§ Lord Lester of Herne Hill
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What are the operating budgets for the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland and the Human Rights Commission for Northern Ireland; and upon what basis, and by what procedure have those budgets been determined. [HL I95]
§ Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton
On 1 October 1999, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland took over the functions of the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland, the Commission for Racial Equality for Northern Ireland, the Fair Employment Commission and the Disability Council for Northern Ireland. In 1999–2000, the total operating budget for the Equality Commission (1 October 1999–31 March 2000) and for the bodies which it replaced (1 April 1999–30 September 1999) amounts to £5,274,000. This total consists of the combined operating budgets of the former equality bodies, agreed by the Department of Economic Development at the start of the financial year, together with an additional request by the Equality Commission for a further £425,000 which was agreed by the Department of Economic Development, with the approval of the Department of Finance and Personnel, through the in-year monitoring process.
Responsibility for future expenditure incurred by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly and is no longer a matter for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission replaced the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights as well as taking on new responsibilities. It is defined as a Non Departmental Public Body and is funded by means of a grant in aid. The commission receives its money from the Northern Ireland Office.
The commission's grant in aid for each of its first three years is £750,000. In setting this figure, the department took into account that the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights had a budget of £272,000 for the financial year 1998–99. The grant in aid therefore represents the Government's considered judgment as to the amount of funding that would be needed in order to allow the commission to discharge its functions effectively.