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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when it is proposed to hold a meeting of a sub-group consisting of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice and the Attorney-General of the Republic of Ireland as referred to in the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference; and if he will make a statement.
We had a meeting on 13 February with the Attorney-General, at which we discussed extradition, the possible harmonisation of parts of the criminal law, and the search for measures to enhance public confidence in the administration of justice.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on anticipating the question from Her Majesty's Opposition and so promptly calling a meeting of the sub-group. Was not this meeting a mini Intergovernmental Conference, which shows that there is a positive attitude to the Anglo-Irish agreement from both the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Republic of Ireland? Will he confirm that progress will continue to be made to improve the confidence of the Nationalist community, in the judiciary and in the administration of the justice which is likely to be one of the litmus tests of the Anglo-Irish agreement? Will he further confirm that these matters will be on the agenda of the next meeting of the full Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference?
One of the matters that was discussed at our meeting concerned improving the arrangements for extradition. Anyone who knows anything about the battle against terrorism knows that it is vital to be able to pursue terrorists wherever they may go. That is one of the obvious benefits which I hope will flow from this agreement.