged 10-17 years prosecuted/charged and convicted 1998-2007

Number prosecuted/charged1

Number convicted

1998

2,203

1,848

1999

1,881

1,586

2000

2,066

1,721

2001

2,029

1,619

2002

2,031

1,667

2003

2,015

1,588

2004

1,958

1,588

2005

1,793

1,455

2006

1,669

1,273

2007

2,927

-

1. Data for 1998 to 2005 relate to the number of prosecutions. (Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch); Data for 2006 and 2007 relate to the number of charges (Source: PSNI).

2. Conviction data for 2007 are not available.

Table 2

Disposals given to those convicted aged 10 to 17 years 1998-20061

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Immediate custody

259

171

186

147

151

Suspended custody

72

67

55

37

48

Supervision in the Community

542

427

510

473

517

Fine

492

484

464

429

439

Conditional discharge

361

334

383

424

394

Youth Conference Order

-

-

-

-

Other

122

103

123

109

118

Total

1,848

1,586

1,721

1,619

1,667

Table 2 cont.

2003

2004

2005

2006

Immediate custody

139

152

144

89

Suspended custody

64

85

72

32

Supervision in the Community

490

497

443

370

Fine

391

401

348

243

Conditional discharge

367

330

299

206

Youth Conference Order

-

21

72

289

Other

137

102

77

44

Total

1,588

1,588

1,455

1,273

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 3

Number aged 10 to 17 years prosecuted and convicted of violent offences (sexual offences, violence against the person offences and robbery offences) 1998-20061

Sexual offencesViolence against the person offences

Number prosecuted

Number convicted

Number prosecuted

Number convicted

1998

18

18

189

156

1999

18

15

168

144

2000

10

9

182

160

2001

8

3

179

131

2002

8

6

202

151

2003

11

8

219

164

2004

19

13

250

181

2005

16

9

195

146

2006

13

8

213

152

Table 3 cont.

Robbery offencesTotal violent offences

Number prosecuted

Number convicted

Number prosecuted

Number convicted

1998

13

10

220

184

1999

19

18

205

177

2000

23

20

215

189

2001

18

16

205

150

2002

32

31

242

188

2003

25

21

255

193

2004

21

17

290

211

2005

17

8

228

163

2006

13

11

239

171

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 4

Disposals given to those aged 10 to 17 years convicted of sexual offences 1998-20061

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Immediate custody

6

6

2

1

2

Suspended custody

0

0

0

0

0

Supervision in the Community

9

9

6

1

2

Fine

0

0

1

1

0

Conditional discharge

3

0

0

0

2

Youth Conference Order

-

-

-

-

-

Other

0

0

0

0

0

Total

18

15

9

3

6

Table 4 cont.

2003

2004

2005

2006

Immediate custody

0

3

2

2

Suspended custody

0

3

0

1

Supervision in the Community

7

7

5

3

Fine

0

0

0

0

Conditional discharge

1

0

1

2

Youth Conference Order

-

0

0

0

Other

0

0

1

0

Total

8

13

9

8

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 5

Disposals given to those aged 10 to 17 years convicted of offences of violence against the person 1998-20061

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Immediate custody

15

24

16

11

17

Suspended custody

10

9

7

6

10

Supervision in the Community

57

44

56

44

52

Fine

27

31

36

27

28

Conditional discharge

39

26

34

36

37

Youth Conference Order

-

-

-

-

-

Other

8

10

11

7

7

Total

156

144

160

131

151

Table 5 cont.

2003

2004

2005

2006

Immediate custody

17

19

15

18

Suspended custody

13

21

11

11

Supervision in the Community

55

61

49

40

Fine

35

32

31

26

Conditional discharge

37

38

22

21

Youth Conference Order

-

4

12

35

Other

7

6

6

1

Total

164

181

146

152

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 6

Disposals given to those aged 10 to 17 years convicted of robbery offences 1998-20061

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Immediate custody

7

8

6

8

10

Suspended custody

1

3

2

0

3

Supervision in the Community

2

6

10

7

16

Fine

0

0

0

1

0

Conditional discharge

0

1

2

0

2

Youth Conference Order

-

-

-

-

Other

0

0

0

0

0

Total

10

18

20

16

31

Table 6 cont.

