HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 cc76-7W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what costs were incurred by the Parades Commission in the organisation of conferences in the financial year ending 31 March; what the costs were of each event; what the advertising costs were; how many people attended each; if he will breakdown the attendance of each by(a) perceived community background and (b) gender; and what assessment has been made by the Commission of these events. [74796]

Jane Kennedy

The overall cost of the two conferences held in the financial year ending 31 March 2002 was approximately £70,575.

The first conference cost £53,278 and the second conference cost £17,297. A significant portion of the costs of the first conference (for example planning and design work) represented outlay that was utilised also in the second conference.

No advertising costs were incurred as attendance at both conferences was by invitation.

There were 196 people in attendance at the conference on 26 January 2002. There were 175 people in attendance at the conference on 9 March 2002.

The Parades Commission does not hold the necessary information to enable them to provide a breakdown of attendance, but it was clear that the nationalist viewpoint was more strongly represented at the second conference and the unionist viewpoint more strongly represented at the first. There were more men than women at both conferences. This may reflect to some extent a greater predominance of men involved in parading organisations.

The Parades Commission issued evaluation forms to delegates at the end of each conference. The delegates were asked to provide an assessment of the conference and submit any suggestions on how to make progress with regard to the parading issue. The Commission provided a summary report of the key issues raised at each conference and a copy was issued to each delegate who attended.

Based on feedback from both conferences, the Commission is seeking to build on this positive initiative. It has also been able to establish more constructive relationships with some parading interests as a direct result of the conferences.