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Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Volume 706: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 5 November (WA 71), why there is a difference in procedure in answering operational questions concerning the Police Service of Northern Ireland and those concerning the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; and why questions cannot be referred by Ministers for answer to the latter. [HL177]

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a non-departmental public body working independently of Government and Ministers, within the statutory framework set out in Section 69 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It is therefore appropriate that questions about the operation of the commission, including its provision of advice, are asked directly of the commission, and not through Ministers.

An arrangement has been made with the Chief Constable that questions that concern police operational matters should be forwarded directly to the PSNI by the Northern Ireland Office. This reflects the Chief Constable’s operational responsibility for policing matters within a policy framework set by the Government and the policing board.