2003

2004

2005

2006

Immediate custody

11

7

6

5

Suspended custody

2

1

1

0

Supervision in the Community

7

8

0

4

Fine

0

0

0

0

Conditional discharge

1

1

1

0

Youth Conference Order

-

0

0

2

Other

0

0

0

0

Total

21

17

8

11

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 7

Disposals given to those aged 10 to 17 years convicted of all violent offences (sexual offences, violence against the person offences and robbery offences) 1998-20061

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Immediate custody

28

38

24

20

29

Suspended custody

11

12

9

6

13

Supervision in the Community

68

59

72

52

70

Fine

27

31

37

29

28

Conditional discharge

42

27

36

36

41

Youth Conference Order

-

-

-

-

-

Other

8

10

11

7

7

Total

184

177

189

150

188

Table 7 cont.

2003

2004

2005

2006

Immediate custody

28

29

23

25

Suspended custody

15

25

12

12

Supervision in the Community

69

76

54

47

Fine

35

32

31

26

Conditional discharge

39

39

24

23

Youth Conference Order

-

4

12

37

Other

7

6

7

1

Total

193

211

163

171

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 8

Number aged 10 to 17 years prosecuted and convicted for indictable non-violent crimes1 1998-20062

Number prosecuted

Number convicted

1998

1,112

927

1999

918

760

2000

1,078

859

2001

1,011

784

2002

942

740

2003

935

714

2004

922

735

2005

896

716

2006

825

614

1. Includes the following indictable offence classes: burglary, theft, fraud and forgery, criminal damage, offences against the state, drugs and other offences.

2. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 9

Disposals given to those convicted aged 10 to 17 years for indictable non-violent crimes1 1998-20062

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Immediate custody

190

112

127

101

86

Suspended custody

47

40

41

26

19

Supervision in the Community

356

278

345

306

316

Fine

112

101

104

98

91

Conditional discharge

203

202

226

234

215

Youth Conference Order

-

-

-

-

-

Other

19

27

16

19

13

Total

927

760

859

784

740

Table 9 cont.

2003

2004

2005

2006

Immediate custody

79

92

90

49

Suspended custody

37

44

42

12

Supervision in the Community

311

320

279

226

Fine

74

74

69

30

Conditional discharge

207

184

174

99

Youth Conference Order

-

14

51

194

Other

6

7

11

4

Total

714

735

716

614

1. Includes the following indictable offence classes: burglary, theft, fraud and forgery, criminal damage, offences against the state, drugs and other offences.

2. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 10

Number aged 10 to 17 years prosecuted and convicted for non-indictable crimes 1998-20061

Number prosecuted

Number convicted

1998

871

737

1999

758

649

2000

773

673

2001

813

685

2002

847

739

2003

825

681

2004

746

642

2005

669

576

2006

579

488

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Table 11

Disposals given to those convicted aged 10 to 17 years for non-indictable crimes 1998-20061

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Immediate custody

41

21

35

26

36

Suspended custody

14

15

5

5

16

Supervision in the Community

118

90

93

115

131

Fine

353

352

323

302

320

Conditional discharge

116

105

121

154

138

Youth Conference Order

-

-

-

-

-

Other

95

66

96

83

98

Total

737

649

673

685

739

Table 11 cont.

2003

2004

2005

2006

Immediate custody

32

31

31

15

Suspended custody

12

16

18

8

Supervision in the Community

110

101

110

97

Fine

282

295

248

187

Conditional discharge

121

107

101

84

Youth Conference Order

-

3

9

58

Other

124

89

59

39

Total

681

642

576

488

1. Source: NIO Statistics and Research Branch.

Emigration

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people emigrated from the United Kingdom in each of the past five years. [HL2134]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, Director of Macroeconomics and Labour Market, to Lord Laird, dated 3 March 2008.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Question concerning how many people emigrated from the United Kingdom in each of the past five years. I am replying in her absence.

