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Lord Holme of Cheltenham: Perhaps I may say a word because the dilemma that the noble Lord has outlined is acute. I am not sure that the Minister's reply a moment or two ago satisfied me entirely. There is a sort of ambivalence in the Belfast agreement between two possible roles. Perhaps I may restate them. One is that the bodies are a mechanism for co-operation. However, if they are simply a mechanism for co-operation--the disarmament commission is perhaps an example of that--I do not think that many of the problems outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, would arise. Secondly, however, if the bodies are, as is stated in Clause 11, to have a clear operational remit to implement policies on an all-island basis, they will do things--and that means that all the problems to which the noble Lord referred could arise. When the Minister replies, will he make

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it absolutely clear whether the bodies are mechanisms for co-operation or are intended to get on with the job?

Lord Dubs: I shall try to make this simple by not entering the complicated areas into which I am being tempted. Yes, it is true that the implementation bodies represent a complicated area of domestic and international law. We believe that this clause enables the Secretary of State, for initial bodies, and the Assembly, for subsequent bodies, to confer all the necessary powers--that is to say, the legal powers of the implementation body with regard to Northern Ireland will be conferred either by the Secretary of State or subsequently by the Assembly and it will have its legal powers for its actions in the Republic conferred by the Irish Parliament. It will therefore have two bodies of law, which will achieve one end; namely, to give the implementation body the powers to act in all parts of Ireland, North and South. Because the legislative basis in the Republic may be different, the legislation in Dublin may take a different form from that in Belfast. However, the position is clear: the body will be buttressed by legislative support from the Assembly and from the Irish Parliament so that it can act freely across all parts of Ireland to give effect to the decisions made.

As I said earlier, the policy will be established by the North South Ministerial Council, but operational responsibilities will be for the implementation body. It will therefore have the legal basis on which to operate anywhere in Ireland.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: This is an important point, so I do not apologise for pressing the Minister. Perhaps I may take tourism as an example. It is a concrete example. Let us suppose that it were thought to be a good thing in the council that there should be greater promotion of the island of Ireland as a destination for tourism. There is already a body responsible for tourism in Northern Ireland and an active body in the Irish Republic. Is the purpose of a new body to be established on tourism to be the mechanism by which the two would co-operate or is it to become a new, better tourism body, arranging tourism and itself implementing policy and operating in all parts of Ireland?

Lord Dubs: My understanding is this: the remit of the North South Ministerial Council will include many areas of co-operation. Some methods of co-operation might well be simply bilateral arrangements, such as suggested by the noble Lord, whereby the tourism body in the North would co-operate with the tourism body in the South, but they would remain separate bodies. That would not constitute an implementation body. However--this is purely a hypothetical example to deal with the point--it could be that the North South Ministerial Council decides that it does not need two tourism bodies and says, "Let us have one tourism body to attract tourists from overseas to all parts of Ireland". It would then set up an implementation body which would be charged with promoting tourism in

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that way. There are two ways of doing it. Clearly, the North South Ministerial Council would in each instance decide the most effective way of achieving such co-operation. There would be an implementation body only if it set up one body to do the work.

That is a hypothetical example. I do not want to be accused of having tried to suggest the way in which tourism in Ireland should develop in the future--far from it. That is purely an example to deal with the noble Lord's point.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: So, as I understand it, the bodies will have twin legal personalities: they will have one legal personality in the Republic and another legal personality standing next to it under the law of Northern Ireland--that is, the law of the United Kingdom. Let us suppose that, as the noble Lord, Lord Holme, suggested, a body relating to tourism wants to enter into a contract with a printer to print some brochures. It may have to enter into two contracts because, as I understand it, it will not have a single legal personality. It will be done under two different bodies of law. People could obviously buy the brochures solely in the north or solely in the south, but someone has to sign the contract as a legal personality and undertake to pay for them. This is an entirely hypothetical example, as the Minister has said, but I believe we shall all need to reflect more carefully on this matter and consider exactly how it will work. I hope that between now and Report stage the Minister will be good enough to write to me explaining the legal framework that is envisaged.

Lord Dubs: I was about to make that offer. I shall put my comments in writing because this is a fairly complicated matter. Once we enter areas of legal personality and international law, we had better make sure we are accurate.

