Draft Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Modification) Order 2006

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Lembit Öpik: The Minister is making some helpful points. Before he finishes, would he confirm something that was implied at the most recent Northern Ireland Question Time in the Chamber? It was implied, in relation to education, that if the Assembly were sitting, it would be able to make its own decisions and if we could restart the Assembly, that it could have the opportunity to modify any decision made through council. Would the Minister confirm that the Government are democratic enough to allow some of the decisions made now to be modified, should the Assembly be restarted and take a different view?

Mr. Hanson: I cannot confirm that at all because the form that any Assembly takes, the date it comes back and the proposals put to us by the political parties are the matters I referred to, which the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach are discussing with myself, the Secretary of State and other political leaders because we have to consider those issues. No decisions have been taken and people can speculate about all of those matters.

Our objective today is to pass the order so that for the next six months, until 14 October, we in this House can manage the affairs of the people of Northern Ireland while the Assembly is suspended. I hope that during the course of that six-month period we shall be able to reach a solution whereby the concerns of the hon. Member for Belfast, East are addressed, but at the same time, we want to ensure that he, and he alone in this room, can exercise power on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland. He has been elected to
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exercise that power, and that is our objective. That is why, reluctantly, I commend the order to the Committee.

In conclusion, I thank you for your chairmanship, Mr. Amess. I thank the clerk, and your assistants for the work that they have undertaken and I particularly thank Hansard for dealing with the trying circumstances, and I look forward to reading the
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particular passage to see whether my anonymous colleague, the hon. Member for Outside of the Room, appears in the proceedings.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Northern Ireland Act 2000 (Modification) Order 2006.

Committee rose at seventeen minutes to Six o’clock.

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