The most recent available figures are for 2002 to 2006. These are presented in the table below.

Table 1—Total international migration1 migrants leaving the United Kingdom 2002 to 2006

Year

Estimate (thousands)

2002

358

2003

361

2004

342

2005

359

2006

400

© Crown copyright 2008.

1 Total international migration (TIM) is the most comprehensive and only official estimate of long-term civilian migration covering both flows to and from the UK. The Office for National Statistics uses the UN recommended definition of an international migrant (someone who changes their country of usual residence for at least a year, so that the country of destination effectively becomes the country of usual residence). TIM is based mainly on data from the international passenger survey (IPS). It includes adjustments for (1) those whose intended length of stay changes so that their migrant status changes; (2) asylum seekers and their dependants not identified by the IPS; and (3) flows between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Equatorial Guinea: Simon Mann

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they are making to the Government of the United States to request them to exert their influence on Equatorial Guinea to secure the safe return of Simon Mann, in the light of the recent visit to him by Donald Johnson, United States ambassador to Equatorial Guinea. [HL1900]

The Government sought feedback from the United States in relation to the ambassador's visit to Mr Mann.

United States officials visited Mr Mann in Black Beach prison on 6 February 2008, at the invitation of the Equatorial Guinean authorities, before access was granted to UK consular officials. While the visit by the United States afforded an opportunity to check on Mr Mann's welfare, we nevertheless made clear to the Government of Equatorial Guinea that such a visit was not a substitute for UK consular access. We will remain in touch with the United States on this matter as warranted.

The Government made their own representations to the Equatorial Guinean authorities. In London, I met the Equatorial Guinean ambassador and subsequently spoke to him by phone. In Malabo, our consul, visiting from the deputy high commission in Lagos, met the Equatorial Guinean Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Justice.

UK consular access to Mr Mann was granted on 12 February. We will continue to visit Mr Mann in prison in line with our consular policy.

Firearms: Licensing Management System

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what date the interface between the national firearms licensing management system and the police national computer became fully operational. [HL2068]

The rollout of the interface between the national firearms licensing management system and the police national computer was completed over the weekend of 22 and 23 September 2007.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there is a European connection of the national firearms licensing management system via the police national computer; and, if so, on what date this became operational. [HL2069]

There is no NFLMS link to Europe. However the SOCA international firearms tracing desk (IFTD) has been provided with read-only access to NFLMS to enable it to investigate the use of British-registered firearms used in international crimes. The IFTD will provides overseas law enforcement agencies with a point of contact through which checks on firearms believed to have provenance in the UK can be conducted.

Fish

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their estimate of the proportion of fish eaten in the United Kingdom which has been illegally imported through the Canary Islands; and [HL1981]

What discussions have been held at official and ministerial level with the European Union Commission and the Government of Spain about the reportedly illegal importation of fish into Europe through the Canary Islands; and what has been the outcome of those discussions. [HL1982]

We have no estimates of the proportion of fish eaten in the UK from illegal sources through the Canary Islands. Once inside the EU via the Canaries such products would be able to trade freely and are not recorded.

Discussions have been held between UK and Spanish officials proposing joint studies on understanding vulnerability of national entry points to illegal, unreported and unregulated fish. These studies are yet to start.

All member states are currently in negotiation with the Commission at council working groups regarding the Commission's draft regulation to establish a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal unreported and unregulated fishing. This includes provisions to improve the control of entry of illegal unregulated and unreported fish and fish products to the EU.

Fishing: Rod Licences

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the cost of administering the rod licence scheme in England and Wales; and what revenue has been generated from it in each of the past five years for which figures are available. [HL2109]

In 2006-07, the cost of administering the rod licence scheme was £1.64 million.

