Draft Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Amendment of Enactment) Order 2001

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Mr. Trimble rose—

Mr. Blunt rose—

Jane Kennedy: I give way to the right hon. Member for Upper Bann.

Mr. Trimble: The Minister will agree that it is appropriate that the nominations go through the Foreign Secretary, because we participate in the European Union as a nation. Therefore, the point of contact should be the national Government. We expect that the Foreign Secretary will merely be a conduit by which those nominations will be passed forward, but the arrangement does preserve an important constitutional principle.

Jane Kennedy: I am grateful for that intervention and I am pleased that I took it first.

Mr. Blunt: Will the Minister confirm that the nominations made by the Foreign Secretary can be vetoed by any other nation in the Council?

Jane Kennedy: I am not aware that that is correct, but I will seek guidance on the matter.

The hon. Member for Reigate made a point about the numbers. The numbers to be nominated from the United Kingdom are negotiated between the regions. It would be wrong to reduce the number of representatives from Northern Ireland. Two nominations are made, and those representatives are intended to represent balance within Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Assembly will respect the need to preserve that balance and will approach that with the sensitivity that it deserves. I am sure that, as in the past, there will be excellent representation from Northern Ireland.

The order is intended to widen the pool from which nominations can be drawn. As the right hon. Member for Upper Bann said, quite often, the House and the other place pass legislation that is not perfect. We have spotted an imperfection in the 1998 Act and we are putting it right. I commend the order to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

        Committee rose at sixteen minutes to Eleven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Hood, Mr. Jimmy (Chairman)
Blunt, Mr.
Clelland, Mr.
Gardiner, Mr.
Hayes, Mr.
Hendrick, Mr.
Hoban, Mr.
Hopkins, Mr.
Kennedy, Jane
McCabe, Mr.
McIsaac, Shona
Ipik, Lembit
Ross, Mr.
Stringer, Mr.
Trimble, Mr.

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