Lord Hylton: I hope I can be helpful. I notice that subsection (2)(a) of the proposed new clause in Amendment No. 114 refers in the plural to,

    "the legal capacities of a body corporate".

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am sure that is wonderfully helpful, but I am not quite sure how. I say that with all due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. I have taken it to mean that a body corporate needs a number of different legal capacities in order to operate. No doubt that point will be incorporated in the letter which we look forward to receiving from the Minister. That brings us back to the question of the powers which will be the same or similar in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland and whether that should be written into the Bill. In view of the discussion we have had, I shall withdraw the amendment but we shall give further thought to the matter. I beg leave to withdraw, as an amendment to Amendment No. 114, Amendment No. 114A.

Amendment No. 114A, as an amendment to Amendment No. 114, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 114 agreed to.

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4.45 p.m.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 115:

After Clause 43, insert the following new clause--

Civic Forum

(".--(1) The First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly shall make arrangements for obtaining from the Forum its views on social, economic and cultural matters.
(2) The arrangements so made shall not take effect until after they have been approved by the Assembly.
(3) In this section "the Forum" means the consultative Civic Forum established in pursuance of paragraph 34 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement.").

The noble Lord said: These amendments concern the civic forum, one of the bodies provided for in the Belfast agreement for obtaining the views of various sectors of the community, including business, trade unions and the voluntary sector.

This amendment moves the provisions from the obscurity of Part VII, miscellaneous and general provisions, to a more prominent place in the Bill alongside the other institutions provided for in the agreement. There have also been some minor changes to the provisions. These include omitting the reference to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister obtaining through the forum the views of the community, just in case anyone got the impression that we were seeking to imply in the Bill that the elected representatives in the Assembly were not sufficiently representative of the views of the community which elected them! That is far from the case.

We have also removed specific references to funding from the provision on the forum. We are considering the general question of funding the institution in the Bill and may introduce amendments at Report stage if these are necessary.

Amendment No. 345 amends the schedule on transitional provisions in Schedule 12 to ensure that arrangements concerning the civic forum made during the shadow phase of the Assembly carry forward after devolution. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 115, Amendment No. 115A:

Line 8, after ("established") insert (", by the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister acting jointly,").

The noble Lord said: This is intended to make clear that the civic forum is to be established by the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, which is how I read paragraph 34 of strand one of the agreement. I beg to move.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: I am a little worried about the poor old civic forum. The Committee will probably have noticed that the Bill completed its passage through the Commons without their noticing that it was absent from the Bill. That went entirely unremarked. We are now restoring it at this stage in the Lords. I suppose it is quite a good principle that if there is no reason to have a body, one should not have it. We have an admirable title in the civic forum. We had a body with a short vestigial life which I imagine played a useful role in an earlier stage of the peace process.

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I think we need to be quite certain what we want a civic forum for. I believe there is a need for such a body in a Province which has such a weak civic culture. There is perhaps a role for a body called a civic forum to reach out into Northern Ireland society to try to build civic institutions which are the necessary accompaniment to the elaborate constitutional structure we are setting up. Clearly we shall not create a civil society in Northern Ireland simply by having better parliamentary institutions and a better sharing of relationships north and south. It has to be done by animating a greater civic spirit and responsibility in Northern Ireland.

My slight concern is that the civic forum is an afterthought put in the Belfast agreement for reasons of piety and that it is in this Bill for the same reason. We find ourselves saying that First Ministers are to provide guidelines on the selection. Why could not the civic forum be drawn fairly widely from Northern Ireland society? Why should not certain bodies be established as nominating bodies which could nominate people to it? Why should it not meet in different places around Northern Ireland? Why should it not act as a sounding board for building around the new assembly and the new all-Ireland institutions greater levels of consent and information? Why should it not in some ways act as a public information service giving information from the Assembly?

I think it would be a great shame if it just reproduces the conventional, cross-community deal represented by the Assembly itself. I do not have the answers and this is probably not the appropriate place to discuss them when we are discussing specific amendments to the Bill. However, I think we should all recognise that at the moment this is a title in search of a role. We have some obligation to try to think what would make a civic forum useful to the developing, and we hope peaceful, society in Northern Ireland.

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