The revenue from rod licences over the last five years is shown in the table below.

Year

Revenue

2006-07

£20.5 million

2005-06

£19.7 million

2004-05

£18.6 million

2003-04

£17.6 million

2002-03

£16.1 million

Food: Supplements

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 8 January (WA 196), in what way the low value consignment relief scheme for imports from the Channel Islands is monitored; and how they take into account the revenue consequences and impact upon the United Kingdom market if no assessment is made of the import of specific products. [HL1687]

The majority of companies exporting goods from the Channel Islands to the UK apply to use the import VAT accounting scheme. For those goods which have a value over £18, the scheme provides for the VAT to be paid by the consignee at the time the order is placed rather than on delivery. The VAT is paid by each company to the Channel Islands postal authorities, and they, in turn forward this to the UK Exchequer.

Users of the scheme are required to enter monthly accounts to their customs authority, and provide details of the exports, both under and over the £18 de minimis level. This information is used by HMG to monitor the LVCR scheme and to assist in assessing the revenue consequences and impact on the UK market.

Forced Marriage

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What preparations they are making for the coming into force later this year of the Forced Marriages (Civil Protection) Act 2007. [HL1993]

The Government are working to implement the Act as speedily as possible. As the Government stated during the passage of the Bill, implementation of any legislation requires a significant programme of work. The programme of work includes the development of the necessary court rules and forms, the setting up of the appropriate court processing systems, guidance developed for staff and judicial training undertaken. The views of the public will also be taken into account and the Government have published a public consultation on who should be a relevant third party to forced marriage proceedings. The draft rules of court have also been published for consultation. The Ministry of Justice is working closely with other departments to decide the best ways in which to publicise the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 to victims and potential victims of forced marriage when it comes into force in Autumn 2008.

Hillsborough Castle

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the cost of maintaining Hillsborough Castle in 2007; and how much income was earned from the castle in that year. [HL2080]

The Northern Ireland Office takes seriously its duty to maintain this important historic listed building. In the calendar year 2007 the cost of maintaining Hillsborough Castle and its grounds was £835,669. This figure covers planned preventive maintenance, basic repairs and other works to the fabric of the building and its mechanical and electrical services, such as installation of solar panels and biomass heating systems.

Activities at the castle include departmental meetings, training courses and conferences, the annual garden party and citizenship ceremonies. In addition to its use by the Northern Ireland Office and other government departments, charities and local community groups can request to use the facilities, generally for fundraising purposes, and the castle and grounds are open at certain times of the year for guided tours.

The income generated by Hillsborough Castle from its range of customers for 2007 was £184,141.

Immigration: Crime

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any evidence of babies and children being brought to the United Kingdom for street crime, benefit fraud or illegal adoption. [HL1991]

There is evidence of Romanian children being trafficked into the UK for the purpose of street crime. The recent police raids in Slough on 24 January saw the arrests of 24 Romanian adults and the rescue of 10 children. These arrests were part of a wider police operation to disrupt Romanian organised crime gangs and rescue victims of the child traffickers.

The Government commissioned the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) to scope the extent of child trafficking into and within the UK. Its report (2007) identified six children who had been trafficked specifically for benefit fraud. Where benefit fraud is suspected investigations are carried out on a case-by-case basis.

Where the Department for Children, Schools and Families has information that British residents have brought children into the UK for adoption which breach the requirements and conditions of UK adoption law, such information is referred to the relevant public authorities. These include the police in whose area the prospective adopters live and where there is reason to suspect the child is at risk of harm, the local authority is informed.

Immigration: Marriage

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make it a requirement for obtaining a visa that men and women coming to the United Kingdom for the purposes of getting married should be at least 21 years old and able to speak and understand English. [HL1994]

Two consultation documents were published on 5 December 2007: one on proposals to tackle forced marriage, and the other on the proposal to introduce a pre-entry English language requirement for spouses. These consultations fulfil the promises made in our strategy “Securing the UK Border”, published in March 2007, to consult on new arrangements for marriage visas.

