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Ending Suspension

Part of Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 8th February 2000.

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Photo of Mr Nick St Aubyn Mr Nick St Aubyn Conservative, Guildford 9:15 pm, 8th February 2000

I, too, do not want to detain the House. However, I was most disappointed at the Minister's earlier suggestion that we were playing some sort of game over this issue, which goes to the heart of the matter. If the report is not published and made known to us, and if we are not given a chance to debate it, how will it be possible to convince Sinn Fein-IRA that this House and our Government are serious about the need for decommissioning? If we are not to have the opportunity to question Ministers on how much movement they require before considering invoking clause 2, how will we know—and how will they know—whether or not the whole process is nothing more than a charade in the eyes of Ministers? Will the Minister clarify again whether the Government have a right to publish the report independent of any permission or agreement from the other Government, who claim that it is their property as well? In the absence of a clear reply, we do not know whether Ministers can activate clause 2 when they believe it appropriate to do so without the prior agreement of the other Government. Neither do we know what change there must be in circumstances, and what criteria the Minister will objectively apply before invoking clause 2.