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Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 2 July 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has built confidence with both major communities in Northern Ireland. [HL4171]

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was established by s.68 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (“the Act”) and its statutory functions are set out in s.69 of the Act. Building confidence is not specified as a function of the Commission.

However, the commission is a designated public authority subject to the requirements of s.75 of the Act to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity and the desirability of promoting good relations. To this end, the commission has developed an approved Equality Scheme, prepares annual Equality Plans, and submits its Strategic Plans to full public consultation and Equality Impact Assessment. The commission is currently consulting on its draft Strategic Plan for 2009-11. Full information can be obtained directly from the commission or found on its website www.nihrc.org.

As set out in Schedule 7(5) to the Act, the commission reports annually to the Secretary of State on the performance of its functions during the year. Annual reports are available publicly and copies are placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 16 June (WA 202), whether they have placed any restrictions in relation to the funding from Atlantic Philanthropies for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's further work in advising the Government on a Bill of rights for Northern Ireland. [HL4448]

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland approved in full the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) proposal to access £110,000 of external funding from Atlantic Philanthropies. The Secretary of State considered that the proposal was consistent with the statutory functions of the NIHRC and that the receipt of such funding would be consistent with the conditions set out in the NIHRC management statement. However, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) suggested to the NIHRC that one of the proposed projects was likely to involve nugatory work and invited the NIHRC to submit an alternative project for consideration, within the scope of the total funding.

Copies of the NIO’s letter confirming these details to the NIHRC will be placed in the Library of the House.