We are proposing a range of measures to address the problem of forced marriage. One of these proposals is that the minimum age at which a person can sponsor a marriage partner from overseas should be raised from 18 to 21. The same minimum age would apply to the person being sponsored. The Government's strong view is that those who intend to come here to marry should have a knowledge of English. The consultation on the proposal to introduce a pre-entry English language requirement for spouses discusses the key issues around how a requirement of this nature might work in practice.

The consultation periods will run for 12 weeks and the final date for responses is 27 February 2008. The results of the consultations will be published shortly.

Justice: Sharia Law

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have received any representations as to elements of Sharia law which should be recognised in United Kingdom law; and, if so, what is their response to those representations; and [HL1934]

Whether they will extend to marriages under Sharia law the power contained in section 10A of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to refuse a decree absolute if steps are not taken to dissolve a religious marriage.[HL1935]

The Government have not received any representations. Sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales. There are, however, a number of Sharia councils in England and Wales which, on a private basis where the parties consent, deal with the mediation and resolution of personal and contractual disputes. These councils are not part of the court system. In all cases, parties will always have recourse to the national courts.

The Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002, which amended the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, allows a court to refuse a decree absolute until a religious divorce is granted. It applies to members of the Jewish faith or to any other prescribed religious group, including Islam. The option does, however, depend on the religious community itself deciding to make use of the provisions of the Act and then asking the Lord Chancellor to prescribe the religious group for that purpose. No application has been received from any Islamic group requesting such recognition.

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has cost since its creation; and what measurable changes have occurred to society in Northern Ireland as a result of its existence. [HL2011]

I am advised that the total net expenditure of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission since its creation is:

Year

Net expenditure

1999-2000

£583,023

2000-01

£866,395

2001-02

£1,325,980

2002-03

£1,213,911

2003-04

£1,301,292

2004-05

£1,034,056

2005-06

£1,371,378

2006-07

£1,393,279

Total

£9,089,314

I would refer the noble Lord to the commission's annual report which outlines activities undertaken by the commission. Copies of the annual report are available in the Library of the House.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 7 January (WA 171) on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, when they expect the letter from the Chief Commissioner to be sent; and what are the rules as to when such a letter should be sent. [HL2064]

Due to an administrative oversight, there was a delay in communication between the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission regarding the request that the commission write to the noble Lord. This has now been rectified.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff Sickness

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 44) concerning levels of illness in the Northern Ireland Office, what steps they are taking to reduce the number of days lost in that office to the United Kingdom average. [HL2079]

The Northern Ireland Office has a series of policies and procedures in place to endeavour to reduce the number of working days lost through illness. These include:

daily monitoring of sick absence;

timely intervention;

referring staff to the occupational health service (Northern Ireland civil servants) and Captia (Home civil servants) for an independent assessment of the individual to assess their fitness for work;

the welfare service meet staff absent on sick absence to focus on how best an earlier return to work might be facilitated;

the welfare service is available to meet with staff who are in work to help deal with issues which might otherwise cause them to be absent from work;

staff returning from long-term sick absence can return sooner by way of a phased return;

staff are encouraged to attend organised health awareness events;

the occupational health service fitech programme is offered to NIO staff annually to encourage staff to improve their physical and emotional health;

variable working patterns are available to staff to enable a work-life balance to be achieved;

regular updating of attendance management policy;

mandatory return to work interviews ensuring staff are aware of the trigger points and that the consequences of breaching these trigger points are potentially very serious; and

the personnel services division considers each case on merit and inefficiency due to absenteeism can ultimately lead to dismissal.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights Forum

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What meetings the chairman of the Northern Ireland human rights forum has had since his appointment; on what dates; for what purpose; and whether they will place copies of the minutes of all meetings in the Library of the House.[HL1974]

