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Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, in a moment we shall come to some of the additional points which the Minister has just raised, including those in Amendment No. 80 as regards what happens to subsequent implementation bodies and the legal status that they will have. This clause is intended to refer solely to the initial implementation bodies. They are the first tranche of what will become a much greater number in due course. As far as they are concerned, it is clear that they will be international organisations created by treaty. They are not just implementation bodies but bodies of rather special character.

I am sorry that the Minister does not think it wise to insert the words of the amendment into the Bill. I believe that they would make the situation much clearer to everyone concerned and would strengthen the Bill rather than weaken it or make it vague. However, the Minister is not yet convinced so I shall not press the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead moved Amendment No. 77:

Page 27, line 39, leave out from beginning to ("and") and insert ("agreed under paragraph 9(ii) of Strand Two of the Belfast Agreement;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, two matters occur to me as regards this amendment. The curious phrase,

appears in the Bill. Does that imply that the Secretary of State alone will consider or will he seek the views of the members of the Assembly and, if possible and time permits, the Parliament of the United Kingdom as well, given that the other half of the agreement--the Irish Government or whatever name it wishes to call itself by when we have finished with this Bill--will take it for granted that consultation at all levels will take place?

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My point concerns the words that my amendment proposes to insert into the clause, which are,

    "agreed under paragraph 9(ii) of Strand Two of the Belfast Agreement".
I am not complaining that the Minister, right from day one, has insisted that we must not "do violence" to the text of the Belfast agreement. As paragraph 9 is set out clearly in the agreement, I believe that that form of words would vastly improve the clause; as I think do my colleagues who are serving in the Assembly, but not yet in the Executive. I beg to move.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, as I stated when dealing with the previous amendment, the first stage in the establishment of the North-South implementation bodies is for the areas for co-operation to be identified and agreed by representatives of the Northern Ireland transitional Administration and the Irish Government. Once that has happened, the bodies will be established by international agreements between the British and Irish Governments.

Only then will domestic legislation be made to give any requisite capacities and powers to these bodies. I can give a categorical assurance to the House that the Secretary of State's power to make orders under Clause 53 will be exercised only in respect of the agreed implementation bodies. The implementation bodies will be those clearly identified and agreed by representatives of the Northern Ireland Administration and the Irish Government. It stands to reason that the Secretary of State will have those views before her when considering whether to make an order about a body.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, that appears to be a reasonably satisfactory reply. The noble Lord has made it clear that views, other than those of a small circle, will be taken into account. Although there may be occasions when there will be wider consultations--certainly with Members of the Executive, if not the Assembly--perhaps we can return to that in the future. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 78:

Page 27, line 39, after ("body;") insert--
("( ) which has equivalent powers and duties throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it seems to me that it is important to reassure people in both jurisdictions that the implementation bodies are genuine cross-Border bodies. They are seen by some in Northern Ireland as ways in which the south, the Republic, can interfere in matters in Northern Ireland. We know of the tremendous suspicion that there has been over a long period about the operation of the Maryfield secretariat. That demonstrates the way in which such fears can grow and be extremely important in the context of Northern Ireland. Therefore, to the extent that we can, it seems right to ensure on the face of the Bill that the bodies have exactly the same powers in both jurisdictions.

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I moved a similar amendment in Committee, which I explained at greater length and in more detail. I was criticised then for the precision of that amendment because in the two jurisdictions the powers may be expressed differently due to the different legislative backgrounds. I have, therefore, modified the wording in the hope of making it more acceptable to your Lordships, and particularly to the Minister, to read "equivalent powers and duties" both sides of the Border rather than "identical" or "the same". It is an important point of principle that they should have the same powers. That would be entirely in accordance with the agreement. That is what is intended, so I do not think that any damage would be caused to the agreement by the amendment. On the contrary, I believe that it would strengthen the Bill and reinforce the potential bodies.

Amendment No. 79, which is grouped with Amendment No. 78, seeks to delete Clause 53(1)(b), which states that the orders that the Secretary of State may make in this context shall be limited to the initial implementation bodies. A very large point underlies this apparently small amendment. The amendment is similar to Amendment No. 80 in which the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux of Killead, achieves a similar effect with neater wording. However, his amendment does not have quite the same meaning.

It is intended that under the agreement six implementation bodies will be set up initially. Work is proceeding on agreeing the areas and on what will happen in the Assembly and with the authorities in the south. Under Clause 53 as it stands, the Secretary of State can make an order about such a body only if it is one of the initial bodies. I look forward to the day when there may be more implementation bodies--seven, eight or even more. It may be thought right to establish such bodies to carry out different functions on both sides of the Border. It seems to me that they, too, should be on the same all-island basis. Therefore, they will need to be international organisations, created by treaty.

I take it that the Assembly and the Executive will not have treaty-making powers, so the Secretary of State or the Government of the United Kingdom will have to make the treaty to set up subsequent implementation bodies. They will need to make the necessary provisions to give them the powers under the equivalent of Clause 53. Why not do that by means of Amendment No. 79? That removes the time limit which would otherwise mean that the Secretary of State can make an order only if the implementation body is one of the initial six and cannot do so in relation to a subsequent body. I beg to move.

Lord Cooke of Islandreagh: My Lords, the amendment is particularly relevant and important. I understand that yesterday the Assembly started to discuss the cross-Border bodies. After only a few hours of discussion, it realised the difficulties involved because the organisations that it was considering are different on either side of the Border. It is important that they are brought together. I think that "equivalent" is exactly the appropriate word. It is important that the implementation powers on both sides of the Border are

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similar and equivalent to deal with the undoubtedly difficult question of how different organisations can be brought together to co-operate.

I now ask the Minister about the nature of the powers. Will the implementation bodies be empowered to instruct the various ministries and departments on each side of the Border, or will they have powers to give orders directly? If there is to be cross-Border training of nurses, for example, will such a body give orders directly to the nurses' organisation or through, say, the Department of Health? This is a question which is in some doubt at the moment and it would be very helpful if the Minister could provide an answer.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I should just like to express the view that it is absolutely essential that Northern Ireland and the Republic co-operate very intensively on such matters as tourism, transport, education and training, which has just been mentioned, and attracting inward investment. These matters have long been important, but they are even more important today with the European single market and the globalisation of trade. I am well aware that the planning and the start-up of these implementation bodies have given rise to apprehension in Northern Ireland. That is natural, but the sooner the bodies can start work and produce results, particularly economic results which will be to the benefit of all, the better it will be.

Lord Monson: My Lords, this is surely one of the most important amendments that we shall be discussing this afternoon. If I may say so, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Cope, made out the case for it extremely well. It is vital that there be reciprocity and that the people of Northern Ireland will see that there is going to be reciprocity. We talked about the importance of perceptions earlier this afternoon when we were discussing Amendment No. 2. This is yet another sphere in which perceptions are all-important.

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