HC Deb 26 July 1979 vol 971 cc435-6W
Mr. Brotherton

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the activities of the Standing Advisory Corn-mission on Human Rights; who are its members; what fees are paid to them; and what plans he has for its future.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins

Under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights has a duty to advise the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland onthe adequacy and effectiveness of the law for the time being in force in preventing discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion and in providing redress for persons aggrieved by discrimination on either ground".

It has a duty to publish an annual report, which is laid before Parliament. In practice, the Commission has also concerned itself with wider human rights issues. Reports have also been published about a Bill of Rights and about reform of the laws relating to divorce and to homosexuality.

Its members are:

  • Lord Plant (Chairman)
  • Mrs. M. B. Byrne
  • Professor C. Campbell
  • Dr. N. Casey
  • Mr. R. G. Cooper (ex officio)
  • Mr. J. M. Kelly, OBE
  • Mr. W. P. McCollum, QC
  • Mr. S. McGonagle (ex officio)
  • Mrs. M. McGregor
  • Mr. H. R. McKibben
  • Mrs. B. Rodgers

Members who are not presentex-officio are paid a daily allowance of £23 for attendance at Commission meetings.

I am presently considering what, if anything, should be done about all the quasi-autonomous non-governmental bodies to which I make appointments, but I have at present nothing to say about the future of this Commission.