Chris Sidoti was appointed chair of the Bill of Rights Forum on 15 March 2007. His meetings and activities since that date are a matter for the forum and I would suggest that the noble Lord write to the forum on this issue.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a business case was prepared for the funding of nearly £500,000 to the Northern Ireland human rights forum; and, if so, whether they will place a copy of the case in the Library of the House.[HL1975]

In establishing the Bill of Rights Forum, the Government were implementing the commitment made in the St Andrews agreement and the proposals outlined in the subsequent consultation document A Forum on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland (14 November 2006) and response to the consultation. No separate business case was prepared.

The forum made a detailed forecast of its expected costs at its inception and these costs have been met from the existing budget of the sponsoring division within the Northern Ireland Office. A management statement was agreed between the forum and the NIO at the forum's inception, which includes detailed financial guidance to which the forum is required to adhere.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What salary the chairman of the Northern Ireland human rights forum is paid; how it was calculated; and by whom.[HL1977]

Chris Sidoti was appointed chair of the Bill of Rights Forum on 15 March 2007 and is due to conclude his work when the forum provides its recommendations to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on 31 March 2008.

His salary for this period is forecast at £56,645 gross. This was calculated by the Northern Ireland Office, based on the salaries of other similar appointments, and was subject to ministerial approval.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What staff the Northern Ireland human rights forum has; how the staff were recruited; by whom they were recruited; and what their community backgrounds are.[HL1978]

The Bill of Rights Forum has six members of staff. The secretariat is comprised of two seconded civil servants; data on their community backgrounds is held by the Northern Ireland Office. Their community backgrounds will not be disclosed, given the small number of staff involved.

In addition, four part-time outreach workers have been seconded to the Bill of Rights Forum. The community backgrounds of the outreach workers are monitored in line with equality requirements by their permanent employers and not the Northern Ireland Office.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 5 February (WA 172) concerning the Northern Ireland human rights forum, how that body's budget was set; by whom; and what are the detailed headings and amounts. [HL2014]

The Bill of Rights Forum, in discussions with NIO officials, made a detailed forecast of its expected costs at its inception and these costs have been met from the existing budget of the sponsoring division within the Northern Ireland Office. The budget is broken down and shown in the following table.

Description

Cost (£)

Staff Costs

194,600

Travel Costs

71,000

General Office Expenditure

82,000

Consultancy Fees

67,000

Publication, Communication and Advertising Costs

27,000

Total

441,600

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the appointment of Chris Sidoti as chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum was in accordance with their policy contained in A Guide to Public Appointments in Northern Ireland. [HL2035]

I am advised that A Guide to Public Appointments in Northern Ireland is a guidance document developed by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of Chris Sidoti's application, including the curriculum vitae, for the post of chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. [HL2036]

As set out in my Written Answer of 5 February (Official Report, col. WA 171), the post of chair of the Bill of Rights Forum was not advertised. Applications including curriculum vitae were therefore not received.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 45), how many candidates were identified for the post of chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. [HL2037]

The Northern Ireland office compiled a shortlist of six candidates as potential chair of the Bill of Rights Forum.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What were the selection criteria for the appointment of the chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum; how the criteria were created; and by whom. [HL2038]

The selection criteria are set out in my Written Answer (WA 45) of 19 February. These criteria were drawn up by officials in the Northern Ireland Office and were subject to ministerial approval.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum has considered the human rights implications of its chairman's appointment; and, if so, what are those implications. [HL2039]

The Bill of Rights Forum is an independent body. The noble Lord may wish to write to it on this matter.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 45–46) on the Northern Ireland human rights forum, whether they will place a copy of the equality scheme screening forum in the Library of the House. [HL2059]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 45–46) on the Northern Ireland human rights forum, whether the lack of applications by or interviews of applicants has an impact on equality. [HL2060]

