§ Mr. Peter Robinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the reasons for the variance from year to year in the budget of the Local Government Staff Commission for Northern Ireland; and what action he will take to avoid substantial increases in costs to local government authorities.
§ Mr. Atkins
The variance in the budget of the Local Government Staff Commission for Northern Ireland in recent years can be attributed to the development of its role in assisting district councils and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in a range of services connected with the recruitment, training and terms and conditions of employment of officers.
Approximately 14,000 people are employed by district councils and the NINE. Under the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, the staff commission has a statutory duty to, among other things, establish advisory appointment panels, draw up codes of procedure for recruitment and promotion; assist in the development of training of officers and monitor the fair employment practices of district councils.
The staff commission carried out an organisational review in 1991 which identified a need for the commission to restructure and to take on additional staff in order to be able efficiently and effectively to discharge its statutory functions. This it has done: it now offers a comprehensive package of services delivered by a team of professionally qualified officers which assists councils and the NIHE in the full range of personnel services. 598W
Universities £ Colleges of Education £ 1987–88 917,612 62,293 1988–89 886,315 65,915 1989–90 1,088,505 69,350 1990–91 1,241,948 73,500 1991–92 1,350,000 77,900
Information on the amounts paid by further education colleges is not available.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education recently announced that he is bringing forward proposals on the voluntary membership of students' unions and consideration is now being given to the options available for the implementation of those proposals.