Constitutional Issues

Office of the first Minister and deputy First minister – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 am on 10 December 2007.

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Photo of David Burnside David Burnside UUP 2:45, 10 December 2007

6. asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to outline what discussions it has had on constitutional issues with the First Minister of Scotland.     (AQO 1157/08)

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley First Minister of Northern Ireland, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The Member will be aware that the deputy First Minister and I met the First Minister of Scotland earlier this year. At that meeting, we acknow­ledged our shared culture, history and interests, and discussed greater co-operation between our two Administrations for mutual benefit.

By “constitutional issues”, I assume that the Member means the position of Scotland and Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. Such issues were not discussed. The Union is secure. The First Minister of Scotland has well-known views on the future constitutional position of his country. However, that is for him — and his party — to take forward with the people of Scotland, and has no bearing on the future government of our country.

Photo of David Burnside David Burnside UUP 3:00, 10 December 2007

Will the First Minister withdraw his support for the Scottish First Minister’s statement that he wished in the future that The Queen should become queen of Scotland? That could only take place after the ending of the 1707 Act of Union. Will he disassociate himself from those remarks and give a commitment that the only queen that we will have in the future in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will hold a unitary crown — one crown, and one queen for the whole of the United Kingdom?

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Please be brief, First Minister.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley First Minister of Northern Ireland, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The Queen is the queen of Scotland, and I would like her always to be the queen of Scotland. However, Scotland has a right to decide for itself, and whatever it decides is not our business. Everybody knows that I believe in the Union and stand for the Union; a union of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, that does not prevent me from speaking to the First Minister of Scotland. The First Minister of Scotland is a member of the Privy Council, and I would advise the honourable Member to read the oath of the Privy Council and then decide a person’s loyalty.