I am not aware of any impact on equality arising out of the arrangements of filling the post of chair of the Bill of Rights Forum.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 43) concerning the Northern Ireland human rights forum, which officials assessed candidates for its chairmanship; and what are their positions and knowledge of human rights. [HL2099]

Officials in the Human Rights and Equality Unit, together with senior Northern Ireland Office colleagues, assessed the candidates.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 46) concerning the Northern Ireland human rights forum, whether they have considered the current advertising campaign of the forum against its terms of reference; if so, what is their conclusion; and, if not, why not. [HL2100]

I am advised that the Bill of Rights Forum has undertaken the following advertising activities:

advertising for the posts of two outreach workers;

developed an information leaflet, outlining the work of the forum; and

developed a website as an information point, also outlining the work of the forum.

In my view, these activities are consistent with its terms of reference.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 45) concerning the Bill of Rights Forum, whether the members of the forum reflected a diverse range of opinion on the need for a separate Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland at appointment; and who were the members and their opinions at that point. [HL2101]

It is my view that on appointment, members of the Bill of Rights Forum reflected a diverse range of opinion on the need for a separate Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. Membership of the forum is set out on the forum's web page, to be accessed at www.billofrightsforum.org/index/forum/forum_members-link. The noble Lord will understand that I could not attempt to reflect the opinions of individual members of the forum.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 46) concerning the Northern Ireland human rights forum, how many names each of the organisations listed provided to the Northern Ireland Office. [HL2102]

I am advised that the numbers of names provided are as follows:

the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: 10;

the then Department of Constitutional Affairs: 5;

the Northern Ireland Office: 6;

the Irish Government: 3;

the UK Mission to the UN, Geneva: 3; and

the British Embassy, Dublin: 1

Northern Ireland: Senior Public Posts

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What senior public posts in Northern Ireland were filled otherwise than by open competition in 2007. [HL2040]

The term “senior public post” is being interpreted in this instance as a reference to public appointments. With one exception, all first appointments to NIO public bodies in 2007 were filled by open competition. In line with legislation, 10 members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board were appointed following their nomination by the main Northern Ireland political parties.

The NIO also made appointments to three non-statutory ad hoc advisory bodies in 2007: the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum, the Strategic Review of Parading and the Consultative Group on the Past. Given the need to establish these bodies without undue delay and considering their ad hoc nature and short duration, it was not considered proportionate to embark on public appointment processes. These non-statutory bodies fall under the Cabinet Office classification of short-term task force, ad hoc advisory groups and reviews.

Northern Rock

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What were the agreement or agreements between Northern Rock and the Jersey-based trust, Granite, that led to the latter's foundation; and [HL2110]

Who are the trustees of Granite or where their names may be found; and [HL2111]

Who are the organisations represented by the trustees of Granite. [HL2112]

This information is publicly available in the full Granite prospectus on the Northern Rock website http://companyinfo.northernrock.co.uk/treasury/securitisation/mortgages.asp.

The prospectus sets out the contractual agreement between Northern Rock and the Granite securitisation vehicle.

Banks and building societies often use securitisation vehicles as a source of financing.

A copy of the letter to Dr Vincent Cable MP clarifying the relationship between Northern Rock and Granite has been placed in the House Library.

People Trafficking

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which articles of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings would require (a) primary legislation, and (b) secondary legislation to be implemented in the United Kingdom.[HL1944]

Subject to final confirmation, we expect limited primary legislation to be required to ensure full compliance with Articles 10 and 14. Secondary legislation is likely to be needed to complete implementation of Articles 12, 13, and 14. Other important procedural and policy changes are required to implement the Convention but are not judged to require legislation.

