The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference initiated last year a systematic programme of assessment of all the main sectors, to determine where the process of social and economic co-operation can most fruitfully be expanded. The first result of that work is a joint Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland paper outlining possible programme measures that both Governments would wish to see supported under the European Community's transfrontier initiative. The paper is in the final stages of agreement and will, I hope, shortly be submitted to the Commission.
Yes. The paper is about improving prosperity in the border areas that the hon. Gentleman mentions and covers many economic activities. It deals also with making use of wider co-operation in helping all parts of the island of Ireland.
Mr. John D. Taylor:
Is the Minister aware of the damage being done to the economies of border towns by the refusal of the Government of the south of Ireland to allow their citizens to visit those towns for shopping expeditions? When did he last raise that issue with the Government of the south of Ireland? Will the Northern Ireland Office be represented at the forthcoming case in the European Court at Luxembourg?
I refer the Minister to the reply I received from the Secretary of State on 14 December at column 1156 in Hansard where he gave a not unfavourable reply to the request to set up a cross-border economic committee to look into the consequences of the Single European Act with particular reference to the harmonisation of VAT, fiscal rates and a common currency. What progress has been made since that date?