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Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

House of Lords written question – answered on 12th December 2011.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 29 November (WA 43-4), whether they will re-institute the arrangement in relation to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission that remains in place for the Equality and Human Rights Commission under which the chief executive will write to members of the House with information on operational matters which they have requested in a Question for Written Answer, and what is the reason for the different approach by those bodies.

Photo of Lord Shutt of Greetland Lord Shutt of Greetland Lords Spokesperson (Northern Ireland Office), Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

There are currently no plans for the Northern Ireland Office to change its long-standing policy of referring noble Lords to arm's-length bodies when seeking information on operational matters. This reflects the fact that such bodies are both independent and best placed to answer such questions. It also makes sense that, when noble Lords seek information on a very regular basis relating to a particular arm's-length body, whose independence from government is of particular importance, that noble Lords engage with that body directly rather than to seek to do so through Ministers. This Government are always mindful of disproportionate expense.

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