Police: Roads

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many police officers are engaged in policing roads full time (not shared with tasked activities); and, of these, how many are (a) authorised examiners for the purposes of Section 67 of the Road Traffic Act 1988; (b) authorised examiners for the purpose of Section 69 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (Mechanical Prohibition); (c) authorised persons for the purpose of Section 70 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (Overload prohibition); (d) authorised persons for the purpose of Section 99A of the Transport Act 1968 (Power to prohibit driving of vehicle); and (e) adequately trained to investigate collisions.[HL2091]

The latest information relates to the position at 31 March 2007. At that time the number of full-time equivalent police officers whose main function was traffic was 6,412. The traffic function includes those who are predominantly employed in the policing of traffic and motorway-related duties. It does not include those engaged in other road policing activities. Information on the numbers of officers authorised or trained for the purposes referred to in the question is not collected centrally.

Questions for Written Answer: Unanswered Questions

asked the Leader of the House:

Why there were 73 Questions for Written Answer overdue for answer on 22 February. [HL2157]

My office continues to remind departments of the importance of answering Questions for Written Answer accurately, wherever possible within the 14-day deadline.

On Friday 29 February 17 Written Questions were overdue for answer.

Record Offices: Medical Statistics

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether statistics held by the National Statistics Medical Research Department can be made available at national record offices. [HL2115]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, Director of Macroeconomics and Labour Market, to Lord Harrison, dated 3 March 2008.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Question asking whether statistics held by the National Statistics Medical Research Department can be made available at national record offices. I am replying in her absence. (HL2115)

The medical research teams at the Office for National Statistics exist to provide bone fide medical researchers with access to records about individuals that are held by the office. This is subject to the researcher obtaining appropriate legal and ethical permissions. ONS does not produce statistics for this purpose. Further details of the service provided can be found at www.statistics.gov.uk/about/services/medicalresearch/.

Suicide

asked Her Majesty's Government:

For each local authority area, (a) how many people under the age of 25 committed suicide in the last year for which figures are available; and (b) what percentage that represented of the total population under the age of 25. [HL2030]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician and Registrar General, to Lord Roberts of Llandudno, dated 3 March 2008.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Question asking for each local authority area, (a) how many people under the age of 25 committed suicide in the last year for which figures are available; and (b) what percentage that represented of the total population under the age of 25. (HL2030)

The table attached provides the number of deaths of persons under the age of 25 where suicide was the underlying cause of death, for each local authority in England and Wales, in 2006 (the latest year available). A copy has been placed in the House of Lords Library.

These figures represent less than 0.033 per cent (around one in 3,000) of the population aged between 10 and 25 years, in all local authorities. Deaths under the age of 10 are not recorded as suicides.

Ulster-Scots

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the status of the Ulster-Scots community in Northern Ireland is as an historic ethnic community; and whether the community has access to all human rights and equality conventions currently available to both indigenous and non-indigenous ethnic minority groups presently domiciled in the United Kingdom. [HL2013]

The term “historic ethnic minority” is not defined in statute in the UK; however the Government recognise the importance of Ulster-Scots culture in Northern Ireland, as reflected in commitments made in the 1998 Belfast agreement and the 2006 St Andrews agreement. Cultural matters are now the responsibility of the devolved administration.

The rights in the European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated in domestic law in the Human Rights Act 1998, apply to everyone within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, irrespective of ethnic identity. Part II of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages applies to Ulster-Scots.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission views the Ulster-Scots community in Northern Ireland as having the same protection under human rights legislation as the Irish community in terms of funding, employment and language. [HL2061]

As the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission remains independent of government, the noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly on this matter.

Waterways: Pollution

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much nitrogen oxide pollution in watercourses is caused by road transport emissions; and how much by farming. [HL2027]

A number of scientific studies, together with the regulatory impact assessment supporting the consultation on proposals to revise nitrate vulnerable zones regulations, estimated that agriculture contributes approximately 61 per cent of the nitrogen entering surface waters in England. Discharges from sewage treatment-works account for up to 30 per cent. The remainder comes from a variety of sources, including road transport. According to the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, road transport accounted for about 34 per cent of total nitrogen oxide emissions to air in 2005. Data are not available on the amount of nitrogen entering surface waters through aerial deposition.