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Written Question
British Indian Ocean Territory: Sovereignty
Monday 5th February 2024

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are continuing to hold talks with the government of Mauritius regarding the sovereignty of the British Indian Overseas territory.

Answered by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

Yes, talks with the Government of Mauritius continue. The UK's priority is to ensure the long term continued effective operation of the joint UK/US military base on Diego Garcia. Mauritius has also publicly committed to this goal.


Written Question
West Africa: Christianity
Monday 5th February 2024

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support persecuted Christians in West Africa.

Answered by Lord Benyon

The UK is committed to defending Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all. We monitor the situation for religious and non-religious communities globally, including in Africa, and work with governments, including with the Nigerian Government to promote FoRB. The UK is a founding member of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA), which is a government-level network committed to protecting and promoting FoRB, including raising awareness and conducting advocacy campaigns on prisoners of conscience. West African membership includes The Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.


Written Question
Bombings: Omagh
Monday 29th January 2024

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Northern Ireland Office:

To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have held with the government of Ireland regarding the possibility of that government establishing a public inquiry into the Omagh bombing of 1998.

Answered by Lord Caine

In October 2021, the Northern Ireland High Court found that an Article 2 compliant investigation into the Omagh bombing had not taken place, citing four grounds which the Court held could give rise to plausible arguments that there was a real prospect of preventing the Omagh Bomb. The Gallagher judgement also expressed a desire that a simultaneous Article 2 compliant investigation occur in Ireland, though it recognised that it was not within the Court’s power to order a cross-border investigation.

In response to the findings of the Court, the Secretary of State announced in February 2023 that the Government would establish an independent statutory inquiry into the Omagh bombing. In June 2023, the Secretary of State appointed Lord Alan Turnbull as Chairman of the Omagh Bombing Inquiry. The Government continues working at pace to finalise the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference as soon as possible.

While this is, of course, a matter for the Irish Government, the UK Government is keen to understand what consideration it has given, since the Gallagher judgement, to the setting up of an investigation in Ireland to discharge its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. This issue was directly raised most recently by me at the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference on 28 November 2023.

This is one of several legitimate questions regarding the Irish Government’s record of dealing with legacy matters in its own jurisdiction.


Written Question
Gibraltar: Sovereignty
Tuesday 2nd January 2024

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask His Majesty's Government what is the current status of the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union in relation to Gibraltar.

Answered by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

The UK Government, working side-by-side with the Government of Gibraltar, is committed to concluding a UK-EU treaty in respect of Gibraltar as soon as possible. The latest round of UK-EU negotiations took place on 13 and 14 December, further discussions are planned in the coming weeks. The UK is steadfast in our support for Gibraltar and will not agree to anything that compromises sovereignty.


Written Question
Police: Northern Ireland
Friday 29th December 2023

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Cabinet Office:

To ask His Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to awarding the Elizabeth Cross to the members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Special Constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who died as a result of terrorism or in the course of their duty in Northern Ireland, since the mid-1960s.

Answered by Baroness Neville-Rolfe - Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

The Elizabeth Cross was introduced by Her Late Majesty The Queen specifically for the next of kin of Regular and Reserve Armed Forces personnel and Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel who have died on operations, or as a result of an act of terrorism, since 1 January 1948. The eligibility criteria for the Elizabeth Cross do not, therefore, extend to the next of kin of personnel who served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Ulster Special Constabulary, or the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

All lives lost in the line of public duty are a tragedy. Work is continuing on an appropriate way to mark the contribution of all public servants who are killed while serving the people of the United Kingdom.


Written Question
Patrick Ryan
Thursday 21st September 2023

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Northern Ireland Office:

To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Ireland on any plans to prosecute Father Patrick Ryan following recent admissions published in the book The Padre: The True Story of Irish Priest who armed the IRA with Gadaffi's Money, published in August.

Answered by Lord Caine

Criminal prosecutions regarding alleged criminal conduct in Ireland during the Troubles is a matter for the Irish authorities.

The Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) established by the UK Government’s Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy & Reconciliation) Act will conduct reviews into Troubles-related deaths and serious injury, with the primary objective of providing information to families, and victims and survivors.

The ICRIR will have all the necessary powers to conduct criminal investigations as part of any review, and will be able to refer cases relating to conduct which took place in the UK for prosecution in cases where conditional immunity from prosecution is not granted and sufficient evidence exists.

The legislation includes a requirement of full disclosure by UK bodies & agencies. Effective information recovery mechanisms for many families, however, will require the cooperation of both governments. The Government hopes, therefore, that the Irish Government will, in the absence of an alternative in place for dealing with Troubles-related incidents, support the work of the ICRIR in delivering better outcomes for victims and families across the UK and Ireland.


Written Question
Property Development: Planning Permission
Monday 5th June 2023

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask His Majesty's Government what is the average time taken from referral to the beginning of a planning application for significant development projects.

Answered by Baroness Scott of Bybrook - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The available information shows that, during the five quarters from 1 October 2021 to 31 December 2022, local planning authorities made 53 decisions on major public service infrastructure developments. Of these, 46 were decided on time: eight within ten weeks and 38 within the period agreed within a performance agreement.

Figures for the available quarters are available in the PS2 CSV open data file here.


Written Question
Property Development: Planning Permission
Monday 5th June 2023

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask His Majesty's Government what is the average time taken for planning decisions to be made for significant development projects.

Answered by Baroness Scott of Bybrook - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The available information shows that, during the five quarters from 1 October 2021 to 31 December 2022, local planning authorities made 53 decisions on major public service infrastructure developments. Of these, 46 were decided on time: eight within ten weeks and 38 within the period agreed within a performance agreement.

Figures for the available quarters are available in the PS2 CSV open data file here.


Written Question
Raw Materials: Planning Permission
Monday 5th June 2023

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask His Majesty's Government to ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the British Geological Survey, Potential for Critical Raw Material Prospectivity in the UK, published on 17 April, which identified potentially strategically important deposits throughout the UK; and what assessment they have made of the ability of local planning authorities to process related planning applications efficiently.

Answered by Baroness Scott of Bybrook - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

'Potential for Critical Raw Material Prospectivity in the UK' was a study undertaken by the Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre, a programme sponsored by the Department for Business and Trade and delivered by the British Geological Survey. This report delivers on the Critical Minerals Strategy's commitment to collate geoscientific data and identify target areas of potential for critical minerals within the UK. It is a preliminary assessment, and its findings do not mean that the prospective areas identified will necessarily be targeted for exploration and mining. The Government is working with the British Geological Survey to understand next steps.

The Government recognises that many local planning authorities are facing capacity and capability challenges. To make sure that local planning authorities are able to deliver an effective planning service and our proposed reforms we are developing a programme of support, working with partners across the planning sector. The capacity and capability programme will seek to provide the direct support that is needed now, deliver training opportunities for existing planners, and further develop the future pipeline into the profession. In addition, we recently consulted on proposals to increase planning fees by 35% for major applications and 25% for all other applications to increase resourcing and improve the performance of local planning authorities.


Written Question
Casement Park: Regeneration
Friday 12th May 2023

Asked by: Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to set out the source of funding for the redevelopment of Casement Park GAA stadium in Belfast which was included as one of 14 stadiums in the UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028.

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay

The joint UK and Republic of Ireland bid to host EURO 2028 was submitted to UEFA on 12 April 2023. The bid proposes 10 stadia, with the inclusion of Casement Park in Belfast enabling Northern Ireland to be a prospective host for the tournament, so that local communities can benefit from the considerable socio-economic benefits of hosting an event of this scale.

There has been a longstanding commitment in Northern Ireland as part of the regional stadium development programme to redevelop Casement Park – alongside the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park and Kingspan Stadium, which have already undergone improvements. Given the inclusion of Casement Park in the bid, HM Government is working closely with partners in Northern Ireland to ensure the redevelopment is adequately funded, delivered in good time, and complies sufficiently with UEFA’s technical requirements.