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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I support the two amendments. I listened carefully to what the Minister said about the point made in lines 8 and 9. It seems to me that the argument is the other way around. I find it difficult to understand why it is necessary to have those two lines as a kind of interpretation post-script at the end of the proposed new clause. The provision would be strengthened if the words appeared in subsection (2), as suggested in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that we need to think more carefully about devolved, reserved and non-transferred matters. Perhaps at a later stage we can address our minds to those issues.

Lord Dubs: I am grateful for the comments of both noble Lords. As regards subsection (3), I should like to consider the matter further in the light of those comments.

As to whether the British-Irish intergovernmental conference can discuss non-devolved matters, it will be able to discuss any areas of mutual interest, including subjects not related to Northern Ireland. That goes rather wider than the noble Lord understood. The conference will not discuss devolved matters in relation to Northern Ireland. The reason that that terminology is used is because we wish to allow for the possibility of discussing any areas of mutual interest, including subjects not specifically relating to Northern Ireland.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: For the avoidance of doubt, would there not be a case for the Northern Ireland Ministers to be present even as observers? There are many examples of misunderstanding. We can rely on the news industry to make sure that friction is created if Ministers are not there at first hand to hear what is happening.

Lord Dubs: It depends on how many Minsters there would have to be at such meetings. We are going rather wider than is appropriate even on such a detailed Bill as this one. Ministers who have a key need to be there will

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be there. The Assembly and the Executive would have to decide the basis of attendance through the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: This debate is founded on Amendment No. 113A, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 113A, as an amendment to Amendment No. 113, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 113B, as an amendment to Amendment No. 113, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 113 agreed to.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 114:

After Clause 43, insert the following new clause--

Implementation bodies

(".--(1) The Secretary of State may make an order about any body--
(a) which he considers to be an implementation body; and
(b) which is, or is to be, established on or before the appointed day.
(2) An order under this section may make any such provision as may be made (after the appointed day) by Act of the Assembly and may in particular--
(a) confer on the body the legal capacities of a body corporate;
(b) confer on the body any function which the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient for the purpose for which it is, or is to be, established;
(c) confer on a Northern Ireland department power to make grants to the body out of money appropriated by Act of the Assembly;
(d) make provision as to the accounting and audit arrangements which are to apply in relation to the body; and
(e) make consequential or supplementary provisions, including provisions amending or repealing any Northern Ireland legislation, or any instrument made under such legislation.
(3) In this section "implementation body" means a body for implementing, on the basis mentioned in paragraph 11 of Strand Two of the Belfast Agreement, policies agreed in the North-South Ministerial Council.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment deals with the initial group of North-South implementation bodies, which are to be set up under the North-South Ministerial Council. In considering this amendment it is important that noble Lords should understand the means by which these bodies will be established. Under the agreement, representatives of the Northern Ireland Administration and of the Irish Government operating in the North-South Ministerial Council are to identify and agree at least six areas where co-operation will take place through implementation bodies operating on a cross-border or all-island basis.

These bodies, which will begin to operate on the same day that powers are transferred to the Northern Ireland Assembly, must be given their necessary legal capacity, functions and powers through separate legislation in both jurisdictions. The clause enables the Secretary of State to make orders for this purpose. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, has put down two amendments, Amendments Nos. 114A and 181, which seek to ensure that the powers of the implementation bodies will be the

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same on both sides of the border. I can assure him that this will indeed be the case and that the proposed amendments are therefore unnecessary.

An implementation body will be one body operating in the same agreed manner on both sides of the border. While separate legislation is needed in each jurisdiction, it will give effect to agreement reached between the representatives of the Northern Ireland Administration and of the Irish Government, setting out the powers which the body is to have.

Amendment No. 205, a later government amendment, is a technical amendment which ensures that any orders made by the Secretary of State in relation to the initial implementation bodies are subject to affirmative resolution in each House. I beg to move.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 114, Amendment No. 114A:

Line 3, after ("body") insert--
("( ) which has the same powers in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland;").

The noble Lord said: The Minister mentioned Amendment No. 205 which I had not realised we were intending to discuss with this amendment. It is not on the list I have of proposed groupings, unless I have misread it. I thought we were discussing Amendments Nos. 114 and 114A. Can the Minister please clarify the position?

Lord Dubs: I mentioned Amendment No. 205 simply to be helpful. I will deal with it in its appropriate place later on, if that is easier.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am most grateful to the Minister. I am unsighted as regards that particular amendment at this moment. With regard to Amendment No. 114A and the associated Amendment No. 181, the intention is to make sure that there are the same powers on both sides of the border. The Minister has confirmed that that will be the case. I am not sure whether it is necessary to amend the Bill to say so, but the Government should make as clear as possible to everybody that that is the intention. It would reassure some people who had thought the cross-border bodies a way in which the Republic was to gain power over Northern Ireland. In fact, of course, it is mutual, because in Northern Ireland the Assembly and the Executive will gain power over the Republic--exactly equal to the power which the Republic will gain over Northern Ireland. In these days, when sovereignty is such a sensitive matter, it is very important to make that absolutely clear in order to reassure people.

I am a little unclear about the precise legal basis of these bodies. The Minister said that the cross-border bodies would be given legal capacity through separate legislation in each jurisdiction. That seems to be the Foyle Fisheries Commission model, if I can put it that way. That commission has, I understand, worked extremely well. However, it is rather an odd arrangement. There are really two bodies, one in Northern Ireland and the other in the Republic of

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Ireland, and they habitually function as one. Legally speaking, however, I believe that they are two separate bodies and not one single body.

A different model is that used for the International Fund for Ireland. That is a single international organisation, created by a treaty between the two states concerned, in this case the United Kingdom and the Republic. It has a legal personality as a single international body and can function in that way. I had rather thought that the new cross-border bodies would be of that international character and that there would be a single body with jurisdiction in both states within the limits of the agreement. However, it seems not. There are to be two separate legal bodies, one on either side of the border, carrying out the same functions. That is a rather more difficult model to follow. I should be grateful for more elucidation from the Minister as to exactly what is to be the legal position of the cross-border bodies.

Lord Fitt: I wish to reinforce what the noble Lord, Lord Cope, said in relation to clarity concerning cross-border bodies. One could go into a long lecture over what happened at Sunningdale, but I do not propose to do so. The cross-border bodies, as envisaged in the Sunningdale agreement, effectively brought the executive to an end. I can see, reading the Belfast newspapers and listening to the speeches of the various political parties, that there is some ambivalence in the minds of some of those involved in Northern Ireland.

One side is saying that the Assembly will have the legal authority to either accept or reject the implementation body. The other is saying that the Assembly will not have that force. It is of massive importance in relation to the North-South body to take into account the sensitivities of the two communities in Northern Ireland. When the Sunningdale executive was set up, the cross-border bodies were then referred to as the Council of Ireland. One section of political thought in Northern Ireland said that the cross-border bodies were absolutely no danger to the unionist majority in Northern Ireland; the other section of politicians were saying the opposite. In fact one member of my own party, Mr. Hugh Logue, in discussing at a press conference the Council of Ireland proposals--namely, what we have now in the North-South body--asked whether people did not realise that setting up the Council of Ireland proposals was the vehicle that would trundle the unionists into a united Ireland. Once that appeared in the press it spelt the end of the Sunningdale executive, because that was exactly what the opponents of Sunningdale were saying. That explains the urgent need for clarity over what responsibilities will be held by the implementation bodies and whether or not those bodies will, by agreement, be referred to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Oireachtas in the Republic. The importance of clarity cannot be exaggerated in this very sensitive matter.

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