New Clause 1 — Independent Members: Declaration Against Terrorism

Part of Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 26th March 2003.

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Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 1:45 pm, 26th March 2003

As I shall explain in a few moments, there was a need to review the way in which we would present those matters to the House of Commons.

The House will be aware that, some weeks ago in Hillsborough, the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach, together with the pro-agreement parties, met to consider a variety of issues relating to the current state of the peace process and the political situation in Northern Ireland. We met for about 30 hours and came to conclusions which will be published in a few weeks. We also knew that the timetable for the Bill was rapidly progressing. I faced a situation in which the Bill would have to be delayed so that we would have time to reach a position in which we could publish the declaration and, hopefully, have acts of completion made public. At the same time, I realised that delaying the Bill would cause difficulties. Similarly, I realised that if we implemented the relevant provisions later, we would have to introduce a third police Bill, and I was not content with that.