The Secretary of State, in accordance with the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, appoints the members of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission. For the purposes of tax and national insurance contributions, commissioners were initially treated as being self-employed. Since 2006, the NIO pays all commissioners through the NIO payroll with tax deducted at source. This follows clarification of the commissioners’ status in 2006.
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why a Northern Ireland Office spokesman said in a Belfast newsletter on 31 May that the Northern Ireland Office had no knowledge whether Northern Ireland parades commissioners had paid income tax since 1997 but that the Northern Ireland Office had paid nearly £500,000 to HM Revenue and Customs to cover their taxes anyway; and, if the statement is accurate, whether the Comptroller and Auditor-General was informed. [HL3929]
The department understood that the parades commissioners should be treated as though they were self-employed. However, following clarification from HM Revenue and Customs, the department accepted that the commissioners should have been treated as office holders and taxed at source. For this reason, the department was required to make a payment to HM Revenue and Customs. The department has no reason to believe that individual commissioners have not paid their respective tax liabilities. In accordance with the relevant legislation, the Comptroller and Auditor-General examines, certifies and reports on the accounts of the Parades Commission.
I have been informed by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission that the commission's expenses, as contained in the narrative to Note 2 to the Accounts, is the collective cost and is shown alongside the corresponding figure for 2005-06 for comparative purposes. The figure includes the costs of office rates, accommodation, telecommunications, car park rental, conference fees, and official cars.